London 4: Honours Even at the Lane

08.11.16 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Metropolitan

It was a classic ‘game of two halves’ last night. The first four games to finish landed us with just the half-point to show for our efforts. Then, just when it looked like we were heading for defeat, a fantastic last surge that Donald Trump would have been proud of, sent us to an honourable 4-4 DRAW. Probably pretty fair all things considered – there wasn’t much to call between the grades…

Standing room only on a busy night at the Lane

It’s a reflection on how hard I was concentrating on my own game that I have little insight on the games involving Brian, Robin or Andy. When I finally conceded defeat, we were already down 0.5 vs 3.5. Brian once again held firm and chipped-in with a solid half-point.

My game was a frustrating one. I felt I outplayed my opponent all the way through the middle-game, managed to fork King and Rook with my Knight and entered the endgame +1.5 points according to my engine. Still, they haven’t developed a Stockfish that allows for a couple of slack moves under time pressure! Before I knew it, my opponent had squared-up his double-bishops and they were at least as strong as my Rook / Bishop pair. Real frustrating one.

Ken was first to claim a win – an outstanding result on his debut! Not least because my spies tell me he looked in a spot of bother early-doors. It was nice to see the guys playing through some variations once the game had finished. A pleasure when you’ve won. Torture when you’ve lost.

The Hammersmith team, deep in focus…

Rich found himself in a good position against his tricky adversary, again with advanced pawns raiding their way up the board. Short on time, he pushed hard for promotion but allowed the back-door open and the most frustrating of finishes: a perpetual check when you’re clearly winning! No doubt almost as painful as his 5am start the next morning.

Next to finish was Orial who maintains his fine start for the club. All the focus was on his lone pawn on the 6th rank, and whether he could force it home. No easy feat with 3 pieces blocking its path. Still, through a series of skilful manoeuvres he found a way, and ended up slipping it a surprise checkmate into the bargain. Very impressive to watch.

The night was rounded off by John who was a whole piece and a pawn up when the clock chimed and it was time to adjourn. His position was solid, with a natural plan emerging to raid into enemy territory with his doubled-pawns. Sensing the end in sight, his opponent did the honourable thing and resigned rather than force the resumption. Also allowed a few of us to nip to the pub to muse over what might have been!

Another step on what’s proving to be a very enjoyable season in League 4. Next up is Metropolitan’s big brother team. The bigger they are, the harder they fall…

Result: Hammersmith 4 – 4 Metropolitan

And the current L4 table:


Hammersmith vs Fulham Juniors

Following a highly successful thriller of a match last season (it ended a 6-6 draw – details here), we again face the mighty Fulham Juniors in a one-off match next week at the Brunswick Club – Tuesday 15th November.

There are no grading restrictions, so if you are keen to play please contact John White to confirm your space in the lineup. It proved extremely popular last season so please get in touch if you don’t want to miss out.

The Brunswick Club is up on Haldane Road, SW6 7EU – a short walk from Fulham Broadway tube.

And looking further ahead… our Club Night on Monday 21st November features ECF-trainer (and 198-rated player) Tony Niccoli for a special evening of coaching.

Tony has generously volunteered to analyse and run-through some games, so if you have a particularly interesting encounter you’d like him to have a look at & share with the Club, please get in touch. Would love to see as many of you there as possible – promises to be very good.

London League Round-Up

With Hammersmith playing a second team in London 6 this year, it has been a busy week of chess.

Both of our League 6 teams were in action this week, along with the League 5 team, fielding 12 boards across the three games – thumbs up to the captains for organising. Write-ups below…

01.11.16 – London League 5: Hammersmith v West London, by skipper Robin Lee

In our second match we saw the debut of two players in this team in fine fettle, both getting cracking wins, although I was too preoccupied with my game to watch the excitement and fireworks.

On board 3, amidst a flurry of moves made in true blitz fashion, with groans and sparks flying, Chris Moore demolished his opponent.

In the case of board 4 it all seemed quiet on the Western front after an initial trade of some pieces and it appeared a draw was in the offing, with Andy defending a Smith-Morra played rather tentatively by White. After a weak 4th move from White, Andy strengthened his position slowly, getting a strafing set of bishops criss-crossing the board. White had seemingly two issues – an exposed Queen and the back rank undefended. The end was nigh, albeit with no apparent forced mate, although White resigned in the face of the inevitable.

Golden Lane goes wild for the Hammersmith crew

On board 2 in my game I played an odd defence to White’s e4 and it became almost a CaroKann, with some Pirc overtones. Needless to say, I played very cautiously and got my knight posted to advantage on D4 binding White. His queenside development left something to be desired.

