Puzzle of the Week #013

Unlucky for some, we are back for our thirteenth installment with another puzzle.

But first, to last weeks. It was another superb response from Hammerites with no fewer than 10 attempts – many of them not from Charlie!

The first correct reply was from Mohammad – well done to you sir! An honourable mention must also go to Gokhan with a slightly later, but equally correct, effort.

It was no mean feat – full solution as follows:

1.f6! gxf6
2. f4 Kd4
3. g5 fxg5
4. fxg5 Ke5 (if hxg5, h6 and black is outside the square, now it looks like he can stop the pawn except for…)
5. gxh6 Kf6
6. Kc2!!

Ed. Lasker – Moll, Berlin Ch 1904.

Black is now in Zugzwang! The actual game went 1.f4 f6, and black won, a tragedy for “Die Kleine Lasker” who would have won the city championship with a win in this game. (Source: The Bobby Fischer I Knew, Arnold Denker).

So to #13- White to move, answers in the comments please:

 

A Whole Lotta Hammer

“Not a Whole Lotta Love from Hammer 1 on Valentine’s Eve”

Welcome to the next rollicking installment of the Starship Hammer 1’s 2018 odyssey and it’s one-season mission to boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Star Date 13/02/2018 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to the planet of the Citadines to encounter a strange alien species called the Metropolitans. There is definitely a Gallic/Germanic flavour about this world, with our match taking place in the Berlin room.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

Thomas, Chris S, Jim, Paul McK, Tommaso, Pavel, Jeremy, Sheikh, Paul K, Clueless and Charlie. A team of old and new faces – indeed, if you go back just over two years only Jeremy, Sheikh, Paul K and I were Hammer crew members. The times – they are a-changing!

We out-graded our opponents on average by 25 points a board – although this was exaggerated by Thomas’s estimated grade. Thus, applying Pavel (Spock) logic, the result should not have been in doubt. This time the logic was not misplaced.

Despite missing the great talents of Zeus (Marios), Wily (Bajrush) and Paul McK (Prof) the Hammer gauchos were not going to be distracted and like the consummate professionals they are, the only dish on the menu was victory.

Chris S (Sydney or Show Bag) was fast out of the blocks. I know he is under huge pressure at work, with the added addition of personal stuff to deal with; indeed, he asked me if I could find a substitute for the match. I reluctantly told him I could not.

To his eternal credit and demonstrating dedication beyond the call of duty, he turned out. He took all his frustration out on his unfortunate opponent and romped to a quick and deserving victory. 1-0 Hammer.

Next up saw Jim (Loco) dishing out the punishment. I remember seeing his black b pawn landing on b2 and pawn mopping-up operations in full flow. Basically, it was a Bannockburn of a game and his opponent was duly routed and sent home to think again. Hammer flying at 2-0.

To the first reverse of the night with Sheikh, as black facing a Nimzovitch-Larsen setup from his opponent. If you ever contemplate playing this opening I refer you to the classic Larsen-Spassky encounter of 1969 as a cautionary tale. It certainly put me off playing 1.b3 for life.

This was one of those encounters when according to Stockfish Sheikh was +2.82 and cruising to victory. He then decided to finish off his opponent a la Spassky in the above-mentioned encounter. Alas, he left a bishop en prise and sadly went down in flames. A definite case of defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory. Hammer pegged back to 2-1.

Next up were Pavel (Spock) and your correspondent Captain Clueless.

Pavel playing black won the exchange with a nice rook pin, unfortunately his King was denuded of pawn protection and the draw was the smart and pragmatic move to make.

Clueless’ game followed a familiar pattern to all his games post-Christmas. A move mis-order as black, after resolute opening play in a c3 Sicilian, left him on the back foot. Fortunately, a tenacious fightback and good defence equalised the position and he was glad to accept the draw offer with only a few pawns and one rook left on the board. Hammer holding at 3-2.

Next up was Tommaso (Forza) who played the attacking game of the evening. Sacking a pawn as white in a Petroff opening, he gained hyper-accelerated development. With Black’s King trapped in the centre of the board he even indulged in a Queen offer – sadly refused by his uncooperative opponent – to force victory. A brilliant game and I suggest you study it carefully and learn. Hammer surging ahead 4-2.

Our second reversal of the night saw Thomas (T-Bone) have an off night. In desperation he sacked a knight on h3 to force complications, perpetual check, or for his opponent to go wrong. To be frank it was simply a bad night at the office and I should know having had so many myself. Hammer, still without clear blue water, 4-3 ahead and the tension rising.

Cometh the hour, cometh the men.

Yes, in our hour of need up stepped Charlie (Sorted or Kiev), Paul K (DeadEye) and Jeremy (Brexit).

Charlie, overcoming debute nerves for Hammer 1 and a lastminute.com SOS call from Clueless, played flawlessly. He basically was hoovering up pieces whilst maintaining a positional grip. It was a masterpiece of slaughtered chess. The only disturbing aspect was that his opponent continued to be tortured without throwing the towel in. Hammer now on the brink at 5-3.

Paul K (Dead-Eye) is in imperious form this season, and this night was no exception. Playing white and facing a passive opponent in a French Winawer variation, he was seemingly strategically won after 15 moves. He had buried black’s white-squared bishop, commanded 70% of the board and just needed to find a tactic to prise the position open. Black was reduced to meaningless moves. In the best traditions of Dead-Eye chess he found the way and the resignation came swiftly after. 6-3 Hammer.

Finally to Jeremy (Brexit), last to finish and even then, it is an adjournment. However, unlike our politicians Jeremy gets stuff done and sorted. He repulsed a speculative attack which saw him gain a knight for two pawns. The game resembled a Kings Indian standard king side attack. The problem was black over-reached. Jeremy consolidated his position and then cut off counter-play. In the adjourned position he has a monster passed-pawn that should settle matters in fairly short order.

The Hammer Starship heroes then beamed into the Wetherspoon’s pub on Kingsway to celebrate and bask in their victory. A perfect way to end the evening.

 

London League 5:  Greater London v Hammersmith – 16.02.18

Tuesday the thirteenth hardly seemed propitious, but read on…

Unfortunately Tuesday and 13 are considered unlucky . By coincidence  Constantinople fell on Tuesday, May 24, 1453 to the Ottomans. Even worse  the sum of the (year) date added up to 13  1+4+5+3=13.

Like the Romans of old, we should really study the entrails or read the latest weather report before entering battle.

The coin toss was lost, the match was duly lost 0.5 to 2.5, with one game being adjourned. Our venerable opponents were hosting a division 5 match in the storied, almost medieval, location of Upper Vestry Hall in Little Russell Street.

Top board saw our newest campaigner Shiraq Suntook with the black pieces emerging from the opening nicely with a seemingly strong position.  This however led to complicated middle game tactics and we saw our first loss. 0-1

On board three the Hammersmith captain, also with the black pieces, defended against the English opening.  White invested energy in early tactics, launching his queen and winning the h7 black pawn, but the white queen was nearly trapped and King was as yet uncastled. Black retaliated with multiple forced  exchanges In the centre, then a black queen  forked the  exposed King and hapless rook on A1.

That  should  have been that,  black was the exchange up, having 2 rooks and minor against one rook and 2 minors. and the end game started. But our wily opponent was made of stern stuff or more importantly nice unweakened pawn,and launched an increasingly vicious knight and bishop against the black king with scrappy loose pawns all over. After losing a piece in an unguarded moment through a knight fork, black went a piece down and  black had to resign. 0-2.

On board two,  our exciting new campaigner Dipender Gill was having a quiet positional game with the white pieces but getting  20 minutes behind in the clock. As the deadline approached Dipender launched a possible mating attack on the 8th rank but black launched his queen on the Dipender king, forcing  his king out of his fortress.

Our most exciting game was culminating in a M.A.D (Mutually Assured Destruction) scenario playing out, where both kings became  exposed . Queens, rooks  and minor pieces were king hunting, and no holds barred.  The King  was  being checked two or three times, as if being led out to execution, but no final coup de grace. Instead a pause and someone grabbed a loose pawn. First us, then them. Eventually Dipender’s opponent studied the board for nearly 15 minutes,  found nothing but repeated checking and so draw agreed. Bad Luck there! I thought I saw a Dipender win, but only analysis can reveal that.

Late in the match, I saw on board 4 veteran John Ryan ready to launch a final and very interesting attack on his  opponent’s king fortress, with the centre blocked and hardly anything being captured so far . The question was how to push g and h pawns to the 5th and beyond but the game had to be  adjourned. The game had a lot of play on both sides, but the match was already lost, sadly.

Puzzle of the Week #012

To say last week’s puzzle was popular would be something of an understatement – no fewer than 14 responses (albeit most of them from Charlie!!).

In the end, it was Charlie who got there first (on his 11th attempt), but credit to Adam too. Well done to you both and we’re loving the enthusiasm!

The full solution as follows:

1. Qc3+ (Qb2 is also ok), Kg8 (not forced but anything else loses lots of material)
2.  Qxh8+, Kxh8
3.  Bf6+, Kg8
4.  Re8+, mate!

So to this week’s puzzle, and it’s a bit more of a thinker.

All our recent puzzles have been about piece play, so this one celebrates the little guys – the pawns are the hero here:

White to move, answers in the comments…

The Hammer Train Rolls On!

Lots more fantastic write-ups coming your way today with plenty of interesting games to play through, after four big matches in the various leagues this week. We also have some great info about playing in the 4NCL – UK & Ireland’s top chess league – make sure you read to the bottom of the update!

Before we crack on with those, don’t forget that it’s Round II of our season-long Blitz comp on Monday evening at Lytton Hall, starting 7.30pm. Full details here – should be a fun evening of quick-fire chess!

Middlesex League 3 vs. Muswell Hill – 05.02.18

On Monday we played host to Muswell Hill in Middlesex Division 3. As probably our biggest rival for the promotion spots, it was vital we picked up a result in our last home game of the season.

Nadhmi’s continuing surge up the grading ladder saw him sat down at board one for the first time. He had a tricky opponent who applied pressure throughout the whole game. Eventually the rooks invaded and it was game over. 0-1

Next up was Matteo. He turned on his Italian style and played a wonderful game, crushing the poor Englishman into the dust. 1-1

Brian entered a very closed position and both players were playing accurately. There was no progress to be made and they agreed a draw. 1.5-1.5

I played a London System on board 4 that went badly wrong. Castling on opposite sides, my kingside attack was far slower than my opponent’s queenside attack and I had to sacrifice an exchange for a pawn to relieve some pressure. He continued to play good moves, trading down to an endgame at the right time which he duly converted. 1.5-2.5

David played a long, tough game. He used a lot of time reaching equality out of the opening, trying to coordinate his pieces on the queenside to break free and shackle the Bishop on b3. His opponent pushed with a slightly premature e5 and then exd6, which opened up the position to Dave’s advantage. The final few moves are omitted due to time pressure but with a couple of minutes on the clock, Dave managed to fork King and Rook, effectively forcing the resignation. 2.5-2.5

Pouya played well on board 6, utilising his space advantage to provoke weaknesses. Eventually he broke through and scored a win. 3.5-2.5

Simon had white on board 7. His superior opening preparation saw him far better going into the middle game and his position continued to improve. The win was inevitable, and Simon moves to an impressive unbeaten 4/5 for the team. 4.5-2.5

Last but not least, our newest junior member Andrew was playing his first game for the club on board 8. Both players played very fast, but there could be no criticism of Andrew’s play. He dominated proceedings, winning a pawn out of the opening and going on to win an exchange with a  sneaky Bishop tactic. With the win he has firmly established himself amongst our growing pool of talented juniors and I have no doubt his grade will be rising very rapidly.

So there you have it, a third 5.5-2.5 win in a week and a half, and our promotion prospects are looking very rosy.

Andrew becomes the 22nd player to show for the team this season, while Ben, Ken, John and Simon look to be favourites for MVP as we look ahead to our final three, tough away fixtures.

Adam.

Thames Valley League vs. Ealing – 05.02.18

We came to the end of the “TV Month” with the last game against Ealing this week. It was a case of “Magnificent 7 – Reloaded!“, as we beat Ealing at home with the exact same score as when we played them away, 7-1. It was a great performance from every player, including our single defeat – Thomas should’ve got the win too, but was unlucky.

This time last year we were in the relegation zone. But this year is a different story altogether. The current table is as follows:

Our remaining matches this season are as follows:

  • March 19th – Wimbledon away
  • March 26th – Surbiton away
  • April 16th – Richmond home
  • May 14th – Wimbledon home
  • May 21st – Kingston home (postponed from Jan 15th)

We’re also waiting to confirm the date for our home semi-final TV Cup match against Richmond.

Thanks to all players!
Bajrush.

London League 6 vs. GLCC – 06.02.18

“A Walk on the Wildside in Division 6”

A mid-week encounter beckoned us to Upper Vestry Hall as we took on Greater London in Division 6. And not for the first time this season, the middle-order battled back to save our blushes.

We ended a 2-2 draw, with Charlie and Wyatt chalking up good wins.

First to fall was Nadim. He made a careless Queen move early on which left his Bishop en prise. He battled on but it was difficult to come back from that.

The next to come to a sticky end was your very own captain for the evening, Dave. I felt I made a hash of the closed Sicilian opening, although the computer fancied I was in charge when it came to move 20. It never felt that way over the board though, and as we moved into the endgame a couple of innocuous looking moves turned the tide in my opponent’s favour and he emerged a pawn up, which he skillfully converted.

The pride of Hammer was on the line and Wyatt and Charlie duly rose to the occasion. Wyatt played a really solid game out of the opening and developed into a late middle-game pawn up and two Rooks apiece. He had far better King safety though, and when he doubled his Rooks on the 7th, it was one-way traffic from thereon in. His opponent’s flag eventually fell, but it only saved him the ignominy of a mate several moves later.

Which brings us to Charlie, who when seemingly faced with a safe move and a more pointed one, dismisses them both and searches for an even more aggressive option! He’s like the Hammer version of AlphaZero (in a way), material is nothing, and tempo is everything! The engines don’t like it but it’s highly effective and scored him another win. See below:

That’s it for now. Hedger roll again at the end of February when we take on Hackney.

Cheers,
Dave.

London League 4 vs. Athenaeum – 07.02.18

“The Dream is Over in London 4”

As John Lennon lamented during his time with Plastic Ono Band, “the dream is over”. And thus, with our narrow 3.5-4.5 loss at the hands of Athenaeum, the same must be said of our push for promotion from London League Division 4.

Nevertheless, it takes our record to W3 L3, in what is proving to be a creditable season for a team, many of whom are playing their debut seasons with Hammer.

