Summer Chess League – Gameweek 1

20.06.17 – Remember the date 20th June 2017. The first night of the inaugural season of the Summer League.

Six teams consisting of six players each gathered at the home of Battersea Chess Club to engage in mental combat.

To remind you, the six teams are: Battersea Amps, Battersea Volts, East London Knights, Streatwise, Totally Hammered and Just Hammered.

By luck, the first-round pairings threw up a couple of internecine clashes with the Amps taking on the Volts, Totally Hammered versus Just Hammered and the intriguing clash of the East London Knights and Streatwise.

There is nothing like internal Club clashes to stir the blood. The chance to claim bragging rights over your fellow club member is something that appeals to the sadistic streak present in all chess players!

A superb turnout – 36 players!

The last match to be completed was the home clash between the Volts and the Amps. The high-octane Volts just edging the contest 3.5-2.5. It was such a close match which could have gone either way. It came down to the final match on Board One, when time pressure was a huge factor in the result. This was a classic game with just a pawn and Rook vs Rook left on the board. Huge credit goes to both players for the no holds barred nature of it. It was probably a theoretical draw but time pressure and sheer tenacity won the day.

The East London Knights aka “The British Bangla Chess Association” made their debut in League Chess in their match against Streatwise (Streatham & Brixton). The Streats were hurt by a default and this could have been two defaults but for Adam – of Hammer fame – stepping in as a most welcome mercenary to cover Board Four.

East London Knights v Streatwise

However, this did not distract the Knights and they duly triumphed 4-2 in a closely-contested match. A great start to their campaign. Tough on the Streats but they will be back!

To the “home” battle of the Hammered boys – would it be a Total triumph or would Just, just do enough?

Well the tale of the tape was a 3.5-2.5 win for the Just Hammered boys. In a thrilling contest that again came down to the last match.

The first match to finish was Robins. His opponent our in-form treasurer, Chris. A game in which the Queens came off early, with Chris blundering a piece in the bargain, and Robin smoothly converting. Advantage to the Just boys!

The lead did not last long with Bajrush outplaying Paul in a tactical sequence when a Rook on a1 got picked up free of charge. This left Paul in a hopeless position and so he did the honourable thing. Level-pegging!!

The third game saw “Brexit” Jeremy totally and deservedly thrash me. My worst game of the season by a long way, and my apologies to Jeremy for such a lamentable showing. Move on – Totally boys now holding the edge at 2-1.

John – still smiling after his worst game of the season

The next game to finish saw the Prof (aka John R) make a bold sacrifice to gain a vicious attack on the citadel of the Wiz (Orial). Would it result in a breakthrough? Sadly, for John R, but happily for the Just lads, it did not crash through. The Wiz simply consolidated and calmly started improving his position and exerting his material advantage. The end was sudden with a lovely Knight fork one of the threats. The match was level.

The next game to finish was the Ken-Nick battle where a (charming) draw was agreed with Nick three pawns up. I think nerves played a huge part here and I think Ken would admit he really dodged a bullet. Still level 2.5-2.5.

So, like the Volts and the Amps, the result of the match came down to the last game between Pavel and Marios. In a fluctuating contest where Pavel hold the initiative for a very long time, Marios emerged triumphant in the endgame, where two passed-pawns on the 6th rank overhwhelmed Pavel’s Rook to Bishop advantage.

So, the Just Hammered boys sneaked it on the line. A match which reflected well on the fighting Hammer spirit and sets the tone nicely for the Summer League.

One of the innovations of the league is that you can play through all the games, as they are listed on the Summer League website. So if you want to see my abysmal performance or the sheer mastery of Bajrush, it is all there in Black and White. All the Hammer games are shown below.

A great first night, superbly orchestrated by Aldo, and my parting message to all is – Just get involved or you will be Hammered!!
John.

 

Just Hammered vs Totally Hammered

Paul Kennelly 161 vs Barjush Kelmendi 183 0-1

*Marios Kouis vs Pavel Nefyodov 1-0
*not ready*

John White 150 vs Jeremy Hodgson 154 0-1

Orial O’Caithill 138 vs John Ryan 124 1-0

Robin Lee 118 vs Chris Moore 112 1-0

*Nick Rutherford vs Ken Kwabiah 1/2-1/2
*not ready*

#HammerGoesDutch – Chess on Tour

Hammers (From and) To Amsterdam

09-11 June 2017: Yep, the Hammer boys went Dutch and descended like a plague of locusts on the fair city of Amsterdam this weekend just gone.

The Hammer crew needed chess satisfaction, and unlike Mick and the Stones, we got a serious overdose of it!

Twelve brave souls and a few family members ventured forth. Before we get to the gory details of the weekend, just a few words about how it all came about.

After the Brexit result last year, your correspondent decided in conjunction with the Hammer Committee, to organise a weekend raid on a European Chess Club. The aim to show that, although the UK was exiting the EU, we are most definitely not exiting Europe! Chess would be used to build bridges, and of course provide the perfect cover for consumption of copious amounts of beer.

No expense spared for the Hammer crew!

A furious Google search yield Du Pion chess club in Amsterdam (check out their website: www.espion.amsterdam). A beautiful city steeped in chess history, beer and culture… a dream destination for any chess aficionado.