There was a lot of manoeuvring of minor pieces to and fro but slowly I built up a pawn break in the centre and then on the King, with a Queen and implied Knight going for a fishing pole mate after White had moved g3. The Queen lighted on h3 with glee. But I pressed on the attack making no sacrifices, moving Bishop and Knight to support the Queen with a powerful Rook entering on g7.

With more time, perhaps doubling Rook,  I might have had a mating attack, but opted to trade pieces and I thought I was winning. Sadly he prevailed and after all the trades his Rook won an important pawn.  His doubled pawns on the h-rank became an essential feature of the endgame and bound the Black King unfortunately, the end was predictably and inevitably lost . My opponent played the endgame  with faultless technique.

On Board 1 Brian reached an endgame with just one Rook and pawns against ditto, but Black was 1 or 2 pawns ahead with a centre pawn mass.

Brian’s opening was the Max Lange attack that morphed into an Evans Gambit (his forte, I should add). The opening was played very sharply and suddenly Brian had Bishop and Queen bearing down on g8, and indeed I saw Bxd8 and I thought he had overwhelmingly won, because the black King and  Rooks became vulnerable, but after some wriggling Black was able to castle long. After that the game was about strengthening weak pieces and getting pieces out.

Thanks all for playing, and congratulations on the result.

Result: Hammersmith 2 – 2 West London



01.11.16 – London League 6: Hammersmith HEDGER v Metropolitan, by skipper Mike Mackenzie

A disappointing night for the Hedger team. With a late withdrawal and default due to illness, the team were up against it to get a result here. With the addition of a couple more teams to L6 this season, it has become an ultra-competitive minor league with no quarter given. Defaults will prove costly as we saw this evening.

Sadly the Hammersmith team never really recovered from the inauspicious start, with both Mike and John losing their games – unusual for them both to face defeat on the same evening. The omens clearly against us on the night.

The only positive was Dan securing a comfortable win on board 4. Hopefully this leads to a run of good form!

Result: Metropolitan Gnomes 3 – 1 Hammersmith



02.11.16 – London League 6: Athenaeum v Hammersmith MB, by skipper Rich Wingfield

Last night saw the first win of the season for Hammersmith MB against a tough Athenaeum side on their turf. Always a pleasure to visit the club in the west end – your first move of the night is navigating the entrance doorway!

On board 1 Chris started his game 30 mins behind on clock after a mix up, playing a quick-play game – not ideal! A tense Kings Indian, by the 30 move mark Queens had been exchanged and he’d caught up on time(!). A complex middle game developed, with Chris forcing his opponents King into a very tight position and winning a bishop to take the game. Great performance.

An uncommon French for Rich playing Black, the Schlechter variation led to a cramped opening. After getting in the freeing e5 he was able to get a pin on Queen and rook, securing the win.

Andy on 3 had a rollercoaster of a game. Ahead in development playing the Scotch as White, he was a piece ahead and apparently cruising to victory after 20 moves, only to squander the advantage and end up a Rook down in the endgame. A tough result to take, but he’ll go again!

Matt played excellently in his first competitive game for the club. Black in a semi-Slav, he managed to get a pawn up in a Rook Knight end game, but his opponent created a dangerous passed pawn. Some tight play later down to Knight and pawn, the game settled a draw.

A great result for the team, and well done to Matt on his debut.

Result: Athenaeum 1 – 3 Hammersmith

Thames Valley – a Halloween Nightmare?

31.10.16 – Thames Valley League: Hammersmith v Surbiton A

On a calm Halloween evening the Hammer TV team took on the might of Surbiton A – one of the powerhouses of Division One.

On paper Hammer were out-graded by average of 13 points per board! A tough ask on the spookiest night of the year.

The portents were not good when our captain Bajrush had to make a late withdrawal. However, the ever- reliable Brian Dodgeon stepped up to the mark.

This meant your correspondent stepped into the captain’s shoes and considering my record in LL 3 this season – this was not a good omen.

First up it was great to welcome Tony Niccoli to the fight. Making his debut for Hammer in league chess on board one. His first game was probably the most complex of the night.

Tony had Rook, Bishop and Pawn for his queen plus all the pressure. However, fine manoeuvring by his opponent broke the bind and the loss became inevitable. Tony fully embraced the fighting spirit of Hammer Chess and hopefully will be rewarded next time.

On second board Carsten in his calm and logical style got a rook for pawn and minor piece. Then demonstrating excellent technique, he converted his advantage. The beer in the Albion later on was very sweet. A really excellent win and the win of the night for Hammer

On boards three, four and six – the Hammer trio of Paul, Sheikh and Safi faced opponents who out-graded them by an average of 21 points. This was a tall order and the three loses did not tell the full story and our boys went down fighting – Sheikh was so close to equalising particularly.

On board eight Brian Dodgeon duly secured an advantage from the opening but could not convert. The draw was the only non-decisive match of the night. Great performance by Brian – after having to step in so late.

Board seven saw Adam play an amazing game in which he initially walked the tightrope in the early stages before gradually assuming a space and activity advantage. The victory was duly secured and another excellent win for Hammer.

Finally, to board five and your correspondents game. This was me playing the black side of a Benoni. The game was adjourned at move 37 with the sealed move played by myself. I have a bishop for three pawns and a space advantage. The computer is working full time to hopefully convert this into a win. Will keep you informed……

So was it a Halloween nightmare for Hammer ?

In my opinion – definitely not. It demonstrates clearly to me that Hammer belong in the top division and we can compete at this level.

Bring on Surbiton B next week !!!!

Result: Hammersmith 2.5 – 4.5 Surbiton A


ECF “Club Focus”… featuring Hammersmith

The astute amongst you may already have noticed that the ECF’s most recent Newsletter features Hammersmith Chess Club in the “Club Focus” section.


Club Focus is a recent addition to the Newsletter, allowing Clubs who have recently turned their fortunes around to share details of their success story to the wider Chess Club audience.

As we continue our Renaissance at Hammersmith, we thought it was the right time to share some details of our story in the hope that it may help or inspire other Clubs in similar circumstances.

The full article can be found here. Enjoy!


Hammer v Battersea Act III

27.10.16 – London League 3: Hammer vs Battersea

Act III -A Bitter Sweet Dance at Golden Lane

When friendships are suspended and no quarter given a subsequent bloodbath usually happens.

The match exemplified all that is best about London League Chess. The end result a narrow 6-4 loss for your Hammer colleagues, however forensic examination of the individual games shows that Hammer should have won despite an average 14- point grading deficit per board.

As in all sport it is the fine margins that count.

Bajrush as usual had a totally original position with his c4, d3 and e4 set-up. A positional sacrifice of queen for rook and minor piece and a slight positional edge did not work. When the Black Queen penetrated his position things went quickly downhill. A tough loss.

Paul on board 2 had a slight edge in a complex position but not enough to bring home the full point his resolute play deserved. The last game to finish, hostilities were ceased after 10pm and a draw agreed.

John Goodacre had a won game after strong and logical play. Material up, he was cruising to a well-deserved victory. He should have won. In his own words “Won game – was plus 4 – I basically got sloppy and messed up”. This quote has been heavily censored for the website. Caissa can be cruel is the moral of the story here – John deserved better.

Sheikh on board 4 played the black side of a Grunfeld for the first time and may possibly never play a better one. Extremely double-edged his opponent opted for simplification to secure the draw.

On board 6 Safi had a heavy manoeuvring/closed positional game that resulted in a draw – with each side cancelling out the other’s threats.

Brian took on Pavel – a former potential Hammer club member. Due to job requirements Pavel had to move to Tooting and hence joining Battersea was the logical move. To the game – Brian although out-graded by 24 points played a good game and secured the draw.

On board eight John Woolley had a drawn position and even held the advantage in an endgame with Bishop vs Knight. Unfortunately, a blunder led to the loss of Bishop and the loss of a point. John was cross with himself and hopefully set the record straight next time.

On board 10 Robin, although heavily out-graded and receiving a very late call-up, produced his usual fighting chess. He really went for it and created a very unbalanced position. An environment he thrives in. Sadly, fortune did not smile on him and a loss was the result. Am very grateful for him stepping up at such late notice.

The star of the evening was Matteo on board nine. Matteo has a very smooth style and beautifully outplayed his opponent both strategically and tactically. The sight of four pawns marching up the board with an accompanying rook on the 7th rank against a bishop, rook and King trapped on the 8th was brilliant to see.

Finally, your captain won in a very complex tactical battle where use of the Leicester City Chess rules worked perfectly. Forty minutes up on the clock and an original position on the board translated into my first win of the season. Great to get the first win after two losses and a draw so far.

I would like to congratulate all my team and they all exemplified the best traditions of Hammer Chess.

The win is coming and keep holding the faith.

John White, Hammer 1 Captain LL Division 3.

