Blitz Tournament & Training Evenings – Save the Dates!

Happy Easter everyone! As the chess season continues thick & fast, so do the training evenings at the club – please save the following dates:

  • Monday 4th April – Blitz Tournament
  • Monday 25th April – Training & Theory
  • Monday 9th May – Training & Theory
  • Monday 23rd May – Training & Theory

We are pleased to announce that on Monday 4th April we will host a 5-round Swiss Blitz tournament at the club, with time controls between 10 and 15 mins. It should be a great evening of fast, competitive chess! We’ll aim to start at about 8pm, but club will be open as usual from 7.30pm. Content of future training sessions to be confirmed nearer the time.

This will be an open tournament with free entry – non members are welcome to come along and try out their chess skills against our seasoned club players. If you’re not a member and would like to join in, please just drop us an email to confirm your attendance: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

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The chicken on the left played a ‘cracking’ endgame…

If you can’t make a Monday evening at our club venue, we also run a free weekly session at Hammersmith Library (on Shepherds Bush Road, 2 mins from tube station) every Wednesday from 6-8pm. It’s hosted by a player or two from the club with a number of boards, and anyone is welcome to come up and try their hand at a game. The evenings have proven very popular of late, particularly with younger players. It’s a great way to get some hands on experience of the game! We are looking to shortly expand into Shepherds Bush and Kensington Libraries – more on that soon!

Do come along to these events if you can – you’ll be very welcome!

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2016 @ 12:50 pm

A Brief History of Hammersmith Chess Club

Hammersmith Chess Club has been around for a while – since 1962 to be precise. That might seem like the fairly recent past to some of you – perhaps even living memory for many of our members – however for those of us born after 1980 that is, quite frankly, a different era. Up there with pre-history for the millennial generation!

To bear this out, indulge me for a moment while I recount some of the events that happened in Britain in 1962.

  • The Beatles were yet to release an album. Hard to imagine a time before the Beatles isn’t it, but this was quite literally a pre-Beatles era. They had some of their first sessions at Abbey Road in 1962, and released their first ever single (Love Me Do) in October of that year.
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The Mark I Fort Cortina – launched the same year as Hammersmith Chess Club!
  • The Ford Cortina was launched – for the princely sum of £573 you could buy yourself a brand new Cortina! Other motoring options available at that time – the Vauxhall Victor, Hillman Minx (!), and the Morris Oxford Farina.
  • The first ever James Bond film – Dr. No – premieres, with Sean Connery playing the famous secret agent. Glad to see this is still going strong today, albeit without the schhhpeech impediment.
  • Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and James Watson win the Nobel Prize for their discovery of DNA – the building blocks of life!

I don’t need to point out that mobile phones didn’t exist, nor did the internet, home computers, concorde (now since retired!), Malawi, CD’s, Z-Cars, Steptoe and Son, and England were yet to win the World Cup. I could go on…

My point is, we have been around for a long time, and it’s only right that some of that history is recorded and shared.

Luckily for us our ever-diligent club Secretary, Mike Mackenzie, recently re-discovered a treasure trove of historic material about the club whilst tidying up our equipment cupboard. As long ago as 1967 we were producing a regular newsletter for members. I’d like to share a few snippets and factoids from those fascinating records.

