Back from the Dead in London 4

07.07.18 – It seemed Osiris himself, the Egyptian God of the Afterlife, was watching over us as we came back from the brink against BBCA to score a cracking 4.5-3.5 win on Wednesday night. BBCA raced into an early lead before the Hammer fightback took hold and wins for Tommaso, Blair, Matteo and Ken secured victory.

An invaluable victory against the previously undefeated table-toppers. We’re now firmly back in the chase; it still looks a tall order but we have to count ourselves amongst the pack. My trip to Egypt was truly worthwhile…

We’re 2nd in the table with 4 matches to go – Greater London, Newham, Kings Head and Metro 4.

There were some truly impressive performances, no more so than Tomasso on Board 1, taking down a 175 with some superb attacking chess. An early g4 pawn push, complemented with an early King chase at the expense of material.

Blair was bizarrely challenged to go back to his schooldays and prove his “Rook & King” checkmate skills with more than adequate time on the clock. He obviously hasn’t been studying his form for Hammer this season. Blair maintains his 100% record with 2 wins out of 2.

Matteo’s rediscovered his mojo and is now turning draws into wins, taking control of this match-up early on and pressing home to an endgame with superior pawns and a Knight for a Bishop. There was no way to stop the promotion to a Queen and that was that.

Brian scored the crucial half-point we needed, and has included his game here for your enjoyment:

Playing black against the Sicilian, Brian established a Maroczy Bing in response to relatively passive play. But that all changed on move 9 when he faced a veritable kitchen sink being thrown forward in a kingside attack. Pawn pushes with e4 and h4-h5, two rooks on the f-file, Queen on g4 and a fianchettoed Bishop on b2. Brian swapped both bishops for two knights and advanced his Q-side pawns.

The opposition Queen eventually invaded on the sixth rank to threaten my a-pawn, but faced the counter-challenge of Queen and rook on the 7th threatening to take the a2 pawn and invade the seventh/eighth rank on his side. Eventually his opponent’s Queen became trapped on the Q-side, with no alternative but to exchange queens for a drawn ending of rook & minor piece each, with a totally blocked pawn structure.

The scorecard might have flattered us further on another night. Nadhmi and Gokhan both got themselves into strong positions before allowing their opponents to spoil the party. I’m afraid I didn’t see much of Ben or Ken’s games although I understand a significant blunder effectively ended the latter as a contents.

No matter, the night was ours. Full scorecard below:

The Good, the Bad and the Hammer

GM Lectures, Blitz Tourney, Rapidplay, and many, many games of chess – it has been a busy few weeks on Planet Hammer. We have a few results to update you on, so please read on…

28.02.18 – London League 5: Brixton v Hammersmith

In a scene redolent of countless westerns, there was an ambush last night where the Anvil Boyz were cruelly cut down by the Brixton Gang. Just through the swing doors, in the crowded scene of the Sit or Die Saloon, fist fights, drunken cavorting and knife stabbings were common place, especially at the bar.

Brian & Robin with their post-match analysis

First to go was Ben on board 3. He started humbly, almost modestly, adopting a Hedgehog posture, but quickly gained equality and looked good to win, hoping to surprise his opponent.

But suddenly, with two weapons drawn each – Queen and Rook – Ben fell to razor-edged tactics, and in the dying seconds, Ben succumbed to trickery of the Devil (back row mate, or give up house and home).

In equal measure shortly after, Simon on Board 2 was cut down. Some say it was a Sicilian Stiletto that undid him.

Last man standing was Robin, Anvil Chief Spiceman and bottle washer, who staggered out of the saloon but then stumbled and was carried to the Adjournment Hostelry, where he died, by turns cursing and mumbling.

The next morning three bodies were thrown in the nearest gulch, only the cruel east wind witnessed their burial. In minutes, spumes of snow tendrils covered the bodies.

Only one of the Anvil Boyz lived to tell the tale, top wrangler Brian, who saw the plot and bade peace early on with his counterpart, shaking his hand as he withdrew.

Follows here Brians comments on his game…

“I was black v a 138 opponent who played the Trompovsky Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). I went ahead with fianchettoing the KB, and he immediately swapped bishop for knight on f6 to double my pawns.

I played c5 in a Grunfeld-style attempt to undermine his central pawns, pressurizing d4 with my QN on f6. He advanced to d5, which cramped my Queen’s-side development and pushed my knight to a precarious e5, but allowed my KB lots of pressure on the long diagonal, supported by Qa5.

He developed carefully with connected knights on c3 and e2, then pushed away my e5 knight with f4, foregoing castling and escaping central pressure by relocating his king to f2.

I threatened to make a break along the e-file, but he solidified the support of his backward e-pawn with rook, bishop, knight and queen. As the queens-side pawn structure had by now become locked, he offered a draw and I accepted.”

Here ends the sorry tale.

Thames Valley March Update

02.03.18 – Last night Richmond was out-graded against Surbiton A by 33 points (162 v 195 average!) but won the match 4.5-3.5! Great result.

As you can see from the table, Kingston have been relegated. Now it’s between Ealing A and Surbiton B for the drop, with Ealing having better chances since they need just one more point from their remaining 3 matches.

I’d like to thank all Hammers who have contributed to our great results this season. We have secured our Division 1 presence with 5 games in hand. So we are in a neck & neck race with Richmond for third place.

Richmond have a better set of fixtures than us, so our home match against them no 16th April is hugely important.

We are also playing in the Thames Valley Cup Semi-Final against Richmond on 9th April, and a win could see us well on our way to being cup winners, since the other semi-final is between Harrow and Kingston!

The good news from a couple of days ago – Kingston and Surbiton B have played their next match and we are clear of relegation! Now we are playing for a better position in the table.

Realistically we should finish 3rd, but anything is possible. Since all the top teams are playing each other and Wimbledon A play Surbiton B twice (first match is on March 15th). Richmond also have to play all the top teams once, including us. We only have one away match against Wimbledon A on 19th March. All our other matches are at home.

So let’s prepare the March stage for the Hammers:

  1. First match on 19th March is away against Wimbledon A, starting 7.30pm
  2. Second match is on 26th March at home to Surbiton A, starting 7.30pm

Please let me know if you’re available!


21.02.18 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Lewisham

“Back in the Saddle Again”

Last week we brought you great news from London Division 4 in the way of our 5.5-2.5 win over promotion hopefuls Lewisham. We can now bring you the full report of the match that puts us back in the hunt at the top of the table.

Brian, acting as captain for the evening, talks us through the action as it happened.

First to finish was Gokhan on board 4. An inaccuracy in his opening line gave him an early advantage and sadly his position didn’t recover. His opponent quickly pushed home his edge to a won game. 0-1 down.

My game was next to finish on board 4. I had white in a c3 Sicilian, where after the pawn exchanges on d4, my opponent played Bb4+ and I ventured a slightly risky Nc3 and Bc4, leaving my e5 pawn vulnerable to his King’s knight. My pin on Bg5 was immediately released with the clever Qa5, exerting double pressure on the c3 knight and threatening a dangerous forking check.

A tense double-edged struggle ensued when I castled out of trouble and took his f6 knight as he took mine on c3. Upshot was a won pawn at the expense of his opened-up kingside pawn structure.

His decision to delay castling proved costly: swapping two pairs of minor pieces, I broke up his central pawn mass, chased his Queen and invaded with a rook via c7. The follow-up queen check on c6 left him powerless to avoid a back-rank mate on move 21. 1-1 and all square.


John was next to finish. He stepped in at the last minute to fill a gap on Board 6, but lost material against a player graded thirty points higher, eventually losing to a crushing attack. 1-2 down.

Charlie’s position on Board 7 looked unfavourable going into the endgame, with his opponent having an extra passed pawn. But Charlie never gives up, and succeeded in swapping off all the pawns to a drawn ending Rook & King v Rook & King. 1.5-2.5

Nadhmi on Board 5 had a complex game where at one stage he was a rook up for three distinctly menacing pawns. Later it was a bishop for two pawns, then an ending of bishop, rook & two pawns v rook and three pawns. Time was tight, but Nadhmi survived the rigors of the clock and emerged with king, bishop, rook and pawn against king and rook, whence his opponent resigned.

At this point the match was delicately poised 2.5-2.5, with Boards 1, 2 and 8 still to finish. Wyatt had been a piece down, but his opponent used a lot time and blundered the piece back again. Wyatt still had to defend against a push of two advanced pawns supported by rooks, but the opponent’s flag fell and Wyatt won on time.

Hammer held a 3.5-2.5 advantage with the top two boards to finish. Both had been tight games played solidly and accurately on both sides, with John White on Board 2 having to defend against minor piece incursions, holding a rook for bishop and knight. But he eventually prevailed after multiple piece exchanges when his opponent overlooked damaging forks with mating threats in a queen & rook ending.

Finally, Matteo on Board 1 invaded his opponent’s 7th rank to force resignation after the tightest strategic game of the evening. A very creditable win for the underdogs!


The Return of the Hammersmith League

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and none more so than in chess! After a break of a few years, we are delighted to report that the Hammersmith League is making a comeback!

The League in its original form was always a local, casual arrangement between a handful of clubs in West and South-West London, providing face-to-face game opportunities for juniors and new or inexperienced players from the clubs involved, in addition to their other league setups.

With that in mind, the ethos of the League remains and we think this will really appeal to many of our newer members, and those looking for more experience over the board. There will be three Gameweeks as follows, with all games to be played at The Anvil/Lytton Hall.

Save the Dates:

  • 19th March
  • 9th April
  • 30th April

Hammer will be entering two teams, with Wyatt and Ben having agreed to stand as captains – thanks chaps! Battersea will also enter a team, along with SW London juniors. Look out for an email or two from our captains soon, as they look to nail down teams for the fixtures.

The rules are as follows:

  • Time Control: 30 minutes, plus 15 second increment per move
  • All games will be recorded
  • Each team will have 5 players
  • There will be two matches each night against the same player – one as black, and one as white
  • Second game begins as soon as the first is finished
  • Average grade of each team to be less than 115 ECF
  • All games will be graded (and will count to towards a Rapid rating)
  • A Trophy will be on offer for the winners
  • No player can play for more than one team
  • John White will act as arbiter on each of the evenings in the event of any queries

It’s a welcome addition to the chess calendar, and we look forward to the first round in March!

In Other News…

No match reports this week, but we are delighted to report a trio of great results.

On Monday, the Middlesex team ground out a superb result in League 2, squeaking home 4.5-3.5 against Albany. A hastily assembled match card is presented for your enjoyment:

With Carsten & Bajrush on boards 3 & 4, hopefully you get some idea of the standard of chess being played!

This was followed closely by a superb 5.5-2.5 victory for our London 4 team. The scorecard tells it’s own story, with us being out-graded by 14 points on average – a phenomenal result!

Particular credit must go to Charlie, achieving a draw against an opponent graded 38 points above him. And a special mention for Wyatt – not only for the superb win in beating a much stronger opponent, but also for stepping in last-minute to fill a late drop-out. Brilliant stuff – our new Super Sub!

And finally, our London 6 team achieved a creditable draw against one of the League’s strong teams, Hackney. Particularly good result for Nick, with a charming draw on board 3 against a stronger opponent.

GM Jon Speelman – Monday 26th February

The day is almost upon us – GM Jon Speelman is down at the club tomorrow evening to give a lecture on all things chess & tactics, plus some chess anecdotes, and he’ll be stopping round for a Q&A session! Don’t miss it!!

If you haven’t done so already, please get in touch to sign up today!

And Finally…

You can’t keep a good club down. Our efforts have been picked up by local councillor, Harry Phibbs, who invited our PR guru John to write a guest blog post for the Hammersmith & Fulham Forum website.

It’s a great little piece – have a read for yourself:

John White: Help for Hammersmith schools to start chess clubs


A Whole Lotta Hammer

“Not a Whole Lotta Love from Hammer 1 on Valentine’s Eve”

Welcome to the next rollicking installment of the Starship Hammer 1’s 2018 odyssey and it’s one-season mission to boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Star Date 13/02/2018 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to the planet of the Citadines to encounter a strange alien species called the Metropolitans. There is definitely a Gallic/Germanic flavour about this world, with our match taking place in the Berlin room.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

Thomas, Chris S, Jim, Paul McK, Tommaso, Pavel, Jeremy, Sheikh, Paul K, Clueless and Charlie. A team of old and new faces – indeed, if you go back just over two years only Jeremy, Sheikh, Paul K and I were Hammer crew members. The times – they are a-changing!

We out-graded our opponents on average by 25 points a board – although this was exaggerated by Thomas’s estimated grade. Thus, applying Pavel (Spock) logic, the result should not have been in doubt. This time the logic was not misplaced.

Despite missing the great talents of Zeus (Marios), Wily (Bajrush) and Paul McK (Prof) the Hammer gauchos were not going to be distracted and like the consummate professionals they are, the only dish on the menu was victory.

Chris S (Sydney or Show Bag) was fast out of the blocks. I know he is under huge pressure at work, with the added addition of personal stuff to deal with; indeed, he asked me if I could find a substitute for the match. I reluctantly told him I could not.

To his eternal credit and demonstrating dedication beyond the call of duty, he turned out. He took all his frustration out on his unfortunate opponent and romped to a quick and deserving victory. 1-0 Hammer.

Next up saw Jim (Loco) dishing out the punishment. I remember seeing his black b pawn landing on b2 and pawn mopping-up operations in full flow. Basically, it was a Bannockburn of a game and his opponent was duly routed and sent home to think again. Hammer flying at 2-0.

To the first reverse of the night with Sheikh, as black facing a Nimzovitch-Larsen setup from his opponent. If you ever contemplate playing this opening I refer you to the classic Larsen-Spassky encounter of 1969 as a cautionary tale. It certainly put me off playing 1.b3 for life.

This was one of those encounters when according to Stockfish Sheikh was +2.82 and cruising to victory. He then decided to finish off his opponent a la Spassky in the above-mentioned encounter. Alas, he left a bishop en prise and sadly went down in flames. A definite case of defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory. Hammer pegged back to 2-1.

Next up were Pavel (Spock) and your correspondent Captain Clueless.

Pavel playing black won the exchange with a nice rook pin, unfortunately his King was denuded of pawn protection and the draw was the smart and pragmatic move to make.

Clueless’ game followed a familiar pattern to all his games post-Christmas. A move mis-order as black, after resolute opening play in a c3 Sicilian, left him on the back foot. Fortunately, a tenacious fightback and good defence equalised the position and he was glad to accept the draw offer with only a few pawns and one rook left on the board. Hammer holding at 3-2.

Next up was Tommaso (Forza) who played the attacking game of the evening. Sacking a pawn as white in a Petroff opening, he gained hyper-accelerated development. With Black’s King trapped in the centre of the board he even indulged in a Queen offer – sadly refused by his uncooperative opponent – to force victory. A brilliant game and I suggest you study it carefully and learn. Hammer surging ahead 4-2.

Our second reversal of the night saw Thomas (T-Bone) have an off night. In desperation he sacked a knight on h3 to force complications, perpetual check, or for his opponent to go wrong. To be frank it was simply a bad night at the office and I should know having had so many myself. Hammer, still without clear blue water, 4-3 ahead and the tension rising.

Cometh the hour, cometh the men.

Yes, in our hour of need up stepped Charlie (Sorted or Kiev), Paul K (DeadEye) and Jeremy (Brexit).

Charlie, overcoming debute nerves for Hammer 1 and a SOS call from Clueless, played flawlessly. He basically was hoovering up pieces whilst maintaining a positional grip. It was a masterpiece of slaughtered chess. The only disturbing aspect was that his opponent continued to be tortured without throwing the towel in. Hammer now on the brink at 5-3.

Paul K (Dead-Eye) is in imperious form this season, and this night was no exception. Playing white and facing a passive opponent in a French Winawer variation, he was seemingly strategically won after 15 moves. He had buried black’s white-squared bishop, commanded 70% of the board and just needed to find a tactic to prise the position open. Black was reduced to meaningless moves. In the best traditions of Dead-Eye chess he found the way and the resignation came swiftly after. 6-3 Hammer.

Finally to Jeremy (Brexit), last to finish and even then, it is an adjournment. However, unlike our politicians Jeremy gets stuff done and sorted. He repulsed a speculative attack which saw him gain a knight for two pawns. The game resembled a Kings Indian standard king side attack. The problem was black over-reached. Jeremy consolidated his position and then cut off counter-play. In the adjourned position he has a monster passed-pawn that should settle matters in fairly short order.

The Hammer Starship heroes then beamed into the Wetherspoon’s pub on Kingsway to celebrate and bask in their victory. A perfect way to end the evening.


London League 5:  Greater London v Hammersmith – 16.02.18

Tuesday the thirteenth hardly seemed propitious, but read on…

Unfortunately Tuesday and 13 are considered unlucky . By coincidence  Constantinople fell on Tuesday, May 24, 1453 to the Ottomans. Even worse  the sum of the (year) date added up to 13  1+4+5+3=13.

Like the Romans of old, we should really study the entrails or read the latest weather report before entering battle.

The coin toss was lost, the match was duly lost 0.5 to 2.5, with one game being adjourned. Our venerable opponents were hosting a division 5 match in the storied, almost medieval, location of Upper Vestry Hall in Little Russell Street.

Top board saw our newest campaigner Shiraq Suntook with the black pieces emerging from the opening nicely with a seemingly strong position.  This however led to complicated middle game tactics and we saw our first loss. 0-1

On board three the Hammersmith captain, also with the black pieces, defended against the English opening.  White invested energy in early tactics, launching his queen and winning the h7 black pawn, but the white queen was nearly trapped and King was as yet uncastled. Black retaliated with multiple forced  exchanges In the centre, then a black queen  forked the  exposed King and hapless rook on A1.

That  should  have been that,  black was the exchange up, having 2 rooks and minor against one rook and 2 minors. and the end game started. But our wily opponent was made of stern stuff or more importantly nice unweakened pawn,and launched an increasingly vicious knight and bishop against the black king with scrappy loose pawns all over. After losing a piece in an unguarded moment through a knight fork, black went a piece down and  black had to resign. 0-2.

On board two,  our exciting new campaigner Dipender Gill was having a quiet positional game with the white pieces but getting  20 minutes behind in the clock. As the deadline approached Dipender launched a possible mating attack on the 8th rank but black launched his queen on the Dipender king, forcing  his king out of his fortress.

Our most exciting game was culminating in a M.A.D (Mutually Assured Destruction) scenario playing out, where both kings became  exposed . Queens, rooks  and minor pieces were king hunting, and no holds barred.  The King  was  being checked two or three times, as if being led out to execution, but no final coup de grace. Instead a pause and someone grabbed a loose pawn. First us, then them. Eventually Dipender’s opponent studied the board for nearly 15 minutes,  found nothing but repeated checking and so draw agreed. Bad Luck there! I thought I saw a Dipender win, but only analysis can reveal that.

Late in the match, I saw on board 4 veteran John Ryan ready to launch a final and very interesting attack on his  opponent’s king fortress, with the centre blocked and hardly anything being captured so far . The question was how to push g and h pawns to the 5th and beyond but the game had to be  adjourned. The game had a lot of play on both sides, but the match was already lost, sadly.

The Hammer Train Rolls On!

Lots more fantastic write-ups coming your way today with plenty of interesting games to play through, after four big matches in the various leagues this week. We also have some great info about playing in the 4NCL – UK & Ireland’s top chess league – make sure you read to the bottom of the update!

Before we crack on with those, don’t forget that it’s Round II of our season-long Blitz comp on Monday evening at Lytton Hall, starting 7.30pm. Full details here – should be a fun evening of quick-fire chess!

Middlesex League 3 vs. Muswell Hill – 05.02.18

On Monday we played host to Muswell Hill in Middlesex Division 3. As probably our biggest rival for the promotion spots, it was vital we picked up a result in our last home game of the season.

Nadhmi’s continuing surge up the grading ladder saw him sat down at board one for the first time. He had a tricky opponent who applied pressure throughout the whole game. Eventually the rooks invaded and it was game over. 0-1

Next up was Matteo. He turned on his Italian style and played a wonderful game, crushing the poor Englishman into the dust. 1-1

Brian entered a very closed position and both players were playing accurately. There was no progress to be made and they agreed a draw. 1.5-1.5

I played a London System on board 4 that went badly wrong. Castling on opposite sides, my kingside attack was far slower than my opponent’s queenside attack and I had to sacrifice an exchange for a pawn to relieve some pressure. He continued to play good moves, trading down to an endgame at the right time which he duly converted. 1.5-2.5

David played a long, tough game. He used a lot of time reaching equality out of the opening, trying to coordinate his pieces on the queenside to break free and shackle the Bishop on b3. His opponent pushed with a slightly premature e5 and then exd6, which opened up the position to Dave’s advantage. The final few moves are omitted due to time pressure but with a couple of minutes on the clock, Dave managed to fork King and Rook, effectively forcing the resignation. 2.5-2.5

Pouya played well on board 6, utilising his space advantage to provoke weaknesses. Eventually he broke through and scored a win. 3.5-2.5

Simon had white on board 7. His superior opening preparation saw him far better going into the middle game and his position continued to improve. The win was inevitable, and Simon moves to an impressive unbeaten 4/5 for the team. 4.5-2.5

Last but not least, our newest junior member Andrew was playing his first game for the club on board 8. Both players played very fast, but there could be no criticism of Andrew’s play. He dominated proceedings, winning a pawn out of the opening and going on to win an exchange with a  sneaky Bishop tactic. With the win he has firmly established himself amongst our growing pool of talented juniors and I have no doubt his grade will be rising very rapidly.

So there you have it, a third 5.5-2.5 win in a week and a half, and our promotion prospects are looking very rosy.

Andrew becomes the 22nd player to show for the team this season, while Ben, Ken, John and Simon look to be favourites for MVP as we look ahead to our final three, tough away fixtures.


Thames Valley League vs. Ealing – 05.02.18

We came to the end of the “TV Month” with the last game against Ealing this week. It was a case of “Magnificent 7 – Reloaded!“, as we beat Ealing at home with the exact same score as when we played them away, 7-1. It was a great performance from every player, including our single defeat – Thomas should’ve got the win too, but was unlucky.

This time last year we were in the relegation zone. But this year is a different story altogether. The current table is as follows:

Our remaining matches this season are as follows:

  • March 19th – Wimbledon away
  • March 26th – Surbiton away
  • April 16th – Richmond home
  • May 14th – Wimbledon home
  • May 21st – Kingston home (postponed from Jan 15th)

We’re also waiting to confirm the date for our home semi-final TV Cup match against Richmond.

Thanks to all players!

London League 6 vs. GLCC – 06.02.18

“A Walk on the Wildside in Division 6”

A mid-week encounter beckoned us to Upper Vestry Hall as we took on Greater London in Division 6. And not for the first time this season, the middle-order battled back to save our blushes.

We ended a 2-2 draw, with Charlie and Wyatt chalking up good wins.

First to fall was Nadim. He made a careless Queen move early on which left his Bishop en prise. He battled on but it was difficult to come back from that.

The next to come to a sticky end was your very own captain for the evening, Dave. I felt I made a hash of the closed Sicilian opening, although the computer fancied I was in charge when it came to move 20. It never felt that way over the board though, and as we moved into the endgame a couple of innocuous looking moves turned the tide in my opponent’s favour and he emerged a pawn up, which he skillfully converted.

The pride of Hammer was on the line and Wyatt and Charlie duly rose to the occasion. Wyatt played a really solid game out of the opening and developed into a late middle-game pawn up and two Rooks apiece. He had far better King safety though, and when he doubled his Rooks on the 7th, it was one-way traffic from thereon in. His opponent’s flag eventually fell, but it only saved him the ignominy of a mate several moves later.

Which brings us to Charlie, who when seemingly faced with a safe move and a more pointed one, dismisses them both and searches for an even more aggressive option! He’s like the Hammer version of AlphaZero (in a way), material is nothing, and tempo is everything! The engines don’t like it but it’s highly effective and scored him another win. See below:

That’s it for now. Hedger roll again at the end of February when we take on Hackney.


London League 4 vs. Athenaeum – 07.02.18

“The Dream is Over in London 4”

As John Lennon lamented during his time with Plastic Ono Band, “the dream is over”. And thus, with our narrow 3.5-4.5 loss at the hands of Athenaeum, the same must be said of our push for promotion from London League Division 4.

Nevertheless, it takes our record to W3 L3, in what is proving to be a creditable season for a team, many of whom are playing their debut seasons with Hammer.

As the scoreline suggested, the match was a close one with Hammer taking an early lead but ultimately being pegged back by strong play across the board order. Full scorecard is below:

First to finish was Dipender who kicked things off with a solid win with White. He worked a good tactic to claim a pawn in the early middle-game and then played flawlessly to line up a battery of Queen and Rooks, swapping off pieces to his advantage when the moment came. A momentary lapse in concentration nearly allowed his opponent to create complications in the endgame, but the opportunity was missed and his passed pawn proved crucial. Game is below. 1-0 to the good guys.

Adam was next to finish. Playing the Albin Gambit, he worked what looked to be a dominant attack on the cramped white position, with pins left, right and centre. However, despite the pressure, the defender always managed to find the right resource and managed to swap off a number of key pieces, leaving the position to fizzle out into something that looked far more drawish. A half point was dutifully taken. A good game to watch. 1.5-0.5

Jeremy, playing only his second match for the club, developed his White pieces nicely, but missed a clever outpost for the opposition bishop forking Queen and Rook. An immediate counter-thrust followed to create complications but tempo was not his friend, forcing him to lose material and to retract his Rook into an overly defensive position. It was a tough battle from thereon in. 1.5-1.5

Hammer regained the lead thanks to a beautiful turnaround from John on Board 6. Playing wily Mike Rose, John got himself into real tactical complications win the middle game and found multiple pieces under attack. The only way out of the trap was to concede a Bishop, and regroup. At that point, your captain wandered off to check on the other games, only to return a short while later with John threatening mate and an exchange up! A Houdini act that’s surely worth further investigation in the pub. 2.5-1.5

Potentially the match of the evening was played on Board 2, as Brian faced an opponent in fine form. Playing the Grunfeld and facing a tricky line where his opponent daringly sacrificed his Rook for a black-squared Bishop, it initially looked positive for Brian with chances to hold firm and stick it out for a won endgame.

But the pressure was unnerving on the King-side via a pawn advance and aggressive posting of bishops and knight. Brian was forced to give back the Rook to stay alive, but still the tactics kept coming. The clever 21.Bf7+ made all the difference.  Brian, as ever, was magnanimous in defeat, warmly congratulating his opponent on a match well played. He’s also good enough to present his game here. Brian had the black pieces. 2.5-2.5

Tomasso’s fine form for the team hit a speed bump as he faltered to his first defeat of his Hammer career. Playing White, he established a strong open position, with a Bishop posted on b3 which looked to be a menace  as the game progressed. However, a breakthrough from Black paved the way for an attack with broadly level material but with superior piece placement. Checks and tactics abound and defeat wasn’t far away. Tomasso will be back stronger I’m sure! 2.5-3.5

The final two matches ended in a draw, ensuring the score finished 3.5-4.5. But in truth, we were arguably lucky to emerge with the half point in both.

Gokhan had a strange game on Board 3. Superb attacking play earned him a whole Bishop advantage and his dominant position deserved a win, but a premature Queen move allowed a simple Rook capture with check on the back-rank. Suddenly he was the exchange down! It looked all over, but Gokhan doesn’t know when he’s beaten and brilliantly fought back with relentless pawn pushing and resourceful coordination of Bishop and King. A draw was inevitable at the end as there was a simple way to reducing everything to a Bishop & King vs. King endgame.

Charlie was last to finish… somewhat reluctantly taking a draw when most observers thought he should have bitten their hand off! His strong looking attack in the opening transpired to be fairly common theory according to his opponent, who ably defended and emerged a pawn up. Charlie did very well to remain solid and ensure limited chances for his opponent but there was definitely an opening at one point where a more confident pawn push would have sealed the deal. Nevertheless, Charlie continues his unbeaten run for the club. Very well done!

Next up is Lewisham on February 21st. We go again…


And Finally… Celtic Tigers!

If you truly can’t get enough chess this year, fear not – there is more available!

Hammer’s own Chris Skulte, is also the manager for the Celtic Tigers team in the 4NCL – that’s the 4 Nations Chess League – the UK & Ireland’s top chess league. Our Great Dane, Carsten Pedersen, also plays for the team.


Celtic Tigers are looking to field a 2nd team in the 4NCL competition next season, as Hammersmith Chess Club are our London Chess Club, we are looking for a few members to consider playing one (or all rounds) next season.

What is 4NCL?

It’s the top league of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, played over 5 weekends (2 games a weekend, with 3 on the final weekend). You play one game each day, and usually stay the night in the venue, which adds to the social fun of the event. Usually its one weekend in November, January, February, March and May – see below for the current seasons dates:

Why Celtic Tigers?

Two Hammersmith members – Chris Skulte and Carsten Pedersen – already play for the club, and we are a very social club, enjoying our beers and dinner as a team. Have a read of our newsletters to see what it’s like playing for the Tigers:

Will Everyone be Together?

Unfortunately divisions 1/2 and 3/4 play in separate venues, but if they are close enough we will try to organise a mutual location for dinner. Teams will usually be selected on playing strength, but the manager (Chris) has final call each weekend.

What is the Cost?

  • £25 to become a member, covers team registration. If you only play 1 game this will be refunded to you.
  • £62 per night for accommodation (including breakfast!), 1 night per weekend (if you want to stay – entirely optional)
  • Transport to/from the location – usually we will try to carpool
  • You must be a Gold ECF member or above if an ENG federation player (Bronze to Gold upgrade is £18)

Interested, got Questions?

Get in touch with Chris:

Next Years Dates & Locations

  • 17-18 November 2018 – Division 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 12-13 January 2019 – Division 3&4: South Park Inn Bedford
  • 9-10 February 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 13-14 April 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 4-6 May 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court


A January Corker!

As world leaders prepare to depart from Davos, here at Hammer we’re always looking for our next excursion! After the huge success of our visit to Amsterdam last Summer, plans are being laid for a trip across the Irish Sea to visit Cork!

Read on to find out more, along with the usual goings on at Planet Hammer…

  • Cork Chess Club trip
  • Bury St Edmonds challenge match
  • London League 3 vs. Athenaeum
  • Middlesex League 3 vs. Hendon
Get Ready to be Corked!

Yes, the Hammer crew – like a dodgy bottle of Chateau Rothschild – are going to be Corked! The 2018 Hammer on Tour is now confirmed.

On the weekend of June 8-10 Hammer are taking on the might of Cork Chess Club in the second city of Ireland. In a weekend that will celebrate chess, beer, camaraderie and sampling the delights of the beautiful city of Cork.

The stunning Cork riverfront

Following on from our enormously enjoyable and most excellent weekend in Amsterdam in 2017, we have decided to grace the Emerald Isle with our presence. How magnanimous we are!!

Cork is a beautiful city situated on the River Lee in the stunning South-West of Ireland. It has a huge history, with us – the Brits – the noisy and repressive neighbours, playing a large part in that.

University College Cork

Cork Chess club was founded in 1990 and like us is heavily involved in all matters of the promotion of our beautiful game. Their current star is IM Alex Lopez, ELO rated 2432! Check out their website:

So, it is time to pack your bags and book your flights (I have already done so!). The flights are excellent value at the moment.

The English Market in Cork City

Please email John White ( ASAP confirming your participation so we can start assembling numbers and looking at accommodation. Plus, we need to give the numbers to our hosts so the arrangements can be put in place.

This will be a superb weekend, so do not miss out!

The 2018 Challenge Match vs Bury St Edmunds – 7th April

The gauntlet has been thrown down and the date set. Hammer are going on the road to take on the powerhouse of Suffolk Chess – Bury St Edmunds. We have been called out and we will answer the challenge to defend the honour of the House of Anvil. Read on…

Beautiful Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds is a beautiful Suffolk market town with a history dating back to the 11th Century, and a fine cathedral.

They are also pretty good at chess! Check out their club website:

The centre-piece of the day will be a long-play over-the-board mass-team match, so we need as many Hammerites to step up and defend the honour of our club!

It will be an excellent day of chess, making new friends and perhaps best of all the prospect of sampling the beer at the Old Cannon Brewery and the Nutshell.

I already have commitments from Carsten, Bajrush, Marios, Wyatt, Adam and Chris Skulte. So, guys I need you step up. Email me ASAP – – so I can match you with a suitable opponent.

This is new territory for Hammer, but hopefully it will become an annual event in the calendar.

Our honour must and will be defended. Go Hammer!

London League 3 vs. Athenaeum – 22.01.18

Welcome to part 4 of the Starship Hammer One 2018 odyssey, and its one season mission to boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Part Date 22.01.2018 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to the planet of literary and scientific study – Athenaeum. A strange and hostile world, where gaining entry to the match venue requires digital input technology.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order: Thomas, Marios, Bajrush, Jim, Paul McK, Chris S, Sheikh, Tommaso, Paul K and Clueless. Even with the inclusion of Clueless, the strongest team Hammer 1 has put out i the London League for many a year.

We out-graded our opponents on average by 20 points a board. Thus, applying Spock logic – the result should not have been in doubt. If only life was that simple!

Captain Clueless also cocked up on the logistical front and got the wrong start time. Basically gifting at least 10 minutes to some of the Athenaeum team.

Chris S got delayed but brought John G (Sauvignon) along, and poor Bajrush arrived too late. Fortunately, John G stepped in and took over board three for the Hammer crew. Default-free we remain.

So, to the tale of a much fraught and difficult evening.

Playing black on board one and making his debut in the London League, Thomas (T-Bone) took on an opponent who clearly wanted a draw. Displaying great patience and tenacity, Thomas probed, created problems and worried his opponent on the clock. On a blitz-style finish he broke through and downed his opponent. A victory for sheer willpower. Hammer at 1-0.

On board two Marios (Zeus) has adjourned in a position where he has a slight advantage. I have to say his determination to carry on and grab the full point at the conclusion of the evening was truly awe-inspiring. There is nothing like an ultra-determined Greek with immortal characteristics!

John G started on board 3 with a near thirty minute deficit, and truth be told one too many Sauvignon Blancs to the bad. This was a brave shout from JG and ensured that Hammer did not default. He definitely took one for the team. Sadly he lost, Hammer now at 1-1

Jim (Loco) had one of those games that saw little happening and is adjourned in a position with a setup of Rook and three pawns, vs Rook and four pawns. He has three pawns. His King is cramped but he is convinced he can hold the position. I do not think this is Celtic wistfulness.

Board 5 saw Paul McK (The Prof) have the game of the evening with the black pieces. I have asked him to annotate it for the website. This game had everything – piece sacrifices, a king march-up the board in search of safety, and finally a two Rooks vs Queen endgame.

Paul deployed all his ingenuity and experience to keep the game alive – including excellent reverse psychology. The strategic offer of a draw when you are the one being battered! Suffice it to say, in the end all came good and he made it 2-1 to Hammer.

On board 6 – Chris (Sydney) had one of those nights when you are in a bad vein of form. He missed a forced checkmate win and in the end had to resign. He was so angry with himself and cursing his luck. This was an aberration & he will recover his best form – he is too good a player.

Board 7 saw Sheikh (Pandit) with the black pieces, establish equality early on. He was cruising to a draw at worse when it all went wrong and he allowed a Rook and Knight corner checkmate. He was at a loss to explain it in the pub afterwards and his form this season has been good. Personally, I blame the venue. Hammer now down 3-2.

Onto Board 8. Making his debut in the LL3 division a new face. His name is Tommaso – his nickname is Forza. Remember that name. This was probably the best attacking game of the evening – taking on a Dragon Sicilian f3 variation, Tommaso played a fine game and won in great style. A new Hammer star is born. 3-3

Paul K (Dead-Eye) is in lethal form this season for Hammer in LL3. He recored his third win in a fine tactical game. He really is on fire. Hammer now edging at 4-3.

Finally, to Clueless on Board 10 a list-minute substitute for The Suit (Matteo) who succumbed to the Aussie/Japanese flu virus. To be honest with you I played poorly. My form is uncertain at the moment and I was lucky to find a tactic to force a draw. Hammer at 4.5-3.5 on the night.

So not a disaster, but to  be honest we are a better team than the score suggests. We now need to refocus and put this behind us. Promotion is our goal and games like this remind us that we have to work for it.

Clueless over & out!

Middlesex League 3 vs. Hendon, 25.01.18

Hammersmith 2 entered the second half of the season knowing that a good run of results would see us promoted to Division 2. It was vital to get a good start in a tough encounter at Hendon.

On board one, John White had the white pieces. He sacrificed a piece for two pawns and a dangerous attack early into the game, but his young opponent defended tenaciously. When the attack fizzled out, John was simply material down and had no choice but to resign. 0-1

I played my favourite Albin Counter-Gambit on board two. An exciting contest ensued, in which I had good positional compensation for the gambit pawn. Ultimately my passed pawn on the 7th rank posed too many problems, and I came away with the victory. 1-1. Here is the game in full:

Pouya played a closed structure on board 3 that remained very even throughout. The players agreed a draw when it was clear that no progress could be made. 1.5-1.5

Eva’s debut for the team did not go quite according to plan. A few imprecise moves in a tactical sequence left her an exchange down. In trying to work out how to make a draw, her flag dropped and the game was lost, and the team was a point down with four to play. 1.5-2.5

John Ryan won a pawn early on and exchanged pieces off into a tricky queen and pawn endgame. John’s infamous endgame technique shone through – he coolly navigated perpetual check threats and gradually pushed his pawn until it was unstoppable, forcing resignation. The match was level at 2.5-2.5, and John’s record for the team improves to an impressive 3.5/4.

Coming off the back of two defeats, Dipender on board 6 was keen to turn things around. He didn’t play a particularly sound game but unfortunately his opponent made proportionally more blunders and Dipender scored an important win. They performed a detailed analysis at the end of the game with his opponent’s father – a very strong player and first team regular. 3.5-2.5

Shiraz found exactly the right time to exchange off all the pieces in the middle game. To his dismay, his opponent realised that he was now one tempo too late to stop Shiraz’s passed pawn. He tried to cling on for a speculative stalemate but Shiraz was far too clinical and delivered mate. 4.5-2.5

Dan on board 8 opted to delay his development to pick up material early on. His opponent couldn’t find a way to exploit his weak king – Dan consolidated and picked up the win.

So in the end it was a 5.5-2.5 win to Hammersmith – a relief to score a win after two 4-4 draws. Well played all!

It’s well and truly a three horse race for the promotion spots. Our next two home games will be key, versus Kings Head and Muswell Hill:


January – Week II

The frantic pace of chess in January continued last week, with no fewer than three games, plus a further three this week, and then FOUR the week after! Luckily, Hammer are well prepared and our captains have been doing a fantastic job rallying the troops! Stay tuned for the following updates:

  • London 5 “grudge match” vs. our Noisy Neighbours, Battersea
  • London 6 vs. DHSS
  • Thames Valley vs. Richmond
  • Rapidplay Round IV
  • GM Jon Speelman
  • Hammersmith League
  • New ECF Grades Released!
Grudge Match – London League 5 v Battersea, 16.01.18

Delighted to report that Hammer continued our strong run against whipping boys Battersea, cruising home 3-1 on the night, with all players undefeated.

On top board, Nadhmi had a level game as white until he lost his a-pawn, then had a complicated exchange involving losing another pawn and a rook, but winning knight and bishop.

This lead to a tense knight & bishop ending vs. rook and 2x pawns in the 20 minute quick playoff. Nadhmi defended very well, but then lost his knight just before his opponents flag fell.

So, although his opponent “lost” on time, Nadhmi no longer had mating material, so it was a technical draw.

On board 2 as black, I played the Sicilian O’Kelly variation and won a pawn in a very positional middle game. I then gained another as we swapped off pieces to a won endgame, rook and 4x pawns vs. rook and 2x pawns.

On board 3, Chris had a rollicking game as white, with his bishop check winning a pawn on e6 which looked like winning a piece. However, Chris played a queen advance looking for an elegant tricky mate which didn’t quite work out – he emerged a piece down, but later the opponent overlooked a rook capture which couldn’t be recaptured, while his other rook was pinned against his own king, and Chris emerged victorious.

Ben’s game as black was even until his opponent obtained a supported passed pawn on d5, but in exchanging pawns and pieces at the end of the middle-game, the passed pawn was captured leading to a drawn ending.

Well done all!

Brian (stand-in captain in for Robin on the night)

Hammersmith “Hedger” vs DHSS, 16.01.18

Our first game of 2018 was an emphatic win for Hammersmith Hedger, 3.5-0.5, in another game where we went undefeated across all boards.

On top board, Robin held a slight advantage with the white pieces throughout. On being offered the draw, he accepted.

Board 2 saw Nick play a splendid attacking game with black, against an opponent graded 121. This was an excellent win.

Board 3 saw me win by default thanks to a no-show – they all count!

On 4, Dan with the black pieces played a super Sicilian. It was a classic “game of two halves”, with white holding the advantage until Dan trapped a piece. Then with some excellent tactical play, he forked King and Rook to win. Brilliant.


Thames Valley League v Richmond, 18.01.18

With a somewhat confusing scorecard, Hammer ended up losing this one 5-3, featuring a couple of defaults. Always sad to see! In truth, Richmond put up a very strong team so it would always have proven tricky.

RapidPlay Round IV

Our 4th Round RapidPlay games continue this month. Most games are now complete, but if you haven’t yet played please remember you only have until January 31st to complete the game and let the tournament controllers know the result!

An Evening With GM Jon Speelman

Legend of English Chess, GM Jon Speelman joins us on 26th February for an evening dedicated to the beautiful game. Jon will be guiding us through some of his top-level play, followed by questions & discussion from the crowd – it’s going to be a real one-off, and isn’t to be missed!

Our special Early Bird offer allows Hammer members to sign up for the bargain price of £7 before to 31st January, reverting to the standard £10 thereafter. If you don’t want to miss out, book your place now! Drop Hammer’s John White an email to reserve your spot:

The Return of the Hammersmith League!

It’s been a long time coming, but we will shortly be announcing details of the all-new Hammersmith League, with the first games kicking off in March!

The Hammersmith League was always an informal setup featuring a few local clubs, aimed at providing competitive chess opportunities for our more casual players, and beginners. The perfect environment to ease yourself into the cut & thrust of competitive chess. Whilst it was always about the enjoyment of the game, the edge was always there, with all games graded and no quarter given.

We’re pleased to say that ethos will still prevail in the new format, where Hammersmith will be joined by Battersea, and SW London Juniors, for 3 nights of chess in March & April, all to be held at The Anvil.

Games will be 30 minutes + increment for all moves, graded, five players per team, with a grading average below ECF 115.

We are entering two teams, so if you’re keen to play please get in touch to register your interest:

ECF January Grades!

Yes, it’s that time of year – the ECF has released it’s semi-annual update to the grading database! Please follow the link below to find out who the movers and shaker are this time..

Final Thoughts…

The chess comes at us thick & fast this next two months, so keep an eye out for any emails from your team captains, and updates from the website so you don’t miss out! There’s always the WhatsApp group too if you can’t get enough!

And keep your eyes peeled for details of a soon-to-be-announced day out in Bury St-Edmonds… chess-themed, of course!! Stay tuned!

New Year, More Chess

The 2018 London Chess season kicked off again this week after our Winter break. Read on for the latest updates across Planet Hammer:

  • Thames Valley v Ealing
  • London 4 v Wanstead & Woodford
  • London 6 v Hackney
  • GM Jon Speelman visits Hammersmith
  • WhatsApp
  • Rapidplay Round IV pairings for January
Thames Valley: The Magnificent Seven – 08.01.18

In our January TV showdown we played our first match against Ealing. I’d first like to extend a welcome to our newest player in the TV League, Thomas Bonn, and I’m even more delighted to congratulate the team for a stunning win we’re going to dub the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN!

The score sheet looks like this:

With an average grade of 178(!) this was our strongest line up so far in the Thames Valley League. It was a great performance across all boards, and the result leaves in second place in the league, with 3 points from 3 games – 100% !

we have a busy few weeks coming up, with the following games:

  • Richmond (away) – Thursday 18th Jan
  • Surbiton A (away) – Wednesday 24th Jan
  • Surbiton B (away) – Wednesday 31st Jan
  • Ealing (home) – Monday 5th Feb


London League 4: Dazed & Confused, Hammersmith v Wanstead

It was a real Heartbreaker in London 4 this week, as we found ourselves on the wrong side of a 3-5 reversal against Wanstead. It was a bitter pill to swallow after we’d built up strong positions on nearly all of our boards, but it wasn’t to be. A combination of overconfidence, carelessness and good old fashioned bad luck saw to that!

Chief cheerleader on the night, Carsten, reckoned we should have won 6-2!! And given the cramped conditions in the Citadines, he probably had better scope to review the matches than anyone.

Still, a big Thank You is in order for new recruits Tommaso and Blair, who each took home the full point. Superb effort! Add Simon into the mix and it was a case of the new guard trying to make amends for the failings of the old! In fact, it was Good Times Bad Times across the board. Each match was decisive, with no draw recorded.

Full match-card below:

I was particularly disappointed in how I played, and from chatting to a few of you afterwards it seems The Song Remains The Same. It was a night of real missed opportunities across the board.

I can present my game here (playing White), which is a clear case of Nobody’s Fault But Mine:

Thanks all,

London League 6: Hammersmith v Hackney

Our London 6 team took on East-Londoners Hackney in another clash at the Citadines this week.

With a double-default on board 3, Hammersmith edged it 2.5-1.5 on the night, with wins from stalwarts Chris and Charlie. A disappointing result from captain Rich on top board was the only downer on the evening!

An Evening with GM Jon Speelman

In case you haven’t heard, chess legend GM Jon Speelman is spending a night at The Anvil on Monday 26th February!

Jon is an absolute legend of the English game, with honours too numerous to mention. He’s an enlightened scholar in many other aspects and we are delighted he’s visiting us to talk about his game, guide us through a game of his, and answer questions from the crowd. It’s going to be utterly fascinating!

We have an EarlyBird offer for Hammer members: £7 if booked before 31st January, rising to £10 thereafter.

Tickets have been flying out of the door and we’ve already sold around half the allocation. If you want to come along, please get in touch with John to confirm your place:

Don’t leave it too late!

RapidPlay Round IV – January

Don’t forget – Round IV pairings for our season-long RapidPlay are now out. You have until the end of the month to arrange & complete your games, and get the result to the tournament controllers, Adam & Dave.

This month’s pairings are below, if you have any questions or queries please drop the chaps a line:


As our Chess Club continues to grow, we’re constantly looking for new ways to communicate and get our members involved in all things Hammer.

Some time ago we setup a WhatsApp group to help our captains communicate and arrange games. It’s now evolved to become an all-encompassing Hammersmith Chess ClubHammerTime” group chat, featuring no fewer than 21 members & counting!

It’s proven to be a great tool for all things Chess – chat, tactics, logistics, banter, advice, and humour! We’re keen to ensure as many members as possible can join, so if you have the app and want to take part, please drop us your mobile number and we’ll add you.

Definitely the more, the merrier!

Final Thoughts

That’s all for now – keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of our Puzzle of the Week, dropping in a couple of days time!

And good luck to our players next week – four big games coming up!

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!


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:

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: 

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

11th December – SAVE THE DATE! – 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 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:


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

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.