Result: Battersea 6 – 4 Hammersmith


SW London Juniors, and ECF Training at Hammersmith

Chess fans, some exciting news to share!

First up, we have arranged another double-header with a local Junior club – South West London Juniors. Based in SW10 (near West Brompton), the SW London club were founded in 2015 but already have a strong base of players and will be putting out 10 boards against us.

We’ll first play the Juniors at their home venue St Luke’s Church, Redcliffe Gardens on Thursday 23rd Feb, and play a return fixture at Lytton Hall on Monday 13th March. We’ll be looking at rapid play timings for both matches. Fixtures are on our Club Calendar – save the dates!

The SW London Juniors in action!

Secondly, in a brilliant gesture of friendship the Juniors co-founder and coach, Tony Niccoli, will be hosting a FREE evening of chess coaching at Hammersmith on the evening of Monday 21 st November.

Tony has been teaching chess since the age of 15, and is now an ECF trainer and arbiter, with a current rating of 198! More on Tony here, but suffice to say he is a top chess professional and it is a real treat to have him offer his services at Hammersmith.

The session is going to be based around a run through & analysis of some games submitted by members. Please get in touch if you’d like your game to be included, so that Tony has time to prepare an analysis first.

We’re really looking forward to seeing as many of you there as possible, should be a great night.

London League 4 – Hammer March On!

20.10.16 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Alfil

A great win last night against the ever-burgeoning ranks of Jerzy Dybowski’s junior chess academy! Hammersmith triumphed 5.5 vs. 2.5 against Alfil which temporarily takes us top of the league in Division 4. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!!

Alfil are affiliated with Newham and boast a similarly talented young side. Don’t let the grades of some of these players fool you – they played far better than the numbers would suggest. 8-year old Shreyas Royal on Board 2 was particularly impressive. One to watch for the future for sure.

They didn’t get off to the best of starts though. One of their guys was unable to make it, so your captain stood down, claimed the 1-point advantage through default, and was free to prowl the hall gauging progress of the other games. Don’t expect this level of detail every week!

Chris and Rich were first to finish, claiming smart victories against their young adversaries. Chris developed a tricky attacking position, and ultimately gained the advantage by trapping his opponent’s Rook with a menacing knight amid a cramped pawn structure. Rich emerged from the opening a whole Knight-up, making the advantage count as they entered the endgame. Neither was keen on resigning though! 3-0 up in double-quick time.

Orial raced to an endgame but found himself a pawn down against his (very) young opponent. Not helped by having a loose pawn with plenty of space to move into, or by the lad’s Dad watching from the sidelines! I think Orial was surprised – and pleased – to be offered the draw, which he gratefully accepted.

Victory in the match was secured by Brian. He played a very solid game and worked his way into an endgame, one pawn up and carrying a bishop to his opponent’s knight. At one point it looked gridlocked, and a lesser man would have offered a draw, but Brian ably forced zugzwang meaning his king could advance into enemy territory. A quick exchange of pieces meant he was now clearly winning and resignation followed.

Dan was our first faller on the night, going down to a lad playing at breakneck speed – he obviously needed to get home for bedtime. A big gap emerged between the two clocks and the iinevitable mistakes came as the menace of time-trouble reared its head. Solid player though – never a 70!

The night was rounded off with Adam and Robin as we reached our time control. Adam lost in an extremely tight endgame – a knight and equal pawns apiece. His opponent found a way to force the exchange of knights and force his king through behind enemy lines. That was enough for Adam to offer his hand.

Robin played one of the more dynamic and exciting games of the evening. Lots of tactics and sharp interplay, with his opponent forced into defensive concessions from the middle-game onwards. A double attack on queen and king gave him the material advantage which he drove through to conclusion as the seconds ticked away. 4 wins out of 4 for Mr. Lee this season in the various London Leagues. A man on form!

It took us 10 matches to get 1.5 points last season. This time we’ve done it in 2!

Well done all – let’s keep it going! Double header against Metropolitan coming up.


Result: Hammersmith 5.5 – 2.5 Alfil

League table:


Middlesex League Opener

17.10.16 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith v Ealing 2

Monday 17th October could mean only one thing – the start of this year’s Middlesex League, at least as far as Hammersmith were concerned. Excited expressions were present across the faces of all who attended, as Lytton Hall was to play host to the might of Ealing 2.

Having narrowly been relegated from division two last year, we knew we had something to prove. As such, many seemed surprised by my decision to rest four of our top five boards. However, with our opponents coming into the match in bad form, and having heard rumours about their possible starting lineup, I was confident our middle order would pull through.

Play got underway at 7:30 sharp, and it was clear from the outset that both teams meant business. Sacrifices and zwischenzugs came flying across the boards at all angles, with spectators struggling to take their take their eyes off the boards to tend to their cups of tea.

First to finish was Alex Meynell. An assertive “checkmate” coupled with an astonished yelp were audible from board seven. It was clear what had happened. Alex had slyly wound his opponent up in one of his infamous opening traps and turned the screw. His disappointed opponent left the hall after just an hour.

Next up was board three. Sheikh Mabud, playing as black, faced Bird’s Opening (1. f4). After much deliberation, Sheikh decided he was not sufficiently up to speed with the notoriously double-edged From’s Gambit (1…e5!?) and instead responded with the main line (1…d5). Sheikh was further caught off guard by his opponent fianchettoing his queen’s bishop and attacking fast down the kingside. Sheikh held his nerve well. He proceeded to force tripled pawns on the g-file before coolly mopping them up with his rook. What followed can only be described as a meltdown from his opponent, who offered his hand in resignation before the time control.

Yours truly was third to finish. After my last four games for the club with the black pieces, I was relieved to finally have the first move. 1. d4 g6 2. Bf4 Bg7 appeared on the board and it seemed my opponent was happy to sit back and allow me to play in my favoured positional style. It transpired that he was to be the architect of his own downfall. After firstly failing to castle behind his fianchettoed bishop, he developed his knight to d7 where it found itself trapped by my queen’s pawn and blocking in his light-squared bishop. Weakening his pawn structure with the premature a6 and h6 were to be the final straws; soon his poorly developed pieces were overloaded, and resignation came on move 25.

Brian Dodgeon looked absolutely in control of his young opponent from the first move. His experience allowed him to gradually improve his material and strategic advantage, effortlessly negating his challenger’s attempts to attack down the queenside. Soon Brian’s passed f-pawn became unstoppable, and resignation was inevitable.

Dave Lambert clinched the fifth win and victory for the team. With his opponent’s king boxed in on h8, he sat for a long time, calculating, trying to find an elegant smothered checkmate. With time running low, amazed at his inability to procure the elusive mate, Dave calmly switched plans, instead pushing home his material advantage in the shape of two strong central pawns.

Fresh off the back of his dominant debut for the club, new member Orial O’Caithill was looking to maintain his 100% streak. Entering the endgame with two knights and five pawns each, Orial’s superior pawn structure and flawless technique appeared as if it was going to make the difference. With 20 minutes on his clock versus his opponent’s two, Orial hung a knight, gasping in frustration. Unwilling to trial his bullet chess skills, his opponent offered a draw, which Orial gratefully accepted.

After two and a half hours of play, Yasser Tello had reached a dead drawn endgame. With each player having an almost identical pawn structure and one knight apiece, spectators were perplexed by his decision not to take the draw. Yasser’s ambition paid off – after some Carlsen-esque maneuvering and a couple of seemingly innocuous inaccuracies, his opponent suddenly found himself in zugzwang. Yasser’s king entered the black stronghold and ruthlessly mopped up the pawns.

As the night drew to a close, everyone found themselves gathered around board one. Paul Kennelly looked to be dominating with the black pieces. He had a strong knight versus a weak bishop, and was pinning virtually all of his opponent’s pieces. As the inevitable time scramble commenced, calculation was out the window and instinctive mayhem ensued. Paul’s frustration was apparent as his opponent miraculously consolidated his position and won a pawn. A clever tactic sealed the defeat – white sacrificing his pawn with check to discover an attack on the black queen.

All in all, a very good start to the season. Next up is Harrow 2 at home on 14th November, where we’ll hope to face a slightly stronger team but win by an even bigger margin!


Result: Hammersmith 6.5 – 1.5 Ealing 2


Hammersmith v Fulham Juniors – Save the Dates

A couple of dates for your diaries – following on from the highly successful game between our clubs last season, (a tightly contested 6-6 draw!), Hammersmith will again be taking on the mighty Fulham Juniors over at their home venue on Haldane Road.

This time we’re making it a double-header, with games on Tuesday 15th November, and a second round on Tuesday 21st March. Both dates added to our Club calendar.

The Juniors are a terrific side, ably run and coached by Paul McKeown. As always with the youngsters they are ridiculously fast learners and often their grade belies their true ability – it’s sure to be a good test!

We’d like to put out as many boards as possible so please get in touch with a team Captain to let us know if you are keen to play.