Ehr for Congress!

Here at Hammer we don’t really “do” politics. However, when it comes to the political aspirations of one of our upstanding, former members, we are happy to oblige!

Former Hammerite & West-Londoner, ex-Chief Executive of the ECF, long-time US Navy serviceman, and – most importantly – fine example of a human being, our very own Phil Ehr is standing for elected office in the US!

That’s right, Phil is standing for Congress in Florida’s 1st Congressional District as a Democrat candidate, and we’d like to share some details of a couple of events he’ll be holding in London as part of the campaign.

First up, Phil will be hosting an event across the road from the London Chess Classic in our old favourite Albion Pub:

  • When: Monday 4th December, from 7pm
  • Where: The Albion Pub (upstairs function room), 121 Hammersmith Road, W14 OQL
  • What: Drinks and an opportunity to meet Phil and hear more details about his campaign

And following that, there’s a reception in Central London as follows:

“Join us to hear Phil Ehr talk about his race to represent Florida’s Panhandle and replace a very right-wing Republican!  Phil is a retired Navy officer who served around the world, most recently in London.  He moved back to Pensacola last May and announced his candidacy in July. 

Phil is campaigning to keep Americans healthy through affordable health care, and respects women’s rights to reproductive medical services.  He will work to protect the environment, strengthen national security, fund public education and serve our military community.

He is running against Matt Gaetz, who has called for the resignation of Special Counsel Mueller and voted to defund FEMA!  On December 5 in London, Phil will talk about the challenges he faces in western Florida and his path to electoral victory next November!”

We’re fully behind Phil in his quest for office! Please share this article with anyone who may be interested!

And be sure to check out his website for more details of his campaign, the issues that are important to him, and details of upcoming events:

Donations to Phil’s campaign are encouraged if you so wish, but please note that only US citizens or Green Card holders can donate – please use the following link:

Go Phil – Hammersmith Chess Club is rooting for you!!


A Position of GO

London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith – 23.11.17

Welcome to returning veterans David Lambert and John Ryan, who debut this match on division 5.

John was the first to finish on board 4, dealing an inexperienced opponent a sharp object lesson in chess, quickly going a piece up, then mopping up pawns in rapid style. 1-0

The Hammersmith captain on board 3 with the white pieces, bungled the move order in the Korchnoi gambit to the French defence. Quickly, the young Pimlico junior gained the advantage with a dangerous knight assay into the white kingside.

The Hammersmith captain desperately sacrificed a piece for two pawns, to gain counter play and force the queens off. The board saw two rooks and two pawn islands each side and black was a piece for a pawn up! The junior then studied the board for nearly 20 minutes, before launching a vicious two rook attack on white’s 2nd rank.

However, this did not end in mate as expected, but it did allow a rook swap and the simplified endgame was ultimately lost, with white resigning. 1-1

A busy night at the Pimlico office

David on board 2 had the black pieces against the Pimlico captain. Their board saw the open Sicilian Defence, with David playing early pawns to c5 and e5 (the Maroczy Bind), a rock-solid defence. Draw agreed, and the score was 1.5-1.5

Having to deal with the lightning fast junior on board 3, I saw little of the other games.

In the dying moments of the match, we gathered to watch Brian Dodgeon staving off defeat on the clock, with perhaps 5 minutes to go against 20 minutes.

I saw an entrenched position with perhaps 7 or 8 pawns each side, the white pawn array appearing as a strong, symmetrical arrow-head. There were also all major pieces and one bishop on both sides.

White looked to have dangerous pawn pushes possible on c5 and d5, each supported by rooks from behind. White had a bishop landlocked behind his own pawns, black on the other hand had a bishop supported by a pawn, near white’s castled king.

The image of a GO board came to mind where each side, in the famous Japanese board game, tries to strangle the other in a strategy of global dominance. With much to ponder, black offered a very sporting draw which Brian mulled over for a while, then accepted.

A draw it was at 2-2. David later pointed out that it was a good result, as Pimlico had just trounced a strong team 4-0.

I am indebted to David for stepping in at the last minute. Nadhmi had to withdraw understandably for a school event.


Live Long and Prosper

London League 3: DHSS v Hammersmith – 21.11.17

Welcome to the latest adventures of the Starship Hammer 1 and its one season mission to explore strange new and old chess clubs, and boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Star Date 21/11/2017 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to a strange, but in some ways familiar, planet called DHSS. The environment was most welcoming but also slightly hostile.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

Zeus, Wily, Loco, Sydney, Brexit, Spock, Pandit, Dead-Eye, Sauvignon and The Suit. The party was led by the non-playing captain, Clueless.

This is how the night unfolded, but not necessarily in chronological order.

Zeus playing black on board 1, was out-graded by 20 points plus, and facing a c3 Sicilian. Following his own advice, he played an early d5 and fianchettoed his black-square bishop. A great struggle unfolded with white’s 2 vs 1 queen-side majority probably going to decide matters, however Zeus won the exchange with a smart combination but unfortunately this released the white a-pawn to march up the board.

Backed by two white bishops this proved the decisive moment of the game. There was a drawing sequence but it required a computer-like move walking the black king into check.

Although Zeus is a god, he is not a computer!! Hammer landing party down 0-1.

On board 2 Wily was in sparkling form, with his usual e4, d3 and c4 setup, and g and h-pawns racing up the board. Having achieved a passed pawn positioned on h6, which resulted in black devoting serious resources to prevent it marching onwards, he then switched his attention to the black king castled on the queen-side.

He won a piece and then two pieces and pawn for a rook with a lovely combination. He then chased the black king up the board and weaved a special mating net. This was chess played all over the board and Wily brought Hammer level. 1-1

On board three Loco, playing black, faced a Giuoco Piano setup and instead of going Bc5 on move three, went Be7. A long, dour struggle then played out with Loco holding a very large time advantage. His opponent seemed concerned with seeing or neutralising minor threats whilst eating up his clock. My feeling is that he was mostly seeing Scotch Mist as Jim was never in trouble and comfortably secured the draw. 1-5-1.5

On board 4 Sydney got a walkover as his opponent did not show. His reward – the misfortune to play a handful of blitz games with Clueless to while away the time. Hammer now 2.5-1.5 ahead.

On board 5 Brexit reflected political reality. He played accurately and well at first, gradually moving towards equality and then he took a stab at Utopia. Unfortunately, his opponent had played him like a “Michel Barnier” and delivered him a hefty bill for his optimistic play.

Brexit tried negotiating but the ending was sudden and the promised land never arrived. Brexit will regroup and in the spirit of David Davis he will be out for the next round and he will win through. He is done with Junckering!!

Hammer pegged back to 2.5 all.

Board six saw Spock, armed with the white pieces, take on a Sicilian defence. He consumed a lot of time but pursued his attack logically as outlined in the Star Fleet Chess Manual. In the end a draw was agreed. Pavel is a great team player with a quirky sense of humour. He always sticks around to see the outcome of games and provided the comedy moment of the evening when he looked at me and gave me the Vulcan “live long and prosper” sign with a straight face. Just brilliant. Tense at 3-3.

Board seven next was in the safe and capable hands of Pandit.  He was in the best of form playing the black side of a Sicilian defence. Playing accurately and simply, he emerged into an endgame two pawns up. His opponent tried a couple of tricks but Pandit negotiated all before him and emerged a deserved winner. Hammer back ahead 4-3.

On board nine Dead-Eye had a beautiful inverted V-shaped, spearhead pawn formation wedged into the black position. He then transferred attention to the black king. With an open f-file he had a way in. Alas his opponent played a knight-sac on d4 and if Dead-Eye had recaptured he would have lost a rook as well.

There is an old Irish proverb that goes “it is better to be a coward than a dead-man all your life” – Paul wisely adopted this advice and accepted the pawn loss. However, his opponent had consumed too much time on the clock and did not make move 30 at the time-control. Dead-Eye had made it 5-3.

Board nine saw the welcome season debut of Sauvignon. Playing black he achieved equality and then secured a positional edge with white severely hampered by an inferior pawn structure and an e-pawn still rooted to its original starting square. Sauvignon moved over to the attack. However, Dave Gilbert, the DHSS captain, is a tricky opponent and does not roll over easily. He found some accurate moves and secured a draw. Hammer past the winning post at 5.5-3.5, and match point secured.

Finally on board 10, we saw The Suit wearing the Hammer mantle. By his own admission The Suit has not been in the best of form this season. Indeed, the first half of this game reflected that lack of confidence and accuracy in his play.

However, once his chance came he seized it with a beautiful combination and play reminiscent of his form last season. I hope this is the turning point for him and he gets the results his talent deserves.

So, Starship Hammer 1 triumphed 6.5-3.5. Yes, there were squeaky bum moments but the force is strong in Hammer 1 and we won through. The current table makes pleasant reading:

Three games in and Hammer are a contender – go Hammer!

Captain Clueless log – mission accomplished, roll-on 2018. Clueless over & out.

London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith – 23.11.17

Captains report to follow, however we are pleased to report that the Hammersmith team secured a 2-2 draw!

London League 6: Morley College v Hammersmith – 24.11.17

Board 1 saw S.Shaw take on Hammer’s Robin Lee. Robin had an excellent win with the white pieces, trapping a bishop which in the end proved enough. 1-0

On board 2 John Ryan faced a solid, central attack by his opponent, which proved too much to hold on. 1-1

On 3, Hammer’s Nick Rutherford succumbed to a tactical struggle, eventually losing on time. 1-2

Last up on 4, stalwart Dan Rugman with the black pieces played a c5 response to his opponents opening e4. After Nf3 d6, d4 cxd4, Nxd4 Nf6, Nc3 a6, B4?! – never seen that before! Dan played a good game but fell into a mating net.

Final score – a 3-1 defeat for the L6 Hedger team.


RapidPlay – Final Reminder for Round II

We’re one week from the end of November and eight of the twelve games have been played. Surprises so far include wins for Adam, Chris and Paul against John, Pouya and Shiraz respectively.

On top board Bajrush narrowly escaped with the full point after Dave lost a completely winning position with very little time left (game below).

Please be sure to get the final four results in before the end of the month, along with any requests for half-point byes in December – we appreciate it can be a busy month.


Experiences of a Chess Parent!

Rainy Saturday Afternoon.

Room full of chess players – most of whom are over 60!

Miles from home.

Yup, it’s another round of weekend slow-play adult chess again. Not for me, thankfully (I barely know how to set up a chess board, let alone attempt the game!), but for my little 10 year old chess enthusiast!

How did this all start? I often wonder that myself!

There is one person that comes to mind though, the man responsible for spreading his love of chess to all in our household, turning not just 1 but all 3 of our boys into avid chess nutters! Tony Niccoli – or to go by his official name, Tony the Magnificent!!

The man is a chess genius, responsible for so many successful young chess players, not to mention being a phenomenal chess player himself. It was entirely thanks to Tony that we even started trying our luck at junior chess tournaments. The more our eldest son got hooked on the game, the more tournaments we went to.

Taking on Wyatt in the Rapidplay tournament at Lytton Hall

Oh the joys of spending hours waiting in between chess rounds! But it’s all worth it if your child enjoys the game and the experience. Our boys have all gotten to know other kids that also regularly come to tournaments. Friendships are formed – both kids and parents alike. I’ve made some great friends along the way, who make the long days spent waiting in a cramped room much more bearable. The kids play football or cards in between rounds of chess, so in many ways it’s a really healthy way for them to spend their weekends.

However, after having spent a good couple of years going to any (and almost every!) junior chess competition all over the country – often to the oddest places – Tony told us it was time to graduate up to slow play adult chess.

So here we are, two years later, trying to take on the adult chess world. Our son spends several evenings a week and many weekends playing against mostly old(ish!) adults.

I must admit, it’s a refreshing change from the junior circuit where our kids have enjoyed meeting other young chess players, but also where rivalries can take over and sometimes over-zealous parents can get out of control!

The adult chess leagues also offer brilliant opportunities for juniors to play longer games, usually at a slower rate of play – all good things for kids who tend to play too fast, and therefore blunder much more often.

It also means less pressure – these juniors are playing opponents who they don’t know, most of whom are much older & more experienced, so the pressure of having to win or risk losing face isn’t on them.

Deep in thought during a league game at Metropolitan (far right)

Adults are usually relatively friendly to the youngsters, and although they never enjoy losing to anyone – especially juniors! – when they do end up conceding defeat they’re usually mature and sportsman like about it… most of the time! You might get the odd grump every now and then who throws a tantrum to rival most 8 year olds, but that’s very much the exception!

And lastly, at the risk of sounding a bit cheesy, if you’re lucky enough to find a really lovely club that’s willing to welcome your child into the fold (thanks again, Hammersmith!) then it can make for a very enjoyable and productive chess experience.

In fact it seems that the most eager chess juniors all seem to be playing a lot on the adult chess circuit, more so than the junior one. After all, it has so many merits that the junior competitions can’t offer – slow play chess always makes for more interesting games, as well as a great game experience and brilliant chess practice.

Being able to come to weekly training sessions is always helpful too. And even seemingly small things, like being the littlest guy in the room that everyone’s so nice and welcoming to, is a wonderful thing and makes us feel very lucky that our son is part of such a great club.

He’s had some incredibly lucky wins, and some painful losses, but being a part of a supportive and encouraging chess club has been brilliant for his chess, his confidence and his resilience. Something you need a lot of if you’re going to play competitive chess!


Our thanks to Suha for sharing her experience of 10yr old Nadhmi’s chess journey so far at Hammersmith! Our youngest member! 

A Charming Draw

No Bruce Springsteen this week, but the Glory Days are very much here as we travel headlong towards The Promised Land. Read on!

Middlesex League 3: Hammersmith v Hendon – 13.11.17

On Monday Hammer’s 2nd team were back at Lytton Hall to face Hendon 5 – a junior team often known as Hendon Barnet Knights. On paper we out-graded them by a whopping 35 grading points on average, but as with all juniors they were expected to punch above their weight.

It didn’t go well on the top boards. Sheikh and Matteo, often first team call-ups, were brought in to bolster the lineup. They both blundered pieces early on and resigned, leaving us 2-0 down.

Regulars John and Brian were on boards 3 and 4. John can always be relied upon to dispatch weaker players, and as expected clocked up a win fairly quickly. Brian took a little longer, but ultimately had too much for his young opponent. He describes his game:

“I played the Sicilian O’Kelly/Tartakover variation, pressurising white’s centre with an early e5 and Bb4 to pin white’s knight defending e4.

