Ave, imperator, morituri te salutant!

“Hail mighty Caesar! Those who are about to die salute you!” *

London League 5: Hammersmith vs Kings Head – 11.10.17

Hammersmith obtained a creditable draw against King’s Head in Division 5, but read on for why chess can be so cruel.

An auspicious start to the new season saw fine wins by junior Nadhmi Auchi on board one, and Dipender Gill on board 3. Congratulations to these two! And welcome home to member Gokhan Kizilay, who has returned to the club after a year’s absence.

On Board 1, Nadhmi with the Black pieces used the Kings Indian defence setup against the Sicilian. Kudos to Nadhmi, when with calm precision he overturned his opponent’s diversionary tactics and won infront of a gathering audience.

On Board 2 a nice position by Gokhan was spoilt by his blundering a piece against stalwart Mark Huba. We’ve all done that.

On Board 3, Dipender reports as follows: It was a highly strategic game that needed careful calculation in the middle section. There was an opportunity for my opponent to take a better position but he floundered instead. I entered the endgame a piece up and consequently won.

Board 4 saw the two captains drawn in battle, a duel where no quarter was invited nor given. The Hammersmith captain, a piece up, launched a mating attack. Not quite lethal, it backfired and then reduced to two Rooks for Kings Head versus Rook and Knight. Again, Robin forked King and Rook and looked set for the win. However a tricky Rook and pawn ending ensued and was lost in the last few desperate minutes on the clocks.

We out graded our opponents by some 80 points – they are to be congratulated for playing so much better than their grades suggest. Boards 2 and 4 were losses, thus the final result was a 2-2 draw.

Robin.

* no deaths were reported during the game

The B of the Bang

After what seems like an age, the new chess season is finally upon us – and it started with a Bang!

Monday 2nd October saw the opening game of the 2017-18 season, with the two Hammer teams battling it out in Lytton Hall for bragging rights in the Hammersmith Derby – more on that later.

If you haven’t taken a look at our Calendar recently – please do so! It’s a rip-roaring story of competitive games coming thick & fast, with no fewer than 16 matches this month, plus the opening night of our RapidPlay tournament. In fact, the months up to Christmas are going to be chocka – including a top class Simultaneous!

Our weekly digest of goings-on at the club follows…

Hammer Derby – 02.10.17

Our two London League 6 teams faced off in the traditional season opener at the start of the week. A tense affair as always, we were delighted to hand league debuts to two new members, Charlie and Wyatt – welcome chaps! The game unfolded as follows…

Board 1 saw Captain Rich take on stalwart John. It proved a very tough affair with the players evenly matched. The tussle ended in a late flurry of moves in order for both players to reach the time control, with the game going to an adjournment. Subsequently, the players agreed a win for White. First blood, 1-0

Board 2 had Club Secretary Mike taking on newbie from down under, Wyatt. An all out attack from White (Wyatt) was repelled by a very stubborn defence. When the dust settled, there was spaghetti all over the board, and Black had the upper hand. However, wily Wyatt managed to steer the game to a draw, 1.5-0.5

Board 3 had our other newbie Charlie, taking on one of our charming long-timers, Nick. As experienced players will know, the draw is always on offer with Nick, and the game went true to form with an early draw being agreed, 2-1

Board 4 was another even matchup – just 2 grading points separating the players. The experienced Dan (as Black) played a smooth game, ending in a Queen & Rook mating net. Bad luck to Nadim, but a great tussle. Honours even at 2-2

RapidPlay Tourney – Pairings Announced!

You’ve probably heard about our new RapidPlay tournament this season – it’s going to last the full 8 months of the season, with a round each month, and we literally can’t wait for it to kickoff!!

To date it’s been a HUGE success, with 25 players signing up to take part. The big news this week – entries have now closed and the Supercomputer at Lytton Hall has determined the initial pairings as follows:

There’s a couple of tasty pairings in here – and the opportunity for a whole load of upsets! It’s a remarkable feature of chess how time can be an almighty leveller. Those gradings will mean very little with just 45 minutes on the clocks.

It properly kicks off on Monday 23rd October, 8pm sharp – see you there!

GM Keith Arkel Simultaneous – 11.12.17

We are DELIGHTED to announce that esteemed GM Keith Arkell will be gracing us with his presence at Lytton Hall on the final night of the London Chess Classic – Monday 11th December – for a Simultaneous display at the club!

Gary meets GM Keith Arkell

Keith has been a GM since 1995, British RapidPlay Champ in 1998, and has a peak ELO rating of 2545. He tied for British Champ in 2008, and shared first place in the World Senior Championship in 2014. He ain’t no fool!!

Full details will be announced shortly – there’ll be a small fee to enter, and places will be limited, but you can register your interest early by dropping us an email: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

Monday 11th December – Save the date!!

NEW Equipment!

After much searching and deliberation, we are pleased to announce that we’ve purchased a boatload of shiny new equipment for our members to use! It takes Hammer Chess right into the 21st Century and is a solid investment for the Club.

First up and fresh off the plane from China this week – we’ve secured a raft of new digital clocks. These can’t be beaten on functionality and will allow us to use timing increments for the first time. They’re also FIDE approved for when we next host Carlsen et al for some tea & biscuits on a rainy Monday night in W14.

We’ve also purchased a raft of new boards and pieces – weighted, no less! – for casual use, and are in the final stages of agreeing some brand new, solid wood match boards for the premium matches!

It all bodes well for the future of Hammer Chess!

 

Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day

If you haven’t heard already, we’re rekindling our link with Hammersmith & Fulham MIND next week, with a team of volunteers from Hammer Chess helping out in Lyric Square to support the charity as they mark World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October, 10am – 4pm.

It’s not too late to get involved – if you’re available and would like to help out, please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

 

Like Playing in a Foreign Country

As we know, the Hammer Foreign Legion is strong – having successfully toured Amsterdam earlier this year, a couple of our members have recently had some chess-based experiences in foreign lands.

First up, our intrepid London League 4 Captain, Dave, had the pleasure of taking on some of the locals in Slovakia recently. It was an interesting experience, and rumour has it he’s made some permanent friends on the chess.com app!

The Slovaks… crazy for the beautiful game

And whilst experiencing the delights of Moorish Spain, webmaster Andy did some background reading on the Nasrid dynasty, coming across the following fascinating passage in a book – finally explaining the meaning of Alfil!

“Chess is one of the oldest games of war, and has been played in Spain longer than anywhere else in Europe, by Spanish Muslims since their arrival in the eighth century, and by Spanish Christians and Jews since the early tenth century. It started in ancient India, and the original pieces represented the units of the Indian army – foot soldiers, cavalry, armed chariots and elephants. The infantry, or pawns were led on the chessboard as in life by the King and his senior minister, his vizier. Some people think it was a game modelled on Alexander the Great’s campaigns in Persia, in which his squadrons were aligned in ranks of sixty-four squares, the number of squares on a chessboard.

The game reached Europe through Moorish Spain, where in Islamic chess, opening moves had romantic names such as the Sword opening, or Pharaoh’s Fortress. As it spread to medieval Europe, the pieces changed to reflect the feudal social environment of the times. Kings and pawns stayed the same, but the elephant piece was replaced in Christian chess by the Bishop, a powerful figure in the medieval church. In Spanish Muslim chess, the Bishop is just an alfil, meaning a chess piece and nothing more. The horse of the Indian game became the Knight, a symbol of feudal chivalry, the old armed chariot became the castle (or Rook in English, which comes from the Persian word for chariot), and the vizier changed into the Queen.

The 14th Century Nasrid ChessBoard

By the late fifteenth century, when the Nasrids were playing chess on the Alhambra chessboard, a dramatic change had taken place. The Queen was no longer the weaker companion of the King – she was the most powerful piece on the chessboard, with new long-range striking power. There was only one way to win the game, and that was through the irrevocable cornering and capture of the enemy King.”

