League Season Update – April 2024

The 2023/24 Season is reaching its crucial stage, and many of our teams have been doing well and fighting for the top stop at their respective League Table. With 15 different teams across 4 Leagues and 12 Divisions, there is still a lot to play for! We bring an update on how we’ve been doing and what to look forward to.

Team Stats and Ranks:

So far, 98 Hammersmith members have taken part of League Matches this season, playing a total of 765 games and scoring 423.5 points (55%). We’re hoping a few more newer members will join a team so we can make it to 100 before the season ends!

As for team stats, below are our standings and scores for each of them:

Notice many of them currently sitting on the top 3, with special mention to Hammersmith 1 who have already become Champions of Middlesex League Division 2 with a few matches to spare, and Hammersmith 2 securing first place on Central London League Division 3, with one final match remaining (Wanstead vs Battersea) where the former could catch us at the top – though we trust the tiebreaks will work in our favour. Congrats and big thanks to both Luke and Nick, respectively, on captaining these teams.

We also have good chances to win the trophy for the third time in 4 years in the Thames Valley League, where we are currently tied for first alongside defending champions Kingston with one more match to be played for each team – make sure to contact Bajrush if you want to take part in the final match against Maidenhead on Monday 29th of April.

Another team with good chances to end up at the top is Hammersmith 3 (Middlesex League Division 3), trying to catch up with Willesden and Brent, who started slow (2 draws and a loss) and then went on a furious rampage with 9 wins in a row. Even then, Hammer 3 has won all their matches against other clubs so far, and keeps chances to win the league by doing well in the last 3 games.

Last but not least is the remarkable campaign of Hammersmith 2 (London League Division 3), where competition has been extremely tough and several teams are still in contention: the unis UCL and KCL have had tremendous seasons and are currently tied at the top with 16 points. Hammer 2 could overtake them by winning our remaining 2 matches – but one of them is against Lewisham who could also get promoted if they don’t drop any more points in the rest of the season, so we can expect them to bring their very best.

Notable Upcoming Fixtures

In addition to the aforementioned match against Maidenhead where we’ll try to win the Thames Valley League, there are plenty other matches to look forward to!

Next Tuesday (16th April), our Women’s team will be facing Lewisham at the Mindsports Centre, where a win would take us to second place behind the runaway leaders London Universities. We are hoping to be able to use our DGT board to livestream the game and provide commentary from some Hammer players – stay tuned for more details.

A week after that (23rd April), our First team will be playing our hardest match of the year against the unstoppable Wood Green – champions of the London League every season since 2002/03. We will also use our DGT board, but we are hoping people can show up in person and support the team, there will be a commentary room at the MSC where we will analyse the game and try to get into the mind of a strong GM – an amazing chance to hear how experienced players come up with ideas during their games, don’t miss it!

There will be many matches as well during the month of May, that will help clarify the situation in most of the Leagues and Divisions, and only a handful to be played in June. While it still depends on other results over the next few weeks, there is great anticipation already for our very last match of the season: Lewisham 2 vs Hammersmith 2 (11th June)! If both teams win their remaining matches, then the result of this encounter will decide the promotion to Division 2 of the London League (while a draw could mean UCL will be the team getting promoted!).

Crowds gathering to watch Lewisham vs Hammersmith at Leadenhall Market last March

Lewisham has had a fantastic season so far, with their first team in Division 1 beating strong clubs such as Hackney and Cavendish, and they’ve shown strong results in other Leagues they play in. This undoubtedly strengthens the competitive landscape of London Chess and we look forward to high quality games in what could be the SuperBowl of Division 3!

Game of the Season Award

Like we did last year, we will be awarding the best game of the season played by a Hammersmith member with our favourite GM, Danny King, selecting the winner and publishing a video with his analysis of the best game. Getting your game analysed by a fantastic commentator such as Danny is a great honour and we encourage everyone to send in their most entertaining game of the season – please contact Gaston with your submission (highly preferable in .pgn format or text notation rather than a photo of the scoresheet). Please also include the date and teams involved, if you can.

We hope everyone has enjoyed the season so far and wish our players good luck in the remaining matches!

