Planet Hammer

It’s been another busy week of chess (and a few other things!) on planet Hammer this last 7 days. Five games of chess, one IM getting a Hammering, and several other things coming up in the next few days. Read on to hear more!

Rapidplay Round 1 – Monday 23rd October

It can’t have escaped your notice that our awesome new Rapidplay tournament kicks off this coming Monday 23rd at Lytton Hall.

The pairings have been announced, preparations have been finalised, and we’re all set for 8 months of Rapid chess with 25 players in the frame.

As such, it’s going to be a busy one at Lytton Hall, but don’t worry – we’ll still have room for casual chess if you’re not taking part in the tournament, and I have a feeling it will make for excellent spectating!

If you’ve signed up to play, you need to show up, else you’ll forfeit the first game! Harsh but fair!! See you there from 7.30pm!

Thames Valley / Middlesex Double-Header – 16.10.17

Hammer faced a double header this Monday just gone, with our Thames Valley team facing the mighty Surbiton, whilst our Middlesex 3 lot played host to Willesden.

Busy times at the home of chess, W14

Details for the TV game are quite sketchy, but I’m pleased to report that Hammer finished the evening 4-2 ahead, with two games adjourned, both looking like scoring points. This would represent an excellent result!

Adam on Board 7 has generously supplied us with full details of his game: “It was a very aggressive and tactical battle in the Dutch Defence, and I was pretty happy with the win given I started with only 35 minutes on the clock”:

Next up for the TV team is Kingston away, on November 27th.

Middlesex League Double-Header

It was a very busy week for Hammer 2 in the Middlesex League this week. We had two games, the first at home to Willesden and the second away to Harrow 2.

Willesden are one of the two teams who came down from Division 2 last year (the other has since dropped out of the League altogether). They were only relegated by the narrowest of margins, however, so we knew we were in for a tough fight.

Willesden descended on Lytton Hall with only seven players. Those seven players differed in grade by a full 78 grading points. In contrast, the differential between our boards one and seven was only 35 points. It was going to be a tough day at the office for the top boards, while at the bottom end we would look to pickup some vital wins.

Casual players relegated to the back of the room again! Busy times

On board seven John Ryan had the black pieces. He played a very solid game, and his opponent finally cracked when he fell for a piece-winning tactic and the win was sealed. That brings John to 2/2 for the season, the team’s current best-performer.

Simon had the white pieces on board is. Playing his favoured 1.Nf3, not seen too often at club level, he decided to enter a London System. He attacked down the Queenside, navigating some tricky tactics in the early middle game. Realising his opponent’s King was slightly exposed, Simon decided to sacrifice the exchange for a very dangerous attack. It was too much for black to handle, and the Hammer newbie soon delivered mate on the board.

Simon has provided a wonderfully in-depth analysis of the game, which won’t be included in this report, but stay tuned for the next instalment in the “Games & Analysis” section.

Dave’s debut in the Middlesex League this season did not go quite to plan on board five. He lost a piece early on but escaped with positional compensation. He soldiered on, managing to turn this compensation into three pawns. With white’s Knights dancing around in the midfield and with very little time on the clock it was starting to get very tough to calculate. Full credit is due to his opponent, who spotted a very nice mating attack that won him the game.

Nadhmi continues his excellent run of form on board four. He played the Scotch and some excellent tactics in the opening won him a piece. This must have come as a surprise to his more experienced and higher-graded opponent, who did everything he could to try and get back into the game. Nadhmi did not flinch and a very nice finish sealed the victory. Playing like this I have no doubt that Nadhmi will very soon be torturing opponents as a stalwart of Hammer’s first team.

Gawain son!! Our new sponsors delivered some Chess magazines to Lytton Hall for our perusal!

So Hammer were 4-1 up with just the top three boards to go. Could John, Brian or Pouya get anything out of their games against opponents graded 181, 174 and 166?

Pouya could not. He got somewhat tied down in the opening and his opponent did not release his grip. Pouya ended up blundering a piece and resigned.

The Magnus Carlsen of Hammersmith, Brian Dodgeon, could not either. He fought hard with the white pieces, but was eventually squeezed out.

So it was left to John White, the final game to finish, to make something happen on board one. His opponent pressed very hard and obtained a passed pawn on the c-file. John defended vehemently and managed to win the pawn before it reached the seventh, at the expense of a very cramped position. They went into an endgame very short on time. John was almost in Zugzwang, but after a small move order inaccuracy from his opponent, John found the only move that could keep his hopes alive. His opponent descended into thought for most of the rest of his time, realising that John’s last remaining pawn was so dangerous that he had to settle for a draw.

So it was a win against probably the strongest team in the league with some superb individual performances. Could Hammer 2 dare to dream of promotion?

Thursday’s match gave us the answer to that question – a resounding “no”. This time we were playing Harrow 2, probably the weakest team in the league. The match itself doesn’t merit much discussion.

Yours truly found a neat way of turning a won endgame into a stonewall draw with over an hour on the clock. Nadhmi could not get close to the level he was playing at in the previous match, conceding a disappointing loss to a relatively weak player. Further losses for Shiraz, Wyatt and Dan, and a frustrating no-show, sealed an emphatic defeat.

Highlights of the evening included good wins for Pouya and Dave, the latter of whom refused to be distracted by his opponent’s poor etiquette and gamesmanship, including embarking on chit-chats during Dave’s move, and explaining where Dave went wrong after he’d won the game!

The next three matches follow shortly, so watch out for an email from me in the next few days.


London League 5: Hammersmith v Hackney – 18.10.17

Our second match brought us to our knees with a surprise loss to Hackney, whom we beat last time rather spectacularly. So yes, a team whom we meet on equal grading terms this time puts us down, but hopefully not out! Read on for more details on this match.

