GM Keith “Hammer” Arkell

Plagiarism has a long ignoble history in chess, stretching from hundreds of years ago to the modern day. So, I feel no shame in utilising the timeless genius of Jane Austen and paraphrase her with the following quote:

“I rejoice in the superiority of our connections”

Hammer is fortunate to have Grandmaster Keith Arkell as a member of our club. I know how much that means to him and how enthusiastic he is about what the club has achieved and the direction it is going in.

Every December after the conclusion of the London Classic he always takes part in a simultaneous against Hammer members. This year , he went one step further, he took on twenty plus members and the next night debuted in the Middlesex League – for some reason playing on Board One???!!!!!

This is a brief report on those two evenings.

The simultaneous involved him taking on 23 Hammers and scoring 20 wins and three draws.

Say cheese

From beating Thomas (T-Bone) and Christof (Der Vater) to the Hammer Youth of Zain and Alex he was relentless – three hours of total concentration – that means he spent, on average, 8 minutes on each game. That is pretty awesome.

The three draws were achieved by Claudio, potential new member Vasil and young Cian.

Claudio played accurately and was the last to finish – showing his customary tenacity and stubborn qualities. He survived the famed Arkell endgame technique and was rightly praised by Keith in the Albion post-mortem.

Vasil – had an amazing game- I hope to bring you the game later. At the end Vasil was a Queen and Rook up (indeed he had two queens on the board) forcing Keith to play for a perpetual. Superb play.

However, without doubt the stand-out performance of the evening came from 8-year-old Cian Ward who displayed all the fighting chess qualities endemic in the heart and soul of every Hammer. He played so solidly and so well- maybe Keith could have won but Cian never gave up.

The highest praise was forthcoming from Keith for this performance – enjoy!!

The night ended inevitably in The Albion where Keith shared his thoughts on the Arkell endgame (King, Rook and Bishop vs King and Rook with no pawns), recent tourneys he had played and his chess books. A brilliant end to the evening.

The next day, his 13th day of chess in a row, he turned out to play for Hammer against Muswell Hill in Division 1 of the Middlesex League. His opponent was Mike Healey (ECF217) and a familiar face to many Hammers.

Celebrating the end of a gruelling week

Here is the game, annotated by the man himself. The final position is completely lost and a classic example of a Good Knight vs a Bad Bishop.

On behalf of the whole of Hammer – I wish to thank Keith – and wish him a most Merry Christmas and all the best in 2020. 

We look forward to next year’s encounter – revenge is already in the air!

Lord Clueless

Hammersmith Chess Club: A New Frontier

Five years ago, Hammersmith chess club was facing down the shotgun barrel of certain extinction. Yet another chess club set to join the annals of history and those many chess clubs who have passed away in the last quarter of century.

A website that was woeful, no social media, an ageing membership and a financial position that would not even register an Experion credit score. These were grim times with neither the will or the energy present in the club to reverse the decline.

Fortunately, the glorious June revolution happened and under the astute chairmanship of Bajrush “Wily” Kelmendi a complete overhaul of the club has been undertaken.

The club now boasts a healthy membership, a junior section and competes with multiple teams in four different chess leagues.

With this growth has come the added pressure on our venue capacity at Lytton Hall – affectionally known as “The Anvil” – we can have no more than 50 people in the Hall at any one time. Lytton has been our home for nigh on 40 years and has been an instrumental part of our club for two-thirds of our existence.

But as they say – nothing lasts forever – and the time is right for Hammersmith to move on.

Ever since the AGM in June your Committee has been acutely aware of the limitations of Lytton – with the obvious realisation we needed a new base. The fact we had to split match nights from club nights is far from ideal and has put pressure on the natural camaraderie in the club. We needed a new base – a new Anvil.

Both the Irish Cultural Centre and the POSK centre were looked at. Although both are superb venues, they were slightly too big. Then out of the blue came the Young Chelsea Bridge Club based at Goldhawk Rd. Read on to find out more.

The YCBC is the preeminent bridge club in London with a superb facility one minute’s walk from Goldhawk tube station or a 7-minute walk from Shepherds Bush Station.

They host both international and domestic bridge competitions.

Please check out their website: http://ycbc.co.uk/

The premises boast a café section where you can buy food, tea, coffee, soft drinks and beer.

One of several rooms at YCBC

They currently also host a Go club and Backgammon club as well – indeed the addition of Hammersmith Chess Club completes the circle and promotes the centre as Mindsports Central.

The benefits of the move are as follows:

  • We can have both match night and club night on the same evening
  • We will have the room we want to make this happen
  • The benefit of having a bar and restaurant on-site
  • A competitive rent fixed for the next five years
  • The facilities will be available to us for 52 weeks of the year if we want the bank holidays. The main thing is we will not have to have be based in an alternative venue for the summer.
  • The venue is far more appealing to women, juniors and discerning old gits like myself
  • This venue will make us more likely to recruit new members and retain them.
  • Our members have the option to also try out new Mindsports.
  • The Bridge club has allowed us to still play this season’s matches on the Tuesday in the club calendar
  • We are able to hire the facilities from 6pm-10.30pm 

The move has been agreed by the Committee and we intend to open up there on the 6th January 7th January 2020. Our last night at Lytton Hall will be the match night of the 18th December 2019.

We probably will not run a Junior section that night as we will be getting used to our new home.

This is probably the most exciting moment in the development of our club. I am sure there will be teething problems but the Committee and I believe this is absolutely right for us.

I would like to thank Dawn and the Lytton Hall residents Committee for all their help and support over the years. They are all volunteers and very good community people.

I would also like to thank David Parry from the YCBC for being extremely accommodating and professional in the negotiations.

On a final note – change is good – maybe not always – but it does prove that you are alive and kicking.

I invite you all to be there on the 6th of January to see our new home.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Chess New Year.

John aka Lord Clueless

Hammer 2020 – the Lubeck Heist

There is a tradition in British advertising that up to the 25th December the consumer is bombarded with a stream of potential gifts for Christmas. Come Boxing Day the theme changes and suddenly sale information and next year’s summer holiday adverts take over. For the next two weeks you cannot avoid the inevitable deluge of destinations and flights you must and should have.

In Hammer we like to be ahead of the game – so am bringing you the exciting news of the Hammer European weekend in 2020.

The dates – June the 5th to June the 7th.

The destination – the beautiful and stunning North German city of Lubeck.

Read on if you are interested.

Lubeck is a stunning Hanseatic city and a major port in North Germany. With superb brick architecture and where human colonisation happened over 10,000 years ago. Wikipedia has its uses.

More importantly it has an extensive and thriving chess club with an excellent junior section.

Some Hammers may remember we hosted several of their young chess players earlier this year and really enjoyed their company and that of their team leader Nicole.

Check out their website:  https://www.lsv1873.de/

The weekend will follow the format of previous Hammer raids with us arriving on the Friday, playing chess on Saturday and Sunday morning before returning Sunday evening.

In view of their extensive junior section I am more than willing to entertain the idea of us taking a junior team as well as an adult team to challenge them.

Probably about thirty Hammers overall have enjoyed our trips to Amsterdam, Cork and Wrocław over the past three years – these are superb weekends, full of fun, camaraderie, chess, the occasional beer and making new friends

So when those holiday adverts kick in on Boxing Day – think Lubeck!!!

The best route is a flight to Hamburg and then high-speed rail to Lubeck.

The challenge has been made – the honour of Hammer is at stake.

Hammer needs you!!

Lord Clueless

It Must Be Christmas

I start with a disappointing announcement that El Chessico is being delayed and will not take place on the 4th December. Due to various factors, Aldo and I have taken the decision to postpone the match until the New Year. Christmas fortunately is not postponed.

It will still take part on a Wednesday night and I have submitted four suitable dates. I will keep you all posted.

However, I am delighted to announce that Hammer member, top man and a Grandmaster to boot – Keith Arkell – will be taking on 25 Hammer members in a simultaneous challenge on Monday the 9th of December at the Anvil, kicking off at 7pm.

This is a brilliant challenge and the first twenty-five people to register are in for a real treat. The evening will cost each participant £1.50… cash on the night.

I demand the sum of… ONE POUND FIFTY.

What you need to do:
– Be a fully paid member of Hammersmith Chess Club for 2020
– Email Lord Clueless on john.white49@ntlworld.com to confirm participation as soon as possible

This is a great event for the Yuletide season and brought to you by Hammer Chess Productions Inc.

Lord Clueless

The French Simultaneous – Exclusive to Hammer Members

Do you have what it takes to take on the full T Bone, served with french onions, cooked rare and with a rich Bearnaise sauce in full mortal chess combat? If the answer is yes then read on….

Thomas, full blown Hammer hero, French to the core, a man with a mere 201 ECF rating and one of the finest men alive is taking on all comers next Monday the 28th of October.

A teenage T-Bone deep in thought

The place… The Anvil. The time… 6.15pm. The format is a mass simultaneous… first 20 bods who email Lord Clueless (john.white49@ntlworld.com) will grab the places. Priority will be given to our Junior members.

Thomas has promised not to employ any French rugby forward tactics (topical).

This is your chance to put aside study and work worries, and relish the chance to put your wits against the most visually expressive chess player in the club. He is so French!!!

Get emailing ASAP… places are going fast – so be sharp.

Clueless on holiday and enjoying the delights of Malta… but will be checking his email.

Lord Clueless

El Chessico – 2019 Edition

As all our members know, both the new and old, the greatest rivalry our club has is with Battersea Chess Club – affectionally or disrespectfully know as the “Noisy Neighbours”. In the past three years we have held three challenge matches – Hammersmith has emerged victorious on each occasion. This has given us severe bragging rights as well as the edge in the many social media exchanges.

There is no love lost at the chess board but there is always great camaraderie afterwards. Last year the match took place over thirty boards – check the report. Thanks to the Hammer Junior shock troops the result was never in doubt.

Scenes

So, to this year’s encounter.

This will be an ECF rated encounter with a time control exactly the same as the Summer League- one hour to start with and 30 second increments a move.

Basically the competition is on to see who can get the most players committed to the actual match to start with. So, Hammers I need you to commit ASAP to this match at Battersea’s venue starting at 7.15pm on the 4th December – a Wednesday.

To sign up simply send an email to john.white49@ntlworld.com

This is one of the highlights of the season with a serious opponent to overcome.

Hammers I urge you now to sign up…………..NOW!!!

Lord Clueless

PS – There will likely be a Christmas celebration drink afterwards with our foes/friends so get involved

And we’re off!

The chess season is well and truly underway! We have three reports for you, courtesy of PR Officer John White.

Round One of the Hammer Blitz Tourney Cycle

Yes the opening round of our blitz cycle took place this past Monday at the Anvil. This is one of the most awaited events of the club year where even the most lowly chess devotee can take down one of the big names.

Defending champion Chairman Wily was there to see off the competition and retain his title. But the competition would be stiff with T-Bone, The Surgeon and a host of junior talent to face.

Seven rounds of no quarter given blitz would answer all questions.

Hammer also played host to two visitors from Lubeck Chess Club…Andrea and her son Fabian.

As usual Secretary Pickle was in charge and did a superb job with the pairings.

Your reporter Lord Clueless was reduced to the role of casual observer.

Without fanfare here are the results with some notable performances amongst them.

Pos Name Score
1 Thomas Bonn 6.5
2 Kishan Pattni 5.5
3
Tony Niccoli 5
Conall McBrinn 5
Bajrush Kelmendi 5
6
Andrew MacLeod 4
Charlie Sturt 4
Eddy Goldman 4
Moritz Reuter 4
Fabian Schnell 4
11
Laurie MacKellar 3
Taymour Auchi 3
Amaya MacDonald 3
Nadim Osseiran 3
Zain Patel 3
16
Georgios Vazouras 2
Dave Lambert 2
Ljubomir Koncar 2
Cian Ward 2
Adam Cranston 2
21
Andrea Schnell 1
Chester Short 1
Neil Arora 1
Anastasija Royce 1

 

What the final table demonstrates is that reputation counts for nothing in this format.

Round One say new Hammer Laurie (aka Supermac) take down Wily…an excellent performance.

Round Two saw the Clash of the tourney between the T-Bone and The Surgeon. I reckon they played a 120 plus moves each in 10 mins. This equates to the clock being hit every two seconds.

The Surgeon had a won game but the sheer will-power of T-Bone saw him triumph on time. A phenomenal game.

Outstanding overall performance of the evening must go to Conall who scored 5/7 for a superb third-place tie.

Indeed all the juniors Amaya, Zain, Cian and Taymour scoring well. Hammer’s future is in very safe hands.

So Round One is done and dusted with the pride of Marianne T-Bone winning by a clear point and taking an early lead in this year’s tourney. A real dominant performance.

To all other Hammers remember it is your best three scores that count out of the five cycles. So even if you have missed this opening night you have four more attempts to register results.

Just remember you have to be in it to win it!!!

Hammer’s Night at the Club Oscars

Yes the most important chess award ceremony of the year preceded the opening round of the Hammer Blitz Tourney.

Hosted by our own Chairman Wily this is the occasion where Hammer honours, publicly, it’s heroes and heroines.

It was a great occasion and once again demonstrated how youthful the club is becoming.

Long may it continue!!!

2018-2019 Players of the Season

Thames Valley 1 – Tony Niccoli

 Thames Valley 2 – Matteo Bezzini

 Middlesex 1 – Bajrush Kelmendi

Middlesex 2 – Paul Kennelly

Middlesex 3 – Liam Fleming

Middlesex 4 – Ben Rothwell

London League 1 – Chris Skulte

London League 2 – Nadhmi Auchi

London League 3 – Robin Lee

London League Major – Andrew Macleod

London League Minor – Taymour Auchi

Most Improved Player of the Season – Taymour Auchi

Hammer Overall Player of the Season – Jim Stevenson

Winners in the Hammersmith Rapid Play Tournament

Open Section – Tony Niccoli 6/7

Rooks Section – Nadhmi Auchi 4.5/7

Bishop Section – Kostis Nikolis 4.5/7

Knight Section – Ken Kwabiah 4/7

Chairman Wily also had the pleasure to confer book prizes to all our juniors who have made an outstanding contribution to our Club and represented their country – Amaya MacDonald, Alex Royce, Zain Patel, Cian Ward, Conall McBrinn

A really great ceremony and all our winners are to be roundly congratulated.

Conall collects his award before going on to tear up the blitz tournament
Hammer 2 kicks off in Middlesex 2

Yes the Hammer boys were at it again in 2019. Our opening fixture at the Anvil was against Albany -tough opposition at anytime.

Captain Jonathan put the team together but could not be there due to work commitments so asked Lord Clueless to take charge.

Fortunately, despite many Hammers not being able to play he picked a team of fighting gauchos.

New Hammers Laurie and Will were given their debuts and a nice mixture of youth and experience made up the rest of the team.

Due to a slight mix up Brian “The Hat” was a no show but luckily Christof by the miracle of modern transport was able to deputise (he flew in from Munich!!)

Lord Clueless had the cunning plan of playing Christof on board 2 instead of himself.

Then Chairman Wily asked if he could have Christof for their tough opener against Richmond in the TV. Clueless graciously conceded and the match got underway, with Clueless  a late substitute on board 4.

Keep up with me please..

The Hammer team lined up as follows and in the time honoured tradition the assignment of nicknames is also accorded. Lord Clueless thanks to his recent elevation to the peerage bestows the following

  1. Laurie  aka “Supermac”
  2. Liam  aka ” An fear ciúin”
  3. Pavel  aka “Spock”
  4. John aka “Lord Clueless”
  5. Eddy aka ” Edgy”
  6. Benjamin aka ” Soie”
  7. David aka “Toffee”
  8. Will  aka ” Banksy”

I also designate the following nickname to Christof…”Der Vater”.

Yes I have used Irish, French and German nicknames to emphasise the diversity of our amazing club.

To the match… outgraded on average by 29 points a board Hammer faced an uphill struggle. Luckily we are built of stern stuff and we were determined to punch above our weight.

