Puzzle of the Week #008

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and none more so than when it comes to chess puzzles!

It was way back in June that we last saw a puzzle, and word on the street is that people have been clamouring for the next one!

The first correct answer for puzzle #007 was from Paul “Dead Eye” Kennelly – well done sir!

Without further ado, let’s see what this week brings us…

White to move – answers on a postcard (in comments!)

RapidPlay Round III – Reminder

And the usual reminder – you have until the end of December to complete your third round games in the RapidPlay competition and let Adam and Dave know the result.

The Pairings are below, if you’re having any problems please get in touch:

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt II

“On the second day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

…London League 3, by John White

It seems strange giving a report on the team with only three matches played – the London League fixture list is heavily weighted towards after Christmas, with eight games to come in the New Year.

That said, if your aim is promotion you have to start well and overall the Starship Hammer have achieved that.

Our debut at the Citadines in our first match saw a convincing 7.5-2.5 win against Hackney. This match saw the welcome return of Sydney to the Hammer colours, and the introduction of the Prof and Loco to the Hammer ranks. It also featured the debut of Zeus on Board One.

This was the best performance of Hammer pre-Christmas. The team was in deadly form and was capped off by a Wily escape of Houdini proportions. How does he do it?!

Match two saw us at the home of GLCC. This was a tough gig with first-choice player availability an issue for the Hammer squad. Luckily, we were able to call on some fighting gauchos in the form of the Hat and the Gift.

However, the reality is we were out-graded, out-fought and out-thought on the night and went down 6.5-3.5. This was a tough night for Hammer 1 and really took the wind out of our sails. Maybe a hard dose of reality was needed after the Hackney canter.

Our final game was against DHSS and saw us return to winning ways with a comfortable 6.5-3.5 win, although as non-playing captain on the night it was not an easy watch!

The tale of the evening saw the first appearance for nearly 14 months by Sauvignon, and great performances from Wily and Pandit in particular. This match was a very professional and disciplined performance from the Hammer crew, and a good bounce back after the GLCC setback.

The main thing after three games is we are in the mix with some tough matches to come.

I must acknowledge certain matters in this report:

  • No defaults so far – excellent
  • The Prof at 2/2 for the season, he is relishing competitive chess again
  • Dead-eye smouldering on 2/2
  • The Gift, probably the youngest debutant in Hammer LL history
  • The return of Sydney and Sauvignon to Mother Hammer’s loving bosom
  • The form of Zeus, Loco, Wily and Pandit
  • The fact that Thomas will be playing for us in 2018
  • The addition of Tommaso to the squad of players available
  • Finally, the funniest moment of the season so far, maybe the funniest of the whole season – Spock, aka Pavel, doing the “Live Long and Prosper” sign with a straight face

The overall conclusion is so far, so good!

John.

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt I

Crack open the mulled wine & get your tinsel ready – here at Hammer we’re putting a festive spin on our mid-term Team Captain’s reports as we present… The 8 Teams of Christmas (c)!!!

With most of our League Games now done until the new year, every few days we’ll be hearing from one of our captains how their team has done so far this season.

So, without further ado…

“On the first day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

…London League 4, by Dave Lambert!

Without a match in Division 4 since early November, I’ve very little excuse for not writing a short mid-term report at Christmas to tide us over! I’ve also just noticed that all the 2017 matches across the league have now completed, so the timing seems apt.

We’ve only played 3 of our 12 matches, but have made a positive start. We’ve chalked-up 2 points on the scoreboard and sit in 5th place as we approach the New  Year.

A convincing early win against Morley College (7-1) was followed with another decisive win against Alfil (5.5-1.5).

Our defeat came at the hands of Metropolitan (2.5-5.5) whose home advantage saw them triumph. Despite the scoreline, we ran them really close with a couple of results turning their way at the death.

It’s a really competitive league this time around – perhaps more so than ever – and there’s probably around 6 sides capable of stealing promotion (top 2 finish required). We have to count ourselves amongst that number, but will need to bring our A-game against the likes of Streatham, Lewisham and Athenaeum to really put ourselves in the mix.

I can include the latest view of our individual records below, but in truth, it’s too early to get excited about this stuff. Most of us have only played one or two games! Still, it’s nice to see so many players getting games across the squad, particularly as we’ve been able to welcome the likes of Charlie, Simon, Pouya, Wyatt, Matteo and Shiraz to make their debuts this season. That’s nearly half our number! What a reflection of how far we’ve come as a club over the last 12 months.

We’ll find out what we’re made of in January when we face a couple of main contenders in quick succession!

Have a great Christmas and New Year! Let’s hope for a successful 2018.

Dave.

 

A Classic Week

London League 6: Battersea v Hammersmith – 28/11/17

Tuesday night saw us travel to Clapham Junction to take on Battersea in a tricky Division 6 fixture. Following a bit of inevitable ribbing on Twitter (@hammer_chess), I’m afraid it was us left to lick our wounds following a disappointing 1.5-2.5 defeat.

Rich was unavailable to captain this time around so Dave stepped in to do the honours. He picks up the commentary from here.

The aftermath

Ben was first to finish on board 4. Facing an empty chair for the best part of 30 minutes is never the best introduction (Battersea’s player arriving fashionably late), particularly when you’re making your debut in London League.

The mind games obviously worked, spellbinding Ben into an early touch-move mistake. It resulted in giving up a Knight for a pawn, which despite an all-out attack that followed, ultimately proved decisive. 0-1 down.

Wyatt on board 2 was next to fall, succumbing to a reversal in the Queen’s Gambit Declined line. In truth, Black’s queenside pawn storm proved decisive, handing Battersea’s captain the initiative with the dual advantage of increased space and promotion threats. Full game is included below. 0-2 down, and looking like a real battle to take anything from the match.

The result was ultimately confirmed with the conclusion of Charlie’s match on board 3, a respectable draw against veteran Tim Allen. That took the score to 0.5-2.5 with the result no longer in doubt.

Facing an unfamiliar opening, Charlie countered well before a premature Queen attack left him down a pawn and playing catchup. Full marks for creating complications and for inviting the draw offer. Full game here:

The final match to finish was my own on board 1. I’ve recently studied the Smith-Morra Gambit and strolled to the venue convinced I’d get a chance to try it F2F for the first time. I had to smile when I was allocated black but nevertheless faced the same opening a few moves in.

Conscious of the mayhem that can ensue, I declined the gambit with a fairly passive 3…d3. Not the most exciting move but it appeared to  unsettle my opponent; I got the sense his theory was stronger in the Accepted lines! It was then a battle of pawn storms on either flank, but I always felt I had the initiative. Happy to get the win! Full game below. 1.5-2.5 defeat all told.

That’s it now until Christmas – thanks to everyone for turning out!

Dave.

Middlesex Division 2: Hendon v Hammersmith – 30/11/17

“How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Hammer Style”

On Thursday night Hammer’s Middlesex 1 team took on Hendon 4. On paper a highly probable win was on the cards for Hammer, as not only did we out grade them, but we had swept them aside 8-0 at The Anvil earlier in the month. If you were a betting man… you would put your money on the nose for the Hammer boys to deliver.

Unfortunately, the major curse of being a captain of any Hammer team is the no-show of team members on team nights. This is the one thing that frustrates any Hammer captain more than anything else. To paraphrase one of Oscar Wilde’s most memorable creations, Lady Bracknell:

“To have one default may be regarded as misfortune, to have two defaults looks like carelessness, but to have three is disastrous.”

Let us examine dear reader, this tale of woe.

To begin any sporting contest effectively 3-0 down is a huge handicap. This was the size of the task facing the five Hammer players who sat down to face the Hendon 4 team.

The night saw the Middlesex 1 debut of Pouya – so in time-honoured tradition his designated nickname is Silk.

Board One saw the Great Dane in action, playing black, and in great form. Although consuming a good chunk of time for the first half of the game when it got to the business end of the contest he performed majestically. A blitz-style finish saw the Great Dane deliver a picturesque checkmate. Hammer at 1-3

Board Two saw Sydney grab a draw in a contest where he was under pressure. He was relieved to get that result as he was not in the best of form. Hammer now at 1.5-3.5

On Board 5 Tellit played an excellent game displaying excellent endgame technique and utilising the concept of Zugzwang to perfection. This brought the overall score to 2.5-3.5 in favour of Hendon.

Board Eight saw Silk take a well-fought draw against a tricky opponent. Although he held an edge, there were possible threats against his king that would have made matters very murky. He prudently took the draw option, putting Hammer at 3-4 down.

Finally, on board Seven Clueless was happy to escape with a draw. Having misplayed the opening, he was under pressure for most of the game and had to indulge in some severe scrambling to achieve counter play. Having done this, he briefly contemplated playing for the win in a two rook versus two rooks endgame.

However, the risk of matters going wrong was too severe and a repetition of position occurred. This translated to Hammer losing 3.5-4.5

So Hammer Middlesex 1 lose their first game of the season. With the inevitable addition of game penalty points, it was a miserable evening for the team – just rubbish.

As Captain of the Hammer 1 London League team I make this plea to all Hammer members:

If we are serious about promotion in any of the leagues we compete in we can have no more defaults for the rest of the season. Promotion is tough enough without shooting ourselves in the foot.

Which brings us full circle and back to the title of this piece.

Clueless over and out.

Rapidplay – December – Round III !

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month – it can only mean one thing – the latest pairings for our Rapidplay tournament are out!

But first, a word on the Round II results in November. Full results are below, but full credit to Dave Lambert in holding out (and very nearly beating) our reigning champion, Bajrush! Tantalisingly close to a major upset there – the thrilling encounter is below:

Adam also deserves a mention for overcoming higher-rated opponent John,  as does Paul, but it’s Chris Moore who gets the “performance of the round” prize for beating Pouya. Well done Chris!! Other results went largely to form.

To the Round III pairings then – and there are some properly tasty matchups for December, starting with seven of our strongest players facing off in the top four ties – with star-performer Chris completing the set. Will Chris be able to keep up his remarkable run of form against Marios? Yasser vs John looks like a cracker too.

Towards the bottom end we’ve got a series of – on paper – evenly matched games that should prove tight contests. Action all over the place!!

As usual, the onus is on individuals to arrange the games with your opponents & get the result to tournament controllers Adam & Dave by the end of the month.

December will be a busy month for many, so we encourage all players to get their games organised asap. Our Monday schedule at Lytton Hall looks like this:

  • 4th DecemberFREE evening
  • 11th December – Keith Arkell Simultaneous
  • 18th December  – Handicap Blitz Tournament
  • 25th December – Club Closed for Christmas Day!!

We therefore recommend trying to get your game arranged for 4th December. Any problems, please get in touch with the controllers:

Keith Arkell Simul – London Chess Classic

You’ll hopefully be aware that the London Chess Classic 2017 started this week, with Round 1 matches taking place on Friday. Selected results from the top players below:

A couple of “GM draws” in there

It’s a huge, prestigious event in the international chess calendar, and frequently attracts the worlds top players! Whether you’re playing or merely spectating, it’s well worth a trip down to Olympia to see what’s happening. Further details are available on their website:

http://www.londonchessclassic.com

The Classic finishes on Monday 11th December, and to celebrate we are hosting GM Keith Arkell at Lytton Hall for a Simultaneous!

When Garry met Keith

Keith is a top English player, having achieved GM status in 1995, and he’s a particularly strong Rapid player, so a Simul we be a great test of his abilities!

It’s going to be a popular event, so if you’d like to reserve a spot please get in touch with John: john.white49@ntlworld.com 

There’ll be a small fee of £6, and prizes for the best performances!

11th December – SAVE THE DATE!

Chess.com – Find a Hammer Player!

As the year draws to a close, the Club Chess calendar for December is looking decidedly sparse! One way to overcome this is with online chess, and we thought it would be a great idea to share chess.com usernames of our Hammer players – strike up an online game with a friendly face from W14!

Our current list is below – if you’d like to share your username, please leave a comment or drop us an email: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

 

That’s it for now – look out for some Festive roundups for each of our teams coming soon, and enjoy the London Chess Classic!

Ehr for Congress!

Here at Hammer we don’t really “do” politics. However, when it comes to the political aspirations of one of our upstanding, former members, we are happy to oblige!

Former Hammerite & West-Londoner, ex-Chief Executive of the ECF, long-time US Navy serviceman, and – most importantly – fine example of a human being, our very own Phil Ehr is standing for elected office in the US!

That’s right, Phil is standing for Congress in Florida’s 1st Congressional District as a Democrat candidate, and we’d like to share some details of a couple of events he’ll be holding in London as part of the campaign.

First up, Phil will be hosting an event across the road from the London Chess Classic in our old favourite Albion Pub:

  • When: Monday 4th December, from 7pm
  • Where: The Albion Pub (upstairs function room), 121 Hammersmith Road, W14 OQL
  • What: Drinks and an opportunity to meet Phil and hear more details about his campaign

And following that, there’s a reception in Central London as follows:

“Join us to hear Phil Ehr talk about his race to represent Florida’s Panhandle and replace a very right-wing Republican!  Phil is a retired Navy officer who served around the world, most recently in London.  He moved back to Pensacola last May and announced his candidacy in July. 

Phil is campaigning to keep Americans healthy through affordable health care, and respects women’s rights to reproductive medical services.  He will work to protect the environment, strengthen national security, fund public education and serve our military community.

He is running against Matt Gaetz, who has called for the resignation of Special Counsel Mueller and voted to defund FEMA!  On December 5 in London, Phil will talk about the challenges he faces in western Florida and his path to electoral victory next November!”

We’re fully behind Phil in his quest for office! Please share this article with anyone who may be interested!

And be sure to check out his website for more details of his campaign, the issues that are important to him, and details of upcoming events:

http://www.ehrforcongress.com

Donations to Phil’s campaign are encouraged if you so wish, but please note that only US citizens or Green Card holders can donate – please use the following link: https://www.ehrforcongress.com/donate/

Go Phil – Hammersmith Chess Club is rooting for you!!

 

A Position of GO

London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith – 23.11.17

Welcome to returning veterans David Lambert and John Ryan, who debut this match on division 5.

John was the first to finish on board 4, dealing an inexperienced opponent a sharp object lesson in chess, quickly going a piece up, then mopping up pawns in rapid style. 1-0

The Hammersmith captain on board 3 with the white pieces, bungled the move order in the Korchnoi gambit to the French defence. Quickly, the young Pimlico junior gained the advantage with a dangerous knight assay into the white kingside.

The Hammersmith captain desperately sacrificed a piece for two pawns, to gain counter play and force the queens off. The board saw two rooks and two pawn islands each side and black was a piece for a pawn up! The junior then studied the board for nearly 20 minutes, before launching a vicious two rook attack on white’s 2nd rank.

However, this did not end in mate as expected, but it did allow a rook swap and the simplified endgame was ultimately lost, with white resigning. 1-1

A busy night at the Pimlico office

David on board 2 had the black pieces against the Pimlico captain. Their board saw the open Sicilian Defence, with David playing early pawns to c5 and e5 (the Maroczy Bind), a rock-solid defence. Draw agreed, and the score was 1.5-1.5

Having to deal with the lightning fast junior on board 3, I saw little of the other games.

In the dying moments of the match, we gathered to watch Brian Dodgeon staving off defeat on the clock, with perhaps 5 minutes to go against 20 minutes.

I saw an entrenched position with perhaps 7 or 8 pawns each side, the white pawn array appearing as a strong, symmetrical arrow-head. There were also all major pieces and one bishop on both sides.

White looked to have dangerous pawn pushes possible on c5 and d5, each supported by rooks from behind. White had a bishop landlocked behind his own pawns, black on the other hand had a bishop supported by a pawn, near white’s castled king.

The image of a GO board came to mind where each side, in the famous Japanese board game, tries to strangle the other in a strategy of global dominance. With much to ponder, black offered a very sporting draw which Brian mulled over for a while, then accepted.

A draw it was at 2-2. David later pointed out that it was a good result, as Pimlico had just trounced a strong team 4-0.

I am indebted to David for stepping in at the last minute. Nadhmi had to withdraw understandably for a school event.

Robin.

Live Long and Prosper

London League 3: DHSS v Hammersmith – 21.11.17

Welcome to the latest adventures of the Starship Hammer 1 and its one season mission to explore strange new and old chess clubs, and boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Star Date 21/11/2017 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to a strange, but in some ways familiar, planet called DHSS. The environment was most welcoming but also slightly hostile.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

Zeus, Wily, Loco, Sydney, Brexit, Spock, Pandit, Dead-Eye, Sauvignon and The Suit. The party was led by the non-playing captain, Clueless.

This is how the night unfolded, but not necessarily in chronological order.

