C4, D4, or E4… that is the Question?

I thought it was about time to get Shakespeare on the Hammer website.

At club level chess, I am currently rated ECF 150 (roll on July) – you do wonder what is the best opening move.

Taking the White side first.

I am a confirmed e4 player as White – it feels more natural, I have more knowledge of the openings resulting from this move. I am in my comfort zone.

This season, more than ever before, I am feeling the irresistible pull of d4 or c4. Indeed, I am experimenting more and more on chess.com in bullet chess. The problem is translating that experience into the over-the-board, long game and match scenario.

Always a good read – the chessgames.com opening Explorer – e4 the clear favourite

One of the pearls of wisdom I can pass on to the more youthful members of the club from my 58 years in this mortal coil, is that the older you get, the more risk averse you become.

To put it another way. Imagine me as a 25-year old – I was one once – and I had been a competent skier. If the choice was between a black run or a red run, the former would win every time! Thirty-two years later the choice is now between red and blue – with the latter winning most times. In other words, your desire to be reckless diminishes as surely as the march of time.

So, will I make the change? Maybe, or maybe not! Next season is the crunch time.

Now the Black perspective.

When an opponent flashes out c4 or d4 I immediately assume they are a more sophisticated player. They have read a bit!

In my mind, they are prepared for a strategic and positional struggle. They know a thing or two!

The stats don’t lie – c5 by far the most common Black response to 1.e4

e4 feels more basic, more caveman than high-brow. The struggle will be more tactical and a positive result more likely. It feels like your opponent is shouting “charge!”. A fight to the death is taking place and you cannot avoid it.

c4 or d4 feels like let’s see where we go, as I exert the advantage of first move. However, they will seek to slowly strangle you, and do so without risk to themselves.

Bobby Fischer played e4 for practically his entire chess career, until embarking on his WCC match against Spassky.

I know there were two c4 games in the interzonal in that cycle, but his real switch came when the title was on the line.

Poor Spassky must have been totally bemused as it appeared he had no preparation to go on, and coupled with his laid-back character, no defence.

In a recent article for the website I referred to the use of psychology in chess. The result in a game of chess, like all other sport, is often dictated by mental strength. If you can, legally and fairly, get inside the head of your opponent and use that properly, you are well on your way to victory.

Fischer’s use of c4 made hours of analysis and preparation completely redundant. A massive psychological blow.

To sum up – and remember this is just my view! – all three moves are good, and maybe wisdom and experience comes in to the equation.

I have been a confirmed e4 man all my life but am starting to feel the irresistible pull of a Queen-sized offering. Am I being pragmatic, or just getting old? You decide!!

John White.

If you’d like to write an article for the website, please get in touch. All contributions welcomed! 

 

Reminder: Theory Night – Monday 17th July

Don’t forget, the next evening of training & learning takes place this coming Monday at the Albion, starting about 7.30pm.

Our top-rated player, Carsten Pedersen, will be running through a couple of games to give us his thoughts & insights. Come join us!

A Ginger (GM) Analysis

A couple of interesting media-related links to share with you this week, first up:

  • Simon “Ginger GM” Williams gives us his analysis of the Game of the Week from the last round of the Summer League

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U7CFLa6K1I&feature=youtu.be

After every set of fixtures, the team captains from all the clubs involved have a chess-based conclave to decide which performance warrants the “Game of the Week” moniker.

The white smoke this time went up in favour of an enthralling battle between Mo Islam (East London Knights) and Malcolm Dancy (Battersea), featuring a hard-fought positional struggle, a number of winning chances and ever-changing initiative, plus some strategic mistakes for both players.

There’s also a shout-out for Hammer’s only victor of the round – with a Performance of the Week – young Nadhmi. Check it out!

Thanks to all involved for the video, and well done to the above mentioned players!

 

  • As if that’s not enough… hot on the heels of awarding us 3rd place in their Britain’s Best Chess Club Website list, the well-informed folks at Chess Journal have also featured us in the latest of their Club Profiles. You can read the full article here:

Club Profile #4: Hammersmith Chess Club

Enjoy!

Hammer in the 21st Century

Ladies & gents, an exciting new era in team-management beckons!

Our Summer League captains, Marios and Ken, are trialling a new way of managing teams & we want all Hammersmith players onboard.

The simple solution is a brilliant app called Teamer. It’s a standard download on your smartphone and will allow much simpler, more dynamic and intuitive arranging of teams in future. It’s definitely the way forward, and we want everyone at Hammer to be on board with it.

There are many Pro’s to recommend it to you all, but in summary:

  • Very user friendly
  • Match calendars readily visible
  • Accept/decline match invitation with a simple click
  • Performance and attendance stats recorded
  • Cool features – photo-sharing, team discussions
  • Makes a captain’s life much, much easier
  • Organises all our teams on a single, streamlined platform
  • An end to group emails

Ken and Marios have already set up all Hammer members on the app – you’ll have received your invitation email already, and it’s remarkably easy to sign up from there.

If they’ve missed you – don’t worry, please click the following link to set yourself up so that we don’t miss you!

http://tinyurl.com/y9aq4eck

Any questions, feel free to add a comment – thanks!

Ken & Marios.

Teamer in action

3rd July – Team Rapidplay

Our Hammersmith Summer of Chess continues this coming Monday 3rd July with a team Rapidplay tournament at The Albion.

The tournament will kick off just after 7.30pm, lasting until around 10pm, with each player assigned to one of four teams. Everybody will get to play three games against similarly-rated opponents on each of the other teams.

Time control will be 20 minutes for all moves, with no increment, and the games will not be graded.

It’s an open event – no need to pre-register, but latecomers should be aware that they may not be able to participate once the teams have been sorted and the first games have kicked off! Non-members and casual drop-ins are of course very welcome!

Anyone not wanting to take part in the tourney is welcome to join us for the evening and play some regular blitz/casual chess on the side.

Lastly, and most importantly… a mystery prize will be awarded to the winning team!! Come on down – should be a great evening of chess!

While we’re on the subject, we have finalised details of our Summer Training evenings – save the following dates:

  • 17th July – Carsten gives us his analysis of some games submitted by members
  • 7th August – Bajrush presents an evening of Openings and Tactics
  • 4th September – Matteo takes us through the Caro Kann Defence

Summer League: Gameweek 2

27.06.17 – Totally Hammered vs Streatwise, Summer Chess League

Looking back, the torrential rain downpour that arrived last night was definitely an ominous warning that something was going to happen… and so it was in the match where, aside from some brief chinks of sunshine from Pavel and Chris – who both drew – the good ship Totally Hammered lived up to its name, losing 4-1 to Streatwise.

We were out graded on every board, so considering the situation, our draws were a fantastic result. For those wishing to relive the experience, all the games are now up on the Summer League website.

We also welcomed two new players to the club for their debut games: Nadim Osseiran and Chris Dmitrov! I believe they are both coming along to next Monday’s club night, so please give them a warm welcome when you meet them.

Hot, hot, Summer League action!!

Anyway team, let’s not dwell on failure – we have a few weeks to prepare for the next match in July (18th July – save the date!). Six boards to cover, many beers to be drunk, and a chance for vengeance!!

Anyone wishing to play, please get in touch!

As a reminder, the remaining fixtures are:

  • 18th July
  • 22nd August
  • 5th September

Ken K, Totally Hammered Captain.

Full set of games below – Captain’s report from Just Hammered vs Battersea Volts still to come… It contains the only ray of sunshine from the evening – a victory for one of our newest – and certainly our youngest – member, Nadhmi. Pleased to say we’ll also be posting a full analysis of that game from one of our strongest players. Stay tuned!!

 

 

Totally Hammered vs Streatwise

1. Barjrush Kelmendi 183 vs Robin Haldane 191 0-1

2. Martin Smith 172 vs Pavel Nefyodov 164 1/2-1/2

3. Chris Dimitrov es133 vs Nello Attianese 169 0-1

4. Gabriel Barr 168 vs John Ryan 124 1-0

5. Chris Moore 112 vs Alan Romeril 137 1/2-1/2

6. Jose Dimiti 113 vs Nadim Osseiran es95 1-0

Volts vs Just Hammered

1. Chris Beckett 202 vs Carsten Pedersen 201 1/2-1/2
*not ready*

2. Marios Kouis es150 vs Motiejus Gudenas es169 0-1

3. Tim Valentine 126 vs Paul Kennelly 161 1-0

4. David Lambert 123 vs Rayan Balluz es100 0-1

5. Leon Watson 122 vs Kaan Corbaci es120 1-0

6. Naadhmi Auchi 105 vs Peter Yusoff es80 1-0

In Addition…

The British Bangla Chess Association are having a 10-minute blitz tourney this coming Sunday – the 2nd July starting at 3pm.