As the scoreline suggested, the match was a close one with Hammer taking an early lead but ultimately being pegged back by strong play across the board order. Full scorecard is below:

First to finish was Dipender who kicked things off with a solid win with White. He worked a good tactic to claim a pawn in the early middle-game and then played flawlessly to line up a battery of Queen and Rooks, swapping off pieces to his advantage when the moment came. A momentary lapse in concentration nearly allowed his opponent to create complications in the endgame, but the opportunity was missed and his passed pawn proved crucial. Game is below. 1-0 to the good guys.

Adam was next to finish. Playing the Albin Gambit, he worked what looked to be a dominant attack on the cramped white position, with pins left, right and centre. However, despite the pressure, the defender always managed to find the right resource and managed to swap off a number of key pieces, leaving the position to fizzle out into something that looked far more drawish. A half point was dutifully taken. A good game to watch. 1.5-0.5

Jeremy, playing only his second match for the club, developed his White pieces nicely, but missed a clever outpost for the opposition bishop forking Queen and Rook. An immediate counter-thrust followed to create complications but tempo was not his friend, forcing him to lose material and to retract his Rook into an overly defensive position. It was a tough battle from thereon in. 1.5-1.5

Hammer regained the lead thanks to a beautiful turnaround from John on Board 6. Playing wily Mike Rose, John got himself into real tactical complications win the middle game and found multiple pieces under attack. The only way out of the trap was to concede a Bishop, and regroup. At that point, your captain wandered off to check on the other games, only to return a short while later with John threatening mate and an exchange up! A Houdini act that’s surely worth further investigation in the pub. 2.5-1.5

Potentially the match of the evening was played on Board 2, as Brian faced an opponent in fine form. Playing the Grunfeld and facing a tricky line where his opponent daringly sacrificed his Rook for a black-squared Bishop, it initially looked positive for Brian with chances to hold firm and stick it out for a won endgame.

But the pressure was unnerving on the King-side via a pawn advance and aggressive posting of bishops and knight. Brian was forced to give back the Rook to stay alive, but still the tactics kept coming. The clever 21.Bf7+ made all the difference.  Brian, as ever, was magnanimous in defeat, warmly congratulating his opponent on a match well played. He’s also good enough to present his game here. Brian had the black pieces. 2.5-2.5

Tomasso’s fine form for the team hit a speed bump as he faltered to his first defeat of his Hammer career. Playing White, he established a strong open position, with a Bishop posted on b3 which looked to be a menace  as the game progressed. However, a breakthrough from Black paved the way for an attack with broadly level material but with superior piece placement. Checks and tactics abound and defeat wasn’t far away. Tomasso will be back stronger I’m sure! 2.5-3.5

The final two matches ended in a draw, ensuring the score finished 3.5-4.5. But in truth, we were arguably lucky to emerge with the half point in both.

Gokhan had a strange game on Board 3. Superb attacking play earned him a whole Bishop advantage and his dominant position deserved a win, but a premature Queen move allowed a simple Rook capture with check on the back-rank. Suddenly he was the exchange down! It looked all over, but Gokhan doesn’t know when he’s beaten and brilliantly fought back with relentless pawn pushing and resourceful coordination of Bishop and King. A draw was inevitable at the end as there was a simple way to reducing everything to a Bishop & King vs. King endgame.

Charlie was last to finish… somewhat reluctantly taking a draw when most observers thought he should have bitten their hand off! His strong looking attack in the opening transpired to be fairly common theory according to his opponent, who ably defended and emerged a pawn up. Charlie did very well to remain solid and ensure limited chances for his opponent but there was definitely an opening at one point where a more confident pawn push would have sealed the deal. Nevertheless, Charlie continues his unbeaten run for the club. Very well done!

Next up is Lewisham on February 21st. We go again…

Dave.

And Finally… Celtic Tigers!

If you truly can’t get enough chess this year, fear not – there is more available!

Hammer’s own Chris Skulte, is also the manager for the Celtic Tigers team in the 4NCL – that’s the 4 Nations Chess League – the UK & Ireland’s top chess league. Our Great Dane, Carsten Pedersen, also plays for the team.

 

Celtic Tigers are looking to field a 2nd team in the 4NCL competition next season, as Hammersmith Chess Club are our London Chess Club, we are looking for a few members to consider playing one (or all rounds) next season.

What is 4NCL?

It’s the top league of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, played over 5 weekends (2 games a weekend, with 3 on the final weekend). You play one game each day, and usually stay the night in the venue, which adds to the social fun of the event. Usually its one weekend in November, January, February, March and May – see below for the current seasons dates:

www.4ncl.co.uk

Why Celtic Tigers?

Two Hammersmith members – Chris Skulte and Carsten Pedersen – already play for the club, and we are a very social club, enjoying our beers and dinner as a team. Have a read of our newsletters to see what it’s like playing for the Tigers: www.celtictigers.club

Will Everyone be Together?

Unfortunately divisions 1/2 and 3/4 play in separate venues, but if they are close enough we will try to organise a mutual location for dinner. Teams will usually be selected on playing strength, but the manager (Chris) has final call each weekend.

What is the Cost?

