To be read in a Morgan Freeman voice, as in the Shawshank Redemption
As the sun sets on the first season of the Summer League (SL) I think a John Arlott-esque moment is called for and hence I shall share my thoughts with you, my fellow Hammerites, on this inaugural season.
The whole concept grew out of the challenge match between us and Battersea held on two nights in the Summer of 2016. The original El Chessico and the commencement of a great, but friendly rivalry between our clubs (note: we won the match!).
The biggest bonus of the event was meeting Leon and Aldo, of Battersea Chess Club. Two ultra-chess enthusiasts with energy and vision you cannot buy.
The former drove the SL website, as well as pioneering the idea of different names for the teams. He also had the stunning idea of approaching the British Bangla Chess Association (BBCA) and getting them to enter a team.
Aldo was the creative genius behind the Summer League. The introduction of such things as listing all the games online, the GM Simon Williams analysis, the branding, the visual displays, the sets & clocks, the banner and the trophy were all down to him. On top of it all, he organised the superb launch night – the best chess event I have ever participated in!
The league owes these two a huge debt and a huge vote of thanks and appreciation.
The other conspirators in this cabal were Richard Tillet from Streatham & Brixton, and Mo Islam from BBCA. Richard was the wise head on all the technical and law matters. He is the sort of guy you want on any Committee. Mo was the man who brought the BBCA to the party – he is a great guy, good chess player (we drew in our match up) and a real gentleman. Furthermore, the captain of the winning team.
From a Hammer point of view the final result saw us Totally and Just Hammered. We certainly lived up to our names. However, I never felt that in this first season from our perspective that was the overriding factor.
This was about giving as many members exposure to competitive and rated chess games over the long Summer. Plus, a lot of new members got a chance to play their first competitive match. Well over thirty members – including many new ones – took part, and we were able to blood two new captains.
In fact, I must pay special thanks to both Marios and Ken in stepping up to the plate and giving Adam and I the luxury of just playing chess. They did a first class job – especially with such innovations as Teamer in selection and a willingness to analyse games with members.
Two of our members featured in Simon William’s online analysis – Tony Niccoli, and Adam Cranston. Both games showed the fighting chess that Hammer is renowned for.
So, it ends till next Summer but we as a club have a solid base to build on as we start the “Old Chess Season”. There is so much in the pipeline for our club – new equipment, a new internal tourney, new members, a probable visit to Cork and the return visit from our friends in Amsterdam.
I will share one last anecdote, and this one really encapsulates the spirit of the Summer League and our great game.
On the opening night of fixtures, the two gentlemen who founded the BBCA asked if they could address the gathered company before the games commenced.
These two guys were both teachers, one primary one secondary, and had founded the BBCA to give the young people of Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets a creative and educational outlet. Not only that, but they wanted to use chess as a tool against radicalization and to promote harmony in that part of London.
I have seen chess do many things, but if our wonderful, mad and beautiful game can achieve that, then there really will be some hope for our world and our city.
Final Round Games & Results
The final gameweek of the Summer League saw both Hammer teams in a fight for pride (and points!).
With the title out of reach after some earlier, bruising rounds of chess, our Just and Totally teams were looking to end on a high.
Full results and all the moves are available here:
GM Analysis: Paul Stokes vs Tony Niccoli
One final treat from last week – Hammersmith’s Tony Niccoli featured in the “game of the week“, prompting a thoroughly fascinating and insightful 30 minute analysis by Simon “Ginger GM” Williams on his YouTube channel. Well worth a viewing!