An Evening with GM Jon Speelman

Hammersmith Chess Productions are proud to present… 

On the night of the 26th February in the hallowed halls of the Anvil, Hammersmith Chess Club will host one of the most original and finest grandmasters this country has ever produced.

GM Jon Speelman is not only a world championship semi-finalist, he is a great analyst, journalist, mathematician and writer. His games are some of the most original on record.

The evening will consist of Jon analysing one of his games and commenting on his thought processes and strategy goals as he progresses through it. It’s a unique chance to see how a world class chess player prepares for their opponent, what factors influence the critical decision-making process, his state of mind at various points in the game, and much more.

This will make you look at your chess approach in a totally different way and help you develop as a chess player.

The analysis part of the evening will then be followed by a Q&A session- your chance to ask any question of a top chess professional.

Plus, we have a very special offer for Hammersmith members. As one of the most prestigious events we’ve hosted to date, it’s likely to sell out in advance so we have introduced an EarlyBird offer – if you signup before 31st January, you’ll also get a discounted entry fee. It pays to be pro-active!!

As always, please get in touch with John to confirm your entry asap – john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • Date: Monday 26th February
  • Time: From 7.30pm
  • Location: The Anvil (aka Lytton Hall), W14 8TE
  • Entry: Members – £7 before 31st Jan, £10 thereafter
  • Entry: Guests – £10 before 31st Jan, £12 thereafter
  • Contact: john.white49@ntlworld.com

 

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt VI

“On the sixth day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

“… Thames Valley, by Bajrush Kelmendi”

I’m delighted to report that our Thames Valley team has finished the year with a 100% record!

Our season began with a win in the TV Cup against Uxbridge, with a strong 4.5-1.5 victory.

Win aside, the match was notable for an appeal on our only losing board – following an illegal move by the Uxbridge opponent, Jim claimed the penalty. In the ensuing reset of positions – which rather confusingly involved another (non-captain) member of the Uxbridge side, Jims clock was not stopped, leading to him being a couple of minutes down through no fault of his own. The game played out to a finish with Jim losing on time… We shall await the results of the adjudication!

This was followed swiftly by a win over Surbiton B at The Anvil – our first league game proper of the season.

Perhaps our best result so far was an away win at Kingston in November. Not a single Hammer player lost their game, with the score sitting at an impressive 6-1, with one adjournment.

This leaves the table looking very interesting for us. With 2 wins from 2, we sit in second place:

The New Year brings a very busy period for the Thames Valley team, with six matches between 8th January and 5th February, all 7.30pm starts.

  • Monday 8th Jan – Ealing away
  • Monday 15th Jan – Kingston home
  • Thursday 18th Jan – Richmond away
  • Wednesday 24th Jan – Surbiton A away
  • Wednesday 31st Jan – Surbiton B away
  • Monday 5th Feb – Ealing home

I have highlighted our most important matches in red in the battle for survival. This period only has a couple of other senior games (1 x London 3, and 1 x Middlesex 2), so January is effectively the Thames Valley month for first teamers. I would therefore like to field the strongest team possible, so would really appreciate if all high-graded players can make themselves available on these dates!

Thanks for your commitment, and have a Happy Christmas!

Bajrush.

The 8 Teams of Christmas… pt V

“On the fifth day of Christmas, HammerChess gave to me…”

… Middlesex League 3, by Adam Cranston

It has been a pleasure to captain Hammer’s brand new team this year in the Middlesex League. With several new faces at the club, demand for places has never been higher. Indeed, over the first six matches no fewer than 19 players have turned out, 10 of whom joined the club in 2017.

One of the key challenges for the season was our first ever attempt to cram 16 match boards into The Anvil. The brand new boards, sets and digital clocks arrived just in time for the first round, and we managed to squeeze everyone in, albeit with little room to manoeuvre and not much spare furniture! We started to experiment with new room layouts, and eventually managed to get hold of some more chairs and tables from the council. In the second half of the season the club will host fewer of these double-headers, but we’re certainly now better equipped to do so.

On to the chess…

Our first match couldn’t have gone much better – a 6.5-1.5 thrashing of Ealing 2 at home, with not a single loss on the scorecard. Pouya and Dipender won playing their first games for Hammer, and Simon’s debut ended in a hard fought draw against a very experienced opponent.

A week later we played host to Willesden, the strongest team in the league – on paper. An even better performance saw us come out 4.5-3.5 victors, the star of the show this time being John White. He played extremely accurately to clinch a vital draw with the black pieces against the 181-graded county captain.

Had this momentum continued we’d surely now be a favourite for promotion, however match three on a cold rainy night in Harrow was a big disappointment. This time playing the weakest time in the league, a no-show forced us to start 1-0 down, and blunders on several of the other boards only widened the gap. Pouya and Dave picked up the only wins and we went down 5.5-2.5.

We welcomed them back at The Anvil the following week, determined to enact our revenge. Alexander, Charlie and Nadim made their debuts on this occasion, and all scored fine victories! We came out 6.5-1.5 winners, proving there’s something to be said for home advantage!

Our last two games before Christmas were literally too close to call. Firstly, we travelled to Ealing where some dubious tactics lead to defeats on the top boards. Fortunately we were saved by heroic wins from the board 6-8 trio of Ken, Wyatt and Dan. A 4-4 draw.

And finally we welcomed junior team Hendon 5 to The Anvil. This was Ben’s chance to make his debut, and won very comfortably! Again, uncharacteristic blunders on the top boards let us down – the match frustratingly finishing 4-4 again.

So with exactly half of the season remaining, promotion hopes are hanging in the balance. We sit joint top of the table on four match points, alongside our main rivals Willesden and Muswell Hill, but crucially having played an extra game. Hendon could easily mount a late surge, so we’ll need to play some fine chess in the new year to stay in the hunt. Get studying, everyone!!

Last but not least a shout out to our highest flyers – John and Ken – both with 2.5 from 3:

Merry Christmas!

Adam.

Christmas Blitz & GM Keith Arkell

Hammerites, you can read a beautiful write-up of our Simultaneous against GM Keith Arkell below, but first a quick reminder of our annual Blitz Tournament tomorrow evening.

Christmas Blitz Tournament

The John R White Blitz Tournament is in its third year and we’re kicking things off at the Anvil (aka Lytton Hall) tomorrow night from 7.30pm.

First up is the small matter of our annual awards for our best players, tournament winners and other contributors to the club – always great to give a small gesture of appreciation!

This will be followed in short order by the handicap Blitz tournament, named in memory of our former Chairman and life-long member, John R White. It’s a fast & furious display of attacking chess, where gradings and form go out of the window, as the ridiculously quick games throw up blunders and sacrifices at every turn. Don’t miss it!

We’ll also be laying on snacks & drinks to help everyone get into the festive spirit! It’ll be a cracker!!

A Night at the Anvil, with GM Keith Arkell

The background – Keith Arkell became a Chess GrandMaster in 1995. His career achievements are mind-boggling:

  • British Rapid Play Champion 1998
  • English Chess Champion 2006
  • Joint British Champion in 2008, losing in a play-off to Stuart Conquest
  • European over-50 Champion in 2014
  • Joint World Champion over 50 in 2014. Awarded the silver medal on tie-break
  • Winner of literally hundreds of chess tournaments
  • A peak ELO rating of 2545

Not bad for a Brummie lad who learned chess at the age of 13!

However, all these achievements pale into insignificance thanks to a chance and momentous encounter on the 12th December 2016 in a pub called the Albion, situated in Hammersmith. Keith, relaxing after a hard days chess at the London Classic, ran into the Hammer posse indulging in their passion for beer (and chess). Contact was made and what followed will enter folklore.

Yes, he agreed to do a simultaneous at the Anvil in December 2017…… read on!

First of all, for the record, Keith “The Legend” Arkell is not only a great chess player, he is really good company, a beer connoisseur and an all-round first class human being.

Due to flu and Christmas commitments, the Hammerite contingent was much depleted, however we did mange 14 boards.

The Legend, in the spirit of the occasion, decided it was best to do a clock simultaneous. The clocks were set at 80 minutes – meaning that on average “The Ledge” would only have less than 10 minutes per board, A serious challenge alone, but on top of that he gave his opponent choice of colour.

In time-honoured tradition the designation of nicknames from Clueless now follows:

  • Chris – “RU Serious”
  • Shiraz – “Vintage”
  • John R – “Eco-Prof”
  • Charlie – “Sorted”
  • Wyatt – “Gandalf”
  • Mike Mac – “Mad Dog”
  • Thomas – “T-Bone”

The rest of the Hammer posse consisted of Wily, Spock, Brexit, Clueless, Pickle and the Great Dane. Plus a guest for the evening called A.N.Other.

Brexit was on wine duty and tried to impair the Legend’s powers by giving him a bottle of Soave to aid his progress. Excellent idea, but did it work?

Brexit also gave the rallying cry to the Hammer troops urging us all to rise to the challenge and help each other. For the greater good was the mantra we would all adopt!

On Board One the Ledge faced the balls of steel chess approach from Wily. An unbelievably fascinating game followed that ultimately ended in the rare scenario of King and Queen v King and Rook, with the Legend in the driving seat. Wily deployed all his powers but could not withstand the inevitable loss. Indeed, it could be said Wily was just “Out-Wilyied” (Hammer yet again expanding the English language). Acme Industries could not have planned it better.

On Board Two Spock struggled valiantly and with huge invention nearly saved the game. Unfortunately, he had the Bad Bishop versus Good Knight situation and two vulnerable advanced pawns. The Legend smoothly converted. Hammer 2-0 down.

Board Three Brexit, unlike real political life, was playing a Peaky Blinder. He was in control of his destiny and everything seemed in order. Unfortunately, when you deal with a Brummie/Devonian chess technocrat they have a way of lulling you into a false sense of security. Brexit thought he had the advantage but the Legend had prepared a devious tactical pin. It had all been so promising…. Hammer 3-0 to the bad.

Board Five had Pickle, playing white and his preferred London System, win the exchange and achieve a definite edge. Although, the position was hugely complicated with tactical possibilities abundant. This caused Pickle to use up huge amounts of time and in the end time pressure told and one of the tactics struck home. Hammer now at 4-0 down.

The next few boards saw RU Serious, Vintage, Eco Prof, Sorted and Gandalf all take a Hammering. RU Serious and Sorted played well beyond the point of no return to give the other Hammerites extra thinking time. Their efforts were not in vain, but more on that later. The other games I cannot comment on as my game totally absorbed my time. The tale of the tape now stood at 9-0 to the Legend.

The best moment of the night was to see Mad Dog take the Legend to the line. Although Keith had it all under control his courtesy and recognition of Mad Dog’s efforts were spot on post-match. He really is a gentleman. Mad Dog was over the moon with happiness. However, the scorecard moved relentlessly onwards to 10-0 in favour of The Legend.

Mad Dog, lording it

A guest of the night whose name escapes me, he shall be known as A.N.Other, also succumbed at the hands of The Legend. The Ledge was cruising at 11-0.

Arriving late but always up for a fight was our Top Dog – the Great Dane. With only forty minutes to play with, this was not his preferred format. He fell for a mate and now The Legend was looking at a whitewash of the Hammer Posse.

Thankfully, the honour of the Club was preserved by T-Bone and your correspondent, Clueless.

T-Bone was under pressure and the Legend misplayed a sequence of moves that allowed T-Bone to pounce with a mate in one. Analysing the position later both players agreed The Legend definitely held the advantage, but a win is a win. Hammer had stopped the rot.

Finally, to Clueless. Playing Black and a Benoni, Clueless took the Legend on in a no-holds-barred contest. There was going to be a result one way or the other. Fortunately for Clueless, Caissa decided the fates should fall his way. With only 90 seconds left on his clock Clueless accepted the Legend’s resignation.

To be frank I think he felt he morally owed me – bribes of accommodation, food, beer, free wi-fi etc. undermined the determination of the Legend. Having said that, I will take the win regardless. My first, and probably only, triumph against a GM.

The evening finished with a win for the Legend 12-2 in his favour Considering his exertions at the Classic and social enterprises over the past 10 days, the score line was amazing. His durability and energy are incredible.

The evening ended up full circle with a return to where it all started – The Albion. The conversation was great and the Legend stated for the record that whenever he is in London and there isa match on, he will turn out for Hammer! This commitment was met with great enthusiasm by the Hammer crew and reinforced our good opinion of him.

The Legend has chosen Hammer as his London home. Enough said.

Happy Christmas one and all and especially to GM Keith Arkell – now a Hammer Legend.

Clueless signing off.

 

A Classic Week

London League 6: Battersea v Hammersmith – 28/11/17

Tuesday night saw us travel to Clapham Junction to take on Battersea in a tricky Division 6 fixture. Following a bit of inevitable ribbing on Twitter (@hammer_chess), I’m afraid it was us left to lick our wounds following a disappointing 1.5-2.5 defeat.

Rich was unavailable to captain this time around so Dave stepped in to do the honours. He picks up the commentary from here.

The aftermath

Ben was first to finish on board 4. Facing an empty chair for the best part of 30 minutes is never the best introduction (Battersea’s player arriving fashionably late), particularly when you’re making your debut in London League.

The mind games obviously worked, spellbinding Ben into an early touch-move mistake. It resulted in giving up a Knight for a pawn, which despite an all-out attack that followed, ultimately proved decisive. 0-1 down.

Wyatt on board 2 was next to fall, succumbing to a reversal in the Queen’s Gambit Declined line. In truth, Black’s queenside pawn storm proved decisive, handing Battersea’s captain the initiative with the dual advantage of increased space and promotion threats. Full game is included below. 0-2 down, and looking like a real battle to take anything from the match.

The result was ultimately confirmed with the conclusion of Charlie’s match on board 3, a respectable draw against veteran Tim Allen. That took the score to 0.5-2.5 with the result no longer in doubt.

Facing an unfamiliar opening, Charlie countered well before a premature Queen attack left him down a pawn and playing catchup. Full marks for creating complications and for inviting the draw offer. Full game here:

The final match to finish was my own on board 1. I’ve recently studied the Smith-Morra Gambit and strolled to the venue convinced I’d get a chance to try it F2F for the first time. I had to smile when I was allocated black but nevertheless faced the same opening a few moves in.

Conscious of the mayhem that can ensue, I declined the gambit with a fairly passive 3…d3. Not the most exciting move but it appeared to  unsettle my opponent; I got the sense his theory was stronger in the Accepted lines! It was then a battle of pawn storms on either flank, but I always felt I had the initiative. Happy to get the win! Full game below. 1.5-2.5 defeat all told.

That’s it now until Christmas – thanks to everyone for turning out!

Dave.

Middlesex Division 2: Hendon v Hammersmith – 30/11/17

“How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Hammer Style”

On Thursday night Hammer’s Middlesex 1 team took on Hendon 4. On paper a highly probable win was on the cards for Hammer, as not only did we out grade them, but we had swept them aside 8-0 at The Anvil earlier in the month. If you were a betting man… you would put your money on the nose for the Hammer boys to deliver.

Unfortunately, the major curse of being a captain of any Hammer team is the no-show of team members on team nights. This is the one thing that frustrates any Hammer captain more than anything else. To paraphrase one of Oscar Wilde’s most memorable creations, Lady Bracknell:

“To have one default may be regarded as misfortune, to have two defaults looks like carelessness, but to have three is disastrous.”

Let us examine dear reader, this tale of woe.

To begin any sporting contest effectively 3-0 down is a huge handicap. This was the size of the task facing the five Hammer players who sat down to face the Hendon 4 team.

The night saw the Middlesex 1 debut of Pouya – so in time-honoured tradition his designated nickname is Silk.

Board One saw the Great Dane in action, playing black, and in great form. Although consuming a good chunk of time for the first half of the game when it got to the business end of the contest he performed majestically. A blitz-style finish saw the Great Dane deliver a picturesque checkmate. Hammer at 1-3

Board Two saw Sydney grab a draw in a contest where he was under pressure. He was relieved to get that result as he was not in the best of form. Hammer now at 1.5-3.5

On Board 5 Tellit played an excellent game displaying excellent endgame technique and utilising the concept of Zugzwang to perfection. This brought the overall score to 2.5-3.5 in favour of Hendon.

Board Eight saw Silk take a well-fought draw against a tricky opponent. Although he held an edge, there were possible threats against his king that would have made matters very murky. He prudently took the draw option, putting Hammer at 3-4 down.

Finally, on board Seven Clueless was happy to escape with a draw. Having misplayed the opening, he was under pressure for most of the game and had to indulge in some severe scrambling to achieve counter play. Having done this, he briefly contemplated playing for the win in a two rook versus two rooks endgame.

However, the risk of matters going wrong was too severe and a repetition of position occurred. This translated to Hammer losing 3.5-4.5

So Hammer Middlesex 1 lose their first game of the season. With the inevitable addition of game penalty points, it was a miserable evening for the team – just rubbish.

As Captain of the Hammer 1 London League team I make this plea to all Hammer members:

If we are serious about promotion in any of the leagues we compete in we can have no more defaults for the rest of the season. Promotion is tough enough without shooting ourselves in the foot.

Which brings us full circle and back to the title of this piece.

Clueless over and out.

Rapidplay – December – Round III !

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month – it can only mean one thing – the latest pairings for our Rapidplay tournament are out!

But first, a word on the Round II results in November. Full results are below, but full credit to Dave Lambert in holding out (and very nearly beating) our reigning champion, Bajrush! Tantalisingly close to a major upset there – the thrilling encounter is below:

Adam also deserves a mention for overcoming higher-rated opponent John,  as does Paul, but it’s Chris Moore who gets the “performance of the round” prize for beating Pouya. Well done Chris!! Other results went largely to form.

To the Round III pairings then – and there are some properly tasty matchups for December, starting with seven of our strongest players facing off in the top four ties – with star-performer Chris completing the set. Will Chris be able to keep up his remarkable run of form against Marios? Yasser vs John looks like a cracker too.

Towards the bottom end we’ve got a series of – on paper – evenly matched games that should prove tight contests. Action all over the place!!

As usual, the onus is on individuals to arrange the games with your opponents & get the result to tournament controllers Adam & Dave by the end of the month.

December will be a busy month for many, so we encourage all players to get their games organised asap. Our Monday schedule at Lytton Hall looks like this:

  • 4th DecemberFREE evening
  • 11th December – Keith Arkell Simultaneous
  • 18th December  – Handicap Blitz Tournament
  • 25th December – Club Closed for Christmas Day!!

We therefore recommend trying to get your game arranged for 4th December. Any problems, please get in touch with the controllers:

Keith Arkell Simul – London Chess Classic

You’ll hopefully be aware that the London Chess Classic 2017 started this week, with Round 1 matches taking place on Friday. Selected results from the top players below:

A couple of “GM draws” in there

It’s a huge, prestigious event in the international chess calendar, and frequently attracts the worlds top players! Whether you’re playing or merely spectating, it’s well worth a trip down to Olympia to see what’s happening. Further details are available on their website:

http://www.londonchessclassic.com

The Classic finishes on Monday 11th December, and to celebrate we are hosting GM Keith Arkell at Lytton Hall for a Simultaneous!

When Garry met Keith

Keith is a top English player, having achieved GM status in 1995, and he’s a particularly strong Rapid player, so a Simul we be a great test of his abilities!

It’s going to be a popular event, so if you’d like to reserve a spot please get in touch with John: john.white49@ntlworld.com 

There’ll be a small fee of £6, and prizes for the best performances!

11th December – SAVE THE DATE!

Chess.com – Find a Hammer Player!

As the year draws to a close, the Club Chess calendar for December is looking decidedly sparse! One way to overcome this is with online chess, and we thought it would be a great idea to share chess.com usernames of our Hammer players – strike up an online game with a friendly face from W14!

Our current list is below – if you’d like to share your username, please leave a comment or drop us an email: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

 

That’s it for now – look out for some Festive roundups for each of our teams coming soon, and enjoy the London Chess Classic!

Live Long and Prosper

London League 3: DHSS v Hammersmith – 21.11.17

Welcome to the latest adventures of the Starship Hammer 1 and its one season mission to explore strange new and old chess clubs, and boldly go to Division Two of the London League.

Captain Clueless Log – Star Date 21/11/2017 – Hammer 1’s crew have beamed down to a strange, but in some ways familiar, planet called DHSS. The environment was most welcoming but also slightly hostile.

The Hammer Landing Party consisted of, in board order:

Zeus, Wily, Loco, Sydney, Brexit, Spock, Pandit, Dead-Eye, Sauvignon and The Suit. The party was led by the non-playing captain, Clueless.

This is how the night unfolded, but not necessarily in chronological order.

Zeus playing black on board 1, was out-graded by 20 points plus, and facing a c3 Sicilian. Following his own advice, he played an early d5 and fianchettoed his black-square bishop. A great struggle unfolded with white’s 2 vs 1 queen-side majority probably going to decide matters, however Zeus won the exchange with a smart combination but unfortunately this released the white a-pawn to march up the board.

Backed by two white bishops this proved the decisive moment of the game. There was a drawing sequence but it required a computer-like move walking the black king into check.

Although Zeus is a god, he is not a computer!! Hammer landing party down 0-1.

On board 2 Wily was in sparkling form, with his usual e4, d3 and c4 setup, and g and h-pawns racing up the board. Having achieved a passed pawn positioned on h6, which resulted in black devoting serious resources to prevent it marching onwards, he then switched his attention to the black king castled on the queen-side.

He won a piece and then two pieces and pawn for a rook with a lovely combination. He then chased the black king up the board and weaved a special mating net. This was chess played all over the board and Wily brought Hammer level. 1-1

On board three Loco, playing black, faced a Giuoco Piano setup and instead of going Bc5 on move three, went Be7. A long, dour struggle then played out with Loco holding a very large time advantage. His opponent seemed concerned with seeing or neutralising minor threats whilst eating up his clock. My feeling is that he was mostly seeing Scotch Mist as Jim was never in trouble and comfortably secured the draw. 1-5-1.5

On board 4 Sydney got a walkover as his opponent did not show. His reward – the misfortune to play a handful of blitz games with Clueless to while away the time. Hammer now 2.5-1.5 ahead.

On board 5 Brexit reflected political reality. He played accurately and well at first, gradually moving towards equality and then he took a stab at Utopia. Unfortunately, his opponent had played him like a “Michel Barnier” and delivered him a hefty bill for his optimistic play.

Brexit tried negotiating but the ending was sudden and the promised land never arrived. Brexit will regroup and in the spirit of David Davis he will be out for the next round and he will win through. He is done with Junckering!!

Hammer pegged back to 2.5 all.

Board six saw Spock, armed with the white pieces, take on a Sicilian defence. He consumed a lot of time but pursued his attack logically as outlined in the Star Fleet Chess Manual. In the end a draw was agreed. Pavel is a great team player with a quirky sense of humour. He always sticks around to see the outcome of games and provided the comedy moment of the evening when he looked at me and gave me the Vulcan “live long and prosper” sign with a straight face. Just brilliant. Tense at 3-3.

Board seven next was in the safe and capable hands of Pandit.  He was in the best of form playing the black side of a Sicilian defence. Playing accurately and simply, he emerged into an endgame two pawns up. His opponent tried a couple of tricks but Pandit negotiated all before him and emerged a deserved winner. Hammer back ahead 4-3.

On board nine Dead-Eye had a beautiful inverted V-shaped, spearhead pawn formation wedged into the black position. He then transferred attention to the black king. With an open f-file he had a way in. Alas his opponent played a knight-sac on d4 and if Dead-Eye had recaptured he would have lost a rook as well.

There is an old Irish proverb that goes “it is better to be a coward than a dead-man all your life” – Paul wisely adopted this advice and accepted the pawn loss. However, his opponent had consumed too much time on the clock and did not make move 30 at the time-control. Dead-Eye had made it 5-3.

Board nine saw the welcome season debut of Sauvignon. Playing black he achieved equality and then secured a positional edge with white severely hampered by an inferior pawn structure and an e-pawn still rooted to its original starting square. Sauvignon moved over to the attack. However, Dave Gilbert, the DHSS captain, is a tricky opponent and does not roll over easily. He found some accurate moves and secured a draw. Hammer past the winning post at 5.5-3.5, and match point secured.

Finally on board 10, we saw The Suit wearing the Hammer mantle. By his own admission The Suit has not been in the best of form this season. Indeed, the first half of this game reflected that lack of confidence and accuracy in his play.

However, once his chance came he seized it with a beautiful combination and play reminiscent of his form last season. I hope this is the turning point for him and he gets the results his talent deserves.

So, Starship Hammer 1 triumphed 6.5-3.5. Yes, there were squeaky bum moments but the force is strong in Hammer 1 and we won through. The current table makes pleasant reading:

Three games in and Hammer are a contender – go Hammer!

Captain Clueless log – mission accomplished, roll-on 2018. Clueless over & out.

London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith – 23.11.17

Captains report to follow, however we are pleased to report that the Hammersmith team secured a 2-2 draw!

London League 6: Morley College v Hammersmith – 24.11.17

Board 1 saw S.Shaw take on Hammer’s Robin Lee. Robin had an excellent win with the white pieces, trapping a bishop which in the end proved enough. 1-0

On board 2 John Ryan faced a solid, central attack by his opponent, which proved too much to hold on. 1-1

On 3, Hammer’s Nick Rutherford succumbed to a tactical struggle, eventually losing on time. 1-2

Last up on 4, stalwart Dan Rugman with the black pieces played a c5 response to his opponents opening e4. After Nf3 d6, d4 cxd4, Nxd4 Nf6, Nc3 a6, B4?! – never seen that before! Dan played a good game but fell into a mating net.

Final score – a 3-1 defeat for the L6 Hedger team.

Mike.

RapidPlay – Final Reminder for Round II

We’re one week from the end of November and eight of the twelve games have been played. Surprises so far include wins for Adam, Chris and Paul against John, Pouya and Shiraz respectively.

On top board Bajrush narrowly escaped with the full point after Dave lost a completely winning position with very little time left (game below).

Please be sure to get the final four results in before the end of the month, along with any requests for half-point byes in December – we appreciate it can be a busy month.

Adam.

Experiences of a Chess Parent!

Rainy Saturday Afternoon.

Room full of chess players – most of whom are over 60!

Miles from home.

Yup, it’s another round of weekend slow-play adult chess again. Not for me, thankfully (I barely know how to set up a chess board, let alone attempt the game!), but for my little 10 year old chess enthusiast!

How did this all start? I often wonder that myself!

There is one person that comes to mind though, the man responsible for spreading his love of chess to all in our household, turning not just 1 but all 3 of our boys into avid chess nutters! Tony Niccoli – or to go by his official name, Tony the Magnificent!!

The man is a chess genius, responsible for so many successful young chess players, not to mention being a phenomenal chess player himself. It was entirely thanks to Tony that we even started trying our luck at junior chess tournaments. The more our eldest son got hooked on the game, the more tournaments we went to.

Taking on Wyatt in the Rapidplay tournament at Lytton Hall

Oh the joys of spending hours waiting in between chess rounds! But it’s all worth it if your child enjoys the game and the experience. Our boys have all gotten to know other kids that also regularly come to tournaments. Friendships are formed – both kids and parents alike. I’ve made some great friends along the way, who make the long days spent waiting in a cramped room much more bearable. The kids play football or cards in between rounds of chess, so in many ways it’s a really healthy way for them to spend their weekends.

However, after having spent a good couple of years going to any (and almost every!) junior chess competition all over the country – often to the oddest places – Tony told us it was time to graduate up to slow play adult chess.

So here we are, two years later, trying to take on the adult chess world. Our son spends several evenings a week and many weekends playing against mostly old(ish!) adults.

I must admit, it’s a refreshing change from the junior circuit where our kids have enjoyed meeting other young chess players, but also where rivalries can take over and sometimes over-zealous parents can get out of control!

The adult chess leagues also offer brilliant opportunities for juniors to play longer games, usually at a slower rate of play – all good things for kids who tend to play too fast, and therefore blunder much more often.

It also means less pressure – these juniors are playing opponents who they don’t know, most of whom are much older & more experienced, so the pressure of having to win or risk losing face isn’t on them.

Deep in thought during a league game at Metropolitan (far right)

Adults are usually relatively friendly to the youngsters, and although they never enjoy losing to anyone – especially juniors! – when they do end up conceding defeat they’re usually mature and sportsman like about it… most of the time! You might get the odd grump every now and then who throws a tantrum to rival most 8 year olds, but that’s very much the exception!

And lastly, at the risk of sounding a bit cheesy, if you’re lucky enough to find a really lovely club that’s willing to welcome your child into the fold (thanks again, Hammersmith!) then it can make for a very enjoyable and productive chess experience.

In fact it seems that the most eager chess juniors all seem to be playing a lot on the adult chess circuit, more so than the junior one. After all, it has so many merits that the junior competitions can’t offer – slow play chess always makes for more interesting games, as well as a great game experience and brilliant chess practice.

Being able to come to weekly training sessions is always helpful too. And even seemingly small things, like being the littlest guy in the room that everyone’s so nice and welcoming to, is a wonderful thing and makes us feel very lucky that our son is part of such a great club.

He’s had some incredibly lucky wins, and some painful losses, but being a part of a supportive and encouraging chess club has been brilliant for his chess, his confidence and his resilience. Something you need a lot of if you’re going to play competitive chess!

 

Our thanks to Suha for sharing her experience of 10yr old Nadhmi’s chess journey so far at Hammersmith! Our youngest member! 

Born to Run

Another bumper week of chess has just flown by – four big games, and a whole bunch of important reminders and updates for your perusal. There’s plenty of things coming up the next few weeks too – including the return of our training programme – so please read on!

Middlesex League Division 2: Hammersmith v Hendon – 06.11.17

Glory Days for Hammer 1 in the Middlesex League

Yes dear reader, Bruce Springsteen has now been dragged into the Hammer orbit.

However, it is totally justified in this case as Hammer 1 – Middlesex variation- totally “Bossed” Hendon 4 at The Anvil last night.

The Hendon crew came down to The River (Thames) and into the River they dived. They did not surface.

The Hammer posse were in imperious form last night as they swept, Fischer-style, their Hendon opponents 8-0 and thus continue their regal progress in Division 2.

The Hammer team, in board order, lined up as follows – The Surgeon, Zeus, Wily, Brexit, Spock, Tellit, Dead-Eye and on board 8 your humble correspondent Clueless.

The following report comes with a caveat in the sense that Clueless was so involved in his game he did not see much of the carnage that took place.

I definitely recall Wily being in scintillating form and briskly dispatching his opponent with barely an hour gone.

Other victories swiftly followed in the form of Tellit and Dead-Eye. The latter having an awkward game where he was under some pressure. Unfortunately, his opponent moved too quickly, misreading a taking sequence and dropped a rook. Dead-Eye pounced and was the model of sympathy afterwards.

Clueless got in on the act with a well-played game where he explored the themes of space restriction, castle prevention and black-square weakness. I actually utilised an excellent piece of advice, courtesy of Zeus – when you have an edge, do not rush matters – just keep improving your position. I can vouch that Mount Olympus advice is worth following.

Next to join the party were Spock, Brexit and The Surgeon.

Spock had a game that saw action on both sides of the board. I have some memory of his opponent’s king being hunted down by two bishops, rook and queen. Serious weapon deployment and on a semi-open board, the result was never in doubt.

Brexit was the beneficiary of a complete blunder by his opponent who advanced his pawn leaving his rook en-prise. Brexit pounced and clocked up another Hammer win. To be honest Brexit was strategically winning at the time (unlike in real life! #political) and would have won eventually.

As for the Surgeon, he had a study-like win in a pawn and king endgame. Playing precisely and accurately, like the good surgeon he is, the win was safely delivered.

Finally, to Captain Zeus and his well-known opponent and all-round top guy – Mo from BBCA – appearing for his second club, Hendon. All I can report is it was complicated with heavy pieces operating on an open board. Somehow, I guess it is sheer talent, Zeus had it all under control and duly converted, completing the 8-0 scoreline.

This means that we are 4-0 at this stage of the season and real contenders for promotion.

The force is strong at the Anvil!!!

Middlesex League Division 3: Ealing v Hammersmith – 06.11.17

This was the fifth match in Middlesex Div 3 for the Hammer second team, and the closest so far. Thanks to everyone for turning up to the right place and on time. Ealing’s venue isn’t the easiest to find, and it was the first trip there for many of our team.

Board 8 saw Dan mount a strong attack early on the Kingside. His opponent struggled to find the right defensive moves, expending a lot of time trying to work out how to react. The game ended in a loss on time for Dan’s opponent in a losing position. 1-0

Wyatt was playing on board 7 – a fairly even middle game exchanging down to a level endgame with a rook and three pawns each. Wyatt then lost his way somewhat (and two of his pawns). Luckily he was up on the clock, and his opponent was flagged in a position he’d surely have gone on to win. 2-0

Ken was next up on board 6. He elected to try out the unusual 1.f3 Barnes opening, and it paid dividends. His opponent was flummoxed from the off, and Ken sealed the victory in 23 moves. Ken becomes the team’s new top performer, with two wins from two. 3-0

On board 5, John Ryan was faced with 1.f4 Bird’s Opening. Although he wasn’t very familiar, he proceeded to make sensible moves, manoeuvred his bishop to a8 and closed up the position, agreeing a draw when there was no play left. 3.5-0.5

Dipender came into his game on board 4 in scintillating form, and looked like he would notch up yet another win. He found himself in a completely winning position – his opponent’s knight pinned from every direction. Dipender then had a moment of sheer madness, releasing the pin and blundering his own bishop in a single move. He regained his composure and tried to play on, but sadly there was no way back. 3.5-1.5

Nadhmi played a very tactical game on board 3. With few pawns left and all the heavy pieces still on the board, both kings became very exposed. Nadhmi lost a rook with a clever tactic from his opponent, but reacted by lunging towards the enemy king with all he had left. His rival saw nothing better than to settle for a 3-fold repetition. 4-2

Pouya kindly offered to step in as a late replacement on board 2. He had the white pieces and soon obtained a space advantage. Sadly he overlooked a tactic that lost a knight, and clinical play from his opponent gave Pouya no opportunities to get back into the game. 4-3

Your reporter was up on board 1, and like John was faced with Bird’s Opening. Not knowing the opening well, I elected to play my tried and trusted London setup. Although not ideal against a Dutch setup (see: Glorious Revolution), I was not being beaten as much as my opponent would have me believe in the post-game analysis, with the computer suggesting a roughly equal evaluation.

It was my opponent with the initiative, however, and in a momentary lapse in concentration I hung a knight, failing to realise the defending pawn was pinned to my king. 4-4

At the end of the day neither team really deserved the win, with careless blunders and poor time handling settling several of the games.

Next up is Hendon 5 on Monday 13th, a junior team that always seem to punch above their grades. It promises to be a tough encounter.

Adam.

London League Division 4: Hammersmith v Alfil – 08.11.17

We were back to winning ways in Division 4 this week with a fine 5.5-1.5 victory against Alfil at the Citadines.

It was our Division 4 debut at our new Hotel venue and whilst we didn’t quite need ‘oxygen tanks’ as one of our members suggested, it wasn’t far off! There were SIX separate matches playing simultaneously, so breathing space was at a premium.

Fortunately the Hammer crew have evolved to thrive on pride and passion (and maybe biscuits) instead of mere oxygen. The cramped conditions worked in our favour as we ran out comfortable winners.

The setup didn’t make it easy to spy on other games so some of my comments are a bit threadbare. Thankfully I’m able to supplement the commentary with a few PGNs from the evening. Hope you enjoy.

First to finish were John and Simon who each notched up wins in quick fire time. I didn’t catch much of John’s game, although his position looked comfortable without being dominant when I glanced over. Things must have turned quickly though, because the match was soon over. John’s our current Div4 MVP with 2 wins out of 2. Great start to the season.

Simon’s game was pretty brutal, with his opponent failing to see the danger of a quasi-pin on his King. A clever tactic claimed a fork on Queen and King and from that point on, it looked a bit of non-contest. Simon’s analysis is definitely worth playing through. Entertaining stuff and some sharp tactics on show. 2-0 to Hammer

Wyatt was also keen to get his match finished and head to the bar early doors, and he duly obliged! Gaining the upper hand with a couple of extra pawns, he allowed a few passive/inactive moves and suddenly the advantage appeared to wither away. A draw was taken in the end; no great disgrace in that. 2.5-0.5

My game was interesting, if only for its stark illustration of how there’s seldom an even-trade when pieces are exchanged! I emerged from the Scotch opening in a relatively staid position with little in the way of winning chances for both sides. Indeed, the computer analysis confirmed the same. But the match turned on two decisions to exchange pieces – one that handed me the slight initiative and one that was damning for my young opponent. 3.5-0.5

Dan was next to finish, chalking up another win for Hammer. Full credit is due for playing a strong game amid the chatter (and whistling coffee machine) of the anteroom. The squeeze in the main room meant it was difficult to find space for Dan’s game. When I started to watch, Dan was a minor piece and a bunch of pawns up! (think I stopped counting at 3). His young opponent graciously resigned rather than prolong the agony. 4.5-0.5 and the win was secured.

The penultimate match was played – and won – by Adam. I’d been watching and thought his chances looked fleeting. But then I was momentarily distracted by the Ginger biscuits (controversial), and returned to see the post-match analysis was in full flow and Adam had emerged victorious. Definitely one where the match speaks louder than words. Take a look! 5.5-0.5

There was a little reorganisation required before we could conclude the results from Boards 1 and 2. Matteo was a late dropout, scheduled as our #1, but given their #2 followed suit, we re-jigged the board order giving Brian a match against their top player on shortened time controls. A really interesting match that ultimately went in favour of Alfil and Joshua John. Despite his young age, Joshua has been around for a few years now and is developing into quite the player.

Brian picks up the analysis from here…

Against my King’s Indian Defence he made an aggressive advance of all his Kingside pawns at the expense of not developing his Kings Bishop and Knight. I fianchettoed both bishops and concentrated on solid piece development while he castled queenside and established a strong central pawn phalanx.

Taking more time than my opponent, I calculated a way of breaking up his central pawns and temporarily sacrificing the exchange to win his f3 pawn, forking his two rooks to regain piece equality. I gained a second pawn at the expense of loosening my king-side pawn structure. He advanced his now-isolated pawn to d6 and threatened to swap queens and fatally invade my 8th rank with rook supported by pawn.

By checking his exposed king I manoeuvred my queen back to defend against this, but he switched the focus to attack my cramped king position with queen and rook, and in time trouble on move 30 I allowed a fatal check on f7 which soon resulted in a loss. Nevertheless it felt better to play an exciting game ultimately lost, than win by default, since we still won the match. Brian.

5.5-1.5 final result.

That’s us done in Division 4 now until the New Year. I’ll be in touch late run December to arrange the game for early Jan.

See you all soon!

Dave.

London League Division 6: Hammersmith v Hackney Gorki – 08.11.17

“A Pair of Thorne’s in our Side”

On the same evening as the London 4 team, our London 6 crew took on Hackney’s table-topping second team, Gorki.

Hammer had a solid lineup – captain Rich up on board 1, Charlie Sturt on 2, Webmaster Andy on 3, and Nadim on 4.

Sat by the main entrance, it was a somewhat distracting evening for the boys, added to by a default from Hackney on board 2, putting Hammer 1-up from the off, although it meant Charlie didn’t get a game. 1-0

Nadim was next to go – he looked to have a solid position against his young opponent, Thorne Jnr. He picks up the commentary from here:

I made some early middle game mistakes that I have managed to compensate and come back. Then I could have had a chance at least to draw if I had exchanged rooks in the endgame which I mistakenly declined (move 27). The end of the story was a black loss, as white had more pawns. 1-1

(lookout for a missed Queen capture by White on move 16!)

Next to drop was Rich, succumbing to defeat in an open-looking game, punctuated by noticeable bonhomie and laughter between both players – great to see! We’re not entirely sure what happened, but it left Hammer a game down and facing a draw at best. 1-2

Last to finish was Andy on board 3, playing Thorne Snr (Chris, as he’s known!). An unusual game in many ways, notable for a lot of distractions but played in a great spirit & very enjoyable for both opponents. Two evenly-matched players, the game swung wildly with both players assuming the advantage at different times. Andy looked in peril approaching the endgame, but he held his cool, drawing a blunder from his opponent and exchanging Rooks, ending in a drawn position.

The first 30 moves of the game are below:

Sadly it wasn’t enough to bring the team home and we finished with a  narrow defeat overall. 1.5-2.5

Training Evenings – 20 & 27 November

At Hammersmith we pride ourselves on giving back to our members and the community – and this month sees us pickup the training baton in good style, with two sessions coming up from a couple of our top players.

We’re really lucky in having strength in depth at the upper-end of our club these days, and we’re particularly lucky that some of the guys are happy to give up their time to help coach the rest of the club.

  • Monday 20th November – stalwart & Middlesex 2 Captain Zeus (aka Marios) takes us through a session on the use of fianchetto structures. Marios has a pair of games utilising fianchetto that he’ll take us through, but if you have any other interesting games in your personal collection you’d like to see analysed, please drop him a note: m.kouis14@gmail.com . The session starts at 7.30pm and will run for a couple of hours.
  • Monday 27th November – club legend & Middlesex 3 Captain Pickle (aka Adam) will host a session specially designed for players around 100 ECF or below. It’ll be a shorter session than Marios’s, allowing time afterwards for people to play their RapidPlay Round II matches, if they wish. Session starts at 7.30pm, running for about an hour.

Huge thanks to both players for giving up their time! As usual these are both open sessions – anyone is free to attend, member or not!

Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day Update

You may recall a small number of Hammer players answered the call to arms for World Mental Health Day recently, heading down to Lyric Square to partner up with our friends at Hammersmith & Fulham MIND.

Our contact at MIND, Victoria kindly dropped us a note this week to thank our members for helping out.

More importantly, the charity was able to raise over £500 on the day! Brilliant stuff, and we say a huge THANK YOU to those members who volunteered.

Keith Arkell Simul – Monday December 11th

SAVE THE DATE 11th December sees us host GM Keith Arkell for a Simultaneous at Lytton Hall on the final day of the London Chess Classic.

We have limited places for this one, so you need to get in touch ASAP if you’d like to take part! There’ll also be a small board fee of £6 to enter.

Simuls are always a cracking affair – not only do you get to play one of the world’s top players, but you can very often give them a close-run game!

If you do want to play, please get in touch with an email to one of the following & reserve your spot:

RapidPlay Round II – Reminder!

We’re almost halfway through November, which means there’s only a couple of weeks left for you to arrange & play your Round II games in the new RapidPlay tournament.

By now you should have at least arranged a date with your opponent – if not, you can find full details of your opponent here, or in your inbox. Get in touch, and agree a mutually agreeable date, time and location!

Then it’s just a matter of playing the game and letting the controllers – Adam and Dave – know the result.

If you have any queries or problems, just drop them a note:

Remember – if you fail to play the game by the end of the month, you’ll both default and score nil points!

Good luck!

 

Updates from Planet Hammer

With a mere three games of chess this week just gone, it has been somewhat quieter than usual on Planet Hammer. However, we’ve got some exciting events in the pipeline – read on to find out more.

Middlesex League Division 3: Hammersmith 2 v Harrow 2 – 30.10.17

Harrow Humbled” – Less than two weeks after we suffered a cruel defeat at the hands of Harrow, we found ourselves playing them again. This time we were hosting the match at Lytton Hall (aka, “The Anvil“), determined to dish out a large portion of ice-cold revenge.

New junior member Alexander was sat down on board one. He dispatched his opponent with relative ease, obtaining a strategically won position in the middlegame. We hope to have Alexander back again soon; he’s a very promising talent who could soon be clocking up wins for the firsts.

Brian had the white pieces on board two. Against a somewhat lower graded player he was disappointed not to find a way to break through, settling for a draw as the night drew to a close.

Pouya was next up on board three, attaining another win to build on a strong debut season. This time Pouya decided to simplify the position after winning a pawn, confident of his endgame ability to convert the advantage.

By his own admission it was Dipender’s worst game of the season. The fact that he won anyway shows how talented this man is (see: Mr Dipenderble)!! Granted, it was slightly gifted to him by a series of blunders from his opponent, but Dipender now joins John Ryan as a leading player for the team, with two wins out of two.

Simon played a fine game to pick up another victory on board five. He won a pawn in the middlegame and a cheeky tactic on the final move led to a slightly premature resignation.

Charlie made his debut for the team on board six. It was a game of blunders, but fortunately for Charlie he made fewer than his opponent and sealed the win.

Dan was up against the same opponent he had lost to the week before. This time he played much better, winning the bishop pair and a commanding lead in the endgame. With victory almost in his pocket, Dan slipped up, allowing his opponent’s bishop to enter the game and mop up his pawns. Dan had to concede a frustrating defeat.

Last but not least, newbie and crowd favourite Nadim was playing on board eight, still looking for his first win for the club. He found that win in style, combining attack and defence well, eventually giving mate on the board.

Final result: 6.5 – 1.5

The win puts us top of the table, but with more games played than the others, and our toughest fixtures still to come.

We play Ealing on Monday, where another win is very much on the cards.

Adam.

London League 6: Wanstead & Woodford v Hammersmith Hedger – 01.11.17

In a tough tussle against Wanstead, Hammersmith Hedger are 2-1 up with 1 game adjourned. Captain Mike Mackenzie gives us the rundown:

Board 1: Simon Harding – A nice win by Simon playing the black pieces. He is certainly cementing his place on board 1.

Board 2: Robin Lee – Robin adjourned material down, but in this position Robin has good drawing chances.

Board 3: Nick Rutherford – Nick with the black pieces played a conservative game but was outgunned and came away with a defeat.

Board 4: Dan Rugman – A very difficult game for both players due to the fact they had to play in an adjoining room that was open to the guests of the hotel. Dan, although distracted by the noise, played an excellent winning game.

Next up for the Division 6 Hedger team: Morley College on November 24

British Bangla Chess Association – Rapidplay Tournament – Sunday 26 November

As regulars will know, the BBCA Rapidplay is one of the best London tournaments for club players, offering a friendly welcome, some great chess and – more importantly – some amazing prizes!

This year is no exception, with a prize fund of nearly £2,000:

It’s a seven-round Swiss format competition, with 15 minutes of time control per player (no increment). Entry is £20, with the action kicking off at 11am at the London Enterprise Academy, 81-91 Commercial Road – E1 1RD.

Hammersmith players have attended in previous years and it comes highly recommended!

Further information – including registration details – are available at www.britishbanglachess.com

And any queries or further information can be obtained by emailing: bbcarapidplay@gmail.com

Upcoming Hammersmith Events

Some dates for your diaries – following on from some hugely successful events this year, we have penciled in the following activities next year. Please save the dates!

  • MIND Charity Day in Lyric SquareSaturday 19 May 2018 – after a fantastic day this Summer, we have agreed to repeat the adventure next year and host another day of chess and fundraising for mental healthy charity MIND in Lyric Square, Hammersmith. Plans are at an early stage, but it is going to be even bigger & better than last year!
Lyric Square in 2017 – a brilliant day of chess & fundraising

 

  • Visit to Cork Chess Clubweekend of 9 June 2018 – after our amazing trip to Amsterdam this Summer, Hammersmith is going on tour… again! This time we’ll be hitting the green isle closer to our shores and paying a visit to South West Ireland. Again, plans are at an early stage but if you’re keen to get involved, please save the date!

 

  • Hosting De Pion & Cork Chess Clubs in London weekend of 23 June 2018 – reciprocating the excellent hospitality of our Dutch and Irish friends, we’re looking to host both clubs in London next Summer. Taking our inspiration from the Amsterdam trip, we’ll be putting on a number of events (chess & social!) for our visitors. It’ll be a fun-filled weekend and a chance to show off the best that Hammersmith and London has to offer. The more of us involved, the better!
Chess on tour – Amsterdam 2017
And Finally… Rapidplay Round II

A reminder – if you’re taking part in our Rapidplay tournament this season, the pairings for Round II were announced last week.

The onus is now on individuals to arrange the next game with their opponent. Just remember, it needs to be completed by the end of November & the tournament controllers notified of the result.

Any questions or queries, please contact Adam or Dave:

Good luck!

#HammerTime Hits the Skids

Regular readers will know that we’ve had a flying start to the new season. Win after win, and a long period during which we could rightly have been dubbed “The Invincibles“.

However, as the great Axl Rose once sang, “nothing lasts forever” – and indeed, to further prolong the tenuous reference, it can fairly be said that when it rains, it pours on poor old Hammer. It’s been a torrid week, albeit with one or two rays of sunshine – read on to find out more!

Rapidplay Roundup – 23.10.17

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you will have heard that our fantastic season-long RapidPlay Tournament kicked off this week. A full writeup of the first Round can be found here.

Round 2 pairings will be announced imminently – stay tuned!

London League 3: GLCC v Hammersmith – 24.10.17

“Hammer Crashes to Earth”

So Trekkies, life does reflect Hollywood occasionally. As in the JJ Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise the Starship Hammer crashed into Planet Earth at approximately 9pm last night. There were casualties, but no fatalities, a pub inquest has been held, the ship is undergoing repairs and from that New Hope will be born.

Over to our reporter – Clueless John.

My fellow Hammerites it is my sad duty to confirm the final result as a 6.5-3.5 loss for the Hammer crew at the hands of GLCC. There is no way I can make this news sound good – GLCC were the better team and deserved the win. They are definitely one of the strongest teams in the division.

The Hammer heroes were a couple of boards down before the evening started, with both Sydney and Sauvignon unavailable. This, coupled with Wily having car problems in Kent that afternoon, your Captain – Clueless – was left scrambling to fill the team places. Fortunately, two men – one big and one small (only in stature) – stepped up and answered the call to arms.

In the time-honoured tradition of Hammer Chess, these two men are now designated nicknames:

  • Brian – The Hat
  • Nadhmi – The Gift

The final place in the team was taken by Captain Clueless.

The evening started with a default win on board one for Zeus. His opponent did not show. I think Zeus’s reputation is spreading and trepidation now stalks the corridors of other LL3 teams.

In the absence of WilyLoco started on board 2 – he had a tough night with a tricky opponent and succumbed to a clever tactic. Hammer at 1-1.

On board 3 Paul (the Prof version) played an excellent game and won in great style displaying impeccable technique. A very nice game and puts the Prof at 2-0 for the season in LL3. He is relishing playing over the board chess.

On Board 4 Brexit had a tough defeat – he was holding the position. Indeed, he may have even had an edge. Unfortunately, it went wrong and he got “Junckered”. It was a “Tusk” task but Brexit is much more than a mere “BoJo” – he will be back for the next round of negotiations – I mean LL3 match – and he will be better and stronger. (who writes this stuff – ed?)

Next up was Spock playing an amazingly complicated game where he strived so hard for the advantage with the black pieces. It was double-edged for a long time.

Unfortunately he just did not have enough, despite having a Queen on h4, the Bishop pair and menacing pressure down an open f-file from a Rook. This was a thrilling game and Pavel was very unlucky to come out on the wrong side of the result. He will definitely get better luck in the future.

Pandit had an eventful night. He lost a pawn early in the game but threw everything into an all-out assault on the black king. His pieces looked menacing, but in the words of Richard III he needed another piece (a piece, a piece; my kingdom for a piece!) to pull it off. Sadly, for Pandit and Hammer, no horse or piece arrived and Hammer was now 4-2 down.

Onto the controversy of the night which saw Dead-Eye in a desperate time scramble with unwarranted interventions from the opposing captain, subsequent amnesia from his opponent, excellent contribution from both Brexit, Zeus, rational and very nice GLCC members and the Prof (by the way, he is an arbiter amongst his many talents) – finally a win for Dead-Eye was declared.

In the end, hands were shaken and we left on good terms. The argument at the end cannot cloud a superb performance by Dead-Eye. He is definitely recording his form. Hammer at 4-3.

I will pass on the Clueless game at this stage and instead report on Boards 9 and 10 first.

The Gift debuted on board 9 for Hammer – he has come so far in such a short time. His talent and potential are enormous, coupled with a wonderful composure and demeanour. Hammer are lucky he chose us to further his chess career.

His opponent out-graded him by 25 points, three feet, and at least 30 years. However, a complex tactical and strategic battle developed in which the Gift graciously conceded defeat. The one thing he can take from this experience is that he was definitely not overawed. He belongs in this environment and he gave an excellent account of himself. He has a very bright future ahead.

Our other super-sub, the Hat, faced a familiar opponent. Past Chairman and honorary life Hammer member, Peter Moreton. This was the first game to finish and hence I cannot say much but I am most grateful that the Hat helped me out in my hour of need.

Finally, to my game. I lost horribly to my opponent twelve months ago in this same fixture. Indeed, on reflection my nickname Clueless summed up my play perfectly from that encounter.

Last night was different and in an intriguing game occurred where I faced the Wily setup of twin fianchetto’s, Knights on d7 and e7 with pawns cemented on d6 and e6 – I did have a very familiar feeling of deja-vu. Maybe this prior knowledge helped me and certainly my play was at a far higher level than last year. Indeed, I missed a win in a Bishop v Knight endgame and soon after, an honourable draw was agreed.

So, the final score was 6.5-3.5 in favour of GLCC. A sobering result. We were out-graded, on actual games played, by 9 points a board. But, the margins were fine at board level and if Spock and Clueless had had an ounce of luck (or in the latter case, a brain), we would have earned a draw. But it was not meant to be.

I leave you with this rallying cry:

“Hammer will not be cowed, we will not despair, we will not go quietly into the night. We will rise up because it is not how we fall, it is how we get up, and this is the measure by which we will be judged. Hammer is more than one match and in the end, it is the enduring spirit and heart of our club that will triumph. Last night our dreams received a knock, but we will surely and most certainly be back.”

Go Hammer!

Next up in London 3 is DHSS on 21 November.

London League 6: DHSS v Hammersmith – 24.10.17

That same evening our London 6 team achieved a great result against ever-presents, DHSS.

There’s always a small frisson of excitement about the DHSS fixture – whether it’s ensuring you pre-register with security to gain access to the government estate, jumping off the tube at St James’ in the heart of Whitehall, or just the fact that they offer very good tea & biscuits – it’s always a fixture to be relished. This one was no different.

In spite of an average grading difference of some 12 points per board, the team struck and delivered a 2-2 draw in the highlight of Hammer’s chess week.

Of particular note is new-boy Charlie’s result on Board 3, scoring a fine win against a strong opponent. Captain Rich also notched a good victory on top board, carrying the team to safety. Well done chaps!

Next up in League 6 – games against Wanstead & Woodford, and Hackney in early November.

London League 4: Metropolitan v Hammersmith – 26.10.17

Our London 4 team also suffered a rather bruising time at the hands of City Boys, Metropolitan.

Metropolitan – not a happy hunting ground this week

Playing Metropolitan is always an interesting experience – their games kick off at the awkwardly early time of 6.30pm, over towards Aldgate. It’s not the easiest part of London to get to for Hammermites. Coupled with the science degree required to access the Community Hall they use, we were several players down by the time clocks started.

A full report from Captain Dave will follow, however the result and one of the games is provided for your “enjoyment” below:

Result:

Next up for our London 4 team is Alfil on 8 November.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it – sometimes chess delivers you a lesson in life. We take our defeats with grace and humility, & resolve to come back stronger!

Thanks to everyone who turned out. The chess continues next week with three more games!