The AGM – Constitutional Edition!

Ladies & Gents – our Annual General Meeting (AGM) is on Monday 4th June this year, at our home venue, Lytton Hall (aka, “The Anvil”). As usual, it will be an informative and fun occasion as the Committee presents details of our club’s ongoing progress this season, and plans for the future, plus all the usual business for members to vote on. It’s the chance for all Members to have their say on how the club is run – please make every effort to attend.

We are sending a reminder out super-early this year, as we are proposing a minor change to the Constitution, and want to ensure everyone has plenty of time to consider it before the meeting. Please read on!

Items for Consideration at the AGM

The Committee is proposing a small tweak to our Club Constitution this year, and we want to give you plenty of opportunity to consider it ahead of the AGM, where it will be required to pass a vote.

Under the terms of the Constitution adopted in 2016, the Committee already has the role of appointing Team Captains – those plucky volunteers drawn from our wider membership who take on the unenviable task of organising our teams week in, week out.

As part of the ongoing decentralisation and streamlining of decision making, the Committee now wishes to delegate this authority to the Club Captain role (currently held by the esteemed Adam Cranston). As such, we are proposing to tweak the Constitution to reflect – please follow the link here to see the extra text to be added in bold under the Club Captain section.

This change has the support of the Committee, and we hope members are also able to support it at the AGM.

Secondly, all current Committee Members are intending to continue in their current roles for another year. As a reminder, they are:

  • Chairman: Bajrush Kelmendi
  • Secretary: Mike Mackenzie
  • Treasurer: Chris Moore
  • Auditor: Dave Lambert
  • Club Captain: Adam Cranston
  • PR & Events: John White
  • Webmaster: Andy Routledge
  • Members Rep: Sheikh Mabud
  • Members Rep: Marios Kouis
Formal Notice of AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the Hammersmith Chess Club will take place on Monday 4th June 2018 at Lytton Hall, commencing at 7pm.

Please note, if any Club member wishes to stand for a position on the Committee, under the Club Constitution they have to be seconded by another Club Member and written notice must be given to the Secretary at least 30 days before the AGM.

Furthermore, if a Club Member wishes to propose a motion at the AGM, it must be seconded by another Club Member and submitted to the Secretary at least 30 days before the AGM.

The minutes of the 2017 AGM will be displayed on the Club Notice Board by the 20th April for your examination.

Michael Mackenzie.
Club Secretary.
Hammersmith Chess Club.

March Madness!

As we approach the business end of the season, there have been some really spectacular results this month, not least when our London 4 team beat runaway favourites in that Division, BBCA!

The excitement continues this week, with another table-topping win for one of Hammer’s sides. Read on….

  • London Division 4 vs. Greater London
  • London Division 6 vs. Greater London
  • London Division 3 vs. Kings Head
  • BONUS: Chess, the Musical!
13.03.18 – London Division 4: Hammersmith v Greater London

A 4-4 tie against Greater London meant we were able to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat in London Division 4 this week. It felt like a win at the end as were under the cosh for much of the night and it was highly satisfying to take something from the match.

The result actually takes us to top-spot in the league, albeit having played more games than all the sides around us. A very pleasant sight for sure, although we have to bear in mind there will be 13 matches across the league before we’re next in action. Things could look a bit different then.

Returning to the match itself and we were handed a 1-0 head start due to a no-show on Board 2. Adam had a pleasant evening of drinking tea and eating biscuits, but I’m sure he’d rather have been playing chess.

We then found ourselves 1-2 down with losses for Charlie and John. Charlie’s proud, unbeaten run ended in inauspicious circumstances as he somehow moved the wrong Knight early on and allowed his Queen to be taken for free. A complete aberration that can perhaps be laid at the feet of John White and his Hammersmith Drinking Club offshoot that met at the weekend!!

I’m not sure the other John has such an easy target to blame though. By his own admission, he made a mess of the opening and despite throwing the kitchen sink at his opponent in retaliation, it wasn’t to be.

Rich was next to finish, again finding himself on the wrong side of a blunder (Rook this time) due to time trouble. Shame, as the position looked pretty dead-even before the mistake but the clock is merciless. 1-3 and it looked a real fight to get anything from the match.

