The Lubeck Weekend

“We’re all going on a… Summer Chess Weekend, no more work just chess and beer for a day or two…..”
The Lubeck Heist Awaits: 5-7th June 2020

Yes, in times like now, these comforting, plagiarized lyrics, from the great Sir Cliff, provide some relief to the daily flood of bad news. In my mind – what is left of it – the universal panacea qualities of chess, beer and potential new friendships are the perfect antidote to all ills and act as a gateway to a glorious Summer.

Lord Clueless, playing fast with copyright and outrageous use of hyperbole, urges all true Hammerites to read on and take part in our own “Glastonbury of Chess”.

Please refer to the previous article on our friends from Lubeck: http://hammerchess.co.uk/2019/11/

This is a unique opportunity for both Hammer Seniors and Juniors to enjoy an amazing chess challenge against a more-than-worthy opponent – enjoy a historic city and the chance to sample some amazing beer.

The Lubeck club has an excellent Junior section, so we would love to take a Junior Team for the trip.

What true, red-blooded Hammer could resist?

If you want to take part, now is the time for action – the closing date is 31st March 2020!

The itinerary is yet to be finalized, but it’s likely the main chess activity will take part on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, so you can arrive Friday or early Saturday. The Saturday will definitely consist of at least one or two long-play games.

So, what do you need to do if you want to take part?

  • First of all, email Lord Clueless to say Count Me In! john.white49@ntlworld.com
  • Secondly, book your passage. Adam and I have already booked flights to Hamburg, and a train to Lubeck on the Friday (Check out Easyjet!)
  • Thirdly, confirm to Lord Clueless when your flight is booked, and what your accommodation requirements are – number of nights needed.
  • Finally, turn up and play for the glory of Hammer on the weekend of 5-7th June

Simples.

Time is short, as the many Hammers who have enjoyed the delights of Amsterdam, Cork and Wroclaw over the past three years – these weekends are just superb.

Lord Clueless expects every Hammer to do their duty!

Cyclonic Win for Hammersmith Hedger

Our Hedger team visited Greater London Chess Club at their home in Little Russel Street near Holborn earlier this month, for our second game in 2020.

As usual our friends at GLCC welcomed us very warmly and made us feel at home, maybe too much!

It all started on board 2, where Nick Rutherford (aka Triple X) did a very quick job. All I was able to see was Mr.X updating the match sheet with a nice “1” for Hammer. Like usual, when Triple X does not make any big mistakes, all remained very quiet and calm until you hear a big SIGH of relief indicating a victory!

Then board 1, where Dave Lambert (aka Toffee) delivered the point as well. In a typical Caro game, Toffee played white and managed to keep the advantage, preventing any counter attack until black had nothing left to do.

A Charming Pair – Toffee and Triple X ready for action

Next, board 4, where your man (aka Il Consiliatore) was facing a tough experienced player rated not less than 40 ECF points higher. I was able to avoid mistakes and take advantage during the middle game and early endgame. Then the clock started taking a toll on both sides, and I have to say that with my 28…Ng4? I sent the night away from the action and my position suffered a bit. My opponent started repeating moves and a draw was agreed down the line on move 34. Still, a good result for me and a very good game.

Hylands v Osseiran:

But the defining game of this match was on board 3. Clouds were gathering for our player Javier Silvarrey (aka Cyclone), as he found himself in a difficult situation down a Bishop early in the game. But any weather scientist will tell you how a cyclone sucks the pressure away from where it hits. Move by move, Cyclone aggressively and stubbornly disintegrated the opponents pressure, and finally the clock helped Black collapse, delivering the final win to the Hedger team. Unfortunately the most interesting part of this game was not written down as time was at a premium! But the crowd held their breath watching this cyclonic ending.

The man of the moment – Cyclone nears the endgame!

Silvarrey v Scott:

Great chess entertainment!!

Final score 3.5-0.5 to Hammer, and four unbeaten boards against a strong and respectable opponent.

Let’s continue like this for the rest of the season!
Nadim.

The new ECF grades are OUT!!!

