Thames Valley – a Halloween Nightmare?

31.10.16 – Thames Valley League: Hammersmith v Surbiton A

On a calm Halloween evening the Hammer TV team took on the might of Surbiton A – one of the powerhouses of Division One.

On paper Hammer were out-graded by average of 13 points per board! A tough ask on the spookiest night of the year.

The portents were not good when our captain Bajrush had to make a late withdrawal. However, the ever- reliable Brian Dodgeon stepped up to the mark.

This meant your correspondent stepped into the captain’s shoes and considering my record in LL 3 this season – this was not a good omen.

First up it was great to welcome Tony Niccoli to the fight. Making his debut for Hammer in league chess on board one. His first game was probably the most complex of the night.

Tony had Rook, Bishop and Pawn for his queen plus all the pressure. However, fine manoeuvring by his opponent broke the bind and the loss became inevitable. Tony fully embraced the fighting spirit of Hammer Chess and hopefully will be rewarded next time.

On second board Carsten in his calm and logical style got a rook for pawn and minor piece. Then demonstrating excellent technique, he converted his advantage. The beer in the Albion later on was very sweet. A really excellent win and the win of the night for Hammer

On boards three, four and six – the Hammer trio of Paul, Sheikh and Safi faced opponents who out-graded them by an average of 21 points. This was a tall order and the three loses did not tell the full story and our boys went down fighting – Sheikh was so close to equalising particularly.

On board eight Brian Dodgeon duly secured an advantage from the opening but could not convert. The draw was the only non-decisive match of the night. Great performance by Brian – after having to step in so late.

Board seven saw Adam play an amazing game in which he initially walked the tightrope in the early stages before gradually assuming a space and activity advantage. The victory was duly secured and another excellent win for Hammer.

Finally, to board five and your correspondents game. This was me playing the black side of a Benoni. The game was adjourned at move 37 with the sealed move played by myself. I have a bishop for three pawns and a space advantage. The computer is working full time to hopefully convert this into a win. Will keep you informed……

So was it a Halloween nightmare for Hammer ?

In my opinion – definitely not. It demonstrates clearly to me that Hammer belong in the top division and we can compete at this level.

Bring on Surbiton B next week !!!!

Result: Hammersmith 2.5 – 4.5 Surbiton A

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Hammer v Battersea Act III

27.10.16 – London League 3: Hammer vs Battersea

Act III -A Bitter Sweet Dance at Golden Lane

When friendships are suspended and no quarter given a subsequent bloodbath usually happens.

The match exemplified all that is best about London League Chess. The end result a narrow 6-4 loss for your Hammer colleagues, however forensic examination of the individual games shows that Hammer should have won despite an average 14- point grading deficit per board.

As in all sport it is the fine margins that count.

Bajrush as usual had a totally original position with his c4, d3 and e4 set-up. A positional sacrifice of queen for rook and minor piece and a slight positional edge did not work. When the Black Queen penetrated his position things went quickly downhill. A tough loss.

Paul on board 2 had a slight edge in a complex position but not enough to bring home the full point his resolute play deserved. The last game to finish, hostilities were ceased after 10pm and a draw agreed.

John Goodacre had a won game after strong and logical play. Material up, he was cruising to a well-deserved victory. He should have won. In his own words “Won game – was plus 4 – I basically got sloppy and messed up”. This quote has been heavily censored for the website. Caissa can be cruel is the moral of the story here – John deserved better.

Sheikh on board 4 played the black side of a Grunfeld for the first time and may possibly never play a better one. Extremely double-edged his opponent opted for simplification to secure the draw.

On board 6 Safi had a heavy manoeuvring/closed positional game that resulted in a draw – with each side cancelling out the other’s threats.

Brian took on Pavel – a former potential Hammer club member. Due to job requirements Pavel had to move to Tooting and hence joining Battersea was the logical move. To the game – Brian although out-graded by 24 points played a good game and secured the draw.

On board eight John Woolley had a drawn position and even held the advantage in an endgame with Bishop vs Knight. Unfortunately, a blunder led to the loss of Bishop and the loss of a point. John was cross with himself and hopefully set the record straight next time.

On board 10 Robin, although heavily out-graded and receiving a very late call-up, produced his usual fighting chess. He really went for it and created a very unbalanced position. An environment he thrives in. Sadly, fortune did not smile on him and a loss was the result. Am very grateful for him stepping up at such late notice.

The star of the evening was Matteo on board nine. Matteo has a very smooth style and beautifully outplayed his opponent both strategically and tactically. The sight of four pawns marching up the board with an accompanying rook on the 7th rank against a bishop, rook and King trapped on the 8th was brilliant to see.

Finally, your captain won in a very complex tactical battle where use of the Leicester City Chess rules worked perfectly. Forty minutes up on the clock and an original position on the board translated into my first win of the season. Great to get the first win after two losses and a draw so far.

I would like to congratulate all my team and they all exemplified the best traditions of Hammer Chess.

The win is coming and keep holding the faith.

John White, Hammer 1 Captain LL Division 3.

Result: Battersea 6 – 4 Hammersmith

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London League 4 – Hammer March On!

20.10.16 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Alfil

A great win last night against the ever-burgeoning ranks of Jerzy Dybowski’s junior chess academy! Hammersmith triumphed 5.5 vs. 2.5 against Alfil which temporarily takes us top of the league in Division 4. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!!

Alfil are affiliated with Newham and boast a similarly talented young side. Don’t let the grades of some of these players fool you – they played far better than the numbers would suggest. 8-year old Shreyas Royal on Board 2 was particularly impressive. One to watch for the future for sure.

They didn’t get off to the best of starts though. One of their guys was unable to make it, so your captain stood down, claimed the 1-point advantage through default, and was free to prowl the hall gauging progress of the other games. Don’t expect this level of detail every week!

Chris and Rich were first to finish, claiming smart victories against their young adversaries. Chris developed a tricky attacking position, and ultimately gained the advantage by trapping his opponent’s Rook with a menacing knight amid a cramped pawn structure. Rich emerged from the opening a whole Knight-up, making the advantage count as they entered the endgame. Neither was keen on resigning though! 3-0 up in double-quick time.

Orial raced to an endgame but found himself a pawn down against his (very) young opponent. Not helped by having a loose pawn with plenty of space to move into, or by the lad’s Dad watching from the sidelines! I think Orial was surprised – and pleased – to be offered the draw, which he gratefully accepted.

Victory in the match was secured by Brian. He played a very solid game and worked his way into an endgame, one pawn up and carrying a bishop to his opponent’s knight. At one point it looked gridlocked, and a lesser man would have offered a draw, but Brian ably forced zugzwang meaning his king could advance into enemy territory. A quick exchange of pieces meant he was now clearly winning and resignation followed.

Dan was our first faller on the night, going down to a lad playing at breakneck speed – he obviously needed to get home for bedtime. A big gap emerged between the two clocks and the iinevitable mistakes came as the menace of time-trouble reared its head. Solid player though – never a 70!

The night was rounded off with Adam and Robin as we reached our time control. Adam lost in an extremely tight endgame – a knight and equal pawns apiece. His opponent found a way to force the exchange of knights and force his king through behind enemy lines. That was enough for Adam to offer his hand.

Robin played one of the more dynamic and exciting games of the evening. Lots of tactics and sharp interplay, with his opponent forced into defensive concessions from the middle-game onwards. A double attack on queen and king gave him the material advantage which he drove through to conclusion as the seconds ticked away. 4 wins out of 4 for Mr. Lee this season in the various London Leagues. A man on form!

It took us 10 matches to get 1.5 points last season. This time we’ve done it in 2!

Well done all – let’s keep it going! Double header against Metropolitan coming up.

Dave.

Result: Hammersmith 5.5 – 2.5 Alfil
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League table:

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Middlesex League Opener

17.10.16 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith v Ealing 2

Monday 17th October could mean only one thing – the start of this year’s Middlesex League, at least as far as Hammersmith were concerned. Excited expressions were present across the faces of all who attended, as Lytton Hall was to play host to the might of Ealing 2.

Having narrowly been relegated from division two last year, we knew we had something to prove. As such, many seemed surprised by my decision to rest four of our top five boards. However, with our opponents coming into the match in bad form, and having heard rumours about their possible starting lineup, I was confident our middle order would pull through.

Play got underway at 7:30 sharp, and it was clear from the outset that both teams meant business. Sacrifices and zwischenzugs came flying across the boards at all angles, with spectators struggling to take their take their eyes off the boards to tend to their cups of tea.

First to finish was Alex Meynell. An assertive “checkmate” coupled with an astonished yelp were audible from board seven. It was clear what had happened. Alex had slyly wound his opponent up in one of his infamous opening traps and turned the screw. His disappointed opponent left the hall after just an hour.

Next up was board three. Sheikh Mabud, playing as black, faced Bird’s Opening (1. f4). After much deliberation, Sheikh decided he was not sufficiently up to speed with the notoriously double-edged From’s Gambit (1…e5!?) and instead responded with the main line (1…d5). Sheikh was further caught off guard by his opponent fianchettoing his queen’s bishop and attacking fast down the kingside. Sheikh held his nerve well. He proceeded to force tripled pawns on the g-file before coolly mopping them up with his rook. What followed can only be described as a meltdown from his opponent, who offered his hand in resignation before the time control.

Yours truly was third to finish. After my last four games for the club with the black pieces, I was relieved to finally have the first move. 1. d4 g6 2. Bf4 Bg7 appeared on the board and it seemed my opponent was happy to sit back and allow me to play in my favoured positional style. It transpired that he was to be the architect of his own downfall. After firstly failing to castle behind his fianchettoed bishop, he developed his knight to d7 where it found itself trapped by my queen’s pawn and blocking in his light-squared bishop. Weakening his pawn structure with the premature a6 and h6 were to be the final straws; soon his poorly developed pieces were overloaded, and resignation came on move 25.

Brian Dodgeon looked absolutely in control of his young opponent from the first move. His experience allowed him to gradually improve his material and strategic advantage, effortlessly negating his challenger’s attempts to attack down the queenside. Soon Brian’s passed f-pawn became unstoppable, and resignation was inevitable.

Dave Lambert clinched the fifth win and victory for the team. With his opponent’s king boxed in on h8, he sat for a long time, calculating, trying to find an elegant smothered checkmate. With time running low, amazed at his inability to procure the elusive mate, Dave calmly switched plans, instead pushing home his material advantage in the shape of two strong central pawns.

Fresh off the back of his dominant debut for the club, new member Orial O’Caithill was looking to maintain his 100% streak. Entering the endgame with two knights and five pawns each, Orial’s superior pawn structure and flawless technique appeared as if it was going to make the difference. With 20 minutes on his clock versus his opponent’s two, Orial hung a knight, gasping in frustration. Unwilling to trial his bullet chess skills, his opponent offered a draw, which Orial gratefully accepted.

After two and a half hours of play, Yasser Tello had reached a dead drawn endgame. With each player having an almost identical pawn structure and one knight apiece, spectators were perplexed by his decision not to take the draw. Yasser’s ambition paid off – after some Carlsen-esque maneuvering and a couple of seemingly innocuous inaccuracies, his opponent suddenly found himself in zugzwang. Yasser’s king entered the black stronghold and ruthlessly mopped up the pawns.

As the night drew to a close, everyone found themselves gathered around board one. Paul Kennelly looked to be dominating with the black pieces. He had a strong knight versus a weak bishop, and was pinning virtually all of his opponent’s pieces. As the inevitable time scramble commenced, calculation was out the window and instinctive mayhem ensued. Paul’s frustration was apparent as his opponent miraculously consolidated his position and won a pawn. A clever tactic sealed the defeat – white sacrificing his pawn with check to discover an attack on the black queen.

All in all, a very good start to the season. Next up is Harrow 2 at home on 14th November, where we’ll hope to face a slightly stronger team but win by an even bigger margin!

Adam.

Result: Hammersmith 6.5 – 1.5 Ealing 2

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Hammersmith v Fulham Juniors – Save the Dates

A couple of dates for your diaries – following on from the highly successful game between our clubs last season, (a tightly contested 6-6 draw!), Hammersmith will again be taking on the mighty Fulham Juniors over at their home venue on Haldane Road.

This time we’re making it a double-header, with games on Tuesday 15th November, and a second round on Tuesday 21st March. Both dates added to our Club calendar.

The Juniors are a terrific side, ably run and coached by Paul McKeown. As always with the youngsters they are ridiculously fast learners and often their grade belies their true ability – it’s sure to be a good test!

We’d like to put out as many boards as possible so please get in touch with a team Captain to let us know if you are keen to play.

So Near But So Far (London 3!)

11.10.16 – London League 3: GLCC v Hammersmith 1

Yet again Hammer just missed out on a victory! An exciting and bloodthirsty match was the order of the evening, with no quarter given from either team.

The team was out graded from boards 1 to 9 but that didn’t faze us.

Honours of the evening go to two new members, Orial and Matteo. Orial playing board 8 and beating an opponent rated 144 in a complex game in grand style. Matteo triumphed against former Hammersmith Club Chairman Peter Morton! Both great victories and a great start to their London League careers.

Our wily Chairman Bajrush won in a blitz finish in a theoretical drawn endgame. But as we all know when it comes to blitz there is only ever one winner!!

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The crowd gathers for the climax of the match…

It was great to welcome back Paul and Jeremy for their first games of the season. A tough loss for Paul and a draw that was probably a missed win for Jeremy.

John Goodacre and Safi also drew – the former has had a solid start to the season and the latter rebounded from a tough loss against Cavendish.

Finally to the other three boards – Sheikh had an amazing Sicilian Shozin game with water – the board was on fire with multiple tactics everywhere for both sides – unfortunately the fire consumed Sheikh and not his opponent.

John Wooley went down against the captain of GLCC, who was a lot stronger than his 127 grade might suggest – just bad luck.

Finally my good self got ground down on the black side of a Colle/Sicilian – not pleasant viewing I’m afraid!

Positives – we have discovered a couple of diamonds and Bajrush looks like getting back to his best form. Plus if John Goodacre, Safi, Paul, Sheikh and myself can get a win on the board then anything can – and will – happen.

Keep the Faith! Go Hammer 1!!

Result: GLCC 5.5 – 4.5 Hammersmith

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London League 5 Opener

11.10.16 – London League 5: Greater London v Hammersmith

Hammersmith’s opening game in London League 5 took place against the traditionally-strong side of GLCC, at their home venue up in Holborn. Our new L5 Captain Robin Lee with the write up:

It was on balance a very closely contested match across all boards in the League 5 opener. On the top two boards, David Lambert and Brian Dodgeon got taken to quite technically advanced end games which were good to watch.

Brian eventually succumbed with a Rook and one pawn against a Rook and three pawns. David on board two drew in fine style in an endgame with just King and several pawns on either side – a demonstration of the finer points in King opposition.

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Four boards, Eight Players… The calm before the storm

On board 4 Nick Rutherford gained an impressive advantage with the White pieces, playing the English opening. Aside from a trap his opponent set, he could have won and was unlucky to lose the game.

On board 3 I played an unusual line in the Sicilian Najdorf early on that might have unsettled my opponent. Luckily it left me with an advantage in development. After some strong attacking play from both sides in the centre, I was able to neutralise his rook pawn and rook attack, with my strong centre catching a bishop pinned on his Queen, helping prevent him from castling. After swapping pieces he resigned a few moves later.

Final result: GLCC 2.5 – 1.5 Hammersmith

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LL 3 – Tough Start for Hammer 1!

A Tough Match to Start the London League Season for Hammer 1, by Captain John White

Hammersmith went down 3.5 to 6.5 away to Cavendish in our opening match for the newly-promoted team.

We really missed the experience of Paul Kennelly and Jeremy Hodgson owing to holiday and other commitments. However, new members Jay Hinolan and Matteo Bezzini stepped up to the plate.

Jay suffered a loss in his first LL match – due to a heavy cold he was not in the best of form. He’ll be back stronger – having seen him beat Sue Maroroa in the simul during the Summer, I know he was well below his best here.

Matteo playing black got a draw – a solid start to his London League odyssey.

Both of these guys will be great assets for Hammersmith in the London and other Leagues this season. Welcome aboard!

To the rest of the games – the highlight was John Woolley’s return to form with an excellent win. Fighting draws from Brian Dodgeon, Bajrush, John Goodacre (great to see him back!) and yours truly.

Sheikh, Safi and Alex all had tough losses – early season blues I think.

A disappointing result but we were out graded by 15 points or more from boards 2 to 6.

We’ll be back, and stronger next time!

John.

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Full scorecard on LL site here.

Sue Maroroa vs. Hammersmith!

As regular readers will know, Hammersmith Chess Club had the enormous pleasure of taking on Women’s International Master Sue Maroroa in a Simultaneous display across 14 boards on Monday 25th July.

It was a sultry evening in the Big Smoke and the atmosphere in the upstairs function room of The Albion pub was no different. What little ventilation was on offer didn’t really help, as we just about managed to squeeze in enough boards to accommodate everyone!

Former Hammersmith player Sue had generously agreed to play us this Summer and it was an enthusiastic crowd that turned up, ranging from our old timers, recent new members, and the odd potential signing. Sue had hoped that the evening would be “quick and painless”. Whilst we could ensure an evening free of physical torment, with 14 boards it looked anything but rapid!

Play commenced shortly after 7.30 and it quickly became evident that Sue would have a fight on her hands – not only was Hammersmith fielding a former Punjab Chess Champion in Amit Sharma, amongst other strong opposition, but the setup of the pub meant a long walk down to the far end of the bar with every circuit Sue completed – Hardly ideal given the heat & humidity!

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It was a loooong way to get round all the boards

First blood went to Sue however, with a brisk ten-move victory over Shaun (someone had to be first!). Your correspondent followed soon after, conceding after 26 moves. Sue gradually clocked up the victories and whilst the war was clearly being won by the WIM, there remained a number of intriguing skirmishes that would end with victory for Hammersmith.

Amit eventually ended up victorious from a deep strategic game that had Sue thinking hard all evening.

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The ice-man… Amit. The coolest thing in the pub that night

John Wooley went two pawns up in a commanding position leaving Sue with little option but to concede.

Jay Hinolan wound up with doubled pawns in a tight endgame, but somehow managed to get one to an imminent Queening position, forcing Sue to resign.

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Jay looking very happy with his position

Chris Moore sealed a draw by taking out Sue’s last pawns. He came agonisingly close to forcing the game but there just wasn’t enough material to get his last pawn to a Queening square. Bad luck!

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Chris looked under the cosh early doors but ended with a brilliant draw

Club Secretary Mike Mackenzie managed to hold on with even material throughout a long game which looked to be heading for a draw, however Sue was able to push forward and claim victory.

The evening finished with Sue notching up 10 wins, 1 drawn game, and conceding 3. Congratulations go to those players who obtained a result – some terrific chess was played. Thanks also to everyone who turned out for the event, it was great to see so many faces.

Special thanks to Sue for donating her time and energy on a very warm evening in the capital – Hammersmith Chess Club salutes you, and we hope it wasn’t too painful!

For more photos of the evening please check out our Facebook Album, and don’t forget to check out Battersea Chess Club’s website if you would like to play in the Simul they are organising against Simon William, aka the Ginger GM!

El Chessico – The Result!

Tuesday evening saw the second and deciding leg of our Summer double-header against Battersea Chess Club, dubbed “El Chessico” by those in the know. We had the pleasure of visiting their home venue – Battersea Labour Club – and what a venue it is!

A lovely centre near Clapham Junction with ample room, audio visuals, and pints from £2.35!! Mike Mackenzie was overheard describing it as “a hell of a drum”. Our hosts were equally hospitable – I’m planning my return trip as we speak!

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The Battersea Labour Club – rumoured to serve the cheapest pints in SW London

Down to business though – the 15-board return leg was fabulously well organised – credit to Aldo & the Battersea folks for the arrangements. It was an even match up across all boards and the game played out accordingly, with a handful of games going right down to the wire.

It could easily have gone either way, but by the end of the evening the teams couldn’t be separated and the match ended drawn at 7.5-7.5, handing Hammersmith a win over the two legs, 1.5-0.5.

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A full house – 15 boards of chess!
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Simon Cowell turned up with a glass of Pinot Grigio

A few of the Hammersmith results deserve a shout out – firstly to Paolo for winning on his competitive debut for the club; Jorge also picked up another win in his second outing for us; Chris continued his excellent form with yet another result!; Carsten secured a tasty victory with a 10 move forced combination, and Jeremy secured a hard-fought win after a hair-raising struggle in the middle game (described as “a humdinger of a game”!). John, Pavel and Paul all with creditable draws in the mix too.

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Thanks again to our hosts and opponents, and to everyone who turned out over the two legs (27 boards in total – quite a feat!). Well done to Hammersmith for the narrow victory, and here’s to making this an annual fixture!!

Battersea’s match report can be found here.