My opponent overlooked a tactical trap on move 8, losing his knight for two pawns. But he made good use of his two bishops to support his menacing d-pawn advance. To eliminate that pawn and complete my cramped development I had to sac my two q-side pawns.

Having swapped queens and a pair of rooks, I advanced my king to support my pieces through a series of tricky late-middle-game exchanges and win back a pawn, reaching the ending with knight & three pawns v opponent’s five pawns. Dealing with his remote pawn pair, in time trouble I allowed his king entry to gobble up two of my pawns, but retreated the knight just in time to save the remaining pawn for the win.”

Board 5 saw Simon employ a version of the London System recommended by his namesake, Ginger GM Simon Williams. Known as the “Black Half-Asleep Variation”, Simon planted his pawns on d4 and e4 with a knight on c3, against a king-side fianchetto. He soon eliminated black’s menacing dark-square bishop and seized a strong positional advantage. Simon couldn’t find a clear route to victory, however, and his opponent fought back well. Pieces got exchanged and the game boiled down to a draw.

By his own admission, Dipender played a very disappointing game. He lost a piece early on and never really got back into it. It was as if he had other things on his mind – possibly his wedding this weekend! A big congratulations – we wish him well on his honeymoon and hope to see him back at the chessboard stronger than ever!

Mr Dipenderble * wife not pictured

Ken got extremely lucky on board seven. He offered a draw in a losing position with far less time on his clock. His opponent, possibly considering the grade difference rather than the position, kindly accepted, leaving us 3-4 down with one to play.

It was down to Ben, making his debut for the club, to come up with the goods on board 8. He did so in emphatic style, playing a very good game to wipe his opponent completely off the board.

So for the second match in a row we ended with a slightly disappointing draw.

We remain top of the table, but this has to be qualified by the fact we’ve played two games more than our closest rivals, and we  have the toughest fixtures still to come.

Ken drops level with John as MVP (I’m not giving the accolade to anyone having played just one game). Sheikh, Matteo and Ben bring the number of members to have played this season up to 19 at the half way point, closing in on last season’s total of 28.

Next up is Kings Head 2 away on 13th December.


Middlesex League 2: Hammersmith v Hendon – 13.11.17

On the same evening, our first team also scored a 4-4 against Hendon. Full report to follow!

Training Nights – 20th November, 27th November

Don’t forget the second of our two training nights next week – details as follows:

  • Monday 27th November – club legend & Middlesex 3 Captain Pickle (aka Adam) will host a session specially designed for players around 100 ECF or below. It’ll be a shorter session than Marios’s, allowing time afterwards for people to play their RapidPlay Round II matches, if they wish. Session starts at 7.30pm, running for about an hour.
Can You Topple the King of YouTube?

Well now you can find out! Our good friends at Battersea Chess Club will be hosting IM John Bartholomew on 29th November for an evening of chess!

It all kicks off at 5pm at their Battersea Labour Club home, full details are available on Battersea’s Website.

It’s FREE and you don’t even need to be a Battersea member!

Let’s Get Quizzical

The learned minds at Hammer Chess have decided to  branch out beyond the 64 squares of the chess board and take part in a pub quiz later this month!  We reckon there’s enough general knowledge there to give anyone a run for the their money (a test run last week resulted in a respectable 2nd placed finish – firm foundations!), so we’re going to have a crack at one of the local pubs in Hammersmith.

We’ll be hitting up the quiz at The Crabtree pub on Tuesday 28th November. If you’d like to take part please drop John an email:

The more the merrier! Quiz starts at 8pm (drinks at 6!) – see you there!

A pair of important reminders:
  • GM Keith Arkell SimultaneousMonday 11th December – £6 to enter and take on Keith over the board! Should be a cracker – get in touch to reserve a spot:
  • Rapidplay Round II – our new Rapidplay competition continues this week, with all players looking to get their second round games complete before the end of November. If you’ve not yet done so, get in touch with your opponent NOW!! You’ll both score a default if you don’t get the game finished before the end of the month. Contact Dave or Adam with any queries:

That’s all for now – plenty of games this week and next, more updates soon!

Born to Run

Another bumper week of chess has just flown by – four big games, and a whole bunch of important reminders and updates for your perusal. There’s plenty of things coming up the next few weeks too – including the return of our training programme – so please read on!

Middlesex League Division 2: Hammersmith v Hendon – 06.11.17

Glory Days for Hammer 1 in the Middlesex League

Yes dear reader, Bruce Springsteen has now been dragged into the Hammer orbit.

However, it is totally justified in this case as Hammer 1 – Middlesex variation- totally “Bossed” Hendon 4 at The Anvil last night.

The Hendon crew came down to The River (Thames) and into the River they dived. They did not surface.

The Hammer posse were in imperious form last night as they swept, Fischer-style, their Hendon opponents 8-0 and thus continue their regal progress in Division 2.