First contact was made and a swift dialogue was quickly established. They would be delighted to host us – little did they know – and the dates were fixed.

The Hammer posse lined up as follows:

  • Bajrush – aka “Wily Coyote
  • Matteo – aka “The Suit
  • Orial – aka “The Wiz
  • Andy – aka “Spidey
  • Chris – aka “R U Serious
  • Ken – aka “King of Kool
  • Alex – aka “Cola Man
  • Dave – aka “The Rave
  • Jeremy – aka “Brexit
  • Paul – aka “Dead-Eyed
  • Adam – aka “Pickle
  • And John, aka “Clueless

A more disreputable and diverse group of Hammerites you would find hard to pick.

Clueless and Henk.. a match made in Heaven!

Before I got onto the action I must say a special thank you to Chairman Raymond and all of the Du Pion Chess Club for a superbly organised weekend. They were so hospitable, friendly and generous.

The bar has been set very high and Hammer will have to step up to deliver a comparable program when the Dutch club pay us a return visit in June 2018.

The Hammer contingent arrived by plane at different times on the Friday, and were staying at various locations around the city.

However, a few of us – Wily, Pickly, Dead-Eyed, Spidey, The Suit, Kool, Brexit and Clueless – gathered at Cafe de Kaaiman for an informal drink at about 11.30pm. The bar had an extensive range of draught beer to tempt you – Heineken, Heineken or Heineken. Sometimes choice can be overrated.

Cafe de Kaaiman… Hammer plot their raid!

The lack of beer choice, however, did not impede the conversation and the bonding of the Hammer squad. We were here to make new friends, enjoy a fabulous city and play some chess. The squad was primed to deliver. Beer always helps fortify the soul, especially in chess matters.

The next morning we gathered at Henrick de Keijserplein 45 at 10.15am – Brexit was late and confused (like the real thing??) – and met our counterparts from Du Pion. A great venue, it was well-organised and Du Pion are a well-equipped and superbly-run chess club, with nice sets and boards plus loads of digital clocks.

There were bikes… lots of bikes

Free coffee and snacks were available in abundance and we got chatting to the Du Pion chaps. With ice broken, Chairman Raymond made an excellent welcoming speech in perfect English (why are they so good!!), and presented two framed photographs of Nigel Short to Wily and your correspondent, Clueless.

Breaking bread (and coffee) with the Dutch!

Responding on behalf of HCC, Clueless effusively thanked all at Du Pion for their invitation and presented a framed photograph of Julian Hodgson, personally signed, to Raymond and Du Pion club.

There then followed the excruciating sight of your correspondent giving an eleven sentence speech in Dutch. My nickname for this trip was Clueless and I am pretty sure I lived up to the title extremely will in giving this speech. I think Du Pion were very generous in their appreciation and enthusiasm of my effort and fortunately no diplomatic incidents occurred.

Clueless tries his best Dutch!

We then got down to chess business – a twelve board match – the really serious part of the day. Would the honour of Hammer Chess be preserved, or would we be Double-Dutched?

The first game to finish was Spidey, and sadly he lost. Was this an omen? The next result saw Pickle equalise the scores. I think, as my particular game was all-consuming, Hammer went two down when Rave succumbed in a complex game.

A tightly-contested first match… edged by Hammer 9.5-2.5

Hammer were down 2-1 and the flying Dutchmen were on their way. However, Hammer Steel came to the rescue and a series of wins from Wily, Dead-Eyed, Brexit, The Suit, The Wiz, Kool, and R U Serious, put us in a commanding position 8-2 ahead. Cola agreed a draw, and Clueless was the last to finish with another Hammer win.

When reporting the result, Henck from Du Pion put it beautifully – our Dutch friends were “modest” in their performance was how he phrased it. I have to say, Hammer were ruthless and although the idea of the weekend was to make new friends, when it comes to over the board chess, Hammerites are basically cavemen.

A truly lovely touch by our new friends – thank you!

We were then served a delicious lunch with soup and sumptuous rolls, all paid for by Du Pion, and we got to know our friends a little bit more.

The afternoon session started with some Duo Chess – pairings of one Dutch and One English v one Dutch and one English. You moved alternately and could not confer. This certainly brought the sharp difference in style to the fore. It was great fun and again reinforced the bonding process and common enjoyment of chess.

International Duo Chess – a proper head-scratcher

We then broke for biscuits and coffee. I have to say the biscuits were delicious and far too tempting for my sweet tooth. Once refuelling had been finished we returned to two options – some endgame studies, or playing rapid chess where the Hammerites had to play the English and the Du Pion guys had to play the Dutch. It sounds like a dream session for the Ginger GM (Simon Williams is a serious practitioner of the Dutch) if only he were Dutch!!!

The next part of the day was the solution presentation of the Puzzle challenge, with one of the puzzles actually having been the creation of Henck. Indeed, it had even stumped the great GM Jan Timman. The puzzles were hugely entertaining and very educational. A real winner.

Henck gets instructional!

