The Good Ship Hammer

16.05.18 – London League Div 4: FINAL MATCH v. Kings Head

We ended our season in London Division 4 last Wednesday with a solid 6-2 win against Kings Head. That safely rounds off our 2017/18 campaign with a solid 7.5/12 points, and with several matches still to play it looks good enough to secure us a 4th or 5th place finish.

Kings Head’s lily-livered crew came down with a bout of scurvy close to shore, and could only secure 6 players for the final match. 2-0 to the good for Hammer but frustrating as we had the strength in depth to go toe-to-toe across all 8 boards. Blair and your captain Dave the unfortunates to miss out.

Within 45 minutes we were 3-0 up as John quickly made short work of their Board 6, playing outside in the Citadines’ atrium. Fair play concentrating in those noisy conditions. John secured a bothersome pin against Knight and Queen, with his opponents Bishop – and best hope of defence – locked-out via his own pawn chain. A sharp attack followed which exposed the King and allowed a brutal checkmate. They shared a beer apiece as they deconstructed the match in their analysis.

Nadhmi also secured a great win, grinding down his opponent with an entirely different approach. A slow suffocation method that robbed key squares, and then push, push, push! It was great to watch (but no doubt horrible to be on the receiving end) and whilst material was relatively equal for much of the encounter there was only going to be one victor. 4-0

The other games were anything but plain sailing, however. Gokhan and Rich won matches they both could easily have lost. Gokhan lost his Queen, managing to nab a Rook and Bishop as some compensation but he was struggling…! Thankfully his opponent obliged and played a couple of passive moves that allowed a double-attack on Queen and King. That was that.

Meanwhile, Rich was a whole Knight down from around move 10, but continued to ask questions, which were duly answered! Perhaps an element of complacency crept in, as duly conceded by his magnanimous opponent in the pub afterwards.

The unlucky crewmembers made to walk the plan were Jeremy and Dan.

Jeremy wasn’t best pleased with his work, and conceded it was one of his weaker games of the season. One too many blunders against a prepared opponent was his undoing.

Dan got himself into what looked like a relatively even endgame position against his Italian counterpart, but failed to hang onto a crucial pawn which proved to be decisive. More radical forcing tactics were required which meant complications – never easy with an ailing clock.

And thus it finished 6-2.

Finally we rounded off our evening by sharing a couple of beers with the Kings Head crew in The Ship Tavern, just a few short minutes from the Citadines venue. Definitely recommended and I’ll be heading there again…! Great little boozer.

Full match-card below:

Midweek Roundup – London & Middlesex Leagues

Middlesex League – Final Game & Season Roundup!

The Middlesex League season has drawn to a close with the last match of the season for Hammer 2 in division three. We descended on Kings Head’s pub venue with the enviable mindset of knowing we were already promoted. It was a chance for some of Hammer’s newer recruits to stamp their mark on the league, and for the MVP contenders to rack up one last win.

On boards one and two, Simon and I were paired against two of Kings Head’s ruthless 170+ players. Neither of us played a fantastic game, and as one might expect, we found ourselves in difficulties early on. We both left castling a bit too late and paid the price, coming under deadly attacks culminating in resignation. 0-2

At the other end of the room, Jeremy and Wyatt sat down on boards seven and eight with a tiny grade advantage. What’s opponent played quickly, exchanging down to a pawn endgame that was very difficult to hold. Here Wyatt’s rigorous endgame training regime, courtesy of the John White Drinking Club, came into its own. He played very methodically, queening with one tempo remaining to stop his opponent doing the same.

Jeremy played a promising defence against the King’s Indian Attack, but ultimately failed to find a good plan. After losing two pawns rather cheaply it looked like it might not be his day, but luckily his opponent blundered a rook in a winning position to hand Jeremy victory. 2-2

Boards five and six were occupied by John Ryan and Dipender, both of whom have been integral to the team’s success this season. John’s endgame was incredibly sharp, with both players possessing plenty of heavy pieces and weak squares. Coupled with five minutes each on the clock, there was no way they could calculate all the variations. John mustered up a brave attack on the enemy king, but couldn’t quite find checkmate. Sadly this left his own king very vulnerable, and saving it cost too much material and the game.

Dipender’s game was far different. In a Sicilian Dragon, Dipender held a slight advantage with the white pieces before his opponent blundered a bishop. From here the outcome never looked in doubt, and with the win Dipender joins Simon and John on a very respectable 4/6 for the season. 3-3

And so our fate was left in the hands of Charlie and debutante Adi. From the outset, it was clear Charlie’s opponent was not set up for a sharp game. Charlie tried his best to spice up the position, rejecting two draw offers, before finally accepting the third, by which point his position was slightly worse.

On the white side of a Semi-Slav, Adi started off very strongly, building up a big centre and eventually winning a pawn. He thought he had spotted a knight sacrifice that would deliver mate in three, but as can so often happen in chess, he had overlooked one small but important details – that the knight capture would give check and pick up a game-changing tempo. Two moves later, Adi threw in the towel. A frustrating debut, but from what I’ve seen, I have no doubt he will be a key player next year as we look to preserve division two status. 3.5-4.5

With two matches outstanding, we can only be caught by Hendon, and only if they thrash Kings Head away from home.

Adi becomes the 25th player to play this year, three short of last year. With eight of the club’s top players ineligible due to first team nomination, I’m extremely proud of the strength in depth the club now possesses. Having seen so many great performances, this year’s MVP will be a very tough choice.

Bring on next year!
Adam.

Hammer 1 Goes Into Fischer Mode in WC1V

After the Greek Tragedy in W1 there had to be a rebound in WC1V. Redemption was the only course on the menu for the boys of Hammer.

Welcome to the latest boy’s own adventure of the voyages of the Starship Hammer 1 and its one-year mission to boldly go to Division 3 of the London League.

In homage to our Chairman, we open this report with two Albanian words:

Pjesa Dhjetë

Star Date – 9/05/2018

Hammer 1, after undergoing repairs and mental retuning, has locked into orbit around the planet Cave-N-‘Dish in the Holborn quadrant of the Londinium galaxy. The mission was a delayed encounter thanks to the machinations of “The Beast from the East” and hence was played at the Citadines complex rather than the home planet of the ‘Dish.

This was a task again deemed critical by Starfleet – with the added pressure of Hammer 1 having to regain their collective mojo.

What would the response be?

Clueless, despite missing Sydney and the Suit in the landing crew, was glad to welcome back the talents of Wily and Forza. This was destiny time – seize it and Hammer 1 were firmly back on track.

The landing part in board order:

  • ThomasT-Bone
  • MariosZeus
  • BajrushWily
  • Paul McKProf
  • JimLoco
  • TommasoForza
  • JeremyBrexit
  • Paul KDead-Eye
  • SheikhPandit
  • with Captain Clueless (John W) brining up the rear

Hammer got a break before the match started when Cave-N-Dish forfeited board 10 – Hammer 1-0 to the good.

First game to finish was Wily in crisp and rapid form – his opponent a former Hammer captain, took him to the 30 minute mark before resigning in a hopeless position. For those sadists amongst you, here is the encounter:

Hammer now at warp speed 2.

Next to join the party was Pandit, who won in less moves than Wily but his opponent consumed large amounts of time and hence he spent longer at the board. This was another chess massacre and Pandit continues his return to form. Hammer now at 3.0 warp speed.

Next to extend the Hammer lead was Forza – employing his usual tactic of consuming more time initially and sacking a pawn in the opening for dynamic piece play. In no time his pieces were swarming over the White Kind and the end followed very swiftly. Hammer cruising at 4-0.

