The Action Keeps Coming

Hammer Major in London Division 5

Question: Are Hammer suffering from an Arsenal, Wenger-variation, December fall-off in form? It has been a tough month so far – particularly this last week. So, could the Major team reverse the trend?

A good result last week for the Hammer squad in Division 5, with a 2.5-1.5 win against a strong Hackney team. With a team scraped together in the last 24 hours, the Hammers rose to the occasion.

Nick playing on board 4 was out graded by 15 points but achieved equality comfortably and was never in trouble – hostilities were brought to an end fairly quickly. A point shared.

Javier, one of our newest members and making his debut in the London League, played a very controlled game demonstrating really good control in the middle-game. He forced his h-pawn through and snaffled his opponent’s bishop in exchange. He then found a really nice simplification sequence that left him a passed-pawn up, and certain victory. Unfortunately, his technique faltered and he allowed a stalemate. It was simply inexperience that robbed him of a deserved victory. He will get stronger, all the ingredients are there that will ensure he will be a great addition to to Hammer ranks. Both teams locked at one point a piece. 

Shiraz had a fascinating game where his central pawn majority was offset by a black queen-side majority. In a frantic closure of the game, both promoted a pawn with Shiraz getting the queen check in first but with only two minutes on the clock. His opponent, despite having 20-plus minutes on the clock, continued to move at lightning speed.

Shiraz held his nerve and then had to deal with an illegal move from his opponent!!

I have never seen what occurred before in a rated chess game, and it is testament to the part nerves play in chess. Shiraz checked the black king which was on b7, with his queen on d7. The Hackney player moved his c6 pawn backwards to c7 to block the check!!

Fortunately, I had finished my game and was able to intervene and resolve things – the clocks were stopped and Shiraz gained two minutes on the clock. However, Shiraz wisely took the draw in a position that could easily have gone wrong, especially with just four minutes on his clock. Teams tied at 1.5-1.5.

I had a game where I equalised very quickly then decided to probe – a bit of Speelman-think was behind my strategy – fortunately my opponent made an error with 24.Qc3 allowing me to win a piece with Bd4. Interestingly, this happened immediately altering making me a draw offer – I think he thought the position was a dead draw and switched off. A fortunate win, but I will take it. 

Here is the game:

This win takes us to joint second place with four games played. 

Captain Clueless (delighted to hand back the team to Rich).

Strikes and Gutters in London Division 4

Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. Such was the case as we succumbed to a disappointing 3-5 defeat to Streatham in London Division 4. That’s a bummer, man.

A disappointing night all round, particularly as our opponents were forced to “mark it zero” on Board 8 before we rolled. But it just felt like it was going to be one of those nights. Chances came and went, with several matches slipping away due to individual blunders. Hard to take, but it’s all part of the game.

Pavel’s was perhaps the clearest example. Rampaging into a clearly winning position early on with Black, menacing through the Kingside defence and up two pawns, before leaving his Queen en prise. It happens, but it’s still a sickener.

Matteo and Simon’s matches played out in similar fashion. Bold attacks that promised much, but the defender found enough resources to survive and suddenly the attacks fizzled into positions where we were simply material down. I felt on another day we might have won both, but that’s just, well, ya know, like, my opinion, man.

Our final faller of the evening was Kostis, who miscalculated a minor piece exchange in the middle game, leaving him 3 points down and scrambling to remain in contention. He ploughed on valiantly, but it always looked an uphill struggle.

Adam once again proved to be “The Dude” though, claiming our solitary victory of the night with another fine win on Board 4. He’s throwing rocks this year. Check out his game here. It felt comfortable watching form afar…. but…

Brian and Sheikh notched up our final tallies with each scoring solid draws. In truth, they both probably had the edge throughout their encounters. Sheikh’s match was even throughout in terms of material, but it was the Hammer man who did all the pressing. A sound defensive display ensured the point was shared. Brian grabbed a pawn advantage with a thrusting attack and held it until the endgame. His opponent’s central two-pawn charge gave him plenty to think about as the clocks ticked down.

That’s it from my lot for 2018, but we’ve got a packed agenda in January so make sure you bounce back from all those mince pies refreshed and ready for action. Looking forward to it.

Dave.

The Christmas Blitz!

The Big Hammer Question This Weekend – What is the most important date in December?

Yes, the intellectual bar has been set pretty high, but for true Hammers the answer is the 17th December. Why, you may ask?