The more you know!!

Hot off the Press – 06.10.17 !!

The London League 4 team have made a wining start to their season this Friday night, with a thumping 6.5-0.5 victory (plus one winning adjournment) against Morley College. Full writeup to follow…!

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:

 

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!

 

Game of the Week: Harry Needs a Push

Week 4 of the Summer Chess League saw our two Hammersmith teams facing something of a tough time.

Full results and all the games are available on the Summer Chess Website: http://www.summerchessleague.org.uk/week-3-games-all-the-matches-move-by-move-2/

It’s well worth a look at some of these tussles – great opportunity to click through & learn, particularly from some of the stronger games.

As if that’s not enough, Hammersmith’s very own Adam Cranston features in the Game of the Week, an accolade meaning that the Ginger GM – Simon Williams – gives his full, 30-minute analysis of the game. That full analysis is available here on YouTube – well worth a look:

Doubly interesting too, as Adam is a practitioner of the London System, something the Ginger GM is a huge proponent of – he’s released a number of DVD’s and lots of training material on the system. Enjoy!

A Ginger (GM) Analysis

A couple of interesting media-related links to share with you this week, first up:

  • Simon “Ginger GM” Williams gives us his analysis of the Game of the Week from the last round of the Summer League

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U7CFLa6K1I&feature=youtu.be

After every set of fixtures, the team captains from all the clubs involved have a chess-based conclave to decide which performance warrants the “Game of the Week” moniker.

The white smoke this time went up in favour of an enthralling battle between Mo Islam (East London Knights) and Malcolm Dancy (Battersea), featuring a hard-fought positional struggle, a number of winning chances and ever-changing initiative, plus some strategic mistakes for both players.

There’s also a shout-out for Hammer’s only victor of the round – with a Performance of the Week – young Nadhmi. Check it out!

Thanks to all involved for the video, and well done to the above mentioned players!

 

  • As if that’s not enough… hot on the heels of awarding us 3rd place in their Britain’s Best Chess Club Website list, the well-informed folks at Chess Journal have also featured us in the latest of their Club Profiles. You can read the full article here:

Club Profile #4: Hammersmith Chess Club

Enjoy!

“Just Hammered” by name…

27.06.17 – Summer Chess League – Battersea Volts v. Just Hammered

Downpour, suspended railway services and poor performances over the board sets the background for a baptism of fire rather than a captain’s debut!

Stranded in Shepherd’s Bush railway station waiting for a train to Clapham among countless souls, I got to experience a bit of Greece in West London… every train to Clapham gets cancelled and we are informed only seconds before the scheduled train arrives at the platform.

Luckily our opponents agreed to delay the kick-off so that we could get there on time (Kaan also struggled on his way from Uxbridge!!!). Thank you, Volts, very sportsmanlike!!!

On to the chess stuff, Board 1 saw the highest rated pair of the night, Chris Beckett vs Carsten Pedersen going all out.  Beckett made a dubious pawn sacrifice to gain the initiative but Carsten failed to find the best route out of the tactical mayhem and mutual blunders in time trouble allowed White to force a perpetual. 0.5-0.5

Board 2 – Yours truly vs M. Gudenas, I managed to get my opponent into a line of the Ruy Lopez – Schliemann I had prepared for Pavel (… now you know bud!!) then I mixed the move order and a complete meltdown followed. My opponent played very accurately, never allowing me a chance to come back. Apparently, knowing too much about a position is as dangerous as being clueless. 1.5-0.5

Board 3 – Tim Valentine vs Paul Kennelly, Paul played his favourite French and gained a material advantage after his opponent went all berserk on the Kingside. Unfortunately, he relaxed before the game was over and blundered all his advantage away, plus interest. 2.5-0.5

Board 4 – David Lambert vs Rayan Balluz, David tried to be creative in a theoretical line of the Najdorf… that’s a NO NO unless your surname is Kasparov. Despite having to drop the exchange he got a pawn and the Bishop pair for it and fought valiantly but was unable to save the half point. 3.5-0.5

Board 5 – Leon Watson vs Kaan Corbaci. This was a very interesting fight in a Benoni-Kings Indian Defence hybrid which was decided in time trouble by Black’s lack of space and light square weaknesses. 4.5-0.5 JH we are not looking good…

Board 6 – Nadhmi Auchi vs Peter Yusoff. A very special game, “Peter was born in the year Jesse Owens won golds at the Berlin Olympics, Nadhmi was born in the year Pirates of the Caribbean II came out“, as Leon pointed out! Nadhmi got a decisive advantage on move 4!!! and converted smoothly. Our beacon of hope in a rather grim night and the only Hammersmith player out of two squads to score a full point on the night. 4.5-1.5

That’s all folks!

Marios.

Training @ The Albion: Part 1

26.06.17 – The Albion Public House – Yes, the first training night of the Summer Program was delivered this Monday just gone by Clueless (aka. John White) – not a nickname to fill you with confidence – at our temporary Summer residence, The Albion.

The theme of my training session was to look at the following points, and what part they play in a chess contest:

  • The psychology of chess – what your opponent can do to you, and more importantly, what you can do to your opponent
  • The transition from Middle-game to Endgame
  • That even with reduced material you can still conjure up serious threats and tactics
  • Analysis of move options in a difficult position
  • The role of computers in analysis and adjourned positions

Using an illustrative game of mine, from just over two years ago, played against Ealing 2, I hoped to explore all of these themes. Please note, I will only examine the line played. You can have fun with all the variations and the what-ifs!

One caveat to all of this is my own ability as a chess player. I can probably calculate three moves deep on a good day, but due to the amount of chess I have played I do have some feel for what is the right move in any given position.

We join the game just as White, my opponent, had to seal his move.

Some background to the encounter which may explain some of the comments through the analysis:

  • The result of the game did not have any bearing on the result of the overall match – this was just for personal satisfaction
  • My opponent was quite abrasive and not friendly at the board. At the time, he was graded 143 and I was graded a mere 126. I think the grade disparity may have also influenced his opening choice – 1.f4 Bird’s Opening
  • On completing his sealed move, he offered me a draw. At the time I replied that I would like the opportunity to examine the position and decide once that had been done
  • I looked at the game briefly and decided that I would accept the draw if it was still on offer. I contacted my opponent and made the draw offer. He had obviously analysed the position – my suspicion is that he had probably used a chess program – and turned down the draw offer. After sometime, he agreed a resumption date. I did not look at the game again
  • His comment to me before we resumed, at the board, was “I bet you wished you had taken the draw offer”. This was unsportsmanlike and arrogant, but had the benefit of reinforcing my determination not to lose. It also dictated my behaviour over the first two moves I played

To the game, and I will supplement the move analysis with my thoughts at the time. The critical action took place over about 15 moves.

White sealed Rh3 – I was relieved when it was played on the board. I was dreading Ba3 and a subsequent BxN. At this stage I deliberately waited 10 minutes before playing my next move, KxP. I wanted it to appear I was shocked by his move.

He immediately banged out Kg3. Again, I took my time and thought for 20 minutes – this was part deliberate, as well as part trying to figure out what to play. I knew he was not playing his researched line, and I wanted to find something he and his engine had not considered.

I reasoned that I wanted to keep as many pieces for now on the board, activate my pieces and prevent penetration by his Rook. The move I played, which I found at the board, allowed this to happen. I played Bf7. I played it with supreme confidence to rattle him. A bit of chess psychology.

He visibly started; my ruse had worked. He thought for a while and continued with his original plan. Kg4 was played.

I responded with Kg7 to prevent any Rook penetration along the h-file.

He then banged out Ba3 – if you put it in the engines a mistake. I immediately played Nd7.

