Hammer goes 960!

Diversity is in the DNA of the Hammersmith Chess club, and what in chess can be more diverse than Chess960, also known as Fischer Random chess? Don’t think this is not chess. Even the FIDE has organised its first formal World Championship in Chess960 last year, and this is the only title not currently owned by Magnus Carlsen, but by Wesley So. So, there is something special about Chess960.

Over the last few months, Hammers have enjoyed lots of activities around this variation. During Corona lockout, our Finnish club legend Rauno gave a Zoom based introduction into Chess960. Shortly after that, our GM Keith Arkell offered a Simul exhibition on lichess exclusively for club members in the Chess960 format. In order to prepare for this, Christof shared his opening principles of Chess960 in another Zoom conference. Needless to say that Keith Arkell won all his eight games, confirming the statement that Chess960 brings out the true chess master, without players relying on memorised opening lines. Well, up to a point at least…

During the opening phase, it seemed that the ordinary club members generally performed as good if not even better than the GM, so there is something to learn from special 960 opening principles.

A further club event started early May and is still being played, a correspondence online tournament on chess.com with Chess960 rules. 12 games are still in progress, the farthest ahead in move 40. The scoreboard leader is Jim, but with Moritz close behind, it is a race comparable to Liverpool’s 2019 chase of Man City, and it will all depend on their 2 still undecided games against each other.

The club’s Chess960 activities continue. This week, a special session of the Junior Hour focusses on Chess960, and next week there will be another club internal Simul, this time by Christof against the Juniors. And in the recently started new season, the Jackhammer960 Cup has been added to the established Sledgehammer and Rockhammer Cups. Games are handicap-scored as well, but it is with randomly allocated Chess960 opening positions in rapid time control, as in the FIDE World Championship. It is time to register, please contact Nadim.

And if you want to come prepared, watch the club’s Youtube channel. A special playlist dedicated to Chess960 was set up with so far three videos: the general introduction, the opening principles, and the analysis of the Simul opening moves.


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