Puzzle of the Week #010

Welcome back chess fans – and what a response we had to our last Puzzle!

Everyone got the winning combo, but it was John White with the fastest response who takes the plaudits – well done John!

This week we have a classic mating puzzle. Black is clearly in the ascendency, but what is the quickest mating combination for the dark pieces? It’s Black to move… answers in the comments please *


*this is a reasonably well known puzzle, so if you’ve seen it before or think it’s too easy, please leave for others to try first :o)

And finally…

Today is the final day for our EarlyBird offer for an evening with GM Jon Speelman on February 26th.

The price goes up to £10 from tomorrow, so if you want to join the other 26 Hammers (and counting…) for the evening, please get in touch to secure your place: john.white49@ntlworld.com

It’s going to be a cracker!

A January Corker!

As world leaders prepare to depart from Davos, here at Hammer we’re always looking for our next excursion! After the huge success of our visit to Amsterdam last Summer, plans are being laid for a trip across the Irish Sea to visit Cork!

Read on to find out more, along with the usual goings on at Planet Hammer…

  • Cork Chess Club trip
  • Bury St Edmonds challenge match
  • London League 3 vs. Athenaeum
  • Middlesex League 3 vs. Hendon
Get Ready to be Corked!

Yes, the Hammer crew – like a dodgy bottle of Chateau Rothschild – are going to be Corked! The 2018 Hammer on Tour is now confirmed.

On the weekend of June 8-10 Hammer are taking on the might of Cork Chess Club in the second city of Ireland. In a weekend that will celebrate chess, beer, camaraderie and sampling the delights of the beautiful city of Cork.

The stunning Cork riverfront

Following on from our enormously enjoyable and most excellent weekend in Amsterdam in 2017, we have decided to grace the Emerald Isle with our presence. How magnanimous we are!!

Cork is a beautiful city situated on the River Lee in the stunning South-West of Ireland. It has a huge history, with us – the Brits – the noisy and repressive neighbours, playing a large part in that.

University College Cork

Cork Chess club was founded in 1990 and like us is heavily involved in all matters of the promotion of our beautiful game. Their current star is IM Alex Lopez, ELO rated 2432! Check out their website: www.corkchess.com

So, it is time to pack your bags and book your flights (I have already done so!). The flights are excellent value at the moment.

The English Market in Cork City

Please email John White (john.white49@ntlworld.com) ASAP confirming your participation so we can start assembling numbers and looking at accommodation. Plus, we need to give the numbers to our hosts so the arrangements can be put in place.

This will be a superb weekend, so do not miss out!

The 2018 Challenge Match vs Bury St Edmunds – 7th April

The gauntlet has been thrown down and the date set. Hammer are going on the road to take on the powerhouse of Suffolk Chess – Bury St Edmunds. We have been called out and we will answer the challenge to defend the honour of the House of Anvil. Read on…

Beautiful Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds is a beautiful Suffolk market town with a history dating back to the 11th Century, and a fine cathedral.

They are also pretty good at chess! Check out their club website: www.bsechess.org.uk

The centre-piece of the day will be a long-play over-the-board mass-team match, so we need as many Hammerites to step up and defend the honour of our club!

It will be an excellent day of chess, making new friends and perhaps best of all the prospect of sampling the beer at the Old Cannon Brewery and the Nutshell.

I already have commitments from Carsten, Bajrush, Marios, Wyatt, Adam and Chris Skulte. So, guys I need you step up. Email me ASAP – john.white49@ntlworld.com – so I can match you with a suitable opponent.

This is new territory for Hammer, but hopefully it will become an annual event in the calendar.

Our honour must and will be defended. Go Hammer!

London League 3 vs. Athenaeum – 22.01.18

Welcome to part 4 of the Starship Hammer One 2018 odyssey, and its one season mission to boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Part Date 22.01.2018 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to the planet of literary and scientific study – Athenaeum. A strange and hostile world, where gaining entry to the match venue requires digital input technology.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order: Thomas, Marios, Bajrush, Jim, Paul McK, Chris S, Sheikh, Tommaso, Paul K and Clueless. Even with the inclusion of Clueless, the strongest team Hammer 1 has put out i the London League for many a year.

We out-graded our opponents on average by 20 points a board. Thus, applying Spock logic – the result should not have been in doubt. If only life was that simple!

Captain Clueless also cocked up on the logistical front and got the wrong start time. Basically gifting at least 10 minutes to some of the Athenaeum team.

Chris S got delayed but brought John G (Sauvignon) along, and poor Bajrush arrived too late. Fortunately, John G stepped in and took over board three for the Hammer crew. Default-free we remain.

So, to the tale of a much fraught and difficult evening.

Playing black on board one and making his debut in the London League, Thomas (T-Bone) took on an opponent who clearly wanted a draw. Displaying great patience and tenacity, Thomas probed, created problems and worried his opponent on the clock. On a blitz-style finish he broke through and downed his opponent. A victory for sheer willpower. Hammer at 1-0.

On board two Marios (Zeus) has adjourned in a position where he has a slight advantage. I have to say his determination to carry on and grab the full point at the conclusion of the evening was truly awe-inspiring. There is nothing like an ultra-determined Greek with immortal characteristics!

John G started on board 3 with a near thirty minute deficit, and truth be told one too many Sauvignon Blancs to the bad. This was a brave shout from JG and ensured that Hammer did not default. He definitely took one for the team. Sadly he lost, Hammer now at 1-1

Jim (Loco) had one of those games that saw little happening and is adjourned in a position with a setup of Rook and three pawns, vs Rook and four pawns. He has three pawns. His King is cramped but he is convinced he can hold the position. I do not think this is Celtic wistfulness.

Board 5 saw Paul McK (The Prof) have the game of the evening with the black pieces. I have asked him to annotate it for the website. This game had everything – piece sacrifices, a king march-up the board in search of safety, and finally a two Rooks vs Queen endgame.

Paul deployed all his ingenuity and experience to keep the game alive – including excellent reverse psychology. The strategic offer of a draw when you are the one being battered! Suffice it to say, in the end all came good and he made it 2-1 to Hammer.

On board 6 – Chris (Sydney) had one of those nights when you are in a bad vein of form. He missed a forced checkmate win and in the end had to resign. He was so angry with himself and cursing his luck. This was an aberration & he will recover his best form – he is too good a player.

Board 7 saw Sheikh (Pandit) with the black pieces, establish equality early on. He was cruising to a draw at worse when it all went wrong and he allowed a Rook and Knight corner checkmate. He was at a loss to explain it in the pub afterwards and his form this season has been good. Personally, I blame the venue. Hammer now down 3-2.

Onto Board 8. Making his debut in the LL3 division a new face. His name is Tommaso – his nickname is Forza. Remember that name. This was probably the best attacking game of the evening – taking on a Dragon Sicilian f3 variation, Tommaso played a fine game and won in great style. A new Hammer star is born. 3-3

Paul K (Dead-Eye) is in lethal form this season for Hammer in LL3. He recored his third win in a fine tactical game. He really is on fire. Hammer now edging at 4-3.

Finally, to Clueless on Board 10 a list-minute substitute for The Suit (Matteo) who succumbed to the Aussie/Japanese flu virus. To be honest with you I played poorly. My form is uncertain at the moment and I was lucky to find a tactic to force a draw. Hammer at 4.5-3.5 on the night.

So not a disaster, but to  be honest we are a better team than the score suggests. We now need to refocus and put this behind us. Promotion is our goal and games like this remind us that we have to work for it.

Clueless over & out!

Middlesex League 3 vs. Hendon, 25.01.18

Hammersmith 2 entered the second half of the season knowing that a good run of results would see us promoted to Division 2. It was vital to get a good start in a tough encounter at Hendon.

On board one, John White had the white pieces. He sacrificed a piece for two pawns and a dangerous attack early into the game, but his young opponent defended tenaciously. When the attack fizzled out, John was simply material down and had no choice but to resign. 0-1

I played my favourite Albin Counter-Gambit on board two. An exciting contest ensued, in which I had good positional compensation for the gambit pawn. Ultimately my passed pawn on the 7th rank posed too many problems, and I came away with the victory. 1-1. Here is the game in full:

Pouya played a closed structure on board 3 that remained very even throughout. The players agreed a draw when it was clear that no progress could be made. 1.5-1.5

Eva’s debut for the team did not go quite according to plan. A few imprecise moves in a tactical sequence left her an exchange down. In trying to work out how to make a draw, her flag dropped and the game was lost, and the team was a point down with four to play. 1.5-2.5

John Ryan won a pawn early on and exchanged pieces off into a tricky queen and pawn endgame. John’s infamous endgame technique shone through – he coolly navigated perpetual check threats and gradually pushed his pawn until it was unstoppable, forcing resignation. The match was level at 2.5-2.5, and John’s record for the team improves to an impressive 3.5/4.

