Monday was the Club’s final night in The Albion, and we rounded off proceedings with a handicap blitz tournament.
As the last throws of Summer fizzled out this week, nine brave players showed up to battle it out for glory, graded from 210 down to 83 – a great spread!
The rounds unfolded as follows:
When the dust had settled, the scoreboard was tight at the top:
The top two players went into an Armageddon playoff. Wyatt had the black pieces and four minutes to Pouya’s five, but only needed a draw to win the playoff.
Pouya blasted through Wyatt’s defences in emphatic fashion, sealing the win with time to spare.
Next week we’ll be heading back to Lytton Hall. There are no matches and no training, but a chance for everyone to meet some new faces and play some chess while not under the influence of beer!
With the new season barreling towards us, our opening fixtures are less than 3 weeks away. If you want to play for the club it’s essential you meet the playing criteria of ECF Membership, and Club Membership. Captains will be unable to pick you for a team if you haven’t sorted both.
There’s still time to sign up for our new Season-long Rapidplay tournament! We’ve already had over a dozen players sign up for what will be our most prestigious Club Competition this season. Entry is free – it’s included as part of your Club Membership.
Full details can be found here. Please email Adam or Dave to confirm your spot:
To be read in a Morgan Freeman voice, as in the Shawshank Redemption
As the sun sets on the first season of the Summer League (SL) I think a John Arlott-esque moment is called for and hence I shall share my thoughts with you, my fellow Hammerites, on this inaugural season.
The whole concept grew out of the challenge match between us and Battersea held on two nights in the Summer of 2016. The original El Chessico and the commencement of a great, but friendly rivalry between our clubs (note: we won the match!).
The biggest bonus of the event was meeting Leon and Aldo, of Battersea Chess Club. Two ultra-chess enthusiasts with energy and vision you cannot buy.
The former drove the SL website, as well as pioneering the idea of different names for the teams. He also had the stunning idea of approaching the British Bangla Chess Association (BBCA) and getting them to enter a team.
Aldo was the creative genius behind the Summer League. The introduction of such things as listing all the games online, the GM Simon Williams analysis, the branding, the visual displays, the sets & clocks, the banner and the trophy were all down to him. On top of it all, he organised the superb launch night – the best chess event I have ever participated in!
The league owes these two a huge debt and a huge vote of thanks and appreciation.
The other conspirators in this cabal were Richard Tillet from Streatham & Brixton, and Mo Islam from BBCA. Richard was the wise head on all the technical and law matters. He is the sort of guy you want on any Committee. Mo was the man who brought the BBCA to the party – he is a great guy, good chess player (we drew in our match up) and a real gentleman. Furthermore, the captain of the winning team.
From a Hammer point of view the final result saw us Totally and Just Hammered. We certainly lived up to our names. However, I never felt that in this first season from our perspective that was the overriding factor.
This was about giving as many members exposure to competitive and rated chess games over the long Summer. Plus, a lot of new members got a chance to play their first competitive match. Well over thirty members – including many new ones – took part, and we were able to blood two new captains.
In fact, I must pay special thanks to both Marios and Ken in stepping up to the plate and giving Adam and I the luxury of just playing chess. They did a first class job – especially with such innovations as Teamer in selection and a willingness to analyse games with members.
Two of our members featured in Simon William’s online analysis – Tony Niccoli, and Adam Cranston. Both games showed the fighting chess that Hammer is renowned for.
So, it ends till next Summer but we as a club have a solid base to build on as we start the “Old Chess Season”. There is so much in the pipeline for our club – new equipment, a new internal tourney, new members, a probable visit to Cork and the return visit from our friends in Amsterdam.
I will share one last anecdote, and this one really encapsulates the spirit of the Summer League and our great game.
On the opening night of fixtures, the two gentlemen who founded the BBCA asked if they could address the gathered company before the games commenced.
These two guys were both teachers, one primary one secondary, and had founded the BBCA to give the young people of Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets a creative and educational outlet. Not only that, but they wanted to use chess as a tool against radicalization and to promote harmony in that part of London.