The Hammer team, in board order, lined up as follows – The Surgeon, Zeus, Wily, Brexit, Spock, Tellit, Dead-Eye and on board 8 your humble correspondent Clueless.

The following report comes with a caveat in the sense that Clueless was so involved in his game he did not see much of the carnage that took place.

I definitely recall Wily being in scintillating form and briskly dispatching his opponent with barely an hour gone.

Other victories swiftly followed in the form of Tellit and Dead-Eye. The latter having an awkward game where he was under some pressure. Unfortunately, his opponent moved too quickly, misreading a taking sequence and dropped a rook. Dead-Eye pounced and was the model of sympathy afterwards.

Clueless got in on the act with a well-played game where he explored the themes of space restriction, castle prevention and black-square weakness. I actually utilised an excellent piece of advice, courtesy of Zeus – when you have an edge, do not rush matters – just keep improving your position. I can vouch that Mount Olympus advice is worth following.

Next to join the party were Spock, Brexit and The Surgeon.

Spock had a game that saw action on both sides of the board. I have some memory of his opponent’s king being hunted down by two bishops, rook and queen. Serious weapon deployment and on a semi-open board, the result was never in doubt.

Brexit was the beneficiary of a complete blunder by his opponent who advanced his pawn leaving his rook en-prise. Brexit pounced and clocked up another Hammer win. To be honest Brexit was strategically winning at the time (unlike in real life! #political) and would have won eventually.

As for the Surgeon, he had a study-like win in a pawn and king endgame. Playing precisely and accurately, like the good surgeon he is, the win was safely delivered.

Finally, to Captain Zeus and his well-known opponent and all-round top guy – Mo from BBCA – appearing for his second club, Hendon. All I can report is it was complicated with heavy pieces operating on an open board. Somehow, I guess it is sheer talent, Zeus had it all under control and duly converted, completing the 8-0 scoreline.

This means that we are 4-0 at this stage of the season and real contenders for promotion.

The force is strong at the Anvil!!!

Middlesex League Division 3: Ealing v Hammersmith – 06.11.17

This was the fifth match in Middlesex Div 3 for the Hammer second team, and the closest so far. Thanks to everyone for turning up to the right place and on time. Ealing’s venue isn’t the easiest to find, and it was the first trip there for many of our team.

Board 8 saw Dan mount a strong attack early on the Kingside. His opponent struggled to find the right defensive moves, expending a lot of time trying to work out how to react. The game ended in a loss on time for Dan’s opponent in a losing position. 1-0

Wyatt was playing on board 7 – a fairly even middle game exchanging down to a level endgame with a rook and three pawns each. Wyatt then lost his way somewhat (and two of his pawns). Luckily he was up on the clock, and his opponent was flagged in a position he’d surely have gone on to win. 2-0

Ken was next up on board 6. He elected to try out the unusual 1.f3 Barnes opening, and it paid dividends. His opponent was flummoxed from the off, and Ken sealed the victory in 23 moves. Ken becomes the team’s new top performer, with two wins from two. 3-0

On board 5, John Ryan was faced with 1.f4 Bird’s Opening. Although he wasn’t very familiar, he proceeded to make sensible moves, manoeuvred his bishop to a8 and closed up the position, agreeing a draw when there was no play left. 3.5-0.5

Dipender came into his game on board 4 in scintillating form, and looked like he would notch up yet another win. He found himself in a completely winning position – his opponent’s knight pinned from every direction. Dipender then had a moment of sheer madness, releasing the pin and blundering his own bishop in a single move. He regained his composure and tried to play on, but sadly there was no way back. 3.5-1.5

Nadhmi played a very tactical game on board 3. With few pawns left and all the heavy pieces still on the board, both kings became very exposed. Nadhmi lost a rook with a clever tactic from his opponent, but reacted by lunging towards the enemy king with all he had left. His rival saw nothing better than to settle for a 3-fold repetition. 4-2

Pouya kindly offered to step in as a late replacement on board 2. He had the white pieces and soon obtained a space advantage. Sadly he overlooked a tactic that lost a knight, and clinical play from his opponent gave Pouya no opportunities to get back into the game. 4-3

Your reporter was up on board 1, and like John was faced with Bird’s Opening. Not knowing the opening well, I elected to play my tried and trusted London setup. Although not ideal against a Dutch setup (see: Glorious Revolution), I was not being beaten as much as my opponent would have me believe in the post-game analysis, with the computer suggesting a roughly equal evaluation.

It was my opponent with the initiative, however, and in a momentary lapse in concentration I hung a knight, failing to realise the defending pawn was pinned to my king. 4-4

At the end of the day neither team really deserved the win, with careless blunders and poor time handling settling several of the games.

Next up is Hendon 5 on Monday 13th, a junior team that always seem to punch above their grades. It promises to be a tough encounter.


