The Action Keeps Coming

Hammer Major in London Division 5

Question: Are Hammer suffering from an Arsenal, Wenger-variation, December fall-off in form? It has been a tough month so far – particularly this last week. So, could the Major team reverse the trend?

A good result last week for the Hammer squad in Division 5, with a 2.5-1.5 win against a strong Hackney team. With a team scraped together in the last 24 hours, the Hammers rose to the occasion.

Nick playing on board 4 was out graded by 15 points but achieved equality comfortably and was never in trouble – hostilities were brought to an end fairly quickly. A point shared.

Javier, one of our newest members and making his debut in the London League, played a very controlled game demonstrating really good control in the middle-game. He forced his h-pawn through and snaffled his opponent’s bishop in exchange. He then found a really nice simplification sequence that left him a passed-pawn up, and certain victory. Unfortunately, his technique faltered and he allowed a stalemate. It was simply inexperience that robbed him of a deserved victory. He will get stronger, all the ingredients are there that will ensure he will be a great addition to to Hammer ranks. Both teams locked at one point a piece. 

Shiraz had a fascinating game where his central pawn majority was offset by a black queen-side majority. In a frantic closure of the game, both promoted a pawn with Shiraz getting the queen check in first but with only two minutes on the clock. His opponent, despite having 20-plus minutes on the clock, continued to move at lightning speed.

Shiraz held his nerve and then had to deal with an illegal move from his opponent!!

I have never seen what occurred before in a rated chess game, and it is testament to the part nerves play in chess. Shiraz checked the black king which was on b7, with his queen on d7. The Hackney player moved his c6 pawn backwards to c7 to block the check!!

Fortunately, I had finished my game and was able to intervene and resolve things – the clocks were stopped and Shiraz gained two minutes on the clock. However, Shiraz wisely took the draw in a position that could easily have gone wrong, especially with just four minutes on his clock. Teams tied at 1.5-1.5.

I had a game where I equalised very quickly then decided to probe – a bit of Speelman-think was behind my strategy – fortunately my opponent made an error with 24.Qc3 allowing me to win a piece with Bd4. Interestingly, this happened immediately altering making me a draw offer – I think he thought the position was a dead draw and switched off. A fortunate win, but I will take it. 

Here is the game:

This win takes us to joint second place with four games played. 

Captain Clueless (delighted to hand back the team to Rich).

Strikes and Gutters in London Division 4

Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. Such was the case as we succumbed to a disappointing 3-5 defeat to Streatham in London Division 4. That’s a bummer, man.

A disappointing night all round, particularly as our opponents were forced to “mark it zero” on Board 8 before we rolled. But it just felt like it was going to be one of those nights. Chances came and went, with several matches slipping away due to individual blunders. Hard to take, but it’s all part of the game.

Pavel’s was perhaps the clearest example. Rampaging into a clearly winning position early on with Black, menacing through the Kingside defence and up two pawns, before leaving his Queen en prise. It happens, but it’s still a sickener.

Matteo and Simon’s matches played out in similar fashion. Bold attacks that promised much, but the defender found enough resources to survive and suddenly the attacks fizzled into positions where we were simply material down. I felt on another day we might have won both, but that’s just, well, ya know, like, my opinion, man.

Our final faller of the evening was Kostis, who miscalculated a minor piece exchange in the middle game, leaving him 3 points down and scrambling to remain in contention. He ploughed on valiantly, but it always looked an uphill struggle.

Adam once again proved to be “The Dude” though, claiming our solitary victory of the night with another fine win on Board 4. He’s throwing rocks this year. Check out his game here. It felt comfortable watching form afar…. but…

Brian and Sheikh notched up our final tallies with each scoring solid draws. In truth, they both probably had the edge throughout their encounters. Sheikh’s match was even throughout in terms of material, but it was the Hammer man who did all the pressing. A sound defensive display ensured the point was shared. Brian grabbed a pawn advantage with a thrusting attack and held it until the endgame. His opponent’s central two-pawn charge gave him plenty to think about as the clocks ticked down.

That’s it from my lot for 2018, but we’ve got a packed agenda in January so make sure you bounce back from all those mince pies refreshed and ready for action. Looking forward to it.


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