Read on for a January update from the Middlesex Division 2 team, followed by a super writeup on our top team in London Division 2, with bonus games to play through – very worth your while.
We also have the February pairings for our Rapidplay competition, and a few friendly reminders of some upcoming events!
A Theresa May of a Fortnight on the Middlesex 2 Battlefront
Yes, hostilities resumed for Hammer 2 on the Middlesex battlefront with the first three skirmishes of 2019. The question was, could Hammer carry on the excellent start – 2.5/3 – and not only cement our position in Division 2, but actually entertain thoughts of promotion to the top flight.
From the headline to this report I think you can conclude that things did not go as well as hoped. I ask you to read on with some trepidation…
The Hammer opponents for the month were:
- 14th January – Albany 1 at The Anvil
- 17th January – Harrow 1 at Harrow
- 28th January – Hendon 4 at The Anvil
Hammer 2 were full of post-festive cheer, and were ready for the Albany challenge. The team consisted of, in Board order: Paul K “Dead-Eye“, Jeremy “Brexit“, Sheikh “Pandit“, Clueless, Brian “The Hat“, Charlie “Sorted“, Simon “Bond” and Izzy “The Money“.
Suffice to say we were out-graded on average by 21 points a board, and the memory of the fighting draw we achieved away in November was a distant one. Here is the match card:
The hero of the evening was Dead-Eye, who won an excellent game against a very tricky opponent. here is the game and thoughts at various critical stages. I would say it is worth comparing with the Chris Skulte game from the away fixture in November. Both are excellent examples of attacking chess.
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 4. Be2 e6 5. O-O Nbd7 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8. c5 generally when this is played against me I attack it immediately with b6 and a5.but it never seems to come out right, so tonight I left it.
h6 To tuck the B if necessary.
9. b4 Qc7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Rc1 Bh7 12. Qa4 e5 13. Rfd1 e4 14. Nd2 Rfe8 I wanted to get my N on d7 into the game. Also Nf8 is one of those moves that always make me feel comfortable. Larsen said you will never be mated with a N on f8. That’s good enough for me.
15. b5 Nf8 16. Nb3 Bf5 I like this move, my B was doing nothing on h7 so I got it to a more active diagonal.
17. h3 Bd7 18. Qb4 N6h7 19. Nd2 f5 20. a4 Bd8 21. Qb3 Nf6 22. Ra1 f4 23. exf4 Qxf4 24. Nf1 Ng6 25. Ne3 up till now the engine says the game is equal but with this move it gives Black a plus. Bc1 is much better for White. Qg5 26. Kh1 Qf4 The engine says Bc7 is best but I was worried my Q was in danger of running out of space also it is attacking f2 so he must react. 27. Kg1 Bc7 Now I am almost +2. 28. g3 Qg5 29. Bc1 Bxg3
Now White can resign. 30. fxg3 Qxg3+ 31. Ng2 Bxh3 32. Bf1 Ng4 *white gave up.
Pandit and The Money came in with fighting draws to account for the other point. The latter fighting back from a piece down.
For the other Hammers it was a grim night with my own game being particularly grisly.
A tough 6-2 loss at home was a reality check.
In the same week we travelled up to Harrow – a real schlep but I am proud once again as Hammer fielded a full team. Serious kudos to the team members.
The line-up was as follows: Chris “Sydney“, Marios “Zeus“, Paul K “Dead–Eye“, John “Clueless“, Brian “The Hat“, Charlie “Sorted“, Adam “Pickle” and debutante Jon.
In time honoured tradition, I designate the nickname “G&T” to Jonathan. Not all of you know, but he was the winner of the bottle of Dutch Gin when our friends from Espion visited us last June.
Again, out-graded and playing in a chilly hall, my advice to all Hammers is to wear warm clothes if playing there at the height of Winter, plus bring along a thermos flask of coffee.
Harrow are an excellent chess club, but I plead that you address the temperature and refreshment issue!!
Having got that off my chest, I have to say that was no excuse for what occurred. This was a definite case of a double-hangover week – one of those weeks that are best forgotten.
The final score was 6.5-1.5, with the top three boards securing draws whilst the rest of us went down in flames – despite all boards fighting to the bitter end.
The third battle of the front saw us take on Hendon 4 at The Anvil. A moral-raising victory was never more needed. Captain Clueless went for experience and called in the heavy troops.
In Board order, the lineup: Chris “Sydney“, Marios “Zeus“, Jim “El Loco“, Yasser “Tellit“, Paul “Dead-Eye“, Jeremy “Brexit“, Nadhmi “The Gift“, and Charlie “Sorted“.
As non-playing captain I should have been able to give an excellent insight to the games, unfortunately I was involved in a life and death struggle with Bajrush in the club internal rapid tourney!
However, from what I saw, Sydney had a brilliant win against a very talented opponent – I think GM Simon Williams comment when he beat Magnus aged 10 – best meet them early in their chess career – is applicable here. His opponent has an immense amount of talent.
Zeus is recovering his best form – a really nice win against a very tricky opponent, putting Hammer at 2-0.
Jim and Yasser had solid draws with neither in trouble at any time. Hammer cruising at 3-1.
Dead-Eye with excellent play and ignoring certain comments from his opponent, secured victory number three with his usual accuracy. This pushed Hammer to 4-1.
Victory was secured by “The Gift” – playing an awkward opponent who would not resign, despite facing a lone K vs. a K and R scenario. Signs here of his growing maturity and mental toughness. He is true Hammer granite. Hammer at 5-1.
Lastly to Brexit and Sorted. They both had tough losses and both fought all the way but, alas, on the night their opponents held firm.
So, a 5-3 Hammer win, but this is subject to a steward’s inquiry – this is due to the nominated players issue in the Middlesex Leagues – so this card may change. I will keep you updated.
The current table looks like this:
So, a true Brexit-May rollercoaster ride of a month on the Middlesex front and matters yet to settle, like real political life. This Captain stated in his goals that securing Division 2 status was the first objective, and I believe we will achieve this. However it will require commitment from the whole squad.
Captain Clueless – over & out.
30.01.19 – London League 2: Hammersmith vs. Ilford
Our London League fixtures are coming thick & fast, this being the third in a series of six during a busy January and February period.
Our opponents Ilford, at one time a major London club, have had their problems this season, including defaulting an entire match. With a large grading advantage on almost every board we were solid favourites, and in the end the match panned out much as expected.
The fabled ‘Yellow Jersey’ of Hammer board 1 has seen quite a few owners this season. Carsten, Thomas and Bajrush have all defended Hammer’s honour with great distinction.
Tonight the job rested on the shoulders of one of our more promising young players ;o), Sydney Showbag himself – Chris. As the game below demonstrated, he was keen to put down a marker with a neat win in under 20 moves. A couple of instructive tactical points, with mate in 4 at the end should black recapture… gxf6. The jersey is now his to lose, as they say!
On board two, our Great Dane Carsten ran into some sharp opening preparation and went down in flames. It happens to even the best of us occasionally. Of course, Carsten’s role extends well beyond being just a top board stalwart, and following last week’s pleasant after match trip to the Princess Louise, this evening he introduced us to the excellent Holborn Whippet pub in the appropriately named nearby Sicilian Avenue.
On three, Thomas provided yet another example of his powerful controlled aggressive style, wrapping up the point nicely after the time control.
On board four, even Bajrush’s tremendously wily ingenuity and fighting spirit could not break down Ilford’s most solid player. A draw with bare King’s eventually resulted.
Sylvain displayed his customary precise play to win a very smooth game with the popular closed Italian Game on five.
On board six, Marios continued his recent welcome return to form with a well played King’s Indian, totally outplaying an opponent seemingly aiming for a draw from move 1.
My own game on seven was straightforward. Marios had played my opponent in Monday’s ill-fated Middlesex League Match vs. Hendon, and in two minutes flat he showed my how badly his opponent had played a Bird’s Opening as white. So when my opponent uncorked a Leningrad Dutch as black, I just followed Marios’s recipe. See for yourself below. 1.Nf3! rather than my usual 1.e4 hackery was intended as modest tribute to the retiring former World Champion, Kramnik.
Paul on eight recovered from the sight of his opponent playing Bf1-b4!! in the early opening, imposing an iron clamp on his opponent and rounding off with a display of crisp endgame technique.
Pavel on nine started with an aggressive English Attack against the Sicilian. His opponent defended well and reached a better endgame which Pavel was unable to save, despite valiant efforts.
Charlie, who has recently become such a key member of the team, showed his customary great tenacity and fighting spirit battling back from an awkward position as black in a French. His determined attitude to get a vital point for the team, turning down a draw when a pawn down in the endgame, was admirable. Nice work mate!
So it ended 7.5-2.5 to the good guys. There seemed to be a slightly strained atmosphere from our opponents for whatever reason, but the important thing is that we got the job done without fuss. The battle for promotion looks like going right down to the wire.
Rapidplay – February Pairings
January’s pairings in the Rapidplay are now all complete – full results card below. Some big upsets here, with Wyatt, Taymour, and Yingqi all beating higher graded opponents, and John scoring an impressive draw against top seed Bajrush.
Unfortunately in this round we had to award two walkovers and one double default because players did not arrange their games.
Please arrange your games in the first week of the month & enter details into the fixtures spreadsheet!
Tony is now the only player left on 100%, and he’s got the black pieces against last year’s winner, Bajrush, in a game that could prove to be crucial for the final standings.
Here are the full Round 4 fixtures – games to be completed by Thursday 28th February! Good luck.
And Finally… Some Friendly February Reminders!
- Raffle – don’t forget to sign up for the fundraising, prize giveaway that is the Hammer/Celtic Tigers raffle! There are still tickets available, and the chances of winning a prize are ridiculously high. Read the full post here!
Contact Chris Skulte to make your purchase, before it gets opened out to the wider chess community: email@example.com
- Poland Trip – our Summer excursion this year is to beautiful Wroclaw, in Poland! We’ll be lining up against the famous Wroclaw Chess Club, and enjoying the cultured surroundings of a stunning, medieval city in central Europe.
Friends & partners are also welcome to join. If you’d like to take part please contact John White for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
- GM nights – We have not one, but TWO Grandmasters visiting the Anvil in the coming months, to spread the good word, and impart some of their lifetime of knowledge and stories to the Hammer faithful.
First up is 2016 French Champion, GM Matthieu Cornette on Monday 11th February. Please contact John to reserve your spot: email@example.com