Hammer 2020 – the Lubeck Heist

There is a tradition in British advertising that up to the 25th December the consumer is bombarded with a stream of potential gifts for Christmas. Come Boxing Day the theme changes and suddenly sale information and next year’s summer holiday adverts take over. For the next two weeks you cannot avoid the inevitable deluge of destinations and flights you must and should have.

In Hammer we like to be ahead of the game – so am bringing you the exciting news of the Hammer European weekend in 2020.

The dates – June the 5th to June the 7th.

The destination – the beautiful and stunning North German city of Lubeck.

Read on if you are interested.

Lubeck is a stunning Hanseatic city and a major port in North Germany. With superb brick architecture and where human colonisation happened over 10,000 years ago. Wikipedia has its uses.

More importantly it has an extensive and thriving chess club with an excellent junior section.

Some Hammers may remember we hosted several of their young chess players earlier this year and really enjoyed their company and that of their team leader Nicole.

Check out their website:  https://www.lsv1873.de/

The weekend will follow the format of previous Hammer raids with us arriving on the Friday, playing chess on Saturday and Sunday morning before returning Sunday evening.

In view of their extensive junior section I am more than willing to entertain the idea of us taking a junior team as well as an adult team to challenge them.

Probably about thirty Hammers overall have enjoyed our trips to Amsterdam, Cork and Wrocław over the past three years – these are superb weekends, full of fun, camaraderie, chess, the occasional beer and making new friends

So when those holiday adverts kick in on Boxing Day – think Lubeck!!!

The best route is a flight to Hamburg and then high-speed rail to Lubeck.

The challenge has been made – the honour of Hammer is at stake.

Hammer needs you!!

Lord Clueless

A Hammer in Bavaria

I’m sure everyone remembers Christof’s debut article for Hammer – an account from the East Devon Congress – his first over the board chess tournament for nearly half a century!

Since then Christof has established himself as a Hammer legend – junior coach, Sledgehammer leader, and general top guy.

At the end of October he entered his second tournament – this time overseas at the 23rd Open International Bavarian Championship. Read on for Christof’s account of the topsy-turvy week.

I would like to whet the appetite to participate in these kind of international week-long open tournaments. And especially for this specific great festival in which the UK was underrepresented to put it mildly. While the 505 participants came from 29 nations, with 68 players from non-German Europe, 13 players from India, 11 from Russia, none came from Scotland, Wales, NI and only one from England (not me, but a junior against whom I had played this year, what a coincidence). Why this absence??? Was it Brexit day 31 October in the middle of the tourney? Well, everyone should have known that Halloween was not to be the last Brexit date. The rugby world cup?? Can this really be, rugby more important than chess??? But then, what do I understand about rugby, or about the English… So, only one UK chess club showing up in the players list, Hammersmith!

The great location needs mentioning. This one stands for an ideal holiday week at a mountain lake in Southern Germany, combined with highly competitive chess – the games start at 4pm, so there is ample time in the mornings to go to the mountains or around the lake, and my great city Munich is just one hour away.

And imagine, every fifth player is a title holder, with 31 GMs, 31 IMs and 49 FMs. The average ELO rating at 1965 (ECF 169), the top 10 average at 2608 (ECF 254) the top 50 still at 2477 (237). And everyone plays in one Open group. If you score well enough in the first rounds, chances are you will play against a giant! Wow, what a challenge. My starting rank with ELO 1846 was 353rd of 505, my stretch target was to get 50% and earn a few ELO points. Well, Hammers like challenges…

In the first round, I had to overcome formidable determined opposition (as shown in the photo) which compensated for the ELO difference. Other greats lost their first points against juniors. Top-seeded GM Gata Kamsky drew against a 12-year old Indian more than 500 points below his 2685.

photo of my first round opposition by Thomas Müller

The second round saw me clawing to a draw by repetition against an opponent some 200 points higher.

Me as White to play: Rd7 – bxc4 – e6 – fxe6 – Rg7+ and the Black king cannot escape the checks. Could I have aimed for a win with cxb5 and Rd1? I decided not, with 5 minutes left for 7 moves.

I noted as well that the “English opening” guru GM Mihail Marin lost his game. Maybe he had been distracted after our unrelated discussion just before the round about the exhibited paintings of his wife and FM Mariya Yugina? Sorry mate.

