ECF “Club Focus”… featuring Hammersmith

The astute amongst you may already have noticed that the ECF’s most recent Newsletter features Hammersmith Chess Club in the “Club Focus” section.


Club Focus is a recent addition to the Newsletter, allowing Clubs who have recently turned their fortunes around to share details of their success story to the wider Chess Club audience.

As we continue our Renaissance at Hammersmith, we thought it was the right time to share some details of our story in the hope that it may help or inspire other Clubs in similar circumstances.

The full article can be found here. Enjoy!


Hammer v Battersea Act III

27.10.16 – London League 3: Hammer vs Battersea

Act III -A Bitter Sweet Dance at Golden Lane

When friendships are suspended and no quarter given a subsequent bloodbath usually happens.

The match exemplified all that is best about London League Chess. The end result a narrow 6-4 loss for your Hammer colleagues, however forensic examination of the individual games shows that Hammer should have won despite an average 14- point grading deficit per board.

As in all sport it is the fine margins that count.

Bajrush as usual had a totally original position with his c4, d3 and e4 set-up. A positional sacrifice of queen for rook and minor piece and a slight positional edge did not work. When the Black Queen penetrated his position things went quickly downhill. A tough loss.

Paul on board 2 had a slight edge in a complex position but not enough to bring home the full point his resolute play deserved. The last game to finish, hostilities were ceased after 10pm and a draw agreed.

John Goodacre had a won game after strong and logical play. Material up, he was cruising to a well-deserved victory. He should have won. In his own words “Won game – was plus 4 – I basically got sloppy and messed up”. This quote has been heavily censored for the website. Caissa can be cruel is the moral of the story here – John deserved better.

Sheikh on board 4 played the black side of a Grunfeld for the first time and may possibly never play a better one. Extremely double-edged his opponent opted for simplification to secure the draw.

On board 6 Safi had a heavy manoeuvring/closed positional game that resulted in a draw – with each side cancelling out the other’s threats.

Brian took on Pavel – a former potential Hammer club member. Due to job requirements Pavel had to move to Tooting and hence joining Battersea was the logical move. To the game – Brian although out-graded by 24 points played a good game and secured the draw.

On board eight John Woolley had a drawn position and even held the advantage in an endgame with Bishop vs Knight. Unfortunately, a blunder led to the loss of Bishop and the loss of a point. John was cross with himself and hopefully set the record straight next time.

On board 10 Robin, although heavily out-graded and receiving a very late call-up, produced his usual fighting chess. He really went for it and created a very unbalanced position. An environment he thrives in. Sadly, fortune did not smile on him and a loss was the result. Am very grateful for him stepping up at such late notice.

The star of the evening was Matteo on board nine. Matteo has a very smooth style and beautifully outplayed his opponent both strategically and tactically. The sight of four pawns marching up the board with an accompanying rook on the 7th rank against a bishop, rook and King trapped on the 8th was brilliant to see.

Finally, your captain won in a very complex tactical battle where use of the Leicester City Chess rules worked perfectly. Forty minutes up on the clock and an original position on the board translated into my first win of the season. Great to get the first win after two losses and a draw so far.

I would like to congratulate all my team and they all exemplified the best traditions of Hammer Chess.

The win is coming and keep holding the faith.

John White, Hammer 1 Captain LL Division 3.

Result: Battersea 6 – 4 Hammersmith


SW London Juniors, and ECF Training at Hammersmith

Chess fans, some exciting news to share!

First up, we have arranged another double-header with a local Junior club – South West London Juniors. Based in SW10 (near West Brompton), the SW London club were founded in 2015 but already have a strong base of players and will be putting out 10 boards against us.

We’ll first play the Juniors at their home venue St Luke’s Church, Redcliffe Gardens on Thursday 23rd Feb, and play a return fixture at Lytton Hall on Monday 13th March. We’ll be looking at rapid play timings for both matches. Fixtures are on our Club Calendar – save the dates!

The SW London Juniors in action!

Secondly, in a brilliant gesture of friendship the Juniors co-founder and coach, Tony Niccoli, will be hosting a FREE evening of chess coaching at Hammersmith on the evening of Monday 21 st November.

Tony has been teaching chess since the age of 15, and is now an ECF trainer and arbiter, with a current rating of 198! More on Tony here, but suffice to say he is a top chess professional and it is a real treat to have him offer his services at Hammersmith.

The session is going to be based around a run through & analysis of some games submitted by members. Please get in touch if you’d like your game to be included, so that Tony has time to prepare an analysis first.

We’re really looking forward to seeing as many of you there as possible, should be a great night.

London League 4 – Hammer March On!

20.10.16 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Alfil

A great win last night against the ever-burgeoning ranks of Jerzy Dybowski’s junior chess academy! Hammersmith triumphed 5.5 vs. 2.5 against Alfil which temporarily takes us top of the league in Division 4. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!!

