Playing six chess games in a row under time pressure is hard enough, but Ben Hague decided to make his Saturday more demanding with an early start to catch a flight to Napier.

Despite the gruelling schedule, the Aucklander emerged the clear winner of the day-long Hawke's Bay rapid chess tournament, held at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel.

"It was tiring because I got up at 5am to catch the plane down from Auckland," Mr Hague said.

"But it's a good tournament, with a nice spacious venue."

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The key game during the day was his clash with visiting Czech player Jaroslav Shanel, who finished second in the tournament.

Mr Shanel is on a working holiday in New Zealand and, after spending time in the South Island, is currently picking apples at Hastings.

In rapid chess each player has 25 minutes on his or her clock for the whole game and the format has been dubbed the chess equivalent of one-day cricket.

Often players run short of time and have to bang their moves out very quickly before their time expires.

Saturday's event - the third annual rapid tournament to be held in Napier - was part of the national Poison Pawn Grand Prix series. At the end of the year players who have gained the highest points totals over the Grand Prix series win cash prizes.

The tournament includes a section for junior players and organisers are expecting a strong entry from school pupils, including those at primary and intermediate schools.

Third in the A Grade went to Feilding player Mark Noble, who is a grandmaster in correspondence chess.

Vivian Smith won the B Grade while her husband Bob was fourth equal in the A Grade, and Napier's Charlie Li won the junior section.