His response was to play Bd6 to which I replied Rc3 and for the first time I felt the initiative had changed hands. He played Bb5 and I instantly replied Nf6+. I had achieved my goals set out when I played Bf7.

This is where the tactics started with any King move other than Kf3 allowing a juicy Knight fork. He retreated with said move and I followed up with g5, threatening g4+ and picking up the Rook. He retreated his King to g2. Check out the move options for white here.

I now felt slightly sadistic by playing Rc2+, driving him back to the first Rank. He played Kf1. Now consider the position – whose King has more space and whose pieces have real targets, and how vulnerable is White’s Queenside? Quite a transformation, and all in the space of 9 moves.

In the next few moves the minor pieces were swapped off and White picked up the g-pawn. However, the commanding position of the Black King and the vulnerability of the White Queenside pawns decided matters in favour of myself.

My opponent resigned many moves later – he did not shake hands and was totally bemused. He was beaten psychologically as he could not adjust to the change in events.

All I can say is that revenge is a dish best served cold.

This small section of the game decided matters and demonstrates all of the above themes.

The use of psychology to unsettle your opponent. Doing something out of the ordinary.

On a personal note, I find it unbelievable that we still allow adjournments in UK League Chess. In these days, when everybody is time precious, the extra costs involved and the use of chess programs makes the continued employment of the adjournment option ludicrous. I fervently believe this is the overwhelming view of most league chess players. We are being held back by a vociferous minority!

We have to get with the times!!

(And a final tip to all future trainers at The Albion – get there early as it took a while to locate the demonstration board and setup the furniture)

 

Summer League: Gameweek 2

27.06.17 – Totally Hammered vs Streatwise, Summer Chess League

Looking back, the torrential rain downpour that arrived last night was definitely an ominous warning that something was going to happen… and so it was in the match where, aside from some brief chinks of sunshine from Pavel and Chris – who both drew – the good ship Totally Hammered lived up to its name, losing 4-1 to Streatwise.

We were out graded on every board, so considering the situation, our draws were a fantastic result. For those wishing to relive the experience, all the games are now up on the Summer League website.

We also welcomed two new players to the club for their debut games: Nadim Osseiran and Chris Dmitrov! I believe they are both coming along to next Monday’s club night, so please give them a warm welcome when you meet them.

Hot, hot, Summer League action!!

Anyway team, let’s not dwell on failure – we have a few weeks to prepare for the next match in July (18th July – save the date!). Six boards to cover, many beers to be drunk, and a chance for vengeance!!

Anyone wishing to play, please get in touch!

As a reminder, the remaining fixtures are:

  • 18th July
  • 22nd August
  • 5th September

Ken K, Totally Hammered Captain.

Full set of games below – Captain’s report from Just Hammered vs Battersea Volts still to come… It contains the only ray of sunshine from the evening – a victory for one of our newest – and certainly our youngest – member, Nadhmi. Pleased to say we’ll also be posting a full analysis of that game from one of our strongest players. Stay tuned!!

 

 

Totally Hammered vs Streatwise

1. Barjrush Kelmendi 183 vs Robin Haldane 191 0-1

2. Martin Smith 172 vs Pavel Nefyodov 164 1/2-1/2

3. Chris Dimitrov es133 vs Nello Attianese 169 0-1

4. Gabriel Barr 168 vs John Ryan 124 1-0

5. Chris Moore 112 vs Alan Romeril 137 1/2-1/2

6. Jose Dimiti 113 vs Nadim Osseiran es95 1-0

Volts vs Just Hammered

1. Chris Beckett 202 vs Carsten Pedersen 201 1/2-1/2
*not ready*

2. Marios Kouis es150 vs Motiejus Gudenas es169 0-1

3. Tim Valentine 126 vs Paul Kennelly 161 1-0

4. David Lambert 123 vs Rayan Balluz es100 0-1

5. Leon Watson 122 vs Kaan Corbaci es120 1-0

6. Naadhmi Auchi 105 vs Peter Yusoff es80 1-0

In Addition…

The British Bangla Chess Association are having a 10-minute blitz tourney this coming Sunday – the 2nd July starting at 3pm.

The tourney will take place at

Tower Hamlets Parents Centre, 1 Links Yard, 29 Spelman Street, London E1 5LX – it is just off Brick Lane

Entry fee is £7 for Non- BCCA players and it is run on a first come first served basis

So if you want to take part please phone either Mostaque on 07903 559 812 or Tariq on 07930 528 293

Heatwave Chess

19.06.17 – Middlesex League – Kings Head v Hammersmith

On one of the hottest days of the year, Hammer embarked on the Carpenters Arms to play our final game of the Autumn/Winter/Spring season. It was the twelfth fixture in our Middlesex Division 3 campaign, a league we had already won with two matches to spare… embarrassing! Kings Head were the opponents, who were also playing for nothing but pride and grading points.

Due to a combination of weather, holidays, work commitments, and the Summer League, it was surprisingly difficult to field a squad. Carsten, Marios and John White kindly stepped up to fill the gaps, vastly improving the playing strength of the team.

Decent grub at the Carpenters. If you want a really good pie… the Gardeners

On board one, Carsten and his opponent blitzed out the first 12 moves, with Carsten landing a white pawn on g7. With a King stuck in the centre, Black defended valiantly, but it wasn’t long before Carsten’s exquisite tactics won him a piece and the game.

Marios and Jeremy were playing more closed positions, yet they both appeared to be in their element. With gradual pressure intensifying throughout the game, their opponents eventually threw in their towels.

John White is not on his best run of form but played fairly solidly, sealing a draw with the black pieces on board four.

Brexit vs. a giant canary

Adam spent a fair bit of his Sunday watching Simon William’s London System DVD. Luck was on his side: he got the white pieces, played the London, and his opponent adopted the passive …Be7 setup. Without a moment’s hesitation, Harry the h-pawn came steaming up the board and ripped apart the Kingside, forcing resignation in 19 moves.

John Woolley was the closest matched player in terms of grading, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from his game. An inspired John played very accurately, winning a Knight in the middle game, and closing it out calmly. Fingers crossed John decides to stay at the club next year.

#chintz

The third John: Mr. Ryan, and his opponent, John, were also closely matched grade-wise. The match looked pretty even until the Kings Head player committed a clear touch-move, cheekily trying to claim that he had touched the piece without any intention to move it. After a couple of minutes of noisy altercation, he conceded that the original piece must be moved, and went on to lose the game. The irony was that the alternative move he had tried to play was even worse!

With a disorganised captain only sending the correct start time on the morning of the match, it was unsurprising that a player showed up late. This was to be Robin on board eight, who has kindly provided his own game analysis:

I came in late, thought it was a Queen pawn opening so as Black I played two moves of the Budapest gambit (Nf6, e5). Getting my specs on, found it was an English opening! What a farce!! Anyway no harm, but interesting position with fairish counterplay for black. White Queenside pawns flew forward but then got cemented down after I sacrificed a pawn. The a-file looked good for the White Rook, but my cluster of bishops, rooks and Queen deterred access. After trading Rooks off I developed a potentially advantageous endgame for me, except Queens were around. I had caught up on my clock also. A draw agreed. Mismatch of gambit defence, though not for the faint of heart, seemed to work this time, and unsettled my opponent perhaps.”

And that ends a hugely successful season in the Middlesex League. Next season we’ll surely face some tougher challenges in Division 2, but with the Club constantly getting stronger, there’s every chance we could head straight on up to Division 1.

Season Stats:

  • Matches: Won 9, Drawn 1, Lost 1, Walkover 1
  • Games: Won 57, Drawn 12, Lost 12, Default 12, Forfeit 3
  • Players: Total 28, Unbeaten 18, 100% wins 14, Player of the Season: Sheikh Mabud (5/5)

Adam.