April Updates from Planet Hammer

Welcome dear readers – it’s been a while! Please read on for a slew of match updates, and the conclusion of this Season’s Hammersmith League!

The North London Trilogy – March 2019 – Disaster and Foundation

This is a painful report that has been delayed by your correspondent as it was truly a case of March madness. This report from Middlesex 2 and 1 sectors, makes grim reading and is a tough one to put down on paper let alone a website.

Hammer 2 took on Muswell Hill 2 and Hendon 3 in bruising encounters whilst the ray of light was shone by Middlesex 1 – in a bloodthirsty encounter with a real powerhouse Hendon 1 – in possibly the most heroic performance since Horatius defended the Pons Sublicus in the 6th Century AD. Total Clueless hyperbole you may say, but wait and read the full report.

Furthermore, the use of Foundation in the title of this report is a nod to the Foundation Trilogy written by Isaac Asimov and arguably the most influential Sci-Fi series ever written. The story of the Foundation being the shining light preserving knowledge and science as a decaying imperial empire unwinds, contrasts very well with the Hammer and Hendon chess clubs. I leave you to decide which is which.

Middlesex 2 needed a win against Muswell Hill to keep up in the battle against relegation. As you can see from the scorecard we just fell short. It was a tough night for the Hammers and the result was in doubt right down to the last seconds of the final game to finish.

First to the Hammer heroes – Javier S and Paul M – both played great games with Javier allowing zero counter-play whilst gradually squeezing his opponent – it was a commanding performance. Paul M played a model endgame and was able to convert his plus pawn advantage into a good technical win.

There were draws for Eddy, Neil and Captain Clueless. The first two played very solidly and were never in danger, whilst Clueless overlooked a queen manoeuvre in the Scotch which might have yielded a win – such is chess.

Tough losses for both Charlie and Javier G with the latter though a pawn down, had the initiative and all the pressure. Due to my own game I did not see what happened but it was sudden and hence I can only put it down to an error on Javier’s part, it was just one of those games.

Charlie decided to be aggressive form the start and was launching his K-side pawns up the board against the castled white King. A tactic much utilised by our beloved Chairman. Unfortunately, his King was not safe and his opponent took full advantage – Charlie was left with a passive position and little could be done to save the day.

The most impressive performance of the night was that of Paul K – aka “Dead Eye” – he played a game that reminded me of Fischer in the second game of the 1992 rematch with Spassky. Through sheer gutsy defence and tenacity, he emerged a pawn up in an endgame which saw white with rook, bishop and knight versus Paul’s two knights.

Dead-Eye gradually improved his position and started the march of his passed pawns – alas the position was so complicated he consumed too much time on his clock. I think there was a study-like win there, but would have required a Magnus Carlsen to find it. In the end searching for the firebird, our man went down in flames – he was so unlucky.

The second encounter that week saw the Hammer 2 team travel to a nemesis of ours – Hendon 3. Clueless could not attend and Brian stepped into the breach and took control of the team. This was the grimmest of nights where the Hammer heroes were out-graded on average by approximately 40 points a board.

The score-card tells the story – a really tough night for Hammer 2 – no disguising it.

All I can say is I feel your pain and was frustrated not to be there.

The only way to respond to this is to move on – we and especially Captain Clueless, will do better next time.

The ray of sunshine was the following scorecard from Middlesex – Hammer 1 lead by the legend that is Zeus.

The Hammer crew took on the winners of the Middlesex League for the last eight season – Hendon 1. Just take a look at the score-card – Hammer were out-graded by 44 points a board – Hendon fielded two of England’s top 15 players on the top two boards.

Zeus had trouble getting a full team out – Sorted and Clueless answered the call to arms, yet we came within a half point of drawing the match – and in some ways we should have won it.

There were huge wins for Carsten, Bajrush and Zeus – all three downing opponents whose ECF rating is something you do not see every day of the week.

One of the abiding memories of the night is the sight of all seven Hammer players surrounding the board as Carsten found his way to a deserved win. This was real Hammer spirit from the lads and a stellar performance from Carsten. This is what makes a club and a team – you could feel the collective will in the room. There was only the non-playing captain from the Hendon side to urge their man on. To me, that is what Hammer is all about.

Please forgive the scarcity on detail here but my game was totally absorbing and demanding.

Board One saw Chris take on GM John Hawkins, British Chess Champion from 2015, despite downing an IM in the last 4NCL weekend, this was a bridge too far for Chris. He was also unwell and answered the call to arms despite that – he is a true Hammer and Tiger blood.

Board 2 saw Thomas lose on time to an IM rated 247 – the fact was he had made it to a drawn position – he was so unlucky. Unreal performance.

Our Great Dane on board 3 just won by accumulating pawns – he harvested well and scored a superb win.

Bajrush, played a dream of end0game where his opponent was relying on error to save the day. Wily was just so technically right and scored a decisive win – just brilliant.

Sylvain, was also under time pressure and it cruelly robbed him of a deserved draw – he was so unlucky.

Zeus on board 6 was in his best form – he basically won at a canter. It was superb – Hammer at this stage were level on the scoreboard.

Charlie was out-graded by 60 points, he defended the black side in a French and although two pawns down put up a great fight. He did Hammer proud.

Clueless on board seven should have won – the fact he did not has haunted him for the past 8 days. I basically outplayed a guy graded 58 points higher than me – this was possibly the best chess I have ever played. I was gutted that all I achieved was a draw – but it was a pure failure of technique. This was the position:

I thought I could win by chopping the rook off and grabbing the pawn – then I would gain the opposition and Queen my pawn – I was so wrong. Put it into Stockfish and see how the brain wins it.

This Middlesex 1 result was probably the best performance by any Hammer team in our 57-year history – we put in an average team rating of 216 across all eight boards – amazing.

Hammer is going in the right direction – doing it the right way – our best days are ahead of us. Our new tagline on the web site is “More than a chess club” – this is what we are.

Hammer Royalty enjoying the delights of the Duke of Cornwall after the Hendon 3 encounter.

So there is light in this report and possibly the start of something very special. Captain Clueless urging all Hammers to stay true and keep the faith.

1st April 2019 – Staines A vs Hammersmith B

This match took place in a very prosperous part of Surrey, in Egham – read on about our adventures there!

A country walk that is quite remarkable is that from Egham to Runnymede, where the Magna Carter was signed. Egham is a satellite hamlet a few miles from Staines, that has accumulated much wealth over the years as a prosperous commuter centre to Londinium.

We welcome Christof Brixel who debuts to our team in this match, on board one. Here are his comments:

“It was not a fairly tale start of my retirement and of my first game for Hammersmith.

It was not as I envisaged, losing in 3 tough hours when my opponent avoided all mating tricks (or I didn’t find the ultimate winner)”

The critical moment in his game follows: can white win?

Nadhmi had the black pieces on board 2. His opponent was FIDE-rated, ex-Olympiad and a chess coach, according to credible sources. Nadhmi’s mum takes up the story:

“She played the London system and developed a strong centre… eventually Nadhmi broke the centre open and laid a trap… she fell for a fork, losing the exchange. The end game was rook and 3x pawns for Nadhmi, against a Rook; it was won, when she flagged.”

Nadhmi said afterwards that he used time to his advantage, he had at least 10 minutes more than her by the end of the game and at times during the game up to 25 minutes more than her early on.

Well done! Everybody else draw, although Jonathan had adjourned first.

We went down to the wire this match and lost by one point: Staines 3.5 – 2.5 Hammer B.

Had I planned properly and got a proper train ticket, and had I beaten the kid with under e100 rating, we might have won, so I award myself the “wooden spoon”.

9th April 2019 – Hammersmith B vs. Staines A

Another week, another report, but why Hercules? Read on…

Hercules, son of the Greek God, Zeus, is turned into a half-god, half-mortal by evil Hades, God of the Underworld, who plans to overthrow Zeus. Hercules is raised on Earth and retains his god-like…

Although he was seen as the champion of the weak and a great protector, Hercules’ personal problems started literally at birth. Hera sent two witches to prevent the birth, but they were tricked… Hera then sent serpents to kill him in his cradle, but Hercules strangled them both!!

Welcome to Andrew Macdonald, a junior who debuts in the team this season.

We had black on top board. First to finish was board 6, Andrew who eclipsed his guy in record time using a 2 piece combo attack to win a rook early on. Nice!

Then came Jonathan Hoong with a draw, about an hour later, from a symmetric rook and minor piece and pawns each, not surprising. Score 1.5-0.5

Then came John White against a seasoned FIDE rated player, S.Schmitt on board 3. Looking about equal for a long time, having 2 doubled rooks in play, perhaps John was winning. But then the rooks got separated, and his opponent got prolonged checks on 7th and 8th ranks with a rook and bishop which John doggedly defended without being mated and without pawn loss.

Eventually though, a pair of rooks were swapped, and pawns were lost, John’s lone rook had an uphill battle against a bishop and 2 or 3 linked passed pawns, one of which queened and he was forced to resign. Score all square at 1.5-1.5

Paul Kennelly had a very tough game but had the edge, down to the wire with minutes to go, right at the end, his opponent somehow left his rook en pris, possibly with Paul having an intermezzo check. He immediately resigned on losing the rook. Well done Paul! 2.5-1.5

Our two juniors Alexander Jamieson on board 1, and Nadhmi Auchi on board 3, got into long endgames that looked like wins, but were inconclusive at the end, a Herculean effort. I thought Nadhmi was winning for a while. Bad luck!

