NEW!!: Club Rapidplay Tournament

After a successful trial earlier in the year, Hammersmith Chess Club will be running a Rapidplay Tournament over the course of the 2017-18 season. Bear with us – you’re in for a lengthy post!

The tournament will be run over 8 matches, with pairings decided via a Swiss system. The controllers will be Adam Cranston (Middlesex Captain) and Dave Lambert (London 4 Captain). All matches will be graded, so we should be able to work towards almost everyone receiving a Rapidplay grade by the end of the season.

Tournaments have typically failed in the past due to difficulties getting players together on a given night. No more.

With the exception of the kickoff and closing matches – which we’ll host Face to Face at the club – there will be one round per month, and it’ll be up to each of you to track down your opponent, and arrange a time/date of your choosing to play . It could be Lytton Hall, it could be at one of your houses, or it could be down the pub. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re both happy with the conditions & the game gets played within the month.

You play your match. You let Adam and Dave know the result, and they do the rest. They’ll tabulate the standings, and publish the next set of pairings at the end of each month. Then you’ll  have the next month to arrange Game 2, and so it goes…

Competition Structure:
  • Fee: £0 – included within HCC membership fee
  • Matches: 8, over course of season, one per month Oct 2017 to May 2018 inclusive
  • Pairings: Swiss system
  • Graded: Yes, all games to be submitted for July 2018 grading list
  • Scoring: 1 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw, 0 points for a loss
  • Tie-breaks: Decided by Buchholz method (sum of opponent’s raw tournament score)
  • Format: Rapidplay
  • Time Control: 45 minutes for all moves; no increment
  • Match Conditions: Kick-off & Closing matches (matches 1 & 8) at Lytton Hall: “Tournament” conditions (no talking, no mobiles etc.)
  • Matches 2-7: Entirely up to you, and what you agree with your opponent. If you’re both happy with the conditions, that works for us. We will however schedule designated “Rapidplay” nights at the club throughout the season for those who fancy playing at Lytton Hall, perhaps followed by Training.
Competition Timing:
  • September: Registration – if you wish to play, contact Adam or Dave by 30th September
  • Oct 23rd: Game 1 (Face to face at Lytton Hall)
  • Nov-April: Games 2 to 7
  • May: Game 8 (Face to face at Lytton Hall) & competition finale
Entry Requirements:
  • You’re a member of Hammersmith Chess Club
  • You’re registered with the ECF for the 2017-18 season (Bronze will do)
  • You’re happy to commit to playing the full 8 matches throughout the season

Four prizes will be awarded for the best score in each of the below categories. No one will be eligible to win more than one award:

  • Open (no grade limit)
  • Kings <160 ECF
  • Bishops <130 ECF
  • Knights <100 ECF

Grades will be based on July 2017 grading list.

  • If you have a Rapidplay grade, we’ll use that
  • If you only have a Slowplay grade, we’ll go with that
  • If you have neither, we’ll estimate your grade


  • All players will be permitted to take a maximum of 2 byes over the course of the tournament, scoring 0.5 points in each case.
  • Requests for byes must be submitted in advance of the end of the month, and in advance of the round in question’s pairings having been communicated.
  • Byes cannot be taken for the final round.

Late Entries:

  • May be permitted at the discretion of the tournament controllers
  • Late entrants will start with 0 points as standard

Failure to complete a match within the designated month:

  • Both players will be awarded 0 points
  • Unless a player can demonstrate they have made reasonable and repeated (>=3) attempts to find a suitable time/date for the match, in which case they may be awarded the win by default
  • Adam and Dave to make the final decision on any disputes

The tournament controllers reserve the right to make minor tweaks to the tournament as the season progresses due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a scenario, a written update will be provided to all the players.

If you have any questions please drop Adam or Dave an email:

And remember – if you wish to play, please let us know by 30th September at the absolute latest. We’ll produce the first set of pairings shortly after the deadline.

Thanks & good luck!!

2017-18 Fixtures – They’re OUT!

Dust off the diaries folks, & get your midweek excuses ready… we now have confirmed fixtures for most of our teams for the upcoming season.

Full details are on our Calendar page, and further information is available on the London League website (Middlesex and Thames Valley League fixtures are mostly TBC at present).

It’s going to be an absolute cracker this year – with one extra team in the Middlesex League, we’ll be entering 8 teams across 6 Leagues! There will quite literally be dozens of opportunities for all our members to get involved with competitive, Face-to-Face games this year.

That’s even before we talk about our soon-to-be-launched season-long, graded Rapidplay tournament (more details coming up later this week – stay tuned!).

Detailed information below:

  • Our London League odyssey officially kicks off on Wednesday 4th October, as our two Division 6 teams face off in the season-opener.
  • October is looking like an awesomely-busy month already, even before we add the Thames Valley fixtures – fully THIRTEEN games of chess! It’s going to set the pace for the rest of the season!!
Important Logistics you need to be aware of:
  • London League games have now MOVED – the Golden Lane venue is alas no more. The League has moved to a new venue near Holborn – The Citadines Hotel on High Holborn (94-99 High Holborn, WC1V 6LF) – it’s a 2 minute stroll from Holborn tube station.
  • The new facility is a bit more ‘plush’ than Golden Lane, and will offer free tea & coffee (!), as well as cheaper beer prices for those post-match analyses.
  • All games at the Citadines Hotel will start at 7pm, and will normally be held on a Wednesday evening
  • Note that, as usual, any clubs with a home venue in Underground Zone 1 will continue to host their home matches at their venue. In addition to this, our friends at Battersea will also be hosting their home games at their Battersea Labour Club venue this season (81-83 Falcon Road, SW11 2PF – 5 minute walk from Clapham Junction Station)
  • Please familiarise yourself with the fixtures you’re likely to be playing in, taking particular note of the start times (they vary considerably by venue!), and addresses. Full details are on our Calendar, and the London League website.
  • If you’re in any doubt, please just drop a line to the team Captain
  • Some of our captains will be arranging games using the Teamster smartphone app. This is a great piece of tech which we pioneered for our Summer League fixtures. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to download it now. It truly makes yours and the captains’ lives much, much easier!
Playing Requirements – Important!

We will be operating a strict, but simple set of playing requirements this season as follows:

  • All players must be ECF registered AND a fully paid-up member of the club BEFORE they will be picked for any League games.
  • ECF Registration – is very simple, and very cheap. From the ECF website: – select “Join the ECF” from the right-hand menu, and simply follow the instructions. You only need to be a Bronze member, which is around £15 for the year, though of course you are welcome to choose Silver or Gold membership if you wish.
  • Hammersmith Chess Club Membership – is also very simple, and extremely good value. The full range of Membership options can be viewed here. If you haven’t already done so, please contact your team captain, or a member of the Committee and we can provide you with full details of how to pay your subs.
  • We will be imposing a strict deadline of September 25th for subs & ECF memberships to be paid. If you aren’t fully signed up by this point, team Captains will not pick you for games. There will be no exceptions.
  • Please help us out by ensuring you get signed up as soon as possible.

Many thanks, and on with the chess!!!

Caro-Kann: Monday 4th September

Save the date: this coming Monday our resident Italian gent, Matteo, is hosting an evening dedicated to the Caro-Kann, at The Albion.

This will be one of our final nights at the Albion before moving back to Lytton Hall when the season proper begins later this month, and it is set to be a cracker.

Matteo will be covering the main variations of the Caro-Kann defence, with the aim of showing how Black can always enter the middle game at least equal, if not ahead of White.

The session will also cover the seemingly unfair reputation amongst players that the opening has as a “drawish” line.

Lines to be covered will include the following:

  • Mainline (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5)
  • Two Knights Variation (1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3)
  • Anti-Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5)
  • Classical Variation
  • Modern Variation
  • Tartakower
  • Exchange
  • Advanced
  • Fantasy

No matter your level, it will certainly be an in-depth session on the defence – perhaps particularly relevant for players at the lower end of the rating scale who may be unfamiliar with it.

Session starts at 7.30pm – don’t be late! As ever, no need to be a member – this is open to anyone who’s interested. The more, the merrier! In the immortal words of Homer Simpson… “molto bene


If that’s not enough… please find some details below about an upcoming tournament being hosted by our friends at GLCC. Key details as follows:

  • Date: Tuesday 12th September
  • Time: 6.45pm start
  • Entry: £8 (advance), £12 (on the day)
  • Prizes: 40% of the entry pot!
  • More information:
  • Contact: (Nigel Blades)


There Ain’t No Cure for the Summer League Blues

This bulletin comes with a Hammer health warning.

Yes, my fellow Hammerites, just like the late and great Eddie Cochran, there seems to be no end to the Summer Chess Blues for our gallant boys. Our Summer teams both suffered narrow 3.5-2.5 point defeats in the penultimate round of the Summer Chess League this week.

This was particularly harsh on our Totally Hammered boys, who had to concede a default on board 5. Furthermore, the pain was compounded by a touch and move error by Yasser in a winning position. Tony and Ken both had excellent wins.

The Just Hammered team had one of those nights where the result could have gone either way. Marios, playing White, missed a win in a Bishop v Knight ending resulting from a Gruenfeld opening. Your correspondent, with the Black pieces, overlooked an intermezzo that would have provided a good edge in a Benoni/Kings Indian opening. Two draws on the board.

Nadhmi had his worst game of the Summer League and Jay arrived late and flustered and hence did not give one of his best performances. We were now -2 and although David pulled off a smooth victory, Dipender was unlucky not to record a win which would have drawn the match.

Sad to say both Totally and Just teams are now in full rehab and licking their wounds. With just one round to go in this inaugural season we occupy the bottom two places – not a pleasant sight of feeling. There is no other way to view it.

However, the job of any Hammer reporter is to accentuate the positive and there is plenty to be positive about.

Here is some food for thought in these dark times:

  • We have blooded two new captains – both Marios and Ken have stepped up, giving them valuable experience for the 2017-18 League season.
  • Many new members have played their first timed game over the board – proper competitive chess. This is something that is crucial and will stand Hammer in good stead for the coming season as well.
  • The Summer League has allowed us to make new friends and start something new in the London Chess scene.
  • The fact that all games are played to a finish is great, with the use of digital clocks in the league clearly demonstrating the need for the club to invest in this technology.
  • The introduction of the “Teamer” app – a bit of modern, smartphone technology helping our captains arrange a team with less fuss than a multitude of emails.

There are many more positives to take from the first season of the SL and I know we will be better prepared next year.

With regard to the night itself, the brightest ray of sunshine was that Adam’s game was selected as game of the week, and hence subjected to a forensic analysis by the Ginger GM, aka GM Simon Williams. The video is now available on the Summer League website, and the Ginger GM channel on YouTube.

I have to say the fact that Adam played the London System, and that he introduced new ideas, makes the video compelling viewing (for the uninitiated, the GM is a huge proponent of the London System). This innovation in the Summer League is brilliant, and so educational. We are all grateful to Simon and Aldo who have really driven this.

Hammer, the message is “keep the faith“. Continue to believe and we will get the positive results we deserve!!

I sign off with the link to the original Summertime Blues:


Puzzle of the Week #008

It’s been a while – once again – but we’re back for another installment.

Our previous puzzle back in June was an interesting one. With Black to move, there doesn’t appear to be anything decisive…. Dig a little deeper though, and you can see a neat combination that allows Black to pickup the White Knight hanging on d5.

Paul takes the plaudits for this one, with Black to move 1… Nxf3, 2.exf3 Bg2, [threatening to take the White Rook] 3.Rg1 Bxf3+ [checking White, and allowing the Bishop to take the Knight for free on the next move]. Tidy.

Up next is this beauty – White’s move, with spaghetti all over the board. Solutions in the comments as usual please:

Game of the Week: Harry Needs a Push

Week 4 of the Summer Chess League saw our two Hammersmith teams facing something of a tough time.

Full results and all the games are available on the Summer Chess Website:

It’s well worth a look at some of these tussles – great opportunity to click through & learn, particularly from some of the stronger games.

As if that’s not enough, Hammersmith’s very own Adam Cranston features in the Game of the Week, an accolade meaning that the Ginger GM – Simon Williams – gives his full, 30-minute analysis of the game. That full analysis is available here on YouTube – well worth a look:

Doubly interesting too, as Adam is a practitioner of the London System, something the Ginger GM is a huge proponent of – he’s released a number of DVD’s and lots of training material on the system. Enjoy!

Tourneys & Training

Last week, the club descended on The Albion for a night of rapid play. The competition was hugely varied – members, non-members, graded, un-graded, and from serious club players to beginners, all showed up to play.

Everyone was to play two games to be submitted to the July 2018 grading list. The lineup looked like this:

Round 1 threw up a few surprises. Potential new member, Nad, scored a fine win over John. While a blunder from Pouya allowed Mike Mac to capitalise.

The last game to finish saw Richard take out arch-nemesis Dave in a game that went right to the wire:

With tiredness setting in, there were a couple of dropouts for round 2. The highlight of the round saw Desislava taking Thomas right to the wire, missing a tricky win at the end and ultimately losing:

When the dust settled, Richard was the winner on the night, with 2 wins from 2. An honourable mention to Desislava, who played two good games against players graded over 200!

An enjoyable evening surely to be repeated in future!

Training Update

Last night, Carsten hosted his second much-anticipated training session of the Summer. He played through three games of Chris Moore’s on the demonstration board, explaining common themes and describing Chris’s progression over the past two years.

It was a very well-attended and enlightening session. We look forward to many more in the future!

Coming Up

Next week the club is “officially” closed for the Bank Holiday. However, all the equipment will be at The Albion and no doubt there’ll be several members using it – we’d love to see you there.

This will be followed by our final two weeks at The Albion, starting with a session on September 4th from Matteo “Suit” Bezzini, going through the intricacies of the Caro-Kann defence:

The Summer season culminates on September 11th with our Summer handicap blitz tournament, with prizes to be won! Save the date!!

Training Night @ The Albion: 21st August

Looking at the last ECF grading list, the Hammer star turn has undoubtedly been Chris Moore, who has improved his grade over 2 years from 88 to 121, which means the Chris of 2017 would score 80% against the Chris of 2015 – if you believe the grading system!

This is particularly interesting as Chris was in the same situation as a number of other new (and newish) members of the club, who have all played some social chess before and are certainly not beginners, but on the other hand are not used to facing experienced club players regularly.

Chris eats a snack whilst contemplating his position

Chris has successfully bridged this gap in a short period of time, and in this session we will look at how his play has changed to achieve this, together with some suggestions regarding where he could look to improve further.

There will of course also be some concrete chess analysis, with a bit about opening theory and discussions of both positional and tactical themes.


  • The Albion Pub, Hammersmith Road, upstairs function room
  • Monday 21st August
  • Starting 7.30pm

Our top player Carsten Pedersen (206) will be hosting the session – See you there!

North v South

The Southern Counties Chess Union (SCCU – catchy!) celebrates 125 years of existence this year. It was the first of what was to become five regional chess unions in England, which later gave birth to today’s English Chess Federation.

To mark the historic milestone they’re hosting a huge chess shindig up at Swiss Cottage next month.

It’s going to involve upwards of 400 players taking part in a massive North v South game – a nod to the distribution of the historic counties of England around the river Thames. You can read more about the fascinating history here, but the essentials you need to know are as follows:

  • When: Saturday 16th September, from 1pm
  • Where: The Hall School, Swiss Cottage, NW3 4NU
  • What: All moves over 125 minutes, across as many boards as possible
  • ECF rated? – YES!

Hammersmith members have already started registering their interest – all you need do is choose a side, and drop an email to the relevant team captain. Rivalry aside, it’s rare to see so many competitive games in a single place – should be a belter!

Rumour has it the nearby Swiss Cottage Tavern will be rather busy afterwards too… Good luck!

Stop Press! Graded Rapid-play Tourney!!

Brace yourselves for a frantic evening of chess! This coming Monday 14th August we’ll be hosting a pre-season Graded Rapid-play night.

Following hot on the heels of last season’s hugely successful Rapid-play evening, this is another opportunity for everyone in the club to obtain a quick-play grade.

Details as follows:

  • Where: The Albion pub (upstairs function room)
  • When: Monday 14th, two games starting at 7.45, and 8.45 – one as White, and one as Black, against an opponent of similar ability
  • Time Control: 30 mins per person, no increment

Anybody who is ECF registered for the 17/18 season is eligible to play, we’ll just need to know your ECF number – this includes any non-members who want to come along.

And, in a sneak preview of our plans for next season – we’re finessing details for our season-long Club Rapid-play tournament. We’ll be offering graded Rapid-play games on a monthly basis for anyone who wants to enter… watch this space!