I have seen chess do many things, but if our wonderful, mad and beautiful game can achieve that, then there really will be some hope for our world and our city.
Final Round Games & Results
The final gameweek of the Summer League saw both Hammer teams in a fight for pride (and points!).
With the title out of reach after some earlier, bruising rounds of chess, our Just and Totally teams were looking to end on a high.
Full results and all the moves are available here:
One final treat from last week – Hammersmith’s Tony Niccoli featured in the “game of the week“, prompting a thoroughly fascinating and insightful 30 minute analysis by Simon “Ginger GM” Williams on his YouTube channel. Well worth a viewing!
It’s well worth a look at some of these tussles – great opportunity to click through & learn, particularly from some of the stronger games.
As if that’s not enough, Hammersmith’s very own Adam Cranston features in the Game of the Week, an accolade meaning that the Ginger GM – Simon Williams – gives his full, 30-minute analysis of the game. That full analysis is available here on YouTube – well worth a look:
Doubly interesting too, as Adam is a practitioner of the London System, something the Ginger GM is a huge proponent of – he’s released a number of DVD’s and lots of training material on the system. Enjoy!
After every set of fixtures, the team captains from all the clubs involved have a chess-based conclave to decide which performance warrants the “Game of the Week” moniker.
The white smoke this time went up in favour of an enthralling battle between Mo Islam (East London Knights) and Malcolm Dancy (Battersea), featuring a hard-fought positional struggle, a number of winning chances and ever-changing initiative, plus some strategic mistakes for both players.
There’s also a shout-out for Hammer’s only victor of the round – with a Performance of the Week – young Nadhmi. Check it out!
Thanks to all involved for the video, and well done to the above mentioned players!
As if that’s not enough… hot on the heels of awarding us 3rd place in their Britain’s Best Chess Club Website list, the well-informed folks at Chess Journal have also featured us in the latest of their Club Profiles. You can read the full article here:
27.06.17 – Summer Chess League – Battersea Volts v. Just Hammered
Downpour, suspended railway services and poor performances over the board sets the background for a baptism of fire rather than a captain’s debut!
Stranded in Shepherd’s Bush railway station waiting for a train to Clapham among countless souls, I got to experience a bit of Greece in West London… every train to Clapham gets cancelled and we are informed only seconds before the scheduled train arrives at the platform.
Luckily our opponents agreed to delay the kick-off so that we could get there on time (Kaan also struggled on his way from Uxbridge!!!). Thank you, Volts, very sportsmanlike!!!
On to the chess stuff, Board 1 saw the highest rated pair of the night, Chris Beckett vs Carsten Pedersen going all out. Beckett made a dubious pawn sacrifice to gain the initiative but Carsten failed to find the best route out of the tactical mayhem and mutual blunders in time trouble allowed White to force a perpetual. 0.5-0.5
Board 2 – Yours truly vs M. Gudenas, I managed to get my opponent into a line of the Ruy Lopez – Schliemann I had prepared for Pavel (… now you know bud!!) then I mixed the move order and a complete meltdown followed. My opponent played very accurately, never allowing me a chance to come back. Apparently, knowing too much about a position is as dangerous as being clueless. 1.5-0.5
Board 3 – Tim Valentine vs Paul Kennelly, Paul played his favourite French and gained a material advantage after his opponent went all berserk on the Kingside. Unfortunately, he relaxed before the game was over and blundered all his advantage away, plus interest. 2.5-0.5
Board 4 – David Lambert vs Rayan Balluz, David tried to be creative in a theoretical line of the Najdorf… that’s a NO NO unless your surname is Kasparov. Despite having to drop the exchange he got a pawn and the Bishop pair for it and fought valiantly but was unable to save the half point. 3.5-0.5
Board 5 – Leon Watson vs Kaan Corbaci. This was a very interesting fight in a Benoni-Kings Indian Defence hybrid which was decided in time trouble by Black’s lack of space and light square weaknesses. 4.5-0.5 JH we are not looking good…
Board 6 – Nadhmi Auchi vs Peter Yusoff. A very special game, “Peter was born in the year Jesse Owens won golds at the Berlin Olympics, Nadhmi was born in the year Pirates of the Caribbean II came out“, as Leon pointed out! Nadhmi got a decisive advantage on move 4!!! and converted smoothly. Our beacon of hope in a rather grim night and the only Hammersmith player out of two squads to score a full point on the night. 4.5-1.5
26.06.17 – The Albion Public House – Yes, the first training night of the Summer Program was delivered this Monday just gone by Clueless (aka. John White) – not a nickname to fill you with confidence – at our temporary Summer residence, The Albion.