Gaston

 

Champions of Middlesex Chess League Division 2

We are Champions!!

Yesterday the team travelled to Muswell Hill to play our 4th away match of the season. It was an important match as we had the knowledge that a win would make us champions with 3 matches to spare. There were unfortunately also many issues with team selection, as we were short of players until the day before the match, and one of the selected players found himself unwell on the day and needed a quick substitution.

Thankfully Sohum Lohia helped us solve the former issue by volunteering to play, and Christof Brixel stood in at very short notice (noon on the day) to replace the player who couldn’t play. I really appreciate Sohum and Christof for volunteering themselves ahead of this important match, especially in view of the remote location of the playing venue.

The match unfortunately didn’t start well as one of our players defaulted. However, Sohum and myself got very strong positions early in our games, and converted our advantages. Congrats also to Sohum for scoring his first win for this team. Christof then won a sharp game sending us to 3-1, so we required only one more half-point to secure our title. Eventually, Greg Billenness was the hero who scored the win to push us over the finishing line, making us the champions of the 2023-24 season of Middlesex League, Division 2! Finally, Carsten Pedersen rounded the match off in an adventurous game on the top board. As a result, we prevailed 5-1 with 5 wins, and with that our quest to be division champions culminated in success. Detailed match results are below or at this link.

With this result, we scored 9 wins out of our 9 matches (so far), which means we are champions with 3 matches to spare. The league table can be found below or at this link.

We currently have 18 match points, while no other team in the league could obtain more than 17 points even if they win all of their remaining matches. Managing 9 wins in a row has been an impressive feat, which only because of our players’ contribution was possible. Several players, including Zain Patel, Lazar Lukic, Raman Vashisht-Pigem, Maria-Alexandra Ciocan, Alexander Freeland and Paul Kennelly impressively made perfect scores in their games for this team, while players Carsten, Christof, Tom Townsend (4 games), Grigoris Sklavounos, Greg Billenness and Paul Kennelly contributed massively to our season playing many matches. Special mentions go to Chris Skulte, Tom and Christof who helped with captaining duties at (just) a few of our matches where I was late or unavailable, and Adam Cranston, who despite having never played for this team, managed some of the correspondence with ECF LMS.

The only team picture we have from a match night… we should really take some more photos…

There were also some players who scored especially important or notable results, such as Carsten, who scored the decisive victory at our away match against Metropolitan, by far our closest match of the season which we prevailed only with a tight score of 3.5-2.5; Chris, who won an important game in our close away match against Harrow Juniors back in December; Ceferino Gonzales, who took a draw in a better position in the aforementioned match against Harrow Juniors to secure our match victory; and Gaston Franco, who last week scalped a notable (home) win against Harrow Juniors’ Bodhana Sivanandan, the reigning champion of the World Youth U8 Chess Championship (Girls category). Also I must thank the players who had to replace other players at short notice, especially for matches away at remote venues, and in several cases under awful weather as well. These players include Marco Gallana and Ceferino who kindly volunteered to travel to Harrow for our aforementioned away match in December, and Sohum and Christof whose contribution in yesterday’s match was invaluable and deeply appreciated. However, it must be said that all other players contributed massively to our success this season, a perfect run is the perfect substantiation of both the ability and dedication of all of our team members. Even the smallest mishap or distraction could ruin a perfect run, but all our players managed to keep our focus right from the beginning until the end, racking up match wins after wins after wins. An impressive number of 23 different players have featured at least once in our matches. I can’t overemphasise how much I appreciate how much all our players have contributed to the team, not just by playing but also in other ways, e,g. with administrative duties, or by participating in interesting discussions in the WhatsApp group which have (arguably) helped enhance the team’s morale :D.

Example morale building post…

Players who contributed should pat yourself on the back, this team could never have achieved this much without you, and please let it be known that you have this captain’s gratitude and appreciate for what you have done. More detailed player stats can be found below, or at the link this link.

With this, the summary of our quest to be champions is concluded. Thank you all for your time.

Luke Lau
Proud Captain of Hammersmith 1, Middlesex League Division 2 Champions

Hammersmith Chess Club summoned to UK Parliament

Hammersmith Chess Club often leads the way in the London chess community, bringing together various chess players from all over Europe (from various mainland clubs to Cork, Ireland) – This time however, our travels took us closer to home, as we were invited by UK Parliamentary Chess Club for an exhibition match along with a private tour.

The traditional first move was played by Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter vs. Hammersmith Secretary Adam Cranston.

A very respectable 1.e4 played by Andy Slaughter MP

The match was underway – 6 Hammers vs. 6 Parliamentarians in a 2 games per board rapid match-up, with Adam Cranston as team captain, and Christopher Skulte as the official photographer.

Many of the games were going the distance, and part way through, Hammers were in the lead 3.5-1.5 with tense matches across a lot of the boards.

Eventually the experience of the Hammersmith players came through and we took the match 9.5 – 2.5. While competition was rife over the board, the teams came together to share our passion for the game after the final king was laid to rest, with some detailed analysis discussing what could have been.

Post-match we were treated to a private tour of UK Parliament by Peter Hornsby, sitting in on live sessions of the House of Commons and House of Lords (walking past ex-Prime minister David Cameron at one point), as well as learning about the history of the building.

We were also lucky enough to be joined on the tour by Political Advisor Chris Waterman, whose many jokes kept the team entertained throughout the tour.

Overall it was quite the memorable evening for those Hammers lucky enough to attend, and we would like to thank Peter Hornsby and the UK Parliamentary Chess Club for inviting us along for the evening.

Christopher Skulte

100 league games for Hammersmith Chess Club

My memory fails me when it comes to my opening lines, but I clearly remember the day, the circumstances and the game highlights (a lowlight) of my first league game for the club. It was the 1 April 2019, and I remember it because it was my exciting first day of retirement. Before that, I had worked abroad, so I had not yet attended any club evening, but here I was on the High Street in Staines, searching for the playing venue. I approached another person on the dark and empty street who seemed as clueless as me, and he turned out to be John White, what a coincidence. My first contact was made.

The later evening did not continue as well. I lost my game, and since it was the last game of the match, I learned a new sensation, losing not only a mere game, but letting the team down. Welcome to the world of league play.

I was lucky enough to be invited to many more games, and now that I join those who have played 100 or more league games for Hammersmith, I look back to not only my early disaster but mostly a realm of positive experiences which I would never have made as a mere internet or tournament player.

The most visible difference to tournament chess is the camaraderie. It starts when players are called for the next match. From my short one-time experience as captain of a London Summer League team in 2019, I know how stressful it is to organise a team. The captains have to set up a squad. They have to make the difficult decisions about whom to select for the team of the day. It is not all about nominal rating but also about the diversity of players. Giving Juniors the chance to play higher rated opponents is an important aspect.

The club has fielded a record 15 teams this season, and on some days and especially far away matches it is challenging to find a sufficient number of players. That is when team captains´ skills come to the fore. They make sure that everyone knows what is at stake. In urgent need, there is always someone standing up and sacrificing an evening at home for club duty, sometimes just before the start of the match. And the camaraderie continues after the matches. It rarely happens that all stay on until the last player has finished its game Most players have to get up early next morning for work or school, or have someone waiting at home. Let’s not forget, these are evenings away from family and friends, or the regular TV drama. But there is always a team member around accompanying the last game. You never walk alone.

I am a slow player, and as a consequence I am quite often among the last of the team to finish the game. When it is a tight match it could mean becoming a hero. But for each winner there is a loser, and unfortunately I was often enough sitting on the wrong side. Losing a game is one thing, but losing a decisive game for the team leaves quite a different and lasting impression, and then it is nice to have a mental post-mortem with a chess friend in an adjacent pub.

Captains summarise the events of the previous match day for the whole squad in team-specific WhatsApp groups or via email. They caress the individualists, praise the successful, uphold the unlucky ones, keep the spirit in difficult times, week by week, and prepare for the next round. I have nothing but praise for the captains (well, read below), irrespective of whether they win a cup, avoid relegation or silently suffer in defeat. The club needs these heroes. Just one small pinch of salt. How comes that in my 100 league games I got Black 60 times and White only 40 times? Not knowing the statistical probability (or unlikelihood) of such a head or tail ratio when tossing the coins and deciding on colour, it seems quite conspiratorial to me.

Coming from abroad, the league system looks unstructured, and it bloody well it is. While in Germany there is a clear hierarchy of club competitions with the Bundesliga at the top of the pyramid, but here around London the Hammersmith Chess Club could win the competition in one of the different leagues it is competing in (and at half-term we are leading in 2 top leagues), but never be promoted to a higher regional or even national level, the 4NCL being a quite different animal. But, being an anarchy, it has its charms. In a comparable German chess club like Bayern Munich, my rating would restrict me to one of their 15 teams (coincidentally the same number as Hammersmith) and I could enjoy maybe 10 league games in a season. Here in Hammersmith I am free to play in each of the four local leagues, and even in 2 divisional teams in the same league (that however is strange to me, and unfair to smaller clubs). Whenever I was not travelling, I was raising my hand to play, and while I was not always selected, I was able to accumulate up to 30 games per season. What an experience. London truly is the chess capital of the world, and Hammersmith at its very centre.

Being the Mecca of chess, one would expect that time controls are clearly defined, just as the start of Ramadan is determined by Mecca. That is far from being the case. Time controls differ between the leagues, and even in the same league could differ from one round to the next, and in a match there could even be different time controls for different boards. Very strange. And time controls are short. Since I am an older player (I guess I am in the oldest 1% percentile of our club), I need more time to think, or so I believe. That has a few consequences. Compared to standard tournament play, having 15-30 minutes less in a league game is like an eternity for me. Fortunately, the average age of the league player seems to be higher than in a tournament. One in seven league games I played against people older than me, with a score of 12/14. So it seems they struggle even more, and it indicates that the average age of other clubs is higher than ours. For the statistics, I played only one in every seventeen league games against a junior. And I only played twice against female players, but fortunately there is now a women’s division in the London League, congratulations! Also there is the odd game where the home team still uses analogue clocks. Not that I mind the nostalgic ticking sound, but playing without increments is like triggering a time bomb for me. Since I don’t play lotteries, I herewith give notice to captains that I am no longer available for these fistfights.

Also in other ways, league chess seems to be more challenging than tournament chess. You only learn just before the game whether you play White or Black. You cannot prepare against your specific opponent. And your typical opponent can be 200 points lower rated, or 200 points higher. So, your success rate mainly depends on the strength of the opponents you get. In Swiss style tournaments this levels out around your own strength, but in league chess it depends on the relative strength of your own team. With Hammersmith being more often on the strong side, my average opponent was 100 points lower rated, so my 60% success rate does not look good anymore. Nothing to be proud of, my win ratio should have been higher, I did not beat the statistics. Not even in my best period of the unfinished season 2019/20, when I scored 7.5/8 in the London League, the one draw conceded against GM John Emms (oh yes, about that I am proud). Anyway, no time to celebrate then, because the pandemic stopped all further OTB play for some time. But it has returned more energetic, and the London League with more divisions looks more anarchic than ever, but its home is now at our MindSports Centre. I love it.

As my first one, my 100th league game was in the Thames Valley League. This time I had Black, and I won, and with it saved a match point for Hammersmith. And now I dare to look back at my first game where I missed the draw, and I am relieved to state that no human being would have found the solution, or would you? The idea may be easy to spot but the move order and the very precise follow-up moves are crucial. This is a challenging calculation and visualisation teaser. White to play and draw.

Christof Brixel – Jack Sheard, Thames Valley League, 01/04/2019
Solution

Just ignore Black’s queenside march, White cannot stop the pawn promoting. White has to establish a “perpetual net” around Black’s king. The starting critical move order is Nf6 and Rh5, followed by Bh4.

The engine line goes: 1.Nf6! Rb2+ (a3 2.Rh5 a2 3.f5+ finally draws in a different, dramatic long sequence which is not shown here) 2.Ke3 d4+ (the best try) 3.Kf3! a3 4.Rh5! Ne7 and there are two choices, a more human one and the engine suggestion.

Human continuation

5.Rg5+ looks the only way forward, but the follow-up requires precise calculation: Kh6 6.Rh5+ Kg7 7.Bh4! (difficult to find) Ng6 8.f5 Bd5+ 9.Nxd5 Nxh4+ 10.Rxh4 exd5 11.c6 (now obvious) a2 12.Rh1! Rb1 13.f6+! Kg6 14.c7 a1Q 15.c8Q and now it is Black who gets a perpetual

Silican continuation

5.c6 is the engine suggestion, an intermediate move the reason of which becomes obvious in below lines: a2 6.Bh4! and now

a) Be2+ 7.Ke4! Rb8 8.c7 Rc8 9.Rg5+ Kh6 10.Rh5+ Kg7 10.Rh7+ Kg6 (Kf8 11.Nd7+ =) 11.Bg5! Nf5 (a last trick) 12.gxf5+ exf5+ 13.Kd5! (13.Kxd4 loses) Bf3+ 14.Kd6 =
b) Bd5+ 7.Nxd5 Nxd5 8.Rg5+ Kh7 9.Rh5+ Kg7 10.c7! (therefore 5.c6) Nxc7 11.Bf6+ Kg6 12. Rg5+ =
c) a1Q 7.f5+ exf5 8.gxf5+ Nxf5 9.Rg5+ Kh6 10.Rh5+ Kg7 11.Rg5+! = and now not Kf8 12.Rg8+ Ke7 13.Re8#

Christof Brixel

A Word from the Chair – Halfway through the Season – Time to Reflect and Plan Ahead

Hammers, the season of 2023-24 is racing ahead with a mass of activity and an avalanche of good news and new initiatives.

 

 

First, I want to thank all on the Hammer Committee for their hard work – all of them volunteers who help ensure this club stays solvent, relevant, entertaining, and providing value for money. In particular, I must thank Adam and Gastón for their efforts that go way beyond the call of duty.

We have just had our first Committee meeting of 2024 and high on the agenda were the results from our members survey – overall the results were extremely supportive and positive about what the club is trying to do and already does. Fair points were made about training for beginners and events we could run – your committee has taken these on board and planning to incorporate this into our development plans.

I also want to thank all 15 Hammer captains – to get a team of chess players to a venue on time is not an easy task and all our captains do an amazing job. We are unique in that we have a different captain for each of our teams – that is incredible, and shows the commitment of Hammer members.

Our junior club goes from strength to strength with tremendous work from Tom, Luna and Luke helping things run smoothly along with the herculean efforts of Andrew and Frank. I must also thank Frank for captaining our Junior LL team and give the future Hammer stars the experience of long play chess and getting an official grade.

On the competitive front our Hammer 1 teams in the TVL, Middlesex and London are performing outstandingly well – indeed all the Hammer teams are having pretty good seasons – we do seem to have the measure of Battersea in particular.

All that happens in our club is down to volunteers – as some of you know in a previous life, I was a member of Rotary Club in South London – indeed I even served as President. The central motto of Rotary was service above self – in other words using your skills and connections to help your community was in your DNA. I want every Hammer to embrace this ethos. I need volunteers to help run this amazing club you are all part of. Some of you will be able to contribute substantially others due to work and other commitments will only have limited time. It does not matter – literally every little bit helps.

I implore you all to get in contact with Adam or myself and tell us how you can help. I also urge you all to think about standing for election to the Hammersmith Committee – the AGM is just under 4 months away. We are a club of 200 members, incredibly diverse, welcoming, and safe for all. We need you to help us grow our club in every way – I have said this many times – this is not Adam’s chess club or my chess club it is YOURS – please get involved.

On a final note, I want to single out Matteo our Treasurer who has announced to the Committee he will be standing down from the position after nearly 5 years in the post – he has provided great service and knowledge to this club, and I thank him for all he has done for Hammersmith Chess Club.

The future of this club is in your hands, do not forget that.

So, Hammers, GET VOLUNTEERING!!!!!!!!!!!!

John aka Lord Clueless
Hammersmith Chess Club Chairman

All aboard the Hammer Express – Next stop: PARIS (28th – 30th June)

Come one, come all.