  • £25 to become a member, covers team registration. If you only play 1 game this will be refunded to you.
  • £62 per night for accommodation (including breakfast!), 1 night per weekend (if you want to stay – entirely optional)
  • Transport to/from the location – usually we will try to carpool
  • You must be a Gold ECF member or above if an ENG federation player (Bronze to Gold upgrade is £18)

Interested, got Questions?

Get in touch with Chris: chrisskulte@gmail.com

Next Years Dates & Locations

  • 17-18 November 2018 – Division 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 12-13 January 2019 – Division 3&4: South Park Inn Bedford
  • 9-10 February 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 13-14 April 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 4-6 May 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court

 

Puzzle of the Week #011

Happy Friday – we’re back once again with another Puzzle just in time for the weekend.

Last week’s was a reasonably straightforward mating puzzle, albeit not necessarily entirely intuitive.

Panos was the first to respond with the correct answer – effectively a Queen sacrifice to force the mating sequence. Well done Panos!

This week sees us celebrating the outbreak of mad romanticism in the London 4 team last week, with a game from the archives featuring Capt. Evans.

Evans-McDonnell, London, 1829. Not the first recorded game with the Evans Gambit, but a win by the inventor.

White to move, answers in the comments please!

Blitz Tourney – Round II

The Second Leg of the Hammer Blitz Tournament Cycle – 12th February 2018

Chess in every format is coming thick and fast to Hammerites at the moment. On the 12th February, at The Anvil,Round II of the tri-tourney cycle to decide the 2017-18 Hammer Blitz Champion takes place.

Before I fill in the juicy details of the evening, remember if you want to win the title, you have to play in at least two of the three rounds. Your two best scores will count towards your final position. So, if you play all three legs you are maximising your chances of having a decent score. As has been said before…

“You gotta be in it to win it”

There is an unwritten law in the Constitution of the club that says whenever blitz is on the menu, our Chairman Bajrush (Wily) invariably triumphs. Such was the case in the first round played at Christmas, where he triumphed yet again. Can anybody stop him going for a repeat?

The current leaders are:

  • Bajrush (Wily) – 16 points
  • Ben (Hitman) – 15 points
  • Marios (Zeus) – 14 points
  • Paul (Dead-Eye) – 13 points

So, the challenge is there. It is still there to be won and setup for a Hammerite to achieve a huge surprise. Just look what Ben did last time out! Anything can happen – and usually does – in Hammer blitz.

The evening kicks off at 7.30pm, so come ready and bring your sprinting chess trainers, because if you are too slow there will be nowhere for you to go!!

In other news…

Entries for the Central London Chess Congress April 2018 are now open!

The CLCC is a 5-round FIDE rated tournament, with graded sections, played in the majestic surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall. With prizes up to £200, it’s got to be worth a crack!

The competition takes place from Friday 20th April to Sunday 22nd April. Further details – including entry forms – can be found on their website:

Central London Chess Congress at Imperial College: April 2018

 

Rapidplay – Half Time Roundup!

Thanks to everyone for completing your Round IV matches in our Rapidplay Tournament in timely fashion. Full set of results from the round are presented below.

Bajrush takes the plaudits in the battle at the top against Tony, but Marios’ win against gifted youngster Nadhmi ensures the pressure remains! Our two 100% records clash in Round V.

What will happen when the immovable object meets the irresistible force?!

Nevertheless, the performance of the round has to go to Ben Rothwell who “somehow” – to quote the man himself – managed to wrestle down Yasser against the odds. Perhaps our estimate of e95 was a little cautious for Ben, but there’s no escaping it was a great performance to overcome such a grading gap. Well done Ben!

Given we’re at the halfway point, it’s worth taking a quick look at the overall standings and begin to speculate who’s leading the pack to win one of our coveted prizes. Only a bit of fun at this stage, so we haven’t calculated the tie-break measures.

Remember, there’s four prizes in total: Open, Kings (<160 ECF), Bishops (<130 ECF) and Knights (<100 ECF)

  • OpenBajrush and Marios are neck-and-neck; things should be clearer after Round V!
  • KingsMatteo / John W / Simon, are tied for honours
  • BishopsSimon stands alone (Assuming he doesn’t win the Kings!)
  • KnightsBen and Paul M are looking Good

Great to see such a spread of names, particularly as it includes a few newcomers to the club. It’s a long way to go though and there’s everything to play for, particularly with the games now more evenly matched than they were at the start of the competition back in October.

And a reminder of our Round V pairings, which throw up some tasty matches:

  • Bajrush meets Marios in a crucial clash at the top
  • Captains of London 5 and London 6 meet as Rich plays Robin
  • Can Ben and Paul M keep up their giant-killing act as they face Pouya and Gokhan?

Remember, we need your results by February 28th at the latest – good luck!

Thanks,
Adam & Dave.

Nothing but Victory

A short & sweet intro today – read on for details of 3 truly fabulous victories this week, including a 17-move checkmate. Lovely stuff!