The theme of my training session was to look at the following points, and what part they play in a chess contest:
The psychology of chess – what your opponent can do to you, and more importantly, what you can do to your opponent
The transition from Middle-game to Endgame
That even with reduced material you can still conjure up serious threats and tactics
Analysis of move options in a difficult position
The role of computers in analysis and adjourned positions
Using an illustrative game of mine, from just over two years ago, played against Ealing 2, I hoped to explore all of these themes. Please note, I will only examine the line played. You can have fun with all the variations and the what-ifs!
One caveat to all of this is my own ability as a chess player. I can probably calculate three moves deep on a good day, but due to the amount of chess I have played I do have some feel for what is the right move in any given position.
We join the game just as White, my opponent, had to seal his move.
Some background to the encounter which may explain some of the comments through the analysis:
The result of the game did not have any bearing on the result of the overall match – this was just for personal satisfaction
My opponent was quite abrasive and not friendly at the board. At the time, he was graded 143 and I was graded a mere 126. I think the grade disparity may have also influenced his opening choice – 1.f4 Bird’s Opening
On completing his sealed move, he offered me a draw. At the time I replied that I would like the opportunity to examine the position and decide once that had been done
I looked at the game briefly and decided that I would accept the draw if it was still on offer. I contacted my opponent and made the draw offer. He had obviously analysed the position – my suspicion is that he had probably used a chess program – and turned down the draw offer. After sometime, he agreed a resumption date. I did not look at the game again
His comment to me before we resumed, at the board, was “I bet you wished you had taken the draw offer”. This was unsportsmanlike and arrogant, but had the benefit of reinforcing my determination not to lose. It also dictated my behaviour over the first two moves I played
To the game, and I will supplement the move analysis with my thoughts at the time. The critical action took place over about 15 moves.
White sealed Rh3 – I was relieved when it was played on the board. I was dreading Ba3 and a subsequent BxN. At this stage I deliberately waited 10 minutes before playing my next move, KxP. I wanted it to appear I was shocked by his move.
He immediately banged out Kg3. Again, I took my time and thought for 20 minutes – this was part deliberate, as well as part trying to figure out what to play. I knew he was not playing his researched line, and I wanted to find something he and his engine had not considered.
I reasoned that I wanted to keep as many pieces for now on the board, activate my pieces and prevent penetration by his Rook. The move I played, which I found at the board, allowed this to happen. I played Bf7. I played it with supreme confidence to rattle him. A bit of chess psychology.
He visibly started; my ruse had worked. He thought for a while and continued with his original plan. Kg4 was played.
I responded with Kg7 to prevent any Rook penetration along the h-file.
He then banged out Ba3 – if you put it in the engines a mistake. I immediately played Nd7.
His response was to play Bd6 to which I replied Rc3 and for the first time I felt the initiative had changed hands. He played Bb5 and I instantly replied Nf6+. I had achieved my goals set out when I played Bf7.
This is where the tactics started with any King move other than Kf3 allowing a juicy Knight fork. He retreated with said move and I followed up with g5, threatening g4+ and picking up the Rook. He retreated his King to g2. Check out the move options for white here.
I now felt slightly sadistic by playing Rc2+, driving him back to the first Rank. He played Kf1. Now consider the position – whose King has more space and whose pieces have real targets, and how vulnerable is White’s Queenside? Quite a transformation, and all in the space of 9 moves.
In the next few moves the minor pieces were swapped off and White picked up the g-pawn. However, the commanding position of the Black King and the vulnerability of the White Queenside pawns decided matters in favour of myself.
My opponent resigned many moves later – he did not shake hands and was totally bemused. He was beaten psychologically as he could not adjust to the change in events.
All I can say is that revenge is a dish best served cold.
This small section of the game decided matters and demonstrates all of the above themes.
The use of psychology to unsettle your opponent. Doing something out of the ordinary.
On a personal note, I find it unbelievable that we still allow adjournments in UK League Chess. In these days, when everybody is time precious, the extra costs involved and the use of chess programs makes the continued employment of the adjournment option ludicrous. I fervently believe this is the overwhelming view of most league chess players. We are being held back by a vociferous minority!
We have to get with the times!!
(And a final tip to all future trainers at The Albion – get there early as it took a while to locate the demonstration board and setup the furniture)
27.06.17 – Totally Hammered vs Streatwise, Summer Chess League
Looking back, the torrential rain downpour that arrived last night was definitely an ominous warning that something was going to happen… and so it was in the match where, aside from some brief chinks of sunshine from Pavel and Chris – who both drew – the good ship Totally Hammered lived up to its name, losing 4-1 to Streatwise.
We were out graded on every board, so considering the situation, our draws were a fantastic result. For those wishing to relive the experience, all the games are now up on the Summer League website.
We also welcomed two new players to the club for their debut games: Nadim Osseiran and Chris Dmitrov! I believe they are both coming along to next Monday’s club night, so please give them a warm welcome when you meet them.
Anyway team, let’s not dwell on failure – we have a few weeks to prepare for the next match in July (18th July – save the date!). Six boards to cover, many beers to be drunk, and a chance for vengeance!!
Full set of games below – Captain’s report from Just Hammered vs Battersea Volts still to come… It contains the only ray of sunshine from the evening – a victory for one of our newest – and certainly our youngest – member, Nadhmi. Pleased to say we’ll also be posting a full analysis of that game from one of our strongest players. Stay tuned!!
Totally Hammered vs Streatwise
1. Barjrush Kelmendi 183 vs Robin Haldane 191 0-1
2. Martin Smith 172 vs Pavel Nefyodov 164 1/2-1/2
3. Chris Dimitrov es133 vs Nello Attianese 169 0-1
4. Gabriel Barr 168 vs John Ryan 124 1-0
5. Chris Moore 112 vs Alan Romeril 137 1/2-1/2
6. Jose Dimiti 113 vs Nadim Osseiran es95 1-0
Volts vs Just Hammered
1. Chris Beckett 202 vs Carsten Pedersen 201 1/2-1/2
2. Marios Kouis es150 vs Motiejus Gudenas es169 0-1
3. Tim Valentine 126 vs Paul Kennelly 161 1-0
4. David Lambert 123 vs Rayan Balluz es100 0-1
5. Leon Watson 122 vs Kaan Corbaci es120 1-0
6. Naadhmi Auchi 105 vs Peter Yusoff es80 1-0
The British Bangla Chess Association are having a 10-minute blitz tourney this coming Sunday – the 2nd July starting at 3pm.
The tourney will take place at
Tower Hamlets Parents Centre, 1 Links Yard, 29 Spelman Street, London E1 5LX – it is just off Brick Lane
Entry fee is £7 for Non- BCCA players and it is run on a first come first served basis
So if you want to take part please phone either Mostaque on 07903 559 812 or Tariq on 07930 528 293
19.06.17 – Middlesex League – Kings Head v Hammersmith
On one of the hottest days of the year, Hammer embarked on the Carpenters Arms to play our final game of the Autumn/Winter/Spring season. It was the twelfth fixture in our Middlesex Division 3 campaign, a league we had already won with two matches to spare… embarrassing! Kings Head were the opponents, who were also playing for nothing but pride and grading points.
Due to a combination of weather, holidays, work commitments, and the Summer League, it was surprisingly difficult to field a squad. Carsten, Marios and John White kindly stepped up to fill the gaps, vastly improving the playing strength of the team.
On board one, Carsten and his opponent blitzed out the first 12 moves, with Carsten landing a white pawn on g7. With a King stuck in the centre, Black defended valiantly, but it wasn’t long before Carsten’s exquisite tactics won him a piece and the game.
Marios and Jeremy were playing more closed positions, yet they both appeared to be in their element. With gradual pressure intensifying throughout the game, their opponents eventually threw in their towels.
John White is not on his best run of form but played fairly solidly, sealing a draw with the black pieces on board four.
Adam spent a fair bit of his Sunday watching Simon William’s London System DVD. Luck was on his side: he got the white pieces, played the London, and his opponent adopted the passive …Be7 setup. Without a moment’s hesitation, Harry the h-pawn came steaming up the board and ripped apart the Kingside, forcing resignation in 19 moves.
John Woolley was the closest matched player in terms of grading, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from his game. An inspired John played very accurately, winning a Knight in the middle game, and closing it out calmly. Fingers crossed John decides to stay at the club next year.
The third John: Mr. Ryan, and his opponent, John, were also closely matched grade-wise. The match looked pretty even until the Kings Head player committed a clear touch-move, cheekily trying to claim that he had touched the piece without any intention to move it. After a couple of minutes of noisy altercation, he conceded that the original piece must be moved, and went on to lose the game. The irony was that the alternative move he had tried to play was even worse!
With a disorganised captain only sending the correct start time on the morning of the match, it was unsurprising that a player showed up late. This was to be Robin on board eight, who has kindly provided his own game analysis:
“I came in late, thought it was a Queen pawn opening so as Black I played two moves of the Budapest gambit (Nf6, e5). Getting my specs on, found it was an English opening! What a farce!! Anyway no harm, but interesting position with fairish counterplay for black. White Queenside pawns flew forward but then got cemented down after I sacrificed a pawn. The a-file looked good for the White Rook, but my cluster of bishops, rooks and Queen deterred access. After trading Rooks off I developed a potentially advantageous endgame for me, except Queens were around. I had caught up on my clock also. A draw agreed. Mismatch of gambit defence, though not for the faint of heart, seemed to work this time, and unsettled my opponent perhaps.”
And that ends a hugely successful season in the Middlesex League. Next season we’ll surely face some tougher challenges in Division 2, but with the Club constantly getting stronger, there’s every chance we could head straight on up to Division 1.
Matches: Won 9, Drawn 1, Lost 1, Walkover 1
Games: Won 57, Drawn 12, Lost 12, Default 12, Forfeit 3
Players: Total 28, Unbeaten 18, 100% wins 14, Player of the Season: Sheikh Mabud (5/5)
20.06.17 – Remember the date 20th June 2017. The first night of the inaugural season of the Summer League.
Six teams consisting of six players each gathered at the home of Battersea Chess Club to engage in mental combat.
To remind you, the six teams are: Battersea Amps, Battersea Volts, East LondonKnights, Streatwise, Totally Hammered and Just Hammered.
By luck, the first-round pairings threw up a couple of internecine clashes with the Amps taking on the Volts, Totally Hammered versus JustHammered and the intriguing clash of the East London Knights and Streatwise.
There is nothing like internal Club clashes to stir the blood. The chance to claim bragging rights over your fellow club member is something that appeals to the sadistic streak present in all chess players!
The last match to be completed was the home clash between the Volts and the Amps. The high-octane Volts just edging the contest 3.5-2.5. It was such a close match which could have gone either way. It came down to the final match on Board One, when time pressure was a huge factor in the result. This was a classic game with just a pawn and Rook vs Rook left on the board. Huge credit goes to both players for the no holds barred nature of it. It was probably a theoretical draw but time pressure and sheer tenacity won the day.
The East London Knights aka “The British Bangla Chess Association” made their debut in League Chess in their match against Streatwise (Streatham & Brixton). The Streats were hurt by a default and this could have been two defaults but for Adam – of Hammer fame – stepping in as a most welcome mercenary to cover Board Four.
However, this did not distract the Knights and they duly triumphed 4-2 in a closely-contested match. A great start to their campaign. Tough on the Streats but they will be back!