We then rounded off the pure chess part of the day with a new game – “Brexit chess”. A chess version where one side would have four Bishops and no Knights, and the other side would have four Knights and no Bishops. You’ll have to take my word for it, but the concept has something to do with the international trade in horse semen & scared clergymen…

Brexit Chess… basically a bit mad

Anyway, this was an unbelievably challenging way to play the game, with the Knights dominating the early stages. Indeed, the only way for the Bishops to win was to open the position up from move 1 – not an easy task!!

This is an idea we may well use during next season at Hammer!

The final part of the day was a meal together at Duble restaurant in the city centre. A Mediterranean establishment with stunning food, good beer and great wine. The perfect location for a great chat and a wind down after the chess mania. Those who chose the main course meat dish had a serious load to demolish, while the healthy amongst us found the salmon dish just right.

After the chess… the food & drink!

The meal concluded and we bid farewell to our new best friends and set forth into the heart of the city to hunt down a bar. At this stage the Wiz, Cola and Wily parted ways for various reasons. This left Rave, Pickle, R U Serious, Dead-Eyed, Kool, Spidey, The Suit and Clueless and we found our Mecca in the form of the Three Sisters in Rembrandt Square.

There was nothing remotely artistic about the night except the consumption of beer and the inevitable rubbish that men talk about when beer is free-flowing. I have vague memories of doing a vodka shot, as did some of the others.

Suit & Brexit enjoying a beer

About 1am Dead-Eyed and myself bid “geode nacht” to the lads and headed back to our Airbnb. What happened afterwards I have no idea. What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam…

#hazy

The weary Hammer troops gathered the next morning at the Max Euwe Centre for a privately organised tour – it is great having friends with connections!

There was many a sore head but the tour of the Centre was fascinating and if the Three Sisters was the Mecca of drinking, then the Max Euwe Centre is the nirvana for all chess lovers.

It was like walking through chess history with stacks of memorabilia and a chess library of the Gods. Stories were told by our guide that were insightful and fascinating. It was a total treat. To those of the crew who missed it – not mentioning any names but the Wiz and Spidey – you missed something very special.

This concluded the organised part of the weekend but Raymond had one more surprise and that was the chance to go to a cafe to watch the two Van Forest brothers (One a GM, the other an IM) take on two FM’s in 3-minute Blitz. They were due to play 50 games each!!

I have to say this was too good an opportunity to miss and we enjoyed seeing chess at an entirely different level. The speed and accuracy in the numerous blitz finishes was outstanding and something a mere wood-pusher like me can only dream of.

This really concluded the trip and by various trains, planes and automobiles the Hammer crew made its way home to West London and yonder.

To summarise – the best of weekends.

Great company, new friends, brilliant city, great chess, history, art, beer, food and talking rubbish all reached new rarefied levels.

It seems appropriate to nominate the outstanding Hammer performers of the weekend:

  • The “Party Till I Drop Animal” – The Wiz – getting home at 8am Sunday morning, just an outstanding effort.
  • The “Brexit I Know It All Cab Driver’s Award” – The one and only Jeremy, who did provide the photo of Julian – just brilliant company.
  • The “I’m Still Standing After Drinking Most Beer Award” – Pickle – Adam did his club and country proud.
  • The “Cultured and Considerate Hammer Personality Award” – Cola – he saw as much culture as the rest of us drank beer.
  • Best Hammer Chess Player Award – we all were!!!

My final thoughts are with our new friends in Du Pion – Raymond, Henck, Tom, Dik, Hari and the rest, you were just complete stars!

Roll on 2018 when Hammer are the hosts.

Clueless now signing off… and in rehab!

 

In Other News…

Summer Tournaments at GLCC

You may be interested in the tournaments below, hosted by Greater London Chess Club (GLCC), which are also open to non-members. All events take place at GLCC’s central London venue at St George’s Bloomsbury, 6 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HR (close to the British Museum).

 

Summer Chess League

You’ve undoubtedly already been made aware of Hammer’s entry into the inaugural Summer Chess League this year. We’ve got a bunch of games coming up over the next two months and will be in need of players! Check your emails. We’re hoping to make this a regular Summer fixture so your support is most appreciated!

The launch event happened earlier this week at Battersea’s home venue, featuring amongst many others, the Ginger GM, plus IM’s Richard Bates and Simon Ansell.

The Hammer team & some guy claiming to be a GM…

Check out the website for a great writeup and full details of upcoming games: http://www.summerchessleague.org.uk

An Englishman in Division 5

25.05.17 – London League 5: Hammersmith v Hackney

We had three significant wins this time around, and one bad luck loss, plus an unusually large number of games involving the English!

Chris Moore on Board 3 with the black pieces played a Scandinavian Defence, but soon got into difficulty and had to sacrifice a bishop for a pawn to rescue his Queen trapped at a5. At this point he was really disadvantaged, and things didn’t look good with his opponent having better development.

However, within perhaps 3 more moves with neither side yet Castled, there came a shock in the chess position, echoed by some physical shock in the room, manifested as a table collapsing (I kid ye not!), sending pieces flying off Chris’s board. I didn’t know X-man was on the team, supporting us, the Team of Light.

After order was restored, I saw Qxg2 and Black was now winning with White’s King having to run to escape check mate. Then everything got swapped off, including Queens, there remained only a Rook each and many pawns, but Chris had 4 extra, linked pawns. White had to resign.