Alfil are affiliated with Newham and boast a similarly talented young side. Don’t let the grades of some of these players fool you – they played far better than the numbers would suggest. 8-year old Shreyas Royal on Board 2 was particularly impressive. One to watch for the future for sure.

They didn’t get off to the best of starts though. One of their guys was unable to make it, so your captain stood down, claimed the 1-point advantage through default, and was free to prowl the hall gauging progress of the other games. Don’t expect this level of detail every week!

Chris and Rich were first to finish, claiming smart victories against their young adversaries. Chris developed a tricky attacking position, and ultimately gained the advantage by trapping his opponent’s Rook with a menacing knight amid a cramped pawn structure. Rich emerged from the opening a whole Knight-up, making the advantage count as they entered the endgame. Neither was keen on resigning though! 3-0 up in double-quick time.

Orial raced to an endgame but found himself a pawn down against his (very) young opponent. Not helped by having a loose pawn with plenty of space to move into, or by the lad’s Dad watching from the sidelines! I think Orial was surprised – and pleased – to be offered the draw, which he gratefully accepted.

Victory in the match was secured by Brian. He played a very solid game and worked his way into an endgame, one pawn up and carrying a bishop to his opponent’s knight. At one point it looked gridlocked, and a lesser man would have offered a draw, but Brian ably forced zugzwang meaning his king could advance into enemy territory. A quick exchange of pieces meant he was now clearly winning and resignation followed.

Dan was our first faller on the night, going down to a lad playing at breakneck speed – he obviously needed to get home for bedtime. A big gap emerged between the two clocks and the iinevitable mistakes came as the menace of time-trouble reared its head. Solid player though – never a 70!

The night was rounded off with Adam and Robin as we reached our time control. Adam lost in an extremely tight endgame – a knight and equal pawns apiece. His opponent found a way to force the exchange of knights and force his king through behind enemy lines. That was enough for Adam to offer his hand.

Robin played one of the more dynamic and exciting games of the evening. Lots of tactics and sharp interplay, with his opponent forced into defensive concessions from the middle-game onwards. A double attack on queen and king gave him the material advantage which he drove through to conclusion as the seconds ticked away. 4 wins out of 4 for Mr. Lee this season in the various London Leagues. A man on form!

It took us 10 matches to get 1.5 points last season. This time we’ve done it in 2!

Well done all – let’s keep it going! Double header against Metropolitan coming up.


Result: Hammersmith 5.5 – 2.5 Alfil

League table:


Middlesex League Opener

17.10.16 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith v Ealing 2

Monday 17th October could mean only one thing – the start of this year’s Middlesex League, at least as far as Hammersmith were concerned. Excited expressions were present across the faces of all who attended, as Lytton Hall was to play host to the might of Ealing 2.

Having narrowly been relegated from division two last year, we knew we had something to prove. As such, many seemed surprised by my decision to rest four of our top five boards. However, with our opponents coming into the match in bad form, and having heard rumours about their possible starting lineup, I was confident our middle order would pull through.

Play got underway at 7:30 sharp, and it was clear from the outset that both teams meant business. Sacrifices and zwischenzugs came flying across the boards at all angles, with spectators struggling to take their take their eyes off the boards to tend to their cups of tea.

First to finish was Alex Meynell. An assertive “checkmate” coupled with an astonished yelp were audible from board seven. It was clear what had happened. Alex had slyly wound his opponent up in one of his infamous opening traps and turned the screw. His disappointed opponent left the hall after just an hour.

Next up was board three. Sheikh Mabud, playing as black, faced Bird’s Opening (1. f4). After much deliberation, Sheikh decided he was not sufficiently up to speed with the notoriously double-edged From’s Gambit (1…e5!?) and instead responded with the main line (1…d5). Sheikh was further caught off guard by his opponent fianchettoing his queen’s bishop and attacking fast down the kingside. Sheikh held his nerve well. He proceeded to force tripled pawns on the g-file before coolly mopping them up with his rook. What followed can only be described as a meltdown from his opponent, who offered his hand in resignation before the time control.

Yours truly was third to finish. After my last four games for the club with the black pieces, I was relieved to finally have the first move. 1. d4 g6 2. Bf4 Bg7 appeared on the board and it seemed my opponent was happy to sit back and allow me to play in my favoured positional style. It transpired that he was to be the architect of his own downfall. After firstly failing to castle behind his fianchettoed bishop, he developed his knight to d7 where it found itself trapped by my queen’s pawn and blocking in his light-squared bishop. Weakening his pawn structure with the premature a6 and h6 were to be the final straws; soon his poorly developed pieces were overloaded, and resignation came on move 25.

Brian Dodgeon looked absolutely in control of his young opponent from the first move. His experience allowed him to gradually improve his material and strategic advantage, effortlessly negating his challenger’s attempts to attack down the queenside. Soon Brian’s passed f-pawn became unstoppable, and resignation was inevitable.

Dave Lambert clinched the fifth win and victory for the team. With his opponent’s king boxed in on h8, he sat for a long time, calculating, trying to find an elegant smothered checkmate. With time running low, amazed at his inability to procure the elusive mate, Dave calmly switched plans, instead pushing home his material advantage in the shape of two strong central pawns.

Fresh off the back of his dominant debut for the club, new member Orial O’Caithill was looking to maintain his 100% streak. Entering the endgame with two knights and five pawns each, Orial’s superior pawn structure and flawless technique appeared as if it was going to make the difference. With 20 minutes on his clock versus his opponent’s two, Orial hung a knight, gasping in frustration. Unwilling to trial his bullet chess skills, his opponent offered a draw, which Orial gratefully accepted.

After two and a half hours of play, Yasser Tello had reached a dead drawn endgame. With each player having an almost identical pawn structure and one knight apiece, spectators were perplexed by his decision not to take the draw. Yasser’s ambition paid off – after some Carlsen-esque maneuvering and a couple of seemingly innocuous inaccuracies, his opponent suddenly found himself in zugzwang. Yasser’s king entered the black stronghold and ruthlessly mopped up the pawns.

As the night drew to a close, everyone found themselves gathered around board one. Paul Kennelly looked to be dominating with the black pieces. He had a strong knight versus a weak bishop, and was pinning virtually all of his opponent’s pieces. As the inevitable time scramble commenced, calculation was out the window and instinctive mayhem ensued. Paul’s frustration was apparent as his opponent miraculously consolidated his position and won a pawn. A clever tactic sealed the defeat – white sacrificing his pawn with check to discover an attack on the black queen.

All in all, a very good start to the season. Next up is Harrow 2 at home on 14th November, where we’ll hope to face a slightly stronger team but win by an even bigger margin!


Result: Hammersmith 6.5 – 1.5 Ealing 2


Hammersmith v Fulham Juniors – Save the Dates

A couple of dates for your diaries – following on from the highly successful game between our clubs last season, (a tightly contested 6-6 draw!), Hammersmith will again be taking on the mighty Fulham Juniors over at their home venue on Haldane Road.

This time we’re making it a double-header, with games on Tuesday 15th November, and a second round on Tuesday 21st March. Both dates added to our Club calendar.

The Juniors are a terrific side, ably run and coached by Paul McKeown. As always with the youngsters they are ridiculously fast learners and often their grade belies their true ability – it’s sure to be a good test!

We’d like to put out as many boards as possible so please get in touch with a team Captain to let us know if you are keen to play.

So Near But So Far (London 3!)

11.10.16 – London League 3: GLCC v Hammersmith 1

Yet again Hammer just missed out on a victory! An exciting and bloodthirsty match was the order of the evening, with no quarter given from either team.

The team was out graded from boards 1 to 9 but that didn’t faze us.

Honours of the evening go to two new members, Orial and Matteo. Orial playing board 8 and beating an opponent rated 144 in a complex game in grand style. Matteo triumphed against former Hammersmith Club Chairman Peter Morton! Both great victories and a great start to their London League careers.

Our wily Chairman Bajrush won in a blitz finish in a theoretical drawn endgame. But as we all know when it comes to blitz there is only ever one winner!!

The crowd gathers for the climax of the match…

It was great to welcome back Paul and Jeremy for their first games of the season. A tough loss for Paul and a draw that was probably a missed win for Jeremy.

John Goodacre and Safi also drew – the former has had a solid start to the season and the latter rebounded from a tough loss against Cavendish.

Finally to the other three boards – Sheikh had an amazing Sicilian Shozin game with water – the board was on fire with multiple tactics everywhere for both sides – unfortunately the fire consumed Sheikh and not his opponent.

John Wooley went down against the captain of GLCC, who was a lot stronger than his 127 grade might suggest – just bad luck.

Finally my good self got ground down on the black side of a Colle/Sicilian – not pleasant viewing I’m afraid!

Positives – we have discovered a couple of diamonds and Bajrush looks like getting back to his best form. Plus if John Goodacre, Safi, Paul, Sheikh and myself can get a win on the board then anything can – and will – happen.

Keep the Faith! Go Hammer 1!!

Result: GLCC 5.5 – 4.5 Hammersmith


London League 5 Opener

11.10.16 – London League 5: Greater London v Hammersmith

Hammersmith’s opening game in London League 5 took place against the traditionally-strong side of GLCC, at their home venue up in Holborn. Our new L5 Captain Robin Lee with the write up:

It was on balance a very closely contested match across all boards in the League 5 opener. On the top two boards, David Lambert and Brian Dodgeon got taken to quite technically advanced end games which were good to watch.

Brian eventually succumbed with a Rook and one pawn against a Rook and three pawns. David on board two drew in fine style in an endgame with just King and several pawns on either side – a demonstration of the finer points in King opposition.

Four boards, Eight Players… The calm before the storm

On board 4 Nick Rutherford gained an impressive advantage with the White pieces, playing the English opening. Aside from a trap his opponent set, he could have won and was unlucky to lose the game.

On board 3 I played an unusual line in the Sicilian Najdorf early on that might have unsettled my opponent. Luckily it left me with an advantage in development. After some strong attacking play from both sides in the centre, I was able to neutralise his rook pawn and rook attack, with my strong centre catching a bishop pinned on his Queen, helping prevent him from castling. After swapping pieces he resigned a few moves later.

Final result: GLCC 2.5 – 1.5 Hammersmith


The Ant & Dec of Chess

Our first Hammer training session was well attended last night with many new faces – welcome to Matt, Orial, Daphne and Adam!!

However the evening was dominated by our own version of Ant and Dec – Baj and Car (BajCar) – aka Bajrush and Carsten – who gave us a thoroughly enjoyable evening with great advice and amusing comments!!

Bajrush getting in to his new role as Dec

The evening began looking at the three different types of pin that occur in chess – followed by a forensic examination of our own David Lambert’s game against GM Chris Ward.

The intention was not to heap more misery on David but to illustrate graphically how the pin can be utilised to tie your opponent in knots and gradually increase your advantage. To the extent where tactics are inevitable and this translates into victory. You really appreciated that playing simple (not that simple!) positional chess can lead to a win without any risk to yourself.

Very instructive!

Training – always a crowd pleaser!

The session then started to free wheel with lots of questions from the members and a quick examination of openings. For players new to the game this was invaluable and the advice given by Bajrush and Carsten was really pertinent

  • Learn one opening – practise it and experiment
  • Always ask the question what does your opponent intend with their move(s)
  • A heightened sense of paranoia and scepticism are excellent qualities in a chess player
  • Rapid development with gain of tempo are ideal

Our evening finished at 10pm and everyone went away happy and curious to apply what we had learnt asap.

Opening Match Reports

With the games coming thick & fast we have a couple of recent match reports to share from our team captains:

03.10.16 – London League 6 Derby: Hammersmith HEDGER v Hammersmith

With our newly-formed additional team in London 6, Hammersmith HEDGER (named for the late, great Ken Hedger), we faced the prospect of a League 6 Derby for the first time in a long time. In the cauldron of Lytton Hall our two teams faced off in their opening game of the new season.

Our Hedger team saw club stalwarts Robin Lee, Nick Rutherford, Mike Mackenzie and Dan “Ruggers” Rugman face a slightly less well established ensemble with new captain Rich Wingfield, Chris “CJ” Moore, Andy Routledge and Shaun Gordon (sporting a fine fedora) in his first competitive outing for Hammersmith. Great to have our new faces on board representing the club!

The best-dressed team in chess
The best-dressed team in chess

Top board saw a hard fought game between Robin and Rich. Two players who’ve been on great form of late, Robin edged the encounter with Rich under time pressure and in the face of a beautiful Queen sacrifice. A good game.

Chris and Nick played out a draw on board two; probably a fair result in the end.

Andy managed to get the better of Mike thanks to some aggressive attacking play leaving Mike’s king isolated. A good result for the big man.

On board four Shaun was a late (and unexpected) replacement – probably not ideal preparation for his first game for the club! Facing Dan, he played a very respectable game, eventually succumbing with Dan taking a deserved win.

A great match by all concerned, and particularly pleasing that our new Hedger team opened their account with a victory. A fitting tribute to Ken.


06.10.16 – London League 4, Hammersmith v Newham

It’s always a pleasure to realise that your opponent’s 200-graded captain is stepping-down to make way for other players. Less pleasant to realise that half of the players you’re up against are under 13 years old!!

Newham are certainly a team of young guns, so you get the usual script. Lightning-quick moves, underestimated grades and a cast-iron resolve to play until they’re absolutely beaten. My opponent refused to quit even when it was a rook and two pawns against his lone king…

It was a pretty close match all-round with a draw feeling like the right result.

Adam and John were the last to finish; both had extremely tight games with Adam finally getting edged in a Rook vs Bishop endgame. John’s draw ultimately meant that we ended the night with honours even. He was up on material but faced into a pair of bishops locked together ominously.

The games on boards 6-8 seemed to be played at breakneck pace. By the time I drew breath to look up and walk around, the tables were clear and the boards put away. My commentary on these games is limited, but Phil was cursing himself in the Shakespeare for allowing a fork on f7. Always next time.

A special word must go to Danny Gordon – for not only making his debut but for starting with a win. Well done – long may it continue.