Chess at Hammersmith is a team game. Nonetheless, every player has their own grade based on their own games, and it would be wrong not to take some pride in these as well. These grades are currently updated by the ECF every six months, with the latest coming out last week on January 29th, and a number of Hammersmith players deserve a special highlight:

Our Middlesex One captain Marios Kouis leads the way, gaining 15 points and increasing his grade from 180 to 195. Marios has played across the Hammersmith first teams in the Thames Valley and London League as well as for his Middlesex teams, and currently has 7 game points from 9 games so far this season.

Club stalwart Dan Rugman has been a regular for Hammersmith Hedger so far this season, playing in four of their seven games so far, and six for the club in total. His grade is up 10 to 97, his highest grade yet. Joining him as a regular this season has been Abakar Nasrutdinoff. Abakar has also played six games so far, and his grade has reached 101, a 16 point increase.

Following two wins from three in the 2019 London Summer Chess League, Rauno Jarvinen has been turning out for the Hammersmith first teams and has also gained 10 points, taking him to 182, which is another personal best. At the other end of the age order, one of our youngest members (and newcomer) Cian Ward has shown his strength across eight games for the club so far across the London League, Middlesex and Central London League teams. Despite facing some tough opponents so far, his grade has gone up by 16 to reach 95.

Next up, while not playing too many games for Hammersmith itself in the season so far, Laith Auchi has also impressed and overtaken his brother Taymour, our winner of 2018-19’s most improved club player of the season. Laith is now graded 114, an increase of 18, while Taymour is close behind with a grade of 110. All remains to play for over the remainder of the season here!

The same also holds true for juniors Kumar Banerji (up 15 to 142), Jack Esiri (up 11 to 141), and Kabir Ghosh (up 19 to 107), all of whom I look forward to seeing turn out for more games for the club over the coming months.

Finally, new joiner Will Johnston debuted in the Hammersmith derby in London League Four with a win against club secretary Adam Cranston. After six wins from eight games (and no draws!) he has earned a first grade of 151. This has made a bit of a mockery of his original estimated grades, which were originally 110 and have since been revised to 125!

For anyone wishing to look further, all of the current and past ECF grades can be found on the grading website at http://www.ecfgrading.org.uk/new/menu.php

Best of luck to all Hammersmith players for the rest of the season,

Ben.
Club Captain

A Hammer in Bavaria

I’m sure everyone remembers Christof’s debut article for Hammer – an account from the East Devon Congress – his first over the board chess tournament for nearly half a century!

Since then Christof has established himself as a Hammer legend – junior coach, Sledgehammer leader, and general top guy.

At the end of October he entered his second tournament – this time overseas at the 23rd Open International Bavarian Championship. Read on for Christof’s account of the topsy-turvy week.

I would like to whet the appetite to participate in these kind of international week-long open tournaments. And especially for this specific great festival in which the UK was underrepresented to put it mildly. While the 505 participants came from 29 nations, with 68 players from non-German Europe, 13 players from India, 11 from Russia, none came from Scotland, Wales, NI and only one from England (not me, but a junior against whom I had played this year, what a coincidence). Why this absence??? Was it Brexit day 31 October in the middle of the tourney? Well, everyone should have known that Halloween was not to be the last Brexit date. The rugby world cup?? Can this really be, rugby more important than chess??? But then, what do I understand about rugby, or about the English… So, only one UK chess club showing up in the players list, Hammersmith!

The great location needs mentioning. This one stands for an ideal holiday week at a mountain lake in Southern Germany, combined with highly competitive chess – the games start at 4pm, so there is ample time in the mornings to go to the mountains or around the lake, and my great city Munich is just one hour away.

And imagine, every fifth player is a title holder, with 31 GMs, 31 IMs and 49 FMs. The average ELO rating at 1965 (ECF 169), the top 10 average at 2608 (ECF 254) the top 50 still at 2477 (237). And everyone plays in one Open group. If you score well enough in the first rounds, chances are you will play against a giant! Wow, what a challenge. My starting rank with ELO 1846 was 353rd of 505, my stretch target was to get 50% and earn a few ELO points. Well, Hammers like challenges…

In the first round, I had to overcome formidable determined opposition (as shown in the photo) which compensated for the ELO difference. Other greats lost their first points against juniors. Top-seeded GM Gata Kamsky drew against a 12-year old Indian more than 500 points below his 2685.

photo of my first round opposition by Thomas Müller

The second round saw me clawing to a draw by repetition against an opponent some 200 points higher.

Me as White to play: Rd7 – bxc4 – e6 – fxe6 – Rg7+ and the Black king cannot escape the checks. Could I have aimed for a win with cxb5 and Rd1? I decided not, with 5 minutes left for 7 moves.

I noted as well that the “English opening” guru GM Mihail Marin lost his game. Maybe he had been distracted after our unrelated discussion just before the round about the exhibited paintings of his wife and FM Mariya Yugina? Sorry mate.

In the third round I achieved a lucky draw after difficult defence. The computer later told me that I had not only followed my opening preparation unknowingly for the first 14 moves but then had 100% accuracy of the remaining 10 follow-up moves. Now, is that good or bad to play like a computer?

The fourth round set me against the local matador, a junior who surprisingly had beaten a Polish FM in the first round. I was soundly beaten as well. Now I was back to where I had started, at zero balance. In my tristesse, I was contemplating to buy one of the colourful paintings of Mariya Yugina on display, which shows a brighter side of life and chess.

photo courtesy of Mariya Yugina

Another loss in the fifth round against a formal full-time chess teacher. We skipped the post mortem in favour of a discussion on the Munich Chess Academy which provides chess lessons in various Munich public schools, very interesting and encouraging. In my time as a junior, these were exceptions, nowadays that seems to be more the rule and the distinction of a good school.

The sixth round generated mixed feelings after I broke my own principles to calculate seriously in endgames. I drew finally, but only after I could have won quickly and subsequently could as quickly have lost. Pawn endgames require accurate calculation and rarely draw.

Ke5 would have easily won the pawn race (White´s g vs Black´s b) respectively the subsequent queen endgame because White queens with check after having drawn the Black king to a8 and can exchange queens; my Kd5??? draws with difficulties.

As a punishment for my stupidity, in the 7th round I was paired against a 300 points higher opponent and lost, though only after I had given him a fright in the fifth hour of our game. Alas, loss is loss. The only consolation for now being at minus 2 was that my chances for easier opponents in the last 2 rounds had improved considerably.

Thus, in the penultimate round I was paired against a lower-rated lady from Austria. In the opening, the lady saved her queen with a pawn sacrifice as is demanded in real life at the royal court, though in chess the opposite is sometimes better:

My 14.Ncb5! axb5 15. Nxb5 Qc6 16.Bxd6 won the a-pawn and finally the game. But wait, later at home the computer surprised me with Black´s alternative of a queen sacrifice for 3 minor pieces, starting with 15….Bxg3 16.Nxc7 Bxc7 (computers don´t value old court rules anymore). The engine evaluated this with total equality 0.00, meaning it does not know what to make of the situation, and I might have struggled as well over the board, never having had this material distribution on board.

Dear me, the win catapulted me back into the higher pairing section and I again got an opponent 250 points above me, and this with Black, not a good basis for the last round. But the young player was apparently tired after 8 days of chess, or because the last round started in the morning, and he early on made a mistake which I was able to exploit to get a lasting structural advantage and finally bring a full point home.

So, with a little luck in the end, I had achieved my target of a 50% score, and thanks to the strong opponents an increase by 37 ELO points. First price was shared by 2 Ukrainian GMs with 7.5 points, Vitaliy Bernadskiy and Pavel Eljanov, half a point above Gata Kamsky and 10 other GMs. Of the other players mentioned in my text, best was the chess artist with 5.5 points, half a point above her husband GM. The chess teacher was at 4.5, my young tiger-supported opponent of the first round at 3.5 and the sole English player at 3. By the way, no German in the top-ten which shows the strength of the international participation.

Appetite? Mark it in your calendar: The 24th OIBM will take place 31.10.-8.11.2020: www.schach-tegernsee.de

Or already in spring next year a similar 9-day Open International tournament with GM participation close to Munich: Bad Wörishofen 6.-14.3.2020: www.chessorg.de

If you want to start sooner, on a smaller scale over a weekend and closer to London, there is the Bunratty International Chess Festival (Ireland) where sound Hammer representation is guaranteed, 21.-23.2.2020: www.bunrattychess.com

And if you like to see or buy paintings of FM Maria Yugina: go to www.yugina.com or instagram: mariya_yugina, or contact her PR manager on facebook: mihail marin or email: mihailmarin21@gmail.com

Christof

Bunratty & Dunkirk in 2020!

The Bunratty Chess Challenge 2020

My fellow Hammers, I am putting this out early. As you know, the club has purchased as a thank-you gift to our retired secretary Mike Mackenzie, a week in Ireland and participation in the Bunratty Chess festival.

I am writing this piece to implore all of you (I am an optimist!) to sign up for the Tourney as well – Hammersmith has huge historical links with Ireland and Bunratty is the premier chess tourney in the Emerald Isle. Read on…

The Bunratty Chess Festival 2020 runs from the 19th – 21st February with four rated sections – check out their website for full details: www.bunrattychess.com

The event has obtained mythical status and recent attendees have included Nigel Short, Mickey Adams, Luke McShane and the Ginger GM himself, Simon Williams.

It is a huge chess event and an amazing social one – this is a once in a lifetime experience for a normal chess player – although Jim (Loco) and Chris (Sydney) are returning for a second time. This promises to be one of the chess highlights of 2020.

I have booked my flight and hotel room already – Shannon airport is just down the board – and the whole tourney takes place in the Bunratty Castle Hotel.

No introduction needed

I also have another motive in bringing this to your attention.

In February this year Karen and I lost one of our closest friends at the age of 44 – she was just a great person unfortunately cursed with an auto-immune disease that destroyed her liver. A liver transplant was necessary. Alas, she was never well enough to receive a liver, or ill enough to be given one. The organs are so scarce the medical authorities have to be so selective. A real-life Catch-22 situation.

I have been in contact with the Liver Trust organisation and want to use the event to raise money for them and honour the memory of our friend and her husband. I will be getting sponsorship for the event (individual and corporate) – so for every half-point I score, a donation will be made.

The Liver Trust have been very helpful and the Bunratty organisers have given permission for a pull-up to be displayed at the event.

If you want to get involved in the trip and wish to fund raise at the same time then please contact me – I know Chris (Sydney) is encouraging the Celtic Tigers to take part.

The irony of using a chess event with a huge alcohol bent to raise money for the Liver Trust is not lost on me.

I urge you all to join Mike and I at this special chess event.

John (aka. Clueless).

The Kings Head Annual Jolly to Dunkirk

Next year’s annual Kings Head trip to Dunkirk will revert back to the usual Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend of 22-25 May 2020.

The French players of Cappelle are looking forward to hosting those intrepid travellers again!

It is also worthwhile noting that it will be immensely special to be in Dunkirk on that particular weekend as it is the 80th Anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation.

Even more significantly (some might say!!), next year is also the 40th anniversary of the first Anglo-French-Railways-Dunkirk chess match!

We are hoping as many people are able to come as possible. Further information can be found here: http://www.khcc.org.uk/autumn2017/cappelle.html

As usual, the trip is being organised by the indomitable folk at Kings Head – if you wish to register your interest, please get in touch with Seljon.selcox@ntlworld.com – full details, including logistics and likely costs etc., will follow in September.

 

Puzzle of the Week #030

Our last puzzle generated a record number of comments and debate – ranging from “impossible” right through to GM Jon Speelman immediately identifying the match, year, and opponents, whilst sportingly not posting the spoiler!

Props go to Adam Cranston this time – correctly figuring out this fiendishly tricky puzzle with the extremely non-intuitive 1.Kc8!! Line continues as follows:

  1. Kc8!!, b5
  2. Kd7! (White is now threatening Kc6), b4 (or Bf5+)
  3. Kd6!, Bf5
  4. Ke5!, Bc8 (or anywhere else on h3-c8 diagonal)
  5. Kd4 and black is in the square, so =

A true beauty.

To this week’s puzzle – and our source material is one of our Sledgehammer Cup Games! If you haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to get involved in our season-long, long play format competition, which is providing some great matchups.

Not strictly a forced-mate, but an 8 move mating sequence (with all remaining pieces staying on the 8th rank), with White to move – answers in the comments please:

Puzzle of the Week #029

‘Weekly’ puzzle? No problem – here we go again…

Our last instalment was way back in March(!!). Yes, we have been slack – apologies!!!

Adam Cranston takes the plaudits there, picking the correct line to follow (Rg3!!), after 2. hxg3, Qe4, mate becomes unavoidable.

To our next puzzle – White to move and save him/herself: answers in the comments please:

The Epsom Challenge & Summer Updates!

Hammers – with all regular league fixtures now complete, and the Summer Chess League well under way, attention once again turns to our Summer activities.

We’re delighted to announce some additional events at the Albion this year, with no fewer than THREE training lectures being added to the programme.

First up on 1st July will be Jim ‘El Loco’ Stevenson, with a repeat of last years highly successful format of a guided talk through a famous game, complete with plenty of audience participation and interaction. This year the emphasis will be on thinking & reasoning skills to navigate through any position.

Swiftly followed by ChrisSydneySkulte, on July 29th with a session likely to focus on the sexy topics of endgames, and using initiative to pressure your opponent.

Last and by no means least, will be our Great Dane, Carsten Pedersen, on 12th August, majoring on another lecture about the history of our beautiful game, with added game analysis.

Save the dates & don’t miss out!!

The Epsom Challenge – 15th July / 9th August

As one of a handful of progressive and forward-looking clubs in London, us Hammers are always on the lookout for other clubs doing things the right way too.

In the case of Epsom chess club, we spotted that a handful of chess enthusiasts have recently resurrected this once great club, and have made great strides in bringing the beautiful game to the charming folks of South London.

The learned committee of the re-founded and resurgent Epsom Chess Club!

Their website is worth a read – after a 50 year hiatus, the club was re-founded in 2018 and is set to go from strength to strength, continuing the proud name of a club originally founded in 1913! . What better way to support their efforts than face off in a double-header and show them who’s boss?!?

This will be a unique opportunity to make new friends and play some chess in a pub (in Epsom) and a brewery (Sambrooks). A bit like El Chessico, only Epsom might actually give us a decent game.

The away leg is on Monday 15th July at the Rising Sun Pub, in Epsom (http://risingsunepsom.co.uk/) – and note that there is no SL fixture the following day.

The return leg will be on Friday 9th August in the brewing room at Sambrooks brewery, Battersea.

If you’d like to take part in a great bit of chess, beer and friendship, and lend a hand to another club doing things the right way, please contact John by July 5th: john.white49@ntlworld.com

 

Hammer and the Holy Grail pt. II

29.05.19 – London League Division 2: Hammersmith vs. Dulwich

Act 2

Had Hammer found the secret code? And if so, would it help or hinder them? Or had Met’s omertà code held firm? Were many individuals really as ignorant as they professed? Most importantly, does the reader care?

To add further intrigue, the Dulwich captain emailed late on Wednesday afternoon that they would, regrettably, have to default two boards. Had the opposition been nobbled? The PM was consulted on this once in a generation issue, but Mrs. May found herself unable to offer a coherent argument either way.

So to arms: With all eight Hammers finally assembled, time to get down to business. Rauno, farcically on board 8 (he’s a 2200 player) demolished his opponent within the hour. His grateful captain, perhaps unable to withstand the tension of spectating, quickly ushered Rauno, a diehard Gooner, over to a local hostelry to watch the Europa final.

Word came through that wins for Chris, then for Bajrush, two of our greatest heroes this season, had brought the score to 5-0. How many points did we need without being accused of chavish overkill?

Your Chelsea supporting scribe decided it would be more stressful watching the second half than the chess, and sloped back to Citadines. Alas, to be met by a despairing Marios who had just lost a well played game to a one move cheapo. Your captain tried to recall the charm and tact of our previous capo, Captain Clueless, in offering words of consolation. 5-1

Not to worry, soon Carsten appeared, anxious for some beer after a slashing victory. 6-1

What could go wrong with our top 3 men still in action? How many points did we need again? Curse that hapless El Loco and his love of John Le Carre novels.

To be frank, Dulwich’s top boards are strong and were fighting for blood and honour. Soon Ryszard, our leader, staggered out bowed and bloodied, claiming that up to a point he was playing like Alpha Zero. But alas, at the critical moment, the power short circuited. 6-2

The T-Bone Thomas, our relentless iron man all season, fell into a hopeless position on board 2, his opponent attacking like Mischa Tal reborn. 6-3 imminent.

On 3, Tony had been nursing a sizeable advantage through the middle game, but his opponent refused to give an inch. Suddenly, in a moment of, who knows, was it divine inspiration, or a calm assessment of the multifarious tie break possibilities, he offered a draw. Now Tony is not a man who likes to draw. At once his opponent shook hands and Thomas, on seeing this, resigned.

The match was over 6.5-3.5. Why did captain El Loco suddenly look like the proverbial Scotsman who had lost a pound and found a fiver? Were Metropolitan, Wanstead and the LL Committee still not available for comment? So many questions – and not all of them rhetorical.

Act 3

To the pub. Much mirth and jovial banter. Then the result, as if by magic, appeared on the LL website: Metropolitan 5.5-3.5 Wanstead & Woodford (+1 adjourned).

More beer. And mutual congratulations with Lewisham captain Andy, whose team were also promoted as D4 champions that evening. Three cheers for the inventor of board count, even though he cost us the Thames Valley Cup Final last year!

Allegedly a group of Hammer players were last seen heading off into the night, set to relieve their captain of his last shekels at the poker table. I couldn’t possibly comment. Chess players don’t do that sort of thing do they?

So, the Holy Grail is found. Hammer complete back-to-back promotions and reach London League Division 1 after 57 years trying.

I must heartily congratulate, and of course thank, the 24 players who took part in the campaign. Spartan Hammers one and all, I salute you.

Of course every point is equally valuable, but a special shout out to those absolute diehards: Bajrush, Thomas, Carsten, Sylvain, Paul, Marios and last but not least, our MVP, Mr. Board 1 hat-trick man himself, Chris.

Hearty thanks also to the wider Hammersmith membership and committee for your encouragement, support and advice throughout. And a big shout out to former Captain John, who started this process back in Division 4, and was on hand as “super-sub” on Wednesday. A triumph for team camaraderie and fighting spirit.

First Division, prepare yourself for the Hammer.

El Loco, at last, finally silent.

Hammer B v Kingston B

23.04.19: Thames Valley League Division 3 – Hammer v Kingston

This match was Kingston’s return grudge match, and for  a while I thought we could win it. It was truly no-holds-barred contest, and both protagonists walked off the field wounded, but still alive, with thumbs up from noble Caissa, and standing spectators! No draws in sight, all wins or losses, very unusual . But then, chess can be strange like that.

Fine wins were recorded by maestri C.Brixel, M.Bezzini, and J.Hoong. Bad luck to juniors Nadhmi Auchi (a promising attack with minor piece sacrifice and open g-file fizzled out) and Amaya MacDonald (fell to knight fork early on, but the Surrey captain of the U120 team was 3 pieces and finally a Queen up and avoided the stalemate trick). Our top boarder, P.Kennelly adjourned after a promising attack also fizzled out and two pawns down, he resigned overnight, very sporting.

Christof on board 2, with the black pieces commented:

“There was no exchange of an piece for the first 18 moves. Then the Kingston opponent grabbed a (poisoned) pawn and it was game over in 5 moves.” Brilliant!

Matteo on board 4 looked about equal with a rook each, and par on pawns. Something happened, because when I looked back 5 minutes later he had 2 passed linked pawns, and capitulation came. Word is he is at least 10 points better than his grade, maybe 160-170 territory.

Jonathan on board 5 with the white pieces said he opened with a Scotch Gambit, a double-edged opening but then it got locked up. However he waited patiently, redeploying his heavy pieces and bishops, and his attack was overwhelming, soon enough. Nice!

Final score: 3-3

In our two match home and away summary between ourselves and Kingston, we scored 1 win and 1 draw. I’ll rate that as a creditable success!

Robin.