In the third round I achieved a lucky draw after difficult defence. The computer later told me that I had not only followed my opening preparation unknowingly for the first 14 moves but then had 100% accuracy of the remaining 10 follow-up moves. Now, is that good or bad to play like a computer?

The fourth round set me against the local matador, a junior who surprisingly had beaten a Polish FM in the first round. I was soundly beaten as well. Now I was back to where I had started, at zero balance. In my tristesse, I was contemplating to buy one of the colourful paintings of Mariya Yugina on display, which shows a brighter side of life and chess.

photo courtesy of Mariya Yugina

Another loss in the fifth round against a formal full-time chess teacher. We skipped the post mortem in favour of a discussion on the Munich Chess Academy which provides chess lessons in various Munich public schools, very interesting and encouraging. In my time as a junior, these were exceptions, nowadays that seems to be more the rule and the distinction of a good school.

The sixth round generated mixed feelings after I broke my own principles to calculate seriously in endgames. I drew finally, but only after I could have won quickly and subsequently could as quickly have lost. Pawn endgames require accurate calculation and rarely draw.

Ke5 would have easily won the pawn race (White´s g vs Black´s b) respectively the subsequent queen endgame because White queens with check after having drawn the Black king to a8 and can exchange queens; my Kd5??? draws with difficulties.

As a punishment for my stupidity, in the 7th round I was paired against a 300 points higher opponent and lost, though only after I had given him a fright in the fifth hour of our game. Alas, loss is loss. The only consolation for now being at minus 2 was that my chances for easier opponents in the last 2 rounds had improved considerably.

Thus, in the penultimate round I was paired against a lower-rated lady from Austria. In the opening, the lady saved her queen with a pawn sacrifice as is demanded in real life at the royal court, though in chess the opposite is sometimes better:

My 14.Ncb5! axb5 15. Nxb5 Qc6 16.Bxd6 won the a-pawn and finally the game. But wait, later at home the computer surprised me with Black´s alternative of a queen sacrifice for 3 minor pieces, starting with 15….Bxg3 16.Nxc7 Bxc7 (computers don´t value old court rules anymore). The engine evaluated this with total equality 0.00, meaning it does not know what to make of the situation, and I might have struggled as well over the board, never having had this material distribution on board.

Dear me, the win catapulted me back into the higher pairing section and I again got an opponent 250 points above me, and this with Black, not a good basis for the last round. But the young player was apparently tired after 8 days of chess, or because the last round started in the morning, and he early on made a mistake which I was able to exploit to get a lasting structural advantage and finally bring a full point home.

So, with a little luck in the end, I had achieved my target of a 50% score, and thanks to the strong opponents an increase by 37 ELO points. First price was shared by 2 Ukrainian GMs with 7.5 points, Vitaliy Bernadskiy and Pavel Eljanov, half a point above Gata Kamsky and 10 other GMs. Of the other players mentioned in my text, best was the chess artist with 5.5 points, half a point above her husband GM. The chess teacher was at 4.5, my young tiger-supported opponent of the first round at 3.5 and the sole English player at 3. By the way, no German in the top-ten which shows the strength of the international participation.

Appetite? Mark it in your calendar: The 24th OIBM will take place 31.10.-8.11.2020: www.schach-tegernsee.de

Or already in spring next year a similar 9-day Open International tournament with GM participation close to Munich: Bad Wörishofen 6.-14.3.2020: www.chessorg.de

If you want to start sooner, on a smaller scale over a weekend and closer to London, there is the Bunratty International Chess Festival (Ireland) where sound Hammer representation is guaranteed, 21.-23.2.2020: www.bunrattychess.com

And if you like to see or buy paintings of FM Maria Yugina: go to www.yugina.com or instagram: mariya_yugina, or contact her PR manager on facebook: mihail marin or email: mihailmarin21@gmail.com

Christof

It Must Be Christmas

I start with a disappointing announcement that El Chessico is being delayed and will not take place on the 4th December. Due to various factors, Aldo and I have taken the decision to postpone the match until the New Year. Christmas fortunately is not postponed.

It will still take part on a Wednesday night and I have submitted four suitable dates. I will keep you all posted.

