So Near But So Far (London 3!)

11.10.16 – London League 3: GLCC v Hammersmith 1

Yet again Hammer just missed out on a victory! An exciting and bloodthirsty match was the order of the evening, with no quarter given from either team.

The team was out graded from boards 1 to 9 but that didn’t faze us.

Honours of the evening go to two new members, Orial and Matteo. Orial playing board 8 and beating an opponent rated 144 in a complex game in grand style. Matteo triumphed against former Hammersmith Club Chairman Peter Morton! Both great victories and a great start to their London League careers.

Our wily Chairman Bajrush won in a blitz finish in a theoretical drawn endgame. But as we all know when it comes to blitz there is only ever one winner!!

The crowd gathers for the climax of the match…

It was great to welcome back Paul and Jeremy for their first games of the season. A tough loss for Paul and a draw that was probably a missed win for Jeremy.

John Goodacre and Safi also drew – the former has had a solid start to the season and the latter rebounded from a tough loss against Cavendish.

Finally to the other three boards – Sheikh had an amazing Sicilian Shozin game with water – the board was on fire with multiple tactics everywhere for both sides – unfortunately the fire consumed Sheikh and not his opponent.

John Wooley went down against the captain of GLCC, who was a lot stronger than his 127 grade might suggest – just bad luck.

Finally my good self got ground down on the black side of a Colle/Sicilian – not pleasant viewing I’m afraid!

Positives – we have discovered a couple of diamonds and Bajrush looks like getting back to his best form. Plus if John Goodacre, Safi, Paul, Sheikh and myself can get a win on the board then anything can – and will – happen.

Keep the Faith! Go Hammer 1!!

Result: GLCC 5.5 – 4.5 Hammersmith


London League 5 Opener

11.10.16 – London League 5: Greater London v Hammersmith

Hammersmith’s opening game in London League 5 took place against the traditionally-strong side of GLCC, at their home venue up in Holborn. Our new L5 Captain Robin Lee with the write up:

It was on balance a very closely contested match across all boards in the League 5 opener. On the top two boards, David Lambert and Brian Dodgeon got taken to quite technically advanced end games which were good to watch.

Brian eventually succumbed with a Rook and one pawn against a Rook and three pawns. David on board two drew in fine style in an endgame with just King and several pawns on either side – a demonstration of the finer points in King opposition.

Four boards, Eight Players… The calm before the storm

On board 4 Nick Rutherford gained an impressive advantage with the White pieces, playing the English opening. Aside from a trap his opponent set, he could have won and was unlucky to lose the game.

On board 3 I played an unusual line in the Sicilian Najdorf early on that might have unsettled my opponent. Luckily it left me with an advantage in development. After some strong attacking play from both sides in the centre, I was able to neutralise his rook pawn and rook attack, with my strong centre catching a bishop pinned on his Queen, helping prevent him from castling. After swapping pieces he resigned a few moves later.

Final result: GLCC 2.5 – 1.5 Hammersmith


LL 3 – Tough Start for Hammer 1!

A Tough Match to Start the London League Season for Hammer 1, by Captain John White

Hammersmith went down 3.5 to 6.5 away to Cavendish in our opening match for the newly-promoted team.

We really missed the experience of Paul Kennelly and Jeremy Hodgson owing to holiday and other commitments. However, new members Jay Hinolan and Matteo Bezzini stepped up to the plate.

Jay suffered a loss in his first LL match – due to a heavy cold he was not in the best of form. He’ll be back stronger – having seen him beat Sue Maroroa in the simul during the Summer, I know he was well below his best here.

Matteo playing black got a draw – a solid start to his London League odyssey.

Both of these guys will be great assets for Hammersmith in the London and other Leagues this season. Welcome aboard!

To the rest of the games – the highlight was John Woolley’s return to form with an excellent win. Fighting draws from Brian Dodgeon, Bajrush, John Goodacre (great to see him back!) and yours truly.

Sheikh, Safi and Alex all had tough losses – early season blues I think.

A disappointing result but we were out graded by 15 points or more from boards 2 to 6.

We’ll be back, and stronger next time!



Full scorecard on LL site here.

Sue Maroroa vs. Hammersmith!

As regular readers will know, Hammersmith Chess Club had the enormous pleasure of taking on Women’s International Master Sue Maroroa in a Simultaneous display across 14 boards on Monday 25th July.

It was a sultry evening in the Big Smoke and the atmosphere in the upstairs function room of The Albion pub was no different. What little ventilation was on offer didn’t really help, as we just about managed to squeeze in enough boards to accommodate everyone!