Middlesex League 3 vs. Kings Head – 29.01.18

Promotion to Division 2 is looking like a very real prospect, after Hammer 2 picked up a wonderful 5.5-2.5 win against an extraordinarily strong Kings Head team in the Middlesex League.

Kings Head brought no less than three 170+ players to fill out their top three boards. This sort of team strength is virtually unheard of at this level, especially for an away game. Some late tactical changes to our starting lineup were required, with Sheikh and Nadhmi coming in to bolster the team, and Ken getting his first shot at glory playing with the firsts.

So it was down to Sheikh, Paul and John to attempt to tame the three Goliaths, and they gave it a really good crack. Sheikh played an absolutely wonderful opening and middle game and was completely winning as they approached the endgame, but blundered into checkmate.

John had a similar sort of game – blundering as well to concede defeat, but Paul was switched on throughout, and smoothly outplayed his opponent to pick up the full point.

Paul in full flow

2-1 down, it was up to our lower order to bring home the game. Their foes were by no means patzers, but Hammer were in it to win it.

Nadhmi looked absolutely winning by move five, but some unnecessary pawn-grabbing allowed his opponent to complicate matters. Nevertheless, our junior superstar weathered the storm and scored a fine win.

Boards 5 and 6 son followed suit, with Matteo proving he is far better than his January grade would suggest, and BrianMagnusDodgeon deploying superior positional play to grind out a well-earned win.

Ben’s second game for the team earned him a second win, this time against a far stronger player, leaving those who estimated his modest grade rather red-faced. His opponent went for an all-out attack on the Kingside, seemingly failing to realise that he himself had not castled and his King was in mortal danger.

Finally, John Ryan on board 8, looking to secure his name as player of the season, unfortunately found himself an exchange and a pawn down not long into the game. He was unfazed and recovered splendidly, utilising his bishop pair to their fullest potential to gain a strong initiative and force a draw.

Well played everyone!

Next Monday is crunch time, as we take on promotion rivals Muswell Hill 2 at the Anvil. It goes without saying that it’s another crucial game, so let’s ride this wave of form and clock up another great performance.

Adam.

Middlesex League 2 vs. West London – 29.01.18

Also at The Anvil on the same night, our League 2 team scored a vital win against our near neighbours in the hotly-contested West London Derby match, with the Hammer Crew triumphing 5.5-2.5, to cap a superb evening for the teams!

Carsten (aka The Great Dane) in the heat of battle

Rumours abound that the teams headed straight to the pub to celebrate, but we cannot confirm or deny this…

Carsten – lager, Marios – lager, Adam – lager, sometimes cider…
London League 4 vs. Streatham – 31.01.18

I’m delighted to confirm we chalked up a cracking win in London 4 this week against Streatham & Brixton. Scores stand at 4.5-2.5 with Matteo’s match adjourned to complete the set. Full credit to Brian who acted as captain on the night.

An absolutely superb result and our best of the season so far! Streatham are certainly one of the strongest teams in the division and boasted a 100% record before last night. That was before the mighty Hammer made short work of them! It seems when we need to pull out the stops, I just need to arrange to be 100 miles away at a work offsite!!

For a while it looked like we might have to recover from 2-0 down, since we still only had 6 players with the clocks 20 minutes down! But luckily both latecomers arrived before the 45 minute default time, and managed to cope with the time deficit with aplomb.

In fact, fast forward a further half an hour and we were 2-0 up, with both Chris and Jeremy finding sharp opening lines that rapidly opened up the position and allowed them to penetrate their opponents’ defences to devastating effect.

The quickfire demolitions are presented here.

Jeremy:

Chris (worth playing through! It shouldn’t take you long):

On board 8, Ben continued to show he’s much better than his estimated 95 grading, gaining two pawns and swapping off to a won endgame. 3-0 to Hammersmith and looking in control. Great win on his debut in Division 4.

Nadhmi on board 5 entered the 20-minute playoff with a level endgame: four pawns and a minor piece each. But he was badly behind on time, and succumbed to the opponent’s accurate endgame play, Nadhmi losing his useful remote Queens-side pawn to leave him with a 4-3 minority, which resulted in the opponent Queening a pawn. 3-1

Dipender on board 6 had a level game for a long time, but fell victim to a 7th-rank major piece invasion. 3-2 up with the top 3 games still to finish!

Brian extended our lead with a fine win on board 3. Playing against the French, he utilised the Advance Variation and secured a decent space advantage. His opponent’s speculative h5-h4 pawn advance allowed Brian to station his King’s Knight on h5, supported by the g4 pawn. This meant he could never develop his King’s Bishop for fear of Nxg7+, so he was never able to castle.

Rook pressure was built-up on the b and c-files, eventually picking up the h4 pawn, and allowing an invasion onto the seventh rank via b7. Two more pawns quickly fell which meant an endgame was reached three pawns to the good. 4-2 with two games left.

At the tight end of the 20 minute playoff, Tomasso on Board 1 had a level endgame against a strong opponent, so took a draw by repetition. This meant we won the match 4.5-2.5, with Matteo’s level game on board 2 adjourned to finish another day. Looks pretty tight that one.

