Puzzle of the Week #015

After a brief hiatus last week, we are back with a bang – down to business.

As the only response to last week’s puzzle, PaulDead-EyeKennelly takes the plaudits this time – congratulations Paul!

It was taken from Kolb-Schroeder, Nuremberg in 1895. Snipped from the wonderful Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics.

On to this week’s puzzle – White has just played Rxb7 (so it’s Black to move). Why was that a bad idea??

Back from the Dead in London 4

07.07.18 – It seemed Osiris himself, the Egyptian God of the Afterlife, was watching over us as we came back from the brink against BBCA to score a cracking 4.5-3.5 win on Wednesday night. BBCA raced into an early lead before the Hammer fightback took hold and wins for Tommaso, Blair, Matteo and Ken secured victory.

An invaluable victory against the previously undefeated table-toppers. We’re now firmly back in the chase; it still looks a tall order but we have to count ourselves amongst the pack. My trip to Egypt was truly worthwhile…

We’re 2nd in the table with 4 matches to go – Greater London, Newham, Kings Head and Metro 4.

There were some truly impressive performances, no more so than Tomasso on Board 1, taking down a 175 with some superb attacking chess. An early g4 pawn push, complemented with an early King chase at the expense of material.

Blair was bizarrely challenged to go back to his schooldays and prove his “Rook & King” checkmate skills with more than adequate time on the clock. He obviously hasn’t been studying his form for Hammer this season. Blair maintains his 100% record with 2 wins out of 2.

Matteo’s rediscovered his mojo and is now turning draws into wins, taking control of this match-up early on and pressing home to an endgame with superior pawns and a Knight for a Bishop. There was no way to stop the promotion to a Queen and that was that.

Brian scored the crucial half-point we needed, and has included his game here for your enjoyment:

Playing black against the Sicilian, Brian established a Maroczy Bing in response to relatively passive play. But that all changed on move 9 when he faced a veritable kitchen sink being thrown forward in a kingside attack. Pawn pushes with e4 and h4-h5, two rooks on the f-file, Queen on g4 and a fianchettoed Bishop on b2. Brian swapped both bishops for two knights and advanced his Q-side pawns.

The opposition Queen eventually invaded on the sixth rank to threaten my a-pawn, but faced the counter-challenge of Queen and rook on the 7th threatening to take the a2 pawn and invade the seventh/eighth rank on his side. Eventually his opponent’s Queen became trapped on the Q-side, with no alternative but to exchange queens for a drawn ending of rook & minor piece each, with a totally blocked pawn structure.

The scorecard might have flattered us further on another night. Nadhmi and Gokhan both got themselves into strong positions before allowing their opponents to spoil the party. I’m afraid I didn’t see much of Ben or Ken’s games although I understand a significant blunder effectively ended the latter as a contents.

No matter, the night was ours. Full scorecard below:

The Good, the Bad and the Hammer

GM Lectures, Blitz Tourney, Rapidplay, and many, many games of chess – it has been a busy few weeks on Planet Hammer. We have a few results to update you on, so please read on…

28.02.18 – London League 5: Brixton v Hammersmith

In a scene redolent of countless westerns, there was an ambush last night where the Anvil Boyz were cruelly cut down by the Brixton Gang. Just through the swing doors, in the crowded scene of the Sit or Die Saloon, fist fights, drunken cavorting and knife stabbings were common place, especially at the bar.

Brian & Robin with their post-match analysis

First to go was Ben on board 3. He started humbly, almost modestly, adopting a Hedgehog posture, but quickly gained equality and looked good to win, hoping to surprise his opponent.

But suddenly, with two weapons drawn each – Queen and Rook – Ben fell to razor-edged tactics, and in the dying seconds, Ben succumbed to trickery of the Devil (back row mate, or give up house and home).

In equal measure shortly after, Simon on Board 2 was cut down. Some say it was a Sicilian Stiletto that undid him.

Last man standing was Robin, Anvil Chief Spiceman and bottle washer, who staggered out of the saloon but then stumbled and was carried to the Adjournment Hostelry, where he died, by turns cursing and mumbling.

The next morning three bodies were thrown in the nearest gulch, only the cruel east wind witnessed their burial. In minutes, spumes of snow tendrils covered the bodies.

Only one of the Anvil Boyz lived to tell the tale, top wrangler Brian, who saw the plot and bade peace early on with his counterpart, shaking his hand as he withdrew.

Follows here Brians comments on his game…

“I was black v a 138 opponent who played the Trompovsky Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). I went ahead with fianchettoing the KB, and he immediately swapped bishop for knight on f6 to double my pawns.

I played c5 in a Grunfeld-style attempt to undermine his central pawns, pressurizing d4 with my QN on f6. He advanced to d5, which cramped my Queen’s-side development and pushed my knight to a precarious e5, but allowed my KB lots of pressure on the long diagonal, supported by Qa5.

He developed carefully with connected knights on c3 and e2, then pushed away my e5 knight with f4, foregoing castling and escaping central pressure by relocating his king to f2.

I threatened to make a break along the e-file, but he solidified the support of his backward e-pawn with rook, bishop, knight and queen. As the queens-side pawn structure had by now become locked, he offered a draw and I accepted.”

Here ends the sorry tale.

Thames Valley March Update

02.03.18 – Last night Richmond was out-graded against Surbiton A by 33 points (162 v 195 average!) but won the match 4.5-3.5! Great result.

As you can see from the table, Kingston have been relegated. Now it’s between Ealing A and Surbiton B for the drop, with Ealing having better chances since they need just one more point from their remaining 3 matches.

I’d like to thank all Hammers who have contributed to our great results this season. We have secured our Division 1 presence with 5 games in hand. So we are in a neck & neck race with Richmond for third place.

Richmond have a better set of fixtures than us, so our home match against them no 16th April is hugely important.

We are also playing in the Thames Valley Cup Semi-Final against Richmond on 9th April, and a win could see us well on our way to being cup winners, since the other semi-final is between Harrow and Kingston!

The good news from a couple of days ago – Kingston and Surbiton B have played their next match and we are clear of relegation! Now we are playing for a better position in the table.

Realistically we should finish 3rd, but anything is possible. Since all the top teams are playing each other and Wimbledon A play Surbiton B twice (first match is on March 15th). Richmond also have to play all the top teams once, including us. We only have one away match against Wimbledon A on 19th March. All our other matches are at home.

So let’s prepare the March stage for the Hammers:

  1. First match on 19th March is away against Wimbledon A, starting 7.30pm
  2. Second match is on 26th March at home to Surbiton A, starting 7.30pm

Please let me know if you’re available!


21.02.18 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Lewisham

“Back in the Saddle Again”

Last week we brought you great news from London Division 4 in the way of our 5.5-2.5 win over promotion hopefuls Lewisham. We can now bring you the full report of the match that puts us back in the hunt at the top of the table.

Brian, acting as captain for the evening, talks us through the action as it happened.

First to finish was Gokhan on board 4. An inaccuracy in his opening line gave him an early advantage and sadly his position didn’t recover. His opponent quickly pushed home his edge to a won game. 0-1 down.

My game was next to finish on board 4. I had white in a c3 Sicilian, where after the pawn exchanges on d4, my opponent played Bb4+ and I ventured a slightly risky Nc3 and Bc4, leaving my e5 pawn vulnerable to his King’s knight. My pin on Bg5 was immediately released with the clever Qa5, exerting double pressure on the c3 knight and threatening a dangerous forking check.

A tense double-edged struggle ensued when I castled out of trouble and took his f6 knight as he took mine on c3. Upshot was a won pawn at the expense of his opened-up kingside pawn structure.

His decision to delay castling proved costly: swapping two pairs of minor pieces, I broke up his central pawn mass, chased his Queen and invaded with a rook via c7. The follow-up queen check on c6 left him powerless to avoid a back-rank mate on move 21. 1-1 and all square.


John was next to finish. He stepped in at the last minute to fill a gap on Board 6, but lost material against a player graded thirty points higher, eventually losing to a crushing attack. 1-2 down.

