One of the ongoing features of Hammersmith Chess Club in the time of Corona is the Junior Hour. Online, that is!
With the start of the new season, the online Junior Hour is open to Club Members including those who are so-called ‘late starters‘, or to put another way ‘adult improvers‘. Each Tuesday, the participants meet for one and a half hours in a dedicated Zoom room. A senior club members leads the group through the topic of the day, and we always start with a few warmup puzzles.
Last week, the topic was the London System. We went through the main features, focusing on 12 games which Magnus Carlsen played this year using the opening. We delved deeper into two of his games which demonstrated good examples of how to build a Kingside attack. Here is the first:
Believe it or not, an hour after leading the Junior Hour, Christof played for our sister club The Celtic Tigers in the online Four Nations Chess League, and was able to play the London System exactly in the spirit of what we had learned that same evening, taking a leaf out of Magnus Carlsen’s book! Here is the proof with Christof’s game – a short game with a nice mating attack:
Once per month, the lectures cover one of the many British chess legends. The last one was on Mir Sultan Khan, as a few weeks before another one was our own Club Member GM Keith Arkell. We analyse selected games and ask ourselves whether we would have found the Master moves, or – what we realise surprisingly often – whether we might even have improved on our role models.
We also did it with games of (name-dropping here!) the young Magnus Carlsen, Nigel Short and others. A few of these lectures are summarised in some short clips on the Club’s YouTube channel:
Some of the participants then meet on Sunday evenings on lichess to compete with other members in the Weekly Hammer Blitz tournament, and I can assure you I see a gradual progress of our Juniors and Late Starters in playing strength.
We all wish the old times back, playing and meeting in our venue. The Club Committee is regularly reviewing the situation and when we might get back over the board in person, but sadly it does not yet look like there will be a return to F2F competition anytime soon.
So, whether we like it or not, if we want to play chess, we have to embrace the online version! The good news is, there is a lot on offer in a familiar Club environment: