Blitz, Subs, Awards

No, it’s not a WWII word-association game, but rather a neat summary of what we have in store this coming Club Night on Monday 25th.

First up, we’ll be presenting our Annual Awards to those most deserving players – one from each of the 7 teams, plus a couple of special individual awards including the highly prestigious Player of the Season, and the Most Improved Player of the Season.

That will be followed in short order by the first round of our John R. White Handicap Blitz Tournament, named in honour of our indomitable late former Chairman. As with last year, it’ll be a Grand Prix format of 10-minute Blitz games, with points being awarded depending on final placings on the night.

With a further few rounds over the course of the season, the overall winner will be crowned at the end of the season based on their total score over every round! Should be a cracker if last years entrant numbers were anything to go by. We’ll be presenting the Winners trophy for last year on Monday too.

Last but not least, we’ll be available all evening to take membership payments from anyone still wishing to play for us this season who has not yet paid up. As ever, our team Captains will only be picking players who meet the following criteria:

If you want to get involved in one of our busiest seasons ever, come on down to the Club this Monday! See you there :o)

Return of the Mac

Chess made a triumphant return to the rarefied surroundings of Lytton Hall last night, as we began to finalise our preparations for the rapidly-approaching new season of chess!

It was a welcome return to our spiritual home after a successful stint in the Albion this Summer, and we saw a huge turnout of around 25 people over the course of the evening.

There were several new faces, plenty of the friendly faces we’re all used to, and the welcome return of two old(ish) faces in the form of Chris Skulte and John Goodacre. Two loyal former-members coming back to the warm embrace of Mother Hammer.

What unfolded was a fantastic evening – many games were played, much tea was drunk, and dozens of biscuits were quietly devoured. It was also a great opportunity to get our house in order ahead of what is going to be a blistering Season of chess for the club.

With the Thames Valley League fixtures still to be decided we open our account in October with at least 16 matches that month, involving around 100 boards to be filled. Our captains will be busy this year!

With that in mind, please ensure that if you want to play for us this year, you meet our strict but simple set of eligibility criteria:

You’ll need to have both of these sorted before you play your first game – there’ll be no exceptions!

And finally… we’re still signing members up to our new, Season-long Rapidplay tournament. It’s a fantastic initiative, with over 20 players already committed to take part. If you want a piece of the action, please remember to contact Adam or Dave by the end of the month:

 

Blitz Roundup & Reminders!

Monday was the Club’s final night in The Albion, and we rounded off proceedings with a handicap blitz tournament.

As the last throws of Summer fizzled out this week, nine brave players showed up to battle it out for glory, graded from 210 down to 83 – a great spread!

The rounds unfolded as follows:

When the dust had settled, the scoreboard was tight at the top:

The top two players went into an Armageddon playoff. Wyatt had the black pieces and four minutes to Pouya’s five, but only needed a draw to win the playoff.

Pouya blasted through Wyatt’s defences in emphatic fashion, sealing the win with time to spare.

The top 3 places, with their… excellent prizes

Next week we’ll be heading back to Lytton Hall. There are no matches and no training, but a chance for everyone to meet some new faces and play some chess while not under the influence of beer!

Don’t Forget…

With the new season barreling towards us, our opening fixtures are less than 3 weeks away. If you want to play for the club it’s essential you meet the playing criteria of ECF Membership, and Club Membership. Captains will be unable to pick you for a team if you haven’t sorted both.

Full details can be found here.

And Finally…

There’s still time to sign up for our new Season-long Rapidplay tournament! We’ve already had over a dozen players sign up for what will be our most prestigious Club Competition this season. Entry is free – it’s included as part of your Club Membership.

Full details can be found here. Please email Adam or Dave to confirm your spot:

 

Handicap Blitz Tourney – Monday 11th Sep

This coming Monday night, 11th September, the Summer programme concludes with everyone’s favourite event – a handicap blitz tournament!