We lost the toss, so were black on even boards. Boards 1 and 4 saw draws soon on. Our middle two boards fought on. Gokhan reported he blundered again and had to resign.

In the final game to finish, I had won the exchange and tried to press home against a vulnerable King on the a and b files, upon which I launched several pieces. My opponent stubbornly resisted, but without sufficient firepower my cause was hopeless.

Final score 1-3.

Congratulations to our two drawing boards, Brian Dodgeon and Nick Rutherford, both of whom debut’d for the team on this occasion.

Sophocles said: “I have no desire to suffer twice; in reality and then in retrospect”


Next up is Pimlico away, on November 23rd.

Middlesex Division 2: Harrow v Hammersmith – 19.10.17

The Hammer crew were on the road last night, trying to extend their excellent start in the Middlesex League with a match against Harrow.

First, a bit of education. Yesterday was the celebration of the great Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of Diwali. This fabulous, noisy and very colourful celebration, represents the twin triumphs of good over evil and of light over darkness.

Now I would not ever designate Harrow as representing evil and darkness – they are in fact a great club with a fabulous venue, and are most welcoming. However, when it comes to chess Hammer go into caveman mode and the winning mentality takes over. We were there to win… period.

Before we get to the nuts & bolts we need to add to the nickname list and thus the roll of honour is extended with the following designations:

  • Tony – “The Surgeon”
  • Yasser – “Tellit”

To the tale of the evening…

On board one, the Great Dane had a positional crush where he had total control of the board. In these situations, positional domination always leads to a tactical denouncement and this particular game followed the script perfectly. Faced with either mate or fatal material loss, the Great Dane’s opponent gracefully resigned. Hammer 1-0 to the good.

Board 2 next. The Surgeon had one of those nights – his scalpel technique was just not in sync – and he succumbed to a painful loss. It was a definite aberration and the lesson is the Surgeon will rebound stronger than ever. Hammer pegged back to 1-1.

Next up was our captain – Zeus. He won at a canter with plenty in hand, continuing his excellent form this season. He really is a force to be reckoned with at the moment. Hammer forge ahead 2-1 to the good.

On board 4 Wily had the most amazing finish with a Queen sac leading to a beautiful mating pattern. This was Wily at his best with his Bishops dominating the board. A superb game and a prosaic finish. Hammer cruising at 3-1.

Brexit on board 5 had a draw in one of those games where nothing much happened. He was never in any trouble and held a slight advantage for the whole game. Unfortunately, there was never enough to force anything else. Hammer now at 3.5-1.5.

Board 6 saw Tellit convert the positional advantage of two Bishops on an open board with excellent technique. This was another dominating Hammer performance. The match was secured and Hammer lead 4.5-1.5.

The Suit had a slight edge but never enough to prosecute a victory. The Suit bemoaned his current form and was slightly down in the dumps. My view is that he will turn it around very quickly and is not far away from his best form. He is too good a player. Hammer now 5-2 ahead.

Clueless joined the party with an easy victory on board 8. His designated opponent did not show up and thus a last-minute substitute who faced a near 30-minute time deficit stepped in. Clueless gave him no chance and a desperado Knight sacrifice was coolly and logically refuted. Hammer gaining a 6-2 match win.

A great overall performance by the Hammer boys – this sets us fair for the rest of the season and our goal of challenging for promotion.

So, the good ship Hammer Middlesex II is well and truly launched. Bring on the rest of the season and keep the faith – go Hammer!


Next up is the return leg v Harrow at Lytton Hall on 30th October.

Pavel Nefyodov v IM Andrey Ostrovskiy

We all like to indulge in a bit of online chess from time to time, and it turns out that those at the top of the game are no different!

Hammer’s own Pavel Nefyodov (aka Spock) played IM Andrey Ostrovskiy in a blitz game earlier this week, which the IM was recording for his YouTube channel!

It’s a thumping battle, and of particular interest for an amateur wood-pusher like myself is the IM’s dispassionate – and often third person – commentary on his and Pavel’s moves. A really interesting insight into the mind of a top player.

The video is linked below – Pavel’s game starts at 43:12:

ECF Digital Clocks – Special Offer

Here at Hammer, we love a new digital clock as much as the next chess fan, and we’re pleased to report that the ECF has received an almost-too-good-to-be-true offer from FIDE on the latest DGT clocks.

Full details of the offer are available here:

In summary, top of the range DGT clocks are being made available to English clubs for £20-25 (compared to a retail price of around £70).


As we’ve recently refreshed our clocks and upgraded to digital, we won’t be ordering any for the club…. but we are happy to place an order on behalf of any of our members who wish to purchase one. It’s a true bargain, and we already have 4 members on our list to purchase.

If you’d like to take advantage of this fantastic offer & get hold of a top-of-the-range digital clock, please drop John White an email:

A Walk in the Chess Valley

Get your walking boots on – Hammer is going to the countryside! Sort of…

We’d like to introduce you to the delights of the Chess Valley, which starts up in Chesham and follows a route down to Rickmansworth – both of which are stops on the tail end of the Metropolitan line (aka “Metro-Land”) – a short hop on the tube.

Not a wood-pusher in sight!

It’s beautiful scenery and what better way to combine the game we love, with a stunning walk in a valley that shares its name!

There’s a 10 mile route, details of which are available here:

We’re thinking – a yomp through the 10-mile route, followed by some blitz chess in a country pub at the end of it (along with the necessary refreshments!).

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, please get in touch: or 

If there are enough takers, we’ll look to arrange something in the coming weeks!

Final Thoughts

Another busy week of chess action as the Hammer train steams on – thanks goes to all our players and contributors for some top games and reports. For details of what’s coming up next week, please check out our Calendar.

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