#HammerTime Hits the Skids

Regular readers will know that we’ve had a flying start to the new season. Win after win, and a long period during which we could rightly have been dubbed “The Invincibles“.

However, as the great Axl Rose once sang, “nothing lasts forever” – and indeed, to further prolong the tenuous reference, it can fairly be said that when it rains, it pours on poor old Hammer. It’s been a torrid week, albeit with one or two rays of sunshine – read on to find out more!

Rapidplay Roundup – 23.10.17

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you will have heard that our fantastic season-long RapidPlay Tournament kicked off this week. A full writeup of the first Round can be found here.

Round 2 pairings will be announced imminently – stay tuned!

London League 3: GLCC v Hammersmith – 24.10.17

“Hammer Crashes to Earth”

So Trekkies, life does reflect Hollywood occasionally. As in the JJ Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise the Starship Hammer crashed into Planet Earth at approximately 9pm last night. There were casualties, but no fatalities, a pub inquest has been held, the ship is undergoing repairs and from that New Hope will be born.

Over to our reporter – Clueless John.

My fellow Hammerites it is my sad duty to confirm the final result as a 6.5-3.5 loss for the Hammer crew at the hands of GLCC. There is no way I can make this news sound good – GLCC were the better team and deserved the win. They are definitely one of the strongest teams in the division.

The Hammer heroes were a couple of boards down before the evening started, with both Sydney and Sauvignon unavailable. This, coupled with Wily having car problems in Kent that afternoon, your Captain – Clueless – was left scrambling to fill the team places. Fortunately, two men – one big and one small (only in stature) – stepped up and answered the call to arms.

In the time-honoured tradition of Hammer Chess, these two men are now designated nicknames:

  • Brian – The Hat
  • Nadhmi – The Gift

The final place in the team was taken by Captain Clueless.

The evening started with a default win on board one for Zeus. His opponent did not show. I think Zeus’s reputation is spreading and trepidation now stalks the corridors of other LL3 teams.

In the absence of WilyLoco started on board 2 – he had a tough night with a tricky opponent and succumbed to a clever tactic. Hammer at 1-1.

On board 3 Paul (the Prof version) played an excellent game and won in great style displaying impeccable technique. A very nice game and puts the Prof at 2-0 for the season in LL3. He is relishing playing over the board chess.

On Board 4 Brexit had a tough defeat – he was holding the position. Indeed, he may have even had an edge. Unfortunately, it went wrong and he got “Junckered”. It was a “Tusk” task but Brexit is much more than a mere “BoJo” – he will be back for the next round of negotiations – I mean LL3 match – and he will be better and stronger. (who writes this stuff – ed?)

Next up was Spock playing an amazingly complicated game where he strived so hard for the advantage with the black pieces. It was double-edged for a long time.

Unfortunately he just did not have enough, despite having a Queen on h4, the Bishop pair and menacing pressure down an open f-file from a Rook. This was a thrilling game and Pavel was very unlucky to come out on the wrong side of the result. He will definitely get better luck in the future.

Pandit had an eventful night. He lost a pawn early in the game but threw everything into an all-out assault on the black king. His pieces looked menacing, but in the words of Richard III he needed another piece (a piece, a piece; my kingdom for a piece!) to pull it off. Sadly, for Pandit and Hammer, no horse or piece arrived and Hammer was now 4-2 down.

Onto the controversy of the night which saw Dead-Eye in a desperate time scramble with unwarranted interventions from the opposing captain, subsequent amnesia from his opponent, excellent contribution from both Brexit, Zeus, rational and very nice GLCC members and the Prof (by the way, he is an arbiter amongst his many talents) – finally a win for Dead-Eye was declared.

In the end, hands were shaken and we left on good terms. The argument at the end cannot cloud a superb performance by Dead-Eye. He is definitely recording his form. Hammer at 4-3.

I will pass on the Clueless game at this stage and instead report on Boards 9 and 10 first.

The Gift debuted on board 9 for Hammer – he has come so far in such a short time. His talent and potential are enormous, coupled with a wonderful composure and demeanour. Hammer are lucky he chose us to further his chess career.

His opponent out-graded him by 25 points, three feet, and at least 30 years. However, a complex tactical and strategic battle developed in which the Gift graciously conceded defeat. The one thing he can take from this experience is that he was definitely not overawed. He belongs in this environment and he gave an excellent account of himself. He has a very bright future ahead.

Our other super-sub, the Hat, faced a familiar opponent. Past Chairman and honorary life Hammer member, Peter Moreton. This was the first game to finish and hence I cannot say much but I am most grateful that the Hat helped me out in my hour of need.

Finally, to my game. I lost horribly to my opponent twelve months ago in this same fixture. Indeed, on reflection my nickname Clueless summed up my play perfectly from that encounter.

Last night was different and in an intriguing game occurred where I faced the Wily setup of twin fianchetto’s, Knights on d7 and e7 with pawns cemented on d6 and e6 – I did have a very familiar feeling of deja-vu. Maybe this prior knowledge helped me and certainly my play was at a far higher level than last year. Indeed, I missed a win in a Bishop v Knight endgame and soon after, an honourable draw was agreed.

So, the final score was 6.5-3.5 in favour of GLCC. A sobering result. We were out-graded, on actual games played, by 9 points a board. But, the margins were fine at board level and if Spock and Clueless had had an ounce of luck (or in the latter case, a brain), we would have earned a draw. But it was not meant to be.

I leave you with this rallying cry:

“Hammer will not be cowed, we will not despair, we will not go quietly into the night. We will rise up because it is not how we fall, it is how we get up, and this is the measure by which we will be judged. Hammer is more than one match and in the end, it is the enduring spirit and heart of our club that will triumph. Last night our dreams received a knock, but we will surely and most certainly be back.”

Go Hammer!

Next up in London 3 is DHSS on 21 November.

London League 6: DHSS v Hammersmith – 24.10.17

That same evening our London 6 team achieved a great result against ever-presents, DHSS.

There’s always a small frisson of excitement about the DHSS fixture – whether it’s ensuring you pre-register with security to gain access to the government estate, jumping off the tube at St James’ in the heart of Whitehall, or just the fact that they offer very good tea & biscuits – it’s always a fixture to be relished. This one was no different.

In spite of an average grading difference of some 12 points per board, the team struck and delivered a 2-2 draw in the highlight of Hammer’s chess week.

Of particular note is new-boy Charlie’s result on Board 3, scoring a fine win against a strong opponent. Captain Rich also notched a good victory on top board, carrying the team to safety. Well done chaps!

Next up in League 6 – games against Wanstead & Woodford, and Hackney in early November.

London League 4: Metropolitan v Hammersmith – 26.10.17

Our London 4 team also suffered a rather bruising time at the hands of City Boys, Metropolitan.

Metropolitan – not a happy hunting ground this week

Playing Metropolitan is always an interesting experience – their games kick off at the awkwardly early time of 6.30pm, over towards Aldgate. It’s not the easiest part of London to get to for Hammermites. Coupled with the science degree required to access the Community Hall they use, we were several players down by the time clocks started.

A full report from Captain Dave will follow, however the result and one of the games is provided for your “enjoyment” below:


Next up for our London 4 team is Alfil on 8 November.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it – sometimes chess delivers you a lesson in life. We take our defeats with grace and humility, & resolve to come back stronger!

Thanks to everyone who turned out. The chess continues next week with three more games!

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