The Southern Counties Chess Union (SCCU – catchy!) celebrates 125 years of existence this year. It was the first of what was to become five regional chess unions in England, which later gave birth to today’s English Chess Federation.
To mark the historic milestone they’re hosting a huge chess shindig up at Swiss Cottage next month.
It’s going to involve upwards of 400 players taking part in a massive North v South game – a nod to the distribution of the historic counties of England around the river Thames. You can read more about the fascinating history here, but the essentials you need to know are as follows:
When: Saturday 16th September, from 1pm
Where: The Hall School, Swiss Cottage, NW3 4NU
What: All moves over 125 minutes, across as many boards as possible
ECF rated? – YES!
Hammersmith members have already started registering their interest – all you need do is choose a side, and drop an email to the relevant team captain. Rivalry aside, it’s rare to see so many competitive games in a single place – should be a belter!
Rumour has it the nearby Swiss Cottage Tavern will be rather busy afterwards too… Good luck!
When: Monday 14th, two games starting at 7.45, and 8.45 – one as White, and one as Black, against an opponent of similar ability
TimeControl: 30 mins per person, no increment
Anybody who is ECF registered for the 17/18 season is eligible to play, we’ll just need to know your ECF number – this includes any non-members who want to come along.
And, in a sneak preview of our plans for next season – we’re finessing details for our season-long Club Rapid-play tournament. We’ll be offering graded Rapid-play games on a monthly basis for anyone who wants to enter… watch this space!
01.08.2017 – Yes, the Hammer posse took to the mean streets of Kensington to bring chess to the good citizens of the Royal Borough.
The vehicle to deliver our brilliant game was a pub crawl. Not a curious choice considering the partiality of many Hammerites to the odd tipple!
The idea, originally, was to play a 10-minute blitz tourney playing two rounds in each pub – a noble idea. The pubs in question, and the order in which we would proceed were the Elephant and Castle, The Goat, The Builders Arms and the Devonshire Arms. However, I have to report a deviation from the plan when the posse missed out on the Builder’s Arms, choosing The Greyhound instead.
Unfortunately, due to various factors the concept was quickly abandoned and the job of casual chess accompanied by lots of beer, took over. Coupled with a somewhat leisurely approach to time-keeping, the evening proved a more social than competitive event.
Plus, the natural camaraderie aspect and good conversation added to the evening. In other words, the usual rubbish that chess players usually engage in!
So, this report has little to do with chess, but more to do with the quality of beer consumed.
As you know, I have a penchant for bestowing nicknames on the participants of any Hammer event, and there will be no exception here. The Magnificent Seven were:
Carsten – The Great Dane (in honour of Bent Larsen and his latest ECF grading)
Adam – Pickle
Matteo – The Suit
Jay – Jaz Z (obviously!!)
Dipender – Mr Dipenderble (Dr D for short!)
Ken – Kool
Me – Clueless
Plus a late night interloper, Jeremy aka “Brexit” – I must point out that did not turn us into the Hateful Eight!! My first and only Quentin Tarantino reference of this report!
We also picked up a friend of Dr D, and a couple of members of the public who were duly dispatched by the veterans in summarily manner.
I think the Great Dane was troubled, in chess terms, only by The Suit and maybe Jay Z.
Kool, Pickle and Dr D had a solid evening of beer consumption and a mixed evening at the board.
As for Clueless, he successfully pickled Pickle but crashed and burned against the Great D. Finally, he had a 50/50 result with Jay Z where the chess played was of the most dubious nature. I think beer at this stage was definitely affecting his play – and definitely not for the better. At the end, he won his first game against Brexit, and then lost the next three.
To be honest the night took on something of a posh version of Ulysses by James Joyce as, like the great literary work, we progressed regally from pub to pub. Indeed, we looked like a CAMRA investigation team rather than a highly-regarded and prestigious West London chess club!
The winner of the evening overall was the social craic, with the beer a close second and in a distant last place the quality of the chess.
In terms of competition I can only report the result of the best pub.
The winner was clear-cut – The Devonshire Arms. In the words of the Great Dane, they have “Summer Lightning” – enough said.
In clear second place, the Elephant & Castle (not the South London version), followed by The Greyhound and finally, The Goat.
It was an odyssey of an evening and maybe wisdom/nirvana in the form of The Devonshire Arms was found in the end.
