A short & sweet intro today – read on for details of 3 truly fabulous victories this week, including a 17-move checkmate. Lovely stuff!
Middlesex League 3 vs. Kings Head – 29.01.18
Promotion to Division 2 is looking like a very real prospect, after Hammer 2 picked up a wonderful 5.5-2.5 win against an extraordinarily strong Kings Head team in the Middlesex League.
Kings Head brought no less than three 170+ players to fill out their top three boards. This sort of team strength is virtually unheard of at this level, especially for an away game. Some late tactical changes to our starting lineup were required, with Sheikh and Nadhmi coming in to bolster the team, and Ken getting his first shot at glory playing with the firsts.
So it was down to Sheikh, Paul and John to attempt to tame the three Goliaths, and they gave it a really good crack. Sheikh played an absolutely wonderful opening and middle game and was completely winning as they approached the endgame, but blundered into checkmate.
John had a similar sort of game – blundering as well to concede defeat, but Paul was switched on throughout, and smoothly outplayed his opponent to pick up the full point.
2-1 down, it was up to our lower order to bring home the game. Their foes were by no means patzers, but Hammer were in it to win it.
Nadhmi looked absolutely winning by move five, but some unnecessary pawn-grabbing allowed his opponent to complicate matters. Nevertheless, our junior superstar weathered the storm and scored a fine win.
Boards 5 and 6 son followed suit, with Matteo proving he is far better than his January grade would suggest, and Brian “Magnus” Dodgeon deploying superior positional play to grind out a well-earned win.
Ben’s second game for the team earned him a second win, this time against a far stronger player, leaving those who estimated his modest grade rather red-faced. His opponent went for an all-out attack on the Kingside, seemingly failing to realise that he himself had not castled and his King was in mortal danger.
Finally, John Ryan on board 8, looking to secure his name as player of the season, unfortunately found himself an exchange and a pawn down not long into the game. He was unfazed and recovered splendidly, utilising his bishop pair to their fullest potential to gain a strong initiative and force a draw.
Well played everyone!
Next Monday is crunch time, as we take on promotion rivals Muswell Hill 2 at the Anvil. It goes without saying that it’s another crucial game, so let’s ride this wave of form and clock up another great performance.
Middlesex League 2 vs. West London – 29.01.18
Also at The Anvil on the same night, our League 2 team scored a vital win against our near neighbours in the hotly-contested West London Derby match, with the Hammer Crew triumphing 5.5-2.5, to cap a superb evening for the teams!
Rumours abound that the teams headed straight to the pub to celebrate, but we cannot confirm or deny this…
London League 4 vs. Streatham – 31.01.18
I’m delighted to confirm we chalked up a cracking win in London 4 this week against Streatham & Brixton. Scores stand at 4.5-2.5 with Matteo’s match adjourned to complete the set. Full credit to Brian who acted as captain on the night.
An absolutely superb result and our best of the season so far! Streatham are certainly one of the strongest teams in the division and boasted a 100% record before last night. That was before the mighty Hammer made short work of them! It seems when we need to pull out the stops, I just need to arrange to be 100 miles away at a work offsite!!
For a while it looked like we might have to recover from 2-0 down, since we still only had 6 players with the clocks 20 minutes down! But luckily both latecomers arrived before the 45 minute default time, and managed to cope with the time deficit with aplomb.
In fact, fast forward a further half an hour and we were 2-0 up, with both Chris and Jeremy finding sharp opening lines that rapidly opened up the position and allowed them to penetrate their opponents’ defences to devastating effect.
The quickfire demolitions are presented here.
Chris (worth playing through! It shouldn’t take you long):
On board 8, Ben continued to show he’s much better than his estimated 95 grading, gaining two pawns and swapping off to a won endgame. 3-0 to Hammersmith and looking in control. Great win on his debut in Division 4.
Nadhmi on board 5 entered the 20-minute playoff with a level endgame: four pawns and a minor piece each. But he was badly behind on time, and succumbed to the opponent’s accurate endgame play, Nadhmi losing his useful remote Queens-side pawn to leave him with a 4-3 minority, which resulted in the opponent Queening a pawn. 3-1
Dipender on board 6 had a level game for a long time, but fell victim to a 7th-rank major piece invasion. 3-2 up with the top 3 games still to finish!
Brian extended our lead with a fine win on board 3. Playing against the French, he utilised the Advance Variation and secured a decent space advantage. His opponent’s speculative h5-h4 pawn advance allowed Brian to station his King’s Knight on h5, supported by the g4 pawn. This meant he could never develop his King’s Bishop for fear of Nxg7+, so he was never able to castle.
Rook pressure was built-up on the b and c-files, eventually picking up the h4 pawn, and allowing an invasion onto the seventh rank via b7. Two more pawns quickly fell which meant an endgame was reached three pawns to the good. 4-2 with two games left.
At the tight end of the 20 minute playoff, Tomasso on Board 1 had a level endgame against a strong opponent, so took a draw by repetition. This meant we won the match 4.5-2.5, with Matteo’s level game on board 2 adjourned to finish another day. Looks pretty tight that one.
The result leaves us nestled in the Champions League (c) places, with plenty of points still up for grabs. Next up is a 6-pointer against Athenaeum.