Two of the top competitors at the 50th International Chess Congress -- which began in Hastings on Saturday (28 December) -- had to withdraw at the last moment.
Two of the top competitors at the 50th International Chess Congress -- which began in Hastings on Saturday (28 December) -- had to withdraw at the last moment. But replacements were at hand.
Gudmundur Sigurjonsson, the Icelandic International Master, replaced Argentine Grand Master Miguel Quinteros who is in hospital and British champion George Botterill substituted for Britain's Raymond Keene.
This meant six Grand Masters and the same number of International Masters headed the group of nearly 400 players who are attending the Jubilee congress which continues until the middle of January.
Competition was fierce in the seven opening games in the Premier section. And, at the end of the opening day, four of the games were adjourned unfinished. Of the adjourned games the American Grand Master Pal Benko had a piece more against Britain's Jonathan Mestal and looked to be in a winning position.
Another game to be adjourned was that between Czechoslovakian Grand Master Vlastimil Hort and the Cuban International Master, Guillermo Garcia.
To avoid further delays in starting the tournament the two replacements players, Sigurjonsson and Botterill, were paired off and their game postponed until a free day.
SYNOPSIS: Hastings -- on England's south coast -- is the scene for the fiftieth International Chess Congress which began on Saturday. Top-class chess players from all over the world gathered to take part in the two-and-a-half-week tournament.
Vlassimil Hort the Czechoslovakian Grand Master was matched against Cuban International Master Guillermo Garcia.
This match was one of four which were adjourned at the end of the day's play.
So was the contest between Pal Benko -- with the beard -- a Grand Master from the United States and Britain's Jonathan Mastel. Benko finished the day with a piece more and looked set to win the game.
All seven opening matches in the premier section of the Competition were hard fought ... the most interesting was between Soviet players Vaganian and Beljavsky. Two of the top competitors had to withdraw just before the start of the contest. Argentine Grand Master Miguel Quinteros was in hospital and was replaced by the Icelandic International Master Gudmundur Sigurjonsson. And British champion George Botterill replace fellow-countryman Raymond Keene.