Can Hammer 1 continue their quest for an unlikely promotion to the top table of London League Chess?? And will the Middlesex and TV teams manage to turn their seasons around?? Read on to find out…
- London League Division 2
- Middlesex Division 2
- Thames Valley Division 2
27.02.19 – London League Division 2: Hammersmith vs. Wanstead & Woodford
“If at first you don’t succeed, hide all evidence that you ever tried”
– David Brent.
In recent weeks the growing momentum generated by our run of London League victories has been accompanied by classic quotes from Greek heroes Leonidas and Achilles. We’ve used the immortal Che line “Hasta La Victoria Siempre” as a call to arms. I have invoked the sporting genius of Bill Shankly and Eric Cantona.
But comrades, I cannot lie to you. Even after a week of reflection, this horrible performance and result against Wanstead remains raw. I think we must take David Brent as today’s inspiration!
As usual, the 48 hours before the match featured a number of call offs. The recurring theme of the season. As ever, I am indebted to those who stepped in at the last minute, or came late directly from work. None more so than Captain Clueless, arriving at the board directly from an exhausting trip to Dublin. The Hammer team spirit remains indomitable.
So to the match. We had a comfortable grading advantage of 10 to 20 points per board. Alas, we all decided to choose this evening to play our worst games of the season. For example, I defended a dull game okay, then blundered a pawn in one move. Paul was just unrecognisable. Others agreed early draws, or struggled to equalise.
Only Bajrush with his customary tactical trickery, and Marios who played an excellent game in the classic style of the legendary Soviet World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik, managed to win.
Marios’ game is presented here, with his commentary below:
“1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3! (This leads to unique positions that most opponents don’t know how to handle.) 4…d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 b6 7. e3 O-O 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Bd3 Bb7 10. Ne2 c5 11. O-O Nbd7 12. Ra2 (Useful waiting move in this system if Black attempts c4 then g4 followed by Ng3 is thematic)12… Rc8 13. Ng3 cxd4 14. cxd4 Re8
15. Qe1! (Guards the weak squares, supports a4-a5 on one side with ideas of Nf5 – Qg3 on the other what more can you expect from a single move?)15… Nf8 16. a4 Ne6 17. a5(Provoking the one-mover)17… Nxd4 18. Bb2 Nc6 19. Nf5 Ne7? (simply losing) 20. Bxf6 gxf6 21. Qh4 Nxf5 22. Bxf5 Rc4 23. Qh6(accurate!) Qc7 24. Bxh7+ Kh8 25. axb6! (playing on both sides Ra7 is useful in some lines since his Queen can’t leave the 7th) 25… axb6 26. e4? (Allows the stubborn Qc5+ and Qf8 the right plan to bring the rooks in the attack is Bf5+ followed by g4 and Rg2)26… dxe4?? 27. Bxe4+ Kg8 28. Qh7+ Kf8 29. Bxb7 1-0
Amazingly the win comes in the opposite flank. “
Still, it came down to the last two games. 4.5-3.5 ahead with two easily won games, the baying Hammer pack surrounded the boards hoping to soon get to the pub to celebrate a lucky win, rather than the abject performance.
It was not to be.
Jeremy’s opponent, who was clearly too weak to understand when one should decently resign, was the beneficiary of a Queen as Jeremy’s flag was about to fall. A time management refresher course beckons…. ? :o)
Finally, John, despite his heroic efforts and his captain’s tetchy insistence, could not squeeze a win from the rapidly diminishing material. So it ended 5-5, a result which reduces our previously sporting change of promotion to a rather remote theoretical possibility.
We may beat Cavendish, but I doubt any other teams will offer much resistance to Imperial College or Metropolitan.
We shall soon see.
Tough Times on the Middlesex Division 2 Sector Battlefront
After the miracle of Valentines Day, Captain Clueless was hoping that some semblance of balance had been restored in this very competitive and tough division.
Sadly, the last days of February brought a huge reversal of fortune and resumed the pattern of 2019 results.
There are no excuses to be offered… except that within a period of 10 days (in reality 8 days if you take into account the weekend) Hammer had to field 11 teams plus the journey to Hendon is a tough old schlepp after a day of work. Adding to the negative side, Captain Clueless had to take personal leave at the critical moment. This all added up to a lethal cocktail of pure trouble and adversity.
For once, Captain Clueless can only say a big thank you to the warriors who turned out for the Ealing 1 match on the Monday, and the five heroes who made it to Golders Green on the Thursday to face the toughest of tasks.
The results were to go as expected when you take all things into consideration.
A 6-2 loss away to Ealing and a 7.5-0.5 away loss to Hendon 4.
The bright spots in this pit of misery and woe are as follows:
- The most welcome debuts of Amaya and Edward in Middlesex 2. I hope they are not too down hearted by their respective results.
- Jonathan scoring the only win against a tough team – great result against a 160.
- Rauno in his debut easily holding a very strong player to a draw.
- Brian scoring the half-point at Hendon
There is no way to sugar coat the bitter pill – Hammer 2 Middlesex are in a dogfight.
We need to score plus 50% in our five remaining matches to secure the prime objective to retain Division 2 status – this is a critical time, and I need all Hammers to answer the call and step up. If Captain Clueless, let alone any other Hammer Captain, asks you to rally to the cause, then please do so without hesitation. This is vital and I urge you all to answer the Call to Arms!
Here is the worrying situation in Division 2:
Hammers – answer the Call of Mother Hammer!
Clueless over & out!!!!
05.03.19 – Thames Valley Division 3: Hammersmith vs. Hounslow B
The Grudge Match v Hounslow B – underdogs win 5-1 Hallelujah!
This match in TV division 3, Hammer B and Hounslow B, was our first home match, and perhaps the fighting spirit and the urge to excel from the other two matches being held at Lytton Hall spread through the packed room and helped dispel any pre-match nervousness.
Welcome to nearly everyone who debuted this team this season: Chris Moore, Ed Goldman, Olivier Vigneron and Jakub Wirecki. Veterans Nadhmi and Matteo (boards 1 and 2) rounded out the very new team.
For the first hour I was encourage to see even positions with quiet manoeuvring for advantage, pretty well on every board; some tactical possibilities would emerge. First to finish was Eddie on board 4 with the black pieces our newest and most congenial club member, followed quickly by Matteo, who came in fashionably late and left early with a nice win. Way to go, Matteo! Would that we could all emulate that!
Nadhmi was pretty even, but towards the end he duped his opponent with a Greek gift and then won a piece and the game soon after.
Our Kuba on board 6 was fighting on against a sleeper, an unrated player playing like a 120 rater, who slowly ground him down. Unlucky. Score 3-1.
On board 3 with the white pieces, Chris (126) has supplied his game narrative of a razor edged match against a 136 opponent:
“I opened with the Queen’s Gambit, which my opponent declined. I put my white-square bishop on d3 while he put his on b7. Seeing a threat I wanted to avoid I moved my knight from f3 to e5 quite early, and following that with a pawn on f4 I ended up being over-extended for the mid-game. The black queen soon went to d5, threatening checkmate and I decided to move my knight back from e5 to f3 to defend. Momentum was with black.
However, a few moves later black missed an opportunity to go a piece up, as he captured a bishop on a1 before removing the defending rook with check.
Time pressure was starting to affect black, and he also seemed agitated which I took to mean he thought he’d missed an opportunity but only later guessed it would be the exchange error I just mentioned.
Soon queen and a rook each were the only pieces on the board, with black having a passed-pawn. However I’d managed to get my queen on the back rank to harass the black king. Black tried some traps to get a back rank mate but after dodging them and then giving my king some space by playing h3, I was able to get both pieces attacking the passed pawn while black had taken his eye off that ball.
With that threat gone and black’s flag about to fall, I put the game beyond doubt after a fork from my queen left his rook with insufficient defenders. Black resigned”
Olivier had reduced to two solid pawn islands and lovely posted knight on d5 against a scattering of weakish pawns and a landlocked bishop. Congratulations for gaining the win with technical mastery over weak pawns.
For your viewing pleasure, here are Matteo and Olivier’s games:
“I was black in a Caro Kann Advanced variation. If white doesn’t attack with 5.Bb5, loses initiative and Black can attack successfully the pawn structure”
“I am a pawn up from the opening (gifted by my opponent). I played a dubious move with Ng4?! on move 12, which he was unable to capitalise on as he only played passive defensive moves for most of the middle game.
His 22nd move Ne3+? gave me a winning endgame which I thought I played accurately but many paths would have ultimately led to victory given the size of the advantage.”
Conclusion: this win brings us to 2 wins in 5 matches, so we still have a way to go to stay in the division. Would that we can keep this up. We were lucky to have Chris this time, who is going from strength to strength.