The result leaves us nestled in the Champions League (c) places, with plenty of points still up for grabs. Next up is a 6-pointer against Athenaeum.

Thanks,
Dave.

 

Puzzle of the Week #010

Welcome back chess fans – and what a response we had to our last Puzzle!

Everyone got the winning combo, but it was John White with the fastest response who takes the plaudits – well done John!

This week we have a classic mating puzzle. Black is clearly in the ascendency, but what is the quickest mating combination for the dark pieces? It’s Black to move… answers in the comments please *

 

*this is a reasonably well known puzzle, so if you’ve seen it before or think it’s too easy, please leave for others to try first :o)

And finally…

Today is the final day for our EarlyBird offer for an evening with GM Jon Speelman on February 26th.

The price goes up to £10 from tomorrow, so if you want to join the other 26 Hammers (and counting…) for the evening, please get in touch to secure your place: john.white49@ntlworld.com

It’s going to be a cracker!

A January Corker!

As world leaders prepare to depart from Davos, here at Hammer we’re always looking for our next excursion! After the huge success of our visit to Amsterdam last Summer, plans are being laid for a trip across the Irish Sea to visit Cork!

Read on to find out more, along with the usual goings on at Planet Hammer…

  • Cork Chess Club trip
  • Bury St Edmonds challenge match
  • London League 3 vs. Athenaeum
  • Middlesex League 3 vs. Hendon
Get Ready to be Corked!

Yes, the Hammer crew – like a dodgy bottle of Chateau Rothschild – are going to be Corked! The 2018 Hammer on Tour is now confirmed.

On the weekend of June 8-10 Hammer are taking on the might of Cork Chess Club in the second city of Ireland. In a weekend that will celebrate chess, beer, camaraderie and sampling the delights of the beautiful city of Cork.

The stunning Cork riverfront

Following on from our enormously enjoyable and most excellent weekend in Amsterdam in 2017, we have decided to grace the Emerald Isle with our presence. How magnanimous we are!!

Cork is a beautiful city situated on the River Lee in the stunning South-West of Ireland. It has a huge history, with us – the Brits – the noisy and repressive neighbours, playing a large part in that.

University College Cork

Cork Chess club was founded in 1990 and like us is heavily involved in all matters of the promotion of our beautiful game. Their current star is IM Alex Lopez, ELO rated 2432! Check out their website: www.corkchess.com

So, it is time to pack your bags and book your flights (I have already done so!). The flights are excellent value at the moment.

The English Market in Cork City

Please email John White (john.white49@ntlworld.com) ASAP confirming your participation so we can start assembling numbers and looking at accommodation. Plus, we need to give the numbers to our hosts so the arrangements can be put in place.

This will be a superb weekend, so do not miss out!

The 2018 Challenge Match vs Bury St Edmunds – 7th April

The gauntlet has been thrown down and the date set. Hammer are going on the road to take on the powerhouse of Suffolk Chess – Bury St Edmunds. We have been called out and we will answer the challenge to defend the honour of the House of Anvil. Read on…

Beautiful Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds is a beautiful Suffolk market town with a history dating back to the 11th Century, and a fine cathedral.

They are also pretty good at chess! Check out their club website: www.bsechess.org.uk

The centre-piece of the day will be a long-play over-the-board mass-team match, so we need as many Hammerites to step up and defend the honour of our club!

It will be an excellent day of chess, making new friends and perhaps best of all the prospect of sampling the beer at the Old Cannon Brewery and the Nutshell.

I already have commitments from Carsten, Bajrush, Marios, Wyatt, Adam and Chris Skulte. So, guys I need you step up. Email me ASAP – john.white49@ntlworld.com – so I can match you with a suitable opponent.

This is new territory for Hammer, but hopefully it will become an annual event in the calendar.

Our honour must and will be defended. Go Hammer!

London League 3 vs. Athenaeum – 22.01.18

Welcome to part 4 of the Starship Hammer One 2018 odyssey, and its one season mission to boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Part Date 22.01.2018 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to the planet of literary and scientific study – Athenaeum. A strange and hostile world, where gaining entry to the match venue requires digital input technology.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order: Thomas, Marios, Bajrush, Jim, Paul McK, Chris S, Sheikh, Tommaso, Paul K and Clueless. Even with the inclusion of Clueless, the strongest team Hammer 1 has put out i the London League for many a year.

We out-graded our opponents on average by 20 points a board. Thus, applying Spock logic – the result should not have been in doubt. If only life was that simple!

Captain Clueless also cocked up on the logistical front and got the wrong start time. Basically gifting at least 10 minutes to some of the Athenaeum team.

Chris S got delayed but brought John G (Sauvignon) along, and poor Bajrush arrived too late. Fortunately, John G stepped in and took over board three for the Hammer crew. Default-free we remain.

So, to the tale of a much fraught and difficult evening.

Playing black on board one and making his debut in the London League, Thomas (T-Bone) took on an opponent who clearly wanted a draw. Displaying great patience and tenacity, Thomas probed, created problems and worried his opponent on the clock. On a blitz-style finish he broke through and downed his opponent. A victory for sheer willpower. Hammer at 1-0.

On board two Marios (Zeus) has adjourned in a position where he has a slight advantage. I have to say his determination to carry on and grab the full point at the conclusion of the evening was truly awe-inspiring. There is nothing like an ultra-determined Greek with immortal characteristics!

John G started on board 3 with a near thirty minute deficit, and truth be told one too many Sauvignon Blancs to the bad. This was a brave shout from JG and ensured that Hammer did not default. He definitely took one for the team. Sadly he lost, Hammer now at 1-1

Jim (Loco) had one of those games that saw little happening and is adjourned in a position with a setup of Rook and three pawns, vs Rook and four pawns. He has three pawns. His King is cramped but he is convinced he can hold the position. I do not think this is Celtic wistfulness.

Board 5 saw Paul McK (The Prof) have the game of the evening with the black pieces. I have asked him to annotate it for the website. This game had everything – piece sacrifices, a king march-up the board in search of safety, and finally a two Rooks vs Queen endgame.

Paul deployed all his ingenuity and experience to keep the game alive – including excellent reverse psychology. The strategic offer of a draw when you are the one being battered! Suffice it to say, in the end all came good and he made it 2-1 to Hammer.

On board 6 – Chris (Sydney) had one of those nights when you are in a bad vein of form. He missed a forced checkmate win and in the end had to resign. He was so angry with himself and cursing his luck. This was an aberration & he will recover his best form – he is too good a player.

Board 7 saw Sheikh (Pandit) with the black pieces, establish equality early on. He was cruising to a draw at worse when it all went wrong and he allowed a Rook and Knight corner checkmate. He was at a loss to explain it in the pub afterwards and his form this season has been good. Personally, I blame the venue. Hammer now down 3-2.

Onto Board 8. Making his debut in the LL3 division a new face. His name is Tommaso – his nickname is Forza. Remember that name. This was probably the best attacking game of the evening – taking on a Dragon Sicilian f3 variation, Tommaso played a fine game and won in great style. A new Hammer star is born. 3-3

Paul K (Dead-Eye) is in lethal form this season for Hammer in LL3. He recored his third win in a fine tactical game. He really is on fire. Hammer now edging at 4-3.

Finally, to Clueless on Board 10 a list-minute substitute for The Suit (Matteo) who succumbed to the Aussie/Japanese flu virus. To be honest with you I played poorly. My form is uncertain at the moment and I was lucky to find a tactic to force a draw. Hammer at 4.5-3.5 on the night.

So not a disaster, but to  be honest we are a better team than the score suggests. We now need to refocus and put this behind us. Promotion is our goal and games like this remind us that we have to work for it.

Clueless over & out!

Middlesex League 3 vs. Hendon, 25.01.18

Hammersmith 2 entered the second half of the season knowing that a good run of results would see us promoted to Division 2. It was vital to get a good start in a tough encounter at Hendon.

On board one, John White had the white pieces. He sacrificed a piece for two pawns and a dangerous attack early into the game, but his young opponent defended tenaciously. When the attack fizzled out, John was simply material down and had no choice but to resign. 0-1

I played my favourite Albin Counter-Gambit on board two. An exciting contest ensued, in which I had good positional compensation for the gambit pawn. Ultimately my passed pawn on the 7th rank posed too many problems, and I came away with the victory. 1-1. Here is the game in full:

Pouya played a closed structure on board 3 that remained very even throughout. The players agreed a draw when it was clear that no progress could be made. 1.5-1.5

Eva’s debut for the team did not go quite according to plan. A few imprecise moves in a tactical sequence left her an exchange down. In trying to work out how to make a draw, her flag dropped and the game was lost, and the team was a point down with four to play. 1.5-2.5

John Ryan won a pawn early on and exchanged pieces off into a tricky queen and pawn endgame. John’s infamous endgame technique shone through – he coolly navigated perpetual check threats and gradually pushed his pawn until it was unstoppable, forcing resignation. The match was level at 2.5-2.5, and John’s record for the team improves to an impressive 3.5/4.

Coming off the back of two defeats, Dipender on board 6 was keen to turn things around. He didn’t play a particularly sound game but unfortunately his opponent made proportionally more blunders and Dipender scored an important win. They performed a detailed analysis at the end of the game with his opponent’s father – a very strong player and first team regular. 3.5-2.5

Shiraz found exactly the right time to exchange off all the pieces in the middle game. To his dismay, his opponent realised that he was now one tempo too late to stop Shiraz’s passed pawn. He tried to cling on for a speculative stalemate but Shiraz was far too clinical and delivered mate. 4.5-2.5

Dan on board 8 opted to delay his development to pick up material early on. His opponent couldn’t find a way to exploit his weak king – Dan consolidated and picked up the win.

So in the end it was a 5.5-2.5 win to Hammersmith – a relief to score a win after two 4-4 draws. Well played all!

It’s well and truly a three horse race for the promotion spots. Our next two home games will be key, versus Kings Head and Muswell Hill:

Adam.