Former Hammersmith player Sue had generously agreed to play us this Summer and it was an enthusiastic crowd that turned up, ranging from our old timers, recent new members, and the odd potential signing. Sue had hoped that the evening would be “quick and painless”. Whilst we could ensure an evening free of physical torment, with 14 boards it looked anything but rapid!

Play commenced shortly after 7.30 and it quickly became evident that Sue would have a fight on her hands – not only was Hammersmith fielding a former Punjab Chess Champion in Amit Sharma, amongst other strong opposition, but the setup of the pub meant a long walk down to the far end of the bar with every circuit Sue completed – Hardly ideal given the heat & humidity!

It was a loooong way to get round all the boards

First blood went to Sue however, with a brisk ten-move victory over Shaun (someone had to be first!). Your correspondent followed soon after, conceding after 26 moves. Sue gradually clocked up the victories and whilst the war was clearly being won by the WIM, there remained a number of intriguing skirmishes that would end with victory for Hammersmith.

Amit eventually ended up victorious from a deep strategic game that had Sue thinking hard all evening.

The ice-man… Amit. The coolest thing in the pub that night

John Wooley went two pawns up in a commanding position leaving Sue with little option but to concede.

Jay Hinolan wound up with doubled pawns in a tight endgame, but somehow managed to get one to an imminent Queening position, forcing Sue to resign.

Jay looking very happy with his position

Chris Moore sealed a draw by taking out Sue’s last pawns. He came agonisingly close to forcing the game but there just wasn’t enough material to get his last pawn to a Queening square. Bad luck!

Chris looked under the cosh early doors but ended with a brilliant draw

Club Secretary Mike Mackenzie managed to hold on with even material throughout a long game which looked to be heading for a draw, however Sue was able to push forward and claim victory.

The evening finished with Sue notching up 10 wins, 1 drawn game, and conceding 3. Congratulations go to those players who obtained a result – some terrific chess was played. Thanks also to everyone who turned out for the event, it was great to see so many faces.

Special thanks to Sue for donating her time and energy on a very warm evening in the capital – Hammersmith Chess Club salutes you, and we hope it wasn’t too painful!

For more photos of the evening please check out our Facebook Album, and don’t forget to check out Battersea Chess Club’s website if you would like to play in the Simul they are organising against Simon William, aka the Ginger GM!

El Chessico – The Result!

Tuesday evening saw the second and deciding leg of our Summer double-header against Battersea Chess Club, dubbed “El Chessico” by those in the know. We had the pleasure of visiting their home venue – Battersea Labour Club – and what a venue it is!

A lovely centre near Clapham Junction with ample room, audio visuals, and pints from £2.35!! Mike Mackenzie was overheard describing it as “a hell of a drum”. Our hosts were equally hospitable – I’m planning my return trip as we speak!

The Battersea Labour Club – rumoured to serve the cheapest pints in SW London

Down to business though – the 15-board return leg was fabulously well organised – credit to Aldo & the Battersea folks for the arrangements. It was an even match up across all boards and the game played out accordingly, with a handful of games going right down to the wire.

It could easily have gone either way, but by the end of the evening the teams couldn’t be separated and the match ended drawn at 7.5-7.5, handing Hammersmith a win over the two legs, 1.5-0.5.

A full house – 15 boards of chess!
Simon Cowell turned up with a glass of Pinot Grigio

A few of the Hammersmith results deserve a shout out – firstly to Paolo for winning on his competitive debut for the club; Jorge also picked up another win in his second outing for us; Chris continued his excellent form with yet another result!; Carsten secured a tasty victory with a 10 move forced combination, and Jeremy secured a hard-fought win after a hair-raising struggle in the middle game (described as “a humdinger of a game”!). John, Pavel and Paul all with creditable draws in the mix too.


Thanks again to our hosts and opponents, and to everyone who turned out over the two legs (27 boards in total – quite a feat!). Well done to Hammersmith for the narrow victory, and here’s to making this an annual fixture!!

Battersea’s match report can be found here.


El Chessico – First Leg to Hammersmith!

In one of the most highly-anticipated games of chess since June, the Titans of Hammersmith Chess Club took on the relative Royalty of London chess, Battersea Chess Club in the first leg of a double header modestly dubbed “El Chessico” (a pop culture reference to an obscure game of football somewhere in Spain) last night. Your correspondent is proud to report that Hammersmith achieved victory in an-evenly matched game, by 7 boards to 5.

This being the home leg we were delighted to welcome Battersea to our Summer venue, the Albion Pub on Hammersmith Road.

There were some notable performances from both sides. Worth calling out are the following:

Paul Westenhanner achieving a creditable draw on top board against Carsten; John Wooley drawing on board 5 against a much stronger opponent; Jorge Hinolan with a terrific win on his Hammersmith debut; and Danny Gordon also securing victory on his debut for the club. Fantastic effort chaps, and thanks to everyone who turned out.

Attention now turns to the return leg next Tuesday 26th where, due to popular demand, we have agreed to widen the game to 14 boards!! It will be a fantastic sight watching 28 players engaged in battle across the board.

As Battersea are hosting we will have the added difficulty of going “saaf” of the river, however I’m confident we can dig deep and overcome this disadvantage! We go again!!

A reminder – Monday 25th sees us hosting WIM Sue Maroroa at the Albion for a simultaneous display. If you’ve not done so already, please get in touch to confirm your attendance. It’ll be a great opportunity to play against a top class opponent!

Hammersmith vs Battersea

Save the dates!! We have agreed to hold a 12-board double-header against Battersea Chess Club in July, with one game at our Summer venue in The Albion on Monday 18th, followed by a game at Battersea’s home venue on Tuesday 26th. It’s a great opportunity to get a chess fix during the close season, and should be a competitive pair of games against London’s oldest chess club.


The games will be ECF graded and we’ll be playing London League (Quick Play) rules on all boards – so no adjournments. A great opportunity for all members, including those new to competitive chess. We have asked Battersea to put out an even spread of graded players so that we can have some relatively even match ups.

It’s an open invite and free to all members – if you’re interested in playing please leave a message below, drop us an email, or contact your team captain. Promises to be a great pair of evenings with some competitive chess which we’re really looking forward to!

Dates: Monday 18th July, Tuesday 26th July
Venues: Albion Pub, Battersea Chess Club
Details: London League Quick Play Rules, 12 Boards, ECF rated

1975 Club Championship Game

A treat from the archives this evening – Club Secretary Mike Mackenzie managed to dig out this classic from 1975 – the same year we saw the Thriller in Manilla, Thatcher became leader of the Tories, and Aston Villa were even a good club back then, winning the League Cup final!

Reigning Club Champion (since 1962!!) John Rogers – rated 200 ECF! – faced our late Chairman John White – rated 148 ECF – in the deciding game of the Club Championship.

On paper an easy victory for John Rogers and should’ve been a 13th straight Club Championship for him. Could the young upstart unseat him?

Click here to find out!

A Newbie’s Guide to League Chess in London

Club membership – Paid.
ECF Membership – Sorted.
Played some games at your club to prove you know your way round the board – Done.

Now what?

Now you’re ready to play some London League chess, of course!

That’s where it started for me 3 years ago. It’s been at times bewildering, exhilarating, and sometimes just downright confusing (How did I just lose on time??), but I hope this post serves as a reasonable guide to assuage any doubts for those thinking about taking the plunge.

My first game was a memorable ride. Turning up at the ascribed venue near Euston station, I’d arrived early – eager to impress, clearly! – but it wasn’t hard to spot the chess crowd milling around. Nervous tension palpable, a slight sense of foreboding overcame me – how would I remember to write down each move correctly (harder than you might think when the board is un-annotated and you’re playing black!), press the clock, whilst trying not to embarrass myself on the board? Surely all new players go through the same set of thoughts, fears and emotions, I tried to reassure myself.

Thankfully my team captain was already there and helpfully pointed out where I should be sitting. The respective captains toss a coin to decide who picks which colour on the top board. The other boards then alternate down from that, as does the slow/quick play timing. It’s worth reminding yourself of the difference in the timing regimes and other rules of play before you start – I’ve won and lost cheaply through not knowing the details properly.

Typical league chess board setup with scoresheets and clocks

With my opponent and I in situ and apparently ready to go, there’s the awkward wait for the allotted start time to arrive. Do you engage your opponent in conversation? It doesn’t appear to be the done thing but some are more receptive to it than others. One thing that’s useful to do at this point is ensure you have written your opponents name and the other details of the match down correctly on your match sheet.

A general murmur of excitement builds, the home captain might make a quick announcement about mobile phones, and you’re ready to start. A quick shake of your opponents hand – mumble a “good luck” while you do it – and you’re off.

I will admit, I spent most of my first game panicking about making a spectacular blunder. Check, double check, triple check every move and position – diagonals for bishops, potential forks for knights, discovered checks, any obvious intermezzos I’ve missed? The stress level and heart rate were both pretty high. I can’t really remember too much of the detail but after about 4 moves I was way off any openings I knew about (admittedly not saying much, but my opponent employed the English opening – 1.c4, rare enough for a beginner like me I think). Somehow I was able to convince myself it’s fine; just play your game and don’t worry too much about anything else.

I don’t remember the sequence of moves or my thought process at the time, but I ended up with an advanced knight threatening the squares near his King, with my Queen poised to move forward next move and check him. Surely this couldn’t be check mate, I thought, as I sat there pondering the combinations and desperately hoping my opponent wouldn’t make the obvious defensive move to repel me? The excitement and pressure at a moment like that can be quite intense. My mouth was dry, my right leg hopelessly twitching in nervous response to the sudden burst of adrenaline as I contemplated victory against a respectably strong player in my maiden game for my club.

The overriding thought was to double, triple, quadruple check to ensure I wasn’t leaving the back door open to a disastrous failed attack. Breathe and relax, write your move down and await your opponents response.

An eight board London League Match

One notable difference in face to face chess versus that played over the internet or on my phone, is that your opponent nearly always finds the right move to deny your thrilling combination. Your considered sacrifice resolves to vain, inglorious defeat. You quickly learn to leave your Mikhail Tal impression at home and more often play the dull – but safe – move. On balance this is where results are found in the London League. Very rarely does the frivolous attack lead to victory.

Not today though.

Beginners luck perhaps but my opponent failed to spot the threat, making a move of little consequence. I tried – and mostly failed – to nonchalantly advance my Queen, dispatching my opponents King with aplomb. I stumbled slightly in announcing “check mate” (as is de rigour when one achieves it), not entirely convinced of my own victory. After a brief pause to assess the position my opponent looked up and mumbled “Uhm… I didn’t spot that”, conceding defeat with the offer of a hand to shake.

What normally passes after a game has finished is the stilted assessment by bother players in hushed tones, offering advice or pointing out where victory/defeat was achieved. Aside from annoying your neighbouring players (and thus often having to de-camp to the nearest empty room), these little chess vignettes can be remarkably useful in understanding how you played, where you could have made better moves, or what the expected response to a certain opening was. It can be a good opportunity to get into the mind of your opponent too – they will often have assessed a situation quite differently to what you may have. On occasion I’ve had my opponent point out where I missed an opportunity for check-mate. Now that is frustrating!

As a relatively hardened pro I now tend to shy away from assessing my defeats with my opponent – pretty poor on my part this – but I do enjoy replaying the occasional game that was particularly enjoyable and close fought. I prefer to analyse my games a few days later with a book or two and perhaps a computer to aide me. I’ve found it one of the best ways to learn opening theory and spot holes or missed opportunities in my performance – though admittedly my current grade (92 ECF) does not reflect this!

Regardless of the outcome you can always be sure of learning something about the game in a face to face match. It may not be the fluid attacking combo you were hoping for, executing that opening you’ve been studying for weeks, or ruining your opponent in a 20-move blitz of style and sophistication, but even old pros get a bit of luck occasionally.

You can see my full “analysis” of that game here. Enjoy!
– Andy.

Hammersmith v Fulham Juniors: 6-6 thriller!!!

Hammersmith had the pleasure of taking on Fulham Juniors this week at their home venue, the Brunswick Club on Haldane Road.

The Juniors are a truly thriving club. Under the inspired leadership of club manager Paul, they regularly see over 40 youngsters turn up to events, and have on occasion had over 50 turn up! We were delighted to have the chance to play some local up and coming masters!!

Despite the vagaries of the London Underground District Line causing a default on one board in the first game, we were able to produce a strong team over 6 boards for a 2-game event. It finished 6-6 overall, which is a credit to the youngsters – this after some unlucky performances saw at least 2 won positions end up lost for Fulham.

We were captained by our Chairman Bajrush, and our top club player Carsten was able to work wonders in the analysis room afterwards. Bajrush did at one point confess to cheering on the junior team! Not sure how we feel about that 🙂

Full results as follows:

Round 1:
Vignus Widdicombe (77) 0-1 Chris Moore (86)
Xavier Cowan (65) 0-1 Adam Cranston (147)
Tomas Le Rendu (68) 1-0 Shaun Gordon (-)
Samuel Le Rendu (74) 1-0 Graham Snow (76)
Mattias Le Rendu (43) 0-1 Richard Wingfield (-)
Luke Pakenham (47) 1-0 DEFAULT

Round 2:
Vignus Widdicombe (77) 0-1 David Lambert (121)
Xavier Cowan (65) 1-0 Chris Moore (86)
Tomas Le Rendu (68) 0-1 Adam Cranston (147)
Samuel Le Rendu (74) 1-0 Graham Snow (76)
Mattias Le Rendu (43) 0-1 Richard Wingfield (-)
Luke Pakenham (47) 1-0 Shaun Gordon (-)

Credit to Adam on our team for recovering well in both games after getting stuffed out of sight for most of the match! And a very good game from Xavier in the second round defeating Chris.

Thanks again to John and Paul for arranging. Fulham are a terrific club, their contact details below:

Last Updated: Apr 21, 2016 @ 5:35 pm