2022 Rumbles on and Hammer just keeps rolling along

This has been an amazing year in Hammer history. Some of the highlights

  • We moved into our new home the Mind Sports Centre
  • We are 60 years old this year – our Diamond Jubilee
  • We now have over 180 club members – will we reach 200 before the end of May?
  • We have won the Central London League Division 3 under the expert captaincy of Robin
  • We have teams positioned very well in the Thames Valley, the Middlesex and London Leagues
  • Our Junior section is thriving under the expert and watchful eye of El Loco – aka Jim Stevenson
  • We have had amazing guest lecturers – Nigel Short, Maxime Lagarde, Danny King and Harriet Hunt. All free of charge to Hammer members.
  • We have run simultaneous displays, puzzle evenings, blitz nights. So much work here from Adam our secretary and Ben our club captain
  • The new logo on the website – thanks to webmaster Benji – with Hammer merchandise so to follow
  • The ground-breaking initiative to reduce the fee for women and girls to £10
  • Finally, the first-ever Hammersmith Chess Congress – to be called Hammratty- will be held on the 4th and 5th of June at the Mind Sports Centre. 

This has been a busy year and your Committee has worked hard to keep pace with Covid consequences, a cancelled January match program and a rapidly changing landscape.

I want to thank all the team captains, the volunteers who help with the Junior hour and the Hammers who help clear up at the end of the evening. 

However, I think we need to acknowledge the amount of work put in by our secretary Adam – this club is so lucky to have him.

This brings me to an important date – the club AGM is due on the first Monday evening of June. This is when members get to see the detail, the financial position and question the Committee. This is an important evening and I urge you all to attend.

Furthermore, I urge all of you to consider standing for a position on the Committee – yes at times it can challenging, but it is incredibly rewarding. This is your club not the Committees nor any one individual– indeed historically the club would not be where it is unless key members had not initiated a velvet revolution at an AGM seven years ago.

So, my plea to all members is to get involved – we need help in many areas – Junior Hour, Membership and Captaincy. Plus, there are things we maybe should be doing but are not. New ideas and new blood are essential in any organisation.

If you would like to stand for a position on the Committee then please do, Under the constitution you have 30 days before the AGM to nominate yourself with another Hammer member seconding you, in writing and delivered to the secretary, Similarly, if you wish to propose a motion to the AGM this must follow the same process.

We are a democratic organisation; the AGM is the ultimate authority of the club – your vote and thoughts carry huge weight.

Please value it and get involved.

John – Lord Clueless

A Huntswoman Bosses it At the Home of Hammer

Hammer kicked off the awareness of Women’s International Day a day early with a tremendous lecture from IM Harriet Hunt. Her theme very appropriately was the history of women in Chess.

Harriet is a 5 times British Women’s Chess Champion who has represented England all over the world. As she remarked her chess career took her to countries and cities she would probably never have visited. She is humble and very aware of her good fortune in being born into family that allowed her and her brother Adam to pursue their love of chess. All in all, just a fantastic woman and human being.

She presented to a packed Anvil, sadly very testosterone dominated, but one that was attentive and very appreciative. Before, I report on the night I must put on the record what a tremendous and caring lecturer/tutor Harriet is. Her style is probably partly due to her chosen career, she is a highly qualified academic, but I think it is overwhelmingly about the person she is. She made everybody feel part of the lecture, she listened, she shared, and she gave a superb talk. It was Springsteen in length but never lost its audience.  What was different and very refreshing is she opened the analysis to the whole room at various critical moments. She did not dismiss suggestions but analysed them, with her audience, on the demo board. We were truly blessed and better chess-educated for it.


There are many women in the history of chess who have made their mark. For the basis of the lecture Harriet concentrated on four women. They were

  • Vera Menchik – Woman’s World Champion from 1927 to 1944
  • Nona Gaprindashvili – Woman’s World Champion from 1962-1978
  • Maia Chiburdanidze – Woman’s World Champion from 1978-1991
  • Judit Polgar – The strongest woman’s chess player of all time.

Vera Menchik had an amazing career – she won many notable wins against strong men players – Sultan Khan and George Thomas – however, the game Harriet chose was against Max Euwe. A familiar name to many Hammers, not only a men’s World Chess Champion and FIDE President, but some of us were lucky to visit the Max Euwe centre, in Amsterdam, when we took on Du Pion chess club in match challenge.

This is the game


Played in 1931 when Euwe was approaching the height of his powers, this was a dominant performance by Menchik. A very instructive game. Harriet demonstrated numerous variations and took time to work through the suggestions of the Hammers. A great start.