Board 4 saw Kaan Corbaci playing the English Opening with the White pieces. A quiet, positional game ensued and Kaan looked all set for a draw after many pieces were traded. However, a central isolated pawn was suddenly pushed to the 6th and couldn’t be stopped from Queening. Kaan had to resign.

Board 2 saw John Woolley opening with the English, and finishing with a fine win as he assailed an entrenched King guarded with fianchettoed Bishop and 3 pawns. I believe he used ever more tightening of the screw tactics on his opponent, so eventually something had to crack. In this case to ward off a check mate, a piece was lost. A fine season for John Woolley with sex incredible draws in a row and a winning finale! He left the best for the last!

On Board 1 we saw Brian Dodgeon defending with the Black pieces against the English Opening (surprise, surprise!). He reached a drawish-looking endgame with Rook and Bishop versus Rook and Knight. Careful manipulation of pawns and tight clocks on both sides saw White’s advantage slipping away, his Bishop and Rook becoming moribund.

Eventually White went 2 pawns down and was lost. Brian had an active Knight posted at d5 that could check but never did in fact. The implied check threat was never executed, and somehow must have amplified the Knight’s intrinsic value, creating a mental burden on his hapless opponent in the final 5 minutes. So well done Brian! Always great to finish with a win!

TV Double Header v Wimbledon

15.05.17 – Thames Valley League: Wimbledon B v Hammersmith

Wimbledon’s venue at the Trinity Club was the stage to host Hammer’s TV team in a double header last week.

First up was a match on 15th May, where Hammersmith faced the Wimbledon B team. This was a crucial match for both teams in their quest to retain Top Flight status. The atmosphere was tense from the start!

We started with a win on Board 4 where Pavel was playing Yasser. Paul on 3 got a draw in a game that was even from the beginning.

Next to finish was your Captain, and unfortunately I lost my game so we were back to level-pegging, at 1.5 a piece. This only served to increase the pressure on the rest of the team.

Sheikh and Marios were next to finish, and they both did well to score wins. Marios commented afterwards: “I played the Black side of a Sicilian accelerated dragon. My opponent allowed me to play Ng4, exchanging his dark squared Bishop early on. I continued to attack on the dark squares and won a pawn later on in the exchange. He resigned a couple of moves later in a completely lost endgame.”

This was followed by Matteo dropping a point, to give Hammersmith a slight edge at 3.5-2.5, with Jeremy and Carsten still playing.

Both games were very dramatic right up to the end. Jeremy’s game ended up with both players going for the win on either side, move by move. His opponent missed two opportunities for a Queen mate(!), allowing Jeremy to hold his nerve and convert the win, taking Hammer to 4.5-2.5 and with it the victory!

Carsten had a tough game too, playing very carefully right up to the end and securing our last point of the evening: 5.5-2.5.

This victory secured our Division 1 status for next season! A great result, and well done to all involved.

18.05.17 – Thames Valley League: Wimbledon A v Hammersmith

The second game on the 18th was against the A-team – a crucial match for them if they were to win the Division, being level on points with Surbiton but with an inferior board scoring. A win or a draw would be enough to secure top spot.

Our brave Hammer heroes were outgraded heavily on almost every board, but we were hungry for the game regardless!

With both teams defaulting a board to start on 1 game a piece, Jeremy and Paul were first to finish. Both put up a great fight against far stronger opponents, but it wasn’t to be, and we quickly fell to 1-3

Sheikh played another fine game, eventually securing a draw despite missing a move that could have won it. Bad luck! 1.5-3.5

Matteo produced a solid performance to secure victory, bringing Hammer up to 2.5-3.5

This was swiftly followed by Carsten with his first draw in the TV league(!), bringing the score to 3-4, and Hammer in sight of an extraordinary result.

Your correspondent was the last to finish. I had a small advantage from the beginning of the game, and managed to hold on to it throughout. With a prepared checkmate trap, I managed to capture my opponents Knight and finished the endgame in some style!

It was a great performance from the team, securing a 4-4 draw against a terrifically strong team.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated during the season for their commitment and effort for the team. It’s been a tough season, but we can look forward to improving next season and staying out of the relegation dogfight! Table below, with one match to go.

Many thanks,
Bajrush.

Campioni, Campioni!

16.05.17 – Middlesex League: Hendon 5 v Hammersmith

Having already won the league, Hammer went into their penultimate fixture full of confidence. This was a slightly unusual match; we were up against Hendon Barnet Knights, a junior team with no player over the age of 12! Despite this, they are one of the strongest teams in the league, frighteningly sharp when it comes to tactics with uncanny positional awareness.

With the first team playing two games in the Thames Valley League this week, it was necessary to allow most of them a rest and to rotate the team. Combined with a last minute dropout, this meant we were slightly out graded on average, and starting the game at 0-1.

On board one Marios did what he has grown accustomed to doing over the last few months – another incredibly precise display and total annihilation of his young opponent. 1-1

John White wasn’t so successful on board two. After a very level opening and middle game he blundered in time trouble and had to accept defeat. 1-2

Josué played extremely aggressively with the white pieces. He very quickly created pins and forks across the board. The victory was sealed before the time control, bringing the score to 2-2.

Playing a Scandinavian, Adam soon managed to enter a line his opponent was unfamiliar with. It didn’t go too well from there though. Despite good control of the centre, he made the dubious decision to castle Kingside and soon found himself with serious pressure on his c2 pawn.

With the Queens, Rooks and a Bishop each still on the board, a sharp battle commenced, with both parties navigating mating threats. Ultimately it was experience that won out. With thirty minutes on his clock versus Adam’s five, his opponent played too quickly, missing a tactic that won a Rook. After forcing a swap of Queens, the game was over. 3-2

On board five, John Woolley played a solid opening and it looked like the game would be heading for a draw. Unfortunately – and much like the other John – a blunder led to almost instant defeat. 3-3

Dave was playing on board six. He made the decision to give up a pawn for the Bishop pair. On the face of it this was quite possibly a sound investment, but as the game progressed and pieces were exchanged, it appeared to get harder and harder to find the winning plan.

He gave up the Bishop pair to win back the pawn, but had unknowingly entered a lost endgame. Unlike so many juniors, his opponent played it flawlessly to convert the win. 3-4

So it was down to young Nadhmi, playing his first game for the team, to save us. Only a win would salvage a point… and this he duly provided!

He played some fantastic chess, very focussed throughout, and picked up the point with relative ease. Very excited to see how he progresses; hopefully he’ll be knocking on Carsten’s door for the board one spot in the not too distant future!

Result: Hendon Barnet Knights 4 – 4 Hammersmith

The final match is likely to be played in June after the AGM, as soon as Kings Head can find a suitable date at their venue. With no less than 15 players on 100% out of a total pool of 28 (Ed: and a captain unbeaten on 81%!), nominating a player of the season will surely be a tough call!

London League Round-up – L5 & L3

 

09.05.17 – London League 3: Kings Head v Hammersmith

“Not with a Bang and not with a Whimper… but with a…”

Our last match of the season saw Hammer 1 take on Kings Head.

Although our objective of retaining Division 3 status had already been achieved, Hammer 1 were playing for pride! This game was a tough ask with Hammer 1 out graded on the top six boards by an average of 15 points per board.

Losses on the top four boards made saving the match a really hard task. All four Hammerites fought valiantly but it was just one of those nights at the office.

Bajrush, Paul, Jeremy and Marios scored 50% plus over the whole season – they have given all for the team.

The next three boards gave Hammer optimism as Sheikh, Matteo and I won. Sheikh and Matteo won brilliantly, and on the night. Both had very complicated games where they verged on the edge of disaster and held the line. They saw through all the pitfalls and emerged triumphant. Two really great wins.

My win was achieved after an adjournment, but playing the Black side of a Benoni I achieved an initiative from about move 20. Accurate play allowed me to convert. I have re-discovered my chess mojo in the final part of the season!

Josue and John Ryan achieved draws. My feeling is both of them had the initiative and maybe on another night would have won. A perfect example of some of the tough luck Hammer 1 has endured this season.

Robin had another encounter with a familiar face – Ian Adam – they have had many battles over the years. This time Caissa decided it was Ian’s turn to triumph and he duly did so. Robin was fairly sanguine about the result, but he has been a real support to me and the team at critical times during the season and I thank him.

I also feel it is appropriate that I announce our player of the season. It is….. A.N. OTHER!… you will all just have to wait and see at the AGM on 5th June.

On a final note, Hammer 1 will be back stronger, better and well-equipped to mount a promotional challenge in 2017-18. The dream of Division 2 chess is something Hammer 1 deserve and the learnings and experience gathered this season will help us achieve that goal. Roll on 2017-18.

Keep the faith, and go Hammer!!!

John.

Result: Kings Head 6-4 Hammersmith

Current standings, with a handful of games left

11.05.17 – London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith

We returned to Pimlico on time this time, and to an almost empty hall. Pimlico had no one available to play, so they defaulted on their 4th board – we started the evening 1 point up!

We even had the toss of the coin, which Pimlico proceeded to win. Nevertheless, we stuck in with Black pieces on boards 1 & 3, and White on board 2.

Board 3 was Kaan Corbaci in his second game of the season for our division 5 team. He played a Kings Indian defence to a Queen Pawn opening, and accounted well for himself, winning the exchange. At the endgame he had a Rook and a Bishop against 2 Bishops, and maybe one pawn down. A draw was agreed.

Board 1 saw veteran John White defending to a Kings Pawn opening with a Petroff Defence, which however an hour later saw many pieces swapped. John had reached an ending with only Queens left; however he was 2 pawns down. John, no pushover, had a very active Queen, which could check his opponent’s exposed King, so a draw was agreed.

Board 2 was David Lambert with the White pieces, opening with his Kings Pawn to an Open Sicilian. The middle game saw his opponent mounting a highly unusual battery of Rook, Queen and Rook on the semi-closed c-file; all aimed against the hapless c2 pawn (part of a fianchetto structure) defended by a Rook, Queen and King. Add a Black Knight into the picture and chaos soon ensued.

We saw the Knight fork of the Rooks on the first rank or the loss of a weak pawn. After White lost the exchange, Queens swapped, and further White pawns attacked, Black posted two Rooks onto the second rank. White’s only hope, a Bishop, was merely a spectator. The end was not long in coming and David capitulated against a very strong adversary.