Coming off the back of two defeats, Dipender on board 6 was keen to turn things around. He didn’t play a particularly sound game but unfortunately his opponent made proportionally more blunders and Dipender scored an important win. They performed a detailed analysis at the end of the game with his opponent’s father – a very strong player and first team regular. 3.5-2.5

Shiraz found exactly the right time to exchange off all the pieces in the middle game. To his dismay, his opponent realised that he was now one tempo too late to stop Shiraz’s passed pawn. He tried to cling on for a speculative stalemate but Shiraz was far too clinical and delivered mate. 4.5-2.5

Dan on board 8 opted to delay his development to pick up material early on. His opponent couldn’t find a way to exploit his weak king – Dan consolidated and picked up the win.

So in the end it was a 5.5-2.5 win to Hammersmith – a relief to score a win after two 4-4 draws. Well played all!

It’s well and truly a three horse race for the promotion spots. Our next two home games will be key, versus Kings Head and Muswell Hill:


January – Week II

The frantic pace of chess in January continued last week, with no fewer than three games, plus a further three this week, and then FOUR the week after! Luckily, Hammer are well prepared and our captains have been doing a fantastic job rallying the troops! Stay tuned for the following updates:

  • London 5 “grudge match” vs. our Noisy Neighbours, Battersea
  • London 6 vs. DHSS
  • Thames Valley vs. Richmond
  • Rapidplay Round IV
  • GM Jon Speelman
  • Hammersmith League
  • New ECF Grades Released!
Grudge Match – London League 5 v Battersea, 16.01.18

Delighted to report that Hammer continued our strong run against whipping boys Battersea, cruising home 3-1 on the night, with all players undefeated.

On top board, Nadhmi had a level game as white until he lost his a-pawn, then had a complicated exchange involving losing another pawn and a rook, but winning knight and bishop.

This lead to a tense knight & bishop ending vs. rook and 2x pawns in the 20 minute quick playoff. Nadhmi defended very well, but then lost his knight just before his opponents flag fell.

So, although his opponent “lost” on time, Nadhmi no longer had mating material, so it was a technical draw.

On board 2 as black, I played the Sicilian O’Kelly variation and won a pawn in a very positional middle game. I then gained another as we swapped off pieces to a won endgame, rook and 4x pawns vs. rook and 2x pawns.

On board 3, Chris had a rollicking game as white, with his bishop check winning a pawn on e6 which looked like winning a piece. However, Chris played a queen advance looking for an elegant tricky mate which didn’t quite work out – he emerged a piece down, but later the opponent overlooked a rook capture which couldn’t be recaptured, while his other rook was pinned against his own king, and Chris emerged victorious.

Ben’s game as black was even until his opponent obtained a supported passed pawn on d5, but in exchanging pawns and pieces at the end of the middle-game, the passed pawn was captured leading to a drawn ending.

Well done all!

Brian (stand-in captain in for Robin on the night)

Hammersmith “Hedger” vs DHSS, 16.01.18

Our first game of 2018 was an emphatic win for Hammersmith Hedger, 3.5-0.5, in another game where we went undefeated across all boards.

On top board, Robin held a slight advantage with the white pieces throughout. On being offered the draw, he accepted.

Board 2 saw Nick play a splendid attacking game with black, against an opponent graded 121. This was an excellent win.

Board 3 saw me win by default thanks to a no-show – they all count!

On 4, Dan with the black pieces played a super Sicilian. It was a classic “game of two halves”, with white holding the advantage until Dan trapped a piece. Then with some excellent tactical play, he forked King and Rook to win. Brilliant.


Thames Valley League v Richmond, 18.01.18

With a somewhat confusing scorecard, Hammer ended up losing this one 5-3, featuring a couple of defaults. Always sad to see! In truth, Richmond put up a very strong team so it would always have proven tricky.

RapidPlay Round IV

Our 4th Round RapidPlay games continue this month. Most games are now complete, but if you haven’t yet played please remember you only have until January 31st to complete the game and let the tournament controllers know the result!

An Evening With GM Jon Speelman

Legend of English Chess, GM Jon Speelman joins us on 26th February for an evening dedicated to the beautiful game. Jon will be guiding us through some of his top-level play, followed by questions & discussion from the crowd – it’s going to be a real one-off, and isn’t to be missed!

Our special Early Bird offer allows Hammer members to sign up for the bargain price of £7 before to 31st January, reverting to the standard £10 thereafter. If you don’t want to miss out, book your place now! Drop Hammer’s John White an email to reserve your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

The Return of the Hammersmith League!