Zeus playing black on board 1, was out-graded by 20 points plus, and facing a c3 Sicilian. Following his own advice, he played an early d5 and fianchettoed his black-square bishop. A great struggle unfolded with white’s 2 vs 1 queen-side majority probably going to decide matters, however Zeus won the exchange with a smart combination but unfortunately this released the white a-pawn to march up the board.

Backed by two white bishops this proved the decisive moment of the game. There was a drawing sequence but it required a computer-like move walking the black king into check.

Although Zeus is a god, he is not a computer!! Hammer landing party down 0-1.

On board 2 Wily was in sparkling form, with his usual e4, d3 and c4 setup, and g and h-pawns racing up the board. Having achieved a passed pawn positioned on h6, which resulted in black devoting serious resources to prevent it marching onwards, he then switched his attention to the black king castled on the queen-side.

He won a piece and then two pieces and pawn for a rook with a lovely combination. He then chased the black king up the board and weaved a special mating net. This was chess played all over the board and Wily brought Hammer level. 1-1

On board three Loco, playing black, faced a Giuoco Piano setup and instead of going Bc5 on move three, went Be7. A long, dour struggle then played out with Loco holding a very large time advantage. His opponent seemed concerned with seeing or neutralising minor threats whilst eating up his clock. My feeling is that he was mostly seeing Scotch Mist as Jim was never in trouble and comfortably secured the draw. 1-5-1.5

On board 4 Sydney got a walkover as his opponent did not show. His reward – the misfortune to play a handful of blitz games with Clueless to while away the time. Hammer now 2.5-1.5 ahead.

On board 5 Brexit reflected political reality. He played accurately and well at first, gradually moving towards equality and then he took a stab at Utopia. Unfortunately, his opponent had played him like a “Michel Barnier” and delivered him a hefty bill for his optimistic play.

Brexit tried negotiating but the ending was sudden and the promised land never arrived. Brexit will regroup and in the spirit of David Davis he will be out for the next round and he will win through. He is done with Junckering!!

Hammer pegged back to 2.5 all.

Board six saw Spock, armed with the white pieces, take on a Sicilian defence. He consumed a lot of time but pursued his attack logically as outlined in the Star Fleet Chess Manual. In the end a draw was agreed. Pavel is a great team player with a quirky sense of humour. He always sticks around to see the outcome of games and provided the comedy moment of the evening when he looked at me and gave me the Vulcan “live long and prosper” sign with a straight face. Just brilliant. Tense at 3-3.

Board seven next was in the safe and capable hands of Pandit.  He was in the best of form playing the black side of a Sicilian defence. Playing accurately and simply, he emerged into an endgame two pawns up. His opponent tried a couple of tricks but Pandit negotiated all before him and emerged a deserved winner. Hammer back ahead 4-3.

On board nine Dead-Eye had a beautiful inverted V-shaped, spearhead pawn formation wedged into the black position. He then transferred attention to the black king. With an open f-file he had a way in. Alas his opponent played a knight-sac on d4 and if Dead-Eye had recaptured he would have lost a rook as well.

There is an old Irish proverb that goes “it is better to be a coward than a dead-man all your life” – Paul wisely adopted this advice and accepted the pawn loss. However, his opponent had consumed too much time on the clock and did not make move 30 at the time-control. Dead-Eye had made it 5-3.

Board nine saw the welcome season debut of Sauvignon. Playing black he achieved equality and then secured a positional edge with white severely hampered by an inferior pawn structure and an e-pawn still rooted to its original starting square. Sauvignon moved over to the attack. However, Dave Gilbert, the DHSS captain, is a tricky opponent and does not roll over easily. He found some accurate moves and secured a draw. Hammer past the winning post at 5.5-3.5, and match point secured.

Finally on board 10, we saw The Suit wearing the Hammer mantle. By his own admission The Suit has not been in the best of form this season. Indeed, the first half of this game reflected that lack of confidence and accuracy in his play.

However, once his chance came he seized it with a beautiful combination and play reminiscent of his form last season. I hope this is the turning point for him and he gets the results his talent deserves.

So, Starship Hammer 1 triumphed 6.5-3.5. Yes, there were squeaky bum moments but the force is strong in Hammer 1 and we won through. The current table makes pleasant reading:

Three games in and Hammer are a contender – go Hammer!

Captain Clueless log – mission accomplished, roll-on 2018. Clueless over & out.

London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith – 23.11.17

Captains report to follow, however we are pleased to report that the Hammersmith team secured a 2-2 draw!

London League 6: Morley College v Hammersmith – 24.11.17

Board 1 saw S.Shaw take on Hammer’s Robin Lee. Robin had an excellent win with the white pieces, trapping a bishop which in the end proved enough. 1-0

On board 2 John Ryan faced a solid, central attack by his opponent, which proved too much to hold on. 1-1

On 3, Hammer’s Nick Rutherford succumbed to a tactical struggle, eventually losing on time. 1-2

Last up on 4, stalwart Dan Rugman with the black pieces played a c5 response to his opponents opening e4. After Nf3 d6, d4 cxd4, Nxd4 Nf6, Nc3 a6, B4?! – never seen that before! Dan played a good game but fell into a mating net.

Final score – a 3-1 defeat for the L6 Hedger team.

Mike.

RapidPlay – Final Reminder for Round II

We’re one week from the end of November and eight of the twelve games have been played. Surprises so far include wins for Adam, Chris and Paul against John, Pouya and Shiraz respectively.

On top board Bajrush narrowly escaped with the full point after Dave lost a completely winning position with very little time left (game below).

Please be sure to get the final four results in before the end of the month, along with any requests for half-point byes in December – we appreciate it can be a busy month.