Next up was Nona Gaprindashvili. The game selected by Harriet was her immortal game against IM Rudolf Servaty. This was an amazing game and showed the dominant characteristics of her play – e4, direct play and actively fighting for the initiative. This was an important theoretical game at the time.


Harriet again went beyond the end of the game analysing that the game was indeed lost. To be honest I am not sure I have the courage to play this sort of chess!

Nona is a fascinating player – obviously back in the news over her fight with Netflix and the reference to her on the “Queens Gambit”. However, I also urge you to check out her game against a 14-year-old Judit Polgar – another amazing game of chess.

Harriet then moved onto Nona’s successor – her fellow Georgian Maia Chiburdandze – and their first serious encounter over the board. Maia was 12 years old at the time and the maturity of her play is simply outstanding. Harriet pointed out the rerouting of the black knight that Maia initiated – this was outstanding chess. Here is the game.


The final game was an outstanding one from Judit Polgar – her opponent was Jan Timman. Once ranked number three in the world and a finalist twice in the Challenger match for the World Chess Championship. This game was a tour de force and very exciting and a fitting finale to the lecture. I urge you to play through it.


Harriet, then spent a long-time answering questions such as… 

  • Why do women make up only about 10% of the population playing chess?
  • How can we get more women into Hammersmith Chess Club?
  • How did she feel about women only tournaments?

She gave very thoughtful and insightful answers and did not duck any question. 

Interspersed with these answers were great anecdotes especially the one when she was playing the final of the Oxford County Championship. Her opponent was her brother Adam. The only time and place they could play was a Saturday afternoon at home. The reason being this was the era of adjournments, multiple games – time was very precious,

In the middle of the game their younger brother came in and reported the latest score from the Liverpool- Manchester United derby match – the score so threw Adam he blundered on his next move and Harriet won the game and became Oxfordshire Champion. Just priceless.

She then played some blitz games against Tomas and Bajrush before departing into the night. 

What an amazing evening.

On behalf of Hammersmith Chess Club, we thank you Harriet for a great evening. You are welcome anytime at the Anvil.

John aka Lord Clueless

Top of the table clash in the Thames Valley Chess League

Monday 31st of January at the Anvil (Hammersmith’s home – The London Mindsports Centre) brought together a top of the table clash between the might of Hammersmith’s Division 1 team against a very strong away team from Richmond & Twickenham.

With a reasonably priced bar and food menu, we welcome all teams to come down early to have a drink and a meal before the match.

A win for Richmond & Twickenham would move them equal on points with Hammersmith at the top of the table, a win for Hammersmith would set them apart and make them likely contenders to take the title once again. It was only 6 boards of chess, but every game was critical!

The Match

Board 5: A quick win on board 5 for Christopher ‘Hurricane’ Skulte, dismantling the disliked London System in quick fashion put Hammers in a strong position, adding pressure to the other boards. 1-0 to Hammersmith

Board 3/4/6: Alas, I wasn’t able to watch the games – though there were many opportunities, critical moments, and missed chances with the results flowing through with a win for Carsten Pedersen, a loss for Jim Stevenson, and a win for one of our regular enforcers Thomas Bonn. A half point more and we would win the 6 board match. 3-1 to Hammersmith

Board 2: Ali ‘Mantis’ Hill vs Mike Healey. An ‘unique’ game in which a wild 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6 two knights tango, led to deep complications. No matter the rating you must always be focused during complications, which Hill navigated with expert precision – though like the titanic, all that is required is 1 Iceburg you were not ready for to stop you in your tracks. A mate in 1! – Richmond & Twickenham were back in the match! 3-2 to Hammersmith

Board 1: Marco ‘Michelangelo’ Gallana vs International Master Gavin Wall: After an unusual Sicilian, king marches, delayed development, and sacrifices for passed pawns – as Shirov would say, there was fire on the board! Both players were neck & neck on move 25. Wall was playing to get his team back in the game, knowing he probably needed the win. Marco was able to solidify his position, stop the passed pawn, and take the game. 4-2 to Hammersmith

The match ended with a 4-2 win for Hammersmith! A tough encounter where both teams gave it their all, putting Hammersmith in a leading position to take the Thames Valley title once again, adding to the trophies which Chairman & Captain Bajrush Kelmendi has achieved for the club.

Full Results

The Aftermath

After a hard-fought win, and many a pints later, alas the MindSports venue needed to close, after a quick drink at the Plough & Harrow, we headed back to yours truly’s house for a late night time-odds tournament.

Richmond & Twickenham player Healey achieved a picket fence, winning the tournament with 7/7 (unfortunately no revenge today for Ali Hill).

With a running group, tennis group, cooking group, and many other sub-groups, Hammersmith clearly lives by its motto – Més que un chess club (More than a chess club)

Christopher Skulte