Hammers on Youtube – The Launch!

We are excited to let you know that Hammersmith Chess Club now has a YouTube channel. You can find it in the navigation menu at the top of this page, as well as via the following link: Hammers on YouTube.

We have already uploaded 7 videos, due to the outstanding support, great effort and ingenious initiative coming from one of our top Hammers, Christof Brixel. Many thanks, Christof! You will notice that our public channel currently has two main series:

  • Hammer Junior Hour, which includes 6 videos summarising our regular Junior Hour Session, with season 1 currently focusing on the analysis of some of the great games in the history of chess.
  • Hammer Endgame Series, focused on specific types of endgames. Our first video on rook endgames is currently available on the YouTube channel via the following link.

We also have a couple of longer, premium videos exclusively available to Hammer members, which can be accessed by contacting a member of the committee:

  • The Jobava London System
  • AlphaZero – the more human program

We are currently working on other videos, including an analysis of Jon Ludvig Hammer vs Magnus Carlsen (2003), another rook endgames video, and a Junior Hour “Basics” video.

Please keep an eye on our channel and subscribe to receive updates on all the newest videos.

I would like to use this opportunity to say that Hammer YouTube is the channel of our members and we hope to provide content that reflects the incredible diversity within our membership.

We hope the channel will become a reflection of the different backgrounds, cultures and interests that came together and shaped our club.

We have many ideas with regards to the future development of our community’s YouTube channel, but we would also like to welcome your ideas and expressions of interest! Please view below a few suggestions on how you could contribute to the channel:

  • Hammersmith Simul Nights: Volunteer to report or comment on one of our exciting simultaneous exhibitions and let’s showcase together one of our club’s very popular activities.
  • Are you strongly supportive of a specific chess style or maybe a certain opening? Do you believe blitz games could be key to growing as a chess player? Do you disagree and prefer long chess games instead? Everyone with an opinion on chess is welcome to join our CHESSbate series, a mix of chess and debate where you present your arguments on your opponent’s time. The clock is ticking so this is not an activity for the faint-hearted.
  • This is something for our Cooking Experts! Feel free to send us photos or video glimpses of your delicious food and even recipes. Would be great to collect some of your ideas with regards to suitable recipes for chess players.
  • Are you a fan of chess quizzes and other creative party games where chess is ever-present? Let us know how you and your friends have fun and we will include it in a ‘Top Chess Party games ideas for Hammers and Friends’ video.
  • Are you interested in a specific chess-related sector? Help us understand why you love this sector or teach us more about it in one of our ‘Hammers how to videos’. Some topics you might want to consider: “How to teach chess to children”, “How to improve your chess”, etc.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at o.stroe@outlook.com if you wish to become a contributor to our YouTube videos. Any ideas, brief videos, audio recordings and/or photos are welcomed.

Thank you for your continuous help and support!

Raluca Stroe

Important Announcement – 2020 AGM

Dear Members, the club’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is approaching – this year it will be held on Monday 1st June, and with due consideration to the Covid-19 situation, will be a Zoom meeting.

The Committee gives notice that the following Committee members will stand for re-election:

  • Chairman – Bajrush Kelmendi
  • Treasurer – Matteo Bezzini
  • Secretary – Adam Cranston
  • Club Captain – Ben Rothwell
  • Webmaster – Andy Routledge
  • PR & Events – John White
  • Auditor – Nadim Osseiran
  • No Portfolio – Chris Skulte
  • Diversity Officer – Currently vacant, but the Committee recommends the membership accepts an application from Raluca Stroe for this position.

Any member who wishes to submit a motion for the meeting, or to stand for a committee position, should do so at least 30 days prior to 1st June – that is, 2nd May.

In both cases, a motion or nomination can only be submitted by a fully paid up member of the club, and must be seconded by another fully paid up member. Both will be subject to a Committee recommendation and vote at the AGM.

Please contact Club Secretary Adam, to submit details: adam1234321@googlemail.com

Thank you for your continued support!

The Biggest Match in Club Chess

The wait is over – the big day is finally upon us: El Chessico III is happening this evening!

This evening will see the 3rd instalment of the Biggest Match in Club Chess, as London’s two greatest clubs face off yet again over a record 38 boards!

From humble beginnings in 2016, when a mere 24 players took part (Hammersmith won), the Hammersmith vs. Battersea rivalry – dubbed ‘el Chessico‘ in honour of a small-time footy match in Spain – is a sporting contest like no other.

It not only marked the re-birth of Hammersmith as one of the best clubs in our fair city,  but it also showed that this beautiful game has no limits.

If you build it; they will come.

It took almost 18 months for the next el Chessico to be arranged – some say Battersea were running scared.

In what was then the largest UK club game every arranged, with 30 boards facing off, Hammersmith took the challenge to Battersea and the result was the sameHammersmith won.

So here we are, nearly five years after the first match and we eagerly await our opponents this evening.

Coronavirus has not deterred us, far from it. In a stunning show of force this 3rd game of the series will be played over 38 boards using custom lichess software!

Play fair, and enjoy a superb event.

Our line-up & board order is below – do Hammer proud – I know you all will.

All v All Blitz – a poem

In these strange times we’d like to share a chess-themed poem, by our very own wordsmith, Anderson Armstrong – please enjoy.

All v All Blitz

September in Battersea,
Workers’ club Tuesday,
All-v-all chess,
Five minutes each contest,

Any age,
Any gender,
Parents came,
Children tender,

Though some parents misbehaving,
With their fixture rearranging,
Each assigned opponent,
Matching strength component,

Total concentration,
Stilling senses and features,
Smiley-faced youths,
Become fearsome stony creatures,

Like dragons and tigers,
Flanking Oriental doors,
One sitting still,
Opponents’ piece in other jaws,

Tensions on the board,
Contorting body’s language,
Fingers twisting mouths,
As if searching for a sandwich,

Nervous tics appear,
Like scratching behind ears,
Frownings gather ominously,
Over pieces unawares,

Once positions broken,
Postures change as if awoken,
Runaway pawns,
Offest tanks on chequered lawns,

“Got him with a Marshall mummy!”,
Sweet-faced girl said,
Boardrooms between rounds,
Revealing inner-life stress,

Leaders checking masters,
Biting nails over draws,
Lesser players high-fives,
Swindling points within laws,

Dads beside daughters,
Having taken several buses,
Two Chinese-looking sisters,
Wondering what the fuss is,

People skirting rules,
Tapping clocks with captured pieces,
Announcers remind all:
During match all talking ceases!

Sisters play each other,
Agreeing no ‘sister act’,
Younger playing safety,
Pre-empts Marshall’s feared attack!

Strategists mug tacticians,
Pawn-grabs lose positions,
Dreamers drugging schemers,
Masked deceptions people scream at,

When flags drop,
Shoulders belly-flop,
Once clocks stop,
End-games never stop!

Shaken hands,
Clenched to fists,
As all parties gather,
Positions checked on the lists,

Yummy mummies find each other,
Chubby hubbies chat like brothers,
Cocky youths a-hoop like groupies,
Older players walking movies,

Boys to men and men to boys,
All making too much noise,
Kibitzing over plays,
Mates overkilling joys,

Later ratings greater,
Rival pairings still debating,
Refuting unseen matings,
Like dates delaying parting,

Boards and pieces put away,
Heat and clocks dialled down to zero,
But with no-one playing hero,
The games await another day.

AA 26 03 20

The Covid-19 Chess Diaries Pt.II – My Son, Chess, and Me

A Diary from the Lockdown Vault

13th March – We were a bit worried when the school started to warn us that it may close any day, given the situation. They even sent helpful guides of how to login to Microsoft Teams – not very useful for me, a tech phobe, but Kumar seemed fine with this.

16th March – I was working away in a corner of the London Library when the message flashed: “the School will close immediately for the duration… please pickup your son from school.”. I leave the accumulated books on the table and hurry to the school, where parents have started to gather. Westminster is closing even before Boris could get to it…

18th March – All schools closed in England, but classes for a few hours in the morning will continue for the next week… until Easter holidays kick in.

19th-20th March – The first few days, new WhatsApp groups are formed between parents; funny videos are circulating amongst all of us.

The social distancing has started. Kumar thinks this is an early Easter Holiday – he’s playing cricket with himself in our shared office space, paper flying all around. London Library closed; Chatham House closed; I can’t escape!!

21st – 22nd March – Sunny weekend, someone sends a photo of crowds in the parks, but we are following strict social distancing. Kumar’s mum is from Barcelona and terrible news from Spain makes us ultra-cautious.

And it’s not funny any more. Local Carluccio’s at South Ken closes down – so many memories of happy lunches here on Sundays.

Kumar is getting stir-crazy – how long can one play Monopoly? Kumar plays FIFA against his friend online; he hasn’t played real chess in 6 months (too much homework, and a sudden passion for squash and tennis at weekends), but decided to give it a go on chess.com blitz, but it seemed the Chinese side might have gone slow, not many connections.

24th March – I remember that there is Junior Hour online at Hammersmith Chess Club with Christof! Kumar eager to join. His interest in chess has revived! After piano on iPad, classes on Microsoft Teams, we now have another platform: Zoom for Christof! Kumar has a great time – speaking to real people, rather than anonymous players on chess.com

Christof mentions the Hammersmith Training website, and that many more sessions are being setup by Jim. Well, Jim and Paul McKeown were the very first people that Kumar ever played with when he started chess at Fulham 4 years back. My earlier Indian Chess with Kumar doesn’t count – no castling, no en-passant, no stale-mate, no double-move by pawns in first move…

26th March – Jim’s session well attended – the More Gambit against the Sicilian.

Kumar is totally hooked on the Chess sessions. He has done another one with Christof on young Carlsen, training with Jim, a couple of online Simuls, and booked for more on Sunday and planning to play for Tony (another of his former coaches) against a German Juniors Team – he will be busy the next few weeks! His interest in chess has come back, and I can go back to my books!

Thank you Hammer Online!!


With thank to Kumar’s father, Lokhi, for the brilliant writeup! If you’d like to share your story of the lockdown, drop us an email: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

Hammer Online – Code of Conduct

Hammers – with the blossoming of our online presence, we must also acknowledge that the virtual game presents different challenges compared to the face-to-face game.

Words and actions can be made with less though for your opponents – or interpreted differently; distractions are much easier to come by; and the opportunity for computer or book assistance is ever-present.

Thankfully, most online chess platforms offer sophisticated anti-cheating software, but for the avoidance of doubt we expect all Hammers to abide by the following Code of Conduct when participating for the club in online games, tournaments, or other activities. And we will take appropriate action if any individuals do not.

Hammer Online – Code of Conduct
  1. Respect your opponents & other online participants, and treat them no differently than you would in a face-to-face game.
  2. Avoid using foul, abusive or upsetting language in any chat channels or online meetings.
  3. Whether you win, lose or draw, be gracious at the end of your game.
  4. Do not cheat – do not use computer assistance, book assistance, or any other form of outside help in your game.
  5. Strive to do your best for the club whenever you play for us online.


We trust that all our members already abide by these simple steps, and we look forward to continuing with our hugely successful programme of online events.

If you have any queries, please get in touch.

The Hammersmith Chess Club Committee. 

Hammer Online – Upcoming Events

Hammers – chess continues to flourish at Hammersmith, even during these troubled times! Our online activities have expanded and we are seeing a huge take-up for the games, training and other events – it’s been a fantastic response!

Please ensure you join our WhatsApp group to stay up to date on the latest details – contact us if you’d like to be added.

Here’s a taster of some of the events coming up:

  • Friday 3rd April, 8.45pm – Classic Games by World Champions (Training)
  • Saturday 4th April, 5.30pm – ‘How Good is your Chess’ Quiz
  • Saturday 4th April, 8pm – London Club Team Battle
  • Sunday 5th April, 6pm – Simultaneous display with FM Bob Eames
  • Sunday 5th April, 7:45pm – Banter Blitz – Tony Niccoli vs Chris Skulte
  • Monday 6th April, 6pm – ‘The Gambit Guru’ series – FM Bob Eames takes us through the Chigorin Defence to the Queen’s Gambit
  • Tuesday 7th April, 6pm – Junior Hour with Christof Brixel
  • Tuesday 7th April, 7:30pm – 4NCL Online Round 1 – Celtic Tigers
  • Wednesday 8th April, 7.30pm – Round III of the Corona Cup
  • Thursday 9th April, 7.30pm – Simultaneous display with GM Keith Arkell
  • Friday 10th April, 7:05pm – Club v Club game against Lübeck Chess Club
  • Saturday 11th April, 8pm – London Club Team Battle
  • Sunday 12th April, 7:30pm – Simultaneous display with Fedja Zulfic
  • Monday 13th April – El Chessico v Battersea Chess Club (note: re-scheduled!)

Please note: In order to regulate attendance and help with organisation, we do ask that you register for these events first – this can be done in the WhatsApp group, or by contacting us ahead of time.

If anyone has any other ideas or suggestions for things we can organise, we’d love to hear from you! Events continue to be added all the time so please keep in touch to ensure you don’t miss out.

Enjoy your chess :o)

Chess After Brexit

Breaking News: Hammersmith Chess Club issues invites for newly-created Yellowhammer Cup this evening

Brexit is back in the news, and how! We learned about a revolutionary new idea from the ECF, which was initiated after a meeting between PM Boris Johnson and Nigel Short, Vice President of FIDE and outspoken Brexit opponent – though he is aligned with Boris in his critique of Theresa May “the only person who has ever lost by three-fold repetition”.

Johnson insists that the domination of the continental powers over the development of chess regulations during the past few centuries must be halted, and that Britain will take back control of the game.

Chess historians will know that the rules of chess changed dramatically in the 15th century, owing to Spanish influence. Bishops were no longer restricted to one square at a time, with the rules changing to permit them multiple squares per turn. As a consequence, the Germans still call the Bishop “runner”, and the French even call it a “fool” – quite the sacrilege! The continental domination continues to this day, with the international federation taking a French abbreviation, FIDE.

A joint statement from the ECF and the UK Sports Minister on the matter:

“Now it is time to take back control, starting with the Knight. As with other pieces, it has been mistreated in various European languages, mostly called ‘horse’ or ‘rider’, occasionally ‘vaulter’. Over hundreds of years of continental regulations it was permitted to move 2 squares in any direction, and 1 square perpendicular. The complexity is not a problem, infact many English love that – look at our non-metric systems, the game of cricket, or our 3-digit ECF rating system. 

However, we do object to the disrespect shown to the traditions of Knighthood. We demand that players can choose to execute a Knight jump once OR twice per move. All other light and heavy pieces enjoy this liberty, even lowly pawns have a double-move option on their first move. 

The Knights would thus once again become the central pieces on the board, outshining the ‘fools’ and ‘runners’ of the board. Golden times lie ahead.”

The rule change would generate thousands of new jobs for very high-skilled workers, a most welcome political benefit. It is said that more chess books are published than books of all other games and sports combined – and most of those are opening books, which would have to be re-written, providing employment for many years to come.

Middlegames will become so complex that we dare not even consider it yet, and endgame theory would explode. Mate with two Knights is not only possible, but probably quicker than with two Bishops. The difficult Knight & Bishop mate becomes a beginners exercise, and two Knights would outshine even the Queen. Wow!

The ECF is currently gathering support from other chess ruling bodies. The Welsh Chess Union has indicated tentative support, on condition the ECF recognises the Welsh origins of Caissa, the chess Godess. The Scottish federation is proving trickier – pointing to their long(er) tradition of chess history as demonstrated by the Isle of Lewis figures. Scottish support now rests on these pieces being returned from the British Museum, to the National Museum of Scotland.

The ECF will also need to garner international support. Already the ECF is looking to sacrifice its 3-digit ratings, and adopt the 4-digit FIDE system. That however, is something which may ensure the ECF fails in this bid – opponents to the change have gently pointed out that it’s more likely we’ll see miles replaced by kilometres, before this change is implemented.

FIDE representatives have responded to rumours of the proposal as a “poisoned knight sacrifice”, and a “Trojan chess horse”. Plenty of work is still to be done!

As for Hammersmith Chess Club, having diversity in our DNA we are open to all forms of change in the game, proven by our recent response to the Coronavirus outbreak. To keep up this momentum, we will be organising the world’s first tournament under these new rules – provided lichess finishes updating their servers in time (the recent weekend outage was a test-run).

Starting this evening, April 1st at 7.30pm, online at lichess.com we will inaugurate the YellowHammer Cup. Named, of course, in honour of the UK govt’s no-deal Brexit planning, there is a chance the Prime Minister will personally join the game, following his recent success at hosting a Zoom cabinet meeting. If not as a player, as a true Kibitzer.

Visitors are of course welcome, but if you want to play you have to be a member – see here for joining details.

Good luck!