Christmas Blitz & GM Keith Arkell

Hammerites, you can read a beautiful write-up of our Simultaneous against GM Keith Arkell below, but first a quick reminder of our annual Blitz Tournament tomorrow evening.

Christmas Blitz Tournament

The John R White Blitz Tournament is in its third year and we’re kicking things off at the Anvil (aka Lytton Hall) tomorrow night from 7.30pm.

First up is the small matter of our annual awards for our best players, tournament winners and other contributors to the club – always great to give a small gesture of appreciation!

This will be followed in short order by the handicap Blitz tournament, named in memory of our former Chairman and life-long member, John R White. It’s a fast & furious display of attacking chess, where gradings and form go out of the window, as the ridiculously quick games throw up blunders and sacrifices at every turn. Don’t miss it!

We’ll also be laying on snacks & drinks to help everyone get into the festive spirit! It’ll be a cracker!!

A Night at the Anvil, with GM Keith Arkell

The background – Keith Arkell became a Chess GrandMaster in 1995. His career achievements are mind-boggling:

  • British Rapid Play Champion 1998
  • English Chess Champion 2006
  • Joint British Champion in 2008, losing in a play-off to Stuart Conquest
  • European over-50 Champion in 2014
  • Joint World Champion over 50 in 2014. Awarded the silver medal on tie-break
  • Winner of literally hundreds of chess tournaments
  • A peak ELO rating of 2545

Not bad for a Brummie lad who learned chess at the age of 13!

However, all these achievements pale into insignificance thanks to a chance and momentous encounter on the 12th December 2016 in a pub called the Albion, situated in Hammersmith. Keith, relaxing after a hard days chess at the London Classic, ran into the Hammer posse indulging in their passion for beer (and chess). Contact was made and what followed will enter folklore.

Yes, he agreed to do a simultaneous at the Anvil in December 2017…… read on!

First of all, for the record, Keith “The Legend” Arkell is not only a great chess player, he is really good company, a beer connoisseur and an all-round first class human being.

Due to flu and Christmas commitments, the Hammerite contingent was much depleted, however we did mange 14 boards.

The Legend, in the spirit of the occasion, decided it was best to do a clock simultaneous. The clocks were set at 80 minutes – meaning that on average “The Ledge” would only have less than 10 minutes per board, A serious challenge alone, but on top of that he gave his opponent choice of colour.

In time-honoured tradition the designation of nicknames from Clueless now follows:

  • Chris – “RU Serious”
  • Shiraz – “Vintage”
  • John R – “Eco-Prof”
  • Charlie – “Sorted”
  • Wyatt – “Gandalf”
  • Mike Mac – “Mad Dog”
  • Thomas – “T-Bone”

The rest of the Hammer posse consisted of Wily, Spock, Brexit, Clueless, Pickle and the Great Dane. Plus a guest for the evening called A.N.Other.

Brexit was on wine duty and tried to impair the Legend’s powers by giving him a bottle of Soave to aid his progress. Excellent idea, but did it work?

Brexit also gave the rallying cry to the Hammer troops urging us all to rise to the challenge and help each other. For the greater good was the mantra we would all adopt!

On Board One the Ledge faced the balls of steel chess approach from Wily. An unbelievably fascinating game followed that ultimately ended in the rare scenario of King and Queen v King and Rook, with the Legend in the driving seat. Wily deployed all his powers but could not withstand the inevitable loss. Indeed, it could be said Wily was just “Out-Wilyied” (Hammer yet again expanding the English language). Acme Industries could not have planned it better.

On Board Two Spock struggled valiantly and with huge invention nearly saved the game. Unfortunately, he had the Bad Bishop versus Good Knight situation and two vulnerable advanced pawns. The Legend smoothly converted. Hammer 2-0 down.

Board Three Brexit, unlike real political life, was playing a Peaky Blinder. He was in control of his destiny and everything seemed in order. Unfortunately, when you deal with a Brummie/Devonian chess technocrat they have a way of lulling you into a false sense of security. Brexit thought he had the advantage but the Legend had prepared a devious tactical pin. It had all been so promising…. Hammer 3-0 to the bad.

Board Five had Pickle, playing white and his preferred London System, win the exchange and achieve a definite edge. Although, the position was hugely complicated with tactical possibilities abundant. This caused Pickle to use up huge amounts of time and in the end time pressure told and one of the tactics struck home. Hammer now at 4-0 down.

The next few boards saw RU Serious, Vintage, Eco Prof, Sorted and Gandalf all take a Hammering. RU Serious and Sorted played well beyond the point of no return to give the other Hammerites extra thinking time. Their efforts were not in vain, but more on that later. The other games I cannot comment on as my game totally absorbed my time. The tale of the tape now stood at 9-0 to the Legend.

The best moment of the night was to see Mad Dog take the Legend to the line. Although Keith had it all under control his courtesy and recognition of Mad Dog’s efforts were spot on post-match. He really is a gentleman. Mad Dog was over the moon with happiness. However, the scorecard moved relentlessly onwards to 10-0 in favour of The Legend.

Mad Dog, lording it

A guest of the night whose name escapes me, he shall be known as A.N.Other, also succumbed at the hands of The Legend. The Ledge was cruising at 11-0.

Arriving late but always up for a fight was our Top Dog – the Great Dane. With only forty minutes to play with, this was not his preferred format. He fell for a mate and now The Legend was looking at a whitewash of the Hammer Posse.

Thankfully, the honour of the Club was preserved by T-Bone and your correspondent, Clueless.

T-Bone was under pressure and the Legend misplayed a sequence of moves that allowed T-Bone to pounce with a mate in one. Analysing the position later both players agreed The Legend definitely held the advantage, but a win is a win. Hammer had stopped the rot.

Finally, to Clueless. Playing Black and a Benoni, Clueless took the Legend on in a no-holds-barred contest. There was going to be a result one way or the other. Fortunately for Clueless, Caissa decided the fates should fall his way. With only 90 seconds left on his clock Clueless accepted the Legend’s resignation.

To be frank I think he felt he morally owed me – bribes of accommodation, food, beer, free wi-fi etc. undermined the determination of the Legend. Having said that, I will take the win regardless. My first, and probably only, triumph against a GM.

The evening finished with a win for the Legend 12-2 in his favour Considering his exertions at the Classic and social enterprises over the past 10 days, the score line was amazing. His durability and energy are incredible.

The evening ended up full circle with a return to where it all started – The Albion. The conversation was great and the Legend stated for the record that whenever he is in London and there isa match on, he will turn out for Hammer! This commitment was met with great enthusiasm by the Hammer crew and reinforced our good opinion of him.

The Legend has chosen Hammer as his London home. Enough said.

Happy Christmas one and all and especially to GM Keith Arkell – now a Hammer Legend.

Clueless signing off.

 

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt IV

“On the fourth day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

… London League 5, by Robin Lee

December brings us Yuletide and groaning sideboards of food and liquids, also (groan) a recap of London League 5 matches.

In summary, we have Lost 1 and Drawn 2 – not exactly championship form.

Our leaders so far are Nadhmi (1W), Dipender (1W) and John R (1W).

Draws so far from Brian, David and Nick.

Bringing up the rear, myself and Gokhan have hit a slump – myself with 3 losses in a row, and Gokhan with 2.

So, in a less than spectacular showing so far this season, one luminary moment comes to mind, when Nadhmi took down a veteran of Kings Head, and a ray of light appeared over the chaos of battle – Turner’s Quillebeuf at the Mouth of the Seine springs to mind.

Quillebeuf, Mouth of the Seine – J.M.W. Turner

The remainder of the season in 2018 shows some interesting opponents ahead. I’m hoping we can see the return of our top players from last year including, but not limited to, Nadhmi, Gokhan, Dipender, and proven stalwarts like Chris Moore who have yet to debut this season. We also hope for a return to form in general!