A draw for the second time. Your Captain – and author – sat this one out, preferring Kaan to play.

Robin.

Result: Pimlico 2-2 Hammersmith

Honours Even in London 5

04.05.17 – London League 5: Streatham & Brixton v Hammersmith

We were expecting a battle royale to make amends for our prior 3-1 defeat… (“An Evening of Roosters & Foxes” – a great writeup from back in January!)

Board 4 saw Chris Moore attacking on the Queenside from the English Opening. But Black prevailed and started pressing on White’s undeveloped Kingside. Only the Knight had moved.

With sparks flying, Black finally a touched a Rook, found he preferred something else, and let go. Game rules said he had to move the Rook, which meant the Rook was captured and the game all but lost a few minutes later.

Next to finish was John Woolley on Board 2, who had a standard looking Queens Pawn opening. After reaching a critical position, Black and White repeated moves, and a GM style draw was agreed. John is our draw-master, 5 games in a row. Kudos!

Here is what Brian Dodgeon on board 1 emailed me: “My game as Black was pretty tricky: my opponent (graded 144) played the Trompowski system (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). I played 2… g6 and he took the Knight before I could fianchetto, messing up my central pawns. As a result he got a lot of pressure in the centre, supported by his White-squared fianchettoed KB.

I was often about to lose a pawn and he had a dangerous Queen and Rook doubled on the a-file, but just in time I gained control of the long Black diagonal and won his pawn on b2, which allowed my Queen to penetrate his back rank and get a perpetual check.”

Finally your Captain, who reported that: “In my game a conventional defence got my Queenside weak. I should stick to the obscure gambit.”

“After meeting the first clock dealing, and a tough position more or less locked-up, I had 5 minutes more than my opponent, so the position finally opened up. Funny how I finally got a Rook free to go pawn hunting, got careless, in a scramble to win the ending and got King and Rook Knight forked. The game was lost as a pawn majority broke through on the King side.”

So…. the final result was 2-2; a drawn match. All in all, I feel it was a good result as Streatham were lying second in the league table.

Robin.

April Updates

Several updates for you today…

Firstly – you will hopefully all be well aware that we are going to be in Lyric Square, Hammersmith town centre this coming Saturday 29th, from 10.30am to 4pm, playing chess and having lots of fun in aid of a fantastic cause – supporting Hammersmith & Fulham MIND, a mental health charity.

The response from members has been great and we’ll be out in numbers, with lots of people volunteering for the whole day alongside other members who’ll be turning up throughout the day. If you don’t already have plans on Saturday, come down and join in!

We’ll be playing games against the public, Phil is organizing some Chess Swap(!), we have the fabulous Lateefah Messam-Sparks with us – she’ll be organizing some events with children, and there may even be a simultaneous in the mix. Spread the word, and come on down!!

26.04.17 – London League 3 Update: Hot off the Press!!!

My fellow Hammerites – sensational news that Hammer 3 has retained Division 3 status in the London League!

Objective for the season achieved with one game still to go, and despite the loss of half a match point due to defaults.

I want to thank all the players who turned out for the team this season. This is all down to you and the great esprit de corps that runs through our chess club.

Yet, in the midst of it all there is a slight tinge of regret. Hammer lost so many matches by the odd point/half-point, and if the roll of the dice had been different we would be in a real promotion battle.

We lost 5 matches by 0.5 or 1 point. With the exception of the first match of the season against Cavendish we were very competitive, despite being outgraded on many evenings. The truth be told, the margins between where we ended up and where we could have ended was very fine. It came down to maybe seven individual games over the season.

This gives us real hope for next season and achieving promotion to Division 2 as a realistic goal.

Roll on 2017-18 season, and go Hammer!!!

John.

25.04.17 – London League 5: Greater London v Hammersmith

History is said to repeat its lessons on the inattentive or unprepared.

Yes, the result was a repeat of our last score against Greater London, 1.5 – 2.5 back in October 2016.

The only consolation is that our opponents had some 40 points over us in grading points across 4 boards this time around.

Board 4 with the white pieces saw Chris opening with the English and an early Rook to Rac1 in itself, a good omen actually. Suddenly white had trapped his opponent’s Queen on the a-file and resignation followed. Chris has a daunting attacking style with lightning moves one after another. Well done Chris!

Board 1 saw John Woolley with a super-sold Sicilian and a draw agreed, when no pawn break could be attempted.

The captain, black on board 3, had no real opening that could be recognized against standard 1.e4, perhaps the point of it, as it all came down to skill rather than opening knowledge… After an early sally on the castled King, black was unable to maintain pressure, and after trading Queens with Knights, with a view to setting a trap that white easily circumvented, black ended up with 2 isolated pawns and one doubled-pawns – not lost, but not very pretty.

The game became a four-a-side football with 2 Bishops and 2 Rooks opposing each other. With play on both sides, the middle game could have gone either way. White’s dawn raid became inevitable and he launched a Rook on the 7th, supported by 2 Bishops mating attack.

Black loses a Rook to avoid the mate. Enter white’s e-pawn into the field of carnage, which is pushed to the 6th… leaving black with no option but to capitulate.

David on board 2 had an advanced variation of the French to deal with. On the face of it, white had a nice pawn centre up to the 5th with the e-pawn on point. White seemingly had an advantage, but not sustainable.

After simplification to a Bishop versus a Knight, and many pawns, the ending became highly technical, with a draw in the offing. After board 3 went down, however, David surrendered also, material down.

Congratulations to Chris on a magnificent win!

Robin.

Shootout at the Wheatsheaf Corral!

24.04.17 – London League 3: Albany v Hammersmith

A seismic evening of London League 3 chess took place last night in London W1. A critical relegation fixture in Division 3. Hammer were pitted against the might of Albany, who are gunning for promotion to Division 2.

As I said in my last dispatch, this is belt and braces time and Hammer need to deliver.

Let me set the scene – for one moment just closer your eyes. Think Clint Eastwood riding into town in “A Fistful of Dollars” – the Ennio Morricone soundtrack in the background. The long gunman facing insuperable odds.

Imagine that scene and you will be halfway there to where your Hammer heroes were last night. There was only going to be one outcome as they sat down to fight.

As with all things this season, Hammer do not do things the easy way – they are just addicted to pressure. We just have an innate desire to make things as difficult as possible… for ourselves!

Let me demonstrate why:

  • Three of our nominated players have not been able to compete this season
  • Last night we were missing Orial, Josue and Marios. Not easy men to replace.
  • We defaulted a game – Sheikh had an unfortunate lapse of memory. Something I cannot reprimand him for because he has been so good this season.
  • It mean that Hammer started this crucial match already a point down.

Fortunately Brian, Adam and Robin were able to step up. Hammer were ready.

The scene has been set… let’s look at the detail of the evening.

The first man to finish was Robin in rapid fashion. Playing white the game was over so quickly I only saw a brief glimpse of it. My memory is of a white Knight on b5 coupled with his usual fianchettoed Bishop on g2 and pawn on d3 setup. That is all I can relate. Hammer were now 1-1.

Next up was Safi playing one of his best games of the season, he left his b2 pawn en prise. A greedy black Queen took the bait and then proceeded to get trapped. Safi smoothly converted. 2-1 to Hammer.

Things then settled down and the evening wore on.

The outcome saw victories for Paul, Adam and myself. Draws for Bajrush, Jeremy and Matteo. A tough loss for Brian after achieving a winning position, was the only blemish on a great night of Hammer chess.

Paul’s game was one of classical manoeuvring and probing. Paul very rarely plays badly and is very solid and logical in his approach. This was another good and deserved win. Hammer now at 3-1.

Adam was in dominant mood. I think he was four pawns up at one stage and he only had to negotiate a couple of tactics to secure the win. This he duly did and Hammer cruised to 4-1.

Chess is a really easy game if you are playing well and your opponent helps.

My win was on the white-side of a Caro-Kann that had elements of an advanced French. Luckily, I came out of the middle game with a passed b-pawn which grew as it advanced up the board. I had multiple ways to win and decided the most prudent course was to head for an endgame with the same number of pawns, but the bonus of an extra Knight. My opponent actually lost on time but his position was completely bust! I was just glad to get the point – Hammer now flying at 5-1.

Our WOSF of a Chairman performed his usual Kosovan wizard – turning a lost position into a murky one and then into a draw. How does he do it? Who cares – the match point was secured. 5.5 – 1.5.

Jeremy has had a very solid season for Hammer – no losses and standing at 70%. Last night he was solid on every level. Playing black, he agreed the draw when he had the edge but made a pragmatic decision. Hammer now in heaven at 6-2.

Finally, Matteo also agreed a draw when a sealed move was imminent. Hammer beyond paradise at 6.5-3.5 win (including our defaulted board). An outstanding result and achieved in the face of tough odds.

One slightly sour note is that as a result of the defaulted game we lost half a match point. Hence, we are still not theoretically safe. The last three matches have cost us and now we can afford no more mistakes in our last match against Kings Head on the 9th May.

I conclude with a deep, heartfelt thanks to the lads last night and must single out Robin for special mention. Not only did he put himself forward when I was scrambling for a team – he stood down when Jeremy became available. He then responded immediately to my request to step in again when Marios had to withdraw on the day. Robin exemplifies all that is best in the Hammer spirit, and Hammer Chess.

We are lucky to have him.

Till the next time – live long and prosper my fellow Hammerites!!

 

Meanwhile… down at the Club House…

24.04.17 – Rapidplay @ Lytton Hall

It was a great evening last night as we marked our first attempt at a Rapidplay evening at Lytton Hall.

It’s long been an ambition to organise a fully-fledged internal Rapidplay tournament and last night marked a significant step towards making that a reality. Undeterred by having most of our “big hitters” in a pub somewhere in central London for our crucial Division 3 match, the rest of us rolled-up our sleeves and got stick in to some 30 minute action.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with some good attacking chess, and a couple of games that went right to the wire! Hopefully it worked for the guys involved too. Please let us know in the Comments below. It’s amazing how much quieter Lytton Hall is when people know it’ll affect their grade!

The night was also significant in that it marked our youngest ever member to take his bow. Yep, we were joined by 9-year-old Nadhmi making his debut for the club, and a very good show he made of it too. He ran me extremely close in his first match, only to lose on time (I wasn’t far behind), but managed to pip Nick in his second. A very solid performance and very happy to have him on board!

Other highlights included Shaun chalking up his first graded win! Well done, Sir. Let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come!

If there was a winner on the night, we probably have to give that accolade to Ken, emerging with 1.5 points from his 2 games played. But more broadly I hope everyone enjoyed the experience, and let’s see if this can’t pave the way for a more structured Rapidplay tournament next season. More on that at the AGM!

Full results below. You should see these results reflected in the July 2017 grades.

It was also a real pleasure to see so many new faces at the club. Last night we welcomed a total of 5 new people – Sassa, Panos, Aaron, Dipender and of course, Nadhmi. Sorry we couldn’t include you all in the Rapidplay. We’re a bit hamstrung unless you’re formally ECF-registered! Still, I hope you enjoyed your own matchups and your first taste of Hammer Chess! Hope to see you all again soon.

Dave.

A Tough Night at the Office

20.04.17 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Streatham

Our penultimate match in Division 4 saw our battle-wearied troops face the top-of-the table Streatham. It always looked a tough match on paper (they’ve been known to have a 130 on Board 8!) and such was the case in practice. We lost the match 1.5 – 5.5, with Adam’s game yet to conclude.

However, we should perhaps look at ourselves and say we could have done better! Their line-up was relatively soft by their high standards, and particularly with a few games sitting 50/50 for much of the evening, we could perhaps have run them a little closer.

One thing that wasn’t close was the battle on Board 8! A combination of illness and pest control robbed us of our final player, so we had to start with a default and 0-1 down.

My match was the first to finish. A fairly anaemic variation of the classical Sicilian that fizzled to a drawish position after 25 moves. I felt my opponent had the slightly better position, so was happy to take the draw. I was glad to see Fritz agreed with my analysis after the fact! 0.5 – 1.5

Next to finish was Brian playing on Board 1. He reached what looked like a fairly level middle game, but conceded immediately following a clever Knight fork on Queen & King. It looked like it wasn’t possible due to a Bishop recapture, but that in turn led to another discovered attack on the Queen.

What do they say? Tactics flow from a better position? That’s the challenge of facing someone performing at 175! That rounds off Brian’s season for us, as he’s stepping up to help John secure Division 3 status in the crucial closing matches. Cracking season all round though, Brian! Hope to have you onboard next time around. 0.5 – 2.5

The next 3 matches sealed our fate with each going the way of Streatham. Very unlucky not to take something from the trio.

Ken, as is his custom, played in an open, attacking style and reached a late middle game slightly down but with chances. He was a pawn down, his opponent conceding doubled-pawns in return, but the general structure allowed attacking play for both sides. With Queens still on the board, tactics would be decisive and Ken’s opponent forced through to create checking opportunities. When the trusty Rook got involved, a checkmate shortly followed. 0.5 – 3.5

John, as is NOT his custom(!), also got into a really open position! His opponent raided into his territory with his Queen but it appeared like a potential overstretch as John’s Rooks were connected and gave him chances to attack with tempo. He obtained a pawn advantage and told me later he regretted the opportunity to force a Queen exchange. Nevertheless, play picked up again in an even position. Tactics abounded and John was forced to give up his Knight to save his Rook. He battled on, trying to push for promotion but was eventually forced to concede. 0.5 – 4.5

Nick’s game only had Robin as competition for “most interesting” of the evening. It turned into a pretty unbalanced affair. Nick’s opponent, playing White, lodged a fairly horrible Bishop on the h6 square, which is where it stayed for most of the game. He also had to contend with a pair of advanced pawns that seemed to beckon the Knight to make them their outpost!

Nevertheless, Nick was a pawn up (unless my eyes deceived me!). If he could find an accurate defence, he might be able to hold out. Nick offered a draw, a charming offer that was declined on more than one occasion. With the clock ticking, Nick succumbed to time pressure as the flag fell. A minor inquest was held as to whether they’d played 36 (or was it only 35?) moves but the record books have this as a loss. 0.5 – 5.5

So onto Robin. The man with nerves of steel. Gifted a Knight in a previously equal middle game, in part due to his opponent having touched the wrong piece (!), Robin looked in a good spot. In normal circumstances, this may have result in a routine win but Robin was well down on the clock, so they played on.

He increased his lead from a Knight to a Rook with a tactic he learnt from chess.com (so he tells me) but it was still precarious. At this point it must have been 2 minutes v 20 – the time-out looked a real possibility. Sensing the situation, his opponent aimed for complications, forcing the clock into the final minute of play. Robin kept his cool mercurially and forced the mate with literally seconds to spare. Great to watch. 1.5 – 5.5

Last but not least was Adam. His position looked particularly unpleasant when his opponent rooted his Bishop on d6, right in the middle of his defence. It looked a monster, and effectively dominated a Queen and two Rooks! The battle was now to somehow exchange Bishops without losing pushing tempo to do so. He did it, but at the expense of an extra (doubled) pawn; not a bad price to pay in my book. In fact, Adam managed to chop off the doubled-pawn and that’s where they adjourned. It looks fairly even, so we’ll see what happens.

League table below with one match to play, for us at least..!

Thanks,
Dave.