Charlie’s position on Board 7 looked unfavourable going into the endgame, with his opponent having an extra passed pawn. But Charlie never gives up, and succeeded in swapping off all the pawns to a drawn ending Rook & King v Rook & King. 1.5-2.5

Nadhmi on Board 5 had a complex game where at one stage he was a rook up for three distinctly menacing pawns. Later it was a bishop for two pawns, then an ending of bishop, rook & two pawns v rook and three pawns. Time was tight, but Nadhmi survived the rigors of the clock and emerged with king, bishop, rook and pawn against king and rook, whence his opponent resigned.

At this point the match was delicately poised 2.5-2.5, with Boards 1, 2 and 8 still to finish. Wyatt had been a piece down, but his opponent used a lot time and blundered the piece back again. Wyatt still had to defend against a push of two advanced pawns supported by rooks, but the opponent’s flag fell and Wyatt won on time.

Hammer held a 3.5-2.5 advantage with the top two boards to finish. Both had been tight games played solidly and accurately on both sides, with John White on Board 2 having to defend against minor piece incursions, holding a rook for bishop and knight. But he eventually prevailed after multiple piece exchanges when his opponent overlooked damaging forks with mating threats in a queen & rook ending.

Finally, Matteo on Board 1 invaded his opponent’s 7th rank to force resignation after the tightest strategic game of the evening. A very creditable win for the underdogs!


A Night at the Speelman

26.02.18The hallowed hall of The Anvil last night hosted chess royalty in the form of GM Jon Speelman. A special evening where over thirty Hammerites and guests listened, enthralled and captivated, to the wit and wisdom of a top man and a world-class Chess Grandmaster. The “Beast from the East” may have hit London but we had our Beast from Hampstead to keep us warm. The evening had something for everyone… read on.

First off, a few GM Speelman facts:

  • In 1989 he was ranked #4 in the world, with only some wood-pushers called Kasparov, Karpov and Timman keeping him off the top spot
  • He was a World Championship semi-finalist, losing narrowly to Jan Timman by the odd point
  • He is a writer, analyst, newspaper columnist, excellent company and all-round top bloke

My original brief to GM Jon Speelman was to analyse one of his games, talking us through his thought processes, reasoning and strategy. Needless to say, he delivered way beyond that, and graciously indulged us in a lengthy Q&A session.

For those of you who could not attend, you missed a treat. However, do not despair as all the games, puzzles and analysis are included in this report.

Packed to the rafters for the GM!
GM Jon takes us through a game on the practice board

The evening started with GM Jon laying out what he had in store for us, and supplying the first piece of GM Speelman wisdom on chess.

“I like games that are clear cut – either tremendously violent or logical, like this first illustrative game.”

The first game was a clash between Kramnik and SjugirovSochi 2016. The game is given below with Speelman analysis.

Jon – we are now BFF’s – went through the game encouraging and prompting answers from the audience. No idea or suggestion was too stupid, and all efforts were met with courtesy and listened to… then mostly demolished with logic and good grace.

The game itself is a brilliant example of a top-class Grandmaster, utilising a slightly superior position and giving his talented opponent no chance of counter play.

In particular, Jon enthused over move 24.g3, and as he explained his reasoning for his admiration of this move, uttered the second piece of Speelman chess wisdom of the night.

“If you have a positional advantage, do not press. Improve your position. The likelihood is your opponent will make bad moves”

At this stage of the evening Jon also revealed that he did not count moves when he calculated, he simply pinged!! A counting method I shall try out in my next over-the-board encounter.

Jon then turned to the second game to analyse, and this time he was less modest. It was his classic encounter from the 1989 Brussels Tournament against a certain Viktor Kortchnoi. A case of the unstoppable force meeting the…. unstoppable force. This was a real violent caveman encounter with no quarter asked, or given. As you would expect from two great chess warriors.

Here is the game:

Jon’s observations throughout this game were superb, and obviously heightened by his actual participation. The game goes mental from about move 7, and continues throughout with both GM’s walking a tightrope. The anecdotes about the game and then the final forcing line, were tremendously entertaining, educational and insightful – this was brilliant stuff.

The irony was, Jon confessed this was probably his best game – his “immortal”, but sadly contained a flaw. A rather dodgy character called GM John Nunn approached him immediately after the game and pointed out that if 16.Qc4 had been played by White, then Black had a lost position. How small are the margins between perfection and….. ?

The third piece of Speelman chess wisdom then emerged:

“Play positions you feel happy with. Regardless of material. If you are happy and are playing the game you want, then that is all you need”

The evening then changed tack with two studies being given the Speelman treatment. One an endgame study and one a middle-game fantasy. Both were fascinating and informative – by this stage I could only marvel at Jon’s patience and humour as numerous suggestions from the audience were shouted out. Two problems (with solutions) are given below:

The demonstration part of the evening concluded with Jon taking us through another violent game. This one featured GM Teimour Radjabov (famous for destroying Kasparov with the black pieces in a Kings Indian when he was ridiculously young) and a young, probably talented, upstart called Olexandr Bortnyk. The latter was dealt with harshly for obviously not showing enough respect or deference to the now thirty year old Teimour.

So, for your enjoyment and delight, admire the sheer brutality and the putting-you-in-your-place nature of this game.

After this piece of carnage another pearl of chess wisdom was bestowed.

“When you sit down at the board, you have to be in warrior mode. No half measures – you are there to fight”

The final part of the evening saw Jon doing his version of Question Time. Dealing with toughies such as:

  • What advice would you give kids when facing e4, Bc4 and Qh5?
  • Who will challenge Carlsen for the WCC?
  • When will we have a different World Champion?
  • I play c4, d3, e4… what do you think?
  • If Nakamura was playing you and he went e4, Qh5, what would you say or not say to him?
  • What’s the weirdest thing an opponent has done to you at the board? (One opponent actually laughed at him!!)
  • Who was the most talented player you ever met over the board?
  • What was your chess book collection growing up?
  • What were Petrosian, Smyslov, Spassky etc. like to play against?
  • What did you think of Fischer as a chess player, not as… ?

You can tell by the quality of the questions the Hammerites knew their stuff. By the way, two of the questions have the same answer – Ivanchuk. I leave you to work out what are the questions concerned.

Forty minutes past our official finish time your correspondent brought the evening to a close, and Jon accompanied various disreputable Hammerites to the Albion to carry on the evening. Knowing he had spent the weekend playing the Bunratty Chess festival, I can only admire his stamina.

The afterparty!

A couple of thanks before signing off – a big shout out to both Adam and Mike for helping me setup the furniture.

Also, a big note of thanks to Paul McK (the Prof) who kept Jon’s wine glass nicely topped-up and supplied the wine as well.

However, the biggest thanks go to GM Jon Speelman. An amazing chess player, analyst and raconteur, who can now bask in the added title of “Hammer Legend”.

Normal service resumes next Monday.

Rapidplay – Round VI

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month – it can only mean one thing!! Yes, the next round of our excellent Rapidplay Tournament is upon us.

Round V saw things go mostly to form. Our top pairing saw the game finish in a draw, leaving both players still unbeaten… amazing!! Can anyone topple Bajrush this season??

Further down the order, Ben scored a terrific draw against Pouya. We also saw Super-Sub Wyatt gain a brilliant victory over tournament controller Adam. Great chess!

Finishing positions are really up for grabs at the moment, with the situation changing each month. Lovely stuff.

So to Round VI, where a truly continental struggle sees Matteo take on Marios.

Star performer Ben faces a tough task against young gun Nadhmi, while Yasser tries to get some points on the board against Wyatt – not easy on current form!

The pairings further down the order are very even, so we hope to see some tight games and frantic finishes. Should be a cracker!

As usual, please arrange the location & date of the game with your opponent, and get your results to controllers Adam & Dave  by the end of the month.

Good luck one & all!!

Puzzle of the Week #014

With a record number of responses last week, it’s fair to say that our previous Puzzle of the Week was a proper thinker (or should that be thronker!).

Gokhan was first on the board with the correct (partial) sequence, but it was Bajrush who came in later with the full set of moves. Honours even this time, I think! Well done to you both.


  1. Qd5 Rb8
  2. Qb7!! Rxb7
  3. axb7 – promotion is then unstoppable. The miserable position of the black knight costs dear!

(Source: What it Takes to Become a Grandmaster, Andy Soltis)

And so to round XIV. Black to move & win!

The Return of the Hammersmith League

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and none more so than in chess! After a break of a few years, we are delighted to report that the Hammersmith League is making a comeback!

The League in its original form was always a local, casual arrangement between a handful of clubs in West and South-West London, providing face-to-face game opportunities for juniors and new or inexperienced players from the clubs involved, in addition to their other league setups.

With that in mind, the ethos of the League remains and we think this will really appeal to many of our newer members, and those looking for more experience over the board. There will be three Gameweeks as follows, with all games to be played at The Anvil/Lytton Hall.

Save the Dates:

  • 19th March
  • 9th April
  • 30th April

Hammer will be entering two teams, with Wyatt and Ben having agreed to stand as captains – thanks chaps! Battersea will also enter a team, along with SW London juniors. Look out for an email or two from our captains soon, as they look to nail down teams for the fixtures.

The rules are as follows:

  • Time Control: 30 minutes, plus 15 second increment per move
  • All games will be recorded
  • Each team will have 5 players
  • There will be two matches each night against the same player – one as black, and one as white
  • Second game begins as soon as the first is finished
  • Average grade of each team to be less than 115 ECF
  • All games will be graded (and will count to towards a Rapid rating)
  • A Trophy will be on offer for the winners
  • No player can play for more than one team
  • John White will act as arbiter on each of the evenings in the event of any queries

It’s a welcome addition to the chess calendar, and we look forward to the first round in March!

In Other News…

No match reports this week, but we are delighted to report a trio of great results.

On Monday, the Middlesex team ground out a superb result in League 2, squeaking home 4.5-3.5 against Albany. A hastily assembled match card is presented for your enjoyment:

With Carsten & Bajrush on boards 3 & 4, hopefully you get some idea of the standard of chess being played!

This was followed closely by a superb 5.5-2.5 victory for our London 4 team. The scorecard tells it’s own story, with us being out-graded by 14 points on average – a phenomenal result!

Particular credit must go to Charlie, achieving a draw against an opponent graded 38 points above him. And a special mention for Wyatt – not only for the superb win in beating a much stronger opponent, but also for stepping in last-minute to fill a late drop-out. Brilliant stuff – our new Super Sub!

And finally, our London 6 team achieved a creditable draw against one of the League’s strong teams, Hackney. Particularly good result for Nick, with a charming draw on board 3 against a stronger opponent.

GM Jon Speelman – Monday 26th February

The day is almost upon us – GM Jon Speelman is down at the club tomorrow evening to give a lecture on all things chess & tactics, plus some chess anecdotes, and he’ll be stopping round for a Q&A session! Don’t miss it!!

If you haven’t done so already, please get in touch to sign up today!

And Finally…

You can’t keep a good club down. Our efforts have been picked up by local councillor, Harry Phibbs, who invited our PR guru John to write a guest blog post for the Hammersmith & Fulham Forum website.

It’s a great little piece – have a read for yourself:

John White: Help for Hammersmith schools to start chess clubs


Puzzle of the Week #013

Unlucky for some, we are back for our thirteenth installment with another puzzle.

But first, to last weeks. It was another superb response from Hammerites with no fewer than 10 attempts – many of them not from Charlie!

The first correct reply was from Mohammad – well done to you sir! An honourable mention must also go to Gokhan with a slightly later, but equally correct, effort.

It was no mean feat – full solution as follows:

1.f6! gxf6
2. f4 Kd4
3. g5 fxg5
4. fxg5 Ke5 (if hxg5, h6 and black is outside the square, now it looks like he can stop the pawn except for…)
5. gxh6 Kf6
6. Kc2!!

Ed. Lasker – Moll, Berlin Ch 1904.

Black is now in Zugzwang! The actual game went 1.f4 f6, and black won, a tragedy for “Die Kleine Lasker” who would have won the city championship with a win in this game. (Source: The Bobby Fischer I Knew, Arnold Denker).

So to #13- White to move, answers in the comments please:


A Whole Lotta Hammer

“Not a Whole Lotta Love from Hammer 1 on Valentine’s Eve”

Welcome to the next rollicking installment of the Starship Hammer 1’s 2018 odyssey and it’s one-season mission to boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Star Date 13/02/2018 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to the planet of the Citadines to encounter a strange alien species called the Metropolitans. There is definitely a Gallic/Germanic flavour about this world, with our match taking place in the Berlin room.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

Thomas, Chris S, Jim, Paul McK, Tommaso, Pavel, Jeremy, Sheikh, Paul K, Clueless and Charlie. A team of old and new faces – indeed, if you go back just over two years only Jeremy, Sheikh, Paul K and I were Hammer crew members. The times – they are a-changing!

We out-graded our opponents on average by 25 points a board – although this was exaggerated by Thomas’s estimated grade. Thus, applying Pavel (Spock) logic, the result should not have been in doubt. This time the logic was not misplaced.

Despite missing the great talents of Zeus (Marios), Wily (Bajrush) and Paul McK (Prof) the Hammer gauchos were not going to be distracted and like the consummate professionals they are, the only dish on the menu was victory.

Chris S (Sydney or Show Bag) was fast out of the blocks. I know he is under huge pressure at work, with the added addition of personal stuff to deal with; indeed, he asked me if I could find a substitute for the match. I reluctantly told him I could not.

To his eternal credit and demonstrating dedication beyond the call of duty, he turned out. He took all his frustration out on his unfortunate opponent and romped to a quick and deserving victory. 1-0 Hammer.

Next up saw Jim (Loco) dishing out the punishment. I remember seeing his black b pawn landing on b2 and pawn mopping-up operations in full flow. Basically, it was a Bannockburn of a game and his opponent was duly routed and sent home to think again. Hammer flying at 2-0.

To the first reverse of the night with Sheikh, as black facing a Nimzovitch-Larsen setup from his opponent. If you ever contemplate playing this opening I refer you to the classic Larsen-Spassky encounter of 1969 as a cautionary tale. It certainly put me off playing 1.b3 for life.

This was one of those encounters when according to Stockfish Sheikh was +2.82 and cruising to victory. He then decided to finish off his opponent a la Spassky in the above-mentioned encounter. Alas, he left a bishop en prise and sadly went down in flames. A definite case of defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory. Hammer pegged back to 2-1.

Next up were Pavel (Spock) and your correspondent Captain Clueless.

Pavel playing black won the exchange with a nice rook pin, unfortunately his King was denuded of pawn protection and the draw was the smart and pragmatic move to make.

Clueless’ game followed a familiar pattern to all his games post-Christmas. A move mis-order as black, after resolute opening play in a c3 Sicilian, left him on the back foot. Fortunately, a tenacious fightback and good defence equalised the position and he was glad to accept the draw offer with only a few pawns and one rook left on the board. Hammer holding at 3-2.

Next up was Tommaso (Forza) who played the attacking game of the evening. Sacking a pawn as white in a Petroff opening, he gained hyper-accelerated development. With Black’s King trapped in the centre of the board he even indulged in a Queen offer – sadly refused by his uncooperative opponent – to force victory. A brilliant game and I suggest you study it carefully and learn. Hammer surging ahead 4-2.

Our second reversal of the night saw Thomas (T-Bone) have an off night. In desperation he sacked a knight on h3 to force complications, perpetual check, or for his opponent to go wrong. To be frank it was simply a bad night at the office and I should know having had so many myself. Hammer, still without clear blue water, 4-3 ahead and the tension rising.

Cometh the hour, cometh the men.

Yes, in our hour of need up stepped Charlie (Sorted or Kiev), Paul K (DeadEye) and Jeremy (Brexit).

Charlie, overcoming debute nerves for Hammer 1 and a lastminute.com SOS call from Clueless, played flawlessly. He basically was hoovering up pieces whilst maintaining a positional grip. It was a masterpiece of slaughtered chess. The only disturbing aspect was that his opponent continued to be tortured without throwing the towel in. Hammer now on the brink at 5-3.

Paul K (Dead-Eye) is in imperious form this season, and this night was no exception. Playing white and facing a passive opponent in a French Winawer variation, he was seemingly strategically won after 15 moves. He had buried black’s white-squared bishop, commanded 70% of the board and just needed to find a tactic to prise the position open. Black was reduced to meaningless moves. In the best traditions of Dead-Eye chess he found the way and the resignation came swiftly after. 6-3 Hammer.

Finally to Jeremy (Brexit), last to finish and even then, it is an adjournment. However, unlike our politicians Jeremy gets stuff done and sorted. He repulsed a speculative attack which saw him gain a knight for two pawns. The game resembled a Kings Indian standard king side attack. The problem was black over-reached. Jeremy consolidated his position and then cut off counter-play. In the adjourned position he has a monster passed-pawn that should settle matters in fairly short order.

The Hammer Starship heroes then beamed into the Wetherspoon’s pub on Kingsway to celebrate and bask in their victory. A perfect way to end the evening.


London League 5:  Greater London v Hammersmith – 16.02.18

Tuesday the thirteenth hardly seemed propitious, but read on…

Unfortunately Tuesday and 13 are considered unlucky . By coincidence  Constantinople fell on Tuesday, May 24, 1453 to the Ottomans. Even worse  the sum of the (year) date added up to 13  1+4+5+3=13.

Like the Romans of old, we should really study the entrails or read the latest weather report before entering battle.

The coin toss was lost, the match was duly lost 0.5 to 2.5, with one game being adjourned. Our venerable opponents were hosting a division 5 match in the storied, almost medieval, location of Upper Vestry Hall in Little Russell Street.

Top board saw our newest campaigner Shiraq Suntook with the black pieces emerging from the opening nicely with a seemingly strong position.  This however led to complicated middle game tactics and we saw our first loss. 0-1

On board three the Hammersmith captain, also with the black pieces, defended against the English opening.  White invested energy in early tactics, launching his queen and winning the h7 black pawn, but the white queen was nearly trapped and King was as yet uncastled. Black retaliated with multiple forced  exchanges In the centre, then a black queen  forked the  exposed King and hapless rook on A1.

That  should  have been that,  black was the exchange up, having 2 rooks and minor against one rook and 2 minors. and the end game started. But our wily opponent was made of stern stuff or more importantly nice unweakened pawn,and launched an increasingly vicious knight and bishop against the black king with scrappy loose pawns all over. After losing a piece in an unguarded moment through a knight fork, black went a piece down and  black had to resign. 0-2.

On board two,  our exciting new campaigner Dipender Gill was having a quiet positional game with the white pieces but getting  20 minutes behind in the clock. As the deadline approached Dipender launched a possible mating attack on the 8th rank but black launched his queen on the Dipender king, forcing  his king out of his fortress.

Our most exciting game was culminating in a M.A.D (Mutually Assured Destruction) scenario playing out, where both kings became  exposed . Queens, rooks  and minor pieces were king hunting, and no holds barred.  The King  was  being checked two or three times, as if being led out to execution, but no final coup de grace. Instead a pause and someone grabbed a loose pawn. First us, then them. Eventually Dipender’s opponent studied the board for nearly 15 minutes,  found nothing but repeated checking and so draw agreed. Bad Luck there! I thought I saw a Dipender win, but only analysis can reveal that.

Late in the match, I saw on board 4 veteran John Ryan ready to launch a final and very interesting attack on his  opponent’s king fortress, with the centre blocked and hardly anything being captured so far . The question was how to push g and h pawns to the 5th and beyond but the game had to be  adjourned. The game had a lot of play on both sides, but the match was already lost, sadly.

Puzzle of the Week #012

To say last week’s puzzle was popular would be something of an understatement – no fewer than 14 responses (albeit most of them from Charlie!!).

In the end, it was Charlie who got there first (on his 11th attempt), but credit to Adam too. Well done to you both and we’re loving the enthusiasm!

The full solution as follows:

1. Qc3+ (Qb2 is also ok), Kg8 (not forced but anything else loses lots of material)
2.  Qxh8+, Kxh8
3.  Bf6+, Kg8
4.  Re8+, mate!

So to this week’s puzzle, and it’s a bit more of a thinker.

All our recent puzzles have been about piece play, so this one celebrates the little guys – the pawns are the hero here:

White to move, answers in the comments…