In summary – Div 5, a tough, competitive league, not for the faint of heart.

Robin.

 

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt III

“On the third day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

… London League 6 (Hedger), by Mike Mackenzie

With more than five seasons past piloting London League Division 6, I have seen many improvement in its organization, and none more so than this year.

With our growing membership we have once again entered two teams in London 6, and I have 12 nominated players available for selection!

Our first match was against our home-club rivals from League 6, Hammersmith MI, which ended in a draw with a win a piece and two boards sharing the spoils. Compare this to last seasons result, where the Hedger team scraped a 2.5-1.5 win – the standard in the League is clearly rising!

Our second match was also a draw against the Wanstead 2 side, with two wins a piece. This saw us make our debut in the plush surroundings of the London League’s new venue – the Citadines Hotel in Holborn.

Our third and final game so far saw us take a bruising defeat at Morley College, going down 1-3 – the less said about that, the better!

To date we have utilized 6 of our nominated players, with a further 6 waiting in the wings – strength in depth for the run-in next year!

An exciting second half to the season is ahead, with us kicking things off on Jan 16th against DHSS.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Mike.

Puzzle of the Week #008

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and none more so than when it comes to chess puzzles!

It was way back in June that we last saw a puzzle, and word on the street is that people have been clamouring for the next one!

The first correct answer for puzzle #007 was from Paul “Dead Eye” Kennelly – well done sir!

Without further ado, let’s see what this week brings us…

White to move – answers on a postcard (in comments!)

RapidPlay Round III – Reminder

And the usual reminder – you have until the end of December to complete your third round games in the RapidPlay competition and let Adam and Dave know the result.

The Pairings are below, if you’re having any problems please get in touch:

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt II

“On the second day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

…London League 3, by John White

It seems strange giving a report on the team with only three matches played – the London League fixture list is heavily weighted towards after Christmas, with eight games to come in the New Year.

That said, if your aim is promotion you have to start well and overall the Starship Hammer have achieved that.

Our debut at the Citadines in our first match saw a convincing 7.5-2.5 win against Hackney. This match saw the welcome return of Sydney to the Hammer colours, and the introduction of the Prof and Loco to the Hammer ranks. It also featured the debut of Zeus on Board One.

This was the best performance of Hammer pre-Christmas. The team was in deadly form and was capped off by a Wily escape of Houdini proportions. How does he do it?!

Match two saw us at the home of GLCC. This was a tough gig with first-choice player availability an issue for the Hammer squad. Luckily, we were able to call on some fighting gauchos in the form of the Hat and the Gift.

However, the reality is we were out-graded, out-fought and out-thought on the night and went down 6.5-3.5. This was a tough night for Hammer 1 and really took the wind out of our sails. Maybe a hard dose of reality was needed after the Hackney canter.

Our final game was against DHSS and saw us return to winning ways with a comfortable 6.5-3.5 win, although as non-playing captain on the night it was not an easy watch!

The tale of the evening saw the first appearance for nearly 14 months by Sauvignon, and great performances from Wily and Pandit in particular. This match was a very professional and disciplined performance from the Hammer crew, and a good bounce back after the GLCC setback.

The main thing after three games is we are in the mix with some tough matches to come.

I must acknowledge certain matters in this report:

  • No defaults so far – excellent
  • The Prof at 2/2 for the season, he is relishing competitive chess again
  • Dead-eye smouldering on 2/2
  • The Gift, probably the youngest debutant in Hammer LL history
  • The return of Sydney and Sauvignon to Mother Hammer’s loving bosom
  • The form of Zeus, Loco, Wily and Pandit
  • The fact that Thomas will be playing for us in 2018
  • The addition of Tommaso to the squad of players available
  • Finally, the funniest moment of the season so far, maybe the funniest of the whole season – Spock, aka Pavel, doing the “Live Long and Prosper” sign with a straight face

The overall conclusion is so far, so good!

John.

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt I

Crack open the mulled wine & get your tinsel ready – here at Hammer we’re putting a festive spin on our mid-term Team Captain’s reports as we present… The 8 Teams of Christmas (c)!!!

With most of our League Games now done until the new year, every few days we’ll be hearing from one of our captains how their team has done so far this season.

So, without further ado…

“On the first day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

…London League 4, by Dave Lambert!

Without a match in Division 4 since early November, I’ve very little excuse for not writing a short mid-term report at Christmas to tide us over! I’ve also just noticed that all the 2017 matches across the league have now completed, so the timing seems apt.

We’ve only played 3 of our 12 matches, but have made a positive start. We’ve chalked-up 2 points on the scoreboard and sit in 5th place as we approach the New  Year.

A convincing early win against Morley College (7-1) was followed with another decisive win against Alfil (5.5-1.5).

Our defeat came at the hands of Metropolitan (2.5-5.5) whose home advantage saw them triumph. Despite the scoreline, we ran them really close with a couple of results turning their way at the death.

It’s a really competitive league this time around – perhaps more so than ever – and there’s probably around 6 sides capable of stealing promotion (top 2 finish required). We have to count ourselves amongst that number, but will need to bring our A-game against the likes of Streatham, Lewisham and Athenaeum to really put ourselves in the mix.

I can include the latest view of our individual records below, but in truth, it’s too early to get excited about this stuff. Most of us have only played one or two games! Still, it’s nice to see so many players getting games across the squad, particularly as we’ve been able to welcome the likes of Charlie, Simon, Pouya, Wyatt, Matteo and Shiraz to make their debuts this season. That’s nearly half our number! What a reflection of how far we’ve come as a club over the last 12 months.

We’ll find out what we’re made of in January when we face a couple of main contenders in quick succession!

Have a great Christmas and New Year! Let’s hope for a successful 2018.

Dave.

 

A Classic Week

London League 6: Battersea v Hammersmith – 28/11/17

Tuesday night saw us travel to Clapham Junction to take on Battersea in a tricky Division 6 fixture. Following a bit of inevitable ribbing on Twitter (@hammer_chess), I’m afraid it was us left to lick our wounds following a disappointing 1.5-2.5 defeat.

Rich was unavailable to captain this time around so Dave stepped in to do the honours. He picks up the commentary from here.

The aftermath

Ben was first to finish on board 4. Facing an empty chair for the best part of 30 minutes is never the best introduction (Battersea’s player arriving fashionably late), particularly when you’re making your debut in London League.

The mind games obviously worked, spellbinding Ben into an early touch-move mistake. It resulted in giving up a Knight for a pawn, which despite an all-out attack that followed, ultimately proved decisive. 0-1 down.

Wyatt on board 2 was next to fall, succumbing to a reversal in the Queen’s Gambit Declined line. In truth, Black’s queenside pawn storm proved decisive, handing Battersea’s captain the initiative with the dual advantage of increased space and promotion threats. Full game is included below. 0-2 down, and looking like a real battle to take anything from the match.

The result was ultimately confirmed with the conclusion of Charlie’s match on board 3, a respectable draw against veteran Tim Allen. That took the score to 0.5-2.5 with the result no longer in doubt.

Facing an unfamiliar opening, Charlie countered well before a premature Queen attack left him down a pawn and playing catchup. Full marks for creating complications and for inviting the draw offer. Full game here:

The final match to finish was my own on board 1. I’ve recently studied the Smith-Morra Gambit and strolled to the venue convinced I’d get a chance to try it F2F for the first time. I had to smile when I was allocated black but nevertheless faced the same opening a few moves in.

Conscious of the mayhem that can ensue, I declined the gambit with a fairly passive 3…d3. Not the most exciting move but it appeared to  unsettle my opponent; I got the sense his theory was stronger in the Accepted lines! It was then a battle of pawn storms on either flank, but I always felt I had the initiative. Happy to get the win! Full game below. 1.5-2.5 defeat all told.

That’s it now until Christmas – thanks to everyone for turning out!

Dave.

Middlesex Division 2: Hendon v Hammersmith – 30/11/17

“How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Hammer Style”

On Thursday night Hammer’s Middlesex 1 team took on Hendon 4. On paper a highly probable win was on the cards for Hammer, as not only did we out grade them, but we had swept them aside 8-0 at The Anvil earlier in the month. If you were a betting man… you would put your money on the nose for the Hammer boys to deliver.

Unfortunately, the major curse of being a captain of any Hammer team is the no-show of team members on team nights. This is the one thing that frustrates any Hammer captain more than anything else. To paraphrase one of Oscar Wilde’s most memorable creations, Lady Bracknell:

“To have one default may be regarded as misfortune, to have two defaults looks like carelessness, but to have three is disastrous.”

Let us examine dear reader, this tale of woe.

To begin any sporting contest effectively 3-0 down is a huge handicap. This was the size of the task facing the five Hammer players who sat down to face the Hendon 4 team.

The night saw the Middlesex 1 debut of Pouya – so in time-honoured tradition his designated nickname is Silk.

Board One saw the Great Dane in action, playing black, and in great form. Although consuming a good chunk of time for the first half of the game when it got to the business end of the contest he performed majestically. A blitz-style finish saw the Great Dane deliver a picturesque checkmate. Hammer at 1-3

Board Two saw Sydney grab a draw in a contest where he was under pressure. He was relieved to get that result as he was not in the best of form. Hammer now at 1.5-3.5

On Board 5 Tellit played an excellent game displaying excellent endgame technique and utilising the concept of Zugzwang to perfection. This brought the overall score to 2.5-3.5 in favour of Hendon.

Board Eight saw Silk take a well-fought draw against a tricky opponent. Although he held an edge, there were possible threats against his king that would have made matters very murky. He prudently took the draw option, putting Hammer at 3-4 down.

Finally, on board Seven Clueless was happy to escape with a draw. Having misplayed the opening, he was under pressure for most of the game and had to indulge in some severe scrambling to achieve counter play. Having done this, he briefly contemplated playing for the win in a two rook versus two rooks endgame.

However, the risk of matters going wrong was too severe and a repetition of position occurred. This translated to Hammer losing 3.5-4.5

So Hammer Middlesex 1 lose their first game of the season. With the inevitable addition of game penalty points, it was a miserable evening for the team – just rubbish.

As Captain of the Hammer 1 London League team I make this plea to all Hammer members:

If we are serious about promotion in any of the leagues we compete in we can have no more defaults for the rest of the season. Promotion is tough enough without shooting ourselves in the foot.

Which brings us full circle and back to the title of this piece.

Clueless over and out.

Rapidplay – December – Round III !

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month – it can only mean one thing – the latest pairings for our Rapidplay tournament are out!

But first, a word on the Round II results in November. Full results are below, but full credit to Dave Lambert in holding out (and very nearly beating) our reigning champion, Bajrush! Tantalisingly close to a major upset there – the thrilling encounter is below:

Adam also deserves a mention for overcoming higher-rated opponent John,  as does Paul, but it’s Chris Moore who gets the “performance of the round” prize for beating Pouya. Well done Chris!! Other results went largely to form.

To the Round III pairings then – and there are some properly tasty matchups for December, starting with seven of our strongest players facing off in the top four ties – with star-performer Chris completing the set. Will Chris be able to keep up his remarkable run of form against Marios? Yasser vs John looks like a cracker too.

Towards the bottom end we’ve got a series of – on paper – evenly matched games that should prove tight contests. Action all over the place!!

As usual, the onus is on individuals to arrange the games with your opponents & get the result to tournament controllers Adam & Dave by the end of the month.

December will be a busy month for many, so we encourage all players to get their games organised asap. Our Monday schedule at Lytton Hall looks like this:

  • 4th DecemberFREE evening
  • 11th December – Keith Arkell Simultaneous
  • 18th December  – Handicap Blitz Tournament
  • 25th December – Club Closed for Christmas Day!!

We therefore recommend trying to get your game arranged for 4th December. Any problems, please get in touch with the controllers:

Keith Arkell Simul – London Chess Classic

You’ll hopefully be aware that the London Chess Classic 2017 started this week, with Round 1 matches taking place on Friday. Selected results from the top players below:

A couple of “GM draws” in there

It’s a huge, prestigious event in the international chess calendar, and frequently attracts the worlds top players! Whether you’re playing or merely spectating, it’s well worth a trip down to Olympia to see what’s happening. Further details are available on their website:

http://www.londonchessclassic.com

The Classic finishes on Monday 11th December, and to celebrate we are hosting GM Keith Arkell at Lytton Hall for a Simultaneous!

When Garry met Keith

Keith is a top English player, having achieved GM status in 1995, and he’s a particularly strong Rapid player, so a Simul we be a great test of his abilities!

It’s going to be a popular event, so if you’d like to reserve a spot please get in touch with John: john.white49@ntlworld.com 

There’ll be a small fee of £6, and prizes for the best performances!

11th December – SAVE THE DATE!

Chess.com – Find a Hammer Player!

As the year draws to a close, the Club Chess calendar for December is looking decidedly sparse! One way to overcome this is with online chess, and we thought it would be a great idea to share chess.com usernames of our Hammer players – strike up an online game with a friendly face from W14!

Our current list is below – if you’d like to share your username, please leave a comment or drop us an email: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

 

That’s it for now – look out for some Festive roundups for each of our teams coming soon, and enjoy the London Chess Classic!

Ehr for Congress!

Here at Hammer we don’t really “do” politics. However, when it comes to the political aspirations of one of our upstanding, former members, we are happy to oblige!

Former Hammerite & West-Londoner, ex-Chief Executive of the ECF, long-time US Navy serviceman, and – most importantly – fine example of a human being, our very own Phil Ehr is standing for elected office in the US!

That’s right, Phil is standing for Congress in Florida’s 1st Congressional District as a Democrat candidate, and we’d like to share some details of a couple of events he’ll be holding in London as part of the campaign.

First up, Phil will be hosting an event across the road from the London Chess Classic in our old favourite Albion Pub:

  • When: Monday 4th December, from 7pm
  • Where: The Albion Pub (upstairs function room), 121 Hammersmith Road, W14 OQL
  • What: Drinks and an opportunity to meet Phil and hear more details about his campaign

And following that, there’s a reception in Central London as follows:

“Join us to hear Phil Ehr talk about his race to represent Florida’s Panhandle and replace a very right-wing Republican!  Phil is a retired Navy officer who served around the world, most recently in London.  He moved back to Pensacola last May and announced his candidacy in July. 

Phil is campaigning to keep Americans healthy through affordable health care, and respects women’s rights to reproductive medical services.  He will work to protect the environment, strengthen national security, fund public education and serve our military community.

He is running against Matt Gaetz, who has called for the resignation of Special Counsel Mueller and voted to defund FEMA!  On December 5 in London, Phil will talk about the challenges he faces in western Florida and his path to electoral victory next November!”

We’re fully behind Phil in his quest for office! Please share this article with anyone who may be interested!

And be sure to check out his website for more details of his campaign, the issues that are important to him, and details of upcoming events:

http://www.ehrforcongress.com

Donations to Phil’s campaign are encouraged if you so wish, but please note that only US citizens or Green Card holders can donate – please use the following link: https://www.ehrforcongress.com/donate/

Go Phil – Hammersmith Chess Club is rooting for you!!

 

A Position of GO

London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith – 23.11.17

Welcome to returning veterans David Lambert and John Ryan, who debut this match on division 5.

John was the first to finish on board 4, dealing an inexperienced opponent a sharp object lesson in chess, quickly going a piece up, then mopping up pawns in rapid style. 1-0

The Hammersmith captain on board 3 with the white pieces, bungled the move order in the Korchnoi gambit to the French defence. Quickly, the young Pimlico junior gained the advantage with a dangerous knight assay into the white kingside.

The Hammersmith captain desperately sacrificed a piece for two pawns, to gain counter play and force the queens off. The board saw two rooks and two pawn islands each side and black was a piece for a pawn up! The junior then studied the board for nearly 20 minutes, before launching a vicious two rook attack on white’s 2nd rank.

However, this did not end in mate as expected, but it did allow a rook swap and the simplified endgame was ultimately lost, with white resigning. 1-1

A busy night at the Pimlico office

David on board 2 had the black pieces against the Pimlico captain. Their board saw the open Sicilian Defence, with David playing early pawns to c5 and e5 (the Maroczy Bind), a rock-solid defence. Draw agreed, and the score was 1.5-1.5

Having to deal with the lightning fast junior on board 3, I saw little of the other games.

In the dying moments of the match, we gathered to watch Brian Dodgeon staving off defeat on the clock, with perhaps 5 minutes to go against 20 minutes.

I saw an entrenched position with perhaps 7 or 8 pawns each side, the white pawn array appearing as a strong, symmetrical arrow-head. There were also all major pieces and one bishop on both sides.

White looked to have dangerous pawn pushes possible on c5 and d5, each supported by rooks from behind. White had a bishop landlocked behind his own pawns, black on the other hand had a bishop supported by a pawn, near white’s castled king.

The image of a GO board came to mind where each side, in the famous Japanese board game, tries to strangle the other in a strategy of global dominance. With much to ponder, black offered a very sporting draw which Brian mulled over for a while, then accepted.

A draw it was at 2-2. David later pointed out that it was a good result, as Pimlico had just trounced a strong team 4-0.

I am indebted to David for stepping in at the last minute. Nadhmi had to withdraw understandably for a school event.

Robin.

Live Long and Prosper

London League 3: DHSS v Hammersmith – 21.11.17

Welcome to the latest adventures of the Starship Hammer 1 and its one season mission to explore strange new and old chess clubs, and boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Star Date 21/11/2017 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to a strange, but in some ways familiar, planet called DHSS. The environment was most welcoming but also slightly hostile.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

Zeus, Wily, Loco, Sydney, Brexit, Spock, Pandit, Dead-Eye, Sauvignon and The Suit. The party was led by the non-playing captain, Clueless.

This is how the night unfolded, but not necessarily in chronological order.

Zeus playing black on board 1, was out-graded by 20 points plus, and facing a c3 Sicilian. Following his own advice, he played an early d5 and fianchettoed his black-square bishop. A great struggle unfolded with white’s 2 vs 1 queen-side majority probably going to decide matters, however Zeus won the exchange with a smart combination but unfortunately this released the white a-pawn to march up the board.

Backed by two white bishops this proved the decisive moment of the game. There was a drawing sequence but it required a computer-like move walking the black king into check.

Although Zeus is a god, he is not a computer!! Hammer landing party down 0-1.

On board 2 Wily was in sparkling form, with his usual e4, d3 and c4 setup, and g and h-pawns racing up the board. Having achieved a passed pawn positioned on h6, which resulted in black devoting serious resources to prevent it marching onwards, he then switched his attention to the black king castled on the queen-side.

He won a piece and then two pieces and pawn for a rook with a lovely combination. He then chased the black king up the board and weaved a special mating net. This was chess played all over the board and Wily brought Hammer level. 1-1

On board three Loco, playing black, faced a Giuoco Piano setup and instead of going Bc5 on move three, went Be7. A long, dour struggle then played out with Loco holding a very large time advantage. His opponent seemed concerned with seeing or neutralising minor threats whilst eating up his clock. My feeling is that he was mostly seeing Scotch Mist as Jim was never in trouble and comfortably secured the draw. 1-5-1.5

On board 4 Sydney got a walkover as his opponent did not show. His reward – the misfortune to play a handful of blitz games with Clueless to while away the time. Hammer now 2.5-1.5 ahead.

On board 5 Brexit reflected political reality. He played accurately and well at first, gradually moving towards equality and then he took a stab at Utopia. Unfortunately, his opponent had played him like a “Michel Barnier” and delivered him a hefty bill for his optimistic play.

Brexit tried negotiating but the ending was sudden and the promised land never arrived. Brexit will regroup and in the spirit of David Davis he will be out for the next round and he will win through. He is done with Junckering!!

Hammer pegged back to 2.5 all.

Board six saw Spock, armed with the white pieces, take on a Sicilian defence. He consumed a lot of time but pursued his attack logically as outlined in the Star Fleet Chess Manual. In the end a draw was agreed. Pavel is a great team player with a quirky sense of humour. He always sticks around to see the outcome of games and provided the comedy moment of the evening when he looked at me and gave me the Vulcan “live long and prosper” sign with a straight face. Just brilliant. Tense at 3-3.

Board seven next was in the safe and capable hands of Pandit.  He was in the best of form playing the black side of a Sicilian defence. Playing accurately and simply, he emerged into an endgame two pawns up. His opponent tried a couple of tricks but Pandit negotiated all before him and emerged a deserved winner. Hammer back ahead 4-3.

On board nine Dead-Eye had a beautiful inverted V-shaped, spearhead pawn formation wedged into the black position. He then transferred attention to the black king. With an open f-file he had a way in. Alas his opponent played a knight-sac on d4 and if Dead-Eye had recaptured he would have lost a rook as well.

There is an old Irish proverb that goes “it is better to be a coward than a dead-man all your life” – Paul wisely adopted this advice and accepted the pawn loss. However, his opponent had consumed too much time on the clock and did not make move 30 at the time-control. Dead-Eye had made it 5-3.

Board nine saw the welcome season debut of Sauvignon. Playing black he achieved equality and then secured a positional edge with white severely hampered by an inferior pawn structure and an e-pawn still rooted to its original starting square. Sauvignon moved over to the attack. However, Dave Gilbert, the DHSS captain, is a tricky opponent and does not roll over easily. He found some accurate moves and secured a draw. Hammer past the winning post at 5.5-3.5, and match point secured.

Finally on board 10, we saw The Suit wearing the Hammer mantle. By his own admission The Suit has not been in the best of form this season. Indeed, the first half of this game reflected that lack of confidence and accuracy in his play.

However, once his chance came he seized it with a beautiful combination and play reminiscent of his form last season. I hope this is the turning point for him and he gets the results his talent deserves.

So, Starship Hammer 1 triumphed 6.5-3.5. Yes, there were squeaky bum moments but the force is strong in Hammer 1 and we won through. The current table makes pleasant reading:

Three games in and Hammer are a contender – go Hammer!

Captain Clueless log – mission accomplished, roll-on 2018. Clueless over & out.

London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith – 23.11.17

Captains report to follow, however we are pleased to report that the Hammersmith team secured a 2-2 draw!

London League 6: Morley College v Hammersmith – 24.11.17

Board 1 saw S.Shaw take on Hammer’s Robin Lee. Robin had an excellent win with the white pieces, trapping a bishop which in the end proved enough. 1-0

On board 2 John Ryan faced a solid, central attack by his opponent, which proved too much to hold on. 1-1

On 3, Hammer’s Nick Rutherford succumbed to a tactical struggle, eventually losing on time. 1-2

Last up on 4, stalwart Dan Rugman with the black pieces played a c5 response to his opponents opening e4. After Nf3 d6, d4 cxd4, Nxd4 Nf6, Nc3 a6, B4?! – never seen that before! Dan played a good game but fell into a mating net.

Final score – a 3-1 defeat for the L6 Hedger team.

Mike.

RapidPlay – Final Reminder for Round II

We’re one week from the end of November and eight of the twelve games have been played. Surprises so far include wins for Adam, Chris and Paul against John, Pouya and Shiraz respectively.

On top board Bajrush narrowly escaped with the full point after Dave lost a completely winning position with very little time left (game below).

Please be sure to get the final four results in before the end of the month, along with any requests for half-point byes in December – we appreciate it can be a busy month.

Adam.