It is the last club evening of another momentous year for Hammer Chess.

The Hammer Blitz tourney starts – the Hammer equivalent of the Royal Rumble in the WWE. This is real caveman chess and a sight to behold. 

Reigning champ, Tony “The Surgeon”, plying his strong blitz trade last Summer

This is the first leg of our annual blitz tournament, with current champion Tony “The Surgeon” Niccoli defending his title against all comers. The threats are many: Wily, The Great Dane, T-Bone, Aramis…… Pickle, Clueless…. the list is endless.

The rules are simple:

  • First, you gotta be in it to win it.
  • Only the two best results from each of the three tourney’s count. In other words, if you play all three, you maximise your chances of being crowned champion.
  • It is a time handicap tourney, so if you are graded lower you may have up to 8 minutes to play the entire game, against the 2 minutes allocated to your higher-rated opponent.
  • This year, after a serious review of the scoring system, the following points will be awarded: First place: 1 point, Second place: 2 points, and so on. The overall winner of the competition will be the Hammer with the lowest score from the two tourneys that count. This will eliminate different entry numbers from the equation. 
  • I would like to think (4) was my idea, but Ben – captain of LL Hammer 4 – is the source!
  • Hopefully it will be a Swiss Tourney, depending on Adam having the software available.
  • It’s FREE for all Hammer Chess members

We will also be presenting some prizes on the night, plus major announcements on a raffle and all the activity to come in 2019.

So come and enjoy the last chess hurrah of 2018!

If you cannot make it on the 17th, then on behalf of all at Hammer I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2019.

Dispatches from the Battlefront – Middlesex Division 2 Sector

Unquestionably, in my mind, the greatest musical genius to come out of 8 Mile Detroit is one Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem – in 2002 he released the album “The Eminem Show”, his fourth studio album. One of the tracks was “Without Me” and in homage I start this report with a verse from that song with huge apologies to the great man.

“Guess who’s back, back again,
Clueless’s back, tell a friend”

Yes, Captain Clueless, former erstwhile and hapless commander of Starship Hammer 1 LL Division 3, has returned to leadership duties. He has been re-assigned to the Middlesex front and has taken control of Hammer 2 Division. Captain Pickle has taken over Hammer 3 but has handed over a superb, battle-hardened and focused squad. They not only achieved promotion last year, but won the Division, and have started with a victory in the first skirmish against the fearsome Metropolitan One.

Last night saw the second battle encounter – an away fixture at another tough nut – Albany 1. They have form – last year they inflicted only one of two defeats on the Hammer 1 LL team – they definitely know chess!!

As is traditional, each team member will be designated a nickname/codename for this season. To be honest, it is for life… The Hammer Heroes, in board order:

  1. Chris Skulte – aka “Sydney” or “Showbag
  2. Tommaso – aka “Forza
  3. Paul K – aka “Dead Eye
  4. Jeremy – aka “Brexit
  5. Sheikh – aka “Pandit
  6. John – aka “Clueless
  7. Nadhmi – aka “The Gift
  8. Izzy – new member and future star – “The Money” – why, you may ask? Basically, because he is a graduate of LSE and he is up there with Tommaso and Matteo in the sartorial elegance department. In other words, he is in the 1% of chess players who know how to dress.

Please note Clueless was a last-minute substitute for MatteoThe Suit“, as he had to call off.

To the games:

Board 1 saw Sydney taking on a tricky opponent. This player always turns up between 20 and 40 minutes late and then proceeds to confuse and outplay his opponent by moving at lightning speed. This was the fate that befell Thomas T-Bone last season and hence Clueless imparted this intel to Sydney. Did he listen – probably not. Despite having a very  heavy dose of man-flu, Sydney, after a slightly dubious opening, played a Harbour Bridge of a game – it was of the Grand Design variety. Hammer 1-0 up and here is the game for your enjoyment:

Board 2 the Forza playing white had a difficult night. His opponent kept the position closed and did not allow the open positions that our man thrives on. His opponent seized the control of the open b-file gradually and slowly built the pressure – it was tough and very methodical. Although the force is strong in Forza, there was little he could do. Albany had made it 1-1.

Board 3 now and Dead-Eye taking on a very technically correct opponent. The position ended up in a K and P ending with his opponent holding an extra pawn. Dead-Eye tried everything to prevent him from realising the advantage but ultimately had to give ground and the point as well. Hammer down 1-2.