Alexander was facing the Staines captain on board 1, who never let any real advantage occur even in double extra time. Draws reluctantly agreed. Very sporting! 3.5-2.5

Congratulations to Paul K and Andrew M for their wins, which secured our  victory.

Hammersmith League – Round 5 – The Finale 2019

The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at The Anvil. The first four rounds had seen some bloodthirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts with three teams vying for the coveted title of Hammersmith Rapid League Champions.

The maths was simple: if Football Radar win, they would be crowned champions. If they lost, they could be overtaken by either Battersea or Tony’s Tigers. This was the perfect finale to the tourney.

A dramatic night unfolded once again… I invite you to read on.

The final round threw up the following match-ups:

  • Football Radar v Hackney
  • Battersea v Tony’s Tigers
  • Hammersmith v Tony’s Lions
Football Radar v Hackney

To be honest the Radar were in Fischer mode, not only did they sweep the Hackney crew aside but they did so in imperious form… just unstoppable. Great credit to Adam and his teammates, they really won the title in style.

The Radar were unbeaten – scoring 90% in the tourney and winning four matches, with one draw.

Our deserved champions – they have come a long way in less than two  years.

Battersea v Tony’s Tigers

The second match saw the potential challengers face off… Battersea and the Tigers… this was a match of two halves with Nadhmi and Gregg both pocketing two points each in powerful displays.

Battersea won the first round 3-1 but the Tigers reversed that in Round 2. A drawn match was the fair result, with both teams demonstrating great sportsmanship and tenacity.

I must single out Chris Rebbeck here, whose sportsmanship was of the highest quality. A total gent.

Hammersmith v Tony’s Lions

To the final match which was a real fight for honour. A close match ensued between the Hammers and the Lions.. this was the wooden spoon game. What followed was a fascinating match.

In the early kickoff, Amaya over-powered Charlie in both games with a real neat mating finish in game one. The second saw her more experienced technique carry the day. Hammer 2-0 up.

Connall and Ben completed their two drawn games at a rapid pace… the quality was there, it is just they did not hang around. Two draws on the top board.

Dave on Board 2 lost a piece early on to Kamrans and was always on the back foot. Somehow he swindled his way back in and won. I know he felt very guilty about it. It takes great strength of character to come back from that, but Kamran showed loads of it, to comfortably draw the second game.

Debut player Daniel played two excellent games against Nadim to score a 2-0 win… this was a great performance and made the final score 4.5-3.5

The final table:

 

Heaven & Hell in London Division 4

Emerging from a truly – and I’ll have to watch my language here – “disappointing” defeat against Kings Head in round 9, Hammer 2 had a great opportunity to put things right again as we faced up to a quick fire double-header against Wanstead & Woodford and then Metropolitan 4.

Fortunately all is well with the world as we rebounded with a resounding 7-1 WIN vs. Wanstead & Woodford.

How do you follow that? That’s easy – with another 7-1 WIN a week later against Metropolitan 4…

So, first up was Wanstead & Woodford.

A near perfect performance from the Hammer crew, aided in part by the no-show of David’s opponent on Board 6. Nadhmi’s game was particularly interesting to watch (and no doubt painful to play) as he tortured his opponent, Magnus Carlsen style, for 20+ moves searching for that elusive win. Looked drawish to me; he managed to crowbar open the door slightly, but it wasn’t enough.

Brian’s match is presented here; by his own admission a wild example of the O’Kelly Sicilian.

Onto Metropolitan 4:

Another match where we were effectively handed a head start, this time 2-0! Jonathan and David (again) were forced to sit out, with walkovers announced shortly before kickoff. The grading differences also helped (!) but everyone went about their business in the right way and brought home the victory in short order.

It’s worth a word on our 3 debutants on the night – Andrew, Javier and Christof – each scoring the full point apiece.

  • Andrew roundly bested his junior peer in record time, taking advantage of some rash tactics to take a material lead. He’s developing into a player who demands respect over the board.
  • Javier wasn’t far behind, coolly taking advantage of imprecise play from his opponent. He must have been cold as he wore gloves throughout the match…! (but can he do it on a Tuesday night in Stoke?)
  • Christof professionally and methodically ground down his man despite facing a most stubborn of defences from his English counterpart. The Brexit analogies are obvious, but at least Mr.Hamilton had the good grace to shake hands and admit defeat when all hope was lost.

Here’s Christof’s game:

It’s a pleasure captaining you lot! Onto the next one.

Dave.