Ave, imperator, morituri te salutant!

“Hail mighty Caesar! Those who are about to die salute you!” *

London League 5: Hammersmith vs Kings Head – 11.10.17

Hammersmith obtained a creditable draw against King’s Head in Division 5, but read on for why chess can be so cruel.

An auspicious start to the new season saw fine wins by junior Nadhmi Auchi on board one, and Dipender Gill on board 3. Congratulations to these two! And welcome home to member Gokhan Kizilay, who has returned to the club after a year’s absence.

On Board 1, Nadhmi with the Black pieces used the Kings Indian defence setup against the Sicilian. Kudos to Nadhmi, when with calm precision he overturned his opponent’s diversionary tactics and won infront of a gathering audience.

On Board 2 a nice position by Gokhan was spoilt by his blundering a piece against stalwart Mark Huba. We’ve all done that.

On Board 3, Dipender reports as follows: It was a highly strategic game that needed careful calculation in the middle section. There was an opportunity for my opponent to take a better position but he floundered instead. I entered the endgame a piece up and consequently won.

Board 4 saw the two captains drawn in battle, a duel where no quarter was invited nor given. The Hammersmith captain, a piece up, launched a mating attack. Not quite lethal, it backfired and then reduced to two Rooks for Kings Head versus Rook and Knight. Again, Robin forked King and Rook and looked set for the win. However a tricky Rook and pawn ending ensued and was lost in the last few desperate minutes on the clocks.

We out graded our opponents by some 80 points – they are to be congratulated for playing so much better than their grades suggest. Boards 2 and 4 were losses, thus the final result was a 2-2 draw.

Robin.

* no deaths were reported during the game

Chess on Fire

It’s been an absolutely BLISTERING start to the new season for everyone at Hammer! New Equipment, New Tournament, and six days into the new season I can proudly report that we are UNBEATEN, having won 4 and drawn 3 of our opening games – a fantastic start!

Without further ado, a full roundup of this week’s action follows.

World Mental Health Day

First up, we are proud to report that a group of our members lent their support to our friends at the Hammersmith & Fulham branch of mental health charity MIND, in their event to mark World Mental Health Day this Tuesday just gone.

Lyric Square, W14 – familiar territory for Hammersmith Chess Club

Similar to our fund-raiser earlier this year, we hooked up with the MIND folks in Lyric Square at the heart of the community to generate interest and publicity for the wonderful work MIND does, and of course play some chess!

Mike Mackenzie – Benoni’d to within an inch of his life

Our thanks goes to everyone involved in organising and volunteering for such a worthwhile cause! Tony Niccoli was a particular star, helping with transporting tables, chairs, sets boards and clocks, and manning the tables until 11.30am.

Later on we were joined by new members Charlie and Nadim, with our heavyweight duo Marios and Mike joining later in the afternoon.

Some of the day’s highlights:

  • Numerous enquiries from the public about the club
  • Hammer Chess showing how much it is part of the local community
  • The camaraderie of our club is just outstanding
  • The number of people who love chess
  • And finally a surreal moment that became clear 24 hours later. During a lull in the proceedings, Marios, Mike and I played through the classic Petrosian-Spassky 1966 WCC final game involving the classic swooping Queen sacrifice. The next day on chess.com, that game was the Daily Puzzle challenge – spooky or what??

Our thanks go to Victoria and our friends at MIND, plus John, Tony, Nadim, Charlie, Marios and Mike, who gave their time to support a worthwhile cause.

Hammer bossing it in Lyric Square – yet again!

Middlesex League Double Header – 09.10.17

Monday 9th October saw both of our Middlesex Teams competing in their opening games of the season – it was quite literally standing room only at Lytton Hall, with a few brave souls playing casual chess on some makeshift tables right at the back of the room!

Fantastic to see so many players down at the club on a dark Monday evening! Our 2nd team match report follows…

Standing room only for the casual players!

This was the first ever match for our brand new team in Middlesex Division 3!