However, I am delighted to announce that Hammer member, top man and a Grandmaster to boot – Keith Arkell – will be taking on 25 Hammer members in a simultaneous challenge on Monday the 9th of December at the Anvil, kicking off at 7pm.

This is a brilliant challenge and the first twenty-five people to register are in for a real treat. The evening will cost each participant £1.50… cash on the night.

I demand the sum of… ONE POUND FIFTY.

What you need to do:
– Be a fully paid member of Hammersmith Chess Club for 2020
– Email Lord Clueless on john.white49@ntlworld.com to confirm participation as soon as possible

This is a great event for the Yuletide season and brought to you by Hammer Chess Productions Inc.

Lord Clueless

Puzzle of the Week #31

Our last puzzle was from a sub-genre in the field of chess compositions. It is a help mate, that means Black does not always make the perfect move but assists in the mating sequence. The correct sequence was:

19.Nxe6! Qxe6 20.Rxd5+ Qxd5 21.Nxd5 Rag8 22.Rd1 Nf8 23.Nb6+ Kc7 24.Na8+! Kb8 25.Qe8+ Bd8 26.Rxd8# with all remaining pieces on the 8th rank.

This week’s puzzle requires White to move and win. The study is known for making one person famous because of a single move – a dream we club players all share. Fernando Saavedra, a Spanish priest, found the solution to this previously thought drawn endgame while living in Glasgow in 1895. He was a weak amateur player.

Answers in the comments below!

The French Simultaneous – Exclusive to Hammer Members

Do you have what it takes to take on the full T Bone, served with french onions, cooked rare and with a rich Bearnaise sauce in full mortal chess combat? If the answer is yes then read on….

Thomas, full blown Hammer hero, French to the core, a man with a mere 201 ECF rating and one of the finest men alive is taking on all comers next Monday the 28th of October.

A teenage T-Bone deep in thought

The place… The Anvil. The time… 6.15pm. The format is a mass simultaneous… first 20 bods who email Lord Clueless (john.white49@ntlworld.com) will grab the places. Priority will be given to our Junior members.

Thomas has promised not to employ any French rugby forward tactics (topical).

This is your chance to put aside study and work worries, and relish the chance to put your wits against the most visually expressive chess player in the club. He is so French!!!

Get emailing ASAP… places are going fast – so be sharp.

Clueless on holiday and enjoying the delights of Malta… but will be checking his email.

Lord Clueless

El Chessico – 2019 Edition

As all our members know, both the new and old, the greatest rivalry our club has is with Battersea Chess Club – affectionally or disrespectfully know as the “Noisy Neighbours”. In the past three years we have held three challenge matches – Hammersmith has emerged victorious on each occasion. This has given us severe bragging rights as well as the edge in the many social media exchanges.

There is no love lost at the chess board but there is always great camaraderie afterwards. Last year the match took place over thirty boards – check the report. Thanks to the Hammer Junior shock troops the result was never in doubt.

Scenes

So, to this year’s encounter.

This will be an ECF rated encounter with a time control exactly the same as the Summer League- one hour to start with and 30 second increments a move.

Basically the competition is on to see who can get the most players committed to the actual match to start with. So, Hammers I need you to commit ASAP to this match at Battersea’s venue starting at 7.15pm on the 4th December – a Wednesday.

To sign up simply send an email to john.white49@ntlworld.com

This is one of the highlights of the season with a serious opponent to overcome.

Hammers I urge you now to sign up…………..NOW!!!

Lord Clueless

PS – There will likely be a Christmas celebration drink afterwards with our foes/friends so get involved

The Rockhammer is born!

Last summer we launched the Sledgehammer internal tournament to create plenty of opportunities for Hammers to play internal graded slow games. We also have regular rounds of internal blitz tournaments counting towards a blitz title over the year. Something needed to be done in internal rapidplay land, and therefore we have decided to create Sledgehammer’s little brother – The Rockhammer!

Basically this is another handicap based tournament, where everyone can play everyone else in both black and white over the season. The default time control is 30 minutes plus 15 seconds increment, but when both players agree, they can play from 15 to 30 minutes, from no increment and up to 30 seconds increment per move. Here’s a link to the full set of rules.

To make things simple, we will consider that all players registered for the Sledgehammer are also registered for the Rockhammer. The contact lists for both tournaments will be merged, as well as the the regular communications to the players which include results and contact lists, however the standings for the two tournaments are separate.

Finally, if someone wants to register for the Rockhammer and the Sledgehammer, please send an email to sledgehammer@clubmember.org.

So let’s get started, and contact your opponents to put those rapidplay games in your diaries!

Nadim

And we’re off!

The chess season is well and truly underway! We have three reports for you, courtesy of PR Officer John White.

Round One of the Hammer Blitz Tourney Cycle

Yes the opening round of our blitz cycle took place this past Monday at the Anvil. This is one of the most awaited events of the club year where even the most lowly chess devotee can take down one of the big names.

Defending champion Chairman Wily was there to see off the competition and retain his title. But the competition would be stiff with T-Bone, The Surgeon and a host of junior talent to face.

Seven rounds of no quarter given blitz would answer all questions.

Hammer also played host to two visitors from Lubeck Chess Club…Andrea and her son Fabian.

As usual Secretary Pickle was in charge and did a superb job with the pairings.

Your reporter Lord Clueless was reduced to the role of casual observer.

Without fanfare here are the results with some notable performances amongst them.

Pos Name Score
1 Thomas Bonn 6.5
2 Kishan Pattni 5.5
3
Tony Niccoli 5
Conall McBrinn 5
Bajrush Kelmendi 5
6
Andrew MacLeod 4
Charlie Sturt 4
Eddy Goldman 4
Moritz Reuter 4
Fabian Schnell 4
11
Laurie MacKellar 3
Taymour Auchi 3
Amaya MacDonald 3
Nadim Osseiran 3
Zain Patel 3
16
Georgios Vazouras 2
Dave Lambert 2
Ljubomir Koncar 2
Cian Ward 2
Adam Cranston 2
21
Andrea Schnell 1
Chester Short 1
Neil Arora 1
Anastasija Royce 1

 

What the final table demonstrates is that reputation counts for nothing in this format.

Round One say new Hammer Laurie (aka Supermac) take down Wily…an excellent performance.

Round Two saw the Clash of the tourney between the T-Bone and The Surgeon. I reckon they played a 120 plus moves each in 10 mins. This equates to the clock being hit every two seconds.

The Surgeon had a won game but the sheer will-power of T-Bone saw him triumph on time. A phenomenal game.

Outstanding overall performance of the evening must go to Conall who scored 5/7 for a superb third-place tie.

Indeed all the juniors Amaya, Zain, Cian and Taymour scoring well. Hammer’s future is in very safe hands.

So Round One is done and dusted with the pride of Marianne T-Bone winning by a clear point and taking an early lead in this year’s tourney. A real dominant performance.

To all other Hammers remember it is your best three scores that count out of the five cycles. So even if you have missed this opening night you have four more attempts to register results.

Just remember you have to be in it to win it!!!

Hammer’s Night at the Club Oscars

Yes the most important chess award ceremony of the year preceded the opening round of the Hammer Blitz Tourney.

Hosted by our own Chairman Wily this is the occasion where Hammer honours, publicly, it’s heroes and heroines.

It was a great occasion and once again demonstrated how youthful the club is becoming.

Long may it continue!!!

2018-2019 Players of the Season

Thames Valley 1 – Tony Niccoli

 Thames Valley 2 – Matteo Bezzini

 Middlesex 1 – Bajrush Kelmendi

Middlesex 2 – Paul Kennelly

Middlesex 3 – Liam Fleming

Middlesex 4 – Ben Rothwell

London League 1 – Chris Skulte

London League 2 – Nadhmi Auchi

London League 3 – Robin Lee

London League Major – Andrew Macleod

London League Minor – Taymour Auchi

Most Improved Player of the Season – Taymour Auchi

Hammer Overall Player of the Season – Jim Stevenson

Winners in the Hammersmith Rapid Play Tournament

Open Section – Tony Niccoli 6/7

Rooks Section – Nadhmi Auchi 4.5/7

Bishop Section – Kostis Nikolis 4.5/7

Knight Section – Ken Kwabiah 4/7

Chairman Wily also had the pleasure to confer book prizes to all our juniors who have made an outstanding contribution to our Club and represented their country – Amaya MacDonald, Alex Royce, Zain Patel, Cian Ward, Conall McBrinn

A really great ceremony and all our winners are to be roundly congratulated.

Conall collects his award before going on to tear up the blitz tournament
Hammer 2 kicks off in Middlesex 2

Yes the Hammer boys were at it again in 2019. Our opening fixture at the Anvil was against Albany -tough opposition at anytime.

Captain Jonathan put the team together but could not be there due to work commitments so asked Lord Clueless to take charge.

Fortunately, despite many Hammers not being able to play he picked a team of fighting gauchos.

New Hammers Laurie and Will were given their debuts and a nice mixture of youth and experience made up the rest of the team.

Due to a slight mix up Brian “The Hat” was a no show but luckily Christof by the miracle of modern transport was able to deputise (he flew in from Munich!!)

Lord Clueless had the cunning plan of playing Christof on board 2 instead of himself.

Then Chairman Wily asked if he could have Christof for their tough opener against Richmond in the TV. Clueless graciously conceded and the match got underway, with Clueless  a late substitute on board 4.

Keep up with me please..

The Hammer team lined up as follows and in the time honoured tradition the assignment of nicknames is also accorded. Lord Clueless thanks to his recent elevation to the peerage bestows the following

  1. Laurie  aka “Supermac”
  2. Liam  aka ” An fear ciúin”
  3. Pavel  aka “Spock”
  4. John aka “Lord Clueless”
  5. Eddy aka ” Edgy”
  6. Benjamin aka ” Soie”
  7. David aka “Toffee”
  8. Will  aka ” Banksy”

I also designate the following nickname to Christof…”Der Vater”.

Yes I have used Irish, French and German nicknames to emphasise the diversity of our amazing club.

To the match… outgraded on average by 29 points a board Hammer faced an uphill struggle. Luckily we are built of stern stuff and we were determined to punch above our weight.

The first game to finish was Spock where showing real “enterprise” he sacked a piece for two pawns plus preventing the black king castling. This was great tactical chess with his opponent one step away from disaster all the time. In the end the Albany man defended accurately and was relieved to take the draw.

Edgy on board 5 also drew but held the initiative throughout a full-blooded contest. He reckoned he missed a win..but by any reckoning a superb result as he was outgraded by nearly 40 points. Hammer at 1-1.

Supermac had a tense struggle… playing white, in an endgame two pawns down, with a rook and opposite coloured bishops. Laurie showed the fighting spirit inherent in all Hammers. He manoeuvred his passed pawn to a6 where it tied down his opponents bishop and then used his king and rook aggressively to prevent any progress from his opponent. A truly brilliant rearguard action. Hammer tied at 1.5-1.5.

Soie on board 6 making his debut unfortunately lost… I did not see the game but he is a most welcome addition to the Hammer ranks. Better luck next time. Hammer trailing…

Next to finish was Lord Clueless playing black in a Bb5 Sicilian. These lines though can be quite dull with white having an edge but in reality hoping for a black mis-step. If you want to see a masterpiece in this line check out the classic Ivanchuk-Kasparov encounter from Linares 1991.

Clueless played a quiet opening, definitely the influence from my 4NCL experience last year, plus following a touch of Speelman wisdom… wait for your opponent to make a mistake… they will.

Hammer at 2.5-2.5… the fight was really on.

Next up was Toffee on board seven against a familiar opponent… Howard from Battersea… but playing for Albany in the Middlesex.

As always Toffee went down fighting. Despite a knight for a rook exchange down he made Howard fight for the win.

Hammer down 2.5-3.5.

All eyes turned to Banksy making his debut on board 8 against an experienced 149 opponent. This was great to watch with the Banksy snaffling an early exchange and then breaking through a wall of pawns across the board. This was the performance of the night and an outstanding win. Afterwards he was reflecting on how different OTB chess is to its online brother.

There is more artistry to come from Banksy… where will he strike next?

The last game to finish was Liam (The Quiet Man) playing an opponent who over the past three seasons when playing Hammer has lost to Clueless, beaten T-Bone and lost to Showbag. A real roller coaster of results.

Liam’s play in the last six months has come on leaps and bounds… he is a tough opponent to beat and plays really solid chess.

This was a really tense game with action all over the board. Liam strived to hold the line but in the end his opponents greater experience won through. This was a tough loss especially after the fight our man had put up. Really unlucky.

So a Hammer loss 3.5-4.5… the strange thing is it felt like a victory… with a lot of big guns returning I think Hammer are well set for Middlesex 2 this season.

Clueless delighted to be handing back to Captain Jonathan… the fight is on.

Diversity at Hammersmith – a Homage

Hammersmith has strength in diversity, and we draw our members from well over 20 countries, reflecting the rich, multicultural city in which we’re based.

One of our new members, Christof, has not only brought some superb chess to our club, but also a love of diversity. He’s penned a wonderful homage to our multinational membership, in the form of an imagined consultation match vs. our near-neighbours, Battersea! Please enjoy…

John: Chaps, against Battersea, I’ll be your Captain by default, and we are all white in our first match.
Wyatt: Next match we will be All Blacks.
Charlie: Let’s be English and start with c4.
Paul: No English please! What about d4 and Queen’s gambit?!
Rubinder: Fine with d4, there are so many Indian variations.
Ryszard: d4 is okay, we might get the Polish defence.
Eddy: The common name for that line is Orang-Utan, and the politically correct name would then be the Malaysian/Indonesian defence.
Ryszard: Let’s not argue and play 1.b4, then we have Polish for sure.
Adam: Noooooooooo! Against Battersea it is e4!!!
Chris: Breaking News: Adam and e4!
Jim: All the most discerning players start with e4.
John: Hear ye, the word which the Lord (Clueless) speaketh. e4 it is.

Hammersmith: 1. e4
Battersea: 1… e5

Sylvain & Thomas: They don’t like the French!
Carsten: Nor the Scandinavian!
Rauno: Nor Caro-Kann with the Finnish Variation.
Ken: Nor the Hippo, the politically correct name being African Defence. We should petition for official recognition.
Bajrush: What a pity, we will not see the Yugoslav attack.

Hammersmith: 2. Nf3
Battersea: 2… Nc6

Pavel: Too bad, I would have liked to play against the Russian.
Jim: Now let’s play d4, Scotch!!
Tommaso: No, bishop c4, Italian!!
Javier: Take it easy amigos, vamos a la playa and go mainstream with Spanish.

Hammersmith: 3. Bb5
Battersea: 3… Nf6

Christof: Oh no, the Berlin wall again!

Hammersmith: 4. 0-0
Battersea: 4… Nxe4
Hammersmith: 5. d4
Battersea: 5… Be7

Phil: the best Canadian player used to play that.
Chris: Nd6 is better. Top-ranked Australian players use it.
Phil: Agreed. Our Caruana prefers Nd6 as well.

After 20 more moves, the Berlin Wall is destroyed, Battersea overcome and Hammersmith wins the game.

Marios & Kostis: We got some divine help from the Greek goddess Caissa.
Rhys: Caissa is not Greek! She is an invention by a Welshman.
Nadim: By the way, did you know that the game made its way to Europe in the 7th century via Lebanon?
Jon: And it did not end in Europe. Look at the new chess elite from China!
John: Soz Hammers, have to be paternalistic now: has everyone paid their membership fees??

Tooling Up for an Assault on London Div 1

It only seems like yesterday that we won promotion to the top flight of the London League for the first time in our club’s history – we now take our place alongside the great teams of the city in Division 1 for the 2019-20 season.

However, Hammersmith Chess Club does not stand still!

We could never be accused of resting on our laurels, and in that vein we are delighted to announce two titled players joining the roster this year, as we step up our preparations for life at the top table! Please join us in welcoming:

Hammer 1 captain, JimLocoStephenson says:

“I’m delighted to welcome two of England’s strongest young IMs into the Hammersmith fold, and look forward to having them on our London League team in our debut season in Division 1.

Peter and Tom both have a wealth of international experience which will give Hammer a real presence on our top boards.

Many thanks to our very own wheeler-dealer-extraordinaire, Chris ‘Showbag’ Skulte for his persuasive skills in bringing the two IMs on board following the successful collaboration of the Grantham Sharks and the Celtic Tigers in the recent Battersea Summer Chess League.”

Watch this space… !