As 2020 draws near, the Hammersmith 2nd team in the Middlesex League should look back positively at 2019 following a positive start to the 19/20 season.
The Middlesex 2nd Division brings forward teams with a wide breadth of opposing strength. This can range from players with 200+ ECF grade to those of below 100. It can make it difficult to set up teams to play against some of these teams, however, a good Hammer is known to play above their perceived grading strength when faced with extreme opposition,
Having finished in second last position in the 18/19 season, we were able to avoid relegation courtesy of the 3rd team being promoted from Division 3. In order to prevent such a calamity from reoccurring, strong early performances would be required. Thankfully we have, so far, achieved it.
To add to the positivity, this has occurred whilst still providing opportunities for all Hammersmith members to play against strong opposition. To date we have been able to field 20 different players across the 4 matches we have completed.
Match 1: Hammersmith 2 vs Albany 1 (3.5 – 4.5 Loss)
Our first match of the season was against the team I would make 2nd favourites for the Division. Despite the narrow defeat, we were able to compete on equal terms with Albany, which set the tone for our other matches.
It was very pleasing to see strong performances from our debutants Laurie and Will.
Match 2: Willesden 1 vs Hammersmith 2 (1.5 – 6.5 Win)
This match was against a team which achieved promotion from Division 3 in the 18/19 season. It was a match I had targeted as a win, and the Hammersmith team delivered with aplomb.
Confident performances on the top boards from Christof and Paul helped the team deliver a strong win.
Match 3: Hammersmith 2 vs Hendon 2 (1.5 – 6.5 Loss)
The less mentioned about this match the better!
In my opinion Hendon 2 are the strongest team in the division, and this is demonstrated by the team they were able to bring to an away match at Lytton. Props to Will for achieving our solitary win.
Match 4: Hammersmith 2 vs Metropolitan 1 (4 – 4 Draw)
This match coincided with the London Chess Classic, which unfortunately made many of our regulars unavailable for the match. However, it gave other Hammers the opportunity to step up and they did so, emphatically.
Despite being out graded on every board, strong wins from Yasser at the top of the order; and Jakub and Jeremy lower down helped us achieve a deserved draw with a strong Metropolitan team.
From these 4 matches we are still lower down in the table. However, the table remains tight and the manner of our performances this year only builds on my confidence for the coming year.
Roll on 2020!