The format will be familiar to those who played in last year’s blitz competition:

  • 6-round Swiss system
  • 5 mins per person +/- 1 minutes per 20 grading points (up to 8v2 maximum handicap)
  • Start time 8.30pm, at the Albion Pub

There will be prizes on offer for the following placings:

  • Tournament winner
  • Highest-placed new member (joined since end of last season)
  • Exceptional performance or game (awarded at the discretion of the organiser – Adam Cranston)

This also marks the last of our Monday evenings at The Albion pub. She has served us exceptionally well this Summer & it will be a fond farewell we bid her.

Form Monday 18th September our home venue will revert to our usual regular season venue at Lytton Residents Hall, North End Crescent, W14 8TD.

If you have any questions about the move, please just ask or leave a comment.

Look forward to seeing lots of you at The Albion tomorrow night!

Reflections on the Summer League Season One

To be read in a Morgan Freeman voice, as in the Shawshank Redemption

As the sun sets on the first season of the Summer League (SL) I think a John Arlott-esque moment is called for and hence I shall share my thoughts with you, my fellow Hammerites, on this inaugural season.

The whole concept grew out of the challenge match between us and Battersea held on two nights in the Summer of 2016. The original El Chessico and the commencement of a great, but friendly rivalry between our clubs (note: we won the match!).

The biggest bonus of the event was meeting Leon and Aldo, of Battersea Chess Club. Two ultra-chess enthusiasts with energy and vision you cannot buy.

The former drove the SL website, as well as pioneering the idea of different names for the teams. He also had the stunning idea of approaching the British Bangla Chess Association (BBCA) and getting them to enter a team.

Aldo was the creative genius behind the Summer League. The introduction of such things as listing all the games online, the GM Simon Williams analysis, the branding, the visual displays, the sets & clocks, the banner and the trophy were all down to him. On top of it all, he organised the superb launch night – the best chess event I have ever participated in!

Aldo, working his magic with the real-time scoreboard

The league owes these two a huge debt and a huge vote of thanks and appreciation.

The other conspirators in this cabal were Richard Tillet from Streatham & Brixton, and Mo Islam from BBCA. Richard was the wise head on all the technical and law matters. He is the sort of guy you want on any Committee. Mo was the man who brought the BBCA to the party – he is a great guy, good chess player (we drew in our match up) and a real gentleman. Furthermore, the captain of the winning team.

From a Hammer point of view the final result saw us Totally and Just Hammered. We certainly lived up to our names. However, I never felt that in this first season from our perspective that was the overriding factor.

That rarest of sights… a Hammer team winning!!

This was about giving as many members exposure to competitive and rated chess games over the long Summer. Plus, a lot of new members got a chance to play their first competitive match. Well over thirty members – including many new ones – took part, and we were able to blood two new captains.

In fact, I must pay special thanks to both Marios and Ken in stepping up to the plate and giving Adam and I the luxury of just playing chess. They did a first class job – especially with such innovations as Teamer in selection and a willingness to analyse games with members.

Marios enjoying two of his favourite pastimes

Two of our members featured in Simon William’s online analysis – Tony Niccoli, and Adam Cranston. Both games showed the fighting chess that Hammer is renowned for.

So, it ends till next Summer but we as a club have a solid base to build on as we start the “Old Chess Season”. There is so much in the pipeline for our club – new equipment, a new internal tourney, new members, a probable visit to Cork and the return visit from our friends in Amsterdam.

I will share one last anecdote, and this one really encapsulates the spirit of the Summer League and our great game.

On the opening night of fixtures, the two gentlemen who founded the BBCA asked if they could address the gathered company before the games commenced.

These two guys were both teachers, one primary one secondary, and had founded the BBCA to give the young people of Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets a creative and educational outlet. Not only that, but they wanted to use chess as a tool against radicalization and to promote harmony in that part of London.

I have seen chess do many things, but if our wonderful, mad and beautiful game can achieve that, then there really will be some hope for our world and our city.

John White.

Final Round Games & Results

The final gameweek of the Summer League saw both Hammer teams in a fight for pride (and points!).

With the title out of reach after some earlier, bruising rounds of chess, our Just and Totally teams were looking to end on a high.