After a plethora of trips to Amsterdam, Cork, Wroclaw, Ostend to name a few, Hammers will again rally together to build bridges, lasting friendships, and amazing memories. In June we travel to our noisy neighbours, as we visit Paris, France. (Sign-up form at the end of the article)

Paris has a renowned chess history – before chess clubs were a thing, over 260 years ago, the well-known French philosopher Diderot wrote as early as 1762 that “Paris is that certain place in the world, and Café de la Regence is that certain place in Paris, where one can find at any time the best chess players in the world.”

Now is our chance to write ourselves into the history books of this city.

Next step was sitting down with the wonderful Benji Portheault in a secret location (can you guess? – amazing Thai and Guinness) to plan, what we hope to be, a trip not to forget!

The trip will involve:

  • Eurostar to Paris (leaving Friday, returning Sunday)
  • Saturday match at the famous Blitz Society (max. 25 players)
  • Parisian late-evening festivities
  • Exploring the Catacombs of Paris
  • An exclusively prepared feast at the Japanese fusion restaurant
  • Walking tour of Paris (paying respects to the grave of 4th world champion Alexander Alekhine).

For budgeting purposes – we expect the cost of the trip to be approximately £550 + drinks (includes travel, accomodation, special dinner, chess, tours).

If you are definitely in, or are thinking about it, can you please fill out this form, and we will be in contact.

https://forms.gle/2ZctB5k3DYGYUtz57

P.S. Congratulations to Hammersmith 1 in the London League, who are currently top of the table at the time of this article. Hats off to captain Jim Stevenson.

P.S.S. Honorary mention to our first team captain in the Middlesex League, Luke Lau, whose team currently top the table with 6W – 0D – 0L. Can this “first-time” Hammersmith captain maintain his perfect record?

From your Hammer on Tour organisers: Chris & Benji

Hammersmith 1 is back to work!

After the holiday period, our First team had their return to league matches with a crushing and undefeated win against a very strong Athenaeum. 5 wins and 3 draws with many interesting positions to analyze!

Happy New Year to all our members and readers! We present you with our top team’s first London League match of 2024: on the 10th of January, we visited Athenaeum Chess Club determined to get a win: our team would have been ready to play even if the Tube strikes had gone ahead!

In terms of lineups, we had a small edge on the top 2 boards, while the bottom six saw virtually no difference between our players and the opposition. It was an impressive team for Athenaeum and we knew from the start that it wouldn’t be an easy match.

The first two games to finish were on boards 3 and 4, with Fedja and Carsten making relatively quick draws, one with each colour so the match remained balanced. All the other six games went well past 9pm so it was a great fight!

The first decisive game came on board 5, where Gaston kept building up pressure against black’s pieces in the center until his opponent made a mistake that allowed him to win an exchange with Ne4! taking advantage of a pin on d5. There were some complications to go through, but the point went to us in the end.

Soon after, Maria also managed to win an exchange against Athenaeum’s team captain, and a full bishop a few moves later, and so she gave us our second win. Christof was facing some trouble on board 8, but he managed to not only defend against a very dangerous opening, and then going on to win after his opponent’s back rank weakness left the white queen overloaded after Qg5+!.

The score was 4-1 going into the last few games of the night, with Tom, Marco and Cian all having promising positions. On the top board, black was a bishop up but with a lot of weaknesses around his king, while white’s own monarch was able to walk up the board and regain the piece. After simplifying, white was about to win a lot more material with a fork on d6, and black resigned.

On board 7, young Cian had a very strong initiative, but his experienced opponent found ways to defend. A draw was agreed in mutual time trouble. Lastly, Marco showed great technique to win a long Rook vs Bishop endgame. Final Score: 6.5 – 1.5, with no defeats!

The win will brings us up to second place on the League Table, ahead of our match against the current leaders Richmond & Twickenham at the end of the month. It should be an exciting one, so keep an eye out!

Gaston

Happy Holidays from Hammersmith Chess Club!