Eyes turn as they do in these Brexit times to our own version of Brexit – our Jeremy – our Brexit is the superior version with ideas galore and a totally pragmatic approach. He does not need an attorney-general – he finds his own way. Playing an opponent graded 20-plus points higher, he took the game to his opponent. He found a way and scored a great win – he is 3-0 for the season and pushing his grade back up to where it belongs. Here is the game:

All-square at 2-2 and things were getting tense. So, using author’s license I am going to skip the encounters of Pandit and Clueless for the time being.

Board 7 saw The Gift in imperious form and a beautifully-played game – his chess is definitely maturing and developing rapidly. His was the first game to finish and out Hammer on the scoreboard. Hammer now 3-2 ahead and confidence was growing.

Middlesex debutante IzzyThe Money” was on the money in taking on a wily campaigner in the form of Steve Sonnis, a player whose 129 grade conceals a lot of chess knowledge and skill. The Money played like a seasoned veteran and was never in trouble and comfortably secured the draw. Hammer on the verge, 3.5-2.5 up.

Clueless then chipped in with a hard-fought draw, employing his usual tactic of getting his opponent out of his opening repertoire and forcing him to rely on his own resources. The game ended in a multiple minor-piece and pawn ending, with both sides going for the win. With time running out, a draw offer was made by my opponent and with less than two minutes on my clock, was quickly accepted. Hammer now at 4-3.

A half match-point guaranteed – could be the full point.

All eyes turned to Pandit, who had been on the back foot for most of the game, however a rash time-trouble move by his experienced opponent allowed him back in. In a flurry of moves and with both flags about to fall, his opponent forced a checkmate. Hammer had just missed out.

The match was drawn 4-4, a result Captain Clueless would have taken at the start of the night. A great performance from the team and yet another demonstration of the steely resolve that Hammer teams are displaying this 2018/19 season.

Clueless over and out, and roll on next Monday – I leave you with the current table:

And Finally…

Firmly in the Trevor McDonald tradition, here is a seriously entertaining game from Ryszard’s match against Kinds Head 1 in Division 1 of the Middlesex League… enjoy!

Puzzle of the Week #026

We’re back – and straight to business.

Paul “Dead Eye” Kennelly takes the plaudits for last time with the following sequence: 1. Bg4+ Kd6 2.Bxe5+ Kxe5 3. Qb2+ Kd6 4. Qh2 Kc5 5. Qc7 and mate.

An interesting game from the 2016 Baku Olympiad, Indij v Cruz.

On to this week’s offering, where White has been rather cavalier with the little guys but in return has a substantial lead in development, and the black King is not looking good! How did white decide the game to his advantage? Answers in the comments pls:

Good Times in Middlesex

As the World Championship concluded with a result, finally… we bring you some recent games  from Hammer members to enjoy.

First up, a gruelling game from Brian which swings up and down, ultimately ending in a fair draw:

This was from a game in Middlesex Division 3, against Ealing, on Tuesday night.

The match ended 4-4, with a comfortable win for Sheikh on top board, defeats for Chris and Dave, and draws in the rest of the team (and a default win for Hammer on 8).

Big congratulations go to Ville Karhunen, playing outstandingly in his debut for the club! We look forward to many more successful games!

And this marks Dipender’s final game in the captain’s seat, as he hands the reins over to Adam. The team are in great shape – unbeaten, and top of the table! Our thanks to Dipender for steering a smooth course for the good ship Hammer!

Our other featured game is from Ryzsard, in the Middlesex Division 1 match against Hendon. A very stylish win on top board, capping off a mauling of the opposition, 6.1-1.5…. enjoy:

Reality Check

22.11.18 – London League Division 2: Hammersmith v Imperial College

Our LL First Team suffered its first setback of the season at Imperial College last Thursday evening. There’s no denying that it was a disappointing result, and something of a Reality Check regarding our prospects for the season. Nonetheless it was always going to be a close match, and with a little more good fortune we could well have taken the points.

Imperial are a typical student side. Lots of very strong players to call upon, but the difficulty in consistently fielding a strong team might prove their undoing as the season progresses. This was a re-arranged match. The original match was scheduled for next April, during the university holidays and exams period. However, I did not want to exploit such a state of affairs and readily agreed to their captain’s please to bring the match forward.

The bright spots in the match were Thomas’s hard fought draw. Bajrush’s good form continuing, and in particular I was delighted with the wins gained by our two junior players. Nadhmi won quickly and efficiently, and Alexander played a very accurate pressing game and showed excellent endgame technique. They both have very bright futures in chess ahead of them.

Despite Imperial fielding a 2500 fide-rated player on top board, and three other 200+ players, we held our own on the top boards, and scored 2/3 on the bottom boards. We lost the match in the “engine room” of the middle boards. It happens. As always, every Hammer player gave 100% effort and commitment.

Onwards and upwards. We play LL matches virtually every week during January and February. Our next match, versus Metropolitan, will be crucial. I ask everyone in the squad to consult their 2019 diaries and rally to the cause. We shall need all hands on deck if we want to fight for promotion.

Jim.

Hot off the Press!

26.11.18: Thames Valley Division 1 – Wimbledon v Hammersmith

A fabulous result from last night – too good not to share immediately!

In the top tier of the Thames Valley setup, the mighty Hammer took on stalwarts and long-time “team to beat”, Wimbledon A in a highly-charged match down in SW19.

Putting down a marker as serious title contenders, Hammersmith came away with a draw against a side featuring a titled player, with an average +7 grading difference over the full 8 boards. A truly superb result, and rounding off an unbeaten run of 5 games in the Division so far, which sees us joint-top of the table on 4.5 points, with a game in hand on Wimbledon A.

A proud result, and huge kudos to the effort and commitment shown by the team last night. The league table makes for immense reading. We can only dream!

 Forza!!

And the well-deserved, refreshment-based, post-match analysis:

Christmas in the Middlesex League

19.11.18 – Middlesex Division 2: Hammersmith 2 vs. Metropolitan

On Monday the season got underway for the second team in the Middlesex League. This year we’re competing in division 2, having been promoted from a very competitive division 3 last season.

Our first opponents at the Anvil were Metropolitan, an established club from the city with a number of strong players.

Paul and Matteo sat down on boards 2 and 4. They started the clocks and waited patiently for an opponent to show up. No-one came. 2-0 Hammer.

Yasser, playing his first Hammer game of the season on board 1, had the black pieces. He played a solid game with few mistakes by either player. They entered a closed endgame with a lot of manoeuvring from both sides. In the end a zugzwang caused Yasser to lose control and succumb to a loss. 2-1.

Sheikh on board 3 played an exciting tactical skirmish. With kings exposed and pieces hanging all over the place, spectators had absolutely no idea what was going on. In the end his opponent found some crafty back rank ideas, forcing resignation. 2-2.

Nadhmi with white sat down on board 5 with his usual confidence and focus. He went up an exchange for a pawn, but his opponent had all the initiative. Nadhmi chose exactly the right moment to give back the exchange and steered the game to a draw. 2.5-2.5.

Charlie’s opponent saw a greek gift that not even Zeus could have claimed. From here the win was fairly straightforward. 3.5-2.5

Our new junior Yazhou was playing white on board 8. He played an impressive game against a strong opponent. Most pieces were exchanged off and they entered an endgame with a  rook and five pawns each. Sadly for Yazhou, his opponent’s outside passed pawn gained him a couple of crucial tempi, as the white king was forced to the edge of the board. In the end black found a way to mop up the white pawns and queen one of his own. 3.5-3.5.

So it was down to Simon to determine the match result. He answered 1.d4 with …g6 and went from a Modern into a King’s Indian where white played an early e3 rather than e4. White played the opening a little un-ambitiously and Simon was nearly equal fairly early on. White pushed e4 and missed a tactic as nxe4 left a bishop on b2 en prise, going a pawn down. there was then a pawn clash on the queen side and Simon played a slight inaccuracy. White thought he had a tactic but Simon saw one move further which liquidated into a winning endgame. After a further blunder Simon was left with two passed connected pawns in the centre that were ready to roll. It was an instructive game, concerning control of the dark squares as well as tactical features. 4.5-3.5 Hammer.

Overall, a great start for the team, helped slightly by a couple of defaults. We have two more matches over the next three weeks, in which we’ll be looking to build our momentum and secure a strong league position going into Christmas.

Adam

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Christmas!

Don’t forget – the Hammer Chess Christmas Party takes place on Thursday December 6th, at Wahaca Charlotte Street, starting from 7pm!

Full details are available here, but in short, everyone is invited! It’s going to be a relaxed, fun evening amongst friends, and there may even be some chess boards!

If you’d like to come along please contact John to reserve your spot ASAP – john.white49@ntlworld.com

See you there!

 

Momentous Times

First up, a very exciting update on the recent British Bangla Rapidplay tournament, followed by some truly momentous news from the Thames Valley Division. This report is definitely worth a full read! Please enjoy…

A Chairman’s Performance

A trio of Hammers took part in the recent BBCA Rapidplay on 11th November, and the results were very encouraging!

Chris and Kostis both took part in the major section, with our Wily Chairman, Bajrush, playing in the Open (no grade limit!) section.

The Happy Hammer Trio!

Kostis came away with 2.5 points out of 6 – a solid result. Chris bettered that slightly, with 3 points from 6. But the performance of the day goes to Bajrush, with a whopping 5 out of 6, and a share of 2nd place!

The third round saw him facing GM Bogdan Lalic as white, with the following position:

Black to play. Bajrush gives his thoughts: “I think I have a winning position, but miscalculated the next move. Black played Bd2, the only move to save him losing the game on the next move (Qg8+). After, I should play Kg2, but instead played Qa2 and ended up losing”.

Still, Bajrush ended up sharing 2nd prize with a GM and an IM! Not a bad performance at all!!

05.11.18 – Thames Valley Division 3: Wimbledon v Hammersmith

Captain Robin reports from the front line….

Our first match got off to a shaky start with a 4-1 defeat, and one adjournment, against the very strong Wimbledon team.

The one bright note was Sheikh on board 2 with a rapid win. His game is presented below – on the White side of a Sicilian:

Nadhmi came up against a 161 player, and played courageously up to the very end.

Yazhou on board 5 adjourned with a possible slight advantage. We wait to see how that goes!

12.11.18 – Thames Valley Division 1: Hammersmith v Surbiton
The Thames Valley Times Are A Changing – A Clueless Onlooker Reports

Back ’63 a young man called Robert Zimmerman captured for an entire generation the scent of change and hope that was in the air. He was Bob Dylan and the rest is history.

The second verse of ‘The Times they are a-changin’ for your delight is given below because it perfectly encapsulates the journey made by Hammersmith Chess Club in the last four years:

Come writes and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Nowhere has this progress been more forcibly demonstrated than the Thames Valley League.

On Monday night Hammer took on one of the perennial powerhouses of the First division – Surbiton A. Hammer have never beaten Surbiton A – last season we got a draw when some player called Clueless salvaged a draw in a murky adjourned game. Indeed, your correspondent can vividly recall a 7.5-0.5 mauling the Hammer crew took 20 months ago that was really traumatic at the time. Hammer were light years away from ever achieving parity, let alone victory.

However, this season Hammer have started at a pace in the Thames Valley League – as of Monday night, before the Surbiton encounter, we were 3 and 0. The match would prove how far along the road we have come.

The times are a changing – nothing shows this more than the scoreboard below:

First thing – we won. We won handsomely.

However, what strikes me is the change in our team line-up. Only Carsten, Bajrush and Marios played in the massacre 20 months ago.

Thomas, Sylvain, Tony, Paul and Jim have all joined the Hammer family since that 7.5-0.5 thrashing and hence do not bear the scars of that bruising encounter. Yep, not only the times are a changing, but the personnel definitely are as well.

Enough musings. To the games.

In board order, Carsten had yet another OTB no quarter given match-up with Chris Briscoe. I would love to know how many times they have played each other. Methinks it is up there with Karpov-Kasparov numbers. The one thing these games are not, and that is boring. It always seems to be primeval chess. Carsten is probably the most correct Hammer player I know but something happens to him when he runs into Chris. The inner Viking takes over.

This was a no holds-barred game with kings on an open-board with heavy artillery raining down. It was tightrope stuff with the result possibly going to either player. In the end Chris manoeuvred his black bishop to f3 to give a check, putting it en-prise, and this seemed with time ticking down to throw the Great Dane. A few moves later Carsten resigned in a position where he was one move away from delivering the coup-de-grace himself. Hammer down 0-1.

Thomas, our finest piece of French T-Bone, had a very positional game with his 200 rated opponent – playing black for a long period it looked like he held an edge with this bishop pair versus an opposing knight and bishop on a fairly open board. In a complex series of maneouvres he lost a pawn and was then fighting to salvage a draw which he duly delivered. Hammer on the scoreboard 0.5-1.5

Board three was possibly the game of the evening – our Wily Chairman Bajrush playing white against another 200-rated player. Yep, the patented Wily opening variation got another punt – but astonishingly he introduced a novelty – he actually castled! – which I thought was against the entire spirit of the variation. It was a very exciting encounter with white’s thematic c5! Making space for his bishop on c4 being a highlight. The whole game is given below for your enjoyment. Nobody plays chess like Wily!

Board 4 brought our newest newbie Sylvain to the fore – I must say this was a game of warfare that encompassed the whole board – it was brutal and complicated. There were tactics galore accompanied by deep strategy – it gave me a headache just looking at it. However, the finish was prosaic – white in desperation had launched a speculative kingside attack rather than just accept a totally passive position. Sylvain seized his moment by taking a knight with his Queen forcing a recapture with the white Queen and then playing Nf2+ forking the Queen – just very classy. I hereby nickname him Aramis!

Hammer nudging ahead 2.5-1.5

Board 4 saw the Surgeon in excellent form against a very tricky opponent Nick Faulks. Playing to provoke weaknesses in the black position, Tony induced his opponent to lash out. However, he had missed a sequence that lost a piece and then compounded the error by moving his queen to a7 instead of d8 and dropping an exchange. Here is the game:

Next up was Paul McK, the Prof, who deplores the Slow Play format and let it be said is fairly vocal about it. However, I do share his view that it should be confined to the dustbin of history. I have to confess I did not see much of the game but there looked like a lot of manoeuvring and the draw was agreed in one of those positions that would please the detractors of the current Carlsen and Caruana WCC match.

Hammer at 4-2 up and guaranteed at least a draw.

Next to the plate was ZeusMarios had uncertain form to the end of last season due to a huge chess workload. However, with a new career, a lack of beard and an uptick in sartorial elegance he is returning to his best form.

The game below is him at his best although he unnecessarily berated himself for missing 18. Nd5! – the good news for Hammer is Zeus is back. It is always good to have the Gods on your side.

Hammer past the winning post at 5-2. Our first ever win over Surbiton A. Cue fireworks, music, ticker-tape parade and raucous celebrations. But hold your horses – JimEl LocoStevenson still had to check-in.

All eyes turned to our LL Hammer 1 captain playing a slow-play finish game where he held the upper-hand. Now my knowledge of El Loco’s games is filled with Kings Gambits, with tactics and strategy in perfect harmony. This was not one of those games.

This was a drudge and a sludge affair where there were no tactics, just the heavy sound of positional moves. Jim had won a pawn in a position where there were two rooks vs two rooks and an opponent intent on just making the sealed move point. Jim was striving to convert when the adjournment came – fortunately his sealed move means he is +3 according to the uber brain, Stockfish. We expect good news shortly.

This was a stellar performance by the team – and it provides this pleasing picture:

Hammer has come of age!!!

A great Hammer night, and many congratulations to Captain Wily and the crew.

El Chessico Book II – The Fall of Troy

A Modern Reversal of Fortune (with Apologies to Battersea)

Like all good ripping yarns there is a huge amount of author’s license in this sorry, but heroic, tale.

The tale began when the warlike kingdom of Batter, lead by their Great King Aldo Menelaus and arch-conspirator General Leon Agamemnon, challenged the peaceful but drunken kingdom of Hammer to a fight-to-the-death chess match over thirty boards.

The Batter intention was to seize back the legendary El Chessico trophy that had been won by Hammer in a previous skirmish. Batter contended it had been stolen and craved it greatly. They were seduced by its power and beauty.

Legend has it that it could launch a thousand chess openings and this knowledge was prized beyond all by Aldo Menelaus. This battle would be about dominion, power, the 64 squares and bragging rights in the South and West of Londonium.

The march to war was littered with social media banter, critical negotiations and final agreement – sounds a bit like Brexit?? – and resulted in the agreed showdown at the home of Batter on the sixth day of the eleventh month in the year of Our Lord 2018.

The scene was set; the die was cast, and both tribes arrived to face their doom.

Batter called on its mightiest warriors Achilles, Partroclus and Diomedes.

Whilst King Priam Clueless of Hammer relied on the stalwarts of Hector, Paris and Aeneas.

The lineup looked a lot like this:

The magnitude of the task facing the Hammer team was huge – enemy territory and two defaults before a pawn was moved in anger. With both Alex and Ken not able to make it at the last minute – a tough mission just got even tougher.

To quote some classic football parlance, it was a match of three halves – yes please, get your head around that.

For simplicity sake, we will take the three halves as boards 1-10, 11-20 and 21-30. I guess three mini-matches within one big match.

The tale of the top ten boards:

There were some great games here.

Ryszard, aka Paris, downed his opponent with a tour de force utilizing the bishop pair to arrow in on the white king and down his formidable opponent. He literally targeted his opponent’s Achilles heel and the game is very instructive and well worth study.

Board 2 saw Thomas push hard with the initiative but with not enough of an edge to convert into a well-deserved victory. Hostilities were brought to an end by a mutually agreed draw.

The next two boards saw Hammer heroes Paul and Pavel fall after full-bloodied encounters and Hammer were now, on paper at least, three points down.

Fortunately, Jeremy played an amazing game and in noble Hector-style, deflected his opponent’s Queen and rook to the wrong side and part of the board. His pieces then swooped in on the denuded Black King and he triumphed and put a great point on the board. Hopefully, we will be able to publish the game at a later date.

Sitting beside Nadhmi while he plays chess is just a pleasure – he combines a deadly combination of perfect innocence with dead-eye accuracy. He tactically outplayed his opponent, winning a piece, and then converted his advantage smoothly. Hammer now just trailing by one point.

King Clueless and Brian agreed draws after bitter tussles and the scoreboard gap stayed frozen.

However, along came Adam and Charlie. The former, displaying all the calm of Trojan hero Aeneas, employed his favourite London System and won a piece with a deadly pin and then was error-free in his win.

Charlie decided to be liberal with his pawns and thus created multiple threats for his opponent. There may have been a defence, but time played its part and Charlie coolly walked away with another Hammer win. The Hammer crew had nosed in front overall by a point but had won this mini-match 6.5-3.5.

Boards 11-20 were even more bitterly contested.

The first two boards saw contrasting fortunes for the Hammers. Simon’s game was the first finish – he won at a canter. Whilst David had one of those nights where you defend tenaciously, win a pawn and move onto the offense. He was winning and had everything covered. Alas, one mis-move allowing a bishop pin lost his extra pawn and the game soon dissipated down to a draw. This was definitely a tragic near-miss of a win.

The next two boards saw Dipender fighting tenaciously but ultimately fruitlessly whilst Alex had sadly defaulted. Hammer on paper were still a point ahead but things were getting tight.

The next two boards (15 and 16) saw Ben, despite arriving late, do his stuff and win fairly quickly, whilst Robin took on General Leon and went down in flames. Just a point separating the teams overall – it was developing into a Virgil epic.

The next four boards saw four Hammers, Dipli and Kostis (the relatively new newbies) and Liam and Jakub (definite newbies) take on their opponents. The tale of the tape shows that Jakub won his individual battle, whilst Liam and Kostis drew – Dipli sadly lost. She is such a good player, I know she will back stronger.

Although we had lost this mini-match, Hammer were still two points ahead.

It would all come down to the battle in mini-match three – the fate of El Chessico was in the hands of the fighting Hammer Trojans.

Our seasoned campaigners, Nick and Nadim, had a draw and a win apiece – Hammer nudging closer – and Dave making his debut in the Hammer colours despite being materially ahead, fell into a Stalemate scenario.

A final push was needed and this is where Hammer played its reverse Trojan horse manoeuvre and the talents of Abakar, the Auchi twins, Connall and AndySpideyRoutledge were unleashed. The famous shock-troops of Troy.

A tour de force from the Taymour and Laith saw their junior opponents totally overawed, with both achieving dominance in rapid victories. The other three Hammers held their nerve: five games and five wins was the result – the city was saved – and made the second Hammer default meaningless.

Hammer had triumphed 18-11.

Scenes

El Chessico was safe and bragging rights are definitely still residing north of the river.

It was a great, great evening and with trophy in hand another Hammer triumph was noted when Dave won the raffle prize for a WCC ticket. Basically, Hammer were like Hermes – fleet of foot, and gracious in victory.

Absolute… scenes

I must thank Aldo, Leon and their captain Gregg for staging the event and wish them and all the Battersea family the best for this season.

Roll on the next encounter – the noisy neighbours may have been silenced for the moment, but believe me – they will be more ferocious and desperate next time.

King Priam Clueless signing off and paying homage to the Hammer heroes.