A Busy Gameweek – Middlesex & London 4

A clutch of games for you this week – coming thick and fast as the finish line comes into sight. Read on!

30.03.17 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Battersea

It was a case of revisiting old rivalries as we faced Battersea in Division 4. On the one hand they’re a great partner club – working with us on the birth of the Summer Leauge, hosting us at their home venue for the El Chessico, and sharing some memorable matchups over the years.

On the other, they’re like a slightly annoying little brother. Trolling us on Twitter, calling themselves “Battersea” when they play in Clapham Junction. Too big for their boots!! This is one with a little bit of extra spice!

We played well, but the bottom-line is that we’re 2-4 down with the final couple of games adjourned for another time. The games are pretty tight but we have winning chances in both so things remain in the balance. To quote Kevin Keegan, I would love it if we got something from the match! Love it!

He would LOVE it!

I sat out the match and spectated from the sidelines instead. This all meant I was able to catch a bit more of the action than I normally manage. Another observation is how slowly 3 hours seem to tick by when you’re just watching. It flies by when you’re in the middle of a game!

Things didn’t start well. We had an early faller on Board 7 as Chris succumbed within an hour. Picking up the Black pieces, Chris allowed an early check which forced him into a slightly cramped defensive position. His opponent played actively, kept up the pressure and managed to win a pawn. An unbalanced position resulted, and thanks to his Bishop being placed on a “stupid square”, a resignation soon followed.

Brian kept up his fine run of form on Board 1, chalking up yet another win. He’s now unbeaten in 8! He initially looked in trouble after being forced to move his King following a check with Bh5, but a locked-down position developed in the middle which meant his centralized King was in no danger. The setup seemed to play into Brian’s hands and he superbly marshaled the pawn chain to his advantage to raise the spectre of a decisive passed pawn.

The next two games contrasted in style but alas, not in the result! John, playing White, played his usual solid positional game and emerged in the early middle game with a respectable position. Ladies’ fingers were on a3 and h3, and we looked in for a long night. John’s opponent sensed a potential weakness in his pawn structure though, and began pushing g/h pawns to challenge it head on. A good tussle followed but John was forced to defend and as we all know, it’s a lot easier to attack than to defend. The breakthrough exposed the King and he graciously resigned.

Robin’s game started unusually quietly. Where was the pawn push?? Where was the sacrifice? We didn’t have to wait long though; the fireworks started soon enough. the pawn break came, creating a wildly unbalanced position. Unfortunately it favoured Robin’s opponent who held the centre with 3 (count them) extra pawns. Not one to give up, Robin brilliantly fought back with a Knight pin, but whilst material was equal, the position was not. Robin’s pieces were not coordinated which made covering all the potential attacks very difficult. A fork on Rook and Queen effectively ended the contest, despite an unsuccessful 10-move hunt for a stale-mate!! 1-3 down.

Josue starred in perhaps the most enjoyable match of the evening, at least for this spectator. The endgame was a bit of a thriller. He looked on the ropes in a Bishop/Rook vs 2-Rook end game, particularly when he was forced to defend a passed pawn one rank from promotion. But he had a passed pawn of his own, which he pushed whilst gaining tempo with discovered checks. The opposition passer was sacrificed with all hands on deck to prevent the coronation of a new monarch. Again, Josue found the right tactic and created a blockade with Bishop and King. Great to watch.

Finishing at the same time was Adam, who also found himself in a Knight & pawns endgame. It looked relatively level to me, but who’s to say what Fritz would make of it. Either way, nothing is easy when you’re short on time. It was the kind of position where you’d want 10 minutes per move, not 3 or 4 for the whole lot! Really unlucky. If the Knights were off the board it might have been a different result.

David P and Marios both have slight edges in their adjourned games, but they’re really tight. Probably best I don’t say too much with the games still going, but I know Marios feels slightly disappointed not to seal it on the night; he had pressure from move 1. David played very well to gain a pawn advantage but his wily opponent defended well. A 127 on board 8 – not too shabby.

 

03.04.17 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith v Kings Head

The Middlesex League season is drawing to a close. Another fine win last night saw Hammersmith move to a whopping eight out of nine with three to play, and a colossal games score of 56-16.

The games, in reverse board order:

Andy’s opponent played a very strange opening, placing his pawns on d3, e4 and f3 with his Bishop inside the pawn chain. Andy developed a large positional edge before a dubious Knight sac on e4 left his opponent with big chances to get back into the game. Andy continued to develop well though, castling Queenside and creating a dangerous Rook pair on the d-file. After his opponent’s passive Queen retreat to g1, Andy smelled blood! As he brought his pieces in for the kill, White elected to hand back the Knight in exchange for some activity. It was not enough to prevent the onslaught though; White soon resigned with mate-in-5 inevitable.

Kaan chose the English opening 1.c4, with his opponent choosing to adopt the tricky 1… c5 symmetrical variation. A sharp tactical struggle ensued, with Kaan coming out an exchange up. Without too much trouble he put his material advantage to good use, grabbing another pawn and soon the sustained pressure forced resignation on move 23.

A last minute drop-out meant Hammersmith superstar Robin was brought in to do battle. Or so he thought! With no sign of his opponent after 30 minutes, the default was awarded.

Adam’s London System woes this season were set to continue. His opponent chose a King’s Indian setup and castled early, to which Adam responded with h4. The early attack was destined to fail – with the e5 square not available for his f4 Knight, Adam brought it back to h2, where it stayed completely inactive for the next 19 moves! Castling Queenside added to the misery; Black immediately launched a Queenside attack to which Adam had very few pieces available for defence. The position was objectively lost, with at least 3 different ways for Black to cash in. Then the game turned.

Some slow and inaccurate piece-shuffling on Black’s back ranks allowed Adam’s hopeless h2 Knight to become a superstar! An h2-f1-e3-d5 manoeuvre brought it to the best square on the board, where it stayed for 6 moves, before gobbling up the Black Queen that was kindly placed on f4. A very lucky escape!

Disregarding his usual repertoire, Sheikh chose to adopt the classical line of the Scandinavian Defence. He proceeded accurately, developing his pieces in the correct order and blocking off all the light squares. He soon started attacking down the Kingside, and eventually overcame his opponent with a clever Bishop sac.

Yasser opened with the Queen pawn and faced the Nimzo-Indian Defence. Yasser chose the 4.Bg5 Leningrad variation, and soon obtained a positional edge and a strong Bishop pair. As Yasser pushed his pawns down the Queenside, Black’s position became more and more cramped. Soon he was forced to give up a pawn, which did nothing to stop Yasser crashing through and scoring the win.

Paul chose to adopt the solid Berlin Defence, and his opponent was not sure how to react. Several pieces were swapped off and before long Paul was in an endgame, but possessed the superior pawn structure. Paul’s superb endgame skills came into play, and before long he was exerting tremendous pressure on White’s weak spots. He coolly converted this pressure into an outside passed pawn, and his opponent resigned as his position started to crumble.

Pavel scored the only draw of the night, though it was by no means a boring draw. He chose to open with 1. Nc3, the Dunst opening. Play developed sharply, with both players castling on the Queenside and Knights hopping around the board creating lots of threats. Pavel gave up his Bishop pair to kill off one of the Knights, creating an unbalanced position that was difficult to evaluate. After a Queen trade and some interesting tactical shots well defended by both players, they agreed to call it a day.

Kaan and Andy become the 26th and 27th players to play this year, and bring the number of players sitting on 100% to 15!

Three games remain, including two big games against our only remaining title rivals, Hendon Juniors.

Adam.

Puzzle of the Week #003

You are a clever bunch! It didn’t take long for the double-header from last week to be solved, despite the apparent “fiendishness” of the second one. Props to the following individuals:

Adam Cranston – puzzle 2

John White – puzzle 1

For the first puzzle, as Black is threatening mate in one, White has to keep giving check. The theme is smothered mate:

1. Be4+, Rb7
2. Qb8!+, Rxb8
3. Rxa7+ Bxa7,
4. Nc7#

The pin established with the first move means the Knight can’t be taken. This is a very old composition, by the Syrian Phillip Stamma, first published in his “Essai sur le jeu des echecs”, 1737! Later translated into English as “The Noble Game of Chess”.