Astonishingly, 14 players wanted to play in a team that could hold 8, leaving the captain with tough selection decisions. I decided to give as many of the new guys as possible a chance to play, and rested some of the stalwarts for the potentially far harder second fixture.

We ended up beating our opponents by a score of 6.5-1.5 with not a single player losing a game. Coincidentally this matches our score against them last year – which funnily enough was also the first game of the season (report here). Of course, in that case we didn’t have a second team, and put out our first team – a testament to the progression we’ve made as a club in 12 months.

Dipender’s game was the first to finish. He surprised his opponent on move 1, and proceeded to play aggressively, forcing resignation in a 14-move manoeuvre.

The full, brutal demolition is below!

Next Monday we play host to Willesden, who join us from Division 2 last season. I expect us to be out graded across all boards, but we’ll be full of confidence following a fine first showing.

Adam.

The same evening our other Middlesex team – “the 1st team”, playing in Division 2 – ran out 4.5-3.5 winners under new captain “Super” Marios.

A fabulous result given the tough standard of our opponents, and another Hammer team off to a winning start this season.

London League 4: Hammer v Morley College – 06.10.17

A great start for our “2nd team” in London Division 4 as we got off to a flyer against Morley College. It’s always nice to start the season with a win but even more pleasing when you’re able to complete the job without losing a match. We’re up 6.5-0.5 with one adjournment, and things are looking positive in that one too.

Also great to see so many people battling for places. Alas, I had to knock back several players this time around, but managed to find spots for Pouya and Charlie, both of whom ran out winners on the night.

Here’s the scoresheet…

And then onto the games…

First to finish was Charlie’s mash-up on Board 8. We could only have been 5 minutes in when I saw the White Knight forking King and Rook. The Bishop and Queen followed closely behind and we looked set for a <10 minute victory. In truth, I think it probably lasted a few minutes more than that but the hammer soon fell. Great win to get things moving. 1-0

Your author’s match on Board 7 wasn’t far behind. A couple of slow moves in the opening allowed me to take the initiative and gain space with an early pawn push. I trapped his Bishop, and found myself in the driving seat materially and positionally. The fact his King was vulnerable to checks meant I always had a good move brewing (perhaps “too many”, to quote Mike Mac), and forced a resignation a few moves later. 2-0

John was next to strike on Board 6, putting his opponent in all sorts of trouble in the middle-game. It didn’t help that he castled the ‘wrong side’, when all the pointers seemed to suggest a King-side defence was tighter. Suddenly John’s Bishop on h2 was a monster, and his marauding c-file pawn was a menace. When a pin was sprung on his opponent’s Queen there seemed no way out short of losing significant material. John bust open the defences and finished with an elegant checkmate. Nice to watch. 3-0, and it seemed we were working from the bottom of the scoreboard upwards!

Next to finish was Brian who selfishly messed up the pattern! Still, he got a win so I can’t complain too much. Playing White, Brian disrupted the pawns on the opposition’s King-side forcing him to castle Queen-side. Whilst material was level, his pawn structure was superior and following an ill-advised pawn charge on the h-file, he was left with his own soldier who could march up the board unchallenged. Harry!!! Simon Williams would be proud. 4-0

Matteo secured a draw against their strongest opponent on Board 1. He was left to rue several moves that the computer considered suboptimal (always easier when checking in the pub afterwards) but in truth, there wasn’t much in it from start to finish, and in the end a draw was probably the right result. 4.5-0.5, and the match was won.

Pouya found himself up against Morley College stalwart Simon Shaw on Board 3. A cursory look suggested the match was finely balanced as the players entered the endgame with two Rooks and almost a full complement of pawns apiece. However, looks can be deceiving. The Hammersmith debutant’s pieces were coordinated much better and taking a leaf out of Nimzovich’s “Rook on the 7th” mantra, the momentum suddenly swung in his favour. Pawns were mopped up left, right and central, and the resignation came shortly afterwards. 5.5-0.5

The final match to finish was Rich’s. Imagine the scenario: Queen, Knight vs. Rook, Bishop, Knight, with a couple of pawns apiece. Add to the mix a centralised (and checkable) King, and a couple of minutes on the clock. Rich had the edge, but he was one careless move away from oblivion! With nerves of steel, he kept things extremely tight and effectively managed to wind down his opponent’s clock further still. A gracious resignation broke the tension and set Rich up for a well-earned point (and pint). 6.5-0.5

Which brings us to our unresolved encounter between Nadhmi and John Williams. There looked nothing in it throughout the encounter, even following a sharp exchange of pieces that left both sides with a Knight and six pawns each. I suppose a supercomputer would say it was a theoretical draw but they played on, still several moves short of their 36 moves. Nadhmi seemed more confident in the position and forced through a passed-pawn before the adjournment came. Frustrating one, with the balance of power moving towards Master Auchi, but they’ll live to fight another day! Adjournment date TBC.

Thanks to everyone for playing. Look forward to next time.

Dave.

London League 5: Hammersmith v Kings Head – 11.10.17

In our other game this week, our League 5 team scored a 2-2 draw against Kings Head. It maintains our unbeaten run and gets a few more players out of the starting blocks! Hopefully we can squeeze out a victory next time round.

Sponsorship – Chess & Bridge Shop

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed the addition of a new “Shop” link on our menu and a sponsor on the right hand side of the page.

We are pleased to announce that we’ve agreed a sponsorship deal with London’s premier chess equipment store – Chess & Bridge – www.chess.co.uk

It’s a great link for both of us and has allowed us to renew some more of our equipment at a great price – watch our for more new boards & pieces coming soon! And if you’re looking for some equipment yourselves, we’ll have a stack of magazines down at the club shortly for your perusal!

London League 3: Hackney v Hammersmith – 11.10.17

Saving perhaps our best result for last, and confirming our “on fire” status so far this season, London 3 Captain John White gives us his take on the opening night for our League 3 team.

Cue Captain James Tiberius Kirk voice…

Welcome to the voyages of the Starship Hammer as it commences its one season mission to boldly go where??….. to Division 2 in the London League, and we don’t need 5 years!!!

Okay Trekkies, that’s your lot for the moment.

Yes, the new London League Division 3 season opened at a new venue – The Citadines Hotel in Holborn (not a shabby place!) – starring Hammer 1, rejuvenated, reinvigorated, packed with new and old talent and ready to take to the stage in an encounter with Hackney 3.

However, before we get to the nitty-gritty please indulge your correspondent in a rewind to the end of last season and my reflections on our journey last year. I noted that we had achieved our primary objective, which was to retain Division 3 status. However a detailed analysis revealed that we had a plus score in game points and that with the odd individual game results going our way, we would have been much further up the table.

With this in mind I thought a realistic objective for 2017-18 was promotion to Division 2. Our first match against Hackney 3 confirmed the logic of this.

The Hammer team this season is a very different beast.

Our nominated players this season are Marios, Bajrush, Jim, Chris, Paul McK, Jeremy, Pavel, Sheikh, Paul K and John G. In other words, I do not even make the team and I am the captain!

First of all, I would like to welcome Jim and Paul McK to the club, and to the Hammer team. Both are very strong players and really beef up our top boards. Furthermore, the return of Chris (see below pic!) and John G is most welcome after an absence of two years. These recruits, coupled with Marios and Pavel being available for the whole season, really makes Hammer a competitive and tough nut this season. With Matteo, Brian, Orial, Safi and Adam to call on as super-subs, we have real strength in depth too.

Two years is a long time in chess, as Chris Skulte returns to the warm bosom of mother Hammer

I also need to designate nicknames to our team members, and so far this season we have:

  • Marios – “Zeus”
  • Bajrush – “Wily”
  • Jim – “Loco” (an obscure reference to the Flying Scotsman!)
  • Chris S – “Sydney”
  • Paul McK – “Prof”
  • Jeremy – “Brexit”
  • Pavel – “Spock”
  • Paul K – “Dead Eye”
  • Sheikh – “Pandit”
  • John G – “Sauvignon”
  • John W – “Clueless”
  • Matteo – “Suit”
  • Orial – “The Wiz”

Other designations will follow as and when.

Alas, Sauvignon, Spock and Dead Eye could not make the Hackney gig and thus the Suit, the Wiz and Clueless stepped up to the plate.

At last to the match report. Please note: as I was playing, the details are not extensive!

Hammer started at full throttle with Loco finishing his game in double-quick time. A crushing win and Hammer 1-0 to the good. There then followed a gold rush of wins as Hammer flexed its muscles.

Decisive wins followed from Zeus, Sydney, Pandit, Prof, Brexit and even Clueless got in on the act putting Hammer 7-0 up and the clock had not even reached 9.30pm. I can report that all of these were decisive wins and totally in keeping with the Caveman heritage that Hammer espouses. Victory was assured.

The three remaining games were in some ways the most interesting. The Wiz sadly went down and the score moved to 7-1. This was definitely a case of over-pressing with the Wiz trying to force a win.

The Suit has a sealed move scenario, unfortunately in a very murky position. I am pessimistic about his chances although there are counter-play possibilities.

As for Wily, what can I say? He snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat. A typical Wily game & performance. A rook imprisoned on h4, controlled chaos on the board and yet despite being a pawn and the exchange down, he was striving for the win. Wily chess requires balls of steel and his uncompromising approach always yields results. Some good, some bad!

So, at the end of the night Hammer are 7.5-2.5 ahead with 1 adjournment.

A successful takeoff and Hammer is ready to complete its 2017-18 mission. The force is with us!!

John.

 

The B of the Bang

After what seems like an age, the new chess season is finally upon us – and it started with a Bang!

Monday 2nd October saw the opening game of the 2017-18 season, with the two Hammer teams battling it out in Lytton Hall for bragging rights in the Hammersmith Derby – more on that later.

If you haven’t taken a look at our Calendar recently – please do so! It’s a rip-roaring story of competitive games coming thick & fast, with no fewer than 16 matches this month, plus the opening night of our RapidPlay tournament. In fact, the months up to Christmas are going to be chocka – including a top class Simultaneous!

Our weekly digest of goings-on at the club follows…

Hammer Derby – 02.10.17

Our two London League 6 teams faced off in the traditional season opener at the start of the week. A tense affair as always, we were delighted to hand league debuts to two new members, Charlie and Wyatt – welcome chaps! The game unfolded as follows…

Board 1 saw Captain Rich take on stalwart John. It proved a very tough affair with the players evenly matched. The tussle ended in a late flurry of moves in order for both players to reach the time control, with the game going to an adjournment. Subsequently, the players agreed a win for White. First blood, 1-0

Board 2 had Club Secretary Mike taking on newbie from down under, Wyatt. An all out attack from White (Wyatt) was repelled by a very stubborn defence. When the dust settled, there was spaghetti all over the board, and Black had the upper hand. However, wily Wyatt managed to steer the game to a draw, 1.5-0.5

Board 3 had our other newbie Charlie, taking on one of our charming long-timers, Nick. As experienced players will know, the draw is always on offer with Nick, and the game went true to form with an early draw being agreed, 2-1

Board 4 was another even matchup – just 2 grading points separating the players. The experienced Dan (as Black) played a smooth game, ending in a Queen & Rook mating net. Bad luck to Nadim, but a great tussle. Honours even at 2-2

RapidPlay Tourney – Pairings Announced!

You’ve probably heard about our new RapidPlay tournament this season – it’s going to last the full 8 months of the season, with a round each month, and we literally can’t wait for it to kickoff!!

To date it’s been a HUGE success, with 25 players signing up to take part. The big news this week – entries have now closed and the Supercomputer at Lytton Hall has determined the initial pairings as follows:

There’s a couple of tasty pairings in here – and the opportunity for a whole load of upsets! It’s a remarkable feature of chess how time can be an almighty leveller. Those gradings will mean very little with just 45 minutes on the clocks.

It properly kicks off on Monday 23rd October, 8pm sharp – see you there!

