Calling all Hammers!! – we need your help on Saturday 19th May as we take chess back to the streets of Hammersmith & help our local branch of MIND raise money for a good cause!
As you may have read this week – we are returning to Lyric Square, W6 next month for a day of chess, activities and fundraising. Your support is critical – and we want to smash this out of the park.
It was a massive, massive success when we did this last year, and a brilliant day out for all involved, raising over £400 for MIND.
We need help with logistics, leafleting, playing chess, taking contact details & new inquiries, fundraising and much more. Even if you can only spare a few hours between the hours of 9am and 4pm, we will be enormously grateful!
We need to know how many of you are willing to help out ASAP – so please get in touch by Friday 4th May, so that we can plan accordingly!
The Return of Summer Chess
Yes, the rumours are correct… after a truly amazing first season, the Summer Chess League is back for 2018!
It’s going to be even bigger & better this year with the number of team entries having doubled from last time – not including the many clubs still to confirm their entries – and Hammer looking to field an additional couple of teams from last time too! We’re also aiming to introduce a divisional structure to help even out the matches & retain the competitiveness.
Nevermind the Summer of Love – this will be the Summer of Chess!
As with last year, the league will be played over five Tuesday evenings, all at Battersea’s spacious, technologically advanced & beer-fuelled home venue.
Final details are still to be confirmed, but rest assured – you will be the first to know!
SAVE THE DATE – The importance of 19th May 2018 cannot be stressed enough – not only are Harry & Megan tying the knot with the FA Cup final kicking off later in the day, but the BIG news is that Hammer will be bringing chess to the streets of Hammersmith again – or to be precise, Lyric Square.
After our hugely successful event last year in conjunction with mental health charity, Hammersmith MIND, we are again venturing forth to raise awareness of mental health, raise some funds for that worthy organisation, and raise the profile of Hammersmith Chess Club.
This is a quick reminder to pledge your time & attendance in some capacity on the day – whether the full day, a few hours, or just some help with logistics, it is all hugely appreciated!
We will be setting up from 8.30am in the morning, with the official start at 10am. We’re scheduled to be there until 4pm, and then probably retiring to the Albion to enjoy the FA Cup final.
Those of us who took part last year will recall what a memorable and worthy event it was. There is a huge appetite for the game amongst the good people of Hammersmith, and they are generous folk when it comes to giving to charity too, as we raised over £400 for the Hammersmith branch of MIND – a total we are hoping to smash this time round.
Yes, welcome to the latest instalment of the Starship Hammer 1 and her one year mission to boldly-go to Division 2 of the London League.
Partie sept et huit – Starship Hammer has gone into prolonged orbit around the binary planetary system Battersea Chessicus (BC2/3) – the mission, to meet with the noisy neighbours/strange inhabitants of this world. Thankfully, on the whole the people of BC2/3 are overwhelmingly friendly. The question is how would relations between our peoples be after two deadly encounters in over the board chess mortal combat?
This latest assignment has been given the code name “El Chessico 2018” and designated as mission critical by Starfleet Command.
Captain’s Log – Star Date 10/04/2018 and 17/04/2018. Clueless at the helm.
The Hammer 1 voyage has reached a seminal point – successful in this enterprise and we would be in the home straight and prime position to successfully conclude our overall goal. I had much to contemplate with landing crew selection vital in achieving the mission objectives. With the background of unknown diplomatic consequences – as well as two vital chess matches to be won – this was Hammer 1’s severest challenge.
How would matters unfold?
The first encounter saw Hammer take on Battersea2. My report is tempered by the fact I was playing as well.
The Hammer 1 crew was greatly depleted, missing the huge talents of Paul (The Prof), Chris (Sydney) and Thomas (T-Bone). Fortunately, willing and very capable deputies were on hand.
The Hammer team roster, in board order, comprised of:
Marios (Zeus), Bajrush (Wily), Jim (Loco), Tommaso (Forza), Pavel (Spock), Jeremy (Brexit), Paul K (Dead–Eye), Matteo (TheSuit), Alexander (He shall be known as the Talent) and Clueless bringing up the rear.
Zeus, with the white pieces, took on the most innovative chess impresario in London Chess – Aldo on board one. Aldo had prepared a devilish line that required Zeus to tread a very careful tightrope. Deploying all his powers he negotiated his way through the minefield and emerged with a slight advantage. Maybe he missed a win, but it was very hard to see. A draw was agreed – Hammer on the scoreboard at 0.5-0.5
Wily on board 2 as usual went for it in an equal position. It is his uncompromising approach that has won many a battle for Hammer. Unfortunately, this can sometimes backfire and sadly this was the case in this encounter. From an equal position, Wily over pressed, lost a pawn, tried to complicate and sadly went down in a blaze of glory. Hammer trailing at 0.5-1.5
Board 3 next with Loco in sparkling form and determined to start noticing some wins for Hammer 1 – he duly did so and deservedly won in fine style. Hammer now level at 1.5-1.5
Both Forza’s and Brexit’s games are adjourned with the former in the ascendancy where cannot lose but hopefully enough to press for a win. Our Jezza, aka Brexit, is an exchange down but in a very blocked position he seems confident of holding it.
