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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11.04.18 – London Division 5: Hammersmith v Lewisham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: Hammer 3 – 1 Lewisham

Blitz, Bury & The Hammer League

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

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

Read on!

Thames Valley Cup – One Win From Glory!

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

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

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

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

Hammersmith League – Round II – Dispatches from the Battlefront

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

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

Round II threw up the following match-ups:

  • Battersea v Hammersmith Circus
  • SW Juniors v The Hammerheads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

League Standings:

Cross Table:

Tune in for the next instalment!!

The Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II

A very late update!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the scoreboard so far:

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

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

Hammer Goes Mad in Suffolk and Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The John White Drinking Club on tour

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

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

Gandalf, Sorted & Pickle doing what they do best

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hammer team consisted of, in board order:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a nutshell…

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

A pickled Pickle

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

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

Beautiful Bury St Edmunds – breathe it in!

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

The Return of the Hammersmith League

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

The Hammersmith League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hammersmith derby match now took centre stage.

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

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

The final results are not pleasant for Team Circus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on Round 2! John.

03.04.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Muswell Hill v Hammersmith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam.

 

Eggcellent Chess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

28.03.18 – Middlesex Division 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hammersmith’s Burgeoning Casual Chess Scene!

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

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

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

March Madness!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul and Wyatt, deep in thought

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

Full scorecard below:

13.03.18 – London Division 6: Hammersmith v Greater London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21.03.18 – London Division 3: Kings Head v Hammersmith

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

Captain’s Log – Star Date 21/03/18

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

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

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

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

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

The Hammer team in board order:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The last two games were both adjourned on the night.

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Clueless signing out – but leaving with one reflection.

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

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

Clueless over and out.

Chess – the Musical!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Back from the Dead in London 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good, the Bad and the Hammer

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

28.02.18 – London League 5: Brixton v Hammersmith

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

Brian & Robin with their post-match analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follows here Brians comments on his game…

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

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

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

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

Here ends the sorry tale.

Thames Valley March Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please let me know if you’re available!

Bajrush.

21.02.18 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Lewisham

“Back in the Saddle Again”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian.

The Return of the Hammersmith League

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

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

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

Save the Dates:

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

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

The rules are as follows:

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

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

In Other News…

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

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

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

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

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

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

GM Jon Speelman – Monday 26th February

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

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

And Finally…

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

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

John White: Help for Hammersmith schools to start chess clubs

 

A Whole Lotta Hammer

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

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

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

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cometh the hour, cometh the men.

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

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

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

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

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

 

London League 5:  Greater London v Hammersmith – 16.02.18

Tuesday the thirteenth hardly seemed propitious, but read on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hammer Train Rolls On!

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

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

Middlesex League 3 vs. Muswell Hill – 05.02.18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam.

Thames Valley League vs. Ealing – 05.02.18

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

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

Our remaining matches this season are as follows:

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

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

Thanks to all players!
Bajrush.

London League 6 vs. GLCC – 06.02.18

“A Walk on the Wildside in Division 6”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,
Dave.

London League 4 vs. Athenaeum – 07.02.18

“The Dream is Over in London 4”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave.

And Finally… Celtic Tigers!

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

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

 

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

What is 4NCL?

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

www.4ncl.co.uk

Why Celtic Tigers?

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

Will Everyone be Together?

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

What is the Cost?

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

Interested, got Questions?

Get in touch with Chris: chrisskulte@gmail.com

Next Years Dates & Locations

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