So, a great night and thanks to the Magnificent Seven plus One – totally worthwhile.
Normal chess life resumes at The Albion on Monday, with the next of our Training & Theory evenings – see you there!
Links to all the pubs above – they’re all within walking distance of each other in the Kensington area. Apologies to anyone who was really looking forward to going South of the River – maybe next time!!
From Hammersmith, to Amsterdam, and now… to Elephant & Castle!! (that’s in Saaaf London, for the un-initiated!)
Yes that’s right, tomorrow night sees Hammersmith hitting up the burgeoning casual chess scene in the Zone 1 landmark destination South of the River. Our top members John and Adam will be leading the charge – we’re taking half a dozen sets with us to explore a couple of pubs in the area and show them what West London is made of, chess-wise.
We’ll be taking on locals, visitors and anyone else who happens to be in one of the following public houses tomorrow night, and of course having a few drinks while we’re at it:
1. The Elephant and Castle – 7.15-8pm
2. The Goat – 8.15-9pm
3. The Builders Arms – 9.15-10pm
4. The Devonshire Arms – 10.15-11pm
Despite it’s south-of-the-river location, Elephant is actually very central and stupendously well linked for transport – Northern Line tube, and several mainline services serve the area, along with a multitude of buses. Sounds like fun to me – hope to see as many of you there as possible!
If you were wondering how the place got it’s unusual name (I was!), look no further – it derives from a coaching inn which used to occupy the site. The coaching inn took the inspiration for it’s name from the former occupants of their site – a Blacksmith & a Cutler (knife-maker).
The coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers (one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London) features an Elephant & Castle – the elephant representing the ivory formerly used in the handles, and the castle representing a Howdah – an elephant-borne carriage (think holidays in Thailand!!), thought to represent strength!
Fascinating stuff, I’m sure you agree, and a brilliantly unusual landmark for London!
Alekhine Athletic emerged victorious, with Jay and Dipender dropping just half a match point, winning a tasty chocolate bar and an exciting card game. Player of the tournament was Dipender, scoring three wins out of three.
After the success of the first training session of the summer, Carsten hosted our second session on Monday. He spent two hours going through a game that I lost in the summer league a few weeks ago:
He had clearly put a lot of preparation in, and I think everyone, especially me, learnt a lot.
Avoid playing very theoretical openings (e.g. Najdorf Sicilian). Your opponent only has to learn one variation, whereas you have to prepare for many
In closed positions, look at which pawn breaks will improve your position and how best to prepare them
Any pawn that can not be defended by another pawn is, by definition, a weak pawn. Look for these weaknesses and try to exploit them
Everyone misses tactics from time to time. This is not the time to panic. Collect yourself and play the position
The next training session of the summer will be hosted by our chairman Bajrush on 7th August.
Finally please note the upcoming Monday 24th July session, originally planned for Cafe Nero, has been moved to the Albion after a poor showing from the regulars last time. See our schedule for full details of the summer programme.
I thought it was about time to get Shakespeare on the Hammer website.
At club level chess, I am currently rated ECF 150 (roll on July) – you do wonder what is the best opening move.
Taking the White side first.
I am a confirmed e4 player as White – it feels more natural, I have more knowledge of the openings resulting from this move. I am in my comfort zone.
This season, more than ever before, I am feeling the irresistible pull of d4 or c4. Indeed, I am experimenting more and more on chess.com in bullet chess. The problem is translating that experience into the over-the-board, long game and match scenario.
One of the pearls of wisdom I can pass on to the more youthful members of the club from my 58 years in this mortal coil, is that the older you get, the more risk averse you become.
To put it another way. Imagine me as a 25-year old – I was one once – and I had been a competent skier. If the choice was between a black run or a red run, the former would win every time! Thirty-two years later the choice is now between red and blue – with the latter winning most times. In other words, your desire to be reckless diminishes as surely as the march of time.
So, will I make the change? Maybe, or maybe not! Next season is the crunch time.
Now the Black perspective.
When an opponent flashes out c4 or d4 I immediately assume they are a more sophisticated player. They have read a bit!
In my mind, they are prepared for a strategic and positional struggle. They know a thing or two!
e4 feels more basic, more caveman than high-brow. The struggle will be more tactical and a positive result more likely. It feels like your opponent is shouting “charge!”. A fight to the death is taking place and you cannot avoid it.
c4 or d4 feels like let’s see where we go, as I exert the advantage of first move. However, they will seek to slowly strangle you, and do so without risk to themselves.
Bobby Fischer played e4 for practically his entire chess career, until embarking on his WCC match against Spassky.
I know there were two c4 games in the interzonal in that cycle, but his real switch came when the title was on the line.
Poor Spassky must have been totally bemused as it appeared he had no preparation to go on, and coupled with his laid-back character, no defence.
In a recent article for the website I referred to the use of psychology in chess. The result in a game of chess, like all other sport, is often dictated by mental strength. If you can, legally and fairly, get inside the head of your opponent and use that properly, you are well on your way to victory.
Fischer’s use of c4 made hours of analysis and preparation completely redundant. A massive psychological blow.
To sum up – and remember this is just my view! – all three moves are good, and maybe wisdom and experience comes in to the equation.
I have been a confirmed e4 man all my life but am starting to feel the irresistible pull of a Queen-sized offering. Am I being pragmatic, or just getting old? You decide!!
If you’d like to write an article for the website, please get in touch. All contributions welcomed!
Reminder: Theory Night – Monday 17th July
Don’t forget, the next evening of training & learning takes place this coming Monday at the Albion, starting about 7.30pm.
Our top-rated player, Carsten Pedersen, will be running through a couple of games to give us his thoughts & insights. Come join us!
After every set of fixtures, the team captains from all the clubs involved have a chess-based conclave to decide which performance warrants the “Game of the Week” moniker.
The white smoke this time went up in favour of an enthralling battle between Mo Islam (East London Knights) and Malcolm Dancy (Battersea), featuring a hard-fought positional struggle, a number of winning chances and ever-changing initiative, plus some strategic mistakes for both players.
There’s also a shout-out for Hammer’s only victor of the round – with a Performance of the Week – young Nadhmi. Check it out!
Thanks to all involved for the video, and well done to the above mentioned players!
As if that’s not enough… hot on the heels of awarding us 3rd place in their Britain’s Best Chess Club Website list, the well-informed folks at Chess Journal have also featured us in the latest of their Club Profiles. You can read the full article here:
… that’s right folks, a mere 18 months after we re-launched our website in January 2016, we have been officially recognised as one of the finest Chess Club websites in Britain by the wise folks at ChessJournal. You can read their full article here:
We are naturally delighted to have placed in the top 5, and even more delighted to have placed ahead of our local friendly rivals, Battersea! Not the first time that’s happened either…
It’s been a fine effort by the many people who contribute regular articles & updates, not least our ever-faithful team Captains. ChessJournal were particularly complimentary about the number of events we hold too, and how this “really makes you want to visit the club“. Props to all involved!
To mark the occasion, we’re issuing a call to all members for new articles to post – we want your contributions! As long as it’s vaguely-chess related, we’ll publish your article! It could be about anything at all, but here’s a few ideas to get you started:
How you got involved with the game, your personal “chess journey”
Playing chess in another country, for those non-UK member out there, and how it compares
Your most memorable game – perhaps it was a funny moment that happened, or you played chess somewhere particularly exotic!
A short writeup of a tournament you’ve played in – bonus points if it was somewhere other than London!
Your preferred opening lines, tricks & tips, or other playing advice
Ladies & gents, an exciting new era in team-management beckons!
Our Summer League captains, Marios and Ken, are trialling a new way of managing teams & we want all Hammersmith players onboard.
The simple solution is a brilliant app called Teamer. It’s a standard download on your smartphone and will allow much simpler, more dynamic and intuitive arranging of teams in future. It’s definitely the way forward, and we want everyone at Hammer to be on board with it.
There are many Pro’s to recommend it to you all, but in summary:
Very user friendly
Match calendars readily visible
Accept/decline match invitation with a simple click
Performance and attendance stats recorded
Cool features – photo-sharing, team discussions
Makes a captain’s life much, much easier
Organises all our teams on a single, streamlined platform
An end to group emails
Ken and Marios have already set up all Hammer members on the app – you’ll have received your invitation email already, and it’s remarkably easy to sign up from there.
If they’ve missed you – don’t worry, please click the following link to set yourself up so that we don’t miss you!