The first game to finish was Spock where showing real “enterprise” he sacked a piece for two pawns plus preventing the black king castling. This was great tactical chess with his opponent one step away from disaster all the time. In the end the Albany man defended accurately and was relieved to take the draw.

Edgy on board 5 also drew but held the initiative throughout a full-blooded contest. He reckoned he missed a win..but by any reckoning a superb result as he was outgraded by nearly 40 points. Hammer at 1-1.

Supermac had a tense struggle… playing white, in an endgame two pawns down, with a rook and opposite coloured bishops. Laurie showed the fighting spirit inherent in all Hammers. He manoeuvred his passed pawn to a6 where it tied down his opponents bishop and then used his king and rook aggressively to prevent any progress from his opponent. A truly brilliant rearguard action. Hammer tied at 1.5-1.5.

Soie on board 6 making his debut unfortunately lost… I did not see the game but he is a most welcome addition to the Hammer ranks. Better luck next time. Hammer trailing…

Next to finish was Lord Clueless playing black in a Bb5 Sicilian. These lines though can be quite dull with white having an edge but in reality hoping for a black mis-step. If you want to see a masterpiece in this line check out the classic Ivanchuk-Kasparov encounter from Linares 1991.

Clueless played a quiet opening, definitely the influence from my 4NCL experience last year, plus following a touch of Speelman wisdom… wait for your opponent to make a mistake… they will.

Hammer at 2.5-2.5… the fight was really on.

Next up was Toffee on board seven against a familiar opponent… Howard from Battersea… but playing for Albany in the Middlesex.

As always Toffee went down fighting. Despite a knight for a rook exchange down he made Howard fight for the win.

Hammer down 2.5-3.5.

All eyes turned to Banksy making his debut on board 8 against an experienced 149 opponent. This was great to watch with the Banksy snaffling an early exchange and then breaking through a wall of pawns across the board. This was the performance of the night and an outstanding win. Afterwards he was reflecting on how different OTB chess is to its online brother.

There is more artistry to come from Banksy… where will he strike next?

The last game to finish was Liam (The Quiet Man) playing an opponent who over the past three seasons when playing Hammer has lost to Clueless, beaten T-Bone and lost to Showbag. A real roller coaster of results.

Liam’s play in the last six months has come on leaps and bounds… he is a tough opponent to beat and plays really solid chess.

This was a really tense game with action all over the board. Liam strived to hold the line but in the end his opponents greater experience won through. This was a tough loss especially after the fight our man had put up. Really unlucky.

So a Hammer loss 3.5-4.5… the strange thing is it felt like a victory… with a lot of big guns returning I think Hammer are well set for Middlesex 2 this season.

Clueless delighted to be handing back to Captain Jonathan… the fight is on.

Diversity at Hammersmith – a Homage

Hammersmith has strength in diversity, and we draw our members from well over 20 countries, reflecting the rich, multicultural city in which we’re based.

One of our new members, Christof, has not only brought some superb chess to our club, but also a love of diversity. He’s penned a wonderful homage to our multinational membership, in the form of an imagined consultation match vs. our near-neighbours, Battersea! Please enjoy…

John: Chaps, against Battersea, I’ll be your Captain by default, and we are all white in our first match.
Wyatt: Next match we will be All Blacks.
Charlie: Let’s be English and start with c4.
Paul: No English please! What about d4 and Queen’s gambit?!
Rubinder: Fine with d4, there are so many Indian variations.
Ryszard: d4 is okay, we might get the Polish defence.
Eddy: The common name for that line is Orang-Utan, and the politically correct name would then be the Malaysian/Indonesian defence.
Ryszard: Let’s not argue and play 1.b4, then we have Polish for sure.
Adam: Noooooooooo! Against Battersea it is e4!!!
Chris: Breaking News: Adam and e4!
Jim: All the most discerning players start with e4.
John: Hear ye, the word which the Lord (Clueless) speaketh. e4 it is.