It’s been a long time coming, but we will shortly be announcing details of the all-new Hammersmith League, with the first games kicking off in March!

The Hammersmith League was always an informal setup featuring a few local clubs, aimed at providing competitive chess opportunities for our more casual players, and beginners. The perfect environment to ease yourself into the cut & thrust of competitive chess. Whilst it was always about the enjoyment of the game, the edge was always there, with all games graded and no quarter given.

We’re pleased to say that ethos will still prevail in the new format, where Hammersmith will be joined by Battersea, and SW London Juniors, for 3 nights of chess in March & April, all to be held at The Anvil.

Games will be 30 minutes + increment for all moves, graded, five players per team, with a grading average below ECF 115.

We are entering two teams, so if you’re keen to play please get in touch to register your interest:


ECF January Grades!

Yes, it’s that time of year – the ECF has released it’s semi-annual update to the grading database! Please follow the link below to find out who the movers and shaker are this time..


Final Thoughts…

The chess comes at us thick & fast this next two months, so keep an eye out for any emails from your team captains, and updates from the website so you don’t miss out! There’s always the WhatsApp group too if you can’t get enough!

And keep your eyes peeled for details of a soon-to-be-announced day out in Bury St-Edmonds… chess-themed, of course!! Stay tuned!

Puzzle of the Week #009

Welcome back chess fans – it’s been a while since our last Puzzle #008, way back in December.

Pleased to say we have a winner from that round in the form of Carsten, our Great Dane. Congratulations Mr Pedersen!

This week’s puzzle comes courtesy of Carsten, and it’s straight out of a London 4 match v Wanstead last week. Hammer’s John Ryan had completely outplayed his opponent and managed to bury his opponents Queen on h8! Unfortunately from this position he missed a very flashy win, and later ended up losing on time in a better position – painful!!

It was sadly typical of the match, where Hammer lost 5-3, despite having been comfortably ahead on most boards (read about it here)!

Anyway, to the puzzle – White to move, answers in the comments please:


New Year, More Chess

The 2018 London Chess season kicked off again this week after our Winter break. Read on for the latest updates across Planet Hammer:

  • Thames Valley v Ealing
  • London 4 v Wanstead & Woodford
  • London 6 v Hackney
  • GM Jon Speelman visits Hammersmith
  • WhatsApp
  • Rapidplay Round IV pairings for January
Thames Valley: The Magnificent Seven – 08.01.18

In our January TV showdown we played our first match against Ealing. I’d first like to extend a welcome to our newest player in the TV League, Thomas Bonn, and I’m even more delighted to congratulate the team for a stunning win we’re going to dub the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN!

The score sheet looks like this:

With an average grade of 178(!) this was our strongest line up so far in the Thames Valley League. It was a great performance across all boards, and the result leaves in second place in the league, with 3 points from 3 games – 100% !

we have a busy few weeks coming up, with the following games:

  • Richmond (away) – Thursday 18th Jan
  • Surbiton A (away) – Wednesday 24th Jan
  • Surbiton B (away) – Wednesday 31st Jan
  • Ealing (home) – Monday 5th Feb


London League 4: Dazed & Confused, Hammersmith v Wanstead

It was a real Heartbreaker in London 4 this week, as we found ourselves on the wrong side of a 3-5 reversal against Wanstead. It was a bitter pill to swallow after we’d built up strong positions on nearly all of our boards, but it wasn’t to be. A combination of overconfidence, carelessness and good old fashioned bad luck saw to that!

Chief cheerleader on the night, Carsten, reckoned we should have won 6-2!! And given the cramped conditions in the Citadines, he probably had better scope to review the matches than anyone.

Still, a big Thank You is in order for new recruits Tommaso and Blair, who each took home the full point. Superb effort! Add Simon into the mix and it was a case of the new guard trying to make amends for the failings of the old! In fact, it was Good Times Bad Times across the board. Each match was decisive, with no draw recorded.

Full match-card below:

I was particularly disappointed in how I played, and from chatting to a few of you afterwards it seems The Song Remains The Same. It was a night of real missed opportunities across the board.

I can present my game here (playing White), which is a clear case of Nobody’s Fault But Mine:

Thanks all,

London League 6: Hammersmith v Hackney

Our London 6 team took on East-Londoners Hackney in another clash at the Citadines this week.

With a double-default on board 3, Hammersmith edged it 2.5-1.5 on the night, with wins from stalwarts Chris and Charlie. A disappointing result from captain Rich on top board was the only downer on the evening!

An Evening with GM Jon Speelman

In case you haven’t heard, chess legend GM Jon Speelman is spending a night at The Anvil on Monday 26th February!

Jon is an absolute legend of the English game, with honours too numerous to mention. He’s an enlightened scholar in many other aspects and we are delighted he’s visiting us to talk about his game, guide us through a game of his, and answer questions from the crowd. It’s going to be utterly fascinating!

We have an EarlyBird offer for Hammer members: £7 if booked before 31st January, rising to £10 thereafter.

Tickets have been flying out of the door and we’ve already sold around half the allocation. If you want to come along, please get in touch with John to confirm your place: john.white49@ntlworld.com

Don’t leave it too late!

RapidPlay Round IV – January

Don’t forget – Round IV pairings for our season-long RapidPlay are now out. You have until the end of the month to arrange & complete your games, and get the result to the tournament controllers, Adam & Dave.

This month’s pairings are below, if you have any questions or queries please drop the chaps a line:



As our Chess Club continues to grow, we’re constantly looking for new ways to communicate and get our members involved in all things Hammer.

Some time ago we setup a WhatsApp group to help our captains communicate and arrange games. It’s now evolved to become an all-encompassing Hammersmith Chess ClubHammerTime” group chat, featuring no fewer than 21 members & counting!

It’s proven to be a great tool for all things Chess – chat, tactics, logistics, banter, advice, and humour! We’re keen to ensure as many members as possible can join, so if you have the app and want to take part, please drop us your mobile number and we’ll add you.

Definitely the more, the merrier!

Final Thoughts

That’s all for now – keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of our Puzzle of the Week, dropping in a couple of days time!

And good luck to our players next week – four big games coming up!

An Evening with GM Jon Speelman

Hammersmith Chess Productions are proud to present… 

On the night of the 26th February in the hallowed halls of the Anvil, Hammersmith Chess Club will host one of the most original and finest grandmasters this country has ever produced.

GM Jon Speelman is not only a world championship semi-finalist, he is a great analyst, journalist, mathematician and writer. His games are some of the most original on record.

The evening will consist of Jon analysing one of his games and commenting on his thought processes and strategy goals as he progresses through it. It’s a unique chance to see how a world class chess player prepares for their opponent, what factors influence the critical decision-making process, his state of mind at various points in the game, and much more.

This will make you look at your chess approach in a totally different way and help you develop as a chess player.

The analysis part of the evening will then be followed by a Q&A session- your chance to ask any question of a top chess professional.

Plus, we have a very special offer for Hammersmith members. As one of the most prestigious events we’ve hosted to date, it’s likely to sell out in advance so we have introduced an EarlyBird offer – if you signup before 31st January, you’ll also get a discounted entry fee. It pays to be pro-active!!

As always, please get in touch with John to confirm your entry asap – john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • Date: Monday 26th February
  • Time: From 7.30pm
  • Location: The Anvil (aka Lytton Hall), W14 8TE
  • Entry: Members – £7 before 31st Jan, £10 thereafter
  • Entry: Guests – £10 before 31st Jan, £12 thereafter
  • Contact: john.white49@ntlworld.com


Hammer New Year!!

Welcome to 2018!! Christmas may just be over, but the chess calendar does not have a holiday with the small matter of FOURTEEN games coming up in January! It’s going to be busy…

On top of that, we have the latest round of our RapidPlay tournament to think about too. Round 4 pairings are now out, and tournament controller Adam brings us the story of festive Round 3 in December:

RapidPlay – December Results, and January Pairings

Round 3 is now complete, with the full results below. Shoutouts to John, Simon, Wyatt, Andy and Ken, who all scored wins against higher-graded opponents.

The Round 4 pairings throw up some tasty offerings in the form of Wyatt pairing up with John – what a result that could be!! Can Chris rediscover his sensational giant-killing form when he takes on Matteo??

In addition our two strongest players face off at the top as Tony takes on Bajrush, and further down the order sees the “Battle of Amsterdam“, with Andy taking on Ken. Sparks could fly!!

Remember, January is a very busy month for matches, so be sure to contact your opponent asap to secure a date. Monday nights at The Anvil are as follows:

  • 8th January – FREE
  • 15th January – one 8x board match
  • 22nd January – FREE
  • 29th January – two 8x board matches

If you have any problems at all, please contact Adam or Dave.

Good luck!!!