Adam.

Experiences of a Chess Parent!

Rainy Saturday Afternoon.

Room full of chess players – most of whom are over 60!

Miles from home.

Yup, it’s another round of weekend slow-play adult chess again. Not for me, thankfully (I barely know how to set up a chess board, let alone attempt the game!), but for my little 10 year old chess enthusiast!

How did this all start? I often wonder that myself!

There is one person that comes to mind though, the man responsible for spreading his love of chess to all in our household, turning not just 1 but all 3 of our boys into avid chess nutters! Tony Niccoli – or to go by his official name, Tony the Magnificent!!

The man is a chess genius, responsible for so many successful young chess players, not to mention being a phenomenal chess player himself. It was entirely thanks to Tony that we even started trying our luck at junior chess tournaments. The more our eldest son got hooked on the game, the more tournaments we went to.

Taking on Wyatt in the Rapidplay tournament at Lytton Hall

Oh the joys of spending hours waiting in between chess rounds! But it’s all worth it if your child enjoys the game and the experience. Our boys have all gotten to know other kids that also regularly come to tournaments. Friendships are formed – both kids and parents alike. I’ve made some great friends along the way, who make the long days spent waiting in a cramped room much more bearable. The kids play football or cards in between rounds of chess, so in many ways it’s a really healthy way for them to spend their weekends.

However, after having spent a good couple of years going to any (and almost every!) junior chess competition all over the country – often to the oddest places – Tony told us it was time to graduate up to slow play adult chess.

So here we are, two years later, trying to take on the adult chess world. Our son spends several evenings a week and many weekends playing against mostly old(ish!) adults.

I must admit, it’s a refreshing change from the junior circuit where our kids have enjoyed meeting other young chess players, but also where rivalries can take over and sometimes over-zealous parents can get out of control!

The adult chess leagues also offer brilliant opportunities for juniors to play longer games, usually at a slower rate of play – all good things for kids who tend to play too fast, and therefore blunder much more often.

It also means less pressure – these juniors are playing opponents who they don’t know, most of whom are much older & more experienced, so the pressure of having to win or risk losing face isn’t on them.

Deep in thought during a league game at Metropolitan (far right)

Adults are usually relatively friendly to the youngsters, and although they never enjoy losing to anyone – especially juniors! – when they do end up conceding defeat they’re usually mature and sportsman like about it… most of the time! You might get the odd grump every now and then who throws a tantrum to rival most 8 year olds, but that’s very much the exception!

And lastly, at the risk of sounding a bit cheesy, if you’re lucky enough to find a really lovely club that’s willing to welcome your child into the fold (thanks again, Hammersmith!) then it can make for a very enjoyable and productive chess experience.

In fact it seems that the most eager chess juniors all seem to be playing a lot on the adult chess circuit, more so than the junior one. After all, it has so many merits that the junior competitions can’t offer – slow play chess always makes for more interesting games, as well as a great game experience and brilliant chess practice.

Being able to come to weekly training sessions is always helpful too. And even seemingly small things, like being the littlest guy in the room that everyone’s so nice and welcoming to, is a wonderful thing and makes us feel very lucky that our son is part of such a great club.

He’s had some incredibly lucky wins, and some painful losses, but being a part of a supportive and encouraging chess club has been brilliant for his chess, his confidence and his resilience. Something you need a lot of if you’re going to play competitive chess!

 

Our thanks to Suha for sharing her experience of 10yr old Nadhmi’s chess journey so far at Hammersmith! Our youngest member! 

A Charming Draw

No Bruce Springsteen this week, but the Glory Days are very much here as we travel headlong towards The Promised Land. Read on!

Middlesex League 3: Hammersmith v Hendon – 13.11.17

On Monday Hammer’s 2nd team were back at Lytton Hall to face Hendon 5 – a junior team often known as Hendon Barnet Knights. On paper we out-graded them by a whopping 35 grading points on average, but as with all juniors they were expected to punch above their weight.

It didn’t go well on the top boards. Sheikh and Matteo, often first team call-ups, were brought in to bolster the lineup. They both blundered pieces early on and resigned, leaving us 2-0 down.

Regulars John and Brian were on boards 3 and 4. John can always be relied upon to dispatch weaker players, and as expected clocked up a win fairly quickly. Brian took a little longer, but ultimately had too much for his young opponent. He describes his game:

“I played the Sicilian O’Kelly/Tartakover variation, pressurising white’s centre with an early e5 and Bb4 to pin white’s knight defending e4.

My opponent overlooked a tactical trap on move 8, losing his knight for two pawns. But he made good use of his two bishops to support his menacing d-pawn advance. To eliminate that pawn and complete my cramped development I had to sac my two q-side pawns.

Having swapped queens and a pair of rooks, I advanced my king to support my pieces through a series of tricky late-middle-game exchanges and win back a pawn, reaching the ending with knight & three pawns v opponent’s five pawns. Dealing with his remote pawn pair, in time trouble I allowed his king entry to gobble up two of my pawns, but retreated the knight just in time to save the remaining pawn for the win.”

Board 5 saw Simon employ a version of the London System recommended by his namesake, Ginger GM Simon Williams. Known as the “Black Half-Asleep Variation”, Simon planted his pawns on d4 and e4 with a knight on c3, against a king-side fianchetto. He soon eliminated black’s menacing dark-square bishop and seized a strong positional advantage. Simon couldn’t find a clear route to victory, however, and his opponent fought back well. Pieces got exchanged and the game boiled down to a draw.

By his own admission, Dipender played a very disappointing game. He lost a piece early on and never really got back into it. It was as if he had other things on his mind – possibly his wedding this weekend! A big congratulations – we wish him well on his honeymoon and hope to see him back at the chessboard stronger than ever!

Mr Dipenderble * wife not pictured

Ken got extremely lucky on board seven. He offered a draw in a losing position with far less time on his clock. His opponent, possibly considering the grade difference rather than the position, kindly accepted, leaving us 3-4 down with one to play.

It was down to Ben, making his debut for the club, to come up with the goods on board 8. He did so in emphatic style, playing a very good game to wipe his opponent completely off the board.

So for the second match in a row we ended with a slightly disappointing draw.

We remain top of the table, but this has to be qualified by the fact we’ve played two games more than our closest rivals, and we  have the toughest fixtures still to come.

Ken drops level with John as MVP (I’m not giving the accolade to anyone having played just one game). Sheikh, Matteo and Ben bring the number of members to have played this season up to 19 at the half way point, closing in on last season’s total of 28.

Next up is Kings Head 2 away on 13th December.

Adam.

Middlesex League 2: Hammersmith v Hendon – 13.11.17

On the same evening, our first team also scored a 4-4 against Hendon. Full report to follow!

Training Nights – 20th November, 27th November

Don’t forget the second of our two training nights next week – details as follows:

  • Monday 27th November – club legend & Middlesex 3 Captain Pickle (aka Adam) will host a session specially designed for players around 100 ECF or below. It’ll be a shorter session than Marios’s, allowing time afterwards for people to play their RapidPlay Round II matches, if they wish. Session starts at 7.30pm, running for about an hour.
Can You Topple the King of YouTube?

Well now you can find out! Our good friends at Battersea Chess Club will be hosting IM John Bartholomew on 29th November for an evening of chess!

It all kicks off at 5pm at their Battersea Labour Club home, full details are available on Battersea’s Website.

It’s FREE and you don’t even need to be a Battersea member!

Let’s Get Quizzical

The learned minds at Hammer Chess have decided to  branch out beyond the 64 squares of the chess board and take part in a pub quiz later this month!  We reckon there’s enough general knowledge there to give anyone a run for the their money (a test run last week resulted in a respectable 2nd placed finish – firm foundations!), so we’re going to have a crack at one of the local pubs in Hammersmith.

We’ll be hitting up the quiz at The Crabtree pub on Tuesday 28th November. If you’d like to take part please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

The more the merrier! Quiz starts at 8pm (drinks at 6!) – see you there!

A pair of important reminders:
  • GM Keith Arkell SimultaneousMonday 11th December – £6 to enter and take on Keith over the board! Should be a cracker – get in touch to reserve a spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com
  • Rapidplay Round II – our new Rapidplay competition continues this week, with all players looking to get their second round games complete before the end of November. If you’ve not yet done so, get in touch with your opponent NOW!! You’ll both score a default if you don’t get the game finished before the end of the month. Contact Dave or Adam with any queries:
  • adam1234321@gmail.com
  • davidlambert80@gmail.com

That’s all for now – plenty of games this week and next, more updates soon!

Born to Run

Another bumper week of chess has just flown by – four big games, and a whole bunch of important reminders and updates for your perusal. There’s plenty of things coming up the next few weeks too – including the return of our training programme – so please read on!

Middlesex League Division 2: Hammersmith v Hendon – 06.11.17

Glory Days for Hammer 1 in the Middlesex League

Yes dear reader, Bruce Springsteen has now been dragged into the Hammer orbit.

However, it is totally justified in this case as Hammer 1 – Middlesex variation- totally “Bossed” Hendon 4 at The Anvil last night.

The Hendon crew came down to The River (Thames) and into the River they dived. They did not surface.

The Hammer posse were in imperious form last night as they swept, Fischer-style, their Hendon opponents 8-0 and thus continue their regal progress in Division 2.

The Hammer team, in board order, lined up as follows – The Surgeon, Zeus, Wily, Brexit, Spock, Tellit, Dead-Eye and on board 8 your humble correspondent Clueless.

The following report comes with a caveat in the sense that Clueless was so involved in his game he did not see much of the carnage that took place.

I definitely recall Wily being in scintillating form and briskly dispatching his opponent with barely an hour gone.

Other victories swiftly followed in the form of Tellit and Dead-Eye. The latter having an awkward game where he was under some pressure. Unfortunately, his opponent moved too quickly, misreading a taking sequence and dropped a rook. Dead-Eye pounced and was the model of sympathy afterwards.

Clueless got in on the act with a well-played game where he explored the themes of space restriction, castle prevention and black-square weakness. I actually utilised an excellent piece of advice, courtesy of Zeus – when you have an edge, do not rush matters – just keep improving your position. I can vouch that Mount Olympus advice is worth following.

Next to join the party were Spock, Brexit and The Surgeon.

Spock had a game that saw action on both sides of the board. I have some memory of his opponent’s king being hunted down by two bishops, rook and queen. Serious weapon deployment and on a semi-open board, the result was never in doubt.

Brexit was the beneficiary of a complete blunder by his opponent who advanced his pawn leaving his rook en-prise. Brexit pounced and clocked up another Hammer win. To be honest Brexit was strategically winning at the time (unlike in real life! #political) and would have won eventually.

As for the Surgeon, he had a study-like win in a pawn and king endgame. Playing precisely and accurately, like the good surgeon he is, the win was safely delivered.

Finally, to Captain Zeus and his well-known opponent and all-round top guy – Mo from BBCA – appearing for his second club, Hendon. All I can report is it was complicated with heavy pieces operating on an open board. Somehow, I guess it is sheer talent, Zeus had it all under control and duly converted, completing the 8-0 scoreline.

This means that we are 4-0 at this stage of the season and real contenders for promotion.