Hammersmith: 1. e4
Battersea: 1… e5

Sylvain & Thomas: They don’t like the French!
Carsten: Nor the Scandinavian!
Rauno: Nor Caro-Kann with the Finnish Variation.
Ken: Nor the Hippo, the politically correct name being African Defence. We should petition for official recognition.
Bajrush: What a pity, we will not see the Yugoslav attack.

Hammersmith: 2. Nf3
Battersea: 2… Nc6

Pavel: Too bad, I would have liked to play against the Russian.
Jim: Now let’s play d4, Scotch!!
Tommaso: No, bishop c4, Italian!!
Javier: Take it easy amigos, vamos a la playa and go mainstream with Spanish.

Hammersmith: 3. Bb5
Battersea: 3… Nf6

Christof: Oh no, the Berlin wall again!

Hammersmith: 4. 0-0
Battersea: 4… Nxe4
Hammersmith: 5. d4
Battersea: 5… Be7

Phil: the best Canadian player used to play that.
Chris: Nd6 is better. Top-ranked Australian players use it.
Phil: Agreed. Our Caruana prefers Nd6 as well.

After 20 more moves, the Berlin Wall is destroyed, Battersea overcome and Hammersmith wins the game.

Marios & Kostis: We got some divine help from the Greek goddess Caissa.
Rhys: Caissa is not Greek! She is an invention by a Welshman.
Nadim: By the way, did you know that the game made its way to Europe in the 7th century via Lebanon?
Jon: And it did not end in Europe. Look at the new chess elite from China!
John: Soz Hammers, have to be paternalistic now: has everyone paid their membership fees??

Tooling Up for an Assault on London Div 1

It only seems like yesterday that we won promotion to the top flight of the London League for the first time in our club’s history – we now take our place alongside the great teams of the city in Division 1 for the 2019-20 season.

However, Hammersmith Chess Club does not stand still!

We could never be accused of resting on our laurels, and in that vein we are delighted to announce two titled players joining the roster this year, as we step up our preparations for life at the top table! Please join us in welcoming:

Hammer 1 captain, JimLocoStephenson says:

“I’m delighted to welcome two of England’s strongest young IMs into the Hammersmith fold, and look forward to having them on our London League team in our debut season in Division 1.

Peter and Tom both have a wealth of international experience which will give Hammer a real presence on our top boards.

Many thanks to our very own wheeler-dealer-extraordinaire, Chris ‘Showbag’ Skulte for his persuasive skills in bringing the two IMs on board following the successful collaboration of the Grantham Sharks and the Celtic Tigers in the recent Battersea Summer Chess League.”

Watch this space… !

New Horizons – Hammer Junior Hour Starts @ 6pm, 30th September!

First, a quick bit of history – when Hammersmith Chess Club was inaugurated in 1962, a thriving junior section was seen as key to the new club’s success. This was duly implemented and paid huge dividends – a certain 4-time British Champion GM Julian Hodgson began his chess journey at Hammersmith.

The juniors section, circa. 1965!

However, over time the initiative stalled, along with the club – and by the early 2010’s we would be fighting for our very survival.

Fast forward to 2015 – a new Committee was elected with a mandate to transform the club, and part of the vision was to reboot the Junior section. It has taken us four years, but we are now ready to launch for the next generation of Hammers!

At 6pm on Monday 30th September 2019, the opening night will kick-off! We have lots of ideas how to make this work, but also need Hammers to step forward and help with the sessions.

I have always adopted the philosophy that us, the current Hammer members, are merely the custodians of Hammersmith Chess Club – our primary role is to hand the club onto the next generation as a vibrant and forward-thinking organisation.

So, Hammers, do your duty and get involved – Hammersmith expects! 

Contact John if you’d like to help: john.white49@ntlworld.com

Blitz Tourney & Prize Giving – October 7th

The first round of our season-long Blitz tourney starts on Monday 7th October. It’s the third year of the competition which, in a gripping finale last year, saw our Wily Chairman, Bajrush, take the honours yet again in a thriller of a final round!

Monday 7th also marks our prize-giving ceremony at Lytton Hall, celebrating the best performances of the last 12 months, including…

  • Player of the season for each team
  • Biggest rating improvement
  • Personality of the Year
  • and much more…

Don’t miss it!