London League Division 4: Hammersmith v Alfil – 08.11.17

We were back to winning ways in Division 4 this week with a fine 5.5-1.5 victory against Alfil at the Citadines.

It was our Division 4 debut at our new Hotel venue and whilst we didn’t quite need ‘oxygen tanks’ as one of our members suggested, it wasn’t far off! There were SIX separate matches playing simultaneously, so breathing space was at a premium.

Fortunately the Hammer crew have evolved to thrive on pride and passion (and maybe biscuits) instead of mere oxygen. The cramped conditions worked in our favour as we ran out comfortable winners.

The setup didn’t make it easy to spy on other games so some of my comments are a bit threadbare. Thankfully I’m able to supplement the commentary with a few PGNs from the evening. Hope you enjoy.

First to finish were John and Simon who each notched up wins in quick fire time. I didn’t catch much of John’s game, although his position looked comfortable without being dominant when I glanced over. Things must have turned quickly though, because the match was soon over. John’s our current Div4 MVP with 2 wins out of 2. Great start to the season.

Simon’s game was pretty brutal, with his opponent failing to see the danger of a quasi-pin on his King. A clever tactic claimed a fork on Queen and King and from that point on, it looked a bit of non-contest. Simon’s analysis is definitely worth playing through. Entertaining stuff and some sharp tactics on show. 2-0 to Hammer

Wyatt was also keen to get his match finished and head to the bar early doors, and he duly obliged! Gaining the upper hand with a couple of extra pawns, he allowed a few passive/inactive moves and suddenly the advantage appeared to wither away. A draw was taken in the end; no great disgrace in that. 2.5-0.5

My game was interesting, if only for its stark illustration of how there’s seldom an even-trade when pieces are exchanged! I emerged from the Scotch opening in a relatively staid position with little in the way of winning chances for both sides. Indeed, the computer analysis confirmed the same. But the match turned on two decisions to exchange pieces – one that handed me the slight initiative and one that was damning for my young opponent. 3.5-0.5

Dan was next to finish, chalking up another win for Hammer. Full credit is due for playing a strong game amid the chatter (and whistling coffee machine) of the anteroom. The squeeze in the main room meant it was difficult to find space for Dan’s game. When I started to watch, Dan was a minor piece and a bunch of pawns up! (think I stopped counting at 3). His young opponent graciously resigned rather than prolong the agony. 4.5-0.5 and the win was secured.

The penultimate match was played – and won – by Adam. I’d been watching and thought his chances looked fleeting. But then I was momentarily distracted by the Ginger biscuits (controversial), and returned to see the post-match analysis was in full flow and Adam had emerged victorious. Definitely one where the match speaks louder than words. Take a look! 5.5-0.5

There was a little reorganisation required before we could conclude the results from Boards 1 and 2. Matteo was a late dropout, scheduled as our #1, but given their #2 followed suit, we re-jigged the board order giving Brian a match against their top player on shortened time controls. A really interesting match that ultimately went in favour of Alfil and Joshua John. Despite his young age, Joshua has been around for a few years now and is developing into quite the player.

Brian picks up the analysis from here…

Against my King’s Indian Defence he made an aggressive advance of all his Kingside pawns at the expense of not developing his Kings Bishop and Knight. I fianchettoed both bishops and concentrated on solid piece development while he castled queenside and established a strong central pawn phalanx.

Taking more time than my opponent, I calculated a way of breaking up his central pawns and temporarily sacrificing the exchange to win his f3 pawn, forking his two rooks to regain piece equality. I gained a second pawn at the expense of loosening my king-side pawn structure. He advanced his now-isolated pawn to d6 and threatened to swap queens and fatally invade my 8th rank with rook supported by pawn.

By checking his exposed king I manoeuvred my queen back to defend against this, but he switched the focus to attack my cramped king position with queen and rook, and in time trouble on move 30 I allowed a fatal check on f7 which soon resulted in a loss. Nevertheless it felt better to play an exciting game ultimately lost, than win by default, since we still won the match. Brian.

5.5-1.5 final result.

That’s us done in Division 4 now until the New Year. I’ll be in touch late run December to arrange the game for early Jan.

See you all soon!


London League Division 6: Hammersmith v Hackney Gorki – 08.11.17

“A Pair of Thorne’s in our Side”

On the same evening as the London 4 team, our London 6 crew took on Hackney’s table-topping second team, Gorki.

Hammer had a solid lineup – captain Rich up on board 1, Charlie Sturt on 2, Webmaster Andy on 3, and Nadim on 4.

Sat by the main entrance, it was a somewhat distracting evening for the boys, added to by a default from Hackney on board 2, putting Hammer 1-up from the off, although it meant Charlie didn’t get a game. 1-0

Nadim was next to go – he looked to have a solid position against his young opponent, Thorne Jnr. He picks up the commentary from here:

I made some early middle game mistakes that I have managed to compensate and come back. Then I could have had a chance at least to draw if I had exchanged rooks in the endgame which I mistakenly declined (move 27). The end of the story was a black loss, as white had more pawns. 1-1

(lookout for a missed Queen capture by White on move 16!)