Hammer were pegged back in the next game when Brexit blew a winning position and succumbed to a tactic that had more points to it than even his opponent saw. Indeed, it was only in the post-game analysis he realised the full implications – I will say this only once – I was gutted for Brexit and frustrated for him. Despite his stance on the Brussels matter he is a good bloke and a devoted Hammer player. His form is uncertain and he has definitely hit the Irish Border conundrum. I am sure he will solve it, unlike HM Government, and move back to his best form. Hammer stuck at 4-1.

That was the only setback of the evening.

Loco playing a Kings Gambit was in scintillating form – the game was a real throwback to the Morphy-chess era. It was great to watch and demonstrated that as well as being an accomplished positional player, Loco can, when required, go “Loco tactical“. The ending was prosaic with Black losing his queen in one move or two Hammer now at 5.1 warp speed.

The Prof, with the black pieces, faced an opponent who was determined to keep the position as dull as possible. The Prof with the bishop-pair advantage probed, provoked, and induced square weaknesses around the White King. White’s position deteriorated rapidly and under pressure he succumbed to a tactical shot of Qxh4+ with White unable to take the Queen due to a bishop pin. Faced with a complete collapse in his position his opponent gracefully resigned. Hammer at 6-1 with the match victory secured.

Dead-Eye going into this encounter was on 94% for the season and after it had moved to 95% for the season. Playing the black side in the French defence he snaffled an early pawn then grabbed another two. White tried a desperado attack that was coolly repelled, and then Dead-Eye simply marches his c-pawn to c2 and that was that. Hammer at Warp speed 7.1

The last two games to finish were the top two boards.

T-Bone on board 1 was facing a familiar face in LL chess – the captain of Cavendish 3, Bertie Barlow – who definitely knows a thing or two. T-Bone consumed huge amounts of time trying to find an edge in a position that was fairly sterile. Despite having the two bishops he was encumbered by the fact that the position was closed and one of those bishops had defensive duties. Thomas is the most visually expressive player we have in the club – you can almost sense what he is thinking. How he achieved victory is beyond me, but he did – and that was purely down to sheer willpower and tenacity. Hammer at 8.1 Warp Speed.

Zeus played in the only slow-play game of the evening. Why oh why do we persist with this anachronistic version of our game? It is an absurd and outdated option in the modern world of computers and busy lives!

Rant over and now to the actual game. Zeus has been in uncertain form in recent weeks but tonight was the night he returned to form. Dominating an open c-file he induced and injudicious b-pawn advance form his opponent. This duly got consumed and then Zeus opened up the King-side. The game was adjourned at move 35, with his opponent sealing the move. Pub analysis indicates that Zeus is +1.7 and has multiple ways to win. The hope is that his opponent will see sense and resign, otherwise the game resumes next Wednesday.

Hammer at 8-1 with one game adjourned. A dominating performance by the Hammer crew – they totally bossed the planet of Cave-N-Dish.

Clueless announced part 10 of the mission had been successfully completed and has resumed his state of inner peace and contentment.

I leave you with the match card and latest table:

 

London 4 Update

I bring tidings of two quick-fire results within London Division 4; a narrow 3-5 loss to table-topping Newham, and a comprehensive 6.5-1.5 win against strugglers Metropolitan 4.

First up was Newham in a matchup that gave us the chance to nestle in amongst the league leaders, but in truth with those around us having games in hand, realistic chances of promotion already alluded us. Still, the match represented a great opportunity to test ourselves against a strong side. We were ultimately edged out but nearly all of the matches went to the wire in terms of close endgames, and we could easily have won on another night.

Matteo, Adam and Gokhan were particularly disappointed with their endings, but respect must be due to their opponents who played particularly well and took advantage of minor slips. Full scorecard below:

Brian has kindly shared his match for us all to enjoy – a fine win against his young opponent, now graded >150. He’s also included some of his own analysis and commentary:

“My opponent played an early Queen side fianchetto and put a lot of pressure on my e4/d4 pawns. By advancing 7.e5 I hoped to block his bishop’s long white diagonal, so he exchange two minor pieces on c3 and e5 to open the diagonal, at the expense of having to defend his isolated e5 pawn against my 12.Qg4 advance, eventually losing it. After he castled long, he developed dangerous double-rook pressure on the open g-file with an advancing h-pawn, but by pinning his g4 rook against his king (19.Qh3), I forced him into a complex minor-piece exchange, which was his only way to preserve attacking momentum, but left him a piece down for a pawn, menacing me with Queen and rook threats while I carefully got my exposed King to safety on the Queen’s side. Once my remaining rook was developed, I could attack his King on the seventh rank, forcing the exchange of all major pieces to an easily-won ending.”

I should also reserve particular mention for Dipender. Playing in his debut season for the club, he’s performing admirably in Division 4 and has established himself as one of our most reliable players. This victory against 137-graded Dybowski Jnr representing his best ever performance in an over-the-board encounter.

Next up was a match against Metropolitan’s 4th team. It’s worth reflecting on that for a moment. As we progress as a club, we’re contemplating entering a 3rd team into the London League structure, but our foes have maintained 4 for some time. Pretty impressive stuff.

However, it seems that stretch is proving a bigger challenge than normal this season,as they’ve struggled to consistently put out a full team this season, with inexperienced players often taking up the lower boards.

Hammersmith were in no mood to go easy on them though, as we ran out comfortable winners. The scoresheet tells its own story with a near clean sweep across the boards. Congratulations to Paul Mustafa who broke his duck for the club by scoring his first win. The first one’s always the hardest!

The results leave us 5th with just our finale against Kings Head to come. We should be hopeful of getting a positive result there but whatever happens, we’ve had a great season and are certainly moving in the right direction. Lest we forget we finished 9th last season, with just 4 points to our name! Roll on Hammer!!

The “El Chessico” – 2018 Variation

Yes, welcome to the latest instalment of the Starship Hammer 1 and her one year mission to boldly-go to Division 2 of the London League.

Partie sept et huit – Starship Hammer has gone into prolonged orbit around the binary planetary system Battersea Chessicus (BC2/3) – the mission, to meet with the noisy neighbours/strange inhabitants of this world. Thankfully, on the whole the people of BC2/3 are overwhelmingly friendly. The question is how would relations between our peoples be after two deadly encounters in over the board chess mortal combat?

This latest assignment has been given the code name “El Chessico 2018” and designated as mission critical by Starfleet Command.

Captain’s Log – Star Date 10/04/2018 and 17/04/2018. Clueless at the helm.

The Hammer 1 voyage has reached a seminal point – successful in this enterprise and we would be in the home straight and prime position to successfully conclude our overall goal. I had much to contemplate with landing crew selection vital in achieving the mission objectives. With the background of unknown diplomatic consequences – as well as two vital chess matches to be won – this was Hammer 1’s severest challenge. 

How would matters unfold?

The first encounter saw Hammer take on Battersea 2. My report is tempered by the fact I was playing as well.

The Hammer 1 crew was greatly depleted, missing the huge talents of Paul (The Prof), Chris (Sydney) and Thomas (T-Bone). Fortunately, willing and very capable deputies were on hand.

The Hammer team roster, in board order, comprised of:

Marios (Zeus), Bajrush (Wily), Jim (Loco), Tommaso (Forza), Pavel (Spock), Jeremy (Brexit), Paul K (DeadEye), Matteo (The Suit), Alexander (He shall be known as the Talent) and Clueless bringing up the rear.

Zeus, with the white pieces, took on the most innovative chess impresario in London Chess – Aldo on board one. Aldo had prepared a devilish line that required Zeus to tread a very careful tightrope. Deploying all his powers he negotiated his way through the minefield and emerged with a slight advantage. Maybe he missed a win, but it was very hard to see. A draw was agreed – Hammer on the scoreboard at 0.5-0.5

Wily on board 2 as usual went for it in an equal position. It is his uncompromising approach that has won many a battle for Hammer. Unfortunately, this can sometimes backfire and sadly this was the case in this encounter. From an equal position, Wily over pressed, lost a pawn, tried to complicate and sadly went down in a blaze of glory. Hammer trailing at 0.5-1.5

Board 3 next with Loco in sparkling form and determined to start noticing some wins for Hammer 1 – he duly did so and deservedly won in fine style. Hammer now level at 1.5-1.5

Both Forza’s and Brexit’s games are adjourned with the former in the ascendancy where cannot lose but hopefully enough to press for a win. Our Jezza, aka Brexit, is an exchange down but in a very blocked position he seems confident of holding it.

On board 5 Spock played very correctly and precisely as is his way. He comfortably held an edge but not enough to turn into a deserved win. Hammer still level at 2-2

Matteo had a tough night and ended up in a position where it was difficult to develop both his Q-side Rook and Bishop. Chess is hard enough, but when two of your pieces are not participating it makes it way harder. Despite tenacious defence, he was always struggling and when he resigned the position was just untenable. Hammer now down a point at 2-3

The next two boards saw excellent Hammer wins when both Dead-Eye and the debutant Talent, played excellent games.

Dead-Eye continued his sparkling form with an endgame study-like win against Battersea stalwart Emil. This was a masterful performance from Dead-Eye and although he had to wait for a long overdue resignation, the win was never in doubt. Hammer level at 3-3

The Talent is definitely the real deal and played an excellent debut game against his opponent, and although there were some iffy moments the restful was always going to go his way. Hammer now surging at 4-3

Lastly to Clueless on board 10. This was a case of snatching a draw from the jaws of victory. A nice knight retreat won me the exchange, but then my yo-yo form of this season took over and I failed to prosecute my advantage. So frustrating and particularly as this would have practically guaranteed victory on the night.

So, the current score is 4.5-3.5 in Hammer’s favour with two games to be decided. The worst Hammer can do is draw, and even the half a match point we would get, will keep us firmly on course. Obviously, victory by either Forza or Brexit (of the right variety) would be the more desired outcome!!

 

Hammer beamed down again for the second match against Battersea 3, a week later. Again, it was all change as Clueless rung the changes in an effort to score a decisive blow.

The Talent and Clueless stood down, and Thomas (T-Bone) and Nadhmi (The Gift) took up the cudgels and prepared to fight for Hammer honour.

This was a very different affair with Hammer ending the night at 9-0 up with one game adjourned. An almost Fischer-like performance with a win rush of epic proportions.

T-Bone playing white utilised his usual Kings Indian Samisch variation with Q-side castling, sacked a pawn on the queen side and then marched his major pieces to the King side and launched a heavy assault down the g and h-files. In the end the overwhelming forces deployed were just too powerful. The first of the glorious nine was secured.

On board two Zeus, in the last game to finish, pressed with the black pieces and went to the limit in striving for a win. I can reveal he has offered his opponent a draw in the adjourned position. We await developments, but for the purposes of this blog I will take it as a draw. Hammer steady at 1.5-0.5 to the good.

That was the only respite granted to our opponents with Hammer in devastating form and totally in the groove.

Loco at anytime is a formidable opponent. With the hits pieces against a French defence with space advantage and an open file, unstoppable. This was risk-free chess with the capture of a couple of pawns along the way. In the end, resignation was his opponents only viable option. Win number 2.

Wily conjured a win from a position where most of us would accept a draw. He deliberately went into a rook pawn endgame which he released he would hold the edge. He probed and manoeuvred tirelessly with both logic and subtlety. Eventually he achieved a passed pawn on the Q-side – this was the decisive moment. How he achieved it, only God and Wily knows, especially when this pawn was opposed by three pawns. I have called it Kosovan voodoo in the past and ask you to come up with a better term. Hammer leap ahead 3.5-0.5

Forza is not only a Caruana doppelgänger, but is starting to play like the WCC Challenger! His style is so smooth with his classic idiosyncrasy of taking about 80% of his allowed time over the first fifteen moves. He then speeds up and moves in for the kill. He always seeks to take his opponent out of normal lines and forcing them to rely on their talent rather than memory. This is a deadly skill. Facing a Scandinavian response to his initial e4 he found a variation that forced his opponent to start thinking from about move 4.

Forza then launched a pawn storm against the black king on the Q-side, that was so powerful, it led to a swift and fully-merited win.

Spock scored his win through forceful and dynamic play. he trapped the white king int he centre and then netted a rook for a bishop. His opponent was clearly demoralised and overlooked a tactic that would have ended in mate or the giving up of the second rook. An excellent performance – Hammer soaring at 5.5-0.5 to the good.

Next up was Brexit. He set a clever trap that saw his opponent surrender his queen for rook and minor piece. The rest of the game saw consolidation and mopping-up in full flow. A real Brexit job and almost welcome victory.

On board 8, Dead-Eye continued his devastating form of the season – his poor opponent Arnold had no answer to a tactical blow that yielded a pawn. A second pawn fell and as Dead-Eye relentlessly improved his position, Arnold called time and Hammer moved to Warp One at 7.5-0.5

The last two Hammer gauchos could not wait to join the landslide party.

Matteo was in fine fettle. He played a positional masterpiece with the black king imprisoning his rook on h8. Further indignity was inflicted with a bishop on h6 imprisoning the king and a passed pawn on d6 supported by a rook on d1 and the second rook on e1 and an open file. Back rank mates abounded and his opponent realised the cause was futile. Hammer at Warp 5 and 8.5-0.5

Returning to the Hammer colours on board 10 saw the Gift playing his second game for Hammer 1. Playing with the black pieces he simply built an unstoppable king-side attack that yielded a passed pawn that marched all the way to g2. This paralysed the white king, rook and knight he had to stop this monster from queening. The Gift then switched his king to mopping up the remaining white pawns. This was dominating chess and he graciously accepted the white flag and moved Hammer to Warp Speed 9.5

A hugely impressive night by the Hammer Crew. A result that will not be forgotten for a long time by our noisy – but excellent – neighbours. Clueless is reaching zen level – inner peace is within touching distance.

My thanks and congratulations to the Hammer heroes who really grabbed the moment in both matches.

Four games to go until mission end and Hammer are in charge of their own destiny. Next up are Albany on the 30th April and Clueless will be mailing out shortly.

Hammer 1 are the new definition of Mean Machine.

Here for your delight is the current League 3 table:

An ecstatic Clueless over & out!

Puzzle of the Week #016, & Bonus Match Report!

Admittedly, it has been slightly longer than a week since our last round, but who’s counting!

Without further ado – our congratulations goes to Jim “Loco” Stevenson with the first correct answer in our last Puzzle. It was a lovely little thinker, with the solution as follows:

1… Nc5+
2. dxc5, O-O-O+ (leaving the Black King primed to take white’s Rook on next move)

Our master-quiz-setter Carsten noted, “It was really just an excuse to plug the Dutch author Tim Krabbe’s fantastic chess page. Forged the dated labour and lack of presentation, the content is probably the best of any chess site on the net.

Go to https://timkr.home.xs4all.nl/chess/chess.html and be amazed, and if you don’t then you lack a chess soul!”

While Carsten & Co. concoct some more fiendish puzzles, we bring you a writeup by our Correspondent of the Year 2018 of last week’s London Div 5 game. Enjoy!

11.04.18 – London Division 5: Hammersmith v Lewisham

Welcome to Charlie Sturt, who debuts this season for our Division 5 team, but has already campaigned in other leagues.

This match started off with our small team being in the middle third of the league. Comes to the penultimate match of the season and we’re in the bottom quarter. So it is with much relief that I can report a great win, almost a slam dunk, with a 3-1 score over Lewisham. Read on for the unexpectedly good news.

Our opponents, losing the toss, meant we were White on odd boards. I was preoccupied with my game and so saw little of anyone else’s game, so their commentary has been included here.

Chris (as Black) on board two, adopted something akin to the French Defence (Exchange Variation). After skirmishing on the queenside, Chris craftily prevented his opponent from castling, using his bishop. White tried to shield his king with a bishop on e2, but Black piled on the pressure on that square. While White mustered every piece he could in its defence, it was to no avail and Black delivered checkmate finally, slipping queen and bishop through the hapless defenders. First blood to Hammersmith and congrats to Chris! 1-0

On board one, Nadhmi (as White) was up against a seasoned veteran looking for revenge after a previous defeat, and things looked very tough for Nadhmi in this game. Early on Black sacrificed a bishop for a pawn to attack White’s castled king. Black then forked White’s king and a rook with a knight. White however persevered and, fortifying his centre, was able to get counterplea against Black, who had not castled. Nadhmi started swapping of pieces and pawns. The end was inevitable, with king, knight and pawn against a king alone. Black resigned after the pawn was queened. 2-0 to Hammersmith.

Charlie, on board four, played very cautiously against a seasoned opponent. Charlie, employing quiet positional strategy, built up considerable advantage. His opponent had no chance and eventually succumbed. Hammersmith 3-0

A smiling Charlie, while Chris watches on, with Nadhmi and Robin both deep in thought

On board three, the captain looked like he was getting into trouble after fumbling against an obscure defence, 1.e4 d6, known as the Pirc. But as the middle game progressed, he was having a slight advantage, since he had a strong knight at d5, and Black had issues with king safety. White sacrificed a bishop for two pawns and White was doing fine, albeit 20 minutes down on the clock.

The first deadline came and went, with about even clock times. All queens and rooks were present, but Black had two stymied bishops facing a mere knight. White continued blocking Black attempts to free his pieces. Finally, after White lost a pawn by mistake in the centre, Black started to push the e and f-pawns to the 5th.

White was strategically lost. In the dying last two minutes, Black suddenly sacked his queen for the c3 pawn, protected by White’s queen, but the White queen was guarding the back row square b1 against checkmate, so couldn’t take the Black queen. White found a rook check, instead – but White, realising his mistake, reflected on the correct check. Yes, the sacrificial Black queen on c3 could in fact be taken (QxQ+!), with check on h7, and Black would have lost.

White was so chagrined, he’d had enough, and the flag on his clock cruelly dropped. So much for strategy, blunders quickly settled it!

Final score: Hammer 3 – 1 Lewisham

Blitz, Bury & The Hammer League

The Hammer train never stops, and none more so than this week. We’ve got a great set of updates for you to read through – it’s a long one, so make sure you read all the way to the bottom!

  • Thames Valley Cup v Richmond – Semi-Final Result
  • Hammersmith League – Round II
  • Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II
  • The John White Drinking Club Bury St Edmunds Visit

Read on!

Thames Valley Cup – One Win From Glory!

First up, in some superb BREAKING NEWS this week, we are delighted to report that our Thames Valley team superbly navigated their Semi-Final against Richmond this week, winning 3.5-2.5 to make it through to the FINAL of the Cup Competition!!

This is a superb achievement – it’s a brutal knockout competition with no second-legs, so it really is a case of putting everything on the line each round. Massive congratulations must go to Captain Bajrush and the rest of the squad for this marvellous achievement.

Hammerites toasting the superb Semi-Final result earlier this week!

We’ll be facing the titans of Harrow, or Kingston in the final – full details to follow. It promises to be an absolute CRACKER!

Hammersmith League – Round II – Dispatches from the Battlefront

The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at the Anvil. The first round had seen some blood-thirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts. What would the second round reveal about the teams and their captains?

A dramatic night once again unfolded… I invite you to read on.

Round II threw up the following match-ups:

  • Battersea v Hammersmith Circus
  • SW Juniors v The Hammerheads

The first of these encounters saw two teams who had experienced very different results in round one. Battersea had negotiated a very tricky encounter with the SW.

The Circus had a bruising encounter with their fellow Hammerites – the ferocious sounding Hammerheads. In a full-blooded encounter they went down 8-2 with only Captain Ben preventing the dreaded double-bagel scoreline of 5-0 and 5-0. They needed to bounce back hard if they were to have any chance of fighting for the title.

I think when the chips are down and your back is against the wall, then the Hammer characteristics of tenacity and sheer grit shine through. We do not go quietly into the night.

To the match – this is a real tale of blood and guts. No draws. All results decisive.

Gokhan had a tough task on board one and tried his best, but he was taking on a 194 and sadly for his team, it was too much of an ask.

However, this was the only blip in an otherwise excellent performance by the Circus team. The tale of the tape was seven victories and just a solitary defeat. The Circus Crew are back in the mix!

The second game saw the SW Juniors take on the in-form Hammerheads. Confidence was high in the Hammerhead camp, especially after their thrashing of the Circus in round one.

What followed was a bitterly contested match with the Juniors not backing down, and in the end, deservedly winning 5.5-4.5

Alexander again starred, and is now on 100% for the tourney, although he had to rescue two inferior positions against Simon. I felt sorry for Simon because he deserved better from the chess he produced. Caissa can be cruel!

Dave suffered a bit of a debacle in the first game with Connal but was back to his best in the second leg and won in good style.

Pouya had a little too much experience for Charlie and won their mini-match 1.5-0.5. This one was definitely down to experience and an older, wiser head.

Wyatt overwhelmed Taymour in the first game and confidence was high for the return encounter. However, these Juniors do not get down. When they lose, they just shrug it off, and come back twice as hard. Taymour played an excellent game and earned a well-merited revenge win.

In the final lineup Nadim and Laith shared the points with some unbelievable blunder and counter-blunder sequences mixed in with some excellent chess.

The SW Juniors had come through a tough examination and not only demonstrated chess acumen way beyond their years, but also a grit and resolve that is uncommon in ones so young. They will become even more formidable chess players in the future, is the only conclusion this correspondent can come to.

So, it is all change in the League table and again there is all to play for in the next and FINAL round, with three teams in the running for the title of Champions.

League Standings:

Cross Table:

Tune in for the next instalment!!

The Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II

A very late update!!

In the absolute avalanche of matches and events in February, this important new item got missed! The second round of our internal blitz tourney took place on the 12th February at the Anvil. This is a quick update on the events of that evening.

Twenty-three Hammerites and one guest turned up for the second leg of our tri-tourney series to contest and vie for the title of Hammer Blitz Tourney Champion. One of the largest turnouts in the modern version of this event.

Superbly organised by Club Captain Adam, we were divided into four groups for the all-play-all section.

The qualifiers from the groups were: Thomas, Charlie, Carsten, Alexander, Bajrush, Mohammed (a guest for the evening), Tony and your reporter John W.

The knock-out secant saw Thomas, Carsten, Bajrush and Tony, who respectively beat Charlie, Alexander, Mohammed and John W.

The big-four had made it through to the semi-finals.

In a throw-back to yesterday the two semi-finals yielded Bajrush and Carsten as the winners. A definite case of deja vous! God knows how many blitz games these two stalwarts of the club have contested over the years!

The critical significance would be if Bajrush triumphed, he would have sealed the title with one round to go.

However, Caissa took a hand and Carsten took the win and kept the destiny of the 2017-18 Hammer Blitz Champion still up for grabs.

A great night of blitz and lots of congratulations to all who took part.

Here is the scoreboard so far:

All this means that there is still all to play for!!

Remember, it is your two best scores that count – so roll on the final leg after our AGM on the 4th June. All Hammer make a note!

Hammer Goes Mad in Suffolk and Cambridge

Yes, the Hammer Crew were off on their travels and using the old excuse of a ‘chess challenge’ as cover for excessive beer consumption.

The chess part of this tale came about by pure chance. Paul Mustafa, one of our new members, had entered the Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress, and the organiser – Steve Lovell – contacted me to discuss what his estimated grade should be so he could be entered in the correct competition. During the course of a series of emails, your correspondent chucked in the idea of a challenge match sometime in 2018.

Steve responded positively and matters escalated from there. The date, format and venue were set and agreed – the Hammer Crew were taking on the powerhouse of Suffolk chess.

First, I must acknowledge the work and effort put in by Steve and the Bury St Edmunds club, who were most welcoming and hospitable. They really put the boat out for us and I am very grateful. Steve is not only a first-class bloke, but is possessed of a fantastically calm temperament. Despite me having three late withdrawals he did not throw a fit but just kept calm & carried on!

What follows is the story of a chess challenge match, but it was so much more than that – it was about Hammer camaraderie, new friendships and beer.

The weekend started early Friday with the tale of Hammerites in three cities: London, Bury St.Edmunds and Cambridge.

The London crew consisted of Bajrush and Alex, who travelled up early Saturday for the match.

The John White Drinking Club on tour

Two of our new guys – Wyatt and Charlie – spent an excellent Friday night in Bury St. Edmunds.

Whilst the Cambridge party Friday night mob consisted of some of the worst elements in Hammer Chess history – namely Carsten, Chris Skulte, Adam and Clueless. They were joined by another reprobate called Ryszard fora  night of beer and curry. For once I am proud to put my name to the events of that evening – yes, the John White Drinking Club (c) was officially out. The guys were out on the town.

Gandalf, Sorted & Pickle doing what they do best

For those beer aficionados, Cambridge has an excellent array of watering holes. Chris and Clueless joined the party late afternoon. Our leader for the night was the Great Dane himself – King of Knowledge and Chess Wisdom – the one and only Carsten. But, most importantly for our purposes, a genius at finding excellent pubs to drink in. The fact he had been drinking since midday testifies not only to his love of beer, but his redoubtable stamina.

We played a bit of chess and drank a couple of pints at the Kingston Arms. This was followed by a visit to the superb Calverley’s brewery and finishing up at the Cambridge Blue. The quality of beer was top-drawer and the company sensational. Finally, just before 11pm, Carsten departed and the survivors found a curry house.

I have to confess, the rest of the night was a total blank – I have no memory of getting to my hotel. All in all, a great night and perfect training for our chess challenge the next day.

By foot, bicycle, train and automobile, the Hammer team assembled at the Moreton Community Hall in Bury St. Edmunds to defend the honour of Hammersmith Chess Club.

We were greeted by Steve and the rest of their team with decent coffee and tea supplies on hand (accepted most gracefully the semi-hungover Hammerites!).

Steve gave an excellent greeting speech and explained the days activities and rules. Clueless responded in kind and presented each of the Bury players with a Knight lapel pin, and put on the display the Hammer Chess Challenge Trophy – the prize for the winning team.

The Hammer team consisted of, in board order:

  • CarstenThe Great Dane
  • RyszardBreslau
  • ChrisSydney
  • BajrushWily
  • JohnClueless
  • AdamPickle
  • AlexCola
  • CharlieSorted
  • WyattGandalf

The long play time control was 36 moves in 80 minutes, plus 15 minutes, with a 15 sec increment per move.

The niceties were done & dusted, and the challenge began.

First game to finish was your correspondent playing the white side of an Advanced French, I kept a tight lid on matters and essentially constricted my opponent to the back two ranks. He failed to make any pawn break and I simply moved over to the attack which played itself. Hammer on the scoreboard: 1-0

Next to finish was Charlie who manoeuvred into a position where he had a slight edge. He could have taken the draw, but he wanted more. As is sometimes the case when you push too hard, you can get burned, and sadly for Charlie and Hammer that’s what happened. In the analysis room afterwards Charlie, on balance, won his case and could have gained an advantage. Hammer pegged back to 1-1

Chairman Wily then joined the fun and triumphed in a really well-played middle game. He got a passed-pawn, then his knight and rook went to work. Victory was assured and Hammer went back in front: 2-1

There then followed three quick results consisting of two Hammer wins and a draw.

Gandalf won nicely, netting a piece on the way and keeping everything under control. Cola also played a really nice game where in the end he was just one move short for victory. His opponent got a perpetual and the point was shared. It was great to see Alex back playing for Hammer and in a long-play format.

Sydney had an excellent win against a Dragon, where he demonstrated convincingly what white can do when black slightly mislays the opening. Chris was in superb form and finished the game off in style. Hammer now leading at 4.5-1.5

Hammer secured the match when Ryszard (Breslau) finished strongly after being under pressure during the first half of the game, but a neat combination allowed him to net a rook and the point. A brilliant debut performance for Hammer.

The final two games saw Carsten triumph when his opponent was flagged. However, The Great Dane was a pawn up and the only possible winner. It was an excellent performance by Carsten and his opponent Ed was a very gracious loser.

Adam’s game was the last to finish and his game would grace any collection of thematic study games. His opponent Steve Lovell, tried everything to win but Adam was resolute in his defence. The rare finish of just a white knight and rook versus a black king and knight was the result. Steve tried hard to win but Adam held fast and did not allow his knight and king to be separated. The draw was agreed after numerous moves.

So, the final score was a Hammer win by 7-2 in what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable and friendly contest.

There was a break before the afternoon blitz tournament, during which Hammer were presented with a signed copy of the history of Bury St.Edmunds Chess Club. Club stalwart Laurie gave a wonderful speech with some terrific anecdotes. Here are just a couple:

  • The original club was founded in the 1860’s – it is nearly 100 years older than Hammer!
  • There are details of Capablanca’s 1919 simultaneous in Bury St.Edmunds
  • And perhaps best of all, Laurie himself was born at Queen Charlotte Hospital in Hammersmith. I always knew there was a connection between our clubs.

The afternoon was a frenetic affair with Alex and Ryszard opting out.

It was really fun with Steve doing his best to pair a Bury and Hammer player in the early rounds. In the end, as per usual, the Hammer blitz champion Wily surged to victory – overcoming all before him. The frustrating thing for me was I was a piece up against him and still contrived to lose! He really is Mr Blitz.

The day finished with both clubs enjoying the delights of the Nutshell (the smallest pub in the whole of the UK) and the Old Cannon Brewery.

In a nutshell…

The drink and the chat were all good and we departed our new friends late into the night. There was many a tired but happy Hammer who made it home.

A pickled Pickle

Once again, I must thank Steve, Laurie and all at Bury St Edmunds – they are a superb club and I look forward to inviting them to a challenge match next year at The Anvil. All I can say is Bring it on!

Finally, a quick advertisement for the beautiful town of Bury St Edmunds. A stunning Suffolk town steeped in history and culture. If you have not been there, it is definitely worth a visit.

Beautiful Bury St Edmunds – breathe it in!

Clueless over and out, and yet again in rehab….!

The Return of the Hammersmith League

Welcome back chess-fans – read on for details of the triumphant return of the Hammersmith League from it’s long hiatus, and a blistering write up of a make-or-break game in Middlesex Division 3

The Hammersmith League

“A Brief History of How, Why and Round One”

The fifty-six year old history of Hammersmith Chess Club is both rich and varied. In our halcyon days, one of the most important competitions the club ran was the Hammersmith League. This was a long-play format that involved local clubs, but it sadly fell into decline and finally ceased, as the fortunes of chess clubs in West London withered.

It was always the desire of the current Committee when the club was reinvigorated and financially sound, to resurrect the League. The big question was how we could make it different to what is currently out there, and give it a modern, relevant twist.

The answer lay in the rapid grade you can now obtain as an ECF member. There was nothing out there – League wise – that would allow members to attain a rating – plus the idea that this should be an exclusive competition for players graded around 100.

After consultation with SW London Juniors and our frenemies at Battersea, we launched the League on the 19th March 2018. For this inaugural competition, four teams are involved – Battersea, SW Juniors, and two from Hammer. The competition will be played over three nights in March and April and the basic rules are as follows:

  • Teams of five boards
  • Average grade for the team to be no higher than 114 ECF
  • Time controls – 30 minutes plus 15 second increment per move (the club’s decision to purchase digital clocks earlier this year made this possible)
  • All players to be ECF members and all games to be graded
  • A double-header – you play the same opponent twice, once as black and once as white
  • To be played over three nights on the 19th March, 9th April and the 30th April

I must acknowledge at this stage the help from Leon and Gregg at Battersea, Tony at SW Juniors and Adam our Club Captain, in realising the new League. Plus, due to helping out our Thames Valley team on the night, Tony Niccoli ran the first evening for me… hugely appreciated.

So, Hammer needed two new captains – and I am happy to report both Wyatt and Ben stepped up to the plate. We were ready to go!

The first round draw saw Battersea take on SW Juniors and the Hammerheads (Team Wyatt) take on their compatriots Hammersmith Circus (Team Ben).

The SW Juniors was a tense affair that went back and forth across the two matches. In the end it finished 5-5 and honours even. Notable performances were seen from SW Junior stars Alexander Jamieson and Taylor Auchi, both convincing winners at 2-0. Whilst Battersea stars Josef-Milne-Lewer and Joe Sullivan returned 2-0 victories as well.

The last match-up saw Gregg and young Connal contest two hard-fought draws. The match scorecard is given below:

  • Alexander Jamieson 2 – 0 Darius Zutautas
  • Teymour Harandi 0 – 2 Josef Milne-Lewer
  • Connal McBrinn 1 – 1 Gregg Hutchence (two draws)
  • Kirill Povarenkin 0 – 2 Joe Sullivan
  • Taylor Auchi 2 – 0 Perto Yusoff

The Hammersmith derby match now took centre stage.

Two new teams and two new captains. There is nothing like lording it over your fellow club mate. There was pride, bragging rights and a bit of putting-in-your-place on the line.

Truth be told it was a bit one-sided with the Hammerheads demonstrating a ferocious appetite for points. Worthy of certain Premier League champions elect.

The final results are not pleasant for Team Circus:

  • Charlie Sturt 2 – 0 Shiraz Suntook
  • David Lambert 2 – 0 Alex Meynell
  • Simon Harding 2 – 0 Dipender Gill
  • Wyatt Donaldson 2 – 0 Ken Kwabiah
  • Nadim Osseiran 0 – 2 Ben Rothwell

The Hammerheads triumphing 8-2 and surging to the top of the table. Their top four boards completing 2-0 sweeps and only Captain Ben heroically holding the line and preventing a whitewash.

London League 2 Captain Dave Lambert was in ruthless form and exploited the understandable rustiness of Alex Meynell. Exclusively, for Hammer Chess, he sharedshis thoughts on the two games:

Game 1 (Dave as Black) – we both fianchettoed King-side and then a bit of a standoff occurred in the middle until I grabbed the initiative with my e7-e5 pawn push. This ultimately left me a pawn up after I threatened a cheapshot mate with a Queen/Bishop battery, forcing Alex on the defensive. Alex also got himself into time trouble as he persistently forgot to press the clock! As we entered an endgame slightly favourable to me, he timed out.

Game 2 (Dave as White) – Alex defended with an unusual variation of the Petrov defence which allowed an exchange of Queen and minor piece each, but at the expense of damaging Black’s pawn structure. Perhaps somewhat prematurely, I raided forwards with a Rook which snagged a pawn at the expense of wasting several moves finding a safe square to retreat it to.

I entered an endgame with the slight edge but significantly down on time. It was soon a Knight and several pawns apiece, but White had the better centralised King which proved crucial as we entered the final minute. The Black King eventually ended up with two masters – preventing the pawn promotion and guarding his Kingside pawns. It was too much to bear or take, and Alex’s resignation followed very quickly.

Thus, after round one the Cross table and League Standings are as follows:

That is Round One folks, with more to come. There is still all to play for and some crucial, crunch games to come.

Bring on Round 2! John.

03.04.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Muswell Hill v Hammersmith

The team travelled to Muswell Hill’s brand new pub venue knowing that this game would make or break our season. The game was just as important for our opponents, and as with most second teams at this stage of the season, both teams were slightly weakened by ineligibility.

It was the perfect opportunity for Tommaso to make his debut for the team on board one. He was playing Muswell Hill’s newly-graduated youngster, and a wild tactical struggle ensued. With crazy variations in the air, Tomasso coolly navigated the position and entered a Queen & Knight vs. two Rooks endgame. This he won with relative ease – a superb performance that set the scene for the remaining games. 1-0

John on board two was the only player out graded on the night. He entered a classic closed position with a good Knight vs. bad Bishop. He could possibly have pushed his fractional edge, but sensibly decided instead to take the draw. 1.5-0.5

Alexander had an evening to forget. He found himself in an opening he did not know and fell into trap after trap. Two pawns fell in quick succession, and then a piece. His King was hopelessly stranded in the centre of the board and although he defended tenaciously, the writing was on the wall. 1.5-1.5

Nadhmi had the black pieces on board four, and elected to play a solid defence. Both he and his opponent were on top form, and neither faltered. In the end a draw was the correct result. 2-2

Brian on board four found himself a piece down in the early-middlegame. He had decent compensation, however, and pressed his opponent to find some difficult moves. Eventually the extra piece proved decisive and Brian went home empty-handed. 2-3 #squeakybumtime

I faced the tricky 3.Nf3 Scandinavian,and could not recall any of my preparation. In trying to transpose into a line I knew better, my opponent built up a huge centre with c4 and d5, restricting my pieces to the back rank. Fortunately this was where my luck turned: instead of attacking my weak pawns or uncastled King, my opponent decided to slowly develop his remaining pieces to some passive squares, allowing me to untangle and address my weaknesses. The game ended abruptly with a fairly elementary piece-winning tactic, and to my relief I had undeservedly scored a win. 3-3

Charlie was facing none other than his former maths teacher! After Queens were exchanged, Charlie confidently marched his King to the centre of the board, and attempted to checkmate his opponent with his Rooks and Knight! The tactic did not quite go according to plan, and the players started repeating moves while trying to calculate alternative paths. Eventually the Knight was swapped for a Bishop, but Charlie’s pawn majority on the Queenside came under attack. The maths teacher decided to test Charlie’s arithmetic, offering a draw while three pawns down! Charlie politely declined, and delivered mate on the h-file two moves later. 4-3

Dave on board 8 played a complicated opening, with both players expending a lot of time to reach a middle game position where Dave was a fair bit better. Dave realised he had to speed up his play, but his opponent decided his best strategy was to slow down. As the last game to finish, with all spectators watching the seconds ticking down, only one player in the room was surprised when the flag dropped. 5-3

Go Hammer! The victory means the team is all but guaranteed promotion with a game to spare!

The remaining permutations are mind-boggling. In short, Willesden have to still to play Hendon, and Muswell Hill have still to play Kings Head (twice), so only one of each pair could possibly reach eight points.

Even in this rare scenario, and even if we lose our last game, we’d still have a strong chance of promotion based on game points, penalty points, or the league that no club can have three teams in a division.

A huge thanks to all 24 players who have contributed to the team thus far this season. The coveted MVP certificate is being hotly contested by Charlie, Ken, Ben, Simon and John. If any of these players win in our 12th match (and the other four don’t), the prize will be his!

Adam.

 

Eggcellent Chess

April Fools’ – he wasn’t really dead!  (Happy Easter!)

With that out of the way, let’s get down to some chess updates. March ended with some mixed results for our teams – match reports follow. We’re also really excited to be able to share a very interesting evening at Battersea Chess Club coming up tomorrow – Tuesday 3rd April – and some details on the ever-growing casual chess scene at Hammersmith. Read on!

  • Middlesex Division 3 v. Willesden
  • London Division 6 v. Battersea
  • Middlesex Division 2
  • Battersea Hand & Brain Night
  • Hammersmith Social Chess
26.03.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Willesden & Brent v Hammersmith

From a captain’s point of view, Monday’s match v Willesden started several days before the first move was made. We knew we needed to field a strong team to stand a chance of winning, and eight of the best Hammerites were fit and ready to demonstrate our mettle on away turf. On Friday, the opponents announced their venue was shut & promptly called the match off… before asking to play at our place instead. Game back on!

After assuring me they would only be able to field seven players, I was a bit perplexed when they turned up with eight. Coupled with several members of our team being drafted into the firsts at the last minute, I was left scrambling for players – a big thanks to Ben, Eva and Wyatt, who stepped in at the last minute.

We were well out graded on every board, but played some good chess.

On Board One, Brian missed a piece-winning tactic that would have ended the game. After that, a few inaccuracies in time trouble led to a painful, but ultimately hard-fought loss:

Yours truly got a nice position out of the opening on the black side of a London System. Ultimately, my lack of a concrete plan and unwillingness to give up material cost the game:

Alexander played a very nice endgame which culminated in his opponent’s King walking into checkmate:

Pouya narrowly lost as well, so it was down to our lower order to try and salvage something from 3-1 down. They came very close – Ben, Jeremy and Wyatt made well-earned draws, and Eva pickup up her first win for the club.

So we ended the night second best – losing by a single point.

We go into our last two games in a four-way race for the two promotion spots. Next up is a crunch match against Muswell Hill, which may well determine our fate.

Adam.

27.03.18 – London Division 6: Battersea v Hammersmith (Hedger)

Hammersmith Hedger suffered our heaviest defeat of the season this week, going down 3.5-0.5 to arch-rivals Battersea.

Robin played black on Board One, securing the half-point. Having a solid setup, he held the position, giving away very little, ultimately settling for a draw in a King & pawn ending.

Nick played black on Three, having two active Bishops. However he had saddled himself with three isolate pawns and ended up resigning after losing the exchange. In Nick’s defence, he was facing an opponent the best part of 30-points higher than himself.

John’s opponent gave up the exchange to open an attack on John’s King. John defended it well and adjourned. However, after reviewing the adjourned position he decided the position was lost and resigned without resuming.

Dan on Board Four had worked his way into a decent position, however he ended the evening very disappointed as he fell for a mate.

28.03.18 – Middlesex Division 2

No match report for this one, but we are delighted to report a Hammersmith victory, 4.5-3.5, which means promotion to Division 1 is near-guaranteed.

Great to see both teams enjoying a bit of post-game conviviality afterwards too – the spirit of chess alive & well!

Hand & Brain Night – Battersea Chess Club – Tuesday 3rd April (tomorrow!), 7.15pm

Our good friends and noisy neighbours down in Battersea will be hosting a chess-quiz-double-header this Tuesday evening from 7.15pm down at their home venue (the Battersea Labour Club, 5 minutes from Clapham Junction – cheapest pints in London!).

Full details on their website – link below – but in brief, there’ll be a bit of a “guess-who” round of famous chess players, followed by an eight-round tournament, all of which will count towards your points total for the evening.

It’s an activity aimed at all levels – new players will be paired with stronger players to make it as balanced as possible – sounds like fun to us!!

http://www.batterseachessclub.org.uk/hand-brain-night-at-battersea-with-chess-who-quiz/

Entry: free!
Contact: aldocamilleri@aol.com – to confirm your spot
Start Time: 7.15pm sharp – there’s a lot to get through!
Location: Battersea Labour Club, Falcon Road, SW11 2PF

Hammersmith’s Burgeoning Casual Chess Scene!

And last but not least, we wanted to let everyone know about our extremely popular and ever-growing casual chess scene!

Started by a handful of enthusiasts from the club, we are now seeing regular meetups on weekends and during the week, of like-minded individuals who want to enjoy a bit of chess, often (but not always!) in a pub with a drink or two.

It’s a really fun, social & ever-evolving – and we want to encourage it as much as possible! If you’d like to get involved please get in touch with our man (mostly) at the helm, John White: john.white49@ntlworld.com, or leave a message and we’ll add you to the Club WhatsApp group (aptly named “HammerTime“), where most of this gets arranged (30 people and growing!).

March Madness!

As we approach the business end of the season, there have been some really spectacular results this month, not least when our London 4 team beat runaway favourites in that Division, BBCA!

The excitement continues this week, with another table-topping win for one of Hammer’s sides. Read on….

  • London Division 4 vs. Greater London
  • London Division 6 vs. Greater London
  • London Division 3 vs. Kings Head
  • BONUS: Chess, the Musical!
13.03.18 – London Division 4: Hammersmith v Greater London

A 4-4 tie against Greater London meant we were able to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat in London Division 4 this week. It felt like a win at the end as were under the cosh for much of the night and it was highly satisfying to take something from the match.

The result actually takes us to top-spot in the league, albeit having played more games than all the sides around us. A very pleasant sight for sure, although we have to bear in mind there will be 13 matches across the league before we’re next in action. Things could look a bit different then.

Returning to the match itself and we were handed a 1-0 head start due to a no-show on Board 2. Adam had a pleasant evening of drinking tea and eating biscuits, but I’m sure he’d rather have been playing chess.

We then found ourselves 1-2 down with losses for Charlie and John. Charlie’s proud, unbeaten run ended in inauspicious circumstances as he somehow moved the wrong Knight early on and allowed his Queen to be taken for free. A complete aberration that can perhaps be laid at the feet of John White and his Hammersmith Drinking Club offshoot that met at the weekend!!

I’m not sure the other John has such an easy target to blame though. By his own admission, he made a mess of the opening and despite throwing the kitchen sink at his opponent in retaliation, it wasn’t to be.

Rich was next to finish, again finding himself on the wrong side of a blunder (Rook this time) due to time trouble. Shame, as the position looked pretty dead-even before the mistake but the clock is merciless. 1-3 and it looked a real fight to get anything from the match.

Dipender continued his solid run for the team with a good win on Board 4 to bring things back to 2-3. The game seemed relatively well-balanced both materially and positionally, until some clever manoeuvring allowed Rc1+. That meant the Bishop had to come back and defend and suddenly pawns were vulnerable inside the camp. Dipender’s style always appears calm and in control (does it feel that way inside??) and he used that control to slowly improve his position before an opponent mistake allowed a cheap pin on minor piece and King. It was all over.

Wyatt and Paul playing on Boards 7 and 8 had mixed fortunes, but I think they both played well. Wyatt established a commanding position in the late middle-game with a wave of pawns advancing to certain promotion. Eventually one Queen’d and the material advantage looked crushing! Undeterred however, his opponent threw everything forward and tried to find a mate with Queen, Rook and Bishop aimed at the Hammer King. It looked hairy for a while, but Wyatt held his nerve, repelled the attack and soon has his own unavoidable mate on the cards. 3-3

Paul, making his debut for the club in any league, was forced to make some concessions out of the opening but fought back to reach what Fritz would probably say was a theoretically drawn 4 vs 4 pawn endgame, but it was tricky. His doubled-pawns meant slight errors were magnified and such was the case. Both colours eventually added another Queen to their ranks, but Paul’s opponent had an easy way to pin and remove both Queens, leaving another pawn to easily promote for the win. Solid performance from Paul on his first time out. 3-4 down

Paul and Wyatt, deep in thought

But the performance of the night has to go to fellow debutant Alexander on Board 1. He took down his higher-rated opponent in some style, forcing his Knight into an outpost on c6 which effectively dominated a quarter of the board. The game was level on material but Alexander always had the edge given his monster Knight, and managed to work some clever tactics involving a Queen on h8 and a battery of Rooks on the e-file. Great to watch. His opponent was very gracious in defeat, and it was nice to see enjoyment on both sides despite the result going in our favour. 4-4 DRAW, and relief all round in the Shakespeare!

Full scorecard below:

13.03.18 – London Division 6: Hammersmith v Greater London

In the second part of our GLCC double-header on Tuesday, the London 6 team took on their Greater London counterparts.

With Mike Mackenzie sitting this one out, our reporter-of-the-year Robin took over as captain and gives us the following brief notes:

Victory for Hammersmith Hedger, cruising to a smooth 3-1 win!

Dan the magic man was the first to finish. His opponent opened with the curious 1. b3!?, and was subsequently crushed. 1-0

The man of the moment – Dan, pictured far back on the right sporting a pink shirt. Great win

Captain Robin was next. He had 3 pawns for a Knight, and won a textbook ending. 2-0

Simon mated his opponent with Queen and Rook on f7 – no coming back from that. 3-0

Last up was Nick, who fell foul of the clock and, in a result that could never be described as charming, lost on time. Unlucky! 3-1

21.03.18 – London Division 3: Kings Head v Hammersmith

Parte sesta – welcome to the latest boy’s-own adventure of Starship Hammer 1 and it’s season-long mission to gain promotion to Division 2 of the London League.

Captain’s Log – Star Date 21/03/18

The team has beamed down to the multi-cultural planet Citadines to meet in deadly chess combat the species known as Regum Caput Duo.

They are the Division leaders and undefeated at the board this season.

The landing party was led by non-playing Captain Clueless. Read on and enjoy the dramatic night that unfolded…..

You could feel the tension in the air. The Hammer landing party were taking on the League Leaders and the result would shape and dictate the course of our season. A win and anything is possible. A loss would throw us firmly on to the back foot.

The team was primed and ready – they knew the task and they were there to deliver.

The Hammer team in board order:

Thomas (T-Bone), Marios (Zeus), Bajrush (Wily), Paul McK (Prof), Jim (Loco), Chris (Sydney), Jeremy (Brexit), Paul K (Dead-Eye), Sheikh (Pandit) and Pavel (Spock).

The clock ticked away and all the team were there except Zeus, who had gone AWOL. This caused Clueless a few anxious moments, but Gods always get there in the end (apologies to all secularists) and he duly arrived 10 minutes after the match had commenced.

In some ways he needn’t have bothered – his opponent was a no-show. Whether it was the reputation of our Zeus, or another reason, I leave to you to consider. It did not matter – Hammer were on the scoreboard. 1-0

Next to finish on board three was Wiley, who went for his classic (or disastrous, depending on your point of view) early g4 punt. It was initially double-edged but Wily always plays the middle-game and endgame strongly. He duly triumphed and his game is given below. Hammer forging ahead at 2-0

The next result saw Sydney make it 3-0. Sydney, after some uncertain steps early in the season, is coming into his best form. He won an early pawn and through forceful play translated this into a well deserved and most welcome win:

On board 10 Spock faced an unusual white setup from his opponent and play got complicated – and I have to confess, I was getting anxious. Being a non-playing captain is extremely frustrating at times and generally not good for the nerves. I was worried for Spock. As usual, my angst was misplaced – Spock is so solid he rarely plays bad moves. Sure enough, a draw was agreed and Hammer moved to 3.5-0.5

Now to the only reverse of the night with Pandit totally misplaying his game and his opponent’s ability to harvest pawns. Pandit battled on valiantly, hoping in vain for an error that never came, that would allow him to turn the tables. He gracefully resigned but stayed on to support the team. Hammer pegged back to 3.5-1.5

The next two games were draws as both Loco and Brexit secured the half-points for Hammer. Moving the Hammer landing party to 4.5-2.5

To be honest, Brexit played a bit of a David Davies – a lot of bluff and gusto, and nearly got “Barnier-ed“. He was a pawn down, on the white side of a Nimzo-Indian, with no real compensation against Kings Head Captain Peter – who thankfully offered a draw in a very murky position for our “Jezza”. Brexit, unlike in real life, had got something tangible.

On board five Loco faced an opponent who wanted to get from the opening to the endgame as quickly as possible. In the pub later, Loco lamented the move Bd3-Bc2 which threw away his advantage. He pushed hard and picked up a piece, unfortunately the black king was too active and was able to force a total pawn elimination. He was never in danger of losing but was frustrated by his move mis-step.

Victory was secured in the next game when T-Bone probed and manoeuvred his way to victory. He positionally outplayed his opponent on the white side of a Kings Indian Samisch, forcing a passed d-pawn and then concluding with a tactical denouement that netted the Black Queen. This was French flair chess at its best. Hammer winning now at 5.5-2.5

The last two games were both adjourned on the night.

Dead-Eye’s opponent offered a draw on move 12. This was brusquely turned down by Dead-Eye who was visibly annoyed. Not a good move from his opponent. Dead-Eye personifies the Speelman approach to chess – he was in warrior mode and ready to fight. “GM draws” are not in his chess dictionary. Suffice it to say, the Oracle – known as Stockfish – puts Dead-Eye at +7 in the adjourned position. I duly expect a resignation from his opponent in the next couple of days.

Finally to The Prof himself, who faced a tricky opponent. To be frank, The Prof was in no mood to be trifled with. His opponent in desperation threw a serious sack into the equation where a hasty response would have led to a possible perpetual. The Prof took his time and sealed his move – the most conservative of choices, but one that guaranteed victory. That move was fxe4, I can tell you that because we have received his opponent’s resignation the following day. Great performance from The Prof and a far more controlled affair than some of his flights of fancy this season.

So, Hammer 1 are currently at 6.5-2.5. This will become 7.5-2.5 when Dead-Eye duly wins as well.

A brilliant performance by the Hammer crew and one that indicates we are not only gunning for promotion but also to go up as champions. Captain Clueless is very content!

The result will resound throughout the Division and definitely enforce the feeling that Hammer 1 are a serious outfit this season.

Captain Clueless signing out – but leaving with one reflection.

The strength of this Hammer team is that it draws its players from all parts of the world, gathered together in union to fight as one, for a small corner of West London. That is really something.

Go Hammer, Go Hammer 1 – the road is rising to meet us. This was another step towards our goal and our destiny.

Clueless over and out.

Chess – the Musical!

Exciting times in the West End, as Chess the musical makes a welcome return to the London stage after many years!

It’s only on for 5 weeks starting in April – so you’ll need to secure tickets sooner rather than later.

The story of course features the beautiful game, set against a cold war backdrop:

The world’s two greatest chess masters – one American and one Russian – risk becoming pawns for each of their governments as they battle for the world title. Meanwhile, a remarkable woman and Hungarian refugee throws the two chess masters’ lives into further confusion by becoming the centre of their turbulent triangle. The three characters’ heightened passions mirror those of the political struggles around them: threatening to destroy lives and loves.

This epic musical love story will open on Thursday 26th April 2018 for a strictly limited 5-week season. Book your tickets for Chess at the London Coliseum today!

Chess includes international hit singles like “One Night in Bangkok” and “I Know Him So Well”. It also features well-known songs like “Anthem”, “Pity the Child”, “Heaven Helps My Heart” and “Someone Else’s Story”.

https://www.fromtheboxoffice.com/4980-chess/

 

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: