The Rise of Zain – a star is born, and he is a true Hammer

Once, in a while, something occurs that makes you stop and think – increasingly if like me you are past the 60-age barrier. Most of the time it is a Victor Meldrew moment – the “I don’t believe it” variety accompanied by a weary and exasperated expression. However, occasionally a different sort comes along, and young Zain is a perfect example of this. 

He joined Hammersmith over three years ago and with the huge support of his Mum Shan has become a stronger chess player and developed his talent. Maybe lockdown and those lessons online helped, but I think his success has been down to pure hard work and talent.

Early this month he came second in the British under 12 chess championship, despite in rating terms being in terms of rating the 11th highest in the field – a stellar performance.

He also got a trophy

He then followed that up by gaining a vital win in El Chessico – truly his star is rising.

So, Hammers, both Juniors and Seniors, give it up for a true Hammer and a future star of our great game – I give you Zain.

Lord Clueless

The Rumble in the Jungle – The Hackney Manor Challenge

The Rumble in the Jungle – The Hackney Manor Challenge

Yes, the news has spread of our triumph in El Chessico and those East End hard nuts, the Hackney Manor, want a piece of the action. Those American-Cockney-East End mobsters have thrown down the gauntlet, or in their case, the knuckleduster, and challenged Hammer to an epic battle over 30 boards. This truly is the Cold War rerun (nice- ed) – West versus East in a fight to the death for chess superiority, ideological purity and the all-important bragging rights in the banter world.

Seriously, following on from the huge success of El Chessico I am delighted another rated challenge match will take place on the 1st of November 2021 at the Anvil, aka the Mindsports Centre, with kick-off this time of 7pm – please note.

I also want to be clear Hackney are a great club with good people and like Battersea, have the right views on the future of club chess. So, in truth this should be really called the “Warm War” but that sounds a bit weak – so I am sticking with Cold War.

If you want to take part, please email me at – remember you must be a hammer member and a member of the ECF.

I need you to bear arms again.

Lord Clueless needs you Hammers.


El Chessico – A Norse Saga In Two Acts


Hammers it seems we are returning to a semblance of normality, Hammer is back with club nights, Wimbledon happened, The Euros went ahead and most importantly the OTB version of El Chessico returned.

Yes, the greatest club challenge chess match in the whole of the UK grabbed centre stage this October. Those best of frenemies – Battersea and Hammersmith – once again crossed swords for the legendary trophy that is “El Chessico” and more importantly the bragging rights that are beyond price. 

This year we spread the fixture over two legs – the old home and away scenario – the ultimate test of stamina, mental gymnastics and depth of squad. This format leaves nothing to chance, and the best club will surely triumph in the end.

Before I get to the nitty-gritty, I wish to publicly thank Aldo, Blair and all the Battersea members for not only making this event happen but making it a great one. Our clubs are totally united in our approach to club chess and what we want to achieve with our great sport.

I also wish to acknowledge my fellow Hammer, Frank Valle – aka “Vivaldi”- who has helped enormously with getting this article to the website. He is a new member but is already infused with Hammer spirit and beer.

My last full-blown El Chessico report was based on the Tragedy of Troy so continuing this established trend, and partly in tribute to Hammer legend Carsten “The Great Dane”, a Norse theme is the vehicle to be used. A huge amount of licence has and will be taken with part of his heritage here.

The year is 2021 and all is not well in Asgard -Loki son of Odin and sire of Battersea has desires on Sif, the legendary El Chessico. The thought of the trophy and the power it confers drives him to distraction. The problem is that it is firmly in the possession of his brother Thor – God of Thunder and the wielder of a great Hammer. A person not to be trifled with and who will resist all who wish to take El Chessico from his .

Loki pondered and formulated a plan – by appealing to Thor’s vanity and pride he could entice him to combat where the ownership of El Chessico would be at stake. 

Hammersmith Teamwork with talented players won El Chessico 

Final score 36-24 (14-16 at Battersea Chess Club and 20-10 at Hammersmith new venue)

Round one was a game of two halves, with Battersea dominating the score 10/5 on the first 15 boards, and Hammersmith coming back with a 4/11 on the last 15 boards, however, Round two at Hammersmith Club was a one-sided game for the Hammers, showing the London neighbours who’s the boss in London Chess OTB.

 The Hammersmith team, with a mix of experienced and new players (we had many more than 30 players ready to take the challenge to retain the trophy one more time) followed the commitment and guidance from experienced players such as John White, Chris Skulte, Adam Cranston, Christof Brixel and many others, by being engaged to understand how important this win is for the Club.

Despite the fierce rivalry with Battersea, It is right to give credit to their captain Blair Connell and his team for competing and showed great sportsmanship, no defaults over the two rounds which is something amazing counting that it was a total of 60 games.   

Interesting position and results in full below

El Chessico Round 2 –  11/10/21 (Battersea Chess Club)

Gaston Franco 1-0 Atef Ramadan

24…NXE6?? This was the move that put Gaston with a good advantage to win the game.

Chris Skulte 1-0 Thomas Maddox

Chris did not want to end El Chessico 2021 without a win. This was the blunder that lost it for Thomas, although we think Chris was winning anyway…

Frank Valle 1-0 Zoya Boozorginia

29…Qe6  The game was over 4 moves later…both players agreed on a rematch online 

The results in full are below:

El Chessico Round 1 – 05/10/21 (Battersea Chess Club)

Edward Clark 0-1 Andrew Cuff

Bf6 wins a piece and the game. The game continued 25….Bf6 26. Re4 Bxd4 27. Rexd4 Qxd4 28. Rxd4 Rc1+ 0-1

David Blackwell 0-1 Todd Sandler

…Ng5 tactical move won the game for Todd

Jamie Pitts 1-0 Paul-Hector Antoine

Jamie missed a mate in two. …Re8; g3 fxg3#

He did not see it and took him another 13 moves to win the game

Jonathan Mather 0-1 Grégory Konyakhin Borrelly 

This is more a positional endgame, interesting position, white took the b6 pawn instead of Re8+ that could have led to a better endgame for white

Chris Skulte 0-1 Blair Connell

Chris went for Rf1 in a winning position. If Chris does this blunder in The Chessico, the rest of the players should be perfectly fine next time we do a mistake in any tournament

Alex Gao 0-1 Frank Valle

Mate in 4 after 23. Qh2, it follows 23..Qf6+ 24. Ke2 Bg4+ 25. Ke3 Qg5+ 26. Qf4 Qxf4#

The results in full are below: