Chess-Up in a Brewery!!

The Hammer vs Battersea Sambrook’s Club Challenge!
The world’s first “Chess-Up in a Brewery”!

There are three absolute truths in our corner of the chess world in early 2019:

  1. The Noisy Neighbours, Battersea, are still smarting from the El Chessico encounter two months ago, and are thirsting for revenge.
  2. The indisputable thirst that chess players have for the combination in liquid format of hops, barley, yeast and water.
  3. Hammer will never not be thirsty for a chess challenge.

A thirst that must – and will – be quenched. That is a lot of thirst. We have the answer.

Yes, the first “Chess-Up in a Brewery” challenge has been arranged, and you bet those Battersea Boyz want revenge!

The challenge will take place in the tap room of Sambrook’s brewery, over in Battersea (SW11 3QG), on Saturday the 26th January from 1-5pm. Check out their website:

www.sambrooksbrewery.co.uk

Due to space constraints, the match will be restricted to just 14 boards, and to ensure an even distribution of all playing strengths, the set-up will be as follows in terms of ECF ratings:

  • Boards 1&2 – ECF 200+
  • Boards 3&4 – ECF 180-200
  • Boards 5&6 – ECF 160-180
  • Boards 7&8 – ECF 140-160
  • Boards 9&10 – ECF 120-140
  • Boards 11&12 – ECF 100-120
  • Boards 13&14 – ECF below 100

So, we need 14 Hammers to step forward and volunteer for the challenge match! It will be strictly first come, first served, so get involved quickly if you want to play – it will be a brilliant event!

Please email john.white49@ntlworld.com ASAP to reserve your spot!

A match made in heaven!

Captain Clueless – also open to beer bribes to get on the team!

Hammer Goes East! Poland Beckons in 2019

Happy New Year to all Hammers! Chess is back for 2019, and there is plenty to get you in the mood! First up…

Hammer Goes East – Poland Beckons in 2019

Yes, with the Christmas and New Year festivities done & dusted, Hammer Chess Club members and minds – like a TUI Boxing Day advert – are switching to thoughts of destinations for a Summer holiday.

In the past two years Hammer have sampled the delights of the beautiful cities of Amsterdam and Cork in search of Summer chess satisfaction.

The 2019 destination will be Wroclaw, in Western Poland. Formerly known as Breslau, and situated on the River Oder, it is the fourth largest city in Poland.

Beautiful Wroclaw beckons this Summer!

It is one of the most stunning and beautiful European cities, and the trip will encompass chess, culture, new friendships, and the odd beer or two.

I must thank Artur and the Wroclaw Chess Club for agreeing to host us, and we will certainly reciprocate with a return visit (fingers crossed!) in 2020.

From a chess point of view, Wroclaw are a top chess club and this will be a brilliant chess weekend.

I must also thank Ryszard for introducing me to Artur, and must also emphasise the strong ties between Hammersmith and Poland. The Polish Cultural Association is based in the heart of Hammersmith and is a visible example of the friendship and historical ties between our countries.

The visit will take place from the 7th – 9th June. I have just booked my flights and am returning early Monday morning (10th June).

So, how do you book a place:

  1. Email Clueless at john.white49@ntlworld.com, stating that you wish to come!
  2. Next, book your flights – Ryanair and Wizz airlines both fly direct to Wroclaw.
  3. Contact Clueless if you would like to share accommodation – probably airbnb.

Please respond ASAP – the Hammers who have been involved in the last two trips had a brilliant time. This is going to be an amazing weekend!

More Chess Action in January

Plenty more is coming up this month too – The Hammersmith League kicks off again this coming Tuesday 8th, at Lytton Hall, with a second round of fixtures on Tuesday 29th. Captains have already begun arranging their teams – if you are yet to be contacted, please get in touch.

The Celtic Tigers have a match weekend coming up on the 12th and 13th – expect a report the following week once the dust has settled!

If you’ve not done so already, you may wish to purchase a ticket or two for the Raffle being organised to raise funds for Hammersmith and the Celtic Tigers. There are dozens of prizes to be won – including some really valuable training sessions with top players – and the odds are very favourable!

And last but not least, Hammersmith is fielding teams in a further 22 competitive games this month. In fact, there are only 3 weeknights where we’re not in action – amazing! Check out the Calendar for details.

A Middlesex Mullering

Christmas Bust-Up at The Anvil – The Muswell Hill Gang ran out of the Wild West of London

The Muswell Hill gang mounted a daring raid on Mother Anvil last week, and were met with Fire and Hammer. Yes, the Middlesex Division 2 circus was back on the road last night with a round 3 clash between our clubs.

Hammer has started well in this Division and Captain Clueless wanted to notch up another good performance before the Christmas break.

Now I know this is the season of goodwill and peace on earth is what we all should be embracing, but when it comes to competitive chess, this is a step too far for Hammerites!

So, would it be “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, or a “Miracle on 34th Street” scenario??

The Hammer Heroes in Board order:

  • Marios aka “Zues
  • Chris aka “Sydney” or “Showbag”
  • Paul aka “Dead-Eye
  • Jeremy aka “Brexit
  • Sheikh aka “Pandit
  • Matteo aka “The Suit
  • Charlie aka “Sorted
  • Simon aka “Bond

Hammer got an early Christmas present when Muswell forfeited boards 7 and 8 mid-afternoon. Frustrating for Bond and Sorted, but the two of them still turned up to support the team. True Hammerites to the core!!

On Board One, Zeus was playing like a God should – he had snaffled the exchange and seemed to have everything under control. Unfortunately, his opponent was a Prometheus in sheep’s clothing and got some central passed pawns rolling. Zeus struggled to halt their relentless march but the pieces or fates were aligned against him and he had to resign.

Hammer pegged back to 2-1.

Board Two saw Showbag, not only in his Christmas jumper, but also in crisp form. Just a very well-played game by our man and here for your seasonal delight is the game:

 Chris had put Hammer 3-1 up.

Dead-Eye was the last to finish on board 3 and although a pawn down in an endgame, pressured his opponent on the clock. This was a fantastic demonstration of nous and chess experience in action. He literally willed the win and in the words of Picard – he made it so.

Watching Dead-Eye in action is fascinating – he summons amazing focus and willpower to every struggle. He is totally immersed in the moment and is the epitome of Hammer Chess.

Hammer cruising at 4-1.

Board 4 was Brexit territory. Our version – unlike real life – is in superb form this season. He is currently 3-0 in individual games so far – could he make it 4-0? The answer was an emphatic yes – he won at a romp – with a strategy of building pressure on the c and d files and winning material. He is definitely on the road to rediscovering his best form.

Hammer over the finish line 5-1: victory secure.

Pandit on Board 5 was involved in one of those games where he had an edge but deft liquidation by his opponent allowed him to secure a draw. Frustrating for our man, but he still kept the scoreboard ticking over. Hammer 5.5-1.5 ahead.

Finally to the Suit, who has a window to play a lot of chess. He is currently on garden leave and hence not subject to the demands of Italian banks or financial markets. He is able to enjoy his chess without serious distractions.

Basically, he massacred his opponent – he was a rook up early on and from there on in it was simply a matter of conversion. This he duly did and delivered another point to the Hammer side.

A decent win that gives this pleasant match card, and very satisfactory table:

Hammer currently at 83% and heading into Christmas in fine fettle.

There will be tougher challenges ahead, with Harrow, Albany and Hendon encounters in January, but captain Clueless is content and ready for the dietary and alcohol excesses of the Festive Season.

Part One of the Middlesex 2 Odyssey is done and dusted – roll on Part Two.

Hammer 2 Middlesex Division getting it done. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all.

Captain Clueless.

Dispatches from the Battlefront – Middlesex Division 2 Sector

Unquestionably, in my mind, the greatest musical genius to come out of 8 Mile Detroit is one Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem – in 2002 he released the album “The Eminem Show”, his fourth studio album. One of the tracks was “Without Me” and in homage I start this report with a verse from that song with huge apologies to the great man.

“Guess who’s back, back again,
Clueless’s back, tell a friend”

Yes, Captain Clueless, former erstwhile and hapless commander of Starship Hammer 1 LL Division 3, has returned to leadership duties. He has been re-assigned to the Middlesex front and has taken control of Hammer 2 Division. Captain Pickle has taken over Hammer 3 but has handed over a superb, battle-hardened and focused squad. They not only achieved promotion last year, but won the Division, and have started with a victory in the first skirmish against the fearsome Metropolitan One.

Last night saw the second battle encounter – an away fixture at another tough nut – Albany 1. They have form – last year they inflicted only one of two defeats on the Hammer 1 LL team – they definitely know chess!!

As is traditional, each team member will be designated a nickname/codename for this season. To be honest, it is for life… The Hammer Heroes, in board order:

  1. Chris Skulte – aka “Sydney” or “Showbag
  2. Tommaso – aka “Forza
  3. Paul K – aka “Dead Eye
  4. Jeremy – aka “Brexit
  5. Sheikh – aka “Pandit
  6. John – aka “Clueless
  7. Nadhmi – aka “The Gift
  8. Izzy – new member and future star – “The Money” – why, you may ask? Basically, because he is a graduate of LSE and he is up there with Tommaso and Matteo in the sartorial elegance department. In other words, he is in the 1% of chess players who know how to dress.

Please note Clueless was a last-minute substitute for MatteoThe Suit“, as he had to call off.

To the games:

Board 1 saw Sydney taking on a tricky opponent. This player always turns up between 20 and 40 minutes late and then proceeds to confuse and outplay his opponent by moving at lightning speed. This was the fate that befell Thomas T-Bone last season and hence Clueless imparted this intel to Sydney. Did he listen – probably not. Despite having a very  heavy dose of man-flu, Sydney, after a slightly dubious opening, played a Harbour Bridge of a game – it was of the Grand Design variety. Hammer 1-0 up and here is the game for your enjoyment:

Board 2 the Forza playing white had a difficult night. His opponent kept the position closed and did not allow the open positions that our man thrives on. His opponent seized the control of the open b-file gradually and slowly built the pressure – it was tough and very methodical. Although the force is strong in Forza, there was little he could do. Albany had made it 1-1.

Board 3 now and Dead-Eye taking on a very technically correct opponent. The position ended up in a K and P ending with his opponent holding an extra pawn. Dead-Eye tried everything to prevent him from realising the advantage but ultimately had to give ground and the point as well. Hammer down 1-2.

Eyes turn as they do in these Brexit times to our own version of Brexit – our Jeremy – our Brexit is the superior version with ideas galore and a totally pragmatic approach. He does not need an attorney-general – he finds his own way. Playing an opponent graded 20-plus points higher, he took the game to his opponent. He found a way and scored a great win – he is 3-0 for the season and pushing his grade back up to where it belongs. Here is the game:

All-square at 2-2 and things were getting tense. So, using author’s license I am going to skip the encounters of Pandit and Clueless for the time being.

Board 7 saw The Gift in imperious form and a beautifully-played game – his chess is definitely maturing and developing rapidly. His was the first game to finish and out Hammer on the scoreboard. Hammer now 3-2 ahead and confidence was growing.

Middlesex debutante IzzyThe Money” was on the money in taking on a wily campaigner in the form of Steve Sonnis, a player whose 129 grade conceals a lot of chess knowledge and skill. The Money played like a seasoned veteran and was never in trouble and comfortably secured the draw. Hammer on the verge, 3.5-2.5 up.

Clueless then chipped in with a hard-fought draw, employing his usual tactic of getting his opponent out of his opening repertoire and forcing him to rely on his own resources. The game ended in a multiple minor-piece and pawn ending, with both sides going for the win. With time running out, a draw offer was made by my opponent and with less than two minutes on my clock, was quickly accepted. Hammer now at 4-3.

A half match-point guaranteed – could be the full point.

All eyes turned to Pandit, who had been on the back foot for most of the game, however a rash time-trouble move by his experienced opponent allowed him back in. In a flurry of moves and with both flags about to fall, his opponent forced a checkmate. Hammer had just missed out.

The match was drawn 4-4, a result Captain Clueless would have taken at the start of the night. A great performance from the team and yet another demonstration of the steely resolve that Hammer teams are displaying this 2018/19 season.

Clueless over and out, and roll on next Monday – I leave you with the current table:

And Finally…

Firmly in the Trevor McDonald tradition, here is a seriously entertaining game from Ryszard’s match against Kinds Head 1 in Division 1 of the Middlesex League… enjoy!

Good Times in Middlesex

As the World Championship concluded with a result, finally… we bring you some recent games  from Hammer members to enjoy.

First up, a gruelling game from Brian which swings up and down, ultimately ending in a fair draw:

This was from a game in Middlesex Division 3, against Ealing, on Tuesday night.

The match ended 4-4, with a comfortable win for Sheikh on top board, defeats for Chris and Dave, and draws in the rest of the team (and a default win for Hammer on 8).

Big congratulations go to Ville Karhunen, playing outstandingly in his debut for the club! We look forward to many more successful games!

And this marks Dipender’s final game in the captain’s seat, as he hands the reins over to Adam. The team are in great shape – unbeaten, and top of the table! Our thanks to Dipender for steering a smooth course for the good ship Hammer!

Our other featured game is from Ryzsard, in the Middlesex Division 1 match against Hendon. A very stylish win on top board, capping off a mauling of the opposition, 6.1-1.5…. enjoy:

Reality Check

22.11.18 – London League Division 2: Hammersmith v Imperial College

Our LL First Team suffered its first setback of the season at Imperial College last Thursday evening. There’s no denying that it was a disappointing result, and something of a Reality Check regarding our prospects for the season. Nonetheless it was always going to be a close match, and with a little more good fortune we could well have taken the points.

Imperial are a typical student side. Lots of very strong players to call upon, but the difficulty in consistently fielding a strong team might prove their undoing as the season progresses. This was a re-arranged match. The original match was scheduled for next April, during the university holidays and exams period. However, I did not want to exploit such a state of affairs and readily agreed to their captain’s please to bring the match forward.

The bright spots in the match were Thomas’s hard fought draw. Bajrush’s good form continuing, and in particular I was delighted with the wins gained by our two junior players. Nadhmi won quickly and efficiently, and Alexander played a very accurate pressing game and showed excellent endgame technique. They both have very bright futures in chess ahead of them.

Despite Imperial fielding a 2500 fide-rated player on top board, and three other 200+ players, we held our own on the top boards, and scored 2/3 on the bottom boards. We lost the match in the “engine room” of the middle boards. It happens. As always, every Hammer player gave 100% effort and commitment.

Onwards and upwards. We play LL matches virtually every week during January and February. Our next match, versus Metropolitan, will be crucial. I ask everyone in the squad to consult their 2019 diaries and rally to the cause. We shall need all hands on deck if we want to fight for promotion.

Jim.

Hot off the Press!

26.11.18: Thames Valley Division 1 – Wimbledon v Hammersmith

A fabulous result from last night – too good not to share immediately!

In the top tier of the Thames Valley setup, the mighty Hammer took on stalwarts and long-time “team to beat”, Wimbledon A in a highly-charged match down in SW19.

Putting down a marker as serious title contenders, Hammersmith came away with a draw against a side featuring a titled player, with an average +7 grading difference over the full 8 boards. A truly superb result, and rounding off an unbeaten run of 5 games in the Division so far, which sees us joint-top of the table on 4.5 points, with a game in hand on Wimbledon A.

A proud result, and huge kudos to the effort and commitment shown by the team last night. The league table makes for immense reading. We can only dream!

 Forza!!

And the well-deserved, refreshment-based, post-match analysis:

Christmas in the Middlesex League

19.11.18 – Middlesex Division 2: Hammersmith 2 vs. Metropolitan

On Monday the season got underway for the second team in the Middlesex League. This year we’re competing in division 2, having been promoted from a very competitive division 3 last season.

Our first opponents at the Anvil were Metropolitan, an established club from the city with a number of strong players.

Paul and Matteo sat down on boards 2 and 4. They started the clocks and waited patiently for an opponent to show up. No-one came. 2-0 Hammer.

Yasser, playing his first Hammer game of the season on board 1, had the black pieces. He played a solid game with few mistakes by either player. They entered a closed endgame with a lot of manoeuvring from both sides. In the end a zugzwang caused Yasser to lose control and succumb to a loss. 2-1.

Sheikh on board 3 played an exciting tactical skirmish. With kings exposed and pieces hanging all over the place, spectators had absolutely no idea what was going on. In the end his opponent found some crafty back rank ideas, forcing resignation. 2-2.

Nadhmi with white sat down on board 5 with his usual confidence and focus. He went up an exchange for a pawn, but his opponent had all the initiative. Nadhmi chose exactly the right moment to give back the exchange and steered the game to a draw. 2.5-2.5.

Charlie’s opponent saw a greek gift that not even Zeus could have claimed. From here the win was fairly straightforward. 3.5-2.5

Our new junior Yazhou was playing white on board 8. He played an impressive game against a strong opponent. Most pieces were exchanged off and they entered an endgame with a  rook and five pawns each. Sadly for Yazhou, his opponent’s outside passed pawn gained him a couple of crucial tempi, as the white king was forced to the edge of the board. In the end black found a way to mop up the white pawns and queen one of his own. 3.5-3.5.

So it was down to Simon to determine the match result. He answered 1.d4 with …g6 and went from a Modern into a King’s Indian where white played an early e3 rather than e4. White played the opening a little un-ambitiously and Simon was nearly equal fairly early on. White pushed e4 and missed a tactic as nxe4 left a bishop on b2 en prise, going a pawn down. there was then a pawn clash on the queen side and Simon played a slight inaccuracy. White thought he had a tactic but Simon saw one move further which liquidated into a winning endgame. After a further blunder Simon was left with two passed connected pawns in the centre that were ready to roll. It was an instructive game, concerning control of the dark squares as well as tactical features. 4.5-3.5 Hammer.

Overall, a great start for the team, helped slightly by a couple of defaults. We have two more matches over the next three weeks, in which we’ll be looking to build our momentum and secure a strong league position going into Christmas.

Adam

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Christmas!

Don’t forget – the Hammer Chess Christmas Party takes place on Thursday December 6th, at Wahaca Charlotte Street, starting from 7pm!

Full details are available here, but in short, everyone is invited! It’s going to be a relaxed, fun evening amongst friends, and there may even be some chess boards!

If you’d like to come along please contact John to reserve your spot ASAP – john.white49@ntlworld.com

See you there!

 

Momentous Times

First up, a very exciting update on the recent British Bangla Rapidplay tournament, followed by some truly momentous news from the Thames Valley Division. This report is definitely worth a full read! Please enjoy…

A Chairman’s Performance

A trio of Hammers took part in the recent BBCA Rapidplay on 11th November, and the results were very encouraging!

Chris and Kostis both took part in the major section, with our Wily Chairman, Bajrush, playing in the Open (no grade limit!) section.

The Happy Hammer Trio!

Kostis came away with 2.5 points out of 6 – a solid result. Chris bettered that slightly, with 3 points from 6. But the performance of the day goes to Bajrush, with a whopping 5 out of 6, and a share of 2nd place!

The third round saw him facing GM Bogdan Lalic as white, with the following position:

Black to play. Bajrush gives his thoughts: “I think I have a winning position, but miscalculated the next move. Black played Bd2, the only move to save him losing the game on the next move (Qg8+). After, I should play Kg2, but instead played Qa2 and ended up losing”.

Still, Bajrush ended up sharing 2nd prize with a GM and an IM! Not a bad performance at all!!

05.11.18 – Thames Valley Division 3: Wimbledon v Hammersmith

Captain Robin reports from the front line….

Our first match got off to a shaky start with a 4-1 defeat, and one adjournment, against the very strong Wimbledon team.

The one bright note was Sheikh on board 2 with a rapid win. His game is presented below – on the White side of a Sicilian:

Nadhmi came up against a 161 player, and played courageously up to the very end.

Yazhou on board 5 adjourned with a possible slight advantage. We wait to see how that goes!

12.11.18 – Thames Valley Division 1: Hammersmith v Surbiton
The Thames Valley Times Are A Changing – A Clueless Onlooker Reports

Back ’63 a young man called Robert Zimmerman captured for an entire generation the scent of change and hope that was in the air. He was Bob Dylan and the rest is history.

The second verse of ‘The Times they are a-changin’ for your delight is given below because it perfectly encapsulates the journey made by Hammersmith Chess Club in the last four years:

Come writes and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Nowhere has this progress been more forcibly demonstrated than the Thames Valley League.

On Monday night Hammer took on one of the perennial powerhouses of the First division – Surbiton A. Hammer have never beaten Surbiton A – last season we got a draw when some player called Clueless salvaged a draw in a murky adjourned game. Indeed, your correspondent can vividly recall a 7.5-0.5 mauling the Hammer crew took 20 months ago that was really traumatic at the time. Hammer were light years away from ever achieving parity, let alone victory.

However, this season Hammer have started at a pace in the Thames Valley League – as of Monday night, before the Surbiton encounter, we were 3 and 0. The match would prove how far along the road we have come.

The times are a changing – nothing shows this more than the scoreboard below:

First thing – we won. We won handsomely.

However, what strikes me is the change in our team line-up. Only Carsten, Bajrush and Marios played in the massacre 20 months ago.

Thomas, Sylvain, Tony, Paul and Jim have all joined the Hammer family since that 7.5-0.5 thrashing and hence do not bear the scars of that bruising encounter. Yep, not only the times are a changing, but the personnel definitely are as well.

Enough musings. To the games.

In board order, Carsten had yet another OTB no quarter given match-up with Chris Briscoe. I would love to know how many times they have played each other. Methinks it is up there with Karpov-Kasparov numbers. The one thing these games are not, and that is boring. It always seems to be primeval chess. Carsten is probably the most correct Hammer player I know but something happens to him when he runs into Chris. The inner Viking takes over.

This was a no holds-barred game with kings on an open-board with heavy artillery raining down. It was tightrope stuff with the result possibly going to either player. In the end Chris manoeuvred his black bishop to f3 to give a check, putting it en-prise, and this seemed with time ticking down to throw the Great Dane. A few moves later Carsten resigned in a position where he was one move away from delivering the coup-de-grace himself. Hammer down 0-1.

Thomas, our finest piece of French T-Bone, had a very positional game with his 200 rated opponent – playing black for a long period it looked like he held an edge with this bishop pair versus an opposing knight and bishop on a fairly open board. In a complex series of maneouvres he lost a pawn and was then fighting to salvage a draw which he duly delivered. Hammer on the scoreboard 0.5-1.5

Board three was possibly the game of the evening – our Wily Chairman Bajrush playing white against another 200-rated player. Yep, the patented Wily opening variation got another punt – but astonishingly he introduced a novelty – he actually castled! – which I thought was against the entire spirit of the variation. It was a very exciting encounter with white’s thematic c5! Making space for his bishop on c4 being a highlight. The whole game is given below for your enjoyment. Nobody plays chess like Wily!

Board 4 brought our newest newbie Sylvain to the fore – I must say this was a game of warfare that encompassed the whole board – it was brutal and complicated. There were tactics galore accompanied by deep strategy – it gave me a headache just looking at it. However, the finish was prosaic – white in desperation had launched a speculative kingside attack rather than just accept a totally passive position. Sylvain seized his moment by taking a knight with his Queen forcing a recapture with the white Queen and then playing Nf2+ forking the Queen – just very classy. I hereby nickname him Aramis!

Hammer nudging ahead 2.5-1.5

Board 4 saw the Surgeon in excellent form against a very tricky opponent Nick Faulks. Playing to provoke weaknesses in the black position, Tony induced his opponent to lash out. However, he had missed a sequence that lost a piece and then compounded the error by moving his queen to a7 instead of d8 and dropping an exchange. Here is the game:

Next up was Paul McK, the Prof, who deplores the Slow Play format and let it be said is fairly vocal about it. However, I do share his view that it should be confined to the dustbin of history. I have to confess I did not see much of the game but there looked like a lot of manoeuvring and the draw was agreed in one of those positions that would please the detractors of the current Carlsen and Caruana WCC match.

Hammer at 4-2 up and guaranteed at least a draw.

Next to the plate was ZeusMarios had uncertain form to the end of last season due to a huge chess workload. However, with a new career, a lack of beard and an uptick in sartorial elegance he is returning to his best form.

The game below is him at his best although he unnecessarily berated himself for missing 18. Nd5! – the good news for Hammer is Zeus is back. It is always good to have the Gods on your side.

Hammer past the winning post at 5-2. Our first ever win over Surbiton A. Cue fireworks, music, ticker-tape parade and raucous celebrations. But hold your horses – JimEl LocoStevenson still had to check-in.

All eyes turned to our LL Hammer 1 captain playing a slow-play finish game where he held the upper-hand. Now my knowledge of El Loco’s games is filled with Kings Gambits, with tactics and strategy in perfect harmony. This was not one of those games.

This was a drudge and a sludge affair where there were no tactics, just the heavy sound of positional moves. Jim had won a pawn in a position where there were two rooks vs two rooks and an opponent intent on just making the sealed move point. Jim was striving to convert when the adjournment came – fortunately his sealed move means he is +3 according to the uber brain, Stockfish. We expect good news shortly.

This was a stellar performance by the team – and it provides this pleasing picture:

Hammer has come of age!!!

A great Hammer night, and many congratulations to Captain Wily and the crew.

El Chessico Book II – The Fall of Troy

A Modern Reversal of Fortune (with Apologies to Battersea)

Like all good ripping yarns there is a huge amount of author’s license in this sorry, but heroic, tale.

The tale began when the warlike kingdom of Batter, lead by their Great King Aldo Menelaus and arch-conspirator General Leon Agamemnon, challenged the peaceful but drunken kingdom of Hammer to a fight-to-the-death chess match over thirty boards.

The Batter intention was to seize back the legendary El Chessico trophy that had been won by Hammer in a previous skirmish. Batter contended it had been stolen and craved it greatly. They were seduced by its power and beauty.

Legend has it that it could launch a thousand chess openings and this knowledge was prized beyond all by Aldo Menelaus. This battle would be about dominion, power, the 64 squares and bragging rights in the South and West of Londonium.

The march to war was littered with social media banter, critical negotiations and final agreement – sounds a bit like Brexit?? – and resulted in the agreed showdown at the home of Batter on the sixth day of the eleventh month in the year of Our Lord 2018.

The scene was set; the die was cast, and both tribes arrived to face their doom.

Batter called on its mightiest warriors Achilles, Partroclus and Diomedes.

Whilst King Priam Clueless of Hammer relied on the stalwarts of Hector, Paris and Aeneas.

The lineup looked a lot like this:

The magnitude of the task facing the Hammer team was huge – enemy territory and two defaults before a pawn was moved in anger. With both Alex and Ken not able to make it at the last minute – a tough mission just got even tougher.

To quote some classic football parlance, it was a match of three halves – yes please, get your head around that.

For simplicity sake, we will take the three halves as boards 1-10, 11-20 and 21-30. I guess three mini-matches within one big match.

The tale of the top ten boards:

There were some great games here.

Ryszard, aka Paris, downed his opponent with a tour de force utilizing the bishop pair to arrow in on the white king and down his formidable opponent. He literally targeted his opponent’s Achilles heel and the game is very instructive and well worth study.

Board 2 saw Thomas push hard with the initiative but with not enough of an edge to convert into a well-deserved victory. Hostilities were brought to an end by a mutually agreed draw.

The next two boards saw Hammer heroes Paul and Pavel fall after full-bloodied encounters and Hammer were now, on paper at least, three points down.

Fortunately, Jeremy played an amazing game and in noble Hector-style, deflected his opponent’s Queen and rook to the wrong side and part of the board. His pieces then swooped in on the denuded Black King and he triumphed and put a great point on the board. Hopefully, we will be able to publish the game at a later date.

Sitting beside Nadhmi while he plays chess is just a pleasure – he combines a deadly combination of perfect innocence with dead-eye accuracy. He tactically outplayed his opponent, winning a piece, and then converted his advantage smoothly. Hammer now just trailing by one point.

King Clueless and Brian agreed draws after bitter tussles and the scoreboard gap stayed frozen.

However, along came Adam and Charlie. The former, displaying all the calm of Trojan hero Aeneas, employed his favourite London System and won a piece with a deadly pin and then was error-free in his win.

Charlie decided to be liberal with his pawns and thus created multiple threats for his opponent. There may have been a defence, but time played its part and Charlie coolly walked away with another Hammer win. The Hammer crew had nosed in front overall by a point but had won this mini-match 6.5-3.5.

Boards 11-20 were even more bitterly contested.

The first two boards saw contrasting fortunes for the Hammers. Simon’s game was the first finish – he won at a canter. Whilst David had one of those nights where you defend tenaciously, win a pawn and move onto the offense. He was winning and had everything covered. Alas, one mis-move allowing a bishop pin lost his extra pawn and the game soon dissipated down to a draw. This was definitely a tragic near-miss of a win.

The next two boards saw Dipender fighting tenaciously but ultimately fruitlessly whilst Alex had sadly defaulted. Hammer on paper were still a point ahead but things were getting tight.

The next two boards (15 and 16) saw Ben, despite arriving late, do his stuff and win fairly quickly, whilst Robin took on General Leon and went down in flames. Just a point separating the teams overall – it was developing into a Virgil epic.

The next four boards saw four Hammers, Dipli and Kostis (the relatively new newbies) and Liam and Jakub (definite newbies) take on their opponents. The tale of the tape shows that Jakub won his individual battle, whilst Liam and Kostis drew – Dipli sadly lost. She is such a good player, I know she will back stronger.

Although we had lost this mini-match, Hammer were still two points ahead.

It would all come down to the battle in mini-match three – the fate of El Chessico was in the hands of the fighting Hammer Trojans.

Our seasoned campaigners, Nick and Nadim, had a draw and a win apiece – Hammer nudging closer – and Dave making his debut in the Hammer colours despite being materially ahead, fell into a Stalemate scenario.

A final push was needed and this is where Hammer played its reverse Trojan horse manoeuvre and the talents of Abakar, the Auchi twins, Connall and AndySpideyRoutledge were unleashed. The famous shock-troops of Troy.

A tour de force from the Taymour and Laith saw their junior opponents totally overawed, with both achieving dominance in rapid victories. The other three Hammers held their nerve: five games and five wins was the result – the city was saved – and made the second Hammer default meaningless.

Hammer had triumphed 18-11.

Scenes

El Chessico was safe and bragging rights are definitely still residing north of the river.

It was a great, great evening and with trophy in hand another Hammer triumph was noted when Dave won the raffle prize for a WCC ticket. Basically, Hammer were like Hermes – fleet of foot, and gracious in victory.

Absolute… scenes

I must thank Aldo, Leon and their captain Gregg for staging the event and wish them and all the Battersea family the best for this season.

Roll on the next encounter – the noisy neighbours may have been silenced for the moment, but believe me – they will be more ferocious and desperate next time.

King Priam Clueless signing off and paying homage to the Hammer heroes.