Dipender continued his solid run for the team with a good win on Board 4 to bring things back to 2-3. The game seemed relatively well-balanced both materially and positionally, until some clever manoeuvring allowed Rc1+. That meant the Bishop had to come back and defend and suddenly pawns were vulnerable inside the camp. Dipender’s style always appears calm and in control (does it feel that way inside??) and he used that control to slowly improve his position before an opponent mistake allowed a cheap pin on minor piece and King. It was all over.

Wyatt and Paul playing on Boards 7 and 8 had mixed fortunes, but I think they both played well. Wyatt established a commanding position in the late middle-game with a wave of pawns advancing to certain promotion. Eventually one Queen’d and the material advantage looked crushing! Undeterred however, his opponent threw everything forward and tried to find a mate with Queen, Rook and Bishop aimed at the Hammer King. It looked hairy for a while, but Wyatt held his nerve, repelled the attack and soon has his own unavoidable mate on the cards. 3-3

Paul, making his debut for the club in any league, was forced to make some concessions out of the opening but fought back to reach what Fritz would probably say was a theoretically drawn 4 vs 4 pawn endgame, but it was tricky. His doubled-pawns meant slight errors were magnified and such was the case. Both colours eventually added another Queen to their ranks, but Paul’s opponent had an easy way to pin and remove both Queens, leaving another pawn to easily promote for the win. Solid performance from Paul on his first time out. 3-4 down

Paul and Wyatt, deep in thought

But the performance of the night has to go to fellow debutant Alexander on Board 1. He took down his higher-rated opponent in some style, forcing his Knight into an outpost on c6 which effectively dominated a quarter of the board. The game was level on material but Alexander always had the edge given his monster Knight, and managed to work some clever tactics involving a Queen on h8 and a battery of Rooks on the e-file. Great to watch. His opponent was very gracious in defeat, and it was nice to see enjoyment on both sides despite the result going in our favour. 4-4 DRAW, and relief all round in the Shakespeare!

Full scorecard below:

13.03.18 – London Division 6: Hammersmith v Greater London

In the second part of our GLCC double-header on Tuesday, the London 6 team took on their Greater London counterparts.

With Mike Mackenzie sitting this one out, our reporter-of-the-year Robin took over as captain and gives us the following brief notes:

Victory for Hammersmith Hedger, cruising to a smooth 3-1 win!

Dan the magic man was the first to finish. His opponent opened with the curious 1. b3!?, and was subsequently crushed. 1-0

The man of the moment – Dan, pictured far back on the right sporting a pink shirt. Great win

Captain Robin was next. He had 3 pawns for a Knight, and won a textbook ending. 2-0

Simon mated his opponent with Queen and Rook on f7 – no coming back from that. 3-0

Last up was Nick, who fell foul of the clock and, in a result that could never be described as charming, lost on time. Unlucky! 3-1

21.03.18 – London Division 3: Kings Head v Hammersmith

Parte sesta – welcome to the latest boy’s-own adventure of Starship Hammer 1 and it’s season-long mission to gain promotion to Division 2 of the London League.

Captain’s Log – Star Date 21/03/18

The team has beamed down to the multi-cultural planet Citadines to meet in deadly chess combat the species known as Regum Caput Duo.

They are the Division leaders and undefeated at the board this season.

The landing party was led by non-playing Captain Clueless. Read on and enjoy the dramatic night that unfolded…..

You could feel the tension in the air. The Hammer landing party were taking on the League Leaders and the result would shape and dictate the course of our season. A win and anything is possible. A loss would throw us firmly on to the back foot.

The team was primed and ready – they knew the task and they were there to deliver.

The Hammer team in board order:

Thomas (T-Bone), Marios (Zeus), Bajrush (Wily), Paul McK (Prof), Jim (Loco), Chris (Sydney), Jeremy (Brexit), Paul K (Dead-Eye), Sheikh (Pandit) and Pavel (Spock).

The clock ticked away and all the team were there except Zeus, who had gone AWOL. This caused Clueless a few anxious moments, but Gods always get there in the end (apologies to all secularists) and he duly arrived 10 minutes after the match had commenced.

In some ways he needn’t have bothered – his opponent was a no-show. Whether it was the reputation of our Zeus, or another reason, I leave to you to consider. It did not matter – Hammer were on the scoreboard. 1-0

Next to finish on board three was Wiley, who went for his classic (or disastrous, depending on your point of view) early g4 punt. It was initially double-edged but Wily always plays the middle-game and endgame strongly. He duly triumphed and his game is given below. Hammer forging ahead at 2-0

The next result saw Sydney make it 3-0. Sydney, after some uncertain steps early in the season, is coming into his best form. He won an early pawn and through forceful play translated this into a well deserved and most welcome win:

On board 10 Spock faced an unusual white setup from his opponent and play got complicated – and I have to confess, I was getting anxious. Being a non-playing captain is extremely frustrating at times and generally not good for the nerves. I was worried for Spock. As usual, my angst was misplaced – Spock is so solid he rarely plays bad moves. Sure enough, a draw was agreed and Hammer moved to 3.5-0.5

Now to the only reverse of the night with Pandit totally misplaying his game and his opponent’s ability to harvest pawns. Pandit battled on valiantly, hoping in vain for an error that never came, that would allow him to turn the tables. He gracefully resigned but stayed on to support the team. Hammer pegged back to 3.5-1.5

The next two games were draws as both Loco and Brexit secured the half-points for Hammer. Moving the Hammer landing party to 4.5-2.5

To be honest, Brexit played a bit of a David Davies – a lot of bluff and gusto, and nearly got “Barnier-ed“. He was a pawn down, on the white side of a Nimzo-Indian, with no real compensation against Kings Head Captain Peter – who thankfully offered a draw in a very murky position for our “Jezza”. Brexit, unlike in real life, had got something tangible.

On board five Loco faced an opponent who wanted to get from the opening to the endgame as quickly as possible. In the pub later, Loco lamented the move Bd3-Bc2 which threw away his advantage. He pushed hard and picked up a piece, unfortunately the black king was too active and was able to force a total pawn elimination. He was never in danger of losing but was frustrated by his move mis-step.

Victory was secured in the next game when T-Bone probed and manoeuvred his way to victory. He positionally outplayed his opponent on the white side of a Kings Indian Samisch, forcing a passed d-pawn and then concluding with a tactical denouement that netted the Black Queen. This was French flair chess at its best. Hammer winning now at 5.5-2.5

The last two games were both adjourned on the night.

Dead-Eye’s opponent offered a draw on move 12. This was brusquely turned down by Dead-Eye who was visibly annoyed. Not a good move from his opponent. Dead-Eye personifies the Speelman approach to chess – he was in warrior mode and ready to fight. “GM draws” are not in his chess dictionary. Suffice it to say, the Oracle – known as Stockfish – puts Dead-Eye at +7 in the adjourned position. I duly expect a resignation from his opponent in the next couple of days.

Finally to The Prof himself, who faced a tricky opponent. To be frank, The Prof was in no mood to be trifled with. His opponent in desperation threw a serious sack into the equation where a hasty response would have led to a possible perpetual. The Prof took his time and sealed his move – the most conservative of choices, but one that guaranteed victory. That move was fxe4, I can tell you that because we have received his opponent’s resignation the following day. Great performance from The Prof and a far more controlled affair than some of his flights of fancy this season.

So, Hammer 1 are currently at 6.5-2.5. This will become 7.5-2.5 when Dead-Eye duly wins as well.

A brilliant performance by the Hammer crew and one that indicates we are not only gunning for promotion but also to go up as champions. Captain Clueless is very content!

The result will resound throughout the Division and definitely enforce the feeling that Hammer 1 are a serious outfit this season.

Captain Clueless signing out – but leaving with one reflection.

The strength of this Hammer team is that it draws its players from all parts of the world, gathered together in union to fight as one, for a small corner of West London. That is really something.

Go Hammer, Go Hammer 1 – the road is rising to meet us. This was another step towards our goal and our destiny.

Clueless over and out.

Chess – the Musical!

Exciting times in the West End, as Chess the musical makes a welcome return to the London stage after many years!

It’s only on for 5 weeks starting in April – so you’ll need to secure tickets sooner rather than later.

The story of course features the beautiful game, set against a cold war backdrop:

The world’s two greatest chess masters – one American and one Russian – risk becoming pawns for each of their governments as they battle for the world title. Meanwhile, a remarkable woman and Hungarian refugee throws the two chess masters’ lives into further confusion by becoming the centre of their turbulent triangle. The three characters’ heightened passions mirror those of the political struggles around them: threatening to destroy lives and loves.

This epic musical love story will open on Thursday 26th April 2018 for a strictly limited 5-week season. Book your tickets for Chess at the London Coliseum today!

Chess includes international hit singles like “One Night in Bangkok” and “I Know Him So Well”. It also features well-known songs like “Anthem”, “Pity the Child”, “Heaven Helps My Heart” and “Someone Else’s Story”.


Puzzle of the Week #015

After a brief hiatus last week, we are back with a bang – down to business.

As the only response to last week’s puzzle, PaulDead-EyeKennelly takes the plaudits this time – congratulations Paul!

It was taken from Kolb-Schroeder, Nuremberg in 1895. Snipped from the wonderful Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics.

On to this week’s puzzle – White has just played Rxb7 (so it’s Black to move). Why was that a bad idea??

Back from the Dead in London 4

07.07.18 – It seemed Osiris himself, the Egyptian God of the Afterlife, was watching over us as we came back from the brink against BBCA to score a cracking 4.5-3.5 win on Wednesday night. BBCA raced into an early lead before the Hammer fightback took hold and wins for Tommaso, Blair, Matteo and Ken secured victory.

An invaluable victory against the previously undefeated table-toppers. We’re now firmly back in the chase; it still looks a tall order but we have to count ourselves amongst the pack. My trip to Egypt was truly worthwhile…

We’re 2nd in the table with 4 matches to go – Greater London, Newham, Kings Head and Metro 4.

There were some truly impressive performances, no more so than Tomasso on Board 1, taking down a 175 with some superb attacking chess. An early g4 pawn push, complemented with an early King chase at the expense of material.

Blair was bizarrely challenged to go back to his schooldays and prove his “Rook & King” checkmate skills with more than adequate time on the clock. He obviously hasn’t been studying his form for Hammer this season. Blair maintains his 100% record with 2 wins out of 2.

Matteo’s rediscovered his mojo and is now turning draws into wins, taking control of this match-up early on and pressing home to an endgame with superior pawns and a Knight for a Bishop. There was no way to stop the promotion to a Queen and that was that.

Brian scored the crucial half-point we needed, and has included his game here for your enjoyment:

Playing black against the Sicilian, Brian established a Maroczy Bing in response to relatively passive play. But that all changed on move 9 when he faced a veritable kitchen sink being thrown forward in a kingside attack. Pawn pushes with e4 and h4-h5, two rooks on the f-file, Queen on g4 and a fianchettoed Bishop on b2. Brian swapped both bishops for two knights and advanced his Q-side pawns.

The opposition Queen eventually invaded on the sixth rank to threaten my a-pawn, but faced the counter-challenge of Queen and rook on the 7th threatening to take the a2 pawn and invade the seventh/eighth rank on his side. Eventually his opponent’s Queen became trapped on the Q-side, with no alternative but to exchange queens for a drawn ending of rook & minor piece each, with a totally blocked pawn structure.

The scorecard might have flattered us further on another night. Nadhmi and Gokhan both got themselves into strong positions before allowing their opponents to spoil the party. I’m afraid I didn’t see much of Ben or Ken’s games although I understand a significant blunder effectively ended the latter as a contents.

No matter, the night was ours. Full scorecard below:

The Good, the Bad and the Hammer

GM Lectures, Blitz Tourney, Rapidplay, and many, many games of chess – it has been a busy few weeks on Planet Hammer. We have a few results to update you on, so please read on…

28.02.18 – London League 5: Brixton v Hammersmith

In a scene redolent of countless westerns, there was an ambush last night where the Anvil Boyz were cruelly cut down by the Brixton Gang. Just through the swing doors, in the crowded scene of the Sit or Die Saloon, fist fights, drunken cavorting and knife stabbings were common place, especially at the bar.

Brian & Robin with their post-match analysis

First to go was Ben on board 3. He started humbly, almost modestly, adopting a Hedgehog posture, but quickly gained equality and looked good to win, hoping to surprise his opponent.

But suddenly, with two weapons drawn each – Queen and Rook – Ben fell to razor-edged tactics, and in the dying seconds, Ben succumbed to trickery of the Devil (back row mate, or give up house and home).

In equal measure shortly after, Simon on Board 2 was cut down. Some say it was a Sicilian Stiletto that undid him.

Last man standing was Robin, Anvil Chief Spiceman and bottle washer, who staggered out of the saloon but then stumbled and was carried to the Adjournment Hostelry, where he died, by turns cursing and mumbling.

The next morning three bodies were thrown in the nearest gulch, only the cruel east wind witnessed their burial. In minutes, spumes of snow tendrils covered the bodies.

Only one of the Anvil Boyz lived to tell the tale, top wrangler Brian, who saw the plot and bade peace early on with his counterpart, shaking his hand as he withdrew.

Follows here Brians comments on his game…

“I was black v a 138 opponent who played the Trompovsky Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). I went ahead with fianchettoing the KB, and he immediately swapped bishop for knight on f6 to double my pawns.

I played c5 in a Grunfeld-style attempt to undermine his central pawns, pressurizing d4 with my QN on f6. He advanced to d5, which cramped my Queen’s-side development and pushed my knight to a precarious e5, but allowed my KB lots of pressure on the long diagonal, supported by Qa5.

He developed carefully with connected knights on c3 and e2, then pushed away my e5 knight with f4, foregoing castling and escaping central pressure by relocating his king to f2.

I threatened to make a break along the e-file, but he solidified the support of his backward e-pawn with rook, bishop, knight and queen. As the queens-side pawn structure had by now become locked, he offered a draw and I accepted.”

Here ends the sorry tale.

Thames Valley March Update

02.03.18 – Last night Richmond was out-graded against Surbiton A by 33 points (162 v 195 average!) but won the match 4.5-3.5! Great result.

As you can see from the table, Kingston have been relegated. Now it’s between Ealing A and Surbiton B for the drop, with Ealing having better chances since they need just one more point from their remaining 3 matches.

I’d like to thank all Hammers who have contributed to our great results this season. We have secured our Division 1 presence with 5 games in hand. So we are in a neck & neck race with Richmond for third place.

Richmond have a better set of fixtures than us, so our home match against them no 16th April is hugely important.

We are also playing in the Thames Valley Cup Semi-Final against Richmond on 9th April, and a win could see us well on our way to being cup winners, since the other semi-final is between Harrow and Kingston!

The good news from a couple of days ago – Kingston and Surbiton B have played their next match and we are clear of relegation! Now we are playing for a better position in the table.

Realistically we should finish 3rd, but anything is possible. Since all the top teams are playing each other and Wimbledon A play Surbiton B twice (first match is on March 15th). Richmond also have to play all the top teams once, including us. We only have one away match against Wimbledon A on 19th March. All our other matches are at home.

So let’s prepare the March stage for the Hammers:

  1. First match on 19th March is away against Wimbledon A, starting 7.30pm
  2. Second match is on 26th March at home to Surbiton A, starting 7.30pm

Please let me know if you’re available!


21.02.18 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Lewisham

“Back in the Saddle Again”

Last week we brought you great news from London Division 4 in the way of our 5.5-2.5 win over promotion hopefuls Lewisham. We can now bring you the full report of the match that puts us back in the hunt at the top of the table.

Brian, acting as captain for the evening, talks us through the action as it happened.

First to finish was Gokhan on board 4. An inaccuracy in his opening line gave him an early advantage and sadly his position didn’t recover. His opponent quickly pushed home his edge to a won game. 0-1 down.

My game was next to finish on board 4. I had white in a c3 Sicilian, where after the pawn exchanges on d4, my opponent played Bb4+ and I ventured a slightly risky Nc3 and Bc4, leaving my e5 pawn vulnerable to his King’s knight. My pin on Bg5 was immediately released with the clever Qa5, exerting double pressure on the c3 knight and threatening a dangerous forking check.

A tense double-edged struggle ensued when I castled out of trouble and took his f6 knight as he took mine on c3. Upshot was a won pawn at the expense of his opened-up kingside pawn structure.

His decision to delay castling proved costly: swapping two pairs of minor pieces, I broke up his central pawn mass, chased his Queen and invaded with a rook via c7. The follow-up queen check on c6 left him powerless to avoid a back-rank mate on move 21. 1-1 and all square.


John was next to finish. He stepped in at the last minute to fill a gap on Board 6, but lost material against a player graded thirty points higher, eventually losing to a crushing attack. 1-2 down.

Charlie’s position on Board 7 looked unfavourable going into the endgame, with his opponent having an extra passed pawn. But Charlie never gives up, and succeeded in swapping off all the pawns to a drawn ending Rook & King v Rook & King. 1.5-2.5

Nadhmi on Board 5 had a complex game where at one stage he was a rook up for three distinctly menacing pawns. Later it was a bishop for two pawns, then an ending of bishop, rook & two pawns v rook and three pawns. Time was tight, but Nadhmi survived the rigors of the clock and emerged with king, bishop, rook and pawn against king and rook, whence his opponent resigned.

At this point the match was delicately poised 2.5-2.5, with Boards 1, 2 and 8 still to finish. Wyatt had been a piece down, but his opponent used a lot time and blundered the piece back again. Wyatt still had to defend against a push of two advanced pawns supported by rooks, but the opponent’s flag fell and Wyatt won on time.

Hammer held a 3.5-2.5 advantage with the top two boards to finish. Both had been tight games played solidly and accurately on both sides, with John White on Board 2 having to defend against minor piece incursions, holding a rook for bishop and knight. But he eventually prevailed after multiple piece exchanges when his opponent overlooked damaging forks with mating threats in a queen & rook ending.

Finally, Matteo on Board 1 invaded his opponent’s 7th rank to force resignation after the tightest strategic game of the evening. A very creditable win for the underdogs!


A Night at the Speelman

26.02.18The hallowed hall of The Anvil last night hosted chess royalty in the form of GM Jon Speelman. A special evening where over thirty Hammerites and guests listened, enthralled and captivated, to the wit and wisdom of a top man and a world-class Chess Grandmaster. The “Beast from the East” may have hit London but we had our Beast from Hampstead to keep us warm. The evening had something for everyone… read on.

First off, a few GM Speelman facts:

  • In 1989 he was ranked #4 in the world, with only some wood-pushers called Kasparov, Karpov and Timman keeping him off the top spot
  • He was a World Championship semi-finalist, losing narrowly to Jan Timman by the odd point
  • He is a writer, analyst, newspaper columnist, excellent company and all-round top bloke

My original brief to GM Jon Speelman was to analyse one of his games, talking us through his thought processes, reasoning and strategy. Needless to say, he delivered way beyond that, and graciously indulged us in a lengthy Q&A session.

For those of you who could not attend, you missed a treat. However, do not despair as all the games, puzzles and analysis are included in this report.

Packed to the rafters for the GM!
GM Jon takes us through a game on the practice board

The evening started with GM Jon laying out what he had in store for us, and supplying the first piece of GM Speelman wisdom on chess.

“I like games that are clear cut – either tremendously violent or logical, like this first illustrative game.”

The first game was a clash between Kramnik and SjugirovSochi 2016. The game is given below with Speelman analysis.

Jon – we are now BFF’s – went through the game encouraging and prompting answers from the audience. No idea or suggestion was too stupid, and all efforts were met with courtesy and listened to… then mostly demolished with logic and good grace.

The game itself is a brilliant example of a top-class Grandmaster, utilising a slightly superior position and giving his talented opponent no chance of counter play.

In particular, Jon enthused over move 24.g3, and as he explained his reasoning for his admiration of this move, uttered the second piece of Speelman chess wisdom of the night.

“If you have a positional advantage, do not press. Improve your position. The likelihood is your opponent will make bad moves”

At this stage of the evening Jon also revealed that he did not count moves when he calculated, he simply pinged!! A counting method I shall try out in my next over-the-board encounter.

Jon then turned to the second game to analyse, and this time he was less modest. It was his classic encounter from the 1989 Brussels Tournament against a certain Viktor Kortchnoi. A case of the unstoppable force meeting the…. unstoppable force. This was a real violent caveman encounter with no quarter asked, or given. As you would expect from two great chess warriors.

Here is the game:

Jon’s observations throughout this game were superb, and obviously heightened by his actual participation. The game goes mental from about move 7, and continues throughout with both GM’s walking a tightrope. The anecdotes about the game and then the final forcing line, were tremendously entertaining, educational and insightful – this was brilliant stuff.

The irony was, Jon confessed this was probably his best game – his “immortal”, but sadly contained a flaw. A rather dodgy character called GM John Nunn approached him immediately after the game and pointed out that if 16.Qc4 had been played by White, then Black had a lost position. How small are the margins between perfection and….. ?

The third piece of Speelman chess wisdom then emerged:

“Play positions you feel happy with. Regardless of material. If you are happy and are playing the game you want, then that is all you need”

The evening then changed tack with two studies being given the Speelman treatment. One an endgame study and one a middle-game fantasy. Both were fascinating and informative – by this stage I could only marvel at Jon’s patience and humour as numerous suggestions from the audience were shouted out. Two problems (with solutions) are given below:

The demonstration part of the evening concluded with Jon taking us through another violent game. This one featured GM Teimour Radjabov (famous for destroying Kasparov with the black pieces in a Kings Indian when he was ridiculously young) and a young, probably talented, upstart called Olexandr Bortnyk. The latter was dealt with harshly for obviously not showing enough respect or deference to the now thirty year old Teimour.

So, for your enjoyment and delight, admire the sheer brutality and the putting-you-in-your-place nature of this game.

After this piece of carnage another pearl of chess wisdom was bestowed.

“When you sit down at the board, you have to be in warrior mode. No half measures – you are there to fight”

The final part of the evening saw Jon doing his version of Question Time. Dealing with toughies such as:

  • What advice would you give kids when facing e4, Bc4 and Qh5?
  • Who will challenge Carlsen for the WCC?
  • When will we have a different World Champion?
  • I play c4, d3, e4… what do you think?
  • If Nakamura was playing you and he went e4, Qh5, what would you say or not say to him?
  • What’s the weirdest thing an opponent has done to you at the board? (One opponent actually laughed at him!!)
  • Who was the most talented player you ever met over the board?
  • What was your chess book collection growing up?
  • What were Petrosian, Smyslov, Spassky etc. like to play against?
  • What did you think of Fischer as a chess player, not as… ?

You can tell by the quality of the questions the Hammerites knew their stuff. By the way, two of the questions have the same answer – Ivanchuk. I leave you to work out what are the questions concerned.

Forty minutes past our official finish time your correspondent brought the evening to a close, and Jon accompanied various disreputable Hammerites to the Albion to carry on the evening. Knowing he had spent the weekend playing the Bunratty Chess festival, I can only admire his stamina.

The afterparty!

A couple of thanks before signing off – a big shout out to both Adam and Mike for helping me setup the furniture.

Also, a big note of thanks to Paul McK (the Prof) who kept Jon’s wine glass nicely topped-up and supplied the wine as well.

However, the biggest thanks go to GM Jon Speelman. An amazing chess player, analyst and raconteur, who can now bask in the added title of “Hammer Legend”.

Normal service resumes next Monday.

Rapidplay – Round VI

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month – it can only mean one thing!! Yes, the next round of our excellent Rapidplay Tournament is upon us.

Round V saw things go mostly to form. Our top pairing saw the game finish in a draw, leaving both players still unbeaten… amazing!! Can anyone topple Bajrush this season??

Further down the order, Ben scored a terrific draw against Pouya. We also saw Super-Sub Wyatt gain a brilliant victory over tournament controller Adam. Great chess!

Finishing positions are really up for grabs at the moment, with the situation changing each month. Lovely stuff.

So to Round VI, where a truly continental struggle sees Matteo take on Marios.

Star performer Ben faces a tough task against young gun Nadhmi, while Yasser tries to get some points on the board against Wyatt – not easy on current form!

The pairings further down the order are very even, so we hope to see some tight games and frantic finishes. Should be a cracker!

As usual, please arrange the location & date of the game with your opponent, and get your results to controllers Adam & Dave  by the end of the month.

Good luck one & all!!