On board 5 Spock played very correctly and precisely as is his way. He comfortably held an edge but not enough to turn into a deserved win. Hammer still level at 2-2
Matteo had a tough night and ended up in a position where it was difficult to develop both his Q-side Rook and Bishop. Chess is hard enough, but when two of your pieces are not participating it makes it way harder. Despite tenacious defence, he was always struggling and when he resigned the position was just untenable. Hammer now down a point at 2-3
The next two boards saw excellent Hammer wins when both Dead-Eye and the debutant Talent, played excellent games.
Dead-Eye continued his sparkling form with an endgame study-like win against Battersea stalwart Emil. This was a masterful performance from Dead-Eye and although he had to wait for a long overdue resignation, the win was never in doubt. Hammer level at 3-3
The Talent is definitely the real deal and played an excellent debut game against his opponent, and although there were some iffy moments the restful was always going to go his way. Hammer now surging at 4-3
Lastly to Clueless on board 10. This was a case of snatching a draw from the jaws of victory. A nice knight retreat won me the exchange, but then my yo-yo form of this season took over and I failed to prosecute my advantage. So frustrating and particularly as this would have practically guaranteed victory on the night.
So, the current score is 4.5-3.5 in Hammer’s favour with two games to be decided. The worst Hammer can do is draw, and even the half a match point we would get, will keep us firmly on course. Obviously, victory by either Forza or Brexit (of the right variety) would be the more desired outcome!!
Hammer beamed down again for the second match against Battersea 3, a week later. Again, it was all change as Clueless rung the changes in an effort to score a decisive blow.
The Talent and Clueless stood down, and Thomas (T-Bone) and Nadhmi (The Gift) took up the cudgels and prepared to fight for Hammer honour.
This was a very different affair with Hammer ending the night at 9-0 up with one game adjourned. An almost Fischer-like performance with a win rush of epic proportions.
T-Bone playing white utilised his usual Kings Indian Samisch variation with Q-side castling, sacked a pawn on the queen side and then marched his major pieces to the King side and launched a heavy assault down the g and h-files. In the end the overwhelming forces deployed were just too powerful. The first of the glorious nine was secured.
On board two Zeus, in the last game to finish, pressed with the black pieces and went to the limit in striving for a win. I can reveal he has offered his opponent a draw in the adjourned position. We await developments, but for the purposes of this blog I will take it as a draw. Hammer steady at 1.5-0.5 to the good.
That was the only respite granted to our opponents with Hammer in devastating form and totally in the groove.
Loco at anytime is a formidable opponent. With the hits pieces against a French defence with space advantage and an open file, unstoppable. This was risk-free chess with the capture of a couple of pawns along the way. In the end, resignation was his opponents only viable option. Win number 2.
Wily conjured a win from a position where most of us would accept a draw. He deliberately went into a rook pawn endgame which he released he would hold the edge. He probed and manoeuvred tirelessly with both logic and subtlety. Eventually he achieved a passed pawn on the Q-side – this was the decisive moment. How he achieved it, only God and Wily knows, especially when this pawn was opposed by three pawns. I have called it Kosovan voodoo in the past and ask you to come up with a better term. Hammer leap ahead 3.5-0.5
Forza is not only a Caruana doppelgänger, but is starting to play like the WCC Challenger! His style is so smooth with his classic idiosyncrasy of taking about 80% of his allowed time over the first fifteen moves. He then speeds up and moves in for the kill. He always seeks to take his opponent out of normal lines and forcing them to rely on their talent rather than memory. This is a deadly skill. Facing a Scandinavian response to his initial e4 he found a variation that forced his opponent to start thinking from about move 4.
Forza then launched a pawn storm against the black king on the Q-side, that was so powerful, it led to a swift and fully-merited win.
Spock scored his win through forceful and dynamic play. he trapped the white king int he centre and then netted a rook for a bishop. His opponent was clearly demoralised and overlooked a tactic that would have ended in mate or the giving up of the second rook. An excellent performance – Hammer soaring at 5.5-0.5 to the good.
Next up was Brexit. He set a clever trap that saw his opponent surrender his queen for rook and minor piece. The rest of the game saw consolidation and mopping-up in full flow. A real Brexit job and almost welcome victory.
On board 8, Dead-Eye continued his devastating form of the season – his poor opponent Arnold had no answer to a tactical blow that yielded a pawn. A second pawn fell and as Dead-Eye relentlessly improved his position, Arnold called time and Hammer moved to Warp One at 7.5-0.5
The last two Hammer gauchos could not wait to join the landslide party.
Matteo was in fine fettle. He played a positional masterpiece with the black king imprisoning his rook on h8. Further indignity was inflicted with a bishop on h6 imprisoning the king and a passed pawn on d6 supported by a rook on d1 and the second rook on e1 and an open file. Back rank mates abounded and his opponent realised the cause was futile. Hammer at Warp 5 and 8.5-0.5
Returning to the Hammer colours on board 10 saw the Gift playing his second game for Hammer 1. Playing with the black pieces he simply built an unstoppable king-side attack that yielded a passed pawn that marched all the way to g2. This paralysed the white king, rook and knight he had to stop this monster from queening. The Gift then switched his king to mopping up the remaining white pawns. This was dominating chess and he graciously accepted the white flag and moved Hammer to Warp Speed 9.5
A hugely impressive night by the Hammer Crew. A result that will not be forgotten for a long time by our noisy – but excellent – neighbours. Clueless is reaching zen level – inner peace is within touching distance.
My thanks and congratulations to the Hammer heroes who really grabbed the moment in both matches.
Four games to go until mission end and Hammer are in charge of their own destiny. Next up are Albany on the 30th April and Clueless will be mailing out shortly.
Hammer 1 are the new definition of Mean Machine.
Here for your delight is the current League 3 table:
Admittedly, it has been slightly longer than a week since our last round, but who’s counting!
Without further ado – our congratulations goes to Jim “Loco” Stevenson with the first correct answer in our last Puzzle. It was a lovely little thinker, with the solution as follows:
2. dxc5, O-O-O+ (leaving the Black King primed to take white’s Rook on next move)
Our master-quiz-setter Carsten noted, “It was really just an excuse to plug the Dutch author Tim Krabbe’s fantastic chess page. Forged the dated labour and lack of presentation, the content is probably the best of any chess site on the net.
While Carsten & Co. concoct some more fiendish puzzles, we bring you a writeup by our Correspondent of the Year 2018 of last week’s London Div 5 game. Enjoy!
11.04.18 – London Division 5: Hammersmith v Lewisham
Welcome to Charlie Sturt, who debuts this season for our Division 5 team, but has already campaigned in other leagues.
This match started off with our small team being in the middle third of the league. Comes to the penultimate match of the season and we’re in the bottom quarter. So it is with much relief that I can report a great win, almost a slam dunk, with a 3-1 score over Lewisham. Read on for the unexpectedly good news.
Our opponents, losing the toss, meant we were White on odd boards. I was preoccupied with my game and so saw little of anyone else’s game, so their commentary has been included here.
Chris (as Black) on board two, adopted something akin to the French Defence (Exchange Variation). After skirmishing on the queenside, Chris craftily prevented his opponent from castling, using his bishop. White tried to shield his king with a bishop on e2, but Black piled on the pressure on that square. While White mustered every piece he could in its defence, it was to no avail and Black delivered checkmate finally, slipping queen and bishop through the hapless defenders. First blood to Hammersmith and congrats to Chris! 1-0
On board one, Nadhmi (as White) was up against a seasoned veteran looking for revenge after a previous defeat, and things looked very tough for Nadhmi in this game. Early on Black sacrificed a bishop for a pawn to attack White’s castled king. Black then forked White’s king and a rook with a knight. White however persevered and, fortifying his centre, was able to get counterplea against Black, who had not castled. Nadhmi started swapping of pieces and pawns. The end was inevitable, with king, knight and pawn against a king alone. Black resigned after the pawn was queened. 2-0 to Hammersmith.
Charlie, on board four, played very cautiously against a seasoned opponent. Charlie, employing quiet positional strategy, built up considerable advantage. His opponent had no chance and eventually succumbed. Hammersmith 3-0
On board three, the captain looked like he was getting into trouble after fumbling against an obscure defence, 1.e4 d6, known as the Pirc. But as the middle game progressed, he was having a slight advantage, since he had a strong knight at d5, and Black had issues with king safety. White sacrificed a bishop for two pawns and White was doing fine, albeit 20 minutes down on the clock.
The first deadline came and went, with about even clock times. All queens and rooks were present, but Black had two stymied bishops facing a mere knight. White continued blocking Black attempts to free his pieces. Finally, after White lost a pawn by mistake in the centre, Black started to push the e and f-pawns to the 5th.
White was strategically lost. In the dying last two minutes, Black suddenly sacked his queen for the c3 pawn, protected by White’s queen, but the White queen was guarding the back row square b1 against checkmate, so couldn’t take the Black queen. White found a rook check, instead – but White, realising his mistake, reflected on the correct check. Yes, the sacrificial Black queen on c3 could in fact be taken (QxQ+!), with check on h7, and Black would have lost.
White was so chagrined, he’d had enough, and the flag on his clock cruelly dropped. So much for strategy, blunders quickly settled it!
The Hammer train never stops, and none more so than this week. We’ve got a great set of updates for you to read through – it’s a long one, so make sure you read all the way to the bottom!
Thames Valley Cup v Richmond – Semi-Final Result
Hammersmith League – Round II
Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II
The John White Drinking Club Bury St Edmunds Visit
Thames Valley Cup – One Win From Glory!
First up, in some superb BREAKING NEWS this week, we are delighted to report that our Thames Valley team superbly navigated their Semi-Final against Richmond this week, winning 3.5-2.5 to make it through to the FINAL of the Cup Competition!!
This is a superb achievement – it’s a brutal knockout competition with no second-legs, so it really is a case of putting everything on the line each round. Massive congratulations must go to Captain Bajrush and the rest of the squad for this marvellous achievement.
We’ll be facing the titans of Harrow, or Kingston in the final – full details to follow. It promises to be an absolute CRACKER!
Hammersmith League – Round II – Dispatches from the Battlefront
The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at the Anvil. The first round had seen some blood-thirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts. What would the second round reveal about the teams and their captains?
A dramatic night once again unfolded… I invite you to read on.
Round II threw up the following match-ups:
Battersea v Hammersmith Circus
SW Juniors v The Hammerheads
The first of these encounters saw two teams who had experienced very different results in round one. Battersea had negotiated a very tricky encounter with the SW.
The Circus had a bruising encounter with their fellow Hammerites – the ferocious sounding Hammerheads. In a full-blooded encounter they went down 8-2 with only Captain Ben preventing the dreaded double-bagel scoreline of 5-0 and 5-0. They needed to bounce back hard if they were to have any chance of fighting for the title.
I think when the chips are down and your back is against the wall, then the Hammer characteristics of tenacity and sheer grit shine through. We do not go quietly into the night.
To the match – this is a real tale of blood and guts. No draws. All results decisive.
Gokhan had a tough task on board one and tried his best, but he was taking on a 194 and sadly for his team, it was too much of an ask.
However, this was the only blip in an otherwise excellent performance by the Circus team. The tale of the tape was seven victories and just a solitary defeat. The Circus Crew are back in the mix!
The second game saw the SW Juniors take on the in-form Hammerheads. Confidence was high in the Hammerhead camp, especially after their thrashing of the Circus in round one.
What followed was a bitterly contested match with the Juniors not backing down, and in the end, deservedly winning 5.5-4.5
Alexander again starred, and is now on 100% for the tourney, although he had to rescue two inferior positions against Simon. I felt sorry for Simon because he deserved better from the chess he produced. Caissa can be cruel!
Dave suffered a bit of a debacle in the first game with Connal but was back to his best in the second leg and won in good style.
Pouya had a little too much experience for Charlie and won their mini-match 1.5-0.5. This one was definitely down to experience and an older, wiser head.
Wyatt overwhelmed Taymour in the first game and confidence was high for the return encounter. However, these Juniors do not get down. When they lose, they just shrug it off, and come back twice as hard. Taymour played an excellent game and earned a well-merited revenge win.
In the final lineup Nadim and Laith shared the points with some unbelievable blunder and counter-blunder sequences mixed in with some excellent chess.
The SW Juniors had come through a tough examination and not only demonstrated chess acumen way beyond their years, but also a grit and resolve that is uncommon in ones so young. They will become even more formidable chess players in the future, is the only conclusion this correspondent can come to.
So, it is all change in the League table and again there is all to play for in the next and FINAL round, with three teams in the running for the title of Champions.
Tune in for the next instalment!!
The Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II
A very late update!!
In the absolute avalanche of matches and events in February, this important new item got missed! The second round of our internal blitz tourney took place on the 12th February at the Anvil. This is a quick update on the events of that evening.
Twenty-three Hammerites and one guest turned up for the second leg of our tri-tourney series to contest and vie for the title of Hammer Blitz Tourney Champion. One of the largest turnouts in the modern version of this event.
Superbly organised by Club Captain Adam, we were divided into four groups for the all-play-all section.
The qualifiers from the groups were: Thomas, Charlie, Carsten, Alexander, Bajrush, Mohammed (a guest for the evening), Tony and your reporter John W.
The knock-out secant saw Thomas, Carsten, Bajrush and Tony, who respectively beat Charlie, Alexander, Mohammed and John W.
The big-four had made it through to the semi-finals.
In a throw-back to yesterday the two semi-finals yielded Bajrush and Carsten as the winners. A definite case of deja vous! God knows how many blitz games these two stalwarts of the club have contested over the years!
The critical significance would be if Bajrush triumphed, he would have sealed the title with one round to go.
However, Caissa took a hand and Carsten took the win and kept the destiny of the 2017-18 Hammer Blitz Champion still up for grabs.
A great night of blitz and lots of congratulations to all who took part.
Here is the scoreboard so far:
All this means that there is still all to play for!!
Remember, it is your two best scores that count – so roll on the final leg after our AGM on the 4th June. All Hammer make a note!
Hammer Goes Mad in Suffolk and Cambridge
Yes, the Hammer Crew were off on their travels and using the old excuse of a ‘chess challenge’ as cover for excessive beer consumption.
The chess part of this tale came about by pure chance. Paul Mustafa, one of our new members, had entered the Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress, and the organiser – Steve Lovell – contacted me to discuss what his estimated grade should be so he could be entered in the correct competition. During the course of a series of emails, your correspondent chucked in the idea of a challenge match sometime in 2018.
Steve responded positively and matters escalated from there. The date, format and venue were set and agreed – the Hammer Crew were taking on the powerhouse of Suffolk chess.
First, I must acknowledge the work and effort put in by Steve and the Bury St Edmunds club, who were most welcoming and hospitable. They really put the boat out for us and I am very grateful. Steve is not only a first-class bloke, but is possessed of a fantastically calm temperament. Despite me having three late withdrawals he did not throw a fit but just kept calm & carried on!
What follows is the story of a chess challenge match, but it was so much more than that – it was about Hammer camaraderie, new friendships and beer.
The weekend started early Friday with the tale of Hammerites in three cities: London, Bury St.Edmunds and Cambridge.
The London crew consisted of Bajrush and Alex, who travelled up early Saturday for the match.
Two of our new guys – Wyatt and Charlie – spent an excellent Friday night in Bury St. Edmunds.
Whilst the Cambridge party Friday night mob consisted of some of the worst elements in Hammer Chess history – namely Carsten, ChrisSkulte, Adam and Clueless. They were joined by another reprobate called Ryszard fora night of beer and curry. For once I am proud to put my name to the events of that evening – yes, the John White Drinking Club (c) was officially out. The guys were out on the town.
For those beer aficionados, Cambridge has an excellent array of watering holes. Chris and Clueless joined the party late afternoon. Our leader for the night was the Great Dane himself – King of Knowledge and Chess Wisdom – the one and only Carsten. But, most importantly for our purposes, a genius at finding excellent pubs to drink in. The fact he had been drinking since midday testifies not only to his love of beer, but his redoubtable stamina.
We played a bit of chess and drank a couple of pints at the Kingston Arms. This was followed by a visit to the superb Calverley’s brewery and finishing up at the Cambridge Blue. The quality of beer was top-drawer and the company sensational. Finally, just before 11pm, Carsten departed and the survivors found a curry house.
I have to confess, the rest of the night was a total blank – I have no memory of getting to my hotel. All in all, a great night and perfect training for our chess challenge the next day.
By foot, bicycle, train and automobile, the Hammer team assembled at the Moreton Community Hall in Bury St. Edmunds to defend the honour of Hammersmith Chess Club.
We were greeted by Steve and the rest of their team with decent coffee and tea supplies on hand (accepted most gracefully the semi-hungover Hammerites!).
Steve gave an excellent greeting speech and explained the days activities and rules. Clueless responded in kind and presented each of the Bury players with a Knight lapel pin, and put on the display the Hammer Chess Challenge Trophy – the prize for the winning team.
The Hammer team consisted of, in board order:
Carsten – The Great Dane
Ryszard – Breslau
Chris – Sydney
Bajrush – Wily
John – Clueless
Adam – Pickle
Alex – Cola
Charlie – Sorted
Wyatt – Gandalf
The long play time control was 36 moves in 80 minutes, plus 15 minutes, with a 15 sec increment per move.
The niceties were done & dusted, and the challenge began.
First game to finish was your correspondent playing the white side of an Advanced French, I kept a tight lid on matters and essentially constricted my opponent to the back two ranks. He failed to make any pawn break and I simply moved over to the attack which played itself. Hammer on the scoreboard: 1-0
Next to finish was Charlie who manoeuvred into a position where he had a slight edge. He could have taken the draw, but he wanted more. As is sometimes the case when you push too hard, you can get burned, and sadly for Charlie and Hammer that’s what happened. In the analysis room afterwards Charlie, on balance, won his case and could have gained an advantage. Hammer pegged back to 1-1
Chairman Wily then joined the fun and triumphed in a really well-played middle game. He got a passed-pawn, then his knight and rook went to work. Victory was assured and Hammer went back in front: 2-1
There then followed three quick results consisting of two Hammer wins and a draw.
Gandalf won nicely, netting a piece on the way and keeping everything under control. Cola also played a really nice game where in the end he was just one move short for victory. His opponent got a perpetual and the point was shared. It was great to see Alex back playing for Hammer and in a long-play format.
Sydney had an excellent win against a Dragon, where he demonstrated convincingly what white can do when black slightly mislays the opening. Chris was in superb form and finished the game off in style. Hammer now leading at 4.5-1.5
Hammer secured the match when Ryszard (Breslau) finished strongly after being under pressure during the first half of the game, but a neat combination allowed him to net a rook and the point. A brilliant debut performance for Hammer.
The final two games saw Carsten triumph when his opponent was flagged. However, The Great Dane was a pawn up and the only possible winner. It was an excellent performance by Carsten and his opponent Ed was a very gracious loser.
Adam’s game was the last to finish and his game would grace any collection of thematic study games. His opponent Steve Lovell, tried everything to win but Adam was resolute in his defence. The rare finish of just a white knight and rook versus a black king and knight was the result. Steve tried hard to win but Adam held fast and did not allow his knight and king to be separated. The draw was agreed after numerous moves.
So, the final score was a Hammer win by 7-2 in what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable and friendly contest.