Next to drop was Rich, succumbing to defeat in an open-looking game, punctuated by noticeable bonhomie and laughter between both players – great to see! We’re not entirely sure what happened, but it left Hammer a game down and facing a draw at best. 1-2

Last to finish was Andy on board 3, playing Thorne Snr (Chris, as he’s known!). An unusual game in many ways, notable for a lot of distractions but played in a great spirit & very enjoyable for both opponents. Two evenly-matched players, the game swung wildly with both players assuming the advantage at different times. Andy looked in peril approaching the endgame, but he held his cool, drawing a blunder from his opponent and exchanging Rooks, ending in a drawn position.

The first 30 moves of the game are below:

Sadly it wasn’t enough to bring the team home and we finished with a  narrow defeat overall. 1.5-2.5

Training Evenings – 20 & 27 November

At Hammersmith we pride ourselves on giving back to our members and the community – and this month sees us pickup the training baton in good style, with two sessions coming up from a couple of our top players.

We’re really lucky in having strength in depth at the upper-end of our club these days, and we’re particularly lucky that some of the guys are happy to give up their time to help coach the rest of the club.

  • Monday 20th November – stalwart & Middlesex 2 Captain Zeus (aka Marios) takes us through a session on the use of fianchetto structures. Marios has a pair of games utilising fianchetto that he’ll take us through, but if you have any other interesting games in your personal collection you’d like to see analysed, please drop him a note: . The session starts at 7.30pm and will run for a couple of hours.
  • Monday 27th November – club legend & Middlesex 3 Captain Pickle (aka Adam) will host a session specially designed for players around 100 ECF or below. It’ll be a shorter session than Marios’s, allowing time afterwards for people to play their RapidPlay Round II matches, if they wish. Session starts at 7.30pm, running for about an hour.

Huge thanks to both players for giving up their time! As usual these are both open sessions – anyone is free to attend, member or not!

Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day Update

You may recall a small number of Hammer players answered the call to arms for World Mental Health Day recently, heading down to Lyric Square to partner up with our friends at Hammersmith & Fulham MIND.

Our contact at MIND, Victoria kindly dropped us a note this week to thank our members for helping out.

More importantly, the charity was able to raise over £500 on the day! Brilliant stuff, and we say a huge THANK YOU to those members who volunteered.

Keith Arkell Simul – Monday December 11th

SAVE THE DATE 11th December sees us host GM Keith Arkell for a Simultaneous at Lytton Hall on the final day of the London Chess Classic.

We have limited places for this one, so you need to get in touch ASAP if you’d like to take part! There’ll also be a small board fee of £6 to enter.

Simuls are always a cracking affair – not only do you get to play one of the world’s top players, but you can very often give them a close-run game!

If you do want to play, please get in touch with an email to one of the following & reserve your spot:

RapidPlay Round II – Reminder!

We’re almost halfway through November, which means there’s only a couple of weeks left for you to arrange & play your Round II games in the new RapidPlay tournament.

By now you should have at least arranged a date with your opponent – if not, you can find full details of your opponent here, or in your inbox. Get in touch, and agree a mutually agreeable date, time and location!

Then it’s just a matter of playing the game and letting the controllers – Adam and Dave – know the result.

If you have any queries or problems, just drop them a note:

Remember – if you fail to play the game by the end of the month, you’ll both default and score nil points!

Good luck!


Updates from Planet Hammer

With a mere three games of chess this week just gone, it has been somewhat quieter than usual on Planet Hammer. However, we’ve got some exciting events in the pipeline – read on to find out more.

Middlesex League Division 3: Hammersmith 2 v Harrow 2 – 30.10.17

Harrow Humbled” – Less than two weeks after we suffered a cruel defeat at the hands of Harrow, we found ourselves playing them again. This time we were hosting the match at Lytton Hall (aka, “The Anvil“), determined to dish out a large portion of ice-cold revenge.

New junior member Alexander was sat down on board one. He dispatched his opponent with relative ease, obtaining a strategically won position in the middlegame. We hope to have Alexander back again soon; he’s a very promising talent who could soon be clocking up wins for the firsts.

Brian had the white pieces on board two. Against a somewhat lower graded player he was disappointed not to find a way to break through, settling for a draw as the night drew to a close.

Pouya was next up on board three, attaining another win to build on a strong debut season. This time Pouya decided to simplify the position after winning a pawn, confident of his endgame ability to convert the advantage.

By his own admission it was Dipender’s worst game of the season. The fact that he won anyway shows how talented this man is (see: Mr Dipenderble)!! Granted, it was slightly gifted to him by a series of blunders from his opponent, but Dipender now joins John Ryan as a leading player for the team, with two wins out of two.

Simon played a fine game to pick up another victory on board five. He won a pawn in the middlegame and a cheeky tactic on the final move led to a slightly premature resignation.

Charlie made his debut for the team on board six. It was a game of blunders, but fortunately for Charlie he made fewer than his opponent and sealed the win.

Dan was up against the same opponent he had lost to the week before. This time he played much better, winning the bishop pair and a commanding lead in the endgame. With victory almost in his pocket, Dan slipped up, allowing his opponent’s bishop to enter the game and mop up his pawns. Dan had to concede a frustrating defeat.

Last but not least, newbie and crowd favourite Nadim was playing on board eight, still looking for his first win for the club. He found that win in style, combining attack and defence well, eventually giving mate on the board.

Final result: 6.5 – 1.5

The win puts us top of the table, but with more games played than the others, and our toughest fixtures still to come.

We play Ealing on Monday, where another win is very much on the cards.


London League 6: Wanstead & Woodford v Hammersmith Hedger – 01.11.17

In a tough tussle against Wanstead, Hammersmith Hedger are 2-1 up with 1 game adjourned. Captain Mike Mackenzie gives us the rundown:

Board 1: Simon Harding – A nice win by Simon playing the black pieces. He is certainly cementing his place on board 1.

Board 2: Robin Lee – Robin adjourned material down, but in this position Robin has good drawing chances.

Board 3: Nick Rutherford – Nick with the black pieces played a conservative game but was outgunned and came away with a defeat.

Board 4: Dan Rugman – A very difficult game for both players due to the fact they had to play in an adjoining room that was open to the guests of the hotel. Dan, although distracted by the noise, played an excellent winning game.

Next up for the Division 6 Hedger team: Morley College on November 24

British Bangla Chess Association – Rapidplay Tournament – Sunday 26 November

As regulars will know, the BBCA Rapidplay is one of the best London tournaments for club players, offering a friendly welcome, some great chess and – more importantly – some amazing prizes!

This year is no exception, with a prize fund of nearly £2,000:

It’s a seven-round Swiss format competition, with 15 minutes of time control per player (no increment). Entry is £20, with the action kicking off at 11am at the London Enterprise Academy, 81-91 Commercial Road – E1 1RD.

Hammersmith players have attended in previous years and it comes highly recommended!

Further information – including registration details – are available at

And any queries or further information can be obtained by emailing:

Upcoming Hammersmith Events

Some dates for your diaries – following on from some hugely successful events this year, we have penciled in the following activities next year. Please save the dates!

  • MIND Charity Day in Lyric SquareSaturday 19 May 2018 – after a fantastic day this Summer, we have agreed to repeat the adventure next year and host another day of chess and fundraising for mental healthy charity MIND in Lyric Square, Hammersmith. Plans are at an early stage, but it is going to be even bigger & better than last year!
Lyric Square in 2017 – a brilliant day of chess & fundraising


  • Visit to Cork Chess Clubweekend of 9 June 2018 – after our amazing trip to Amsterdam this Summer, Hammersmith is going on tour… again! This time we’ll be hitting the green isle closer to our shores and paying a visit to South West Ireland. Again, plans are at an early stage but if you’re keen to get involved, please save the date!


  • Hosting De Pion & Cork Chess Clubs in London weekend of 23 June 2018 – reciprocating the excellent hospitality of our Dutch and Irish friends, we’re looking to host both clubs in London next Summer. Taking our inspiration from the Amsterdam trip, we’ll be putting on a number of events (chess & social!) for our visitors. It’ll be a fun-filled weekend and a chance to show off the best that Hammersmith and London has to offer. The more of us involved, the better!
Chess on tour – Amsterdam 2017
And Finally… Rapidplay Round II

A reminder – if you’re taking part in our Rapidplay tournament this season, the pairings for Round II were announced last week.

The onus is now on individuals to arrange the next game with their opponent. Just remember, it needs to be completed by the end of November & the tournament controllers notified of the result.

Any questions or queries, please contact Adam or Dave:

Good luck!

RapidPlay Round 2 Pairings Announced!

01.11.17 – STOP PRESS!!

After a brilliant opening round of our new RapidPlay tournament, the Lytton Hall supercomputer has crunched the numbers and produced the fixture list for Round 2 as follows:

It’s now down to you to arrange the game with your opponent.

All games must be completed in November, and the results passed to the tournament controllers, Adam and Dave. Both players will receive zero points if this doesn’t happen.

You should have received an email listing contact information for all players – we encourage you to make contact with your opponent immediately and arrange a suitable time to play.

Our Monday schedule at Lytton Hall is as follows:

  • 6th November – 1 x home match (8 boards)
  • 13th November – 2 x home matches (16 boards)
  • 20th November – TBD, probably a training session
  • 27th November – TBD, probably a mini-tournament or training session

Of course, you don’t have to play at the club. It just needs to be a venue & date that works for the both of you.

If you have any questions or queries, or are still to receive contact details for your opponent, please get in touch with Adam or Dave:

Good luck!