A View from The Hammer Chair – July 2022

First, I would like to thank the club for this opportunity to serve and continue the evolution of our amazing chess club.

I must also thank Club Captain Ben and in particular our Chairman Bajrush for their service. Both have played vital roles in helping the club get to where we are today. I wish Ben all the best in the fair city of Dublin and am delighted that Bajrush will continue to contribute with his knowledge and experience by serving on the Committee.

I must also welcome Robin and Gaston to the Committee. I know they will be successful and dedicated in their new roles.

Finally, I am immensely happy that Nadim, Benji, Adam, Chris and Matteo have agreed to stay on. With the exception of Chris, they are all continuing in their current roles and providing great service to the club. Chris takes over from as PR and Events Officer… certainly a role he will excel in.

We have achieved so much in the past 8 years it is hard to believe. Some of those achievements are staggering:

  • Our membership has grown from 19 (yes 19 !!!) to over 200 members
  • We have a thriving Junior section
  • We have moved into the Mindsports Centre – the best club venue in London
  • We have visited three chess clubs abroad in Holland, Poland and Ireland
  • We have had a guest speaker list that has been a who’s who of chess
  • We pioneered the idea of giving advantageous membership rates to girls and women to play at our club
  • We have run our first Chess Congress and want to make it an annual event.
  • We have won trophies and divisions across the 4 leagues we compete in

There are many other achievements that could be listed. However, what I am most proud of is that our chess club is welcoming, accepting, friendly, open to change and lives up to its motto “More than a Chess Club”.

This is an amazing legacy to build on and a sizable challenge for any incoming Chairman.

My focus on the year to come will be on the following – obviously there will be other challenges that inevitably come along:

  • Oversee the running of the club
  • Work with the Junior Officer and the Junior Sub-Committee to establish a working blueprint and program that meets the needs of all our juniors
  • Encourage and recruit club members to help out with the running of the club
  • Address the training needs for all members, regardless of strength, so they can develop their chess ability to the full
  • Helping all the Officers of the club to perform to the best in their roles
  • Establishing the legal status of the club and sorting out our relationship with the bank once and for all
  • Running Hammratty 2
  • Adding to the trophy cabinet… once you have the taste of success it is hard to suppress it
  • Helping Benji roll out the Hammersmith merchandise
  • As Chairman being available to all members if they have concerns they wish to raise
  • Making sure Hammersmith delivers value for money for all its members
  • A club members’ survey so we can understand what our members think and need from their Committee and Club
  • Plus, other new initiatives yet tba

As Adam has recently posted on the report of the AGM we have created a new Committee position – that of Junior Officer. The role and responsibilities will cover:

  • Forming the Junior Sub-Committee
  • Oversee the work of the Junior Sub-Committee
  • Manage the allocated budget for the Junior Section
  • Formulate a programme for the Junior Section
  • Liaise with the Child Protection Officer to ensure all protocols are being observed
  • Represent the interests of Junior Section on the Club Committee

This was backed and seconded by the Committee and agreed at the AGM. Jim Stevenson has agreed to serve.

I would also like to remind you that the December – Ostend trip is closing its book on the 31st July. You have less than 3 weeks to commit to the trip. I have written previously that the main issue will be accommodation as it is the first weekend of Ostend’s famous Christmas market… we need to get in early.

In the meantime the view from the chair is there are exciting times ahead for Hammer and its motley crew… roll on 22-23!!!

John White aka Lord Clueless

AGM Report, LCL Congress, Summer at Hammer and beyond!

A short update on everything happening at the club, and what’s in store for the future!


Last Monday our Annual General Meeting was held at the Mindsports Centre. There was a good turnout and some lively discussion – a full version of the minutes can be found here. A summary of the key decisions that were voted through:

  • Subs will be increased slightly next season to ensure members can continue to be offered a first class venue and a top-notch and varied programme of events
  • A new role on the committee has been created – the Junior Officer, to be held by Jim Stevenson
  • John White takes over from Bajrush as Chairman
  • Chris Skulte takes over from John as PR and Events Officer
  • Gastón Franco takes over from Chris as Officer without Portfolio
  • Robin Sarfas takes over from Ben as Club Captain
  • All other officers retain their positions
  • The Hammer merchandise store has opened!
LCL Congress

The London League are hosting a 9-round ECF-rated Congress on Thursdays throughout summer – places are very limited so get in quick if you want to play!

Further details and the entry form can be found here.

Monday Night Hammer Events

We’ll be looking to put on some form of event every Monday night throughout summer. Here’s what’s arranged so far:

  • 18th July: 5-round ECF-rated Rapid (10+5) Tournament. Sign up here
  • 25th July: Chessboxing Challenge Match
  • 26th September: Lecture from British #1 Grandmaster Michael Adams
Super-Grandmaster Mickey Adams | photo: World Chess Championship Press

Keep an eye on the calendar and WhatsApp channels for announcements of further events.

2022/23 Subs

Membership for 2021/22 ends at the end of August. We’d like to invite members to sign up for next season. Payment ahead of September is much appreciated to avoid the tedious work involved in chasing people up.

  • Adults: £80 per annum
  • Juniors: £50 per annum
  • Concession: £50 per annum (for senior citizens, and unwaged)
  • Women, Girls & Titled Players: £20 per annum
  • Junior Hour Access: £35 per term (3 terms in a year) in addition to yearly junior membership

Payment can be made by electronic bank transfer or cash. Please see our bank details below:

Name: Hammersmith Chess Club
Sort Code: 40-03-21
Account Number: 91245120

Get in touch if you have any questions!


Hammratty 2022 – A Personal Reflection from Lord Clueless

A while ago, being the opportunistic plagiarist I am, I used a line from the superb speech given by Al Pacino in the movie “Any Given Sunday” in a piece about the Bunratty tournament. The line was my interpretation of the fact that sometimes life gets in the way of what you really want to do.

In a lot of ways, those words could be used to describe Hammer Chess Club and the running of a Chess Congress. Other things always had to take priority – survival, venue, membership, and the financials spring to mind as obvious major distractions. However, with the transformation of our club over the past six years it was time to get the bogeyman off our back.

When your committee gave Chris Skulte and me the authority, with our Diamond Jubilee happening this year, to put on our first chess congress both of us had very little idea what a massive responsibility and task this would be. We had just settled into our new home and with the challenges that were presented along the way I am surprised Chris, and I are not receiving therapy for Chess PTSD (a condition familiar to all chess players).

One thing we decided early on – is we wanted to create a tournament, that encapsulated the ethos of Hammer Chess Club – welcoming, fun, diverse and progressive. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the Bunratty 2020 tourney gave us the blueprint of what we wanted to achieve. We did not need to look elsewhere.

So, some core principles were quickly agreed

  • We wanted everyone to pay the same to enter – no freebies for titled players.
  • We wanted a blitz tourney on the eve of the main congress so entrants could embrace the spirit and camaraderie of the congress.
  • We wanted to showcase our new home – the Mindsports Centre
  • Promote Hammer Chess Club and our way of running a chess club

On reflection I think we over-delivered on those core principles – the rest would be the nitty gritty – sponsorship, time controls, rounds, entry methods, arbiters, PR, tables, rooms, chairs, logistics, the help required etc – the tough stuff.

Here I am going to list the people who were vital in running the festival and making it a huge success. In no particular order….

Chris Skulte – such a source of positivity and support – endless energy, trophy procurer and master of the budget and my successor as PR Events Officer for 2022-23.

Nadim Osseiran – the master of the entry system – worked tirelessly – Hammer are so lucky to have him 

Benjamin Portheault – Hammer webmaster – superb work on the promotion front

Adam Cranston – Sadly could not participate but was the voice of common sense when my ideas went too wacky

Adam Raoof – Chief Arbiter and his amazing team – particularly Rob and the true legend that is Lance – ran the tournament and pre-tournament superbly. They were essential in every way.

The Prince of Wales pub and its owners Big Smoke Brewery – are hugely supportive in every way

GM Daniel King – His video and volunteering to give out the main prize made such a huge difference to the congress – plus he is a Hammer !!

Gad Chana – Mindsports centre manager – helped in so many ways – the extra tables and chairs were entirely down to him – big thank you

Rosie White- Of YCBC and Mindsports Property Limited who gave us permission to use the large room upstairs which made having to rent extra space outside the centre redundant. A huge big thank you.

Finally, I want to thank our sponsor – Grenke Leasing – they made the difference between the event breaking even and turning a profit and allowing us to give out rating prizes. They were massive in making Hammratty a considerable success.

So, to the tournament itself.

The welcoming blitz tournament on the Friday night at the Prince of Wales attracted 30 plus participants – it was a riotous assembly with everyone getting the Hammratty vibe. In the end a play-off ensued between Hammer Tom Rendle and Abhinav Reddy Bathula to decide first place. The latter held his nerve and duly triumphed to cap what was a wonderful tournament to kick off the Hammratty festival.

There were great performances from the Hammer crew in this blitz – with top 10 finishes for five Hammers – Tom Rendle, Peter Roberson, Thomas Bonn and Cian Ward

The first round of the “proper” chess started at 10 am on the Saturday with London league time controls (75 plus 15 secs increment).

We had three categories – the Open, The Major and The Minor – All the results can be found on these Links:

The Open https://chess-results.com/tnr624030.aspx?lan=1

The Major https://chess-results.com/tnr624029.aspx?lan=1&art=0&turdet=YES&flag=30

The Minor https://chess-results.com/tnr624028.aspx?lan=1&art=4&turdet=YES&flag=30


The chess was absorbing in all sections of the Congress – 

The Open saw Yichen Han triumph in an Armageddon play-off against IM Richard Bates – both had remained undefeated through all five rounds and would split the prize money – however, the trophy went to Yichen.

The competition throughout this section was dominated by decisive results showing the full-bloodied nature of the competition. Hammers’ hopes were high with both IM Peter Roberson and IM Tom Rendle in the hunt. Solid performances by both Thomas Bonn (T-Bone) and Chairman Bajrush Kelmendi (Wily) both came in with three points from the competition.

The Major section was won by West London’s Andy Hayler – a win for the “older” generation. Hammer Liam Fleming (The Quiet Man) came in joint third having a lively encounter with fellow Hammer Frank Valle on the way.

The Minor section saw unrated Alex Stroud win the event with daylight and Rachel Yang came in second – an excellent result.

There were a host of best rating prizes, and the best game prize will be judged by GM Daniel King. I will make sure we publish this on the website

On a personal note I have realised that you cannot play in and organise a Congress at the same time – my chess which has not been good this season was ruthlessly exposed on two occasions – a couple of consolation wins and a long draw with Lawrie summed up my very average chess.

However, I take enormous consolation that the tournament was by the criteria we set ourselves at the beginning a huge success – I think we have created a unique tournament and is something we can turn into an annual event.

There are lessons to be learnt and the key people who helped put this event will have a review and implement any improvements, but I do think the basis of the tournament is right.

To the Hammers who did not or could not participate – we did have a bit of Platinum competition – you missed a fabulous time – please endeavour to join us next year.

John aka Lord Clueless