The force is strong at the Anvil!!!

Middlesex League Division 3: Ealing v Hammersmith – 06.11.17

This was the fifth match in Middlesex Div 3 for the Hammer second team, and the closest so far. Thanks to everyone for turning up to the right place and on time. Ealing’s venue isn’t the easiest to find, and it was the first trip there for many of our team.

Board 8 saw Dan mount a strong attack early on the Kingside. His opponent struggled to find the right defensive moves, expending a lot of time trying to work out how to react. The game ended in a loss on time for Dan’s opponent in a losing position. 1-0

Wyatt was playing on board 7 – a fairly even middle game exchanging down to a level endgame with a rook and three pawns each. Wyatt then lost his way somewhat (and two of his pawns). Luckily he was up on the clock, and his opponent was flagged in a position he’d surely have gone on to win. 2-0

Ken was next up on board 6. He elected to try out the unusual 1.f3 Barnes opening, and it paid dividends. His opponent was flummoxed from the off, and Ken sealed the victory in 23 moves. Ken becomes the team’s new top performer, with two wins from two. 3-0

On board 5, John Ryan was faced with 1.f4 Bird’s Opening. Although he wasn’t very familiar, he proceeded to make sensible moves, manoeuvred his bishop to a8 and closed up the position, agreeing a draw when there was no play left. 3.5-0.5

Dipender came into his game on board 4 in scintillating form, and looked like he would notch up yet another win. He found himself in a completely winning position – his opponent’s knight pinned from every direction. Dipender then had a moment of sheer madness, releasing the pin and blundering his own bishop in a single move. He regained his composure and tried to play on, but sadly there was no way back. 3.5-1.5

Nadhmi played a very tactical game on board 3. With few pawns left and all the heavy pieces still on the board, both kings became very exposed. Nadhmi lost a rook with a clever tactic from his opponent, but reacted by lunging towards the enemy king with all he had left. His rival saw nothing better than to settle for a 3-fold repetition. 4-2

Pouya kindly offered to step in as a late replacement on board 2. He had the white pieces and soon obtained a space advantage. Sadly he overlooked a tactic that lost a knight, and clinical play from his opponent gave Pouya no opportunities to get back into the game. 4-3

Your reporter was up on board 1, and like John was faced with Bird’s Opening. Not knowing the opening well, I elected to play my tried and trusted London setup. Although not ideal against a Dutch setup (see: Glorious Revolution), I was not being beaten as much as my opponent would have me believe in the post-game analysis, with the computer suggesting a roughly equal evaluation.

It was my opponent with the initiative, however, and in a momentary lapse in concentration I hung a knight, failing to realise the defending pawn was pinned to my king. 4-4

At the end of the day neither team really deserved the win, with careless blunders and poor time handling settling several of the games.

Next up is Hendon 5 on Monday 13th, a junior team that always seem to punch above their grades. It promises to be a tough encounter.

Adam.

London League Division 4: Hammersmith v Alfil – 08.11.17

We were back to winning ways in Division 4 this week with a fine 5.5-1.5 victory against Alfil at the Citadines.

It was our Division 4 debut at our new Hotel venue and whilst we didn’t quite need ‘oxygen tanks’ as one of our members suggested, it wasn’t far off! There were SIX separate matches playing simultaneously, so breathing space was at a premium.

Fortunately the Hammer crew have evolved to thrive on pride and passion (and maybe biscuits) instead of mere oxygen. The cramped conditions worked in our favour as we ran out comfortable winners.

The setup didn’t make it easy to spy on other games so some of my comments are a bit threadbare. Thankfully I’m able to supplement the commentary with a few PGNs from the evening. Hope you enjoy.

First to finish were John and Simon who each notched up wins in quick fire time. I didn’t catch much of John’s game, although his position looked comfortable without being dominant when I glanced over. Things must have turned quickly though, because the match was soon over. John’s our current Div4 MVP with 2 wins out of 2. Great start to the season.

Simon’s game was pretty brutal, with his opponent failing to see the danger of a quasi-pin on his King. A clever tactic claimed a fork on Queen and King and from that point on, it looked a bit of non-contest. Simon’s analysis is definitely worth playing through. Entertaining stuff and some sharp tactics on show. 2-0 to Hammer

Wyatt was also keen to get his match finished and head to the bar early doors, and he duly obliged! Gaining the upper hand with a couple of extra pawns, he allowed a few passive/inactive moves and suddenly the advantage appeared to wither away. A draw was taken in the end; no great disgrace in that. 2.5-0.5

My game was interesting, if only for its stark illustration of how there’s seldom an even-trade when pieces are exchanged! I emerged from the Scotch opening in a relatively staid position with little in the way of winning chances for both sides. Indeed, the computer analysis confirmed the same. But the match turned on two decisions to exchange pieces – one that handed me the slight initiative and one that was damning for my young opponent. 3.5-0.5

Dan was next to finish, chalking up another win for Hammer. Full credit is due for playing a strong game amid the chatter (and whistling coffee machine) of the anteroom. The squeeze in the main room meant it was difficult to find space for Dan’s game. When I started to watch, Dan was a minor piece and a bunch of pawns up! (think I stopped counting at 3). His young opponent graciously resigned rather than prolong the agony. 4.5-0.5 and the win was secured.

The penultimate match was played – and won – by Adam. I’d been watching and thought his chances looked fleeting. But then I was momentarily distracted by the Ginger biscuits (controversial), and returned to see the post-match analysis was in full flow and Adam had emerged victorious. Definitely one where the match speaks louder than words. Take a look! 5.5-0.5

There was a little reorganisation required before we could conclude the results from Boards 1 and 2. Matteo was a late dropout, scheduled as our #1, but given their #2 followed suit, we re-jigged the board order giving Brian a match against their top player on shortened time controls. A really interesting match that ultimately went in favour of Alfil and Joshua John. Despite his young age, Joshua has been around for a few years now and is developing into quite the player.

Brian picks up the analysis from here…

Against my King’s Indian Defence he made an aggressive advance of all his Kingside pawns at the expense of not developing his Kings Bishop and Knight. I fianchettoed both bishops and concentrated on solid piece development while he castled queenside and established a strong central pawn phalanx.

Taking more time than my opponent, I calculated a way of breaking up his central pawns and temporarily sacrificing the exchange to win his f3 pawn, forking his two rooks to regain piece equality. I gained a second pawn at the expense of loosening my king-side pawn structure. He advanced his now-isolated pawn to d6 and threatened to swap queens and fatally invade my 8th rank with rook supported by pawn.

By checking his exposed king I manoeuvred my queen back to defend against this, but he switched the focus to attack my cramped king position with queen and rook, and in time trouble on move 30 I allowed a fatal check on f7 which soon resulted in a loss. Nevertheless it felt better to play an exciting game ultimately lost, than win by default, since we still won the match. Brian.

5.5-1.5 final result.

That’s us done in Division 4 now until the New Year. I’ll be in touch late run December to arrange the game for early Jan.

See you all soon!

Dave.

London League Division 6: Hammersmith v Hackney Gorki – 08.11.17

“A Pair of Thorne’s in our Side”

On the same evening as the London 4 team, our London 6 crew took on Hackney’s table-topping second team, Gorki.

Hammer had a solid lineup – captain Rich up on board 1, Charlie Sturt on 2, Webmaster Andy on 3, and Nadim on 4.

Sat by the main entrance, it was a somewhat distracting evening for the boys, added to by a default from Hackney on board 2, putting Hammer 1-up from the off, although it meant Charlie didn’t get a game. 1-0

Nadim was next to go – he looked to have a solid position against his young opponent, Thorne Jnr. He picks up the commentary from here:

I made some early middle game mistakes that I have managed to compensate and come back. Then I could have had a chance at least to draw if I had exchanged rooks in the endgame which I mistakenly declined (move 27). The end of the story was a black loss, as white had more pawns. 1-1

(lookout for a missed Queen capture by White on move 16!)

Next to drop was Rich, succumbing to defeat in an open-looking game, punctuated by noticeable bonhomie and laughter between both players – great to see! We’re not entirely sure what happened, but it left Hammer a game down and facing a draw at best. 1-2

Last to finish was Andy on board 3, playing Thorne Snr (Chris, as he’s known!). An unusual game in many ways, notable for a lot of distractions but played in a great spirit & very enjoyable for both opponents. Two evenly-matched players, the game swung wildly with both players assuming the advantage at different times. Andy looked in peril approaching the endgame, but he held his cool, drawing a blunder from his opponent and exchanging Rooks, ending in a drawn position.

The first 30 moves of the game are below:

Sadly it wasn’t enough to bring the team home and we finished with a  narrow defeat overall. 1.5-2.5

Training Evenings – 20 & 27 November

At Hammersmith we pride ourselves on giving back to our members and the community – and this month sees us pickup the training baton in good style, with two sessions coming up from a couple of our top players.

We’re really lucky in having strength in depth at the upper-end of our club these days, and we’re particularly lucky that some of the guys are happy to give up their time to help coach the rest of the club.

  • Monday 20th November – stalwart & Middlesex 2 Captain Zeus (aka Marios) takes us through a session on the use of fianchetto structures. Marios has a pair of games utilising fianchetto that he’ll take us through, but if you have any other interesting games in your personal collection you’d like to see analysed, please drop him a note: m.kouis14@gmail.com . The session starts at 7.30pm and will run for a couple of hours.
  • Monday 27th November – club legend & Middlesex 3 Captain Pickle (aka Adam) will host a session specially designed for players around 100 ECF or below. It’ll be a shorter session than Marios’s, allowing time afterwards for people to play their RapidPlay Round II matches, if they wish. Session starts at 7.30pm, running for about an hour.

Huge thanks to both players for giving up their time! As usual these are both open sessions – anyone is free to attend, member or not!

Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day Update

You may recall a small number of Hammer players answered the call to arms for World Mental Health Day recently, heading down to Lyric Square to partner up with our friends at Hammersmith & Fulham MIND.

Our contact at MIND, Victoria kindly dropped us a note this week to thank our members for helping out.

More importantly, the charity was able to raise over £500 on the day! Brilliant stuff, and we say a huge THANK YOU to those members who volunteered.

Keith Arkell Simul – Monday December 11th

SAVE THE DATE 11th December sees us host GM Keith Arkell for a Simultaneous at Lytton Hall on the final day of the London Chess Classic.

We have limited places for this one, so you need to get in touch ASAP if you’d like to take part! There’ll also be a small board fee of £6 to enter.

Simuls are always a cracking affair – not only do you get to play one of the world’s top players, but you can very often give them a close-run game!

If you do want to play, please get in touch with an email to one of the following & reserve your spot:

RapidPlay Round II – Reminder!

We’re almost halfway through November, which means there’s only a couple of weeks left for you to arrange & play your Round II games in the new RapidPlay tournament.

By now you should have at least arranged a date with your opponent – if not, you can find full details of your opponent here, or in your inbox. Get in touch, and agree a mutually agreeable date, time and location!

Then it’s just a matter of playing the game and letting the controllers – Adam and Dave – know the result.

If you have any queries or problems, just drop them a note:

Remember – if you fail to play the game by the end of the month, you’ll both default and score nil points!

Good luck!