Puzzle 2 – quite simple:

1. Qxh2+ Kxh2
2. Rh7+ Qh5
3. Rxh5#

A bit of drama with a Queen sacrifice, but mate is then unavoidable.

So to this week’s puzzle – quite a good one, if I say so myself.

White has just played Rh2-h3 with the plan Rg3 followed by Bxh6. Why was that a bad idea? Black to move and win!

Same as usual – solutions in the comments please! Good luck!

Return of the Grudge Match (vs. Battersea)

28.03.17 – London League 5: Hammersmith v Battersea

In our return match versus Battersea, we outpointed them with a delta of 17 points!

But first let me say that Kaan Corbaci debut’d this match and had a shocker of a win defending with the black pieces against a straight-forward Guico Piano, his opponent fell for a pawn and his Queen was lost with a Kaan (Knight) fork. Congratulations to Kaan!

Brian played the white pieces against the Sicilian defence, using the O’Kelley variation to achieve a Maroczy Bind. From the middlegame onward, the position reduced to a Rook and minor piece endgame, but Brian had superior pawns, his opponent having blocked and isolated pawns. Brian piled on the pressure, with his Rook and Knight dominating an inferior Rook and somewhat bad Bishop, and the position somewhat blocked.

Through some confusion, his opponent allowed his clock flag to drop without making his first 30 moves, so he lost on time. But Brian was able to demonstrate a winning advantage to his opponent afterwards.

John Wooley achieved a creditable draw early on.

My game was a disaster waiting to happen, after I thought I had trapped my opponent’s Queen with a poisoned pawn. But it wasn’t to be, alas, the Queen escaped and I was down 2 pawns, but then getting into time pressure, I lost the endgame (expletives deleted!!).

Still, we won the match 2.5 – 1.5. Congratulations to the team!

Robin.

A Season of Two Halves

23.03.17 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Lewisham

You’ve probably heard the cliché “a game of two halves”, well I think we need a new cliché for our loyal band of warriors in Division 4 as we look set to embark upon our “season of two halves”!

As luck would have it, our first few games pitted us against the lower graded teams – and we certainly scored well there. But you can probably guess what that means – most of the big boys still lie ahead!

The key task now is to step up to the plate and take down some of the big dogs. Remember what happened when David fought Goliath!

Yeah, well, that was all very good in the Old Testament but things played out slightly differently in our hallowed theatre of Golden Lane as we face Lewisham.

We went down fighting but unfortunately couldn’t prevent a narrow 3.5 – 4.5 defeat. Top performance though; we ran them right to the wire and I was proud of the guys who turned out for Hammer, giving away around 10 grading points per board on average.

The night started pretty sweetly with fine wins for Marios and Brian on boards 1 and 2. Marios made short work of his opponent despite rocking up 15 minutes late. The art of intimidation obviously one of his strong suits. That, and a supported pawn on the 7th. His opponent was no slouch either – Mr. Stewart is averaging almost 180 for the season.

I managed to catch Brian’s game just as the hammer came crashing down. BD’s Rook came marauding forward and pinned the Queen to the King. The instinct to immediately take must have been a strong one… before realizing that immediately setup a Knight fork on the unhappy royal couple. The instinct to lean forward and offer a hand of resignation followed promptly. 2-0 up.

The next few to finish were all draws – Josue, Rich and yours truly. Fair to say we had attacking chances in all 3 but had to settle for half a point apiece. Rich was probably closest to finding the win, forging a really strong position before a momentary lapse allowed Gokhan back in and a draw was agreed. Very charitable considering Gokhan was a member of our own ranks last season! We were now 3.5 – 1.5 up.

That’s seven games for Rich in Division 4 this season. He remain unbeaten with 3 wins and 4 draws, a record that perfectly mirrors that of Brian. They’re currently neck and neck in the stakes to be this season’s MVP.

So, just a single positive result from the remaining three games would see us take something from the match, but alas, that final half-point wouldn’t come.

Losses for John, Adam and finally, Ken, meant we ended the evening with nothing to show but a few hard-luck stories and empty pint pots in the Shakespeare.