GM Keith Arkel Simultaneous – 11.12.17

We are DELIGHTED to announce that esteemed GM Keith Arkell will be gracing us with his presence at Lytton Hall on the final night of the London Chess Classic – Monday 11th December – for a Simultaneous display at the club!

Gary meets GM Keith Arkell

Keith has been a GM since 1995, British RapidPlay Champ in 1998, and has a peak ELO rating of 2545. He tied for British Champ in 2008, and shared first place in the World Senior Championship in 2014. He ain’t no fool!!

Full details will be announced shortly – there’ll be a small fee to enter, and places will be limited, but you can register your interest early by dropping us an email: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

Monday 11th December – Save the date!!

NEW Equipment!

After much searching and deliberation, we are pleased to announce that we’ve purchased a boatload of shiny new equipment for our members to use! It takes Hammer Chess right into the 21st Century and is a solid investment for the Club.

First up and fresh off the plane from China this week – we’ve secured a raft of new digital clocks. These can’t be beaten on functionality and will allow us to use timing increments for the first time. They’re also FIDE approved for when we next host Carlsen et al for some tea & biscuits on a rainy Monday night in W14.

We’ve also purchased a raft of new boards and pieces – weighted, no less! – for casual use, and are in the final stages of agreeing some brand new, solid wood match boards for the premium matches!

It all bodes well for the future of Hammer Chess!

 

Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day

If you haven’t heard already, we’re rekindling our link with Hammersmith & Fulham MIND next week, with a team of volunteers from Hammer Chess helping out in Lyric Square to support the charity as they mark World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October, 10am – 4pm.

It’s not too late to get involved – if you’re available and would like to help out, please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

 

Like Playing in a Foreign Country

As we know, the Hammer Foreign Legion is strong – having successfully toured Amsterdam earlier this year, a couple of our members have recently had some chess-based experiences in foreign lands.

First up, our intrepid London League 4 Captain, Dave, had the pleasure of taking on some of the locals in Slovakia recently. It was an interesting experience, and rumour has it he’s made some permanent friends on the chess.com app!

The Slovaks… crazy for the beautiful game

And whilst experiencing the delights of Moorish Spain, webmaster Andy did some background reading on the Nasrid dynasty, coming across the following fascinating passage in a book – finally explaining the meaning of Alfil!

“Chess is one of the oldest games of war, and has been played in Spain longer than anywhere else in Europe, by Spanish Muslims since their arrival in the eighth century, and by Spanish Christians and Jews since the early tenth century. It started in ancient India, and the original pieces represented the units of the Indian army – foot soldiers, cavalry, armed chariots and elephants. The infantry, or pawns were led on the chessboard as in life by the King and his senior minister, his vizier. Some people think it was a game modelled on Alexander the Great’s campaigns in Persia, in which his squadrons were aligned in ranks of sixty-four squares, the number of squares on a chessboard.

The game reached Europe through Moorish Spain, where in Islamic chess, opening moves had romantic names such as the Sword opening, or Pharaoh’s Fortress. As it spread to medieval Europe, the pieces changed to reflect the feudal social environment of the times. Kings and pawns stayed the same, but the elephant piece was replaced in Christian chess by the Bishop, a powerful figure in the medieval church. In Spanish Muslim chess, the Bishop is just an alfil, meaning a chess piece and nothing more. The horse of the Indian game became the Knight, a symbol of feudal chivalry, the old armed chariot became the castle (or Rook in English, which comes from the Persian word for chariot), and the vizier changed into the Queen.

The 14th Century Nasrid ChessBoard

By the late fifteenth century, when the Nasrids were playing chess on the Alhambra chessboard, a dramatic change had taken place. The Queen was no longer the weaker companion of the King – she was the most powerful piece on the chessboard, with new long-range striking power. There was only one way to win the game, and that was through the irrevocable cornering and capture of the enemy King.”

The more you know!!

Hot off the Press – 06.10.17 !!

The London League 4 team have made a wining start to their season this Friday night, with a thumping 6.5-0.5 victory (plus one winning adjournment) against Morley College. Full writeup to follow…!