2023 is somehow already coming to an end, and a lot has changed in the world of chess: we have had World Championship matches (with Ding Liren becoming the new Champion after Carlsen’s withdrawal, and Ju Wenjun extending her reign by defeating Lei Tingjie), the always interesting World Cup (won by Magnus Carlsen for the first time), lots of drama, controversy and cheating accusations, and currently an exciting race for the last two spots in the 2024 Candidates Tournament.

From HCC, we want to wish everyone happy holidays and an even happier new year! In that spirit, our Handicap Blitz Tournament scheduled for Monday 18th of December will be Xmas-themed, so we encourage you to wear festive jumpers (or any festive outfit, feel free to be creative!) and we’ll play some music to say goodbye to this year while playing some chess. See you there starting at 7:30pm.

2023 in Review

We are extremely happy to have met so many new people this year. The chess boom is certainly not going anywhere and it’s great to see new members each week and share our love for the game with as many people as we can, while creating an inclusive and respectful environment where everyone is welcome to be who they are, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, cultural or religious background, or any disabilities. Chess is a universal language and, once we sit down in front of the board to play a game, it makes us all equals.

We’d like to share a brief summary of the year and the activities we have done at the club. We firmly believe there are very few other places that can offer as much as we do, and we want to keep giving back to our members and making sure everyone gets value for being a Hammer, be it through games, lectures/training sessions, league matches, friendship, etc. All of us in the Committee are volunteers, so we want that for ourselves as well!

We also have a small favour to ask all of you: as we plan for 2024, we’d like to hear from you on what you think of the club, what we should do more of, and what we should perhaps avoid. We came up with a survey where everyone can share their opinions and it would be so helpful to know what our members think. The survey is optional, confidential, and anonymous – though we allow you to share your name in case you’d like to do so. Please see the link below – we’re reposting it at the bottom of this article in case you want to read on first and have a look at the survey later.

The 2023 “Have your Say” Hammersmith Survey

Lectures and Training Sessions

We’ve had many strong players giving lectures at the Mindsports Centre this year, sharing their knowledge and speaking about various topics.

Norwegian GM Frode Urkedal (trying to find a way to prevent the London System?)

GM Frode Urkedal is a member of our sister club in the 4NCL, the Celtic Tigers, and while he was in town for one of the competition weekends, he presented a few games showing the importance of piece activity.

IM Callum Kilpatrick gave an interesting lecture referencing psychological aspects of the game

IM Callum Kilpatrick is one of England’s top 50 players, also a Celtic Tigers player, and he joined us to speak about how your emotions interact with your mind and can affect your decision making process.

Some of our own members also gave lectures, such as the “Best and Worst Games of Every World Champion” series, and the “Opening of the Month” lectures and themed tournaments. It’s great to hear from our clubmates and we encourage others to please get in touch if you’d like to organize any similar events.

League matches

Our League Season is currently going well, with 79 members having played for our 15 teams so far, and an overall score around 54%, representative of how everyone gets good games in these matches.

A few match highlights could be knocking out our frenemies Battersea of the London League Eastman Cup with a score of 7.5 – 0.5 around a month ago; the first (crushing!) victory of the season for our Juniors team: 6-2 vs. King’s Head; and the debut of our Women’s team, captained by Ana Royce, in the newly created Women’s Division of the London League.

This month we have also acquired a DGT board which will allow us to broadcast some games from our teams – we have just used it for the first time and followed live as Carsten Pedersen drew his game on a match that Hammersmith won by 5-1 against Muswell Hill

Challenge Matches and Simuls

As for special events, we could mention the visit of KOSK club from Belgium, who brought a very strong team to challenge us last September. We had a lot of fun, first with a blitz tournament won by IM Tom Rendle, and then a match of 2 standard games each, where our visitors showed their strength and beat us convincingly.

We have also hosted many simul nights, which give our members the chance to play against stronger opponents, while making it a difficult challenge for them as well. Most notably, last Monday (14/12) we were visited by GM Luke McShane, one of England’s top 5 and part of the Olympic team several times, who played 16 games against our members: winning 13, drawing one (against Luke Lau) and losing only 2 (against Thomas Bonn and 14 y.o. Raman Vashisht-Pigem).

GM Luke McShane vs Frank Valle

Regular club members have also given simuls, with experienced first team players such as Carsten Pedersen, Alex Freeland, Gaston Franco, Maria Ciocan, Tom Townsend, or the aforementioned Thomas and Luke. We have even hosted events where our top junior players were giving simuls, including Harry Bryant, Kai Hanache and Cian Ward.

On top of all of this, we keep organizing various events to keep everyone entertained, such as ECF-rated Rapid and Blitz tournaments, Variants nights (e.g. Bughouse, Secret Queen), our Handicap Blitz series,  etc. Our internal tournaments keep growing with more Sledgehammer and Rockhammer games being played each week, mostly on our Thursday evening meetings. Anyone can be paired against another member so if you’d like a game, please contact us through our “Thursdays” WhatsApp chat.

We remain interested in hearing what you’d like us to do more of, so please take a few minutes to answer to our Survey and help us plan the future of the club.

The 2023 “Have your Say” Hammersmith Survey

We hope you have enjoyed this 2023 with us and once again we wish you happy holidays!

Hammersmith Chess Club

September 2023 in Hammersmith: kicking off the 2023/24 Season!

We’d like to share our plans for this month – with some of the specifics to be announced later on via our WhatsApp chats. Read on for details:

A new season begins!

Hammersmith will soon be battling again in the different Leagues we play in, and there could be no better warm up than taking part in our friendly match against our visitors from Belgium: a few spots are still open so let John White know if you wish to play on Friday 8/9 and/or Saturday 9/9.

There is still some work to be done regarding the final composition of all the league divisions and the numbers of teams we will enter this year, but captains will start reaching out to members once our fixtures have been scheduled.

Reminder that both Club Membership and ECF Membership are required in order to play, please make sure to renew yours so that captains will have you on their lists.

The Return of Junior Hour

Junior Hour (JH) starts once again on Monday 4/9 at 6pm after the summer break, this time with our new Junior Officer Tom Townsend as agreed on our latest AGM.

The fees structure has been changed from a term basis to an annual basis so it’s now a flat £100 per annum, in addition to the regular club membership for each junior. We have a page with additional details on Junior Hour

September Club Nights

Upcoming events on our Monday nights from 7:30pm are listed below, details and sign up forms (when needed) will be shared on our WhatsApp chats.

Monday 4/9: Internal Tournament hosted by Club Captain Robin Sarfas

Monday 11/9: Challenge one of our first team players in a simul exhibition

Monday 18/9: Special event with IM Callum Kilpatrick, member of our sister club in the 4NCL: the Celtic Tigers

Monday 25/9: The best and worst game of each World Champion, with Jim Stevenson presenting the legendary Bobby Fischer

We hope you’ll enjoy everything we have planned for September! See you soon at the MSC

Hammersmith Chess Club

The Visit of KOSK to Hammersmith Chess Club in September 2023

Hammers, we are delighted to announce the visit of royalty to our noble but humble chess club. The Royal Chess Club of Ostend will be visiting us from Friday the 8th of September to Sunday the 10th September. To take part in a weekend of chess and camaraderie that will live long in the memory.

Nearly 20 Hammers travelled to Ostend last December to play some great chess, make new friends and enjoy unbelievable hospitality. It was an unforgettable experience. It is now our turn to be hosts and we will be putting on some show.

We want as many Hammers to get involved as possible. These are some of the things that are being planned.

Friday Night – Welcome buffet and much beer followed by a blitz tournament – I will be asking as many Hammers as possible to take part and will be asking you to register for some true Euro blitz.

Saturday – Starting about 11am -Two long play games with a basic time of one hour possibly with an increment where each KOSK player (there are 12 of them) will play one white and one black game. There will be a lunch break However, we would like to offer more than 12 Hammers the chance to play in this section.

After the chess is over, we intend to take our friends for meal locally in Hammersmith to round off the evening. You are all most welcome. We just need an indication that you will be joining us so we can arrange the seating plan.

There are also other events that may or may not happen that weekend– please keep your eyes glued to the website and chat groups for Updates.

Hammers, remember it is your club – so get involved – and more details will follow how you can join the range of activities.

Chairman John (aka Lord Clueless)