  • The Club first opened its doors on 3rd September 1962 at Westcott Lodge, now a Grade II listed Georgian House. Membership at the time was 22, including John White (made life President in 2012 to mark 50 years of the club) and Peter Martin (a long-time Treasurer and later Secretary of the club).
Westcott Lodge as it stands proudly today
Westcott Lodge as it stands proudly today
  • Hammersmith Borough Council (itself a throwback – now Hammersmith & Fulham Council) helped found the club, starting with an open chess competition in 1961 for which the council provided a handsome cup for the winner. Sometime after that competition, the council met and agreed the formation of Hammersmith Chess Club.
  • It took some time to properly establish the club, and it wasn’t until 1966 that the club elected it’s first President, Lady Herbert. Lady Herbert was well known on the chess circuit at the time and something of a character. She was married to Sir Alan Patrick Herbert, himself a very interesting and erudite man – the club certainly had friends in high places! Membership had by then grown to 35 and cost around 30 shillings (£1.50!) – that’s right, Hammersmith Chess Club even pre-dates decimal money!
  • In July of 1968 Dr. Jonathan Penrose, British Champion, gave a simultaneous display at the club, winning 17 games and drawing 2. His fee was reported as 6 guineas (£6.30 in modern money). Given the level he played at, it is quite impressive that two club players managed a draw against the great man.
Dr. Penrose plays Mikhail Tal in 1960. Full game here.
Dr. Penrose plays Mikhail Tal in 1960. Full game here. It finished as a victory to the British Champion
  • At some point in 1968 our former President John White (back then just a regular member, one presumes) recorded a record 8th-straight victory in competitive chess, a club record! Sadly John is no longer with us, however his long-term contribution and dedication to the club lives on in the annual John White tournament – a handicap rapid play event we hold every Christmas. We were lucky enough to have John’s son present the trophy last year on the inaugural occasion of the re-named event.
  • May 1968 saw the West London Open Junior (U-19) Championship, where several of Hammersmith’s most promising players competed. This included one Peter S Morton. Those of you familiar with the London club circuit will recognise Peter as an ever-present player. He stepped in as acting Chairman for us following John’s death, and is still an active player across the London Leagues.
  • Also in 1968, our U21’s took on the over 21’s at the club. It sounded like a great match, finishing 8-8. Below photos document the event, which also made the local press!
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Pictured in the centre with a beard and holding up the Key, is John White, former life President of the Club
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An impressive result from the juniors considering the youth of some on the team!
  • 1970 saw the club move venue to St. Paul’s Church Hall, Sussex Place, having outgrown the premises at Westcott Lodge. I stand to be corrected, but I believe this is the church that you can see as you pass over the Hammersmith Flyover – the attached conference facility is now a RIBA-award winning architectural gem – oh to have our club nights there now! One wonders how the church and parish felt back in 1961 when the flyover was constructed! A frequent gripe of members at the time appears to be a lack of sufficient heating in the hall!
  • Later in 1970 the club sent a team of seven players to Amsterdam to take part in a triangular match. I wonder how they got on – did the famous coffee shops exist back then??
  • The London Chess Congress Novice section in 1972 was won by a very young Hammersmith player. At just 9 years old, Julian Hodgson also won the Under 10’s prize – a pocket chess set. Julian would of course later go on to become British Champion.
Four times British Champion Julian Hodgson began his illustrious career at Hammersmith
Four times British Champion Julian Hodgson began his illustrious career at Hammersmith
  • Interestingly, around this time there seemed to be a great deal of correspondence chess going on at the club. Hammersmith had a team in division two of the British Correspondence Chess League in 1973-74. In this era of online chess and smartphones, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the British Correspondence Chess Association is still going strong!
  • Dominic Lawson was the opponent for a Hammersmith player in a 1974 game in the Thames Valley League. A famous family name – Dominic is the son of former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, and brother of T.V. chef Nigella.
  • Later that year, IM Robert (Bob) Wade played a simultaneous at the club, ending with a Q&A on his chess experiences. Bob played numerous times for England and was well regarded as a coach and author. He even helped Bobby Fischer in his preparation for his 1972 match against Boris Spassky. Rather predictably, the first question he got asked: “What was it like playing Bobby Fischer?”
  • At some point around 1975 the club moved venue again, to Blythe Hall. This seems to have gone down very well with the members – much warmer than the church hall! Drunken Knights club get their first mention around this time too. Pleased to say they are still going strong as well!
  • Our chess book library commenced in 1975 too. The first title to be loaned out – “Yearbook of Chess 1969/70”. The library continued through the rest of the decade and up to 1984 when our final title went on loan – “100 Chess Gems”. Good times.
  • The 1980’s are short on detail in the archives, but we do have our first mention of Ken Hedger in 1983, as captain of our third team in the Hammersmith League. Ken is another regular on the London chess scene, and is still an active player today, some 30+ years later.
  • March 1996 the club finally received money through from it’s insurers for rain damage to our boards! The record isn’t entirely clear how this happened but it was very well received! Carsten Pedersen also gets a mention for the first time – Carsten is currently the strongest player at the club.
  • John Wooley took over captaincy of our Thames Valley team in 1998, successfully seeing the team through to promotion to Division 1. John is another stalwart of the club and still plays strong chess in the Thames Valley league today.
Sue pictured in 2013 by which time she had already achieved the WIM designation
Sue pictured in 2013, shortly before she achieved the WIM designation
  • 1999 sees the last entry of note in the archive, but it’s a good one! Our in-house tournament that year was won by Michael Bushill. More notable was the 3rd placed player – CJ De Mooi. You may have heard of CJ – a long-time fixture on the BBC quiz show Eggheads, he’s also appeared on Countdown, Fifteen to One, and numerous other shows, as well as having a successful modelling and acting career! His life is not without controversy too – have a read of his Wikipedia biog here.
  • The late 2000’s saw Sue Maroroa on the books of Hammersmith. Sue has had a distinguished chess career, including earning the title of Woman International Master, with a victory over GM Mark Hebden to her name. She was the strongest player at our club whilst a member.

As you can see, it’s been an interesting 54 years since the club first opened its doors. Times have certainly changed since then, but I wonder if the game itself has changed much in those years? Over the next few weeks we’ll be putting up some of the games from the archive newsletters so we can have a look to see for ourselves. See you soon!

Last Updated: Mar 10, 2017 @ 2:14 pm

Training Day – Part Deux

A reminder – Monday 29th sees our second evening of theory training at the club. It’s another free & open session – non-members are welcome to come along and join in.

Our Chairman, Bajrush (Rated ECF 208 for rapid play!) will be taking us through the following topics:

  • Endgame revision with practical sessions
  • Middle game basics
  • Basic openings & opening theory

Promises to be another valuable session – hope to see you there!

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The Balkan Bootcamp!

We held our first training session of the year tonight – and it was a cracking evening to get us started for the year. Our Balkan wizard at the board – chairman Bajrush Kelmendi – led the session with aplomb, taking a good sized group through the following topics:

  • Basic endgame theory
  • King & pawn endings
  • Pawn on pawn formations
  • Rook and Bishop theory, including the tricky task of mating with a bishop pair

It didn’t end there – that was followed by a practical session on applying some of these themes in a couple of previous games of his.

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Bajrush was aided by our League 4 Captain John White at the demo board. We also had the benefit of a large television & computer for running through the games.

There were plenty of questions and challenges from the crowd, and a couple of moments of levity, mostly involving missing pieces from the demo board which John had managed to squirrel away in his pockets! True magnetism.

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It was a great session – hats off to Bajrush for arranging, and also to John for helping sort out on the night.

Further tips and tactics for endgames can be found here.

Looking forward to the next session – Monday 29th Feb, 7.30pm start. Save the date & do come along!!

Training Day

We are today excited to announce some upcoming training sessions to be hosted at our club venue (directions here) in West London.

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Denzel was looking forward to learning about the French Defense (Classical Variation)

Two of the strongest players at our club, Bajrush Kelmendi and Carsten Pedersen, aided by our training group, will be providing a number of sessions over the next few months to help all players sharpen their tactics and improve their game. These sessions will be open to members and non-members alike (at no cost). Details as follows:

  • Monday 22nd Feb, from 7.30pm – a session focused on Endgames for beginner and intermediate levels. Though even the seasoned pro’s might learn a thing or two!
  • Monday 29th Feb, from 7.30pm – an open session for members to submit topics of their own suggestion. Please contact Bajrush with your ideas for topics and we will finalise details closer to the time.
  • Monday 14th March, from 7.30pm – a session jointly hosted by Carsten and Bajrush in which we will analyse three of the games from the Simultaneous against Chris Ward.
  • Later this Spring, Carsten will host a session on Pawn endings at the club. Details to be confirmed, but we’ll keep you posted!

As mentioned, we’d be pleased to welcome any non-members to the club for these sessions. If you think this may be of interest to you, please let us know your details below and we’ll be in touch:

Name:
E-mail:
Sessions (tick all that apply):

We look forward to hearing from you!

Chris Ward vs. Carsten Pedersen (0-1): The Analysis

As the only victor in the recent Simultaneous against Chris Ward, Hammersmith’s Danish wizard Carsten Pedersen has generously provided us with his analysis of that game.

Carsten (top right, furthest board from the camera) mulls over his next move
Carsten (top right, furthest board from the camera) mulls over his next move

The insight is a real treat and makes for a fascinating read. As you might expect from two top players, some of the lines are tricky to follow, though Carsten has done really well in explaining the logic behind them. I’m pleased to say there is even the occasional (semi) blunder in there! A terrific read – hope you enjoy it.

Grandmaster Flashy! GM Ward triumphs in 15 board Simul

By Events Secretary, John White

Am delighted to report that members of Hammersmith Chess club took on the ex-British Champion Grandmaster Chris Ward in a simultaneous match over 15 boards last night – 2nd February 2016. The whole evening took three hours and was a brilliant display of competitive and fighting chess… well, maybe on four of the 15 boards!

The evening was great fun thanks to Chris who was very entertaining, very sporting and played some deadly chess.

Pride of place goes to Carsten Pedersen, our club’s strongest player who not only beat Chris, but did so after getting an inferior position in the opening – amazing performance!

A tense room shortly after proceedings started
A tense room shortly after proceedings started. Players watch on as Chris does his rounds across 15 boards

Just behind him were the three stalwarts of the Club – Mike Mackenzie, our Club Secretary, Bajrush Kelmendi, our Chairman, and David Lambert, one of our team captains. Although they lost, they each played magnificently.

Indeed Mike had a potentially won game but possibly over-excitement and with Chris posing him problems at every move, he ended up losing despite being ahead on material for much of the game.

David played solidly all the way and only a clever tactic from Chris downed him in the endgame.

Bajrush had an incredibly complicated game with Chris that was decided late into the evening when again, the expertise of Chris saw him secure the win.

Club Secretary Mike Mackenzie looking very pleased with his position early on
Fear the Benoni. Club Secretary Mike Mackenzie looking very pleased with his position early on.

The rest of us were dispatched in regulation fashion. The reality is that a player of Chris’s ability sees so much more at the board than us club hackers. Take your correspondent – I was strategically lost after 7 moves – a hasty move saw to my downfall.

A great night that will be repeated in future, and once again Hammersmith Chess Club must thank Chris for making it happen.

 

Simultaneous Match vs GM Chris Ward

In what should be a  truly captivating evening of Chess, Hammersmith Club players will be taking on Grandmaster (GM) Chris Ward in a 15 board simultaneous game at our Lytton Hall club venue (directions here) on Tuesday 2nd February from 6.30pm.

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GM Chris Ward teaching GM and current World Champion Magnus Carlsen (left) a thing or two

A former British Champion, Chris is currently ranked in the top 30 British players and has a wealth of published material on the game, including a number of books on the Sicilian Dragon and Queen’s Gambit openings.

Simultaneous (or Exhibition) games have a rich history amongst top ranked players, and have lead to some memorable exchanges with so-called lesser players. Bobby Fischer even included one game from an exhibition match (featuring the Evans Gambit), in his “60 Memorable Games” book. Hopefully one of the Hammersmith players can have a memorable evening!

This is a fantastic and rare chance to play against a master of the game and promises to be a highlight for the Club. The Fulham Gazette will be covering this occasion for the local press.

New website

Hammersmith Chess Club is pleased to announce our new website.

We’ve got a brand new layout and some exciting features which we hope you’ll like, including:

  • Integrated twitter feed – new tweets appear automatically on the website
  • Blog style updates – with Newsletter functionality to email all members & subscribers whenever a post is made
  • Updated contact details section with Google maps

We hope you like it 🙂