Full results and all the moves are available here:

http://www.summerchessleague.org.uk/week-5-games-all-the-matches-move-by-move/

GM Analysis: Paul Stokes vs Tony Niccoli

One final treat from last week – Hammersmith’s Tony Niccoli featured in the “game of the week“, prompting a thoroughly fascinating and insightful 30 minute analysis by Simon “Ginger GM” Williams on his YouTube channel. Well worth a viewing!

 

NEW!!: Club Rapidplay Tournament

After a successful trial earlier in the year, Hammersmith Chess Club will be running a Rapidplay Tournament over the course of the 2017-18 season. Bear with us – you’re in for a lengthy post!

The tournament will be run over 8 matches, with pairings decided via a Swiss system. The controllers will be Adam Cranston (Middlesex Captain) and Dave Lambert (London 4 Captain). All matches will be graded, so we should be able to work towards almost everyone receiving a Rapidplay grade by the end of the season.

Tournaments have typically failed in the past due to difficulties getting players together on a given night. No more.

With the exception of the kickoff and closing matches – which we’ll host Face to Face at the club – there will be one round per month, and it’ll be up to each of you to track down your opponent, and arrange a time/date of your choosing to play . It could be Lytton Hall, it could be at one of your houses, or it could be down the pub. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re both happy with the conditions & the game gets played within the month.

You play your match. You let Adam and Dave know the result, and they do the rest. They’ll tabulate the standings, and publish the next set of pairings at the end of each month. Then you’ll  have the next month to arrange Game 2, and so it goes…

Competition Structure:
  • Fee: £0 – included within HCC membership fee
  • Matches: 8, over course of season, one per month Oct 2017 to May 2018 inclusive
  • Pairings: Swiss system
  • Graded: Yes, all games to be submitted for July 2018 grading list
  • Scoring: 1 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw, 0 points for a loss
  • Tie-breaks: Decided by Buchholz method (sum of opponent’s raw tournament score)
  • Format: Rapidplay
  • Time Control: 45 minutes for all moves; no increment
  • Match Conditions: Kick-off & Closing matches (matches 1 & 8) at Lytton Hall: “Tournament” conditions (no talking, no mobiles etc.)
  • Matches 2-7: Entirely up to you, and what you agree with your opponent. If you’re both happy with the conditions, that works for us. We will however schedule designated “Rapidplay” nights at the club throughout the season for those who fancy playing at Lytton Hall, perhaps followed by Training.
Competition Timing:
  • September: Registration – if you wish to play, contact Adam or Dave by 30th September
  • Oct 23rd: Game 1 (Face to face at Lytton Hall)
  • Nov-April: Games 2 to 7
  • May: Game 8 (Face to face at Lytton Hall) & competition finale
Entry Requirements:
  • You’re a member of Hammersmith Chess Club
  • You’re registered with the ECF for the 2017-18 season (Bronze will do)
  • You’re happy to commit to playing the full 8 matches throughout the season
Prizes:

Four prizes will be awarded for the best score in each of the below categories. No one will be eligible to win more than one award:

  • Open (no grade limit)
  • Kings <160 ECF
  • Bishops <130 ECF
  • Knights <100 ECF
Small-Print:

Grades will be based on July 2017 grading list.

  • If you have a Rapidplay grade, we’ll use that
  • If you only have a Slowplay grade, we’ll go with that
  • If you have neither, we’ll estimate your grade

Byes:

  • All players will be permitted to take a maximum of 2 byes over the course of the tournament, scoring 0.5 points in each case.
  • Requests for byes must be submitted in advance of the end of the month, and in advance of the round in question’s pairings having been communicated.
  • Byes cannot be taken for the final round.

Late Entries:

  • May be permitted at the discretion of the tournament controllers
  • Late entrants will start with 0 points as standard

Failure to complete a match within the designated month:

  • Both players will be awarded 0 points
  • Unless a player can demonstrate they have made reasonable and repeated (>=3) attempts to find a suitable time/date for the match, in which case they may be awarded the win by default
  • Adam and Dave to make the final decision on any disputes

The tournament controllers reserve the right to make minor tweaks to the tournament as the season progresses due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a scenario, a written update will be provided to all the players.

If you have any questions please drop Adam or Dave an email:

adam1234321@googlemail.com

davidlambert80@gmail.com

And remember – if you wish to play, please let us know by 30th September at the absolute latest. We’ll produce the first set of pairings shortly after the deadline.

Thanks & good luck!!

2017-18 Fixtures – They’re OUT!

Dust off the diaries folks, & get your midweek excuses ready… we now have confirmed fixtures for most of our teams for the upcoming season.

Full details are on our Calendar page, and further information is available on the London League website (Middlesex and Thames Valley League fixtures are mostly TBC at present).

It’s going to be an absolute cracker this year – with one extra team in the Middlesex League, we’ll be entering 8 teams across 6 Leagues! There will quite literally be dozens of opportunities for all our members to get involved with competitive, Face-to-Face games this year.

That’s even before we talk about our soon-to-be-launched season-long, graded Rapidplay tournament (more details coming up later this week – stay tuned!).

Detailed information below:

  • Our London League odyssey officially kicks off on Wednesday 4th October, as our two Division 6 teams face off in the season-opener.
  • October is looking like an awesomely-busy month already, even before we add the Thames Valley fixtures – fully THIRTEEN games of chess! It’s going to set the pace for the rest of the season!!
Important Logistics you need to be aware of:
  • London League games have now MOVED – the Golden Lane venue is alas no more. The League has moved to a new venue near Holborn – The Citadines Hotel on High Holborn (94-99 High Holborn, WC1V 6LF) – it’s a 2 minute stroll from Holborn tube station.
  • The new facility is a bit more ‘plush’ than Golden Lane, and will offer free tea & coffee (!), as well as cheaper beer prices for those post-match analyses.
  • All games at the Citadines Hotel will start at 7pm, and will normally be held on a Wednesday evening
  • Note that, as usual, any clubs with a home venue in Underground Zone 1 will continue to host their home matches at their venue. In addition to this, our friends at Battersea will also be hosting their home games at their Battersea Labour Club venue this season (81-83 Falcon Road, SW11 2PF – 5 minute walk from Clapham Junction Station)
  • Please familiarise yourself with the fixtures you’re likely to be playing in, taking particular note of the start times (they vary considerably by venue!), and addresses. Full details are on our Calendar, and the London League website.
  • If you’re in any doubt, please just drop a line to the team Captain
  • Some of our captains will be arranging games using the Teamster smartphone app. This is a great piece of tech which we pioneered for our Summer League fixtures. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to download it now. It truly makes yours and the captains’ lives much, much easier!
Playing Requirements – Important!

We will be operating a strict, but simple set of playing requirements this season as follows:

  • All players must be ECF registered AND a fully paid-up member of the club BEFORE they will be picked for any League games.
  • ECF Registration – is very simple, and very cheap. From the ECF website: www.englishchess.org.uk – select “Join the ECF” from the right-hand menu, and simply follow the instructions. You only need to be a Bronze member, which is around £15 for the year, though of course you are welcome to choose Silver or Gold membership if you wish.
  • Hammersmith Chess Club Membership – is also very simple, and extremely good value. The full range of Membership options can be viewed here. If you haven’t already done so, please contact your team captain, or a member of the Committee and we can provide you with full details of how to pay your subs.
  • We will be imposing a strict deadline of September 25th for subs & ECF memberships to be paid. If you aren’t fully signed up by this point, team Captains will not pick you for games. There will be no exceptions.
  • Please help us out by ensuring you get signed up as soon as possible.

Many thanks, and on with the chess!!!

Caro-Kann: Monday 4th September

Save the date: this coming Monday our resident Italian gent, Matteo, is hosting an evening dedicated to the Caro-Kann, at The Albion.

This will be one of our final nights at the Albion before moving back to Lytton Hall when the season proper begins later this month, and it is set to be a cracker.

Matteo will be covering the main variations of the Caro-Kann defence, with the aim of showing how Black can always enter the middle game at least equal, if not ahead of White.

The session will also cover the seemingly unfair reputation amongst players that the opening has as a “drawish” line.

Lines to be covered will include the following:

  • Mainline (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5)
  • Two Knights Variation (1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3)
  • Anti-Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5)
  • Classical Variation
  • Modern Variation
  • Tartakower
  • Exchange
  • Advanced
  • Fantasy

No matter your level, it will certainly be an in-depth session on the defence – perhaps particularly relevant for players at the lower end of the rating scale who may be unfamiliar with it.

Session starts at 7.30pm – don’t be late! As ever, no need to be a member – this is open to anyone who’s interested. The more, the merrier! In the immortal words of Homer Simpson… “molto bene

 

If that’s not enough… please find some details below about an upcoming tournament being hosted by our friends at GLCC. Key details as follows:

  • Date: Tuesday 12th September
  • Time: 6.45pm start
  • Entry: £8 (advance), £12 (on the day)
  • Prizes: 40% of the entry pot!
  • More information: www.glcc.org.uk
  • Contact: tournaments@glcc.org.uk (Nigel Blades)

 

There Ain’t No Cure for the Summer League Blues

This bulletin comes with a Hammer health warning.

Yes, my fellow Hammerites, just like the late and great Eddie Cochran, there seems to be no end to the Summer Chess Blues for our gallant boys. Our Summer teams both suffered narrow 3.5-2.5 point defeats in the penultimate round of the Summer Chess League this week.

This was particularly harsh on our Totally Hammered boys, who had to concede a default on board 5. Furthermore, the pain was compounded by a touch and move error by Yasser in a winning position. Tony and Ken both had excellent wins.

The Just Hammered team had one of those nights where the result could have gone either way. Marios, playing White, missed a win in a Bishop v Knight ending resulting from a Gruenfeld opening. Your correspondent, with the Black pieces, overlooked an intermezzo that would have provided a good edge in a Benoni/Kings Indian opening. Two draws on the board.

Nadhmi had his worst game of the Summer League and Jay arrived late and flustered and hence did not give one of his best performances. We were now -2 and although David pulled off a smooth victory, Dipender was unlucky not to record a win which would have drawn the match.

Sad to say both Totally and Just teams are now in full rehab and licking their wounds. With just one round to go in this inaugural season we occupy the bottom two places – not a pleasant sight of feeling. There is no other way to view it.

However, the job of any Hammer reporter is to accentuate the positive and there is plenty to be positive about.

Here is some food for thought in these dark times:

  • We have blooded two new captains – both Marios and Ken have stepped up, giving them valuable experience for the 2017-18 League season.
  • Many new members have played their first timed game over the board – proper competitive chess. This is something that is crucial and will stand Hammer in good stead for the coming season as well.
  • The Summer League has allowed us to make new friends and start something new in the London Chess scene.
  • The fact that all games are played to a finish is great, with the use of digital clocks in the league clearly demonstrating the need for the club to invest in this technology.
  • The introduction of the “Teamer” app – a bit of modern, smartphone technology helping our captains arrange a team with less fuss than a multitude of emails.

There are many more positives to take from the first season of the SL and I know we will be better prepared next year.

With regard to the night itself, the brightest ray of sunshine was that Adam’s game was selected as game of the week, and hence subjected to a forensic analysis by the Ginger GM, aka GM Simon Williams. The video is now available on the Summer League website, and the Ginger GM channel on YouTube.

I have to say the fact that Adam played the London System, and that he introduced new ideas, makes the video compelling viewing (for the uninitiated, the GM is a huge proponent of the London System). This innovation in the Summer League is brilliant, and so educational. We are all grateful to Simon and Aldo who have really driven this.

Hammer, the message is “keep the faith“. Continue to believe and we will get the positive results we deserve!!

I sign off with the link to the original Summertime Blues:

 

Puzzle of the Week #008

It’s been a while – once again – but we’re back for another installment.

Our previous puzzle back in June was an interesting one. With Black to move, there doesn’t appear to be anything decisive…. Dig a little deeper though, and you can see a neat combination that allows Black to pickup the White Knight hanging on d5.

Paul takes the plaudits for this one, with Black to move 1… Nxf3, 2.exf3 Bg2, [threatening to take the White Rook] 3.Rg1 Bxf3+ [checking White, and allowing the Bishop to take the Knight for free on the next move]. Tidy.

Up next is this beauty – White’s move, with spaghetti all over the board. Solutions in the comments as usual please: