Lots more fantastic write-ups coming your way today with plenty of interesting games to play through, after four big matches in the various leagues this week. We also have some great info about playing in the 4NCL – UK & Ireland’s top chess league – make sure you read to the bottom of the update!
Before we crack on with those, don’t forget that it’s Round II of our season-long Blitz comp on Monday evening at Lytton Hall, starting 7.30pm. Full details here – should be a fun evening of quick-fire chess!
Middlesex League 3 vs. Muswell Hill – 05.02.18
On Monday we played host to Muswell Hill in Middlesex Division 3. As probably our biggest rival for the promotion spots, it was vital we picked up a result in our last home game of the season.
Nadhmi’s continuing surge up the grading ladder saw him sat down at board one for the first time. He had a tricky opponent who applied pressure throughout the whole game. Eventually the rooks invaded and it was game over. 0-1
Next up was Matteo. He turned on his Italian style and played a wonderful game, crushing the poor Englishman into the dust. 1-1
Brian entered a very closed position and both players were playing accurately. There was no progress to be made and they agreed a draw. 1.5-1.5
I played a London System on board 4 that went badly wrong. Castling on opposite sides, my kingside attack was far slower than my opponent’s queenside attack and I had to sacrifice an exchange for a pawn to relieve some pressure. He continued to play good moves, trading down to an endgame at the right time which he duly converted. 1.5-2.5
David played a long, tough game. He used a lot of time reaching equality out of the opening, trying to coordinate his pieces on the queenside to break free and shackle the Bishop on b3. His opponent pushed with a slightly premature e5 and then exd6, which opened up the position to Dave’s advantage. The final few moves are omitted due to time pressure but with a couple of minutes on the clock, Dave managed to fork King and Rook, effectively forcing the resignation. 2.5-2.5
Pouya played well on board 6, utilising his space advantage to provoke weaknesses. Eventually he broke through and scored a win. 3.5-2.5
Simon had white on board 7. His superior opening preparation saw him far better going into the middle game and his position continued to improve. The win was inevitable, and Simon moves to an impressive unbeaten 4/5 for the team. 4.5-2.5
Last but not least, our newest junior member Andrew was playing his first game for the club on board 8. Both players played very fast, but there could be no criticism of Andrew’s play. He dominated proceedings, winning a pawn out of the opening and going on to win an exchange with a sneaky Bishop tactic. With the win he has firmly established himself amongst our growing pool of talented juniors and I have no doubt his grade will be rising very rapidly.
So there you have it, a third 5.5-2.5 win in a week and a half, and our promotion prospects are looking very rosy.
Andrew becomes the 22nd player to show for the team this season, while Ben, Ken, John and Simon look to be favourites for MVP as we look ahead to our final three, tough away fixtures.
Thames Valley League vs. Ealing – 05.02.18
We came to the end of the “TV Month” with the last game against Ealing this week. It was a case of “Magnificent 7 – Reloaded!“, as we beat Ealing at home with the exact same score as when we played them away, 7-1. It was a great performance from every player, including our single defeat – Thomas should’ve got the win too, but was unlucky.
This time last year we were in the relegation zone. But this year is a different story altogether. The current table is as follows:
Our remaining matches this season are as follows:
- March 19th – Wimbledon away
- March 26th – Surbiton away
- April 16th – Richmond home
- May 14th – Wimbledon home
- May 21st – Kingston home (postponed from Jan 15th)
We’re also waiting to confirm the date for our home semi-final TV Cup match against Richmond.
Thanks to all players!
London League 6 vs. GLCC – 06.02.18
“A Walk on the Wildside in Division 6”
A mid-week encounter beckoned us to Upper Vestry Hall as we took on Greater London in Division 6. And not for the first time this season, the middle-order battled back to save our blushes.
We ended a 2-2 draw, with Charlie and Wyatt chalking up good wins.
First to fall was Nadim. He made a careless Queen move early on which left his Bishop en prise. He battled on but it was difficult to come back from that.
The next to come to a sticky end was your very own captain for the evening, Dave. I felt I made a hash of the closed Sicilian opening, although the computer fancied I was in charge when it came to move 20. It never felt that way over the board though, and as we moved into the endgame a couple of innocuous looking moves turned the tide in my opponent’s favour and he emerged a pawn up, which he skillfully converted.
The pride of Hammer was on the line and Wyatt and Charlie duly rose to the occasion. Wyatt played a really solid game out of the opening and developed into a late middle-game pawn up and two Rooks apiece. He had far better King safety though, and when he doubled his Rooks on the 7th, it was one-way traffic from thereon in. His opponent’s flag eventually fell, but it only saved him the ignominy of a mate several moves later.
Which brings us to Charlie, who when seemingly faced with a safe move and a more pointed one, dismisses them both and searches for an even more aggressive option! He’s like the Hammer version of AlphaZero (in a way), material is nothing, and tempo is everything! The engines don’t like it but it’s highly effective and scored him another win. See below:
That’s it for now. Hedger roll again at the end of February when we take on Hackney.
London League 4 vs. Athenaeum – 07.02.18
“The Dream is Over in London 4”
As John Lennon lamented during his time with Plastic Ono Band, “the dream is over”. And thus, with our narrow 3.5-4.5 loss at the hands of Athenaeum, the same must be said of our push for promotion from London League Division 4.
Nevertheless, it takes our record to W3 L3, in what is proving to be a creditable season for a team, many of whom are playing their debut seasons with Hammer.
As the scoreline suggested, the match was a close one with Hammer taking an early lead but ultimately being pegged back by strong play across the board order. Full scorecard is below:
First to finish was Dipender who kicked things off with a solid win with White. He worked a good tactic to claim a pawn in the early middle-game and then played flawlessly to line up a battery of Queen and Rooks, swapping off pieces to his advantage when the moment came. A momentary lapse in concentration nearly allowed his opponent to create complications in the endgame, but the opportunity was missed and his passed pawn proved crucial. Game is below. 1-0 to the good guys.
Adam was next to finish. Playing the Albin Gambit, he worked what looked to be a dominant attack on the cramped white position, with pins left, right and centre. However, despite the pressure, the defender always managed to find the right resource and managed to swap off a number of key pieces, leaving the position to fizzle out into something that looked far more drawish. A half point was dutifully taken. A good game to watch. 1.5-0.5
Jeremy, playing only his second match for the club, developed his White pieces nicely, but missed a clever outpost for the opposition bishop forking Queen and Rook. An immediate counter-thrust followed to create complications but tempo was not his friend, forcing him to lose material and to retract his Rook into an overly defensive position. It was a tough battle from thereon in. 1.5-1.5
Hammer regained the lead thanks to a beautiful turnaround from John on Board 6. Playing wily Mike Rose, John got himself into real tactical complications win the middle game and found multiple pieces under attack. The only way out of the trap was to concede a Bishop, and regroup. At that point, your captain wandered off to check on the other games, only to return a short while later with John threatening mate and an exchange up! A Houdini act that’s surely worth further investigation in the pub. 2.5-1.5
Potentially the match of the evening was played on Board 2, as Brian faced an opponent in fine form. Playing the Grunfeld and facing a tricky line where his opponent daringly sacrificed his Rook for a black-squared Bishop, it initially looked positive for Brian with chances to hold firm and stick it out for a won endgame.
But the pressure was unnerving on the King-side via a pawn advance and aggressive posting of bishops and knight. Brian was forced to give back the Rook to stay alive, but still the tactics kept coming. The clever 21.Bf7+ made all the difference. Brian, as ever, was magnanimous in defeat, warmly congratulating his opponent on a match well played. He’s also good enough to present his game here. Brian had the black pieces. 2.5-2.5
Tomasso’s fine form for the team hit a speed bump as he faltered to his first defeat of his Hammer career. Playing White, he established a strong open position, with a Bishop posted on b3 which looked to be a menace as the game progressed. However, a breakthrough from Black paved the way for an attack with broadly level material but with superior piece placement. Checks and tactics abound and defeat wasn’t far away. Tomasso will be back stronger I’m sure! 2.5-3.5
The final two matches ended in a draw, ensuring the score finished 3.5-4.5. But in truth, we were arguably lucky to emerge with the half point in both.
Gokhan had a strange game on Board 3. Superb attacking play earned him a whole Bishop advantage and his dominant position deserved a win, but a premature Queen move allowed a simple Rook capture with check on the back-rank. Suddenly he was the exchange down! It looked all over, but Gokhan doesn’t know when he’s beaten and brilliantly fought back with relentless pawn pushing and resourceful coordination of Bishop and King. A draw was inevitable at the end as there was a simple way to reducing everything to a Bishop & King vs. King endgame.
Charlie was last to finish… somewhat reluctantly taking a draw when most observers thought he should have bitten their hand off! His strong looking attack in the opening transpired to be fairly common theory according to his opponent, who ably defended and emerged a pawn up. Charlie did very well to remain solid and ensure limited chances for his opponent but there was definitely an opening at one point where a more confident pawn push would have sealed the deal. Nevertheless, Charlie continues his unbeaten run for the club. Very well done!
Next up is Lewisham on February 21st. We go again…
And Finally… Celtic Tigers!
If you truly can’t get enough chess this year, fear not – there is more available!
Hammer’s own Chris Skulte, is also the manager for the Celtic Tigers team in the 4NCL – that’s the 4 Nations Chess League – the UK & Ireland’s top chess league. Our Great Dane, Carsten Pedersen, also plays for the team.
Celtic Tigers are looking to field a 2nd team in the 4NCL competition next season, as Hammersmith Chess Club are our London Chess Club, we are looking for a few members to consider playing one (or all rounds) next season.
What is 4NCL?
It’s the top league of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, played over 5 weekends (2 games a weekend, with 3 on the final weekend). You play one game each day, and usually stay the night in the venue, which adds to the social fun of the event. Usually its one weekend in November, January, February, March and May – see below for the current seasons dates:
Why Celtic Tigers?
Two Hammersmith members – Chris Skulte and Carsten Pedersen – already play for the club, and we are a very social club, enjoying our beers and dinner as a team. Have a read of our newsletters to see what it’s like playing for the Tigers: www.celtictigers.club
Will Everyone be Together?
Unfortunately divisions 1/2 and 3/4 play in separate venues, but if they are close enough we will try to organise a mutual location for dinner. Teams will usually be selected on playing strength, but the manager (Chris) has final call each weekend.
What is the Cost?
- £25 to become a member, covers team registration. If you only play 1 game this will be refunded to you.
- £62 per night for accommodation (including breakfast!), 1 night per weekend (if you want to stay – entirely optional)
- Transport to/from the location – usually we will try to carpool
- You must be a Gold ECF member or above if an ENG federation player (Bronze to Gold upgrade is £18)
Interested, got Questions?
Get in touch with Chris: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Years Dates & Locations
- 17-18 November 2018 – Division 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
- 12-13 January 2019 – Division 3&4: South Park Inn Bedford
- 9-10 February 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
- 13-14 April 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
- 4-6 May 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court