Despite sitting next to John I didn’t see much of his game, but hopefully it’s some consolation to learn that his “e130” opponent is actually averaging 167 for the season. Small matter of 6 wins out of 6.

Adam’s run of bad luck in Division 4 continues – maybe it’s something to do with me. He faced the unconventional 1.b3 and was forced to make early concessions following a mis-step in controlling the c-file. He battled back only to fall foul to a sharp tactic causing him to lose a minor piece with little in the way of compensation. An honorable resignation followed soon after.

Our final faller was Ken. I took up watching at one of the more unusual endgame positions I can remember in a while. Completely open, 3 passed pawns, at least 4 pawns en prise. The challenge was knowing what to do – attack or defend? Take a pawn and go for the win, or defend and try to consolidate? Ken chose to go for broke, but as the saying goes, discretion is sometimes the better part of valour. His opponent ended with a passed pawn in the centre supported by a Bishop – it’s destiny was clear. Unlucky.

So a defeat, but a very honorable one at that. And I think it’s worth noting this is the strongest 2nd team we’ve ever assembled in Division 4.

The future’s bright; the future’s Hammer.

Dave.

SW London Junior Chess Challenge

The might of Hammer took on the very different challenge of SW London Juniors in a double-header this month.

The format of the match agreed was two nights of chess – one at the home of the Juniors, and one at the home of Hammer – Valhalla, as we like to call it.

Played over as many boards as possible with each pairing playing each other twice on the night – once as Black, once as White.

The time control was 20 minutes to start, plus 5 seconds increment per move. All games will be graded and thus the participants would achieve a Rapidplay grade.

Before relaying the events of both nights, I feel I must first comment on the SW London Juniors and our Hammer Club.

The Juniors is an impeccably run club – the two Tony’s who masterminded the birth of the club and run it have established a culture that is friendly, welcoming and safe. The coaching is top-class and the discipline and behavior of their young charges is equally impeccable. Please check their website out: www.swchess.co.uk

As for my club, Hammer, I am proud to say that over twenty members rose to the challenge and met their young foes over the board, displaying great grace, patience and a will to win. There are very few clubs where senior chess players would put themselves up for this kind of match. But our club did, and that says a lot about the club culture and commitment to the future that Hammer Chess has embraced over the last two years.

Ok, enough of the slaps on the back for all concerned – let us review the actual chess!

The first match was held at SW Junior HQ, situated near Earls Court. The date was the 1st March. Thirty-one games of chess were played in total and the big people triumphed 20.5-10.5. The chess was so frenetic I was unable to keep track of my fellow Hammerites as the pieces flew round the boards.

Tony gives the Juniors some last-minute advice

One thing about playing children is that they have no fear, they relish the challenge of bringing down an adult, they play at speed, and boy do they love attacking! The top-tip is to remember that defence is something they have yet to learn, so a controlled, aggressive approach is always the right way to approach such games.

Unfortunately, this does not always work and Marios on board 1 was facing defeat in a prepared line of the Scotch – indeed, he was objectively lost in every sense. Unfortunately for his young opponent – but fortunately for Marios and us – he missed a back-rank check mate.

This was a definite wake-up call and showed that these young people could play; and play very well. This was the only game Marios played – but what a game! I know for a fact that he analysed this line very extensively after the game – he will not be caught again.

The rest of the results were as follows:

  • There were two wins clocked up by Jay, Orial, Adam, Enkh-Ochir, Des, Andy, Kaan and myself
  • Honours were split for Anda, Chris and Ken – one win apiece
  • The double-doughnuts were Robin, Danny and Shaun. Indeed, Robin lost to a young man with the same surname. The new Lee is on the block!!
  • Somesh had one loss and a draw

Although the score line seems one-sided, I can assure you it was not!

The return leg took place on the 13th March at Valhalla, and Hammer this time had an idea of what we were facing. The feel-good factor from the first encounter meant that we tried to get twenty boards out. Have to say, SW Juniors delivered, whilst Hammer had to default a few boards.

Valhalla; just how the Vikings remember it

The result was a good win for Hammer again, but the SW Juniors played outstandingly well and went down fighting. However, the march of time is relentless and these juniors are increasing their strength at an alarming rate. I am not sure in a year’s time Hammer will triumph again.

I hope all who took part enjoyed the evening – I know I certainly did.

My funniest memory of the evening was the sight of Jay, Ken and myself sitting on the blue kiddy chairs to play our games! I had enough sets, boards and tables, but did not think we would ever fall short on the chair count! Please note for future reference: we only have about 32 chairs!

Once again, thank you to the two Tony’s, the SW Juniors, and the Hammer Heroes – we will repeat next year!

John.

 

A Fast & Furious Night At Golden Lane

14.03.17 – London League 3: Hammersmith v Hackney

Hammer 1 rolled into the Barbican last night determined to continue the drive to consolidate their Division 3 status. In the way were Hackney 3, also caught up in their own relegation struggle. This was a true six-point game, to quote the football parlance.

On paper Hammer 1 had the strength in depth and a healthy advantage grading-wise. However, matters are never that simple; holding all the aces still means you have to convert them.

In short, Hammer 1 came through this contest in fine style with a 6.5-3.5 win. We are now on 3.5 match points and almost on the verge of safety and thus retaining our place in Division 3 of the LL!

To the runners and riders (my only Cheltenham metaphor, I promise!):

In reverse running order, boards 10 and 9, Orial and Matteo respectively, secured solid wins without ever being in any real danger. Hammer were on their way.

Boards 8, 7 and 6 saw Josue, Safi and Sheikh all take draws to keep the points ticking over. Again, the draws were all pragmatic and in light of the way the match was moving, entirely sensible. This was a night where the match result was everything.

Boards 5, 4 and 3 saw myself and our new member Marios, plus Jeremy, step up. Well, to be entirely honest Jeremy and Marios did – I on the other hand, was away with the fairies!

Marios won in fine style against a Benko gambit and coaxed the error from his opponent, whilst Jeremy also took advantage of a blunder to secure his win. He felt he was lucky – my own view was that he was due some fortune after some of his mishaps earlier this season. Remember, the mantra is a win is a win! Plus their two wins secured the match.

As for myself, I contrived to play a totally wrong move order in a Sicilian Najdorf – fought back, achieved equality, relaxed and then blundered. I think my chess brain is frazzled at the moment, and skiing can not come soon enough.

Our boards 2 and 1 saw the reliable due of Paul and Bajrush in play. Bajrush finished his game first and was the epitome of the WOSF and a man in a hurry. Whilst Paul, fatigued from his exertions the previous evening where he triumphed in an adjourned game from a Thames Valley match vs Richmond, played his worst game of the season. Just one of those nights.

Just some asides to put a bit of colour into the evening…

Josue is now sporting a white-bleach-blonde set of hair which is dramatic to say the least! He foolishly made a bet that Barcelona would not come back against PSG with a friend. Guess what happened, and guess what the forfeit was?

Sheikh agreed a draw in the adjourned game against his Surbiton A opponent without hostilities being resumed. This spared us the humiliation of an 8-0 whitewash and all in, team Hammer owe him a huge debt of gratitude! We bow before thee, Sheikh!!

The match was played at a rapid rate and we were all out of Golden Lane, including Hammer 5, who were also on duty, well before 10pm. Is this the fastest time ever for clearing Golden Lane with all games completed?

I firmly believe that with the addition of one or two players, such as Pavel and AN Other next season, we will be strong challengers for promotion. Part One of the master plan is nearly complete with the goal of Division 3 retention all but achieved.

However, rest assured, there will be no let up from me for the final three matches. A top-half finish is achievable.

Finally, as captain of this excellent bunch of soldiers, my thanks.

John.

Royal Bloodshed!

14.03.17 – London League 5: Hammersmith v Kings Head

We were up against it last night, facing Kings Head – top of the League and the clear favourites to win the game, but nothing was certain. No quarter was given and Hammersmith did not succumb without a struggle.

Handshakes all round as the match gets underway

On Board 1, Brian Dodgeon with the Black pieces got to defend against a ferocious 3 pawns abreast attack in the centre – did someone say a Maroczy Bind?? After an exchange or two, there was a Knight fork against King and Rook, so Brian ended up a Rook down, capitulating soon after. Bad luck!

Board 3 saw David Lambert getting to an equal position with two Bishops and Knight on both sides, and symmetric pawn positions. An early draw was agreed soon after Brian’s loss on top board.

Board 4 saw our winningest player, Chris Moore (4.5 out of 5 matches so far this season) go two pieces down but still making a fight of it. In the endgame his opponent – who out-graded Chris by 15 points – had both Bishops and Rook buried behind jammed-up pawns, but got into time difficulties. So it looked for a while as if a two piece deficit could be ignored. Sadly the game was lost when the Rook and Bishops finally emerged.

Our hero of the match was John Woolley on 2nd board, who had a might nice English opening, and both sides looking very solid. Suddenly, John launched a pawn break in the centre, which caused an exchange of several pieces. This led to John’s Rook pinning an undefended Knight against the Queen, and the win looked good. Somehow though, John’s opponent managed to wriggle out and a draw was agreed. John looked close to winning – better luck next time!

All things considered, not a bad result against a strong side.

Robin.

An Early Bath at Morley College

10.03.17 – London League 4: Morley College v Hammersmith

What a difference a year makes. It was only 12 months ago we made the trip to Morley College for the final game of the season, rooted to the bottom of the league and desperately in need of a win to avoid picking up the League’s wooden spoon.

I’m pleased to say this season has brought happier times; buoyed by an intake of enthusiastic new players, we’ve more than held our own in the division and I’m pleased to have a different problem – deciding who to pick or leave out when we’re oversubscribed for games.

All smiles at the start of the evening

Whilst the backdrop is different, I’m delighted to confirm our match result appears to be heading the same direction! We triumphed last season, and we look set to do the same this time round, leading 4-2 with two games scheduled for adjournments. Robin’s match remains in the balance but mine looks pretty positive (Fritz has it +10.0!).

The match itself was pretty, well… odd. We started with a default; their board 8 was a no-show. We played our games under near constant chatter from the walk-ins and late arrivals. And then we ended the evening by being kicked out of the building by security whilst several games were still going. Fine if it’s a slow play, but mine was Quick and designed to finish on the evening. Bizarre!

Under the circumstances, I confess I didn’t get to see much of the other games, so then just a word of acknowledgement to our winners. John got back into winning ways with a great result on Board 2. He appeared to be being edged in the middle game but the position was fairly complicated, and a series of quick-fire errors meant before long his opponent’s Queen was no more. That was the end of that.

Rich ground down his opponent with heavy pressure pivoting around a pawn on the 7th, drawing a broad smile from his opponent when the hammer finally fell. I think he knew he was done long ago but battled on bravely for the sake of his team. Fair play.

Down to business

The final victor of the night was David Pearson, who calmly chalked up his first win in Division 4. Very well done. I asked Adam what had happened and he was equally perplexed having watched some of it – “I don’t know. It seemed to be pretty even with loads of pieces on the board and then bang… a few moves later he’d won”. You’ll have to show us that trick next time around, David. Worth sharing!

The great week for Hammer seems to be extending into a fortnight! Long may it continue.

Dave.

London 3 – A Fight for Survival

When an animal is cornered, even one as cultured and sophisticated as Hammer 1, they will fight tooth and nail for survival.

Tonight, when the chips were down and Hammer 1 were facing the prospect of relegation, the fighting nature endemic in all Hammer chess players came to the party.

The mantra was: we may still be relegated…. but not on this night, not as a result of this match, and not against Kings Head 3!

Hammer 1 stepped up to the plate and delivered. We took a giant step towards retention of Division 3 status in a great display of sheer will power from all involved.

Enough of this hyperbole – let’s examine the nuts and bolts of the night in board order.

On board one our Chairman the WOSF himself cruised to a comprehensive victory. Bajrush meant business – our first point on the board.

Paul on second board had the nights only adjourned game. His opponent has sealed the move and the consensus is that Paul has a won game. Let us hope his opponent agrees.

Board three saw Jeremy display the skills of Houdini to escape the grip of an eternal pin and agree a draw in a bitterly fought contest.

Board four saw your correspondent agree a draw for my own sanity and that of Hammer 1. Despite being a pawn up, the draw was the right decision for our team and myself. Please feel free to ask me at the club as to why this was so.

Sheikh was next up and played a beautiful game with the Black pieces in a Sicilian. He won the exchange and smoothly converted. Classic Sheikh.

Next to our only fallen warrior of the evening – Safi. He had one of those games on one of those nights. To be honest he was far from his best and the loss was inevitable.

Matteo demolished a fellow Italian on board seven, even having to explain the en passant rule to his opponent. Matteo was as cool as the suit he was wearing and scored a well-deserved victory.

Josue had a dominating win and was the first to finish – just a comprehensive win.

Orial, the wizard of Dingle, brought the luck of the Irish to his match. He claimed he played terribly… but he still won… and that is all that counts. Memories of Napoleon come to mind – do not give me great generals; give me lucky ones. To be honest I think Orial was too hard on himself and he was never in danger.

Board ten was a walkover and Hammer 1 got its first freebie point of the year.

So, in summary – we lead 7-2 with one game to be decided. Our biggest win of the season and one that should ensure survival in LL Division 3.

The moral of the story is do not mess with Hammer 1 when they are facing down the barrel of a gun. These boys are tough and not to be messed with.

Great job lads – I am dead proud of you all!!!

John.

The Muswell Massacre

06.03.17 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith v Muswell Hill 2

With seven wins from eight games and four to play, Hammersmith are still going strong at the top of the Middlesex League.

Last night’s victims were Muswell Hill 2, who put up some resistance on the top boards but ultimately went down 7-1. As has unfortunately been traditional at recent home games, the opponents turned up without a full team with no advance notice. John White very kindly offered to step out, allowing Josué his first game for the club…

… although it might best be described as a massacre. His ungraded opponent opted against developing his Queenside and didn’t feel the need to castle. As might be expected against as strong a positional player as Josué, this strategy did not work out well. In one of the quickest wins I’ve seen in club-level chess, the game was over on move 20 with a bizarre yet utterly dominating checkmate.

Board six featured Brian “Magnus” Dodgeon, and as is often the case his opponent was not offered a single chance to get into the game. Brian started turning the screw from move one, and the evaluation just got better and better. Eventually his opponent could withstand the squeeze no longer and offered his hand in resignation.

Sheikh “Snake” Mabud provided yet another fine performance on board five. With a very strong pawn planted on e5, he started manoeuvring his pieces. His opponent followed suit, with both seemingly creating an additional pin or fork threat with every move. Sheikh handled the complications splendidly, eventually clearing the g-file for his Rooks to come flying in with checkmate.

It was not to be Jeremy’s day on board four; his superior chess set and digital clock seemingly not enough to intimidate his opponent. With the Black pieces Jeremy appeared to get a fine opening, planting two super-strong Bishops on d4 and e4. A slight let-up allowed his rival to bring his big guns into the game, and out of nowhere Jeremy was forced to resign.

Paul sat down on board three with one thing in mind: to rain hell over the board. He didn’t disappoint. The second game to finish on the night was one of the most convincing wins of the match; hopefully Paul can keep up his fine form for the rest of the season and into the next (ed: and maybe provide us with an annotated version of the game??).

And onto the top two boards, which both followed a strangely similar pattern. Bajrush with White and Pavel with Black both outgraded their opponents by 34 points, yet both managed to play horrific openings.

Bajrush was forced to retreat his Knight to b1 on move four, and later missed a tactic that almost cost him a piece. Pavel’s opening was arguably worse, as he failed to develop any of his Queenside and was forced to defend against an advanced pawn on f5, a dangerous Bishop eyeing his Kingside and a Knight providing constant forking threats.

At this point, both decided it was time to wake up! With a little help from their opponents, both turned their predicaments around, each eventually extinguishing all the enemy threats and creating unstoppable passed pawns!

With four games left to play, the title is still by no means guaranteed. Harrow and Hendon could still feasibly both finish above us if we ease off too much towards the finish line. Despite this, I’d still like to give some appearances to more of the club’s burgeoning member base.

Josué’s win makes him the 25th player to play for the team and the 13th now sitting on 100%! My target is for us to reach 30 players by the end of the season.

Result: Hammersmith 7 – 1 Muswell Hill 2

Adam.