Chess-Archery in Hastings

The second chess-archery game took place at Horntye Park Thursday 27 November 2016. Francis Rayner rated 2080 from Wales had the white pieces against Rasa Norinkevicuite Woman FIDE Master rated 1987. This seemed only fair as Francis had black in last year’s drawn game. They are both members of Hastings Chess Club, one of the few in the UK with their own venue.

This chess variation was devised by Stewart Reuben last year. Each player has a team of four archers ‘aiding’ them. All 8 are from the Bayeux Bowman Club which meets at Horntye Park. The chessplayer nominates which of the six pieces he wants to move. The archer then aims at the target marked with king, queen, rook, bishop, knight and pawn. If he hits all is well. If he misses the target completely, the next archer in the team has a go. If he again misses, the player must move a pawn. But what if the archer hits the wrong piece? Then the player must move that piece.

Of course the purpose of this exhibition game is to publicise archery in the year of the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and to publicise the Hastings International Chess Congress which will take place this year 28 December to 5 January at Horntye Park. This year will be the 92nd in this, the longest-running international chess congress in the world.

The moves of the game —

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 (So far, so good. It is the Sicilian Defence, Najdorf Variation.) 6 Qe2 (Oops, White asked for a bishop move. But surely Qd3 would have been better, not blocking the bishop and defending the Nd4?) 8…Kd7. (Forced after the archer accidentally shot the king.) 7 Qd1 Ke8. (The players have got the game back on schedule. Optically it looks like they are back in the main line, but Black can no longer castle. She stands worse). 8 Bg5 Nbd7 9 Nb3 h6 10 e5 (White wanted to move his bishop, but is forced to move a pawn – at least that ensured he attacked a piece.) 10…hxg5 11 exf6 gxf6 12 Bd3 Ne5 13 h3 g4 `14 h4 Kd7 (Off it goes again.) 15 Qe2 Bh6 16 Qd1 Ke8 17 a4 Be6 18 Nd4 Qd7 19 Ra3 (He wanted to make a knight move). 19…f5 (Black also wanted to move a knight, probably in order to capture the bishop. 20 Nxe6 Nxd3+ 21 cxd3 fxe6 22 Ne2 Rc8 23 0-0 (This is the first time in either game that a player has managed to castle.) 23…Bg7 (A real combination. Black attacks two pawns simultaneously.) 24 g3 Bxb2 25 Rb3 Bf6 26 Qb1 (This is what Francis requested his archer to aim for. But Rb6 or even gambling with Rxb7 would have been a better choice now White is two pawns down.) 26…Qxa4 27 d4 (Of course White wanted to play Rxb7. Now he is three pawns down and losing.) 27…b5 28 Nc3? (Hoping for a miracle, but losing yet another pawn. 28…Qxd4 29 Ne2 Qb6 30 Rc1 Rxc1+ (Whitemust move his queen,  knight or king. Taking with the queen is obviously best, but three archers made three attempts, all failing. So the rules required a king move) 31 Kg2 Rxb1 32 Rxb1 (Of course Francis knew he was totally lost, but played on, rather hoping he would get mated.)  32…Qc6+ 33 f3 Qxf3+ 34 Kg1 Rh7 35 Rf1 Qe3+ (forgetting she could take the knight) 36 Rf2 b4 37 Kg2 b3 38 Rf1 Rh6 39 Nf4 b2 40 Rb1 Kf7 41 Nd5 exd5 42 Re1(One last gamble) 42…Qxe1 (I might have tried for 43 h5 hoping for Rxh5 stalemate.) 43 resigns 0-1

Most people seemed to enjoy themselves. The archers were talking about a third game next year. Francis was a bit bruised by his team failing so frequently to hit his desired target. But not as much as the English Chess Federation logo which the archers hit three times. It emerged bloodied, but unbowed.)


Stewart Reuben