There was a break before the afternoon blitz tournament, during which Hammer were presented with a signed copy of the history of Bury St.Edmunds Chess Club. Club stalwart Laurie gave a wonderful speech with some terrific anecdotes. Here are just a couple:
The original club was founded in the 1860’s – it is nearly 100 years older than Hammer!
There are details of Capablanca’s 1919 simultaneous in Bury St.Edmunds
And perhaps best of all, Laurie himself was born at Queen Charlotte Hospital in Hammersmith. I always knew there was a connection between our clubs.
The afternoon was a frenetic affair with Alex and Ryszard opting out.
It was really fun with Steve doing his best to pair a Bury and Hammer player in the early rounds. In the end, as per usual, the Hammer blitz champion Wily surged to victory – overcoming all before him. The frustrating thing for me was I was a piece up against him and still contrived to lose! He really is Mr Blitz.
The day finished with both clubs enjoying the delights of the Nutshell (the smallest pub in the whole of the UK) and the Old Cannon Brewery.
The drink and the chat were all good and we departed our new friends late into the night. There was many a tired but happy Hammer who made it home.
Once again, I must thank Steve, Laurie and all at Bury St Edmunds – they are a superb club and I look forward to inviting them to a challenge match next year at The Anvil. All I can say is Bring it on!
Finally, a quick advertisement for the beautiful town of Bury St Edmunds. A stunning Suffolk town steeped in history and culture. If you have not been there, it is definitely worth a visit.
Welcome back chess-fans – read on for details of the triumphant return of the Hammersmith League from it’s long hiatus, and a blistering write up of a make-or-break game in Middlesex Division 3…
The Hammersmith League
“A Brief History of How, Why and Round One”
The fifty-six year old history of Hammersmith Chess Club is both rich and varied. In our halcyon days, one of the most important competitions the club ran was the Hammersmith League. This was a long-play format that involved local clubs, but it sadly fell into decline and finally ceased, as the fortunes of chess clubs in West London withered.
It was always the desire of the current Committee when the club was reinvigorated and financially sound, to resurrect the League. The big question was how we could make it different to what is currently out there, and give it a modern, relevant twist.
The answer lay in the rapid grade you can now obtain as an ECF member. There was nothing out there – League wise – that would allow members to attain a rating – plus the idea that this should be an exclusive competition for players graded around 100.
After consultation with SW London Juniors and our frenemies at Battersea, we launched the League on the 19th March 2018. For this inaugural competition, four teams are involved – Battersea, SW Juniors, and two from Hammer. The competition will be played over three nights in March and April and the basic rules are as follows:
Teams of five boards
Average grade for the team to be no higher than 114 ECF
Time controls – 30 minutes plus 15 second increment per move (the club’s decision to purchase digital clocks earlier this year made this possible)
All players to be ECF members and all games to be graded
A double-header – you play the same opponent twice, once as black and once as white
To be played over three nights on the 19th March, 9th April and the 30th April
I must acknowledge at this stage the help from Leon and Gregg at Battersea, Tony at SW Juniors and Adam our Club Captain, in realising the new League. Plus, due to helping out our Thames Valley team on the night, Tony Niccoli ran the first evening for me… hugely appreciated.
So, Hammer needed two new captains – and I am happy to report both Wyatt and Ben stepped up to the plate. We were ready to go!
The first round draw saw Battersea take on SW Juniors and the Hammerheads (Team Wyatt) take on their compatriots Hammersmith Circus (Team Ben).
The SW Juniors was a tense affair that went back and forth across the two matches. In the end it finished 5-5 and honours even. Notable performances were seen from SW Junior stars Alexander Jamieson and Taylor Auchi, both convincing winners at 2-0. Whilst Battersea stars Josef-Milne-Lewer and Joe Sullivan returned 2-0 victories as well.
The last match-up saw Gregg and young Connal contest two hard-fought draws. The match scorecard is given below:
Alexander Jamieson 2 – 0 Darius Zutautas
Teymour Harandi 0 – 2 Josef Milne-Lewer
Connal McBrinn 1 – 1 Gregg Hutchence (two draws)
Kirill Povarenkin 0 – 2 Joe Sullivan
Taylor Auchi 2 – 0 Perto Yusoff
The Hammersmith derby match now took centre stage.
Two new teams and two new captains. There is nothing like lording it over your fellow club mate. There was pride, bragging rights and a bit of putting-in-your-place on the line.
Truth be told it was a bit one-sided with the Hammerheads demonstrating a ferocious appetite for points. Worthy of certain Premier League champions elect.
The final results are not pleasant for Team Circus:
Charlie Sturt 2 – 0 Shiraz Suntook
David Lambert 2 – 0 Alex Meynell
Simon Harding 2 – 0 Dipender Gill
Wyatt Donaldson 2 – 0 Ken Kwabiah
Nadim Osseiran 0 – 2 Ben Rothwell
The Hammerheads triumphing 8-2 and surging to the top of the table. Their top four boards completing 2-0 sweeps and only Captain Ben heroically holding the line and preventing a whitewash.
London League 2 Captain Dave Lambert was in ruthless form and exploited the understandable rustiness of Alex Meynell. Exclusively, for Hammer Chess, he sharedshis thoughts on the two games:
Game 1 (Dave as Black) – we both fianchettoed King-side and then a bit of a standoff occurred in the middle until I grabbed the initiative with my e7-e5 pawn push. This ultimately left me a pawn up after I threatened a cheapshot mate with a Queen/Bishop battery, forcing Alex on the defensive. Alex also got himself into time trouble as he persistently forgot to press the clock! As we entered an endgame slightly favourable to me, he timed out.
Game 2 (Dave as White) – Alex defended with an unusual variation of the Petrov defence which allowed an exchange of Queen and minor piece each, but at the expense of damaging Black’s pawn structure. Perhaps somewhat prematurely, I raided forwards with a Rook which snagged a pawn at the expense of wasting several moves finding a safe square to retreat it to.
I entered an endgame with the slight edge but significantly down on time. It was soon a Knight and several pawns apiece, but White had the better centralised King which proved crucial as we entered the final minute. The Black King eventually ended up with two masters – preventing the pawn promotion and guarding his Kingside pawns. It was too much to bear or take, and Alex’s resignation followed very quickly.
Thus, after round one the Cross table and League Standings are as follows:
That is Round One folks, with more to come. There is still all to play for and some crucial, crunch games to come.
Bring on Round 2! John.
03.04.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Muswell Hill v Hammersmith
The team travelled to Muswell Hill’s brand new pub venue knowing that this game would make or break our season. The game was just as important for our opponents, and as with most second teams at this stage of the season, both teams were slightly weakened by ineligibility.
It was the perfect opportunity for Tommaso to make his debut for the team on board one. He was playing Muswell Hill’s newly-graduated youngster, and a wild tactical struggle ensued. With crazy variations in the air, Tomasso coolly navigated the position and entered a Queen & Knight vs. two Rooks endgame. This he won with relative ease – a superb performance that set the scene for the remaining games. 1-0
John on board two was the only player out graded on the night. He entered a classic closed position with a good Knight vs. bad Bishop. He could possibly have pushed his fractional edge, but sensibly decided instead to take the draw. 1.5-0.5
Alexander had an evening to forget. He found himself in an opening he did not know and fell into trap after trap. Two pawns fell in quick succession, and then a piece. His King was hopelessly stranded in the centre of the board and although he defended tenaciously, the writing was on the wall. 1.5-1.5
Nadhmi had the black pieces on board four, and elected to play a solid defence. Both he and his opponent were on top form, and neither faltered. In the end a draw was the correct result. 2-2
Brian on board four found himself a piece down in the early-middlegame. He had decent compensation, however, and pressed his opponent to find some difficult moves. Eventually the extra piece proved decisive and Brian went home empty-handed. 2-3 #squeakybumtime
I faced the tricky 3.Nf3 Scandinavian,and could not recall any of my preparation. In trying to transpose into a line I knew better, my opponent built up a huge centre with c4 and d5, restricting my pieces to the back rank. Fortunately this was where my luck turned: instead of attacking my weak pawns or uncastled King, my opponent decided to slowly develop his remaining pieces to some passive squares, allowing me to untangle and address my weaknesses. The game ended abruptly with a fairly elementary piece-winning tactic, and to my relief I had undeservedly scored a win. 3-3
Charlie was facing none other than his former maths teacher! After Queens were exchanged, Charlie confidently marched his King to the centre of the board, and attempted to checkmate his opponent with his Rooks and Knight! The tactic did not quite go according to plan, and the players started repeating moves while trying to calculate alternative paths. Eventually the Knight was swapped for a Bishop, but Charlie’s pawn majority on the Queenside came under attack. The maths teacher decided to test Charlie’s arithmetic, offering a draw while three pawns down! Charlie politely declined, and delivered mate on the h-file two moves later. 4-3
Dave on board 8 played a complicated opening, with both players expending a lot of time to reach a middle game position where Dave was a fair bit better. Dave realised he had to speed up his play, but his opponent decided his best strategy was to slow down. As the last game to finish, with all spectators watching the seconds ticking down, only one player in the room was surprised when the flag dropped. 5-3
Go Hammer! The victory means the team is all but guaranteed promotion with a game to spare!
The remaining permutations are mind-boggling. In short, Willesden have to still to play Hendon, and Muswell Hill have still to play KingsHead (twice), so only one of each pair could possibly reach eight points.
Even in this rare scenario, and even if we lose our last game, we’d still have a strong chance of promotion based on game points, penalty points, or the league that no club can have three teams in a division.
A huge thanks to all 24 players who have contributed to the team thus far this season. The coveted MVP certificate is being hotly contested by Charlie, Ken, Ben, Simon and John. If any of these players win in our 12th match (and the other four don’t), the prize will be his!
We are definitely approaching the business end of the competition now, with even matchups every week and games generally going to form. There’s still plenty of jostling for position & honours to be done though!
All but one of the Round VI games were won with the black pieces – highly unusual! There were sadly no huge upsets this time, with Bajrush and Marios extending their lead at the top, and Simon justifying his 146 January grade with a good win over DaveLambert.
The full results table makes for an interesting read:
The penultimate round offers up some juicy pairings – not least the Battle of the Hammer League Captains – two in-form players, Wyatt v Ben.
Please contact your opponents ASAP and arrange a suitable time to play, and let the tournament controllers know the result before the end of the month.
April Fools’ – he wasn’t really dead! (Happy Easter!)
With that out of the way, let’s get down to some chess updates. March ended with some mixed results for our teams – match reports follow. We’re also really excited to be able to share a very interesting evening at Battersea Chess Club coming up tomorrow – Tuesday 3rd April – and some details on the ever-growing casual chess scene at Hammersmith. Read on!
Middlesex Division 3 v. Willesden
London Division 6 v. Battersea
Middlesex Division 2
Battersea Hand & Brain Night
Hammersmith Social Chess
26.03.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Willesden & Brent v Hammersmith
From a captain’s point of view, Monday’s match v Willesden started several days before the first move was made. We knew we needed to field a strong team to stand a chance of winning, and eight of the best Hammerites were fit and ready to demonstrate our mettle on away turf. On Friday, the opponents announced their venue was shut & promptly called the match off… before asking to play at our place instead. Game back on!
After assuring me they would only be able to field seven players, I was a bit perplexed when they turned up with eight. Coupled with several members of our team being drafted into the firsts at the last minute, I was left scrambling for players – a big thanks to Ben, Eva and Wyatt, who stepped in at the last minute.
We were well out graded on every board, but played some good chess.
On Board One, Brian missed a piece-winning tactic that would have ended the game. After that, a few inaccuracies in time trouble led to a painful, but ultimately hard-fought loss:
Yours truly got a nice position out of the opening on the black side of a London System. Ultimately, my lack of a concrete plan and unwillingness to give up material cost the game:
Alexander played a very nice endgame which culminated in his opponent’s King walking into checkmate:
Pouya narrowly lost as well, so it was down to our lower order to try and salvage something from 3-1 down. They came very close – Ben, Jeremy and Wyatt made well-earned draws, and Eva pickup up her first win for the club.
So we ended the night second best – losing by a single point.
We go into our last two games in a four-way race for the two promotion spots. Next up is a crunch match against Muswell Hill, which may well determine our fate.
27.03.18 – London Division 6: Battersea v Hammersmith (Hedger)
Hammersmith Hedger suffered our heaviest defeat of the season this week, going down 3.5-0.5 to arch-rivals Battersea.
Robin played black on Board One, securing the half-point. Having a solid setup, he held the position, giving away very little, ultimately settling for a draw in a King & pawn ending.
Nick played black on Three, having two active Bishops. However he had saddled himself with three isolate pawns and ended up resigning after losing the exchange. In Nick’s defence, he was facing an opponent the best part of 30-points higher than himself.
John’s opponent gave up the exchange to open an attack on John’s King. John defended it well and adjourned. However, after reviewing the adjourned position he decided the position was lost and resigned without resuming.
Dan on Board Four had worked his way into a decent position, however he ended the evening very disappointed as he fell for a mate.
28.03.18 – Middlesex Division 2
No match report for this one, but we are delighted to report a Hammersmith victory, 4.5-3.5, which means promotion to Division 1 is near-guaranteed.
Great to see both teams enjoying a bit of post-game conviviality afterwards too – the spirit of chess alive & well!
Hand & Brain Night – Battersea Chess Club – Tuesday 3rd April (tomorrow!), 7.15pm
Our good friends and noisy neighbours down in Battersea will be hosting a chess-quiz-double-header this Tuesday evening from 7.15pm down at their home venue (the Battersea Labour Club, 5 minutes from Clapham Junction – cheapest pints in London!).
Full details on their website – link below – but in brief, there’ll be a bit of a “guess-who” round of famous chess players, followed by an eight-round tournament, all of which will count towards your points total for the evening.
It’s an activity aimed at all levels – new players will be paired with stronger players to make it as balanced as possible – sounds like fun to us!!
Entry: free! Contact: email@example.com – to confirm your spot Start Time: 7.15pm sharp – there’s a lot to get through! Location: Battersea Labour Club, Falcon Road, SW11 2PF
Hammersmith’s Burgeoning Casual Chess Scene!
And last but not least, we wanted to let everyone know about our extremely popular and ever-growing casual chess scene!
Started by a handful of enthusiasts from the club, we are now seeing regular meetups on weekends and during the week, of like-minded individuals who want to enjoy a bit of chess, often (but not always!) in a pub with a drink or two.
It’s a really fun, social & ever-evolving – and we want to encourage it as much as possible! If you’d like to get involved please get in touch with our man (mostly) at the helm, John White: firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message and we’ll add you to the Club WhatsApp group (aptly named “HammerTime“), where most of this gets arranged (30 people and growing!).