The tourney will take place at

Tower Hamlets Parents Centre, 1 Links Yard, 29 Spelman Street, London E1 5LX – it is just off Brick Lane

Entry fee is £7 for Non- BCCA players and it is run on a first come first served basis

So if you want to take part please phone either Mostaque on 07903 559 812 or Tariq on 07930 528 293

Monday Nights @ The Albion

After the excitement of the Summer League Launch in recent weeks, our Summer events program proper kicks off at the Albion tomorrow night.

We have the unflappable John White leading the session, taking us through an adjourned position from a game he played a couple of years ago. Although a pawn up, it was a very difficult position to defend.

John & Bajrush at the demo board

John will be taking us through the following themes:

  • Analysing your available moves in a difficult position
  • How multiple threats can be conjured up with minimal material
  • Psychological reactions, and managing the psychology of a changing game environment – from holding the advantage, to losing the advantage
  • Middlegame-to-endgame crossover

The session will start around 7.30-8pm, and as always it is FREE for members and non-members alike. Come join us!

And don’t forget what’s coming up in July – we’ve got more training events, a Team Rapidplay, a couple of coffee shop invasions, and a pub crawl!

Heatwave Chess

19.06.17 – Middlesex League – Kings Head v Hammersmith

On one of the hottest days of the year, Hammer embarked on the Carpenters Arms to play our final game of the Autumn/Winter/Spring season. It was the twelfth fixture in our Middlesex Division 3 campaign, a league we had already won with two matches to spare… embarrassing! Kings Head were the opponents, who were also playing for nothing but pride and grading points.

Due to a combination of weather, holidays, work commitments, and the Summer League, it was surprisingly difficult to field a squad. Carsten, Marios and John White kindly stepped up to fill the gaps, vastly improving the playing strength of the team.

Decent grub at the Carpenters. If you want a really good pie… the Gardeners

On board one, Carsten and his opponent blitzed out the first 12 moves, with Carsten landing a white pawn on g7. With a King stuck in the centre, Black defended valiantly, but it wasn’t long before Carsten’s exquisite tactics won him a piece and the game.

Marios and Jeremy were playing more closed positions, yet they both appeared to be in their element. With gradual pressure intensifying throughout the game, their opponents eventually threw in their towels.

John White is not on his best run of form but played fairly solidly, sealing a draw with the black pieces on board four.

Brexit vs. a giant canary

Adam spent a fair bit of his Sunday watching Simon William’s London System DVD. Luck was on his side: he got the white pieces, played the London, and his opponent adopted the passive …Be7 setup. Without a moment’s hesitation, Harry the h-pawn came steaming up the board and ripped apart the Kingside, forcing resignation in 19 moves.

John Woolley was the closest matched player in terms of grading, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from his game. An inspired John played very accurately, winning a Knight in the middle game, and closing it out calmly. Fingers crossed John decides to stay at the club next year.

#chintz

The third John: Mr. Ryan, and his opponent, John, were also closely matched grade-wise. The match looked pretty even until the Kings Head player committed a clear touch-move, cheekily trying to claim that he had touched the piece without any intention to move it. After a couple of minutes of noisy altercation, he conceded that the original piece must be moved, and went on to lose the game. The irony was that the alternative move he had tried to play was even worse!

With a disorganised captain only sending the correct start time on the morning of the match, it was unsurprising that a player showed up late. This was to be Robin on board eight, who has kindly provided his own game analysis:

I came in late, thought it was a Queen pawn opening so as Black I played two moves of the Budapest gambit (Nf6, e5). Getting my specs on, found it was an English opening! What a farce!! Anyway no harm, but interesting position with fairish counterplay for black. White Queenside pawns flew forward but then got cemented down after I sacrificed a pawn. The a-file looked good for the White Rook, but my cluster of bishops, rooks and Queen deterred access. After trading Rooks off I developed a potentially advantageous endgame for me, except Queens were around. I had caught up on my clock also. A draw agreed. Mismatch of gambit defence, though not for the faint of heart, seemed to work this time, and unsettled my opponent perhaps.”

And that ends a hugely successful season in the Middlesex League. Next season we’ll surely face some tougher challenges in Division 2, but with the Club constantly getting stronger, there’s every chance we could head straight on up to Division 1.

Season Stats:

  • Matches: Won 9, Drawn 1, Lost 1, Walkover 1
  • Games: Won 57, Drawn 12, Lost 12, Default 12, Forfeit 3
  • Players: Total 28, Unbeaten 18, 100% wins 14, Player of the Season: Sheikh Mabud (5/5)

Adam.

Summer Chess League – Gameweek 1

20.06.17 – Remember the date 20th June 2017. The first night of the inaugural season of the Summer League.

Six teams consisting of six players each gathered at the home of Battersea Chess Club to engage in mental combat.

To remind you, the six teams are: Battersea Amps, Battersea Volts, East London Knights, Streatwise, Totally Hammered and Just Hammered.

By luck, the first-round pairings threw up a couple of internecine clashes with the Amps taking on the Volts, Totally Hammered versus Just Hammered and the intriguing clash of the East London Knights and Streatwise.

There is nothing like internal Club clashes to stir the blood. The chance to claim bragging rights over your fellow club member is something that appeals to the sadistic streak present in all chess players!

A superb turnout – 36 players!

The last match to be completed was the home clash between the Volts and the Amps. The high-octane Volts just edging the contest 3.5-2.5. It was such a close match which could have gone either way. It came down to the final match on Board One, when time pressure was a huge factor in the result. This was a classic game with just a pawn and Rook vs Rook left on the board. Huge credit goes to both players for the no holds barred nature of it. It was probably a theoretical draw but time pressure and sheer tenacity won the day.

The East London Knights aka “The British Bangla Chess Association” made their debut in League Chess in their match against Streatwise (Streatham & Brixton). The Streats were hurt by a default and this could have been two defaults but for Adam – of Hammer fame – stepping in as a most welcome mercenary to cover Board Four.

East London Knights v Streatwise

However, this did not distract the Knights and they duly triumphed 4-2 in a closely-contested match. A great start to their campaign. Tough on the Streats but they will be back!

To the “home” battle of the Hammered boys – would it be a Total triumph or would Just, just do enough?

Well the tale of the tape was a 3.5-2.5 win for the Just Hammered boys. In a thrilling contest that again came down to the last match.

The first match to finish was Robins. His opponent our in-form treasurer, Chris. A game in which the Queens came off early, with Chris blundering a piece in the bargain, and Robin smoothly converting. Advantage to the Just boys!

The lead did not last long with Bajrush outplaying Paul in a tactical sequence when a Rook on a1 got picked up free of charge. This left Paul in a hopeless position and so he did the honourable thing. Level-pegging!!

The third game saw “Brexit” Jeremy totally and deservedly thrash me. My worst game of the season by a long way, and my apologies to Jeremy for such a lamentable showing. Move on – Totally boys now holding the edge at 2-1.

John – still smiling after his worst game of the season

The next game to finish saw the Prof (aka John R) make a bold sacrifice to gain a vicious attack on the citadel of the Wiz (Orial). Would it result in a breakthrough? Sadly, for John R, but happily for the Just lads, it did not crash through. The Wiz simply consolidated and calmly started improving his position and exerting his material advantage. The end was sudden with a lovely Knight fork one of the threats. The match was level.

The next game to finish was the Ken-Nick battle where a (charming) draw was agreed with Nick three pawns up. I think nerves played a huge part here and I think Ken would admit he really dodged a bullet. Still level 2.5-2.5.

So, like the Volts and the Amps, the result of the match came down to the last game between Pavel and Marios. In a fluctuating contest where Pavel hold the initiative for a very long time, Marios emerged triumphant in the endgame, where two passed-pawns on the 6th rank overhwhelmed Pavel’s Rook to Bishop advantage.

So, the Just Hammered boys sneaked it on the line. A match which reflected well on the fighting Hammer spirit and sets the tone nicely for the Summer League.

One of the innovations of the league is that you can play through all the games, as they are listed on the Summer League website. So if you want to see my abysmal performance or the sheer mastery of Bajrush, it is all there in Black and White. All the Hammer games are shown below.

A great first night, superbly orchestrated by Aldo, and my parting message to all is – Just get involved or you will be Hammered!!
John.

 

Just Hammered vs Totally Hammered

Paul Kennelly 161 vs Barjush Kelmendi 183 0-1

*Marios Kouis vs Pavel Nefyodov 1-0
*not ready*

John White 150 vs Jeremy Hodgson 154 0-1

Orial O’Caithill 138 vs John Ryan 124 1-0

Robin Lee 118 vs Chris Moore 112 1-0

*Nick Rutherford vs Ken Kwabiah 1/2-1/2
*not ready*

Puzzle of the Week #007

Just when you thought we’d forgotten about you… WHAM!! Another puzzle of the week gets posted to help you melt away these balmy, crazy hot Summer evenings!! Grab yourselves a beer, a cool lemonade, or my favourite – a Gin & Tonic – and settle in for another tough puzzle….

But first – the winner from Round 6. It was another complex one, with a tenuous link to Morphy.

I can say that Josue was our triumphant winner – well done to you, sir! And the highly tenuous link to Morphy – plus the solution – comes from our question-setter, Carsten:

When looking into Art Bisguier recently, I idly wondered whether he was the last person alive with a Morphy number of 4. 

He wasn’t.. not by a long shot, as quite staggeringly the former child prodigy Arturo Pomar had a Morphy number of 3!!

Morphy played Henry Bird.
Henry Bird played Geza Maroczy
Maroczy played Pomar in 1947! Loads of still-active players have faced Pomar. 

So let’s see how Pomar played at his best:

In the diagram Black has sacrificed the exchange and a pawn, but now decided the game immediately with:

  1. Qb5!! And White resigned due to 2. Qxb5 Bxf3+ 3. Rxf3 Rg1+ mate!

Zuckerman-Pomar, Malaga, 1968

Interesting stuff, I’m sure you agree.

Anyway, without further ado – round 7, solutions in the comments please – Black to move:

 

#HammerGoesDutch – Chess on Tour

Hammers (From and) To Amsterdam

09-11 June 2017: Yep, the Hammer boys went Dutch and descended like a plague of locusts on the fair city of Amsterdam this weekend just gone.

The Hammer crew needed chess satisfaction, and unlike Mick and the Stones, we got a serious overdose of it!

Twelve brave souls and a few family members ventured forth. Before we get to the gory details of the weekend, just a few words about how it all came about.

After the Brexit result last year, your correspondent decided in conjunction with the Hammer Committee, to organise a weekend raid on a European Chess Club. The aim to show that, although the UK was exiting the EU, we are most definitely not exiting Europe! Chess would be used to build bridges, and of course provide the perfect cover for consumption of copious amounts of beer.

No expense spared for the Hammer crew!

A furious Google search yield Du Pion chess club in Amsterdam (check out their website: www.espion.amsterdam). A beautiful city steeped in chess history, beer and culture… a dream destination for any chess aficionado.

First contact was made and a swift dialogue was quickly established. They would be delighted to host us – little did they know – and the dates were fixed.

The Hammer posse lined up as follows:

  • Bajrush – aka “Wily Coyote
  • Matteo – aka “The Suit
  • Orial – aka “The Wiz
  • Andy – aka “Spidey
  • Chris – aka “R U Serious
  • Ken – aka “King of Kool
  • Alex – aka “Cola Man
  • Dave – aka “The Rave
  • Jeremy – aka “Brexit
  • Paul – aka “Dead-Eyed
  • Adam – aka “Pickle
  • And John, aka “Clueless

A more disreputable and diverse group of Hammerites you would find hard to pick.

Clueless and Henk.. a match made in Heaven!

Before I got onto the action I must say a special thank you to Chairman Raymond and all of the Du Pion Chess Club for a superbly organised weekend. They were so hospitable, friendly and generous.

The bar has been set very high and Hammer will have to step up to deliver a comparable program when the Dutch club pay us a return visit in June 2018.

The Hammer contingent arrived by plane at different times on the Friday, and were staying at various locations around the city.

However, a few of us – Wily, Pickly, Dead-Eyed, Spidey, The Suit, Kool, Brexit and Clueless – gathered at Cafe de Kaaiman for an informal drink at about 11.30pm. The bar had an extensive range of draught beer to tempt you – Heineken, Heineken or Heineken. Sometimes choice can be overrated.

Cafe de Kaaiman… Hammer plot their raid!

The lack of beer choice, however, did not impede the conversation and the bonding of the Hammer squad. We were here to make new friends, enjoy a fabulous city and play some chess. The squad was primed to deliver. Beer always helps fortify the soul, especially in chess matters.

The next morning we gathered at Henrick de Keijserplein 45 at 10.15am – Brexit was late and confused (like the real thing??) – and met our counterparts from Du Pion. A great venue, it was well-organised and Du Pion are a well-equipped and superbly-run chess club, with nice sets and boards plus loads of digital clocks.

There were bikes… lots of bikes

Free coffee and snacks were available in abundance and we got chatting to the Du Pion chaps. With ice broken, Chairman Raymond made an excellent welcoming speech in perfect English (why are they so good!!), and presented two framed photographs of Nigel Short to Wily and your correspondent, Clueless.

Breaking bread (and coffee) with the Dutch!

Responding on behalf of HCC, Clueless effusively thanked all at Du Pion for their invitation and presented a framed photograph of Julian Hodgson, personally signed, to Raymond and Du Pion club.

There then followed the excruciating sight of your correspondent giving an eleven sentence speech in Dutch. My nickname for this trip was Clueless and I am pretty sure I lived up to the title extremely will in giving this speech. I think Du Pion were very generous in their appreciation and enthusiasm of my effort and fortunately no diplomatic incidents occurred.

Clueless tries his best Dutch!

We then got down to chess business – a twelve board match – the really serious part of the day. Would the honour of Hammer Chess be preserved, or would we be Double-Dutched?

The first game to finish was Spidey, and sadly he lost. Was this an omen? The next result saw Pickle equalise the scores. I think, as my particular game was all-consuming, Hammer went two down when Rave succumbed in a complex game.

A tightly-contested first match… edged by Hammer 9.5-2.5

Hammer were down 2-1 and the flying Dutchmen were on their way. However, Hammer Steel came to the rescue and a series of wins from Wily, Dead-Eyed, Brexit, The Suit, The Wiz, Kool, and R U Serious, put us in a commanding position 8-2 ahead. Cola agreed a draw, and Clueless was the last to finish with another Hammer win.

When reporting the result, Henck from Du Pion put it beautifully – our Dutch friends were “modest” in their performance was how he phrased it. I have to say, Hammer were ruthless and although the idea of the weekend was to make new friends, when it comes to over the board chess, Hammerites are basically cavemen.

A truly lovely touch by our new friends – thank you!

We were then served a delicious lunch with soup and sumptuous rolls, all paid for by Du Pion, and we got to know our friends a little bit more.

The afternoon session started with some Duo Chess – pairings of one Dutch and One English v one Dutch and one English. You moved alternately and could not confer. This certainly brought the sharp difference in style to the fore. It was great fun and again reinforced the bonding process and common enjoyment of chess.

International Duo Chess – a proper head-scratcher

We then broke for biscuits and coffee. I have to say the biscuits were delicious and far too tempting for my sweet tooth. Once refuelling had been finished we returned to two options – some endgame studies, or playing rapid chess where the Hammerites had to play the English and the Du Pion guys had to play the Dutch. It sounds like a dream session for the Ginger GM (Simon Williams is a serious practitioner of the Dutch) if only he were Dutch!!!

The next part of the day was the solution presentation of the Puzzle challenge, with one of the puzzles actually having been the creation of Henck. Indeed, it had even stumped the great GM Jan Timman. The puzzles were hugely entertaining and very educational. A real winner.

Henck gets instructional!

We then rounded off the pure chess part of the day with a new game – “Brexit chess”. A chess version where one side would have four Bishops and no Knights, and the other side would have four Knights and no Bishops. You’ll have to take my word for it, but the concept has something to do with the international trade in horse semen & scared clergymen…

Brexit Chess… basically a bit mad

Anyway, this was an unbelievably challenging way to play the game, with the Knights dominating the early stages. Indeed, the only way for the Bishops to win was to open the position up from move 1 – not an easy task!!

This is an idea we may well use during next season at Hammer!

The final part of the day was a meal together at Duble restaurant in the city centre. A Mediterranean establishment with stunning food, good beer and great wine. The perfect location for a great chat and a wind down after the chess mania. Those who chose the main course meat dish had a serious load to demolish, while the healthy amongst us found the salmon dish just right.

After the chess… the food & drink!

The meal concluded and we bid farewell to our new best friends and set forth into the heart of the city to hunt down a bar. At this stage the Wiz, Cola and Wily parted ways for various reasons. This left Rave, Pickle, R U Serious, Dead-Eyed, Kool, Spidey, The Suit and Clueless and we found our Mecca in the form of the Three Sisters in Rembrandt Square.

There was nothing remotely artistic about the night except the consumption of beer and the inevitable rubbish that men talk about when beer is free-flowing. I have vague memories of doing a vodka shot, as did some of the others.

Suit & Brexit enjoying a beer

About 1am Dead-Eyed and myself bid “geode nacht” to the lads and headed back to our Airbnb. What happened afterwards I have no idea. What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam…

#hazy

The weary Hammer troops gathered the next morning at the Max Euwe Centre for a privately organised tour – it is great having friends with connections!

There was many a sore head but the tour of the Centre was fascinating and if the Three Sisters was the Mecca of drinking, then the Max Euwe Centre is the nirvana for all chess lovers.

It was like walking through chess history with stacks of memorabilia and a chess library of the Gods. Stories were told by our guide that were insightful and fascinating. It was a total treat. To those of the crew who missed it – not mentioning any names but the Wiz and Spidey – you missed something very special.

This concluded the organised part of the weekend but Raymond had one more surprise and that was the chance to go to a cafe to watch the two Van Forest brothers (One a GM, the other an IM) take on two FM’s in 3-minute Blitz. They were due to play 50 games each!!

I have to say this was too good an opportunity to miss and we enjoyed seeing chess at an entirely different level. The speed and accuracy in the numerous blitz finishes was outstanding and something a mere wood-pusher like me can only dream of.

This really concluded the trip and by various trains, planes and automobiles the Hammer crew made its way home to West London and yonder.

To summarise – the best of weekends.

Great company, new friends, brilliant city, great chess, history, art, beer, food and talking rubbish all reached new rarefied levels.

It seems appropriate to nominate the outstanding Hammer performers of the weekend:

  • The “Party Till I Drop Animal” – The Wiz – getting home at 8am Sunday morning, just an outstanding effort.
  • The “Brexit I Know It All Cab Driver’s Award” – The one and only Jeremy, who did provide the photo of Julian – just brilliant company.
  • The “I’m Still Standing After Drinking Most Beer Award” – Pickle – Adam did his club and country proud.
  • The “Cultured and Considerate Hammer Personality Award” – Cola – he saw as much culture as the rest of us drank beer.
  • Best Hammer Chess Player Award – we all were!!!

My final thoughts are with our new friends in Du Pion – Raymond, Henck, Tom, Dik, Hari and the rest, you were just complete stars!

Roll on 2018 when Hammer are the hosts.

Clueless now signing off… and in rehab!

 

In Other News…

Summer Tournaments at GLCC

You may be interested in the tournaments below, hosted by Greater London Chess Club (GLCC), which are also open to non-members. All events take place at GLCC’s central London venue at St George’s Bloomsbury, 6 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HR (close to the British Museum).

 

Summer Chess League

You’ve undoubtedly already been made aware of Hammer’s entry into the inaugural Summer Chess League this year. We’ve got a bunch of games coming up over the next two months and will be in need of players! Check your emails. We’re hoping to make this a regular Summer fixture so your support is most appreciated!

The launch event happened earlier this week at Battersea’s home venue, featuring amongst many others, the Ginger GM, plus IM’s Richard Bates and Simon Ansell.

The Hammer team & some guy claiming to be a GM…

Check out the website for a great writeup and full details of upcoming games: http://www.summerchessleague.org.uk