To the “home” battle of the Hammered boys – would it be a Total triumph or would Just, just do enough?
Well the tale of the tape was a 3.5-2.5 win for the Just Hammered boys. In a thrilling contest that again came down to the last match.
The first match to finish was Robins. His opponent our in-form treasurer, Chris. A game in which the Queens came off early, with Chris blundering a piece in the bargain, and Robin smoothly converting. Advantage to the Just boys!
The lead did not last long with Bajrush outplaying Paul in a tactical sequence when a Rook on a1 got picked up free of charge. This left Paul in a hopeless position and so he did the honourable thing. Level-pegging!!
The third game saw “Brexit” Jeremy totally and deservedly thrash me. My worst game of the season by a long way, and my apologies to Jeremy for such a lamentable showing. Move on – Totally boys now holding the edge at 2-1.
The next game to finish saw the Prof (aka John R) make a bold sacrifice to gain a vicious attack on the citadel of the Wiz (Orial). Would it result in a breakthrough? Sadly, for John R, but happily for the Just lads, it did not crash through. The Wiz simply consolidated and calmly started improving his position and exerting his material advantage. The end was sudden with a lovely Knight fork one of the threats. The match was level.
The next game to finish was the Ken-Nick battle where a (charming) draw was agreed with Nick three pawns up. I think nerves played a huge part here and I think Ken would admit he really dodged a bullet. Still level 2.5-2.5.
So, like the Volts and the Amps, the result of the match came down to the last game between Pavel and Marios. In a fluctuating contest where Pavel hold the initiative for a very long time, Marios emerged triumphant in the endgame, where two passed-pawns on the 6th rank overhwhelmed Pavel’s Rook to Bishop advantage.
So, the Just Hammered boys sneaked it on the line. A match which reflected well on the fighting Hammer spirit and sets the tone nicely for the Summer League.
One of the innovations of the league is that you can play through all the games, as they are listed on the Summer League website. So if you want to see my abysmal performance or the sheer mastery of Bajrush, it is all there in Black and White. All the Hammer games are shown below.
A great first night, superbly orchestrated by Aldo, and my parting message to all is – Just get involved or you will be Hammered!!
Just Hammered vs Totally Hammered
Paul Kennelly 161 vs Barjush Kelmendi 183 0-1
*Marios Kouis vs Pavel Nefyodov 1-0
John White 150 vs Jeremy Hodgson 154 0-1
Orial O’Caithill 138 vs John Ryan 124 1-0
Robin Lee 118 vs Chris Moore 112 1-0
*Nick Rutherford vs Ken Kwabiah 1/2-1/2
09-11 June 2017: Yep, the Hammer boys went Dutch and descended like a plague of locusts on the fair city of Amsterdam this weekend just gone.
The Hammer crew needed chess satisfaction, and unlike Mick and the Stones, we got a serious overdose of it!
Twelve brave souls and a few family members ventured forth. Before we get to the gory details of the weekend, just a few words about how it all came about.
After the Brexit result last year, your correspondent decided in conjunction with the Hammer Committee, to organise a weekend raid on a European Chess Club. The aim to show that, although the UK was exiting the EU, we are most definitely not exiting Europe! Chess would be used to build bridges, and of course provide the perfect cover for consumption of copious amounts of beer.
A furious Google search yield Du Pion chess club in Amsterdam (check out their website: www.espion.amsterdam). A beautiful city steeped in chess history, beer and culture… a dream destination for any chess aficionado.
First contact was made and a swift dialogue was quickly established. They would be delighted to host us – little did they know – and the dates were fixed.
The Hammer posse lined up as follows:
Bajrush – aka “Wily Coyote“
Matteo – aka “The Suit“
Orial – aka “The Wiz“
Andy – aka “Spidey“
Chris – aka “R U Serious“
Ken – aka “King of Kool“
Alex – aka “Cola Man“
Dave – aka “The Rave“
Jeremy – aka “Brexit“
Paul – aka “Dead-Eyed“
Adam – aka “Pickle“
And John, aka “Clueless“
A more disreputable and diverse group of Hammerites you would find hard to pick.
Before I got onto the action I must say a special thank you to Chairman Raymond and all of the Du Pion Chess Club for a superbly organised weekend. They were so hospitable, friendly and generous.
The bar has been set very high and Hammer will have to step up to deliver a comparable program when the Dutch club pay us a return visit in June 2018.
The Hammer contingent arrived by plane at different times on the Friday, and were staying at various locations around the city.
However, a few of us – Wily, Pickly, Dead-Eyed, Spidey, The Suit, Kool, Brexit and Clueless – gathered at Cafe de Kaaiman for an informal drink at about 11.30pm. The bar had an extensive range of draught beer to tempt you – Heineken, Heineken or Heineken. Sometimes choice can be overrated.
The lack of beer choice, however, did not impede the conversation and the bonding of the Hammer squad. We were here to make new friends, enjoy a fabulous city and play some chess. The squad was primed to deliver. Beer always helps fortify the soul, especially in chess matters.
The next morning we gathered at Henrick de Keijserplein 45 at 10.15am – Brexit was late and confused (like the real thing??) – and met our counterparts from Du Pion. A great venue, it was well-organised and Du Pion are a well-equipped and superbly-run chess club, with nice sets and boards plus loads of digital clocks.
Free coffee and snacks were available in abundance and we got chatting to the Du Pion chaps. With ice broken, Chairman Raymond made an excellent welcoming speech in perfect English (why are they so good!!), and presented two framed photographs of Nigel Short to Wily and your correspondent, Clueless.
Responding on behalf of HCC, Clueless effusively thanked all at Du Pion for their invitation and presented a framed photograph of Julian Hodgson, personally signed, to Raymond and Du Pion club.
There then followed the excruciating sight of your correspondent giving an eleven sentence speech in Dutch. My nickname for this trip was Clueless and I am pretty sure I lived up to the title extremely will in giving this speech. I think Du Pion were very generous in their appreciation and enthusiasm of my effort and fortunately no diplomatic incidents occurred.
We then got down to chess business – a twelve board match – the really serious part of the day. Would the honour of Hammer Chess be preserved, or would we be Double-Dutched?
The first game to finish was Spidey, and sadly he lost. Was this an omen? The next result saw Pickle equalise the scores. I think, as my particular game was all-consuming, Hammer went two down when Rave succumbed in a complex game.
Hammer were down 2-1 and the flying Dutchmen were on their way. However, Hammer Steel came to the rescue and a series of wins from Wily, Dead-Eyed, Brexit, The Suit, The Wiz, Kool, and R U Serious, put us in a commanding position 8-2 ahead. Cola agreed a draw, and Clueless was the last to finish with another Hammer win.
When reporting the result, Henck from Du Pion put it beautifully – our Dutch friends were “modest” in their performance was how he phrased it. I have to say, Hammer were ruthless and although the idea of the weekend was to make new friends, when it comes to over the board chess, Hammerites are basically cavemen.
We were then served a delicious lunch with soup and sumptuous rolls, all paid for by Du Pion, and we got to know our friends a little bit more.
The afternoon session started with some Duo Chess – pairings of one Dutch and One English v one Dutch and one English. You moved alternately and could not confer. This certainly brought the sharp difference in style to the fore. It was great fun and again reinforced the bonding process and common enjoyment of chess.
We then broke for biscuits and coffee. I have to say the biscuits were delicious and far too tempting for my sweet tooth. Once refuelling had been finished we returned to two options – some endgame studies, or playing rapid chess where the Hammerites had to play the English and the Du Pion guys had to play the Dutch. It sounds like a dream session for the Ginger GM (Simon Williams is a serious practitioner of the Dutch) if only he were Dutch!!!
The next part of the day was the solution presentation of the Puzzle challenge, with one of the puzzles actually having been the creation of Henck. Indeed, it had even stumped the great GM Jan Timman. The puzzles were hugely entertaining and very educational. A real winner.
We then rounded off the pure chess part of the day with a new game – “Brexit chess”. A chess version where one side would have four Bishops and no Knights, and the other side would have four Knights and no Bishops. You’ll have to take my word for it, but the concept has something to do with the international trade in horse semen & scared clergymen…
Anyway, this was an unbelievably challenging way to play the game, with the Knights dominating the early stages. Indeed, the only way for the Bishops to win was to open the position up from move 1 – not an easy task!!
This is an idea we may well use during next season at Hammer!
The final part of the day was a meal together at Duble restaurant in the city centre. A Mediterranean establishment with stunning food, good beer and great wine. The perfect location for a great chat and a wind down after the chess mania. Those who chose the main course meat dish had a serious load to demolish, while the healthy amongst us found the salmon dish just right.
The meal concluded and we bid farewell to our new best friends and set forth into the heart of the city to hunt down a bar. At this stage the Wiz, Cola and Wily parted ways for various reasons. This left Rave, Pickle, R U Serious, Dead-Eyed, Kool, Spidey, The Suit and Clueless and we found our Mecca in the form of the Three Sisters in Rembrandt Square.
There was nothing remotely artistic about the night except the consumption of beer and the inevitable rubbish that men talk about when beer is free-flowing. I have vague memories of doing a vodka shot, as did some of the others.
About 1am Dead-Eyed and myself bid “geode nacht” to the lads and headed back to our Airbnb. What happened afterwards I have no idea. What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam…
The weary Hammer troops gathered the next morning at the Max Euwe Centre for a privately organised tour – it is great having friends with connections!
There was many a sore head but the tour of the Centre was fascinating and if the Three Sisters was the Mecca of drinking, then the Max Euwe Centre is the nirvana for all chess lovers.
It was like walking through chess history with stacks of memorabilia and a chess library of the Gods. Stories were told by our guide that were insightful and fascinating. It was a total treat. To those of the crew who missed it – not mentioning any names but the Wiz and Spidey – you missed something very special.
This concluded the organised part of the weekend but Raymond had one more surprise and that was the chance to go to a cafe to watch the two Van Forest brothers (One a GM, the other an IM) take on two FM’s in 3-minute Blitz. They were due to play 50 games each!!
I have to say this was too good an opportunity to miss and we enjoyed seeing chess at an entirely different level. The speed and accuracy in the numerous blitz finishes was outstanding and something a mere wood-pusher like me can only dream of.
This really concluded the trip and by various trains, planes and automobiles the Hammer crew made its way home to West London and yonder.
To summarise – the best of weekends.
Great company, new friends, brilliant city, great chess, history, art, beer, food and talking rubbish all reached new rarefied levels.
It seems appropriate to nominate the outstanding Hammer performers of the weekend:
The “Party Till I Drop Animal” – The Wiz – getting home at 8am Sunday morning, just an outstanding effort.
The “Brexit I Know It All Cab Driver’s Award” – The one and only Jeremy, who did provide the photo of Julian – just brilliant company.
The “I’m Still Standing After Drinking Most Beer Award” – Pickle – Adam did his club and country proud.
The “Cultured and Considerate Hammer Personality Award” – Cola – he saw as much culture as the rest of us drank beer.
Best Hammer Chess Player Award – we all were!!!
My final thoughts are with our new friends in Du Pion – Raymond, Henck, Tom, Dik, Hari and the rest, you were just complete stars!
Roll on 2018 when Hammer are the hosts.
Clueless now signing off… and in rehab!
In Other News…
Summer Tournaments at GLCC
You may be interested in the tournaments below, hosted by Greater London Chess Club (GLCC), which are also open to non-members. All events take place at GLCC’s central London venue at St George’s Bloomsbury, 6 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HR (close to the British Museum).
You’ve undoubtedly already been made aware of Hammer’s entry into the inaugural Summer Chess League this year. We’ve got a bunch of games coming up over the next two months and will be in need of players! Check your emails. We’re hoping to make this a regular Summer fixture so your support is most appreciated!
The launch event happened earlier this week at Battersea’s home venue, featuring amongst many others, the Ginger GM, plus IM’s Richard Bates and Simon Ansell.