Our previous puzzle appears to have been a bit of a tricky one, with only one solution submitted, although that was the correct one (and correctly described as “delicious“). Congratulations goes to Marios!
It was a great study from a brilliant woman, Judit Polar – generally considered the strongest female player of all time. Taken from a 1998 game against Vishy Anand, and featured in a book: “Judit Polar: The Princess of Chess”.
The full game is worth a look (puzzle starts on move 54):
[Official Warning – This report contains graphic passages on alcohol abuse and requires a knowledge of J.R.R. Tolkein’s masterpiece – The Lord of The Rings]
Yes, the official chess season was done and dusted and that could only mean one thing – the Hammer Crew were once again off on their foreign quest in search of beer, pubs, friendship, fun and a bit of chess. The Hammer 2018 tour party was primed and ready – the only question was where to go?
The chosen city of our munificence was the beautiful city of C-Orc-dor, set in the South West of the Emerald Isle in the ancient province of Munster. The prize was to destroy the legendary Ring of Cork and secure peace and friendship forever. A noble quest if there ever was one.
The chief protagonists in this cabal were Mark Watkins, aka Mark Gamgee, Chairman of C-Orc-dor Chess Club, and John White, aka Clueless Baggins, the Hammer emissary. A covert meeting was held on the 28th December 2017 in a dubious inn on the quayside in C-Orc-Dor. The two men quickly agreed dates and the format over a few beers and several casual games of chess. The deal was done and the challenge was on.
By plane, train, automobile and boat, the Hammer Fellowship arrived in Cork on Friday the 8th June. The Fellowship were given special codenames for this quest by Clueless – their familiar designations are also given below:
Chairman Bajrush – Wily – aka Aragorn
Ryzsard – Breslau – Eomer
Chris Skulte – Sydney – Gimli
Wyatt – Gandalf, and surprisingly… still Gandalf
Dipender – Mr Dipendable – Elrond
Shiraz – Vintage – Pippin
Chris Moore – RU Serious – Faramir
Mike – Mad Dog – Merry
Paul K – Dead Eye – Legolas [Ed – genius.. ]
Eva – Athena – Eowyn
John – Clueless – Clueless Baggins
This tale starts with a simple fact. The beautiful city of Cork is definitely not Mordor – it is simply stunning, with pubs, bars, restaurants and music galore. There is craic to be had everywhere and the people of this proud city are hugely welcoming and friendly.
The Fellowship assembled at the home of C-Orc-Dor Chess Club on the Friday after dumping their luggage at various places around the city. Clueless Baggins on behalf of the Fellowship presented a certificate to Mark Gamgee that declared everlasting friendship would be the goal, but we were there to win the Ring of Cork.
The C-Orc-Dor Chess venue is truly stunning with panoramic views of the River Lee and plenty of space to play. A genuine and relaxed atmosphere was established and all settled down to enjoy lots of bliss, chess and getting to know our new friends.
The leader of the Fellowship, Aragorn, was in great form and as the night wore on rallied the Hammer boys and urged them to great deeds in the two long-play matches scheduled for the following day.
As the night drew to a close the Fellowship dispersed with certain Hammers seeking alcoholic and musical entertainment. The inn that drew most of the attention went by the Gaelic name of Sin E (a very quaint quayside bar with a musical bent) – the raiding party consisted of Gimli, Aragorn, Eomer and Clueless and they were joined by Eowyn. A good few Stouts were consumed – as is well documented, alcohol can raise the courage levels. The music provided the perfect backdrop but travel fatigue took its toll and the Hammers hit the sack with a vengeance.
The following morning C-Orc-Dor greeted us with brilliant sunshine and the Fellowship gathered to take on the challenge of a morning long-play game. The fate of the contest would be decided over two ten-board contests – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Before battle commenced, welcoming speeches and gifts were exchanged, and the Ring of Cork was revealed. Whether it would be a source of discord or harmony was to be determined…
The games were played under time incremental conditions. In this tense morning session, the contest swung backwards and forwards, with both clubs at different stages holding the edge.
This was the tale of the morning session:
All the games were closely contested with a real, epic heavyweight contest on board One with Eomer (Ryszard) holding a slight edge – huge complications then ensued and the outcome of the contest hung in the balance. In a hard-fought game Eomer could not hold it down and went down in flames – a real battle of Helms Deep proportions.
The Hammer Fellowship heroes were Gandalf (Wyatt), Pippin (Shiraz), Paul (Legolas) and Aragorn (Bajrush) who all scored excellent wins. Whilst Baggins (Clueless), Elrond (Dipender) and Gimli (Chris S) stayed true and solid to the quest and drew. There were tough losses for Eowyn (Eva) and Faramir (Chris) – like the Lord of the Rings they were united in their bravery.
The Fellowship had sneaked a 5.5-4.5 win – a truce was called and both teams regrouped and took on board refreshments ready for the afternoon struggle.
If it was possible, the afternoon session was even more intensely fought with the fate of the Ring coming down to the last game to finish.
Ryszard (Eomer) was under severe pressure, facing multiple threats, but as time pressure came into play, kept his cool and started finding consistently strong moves that challenged his opponent. In a battle of nerves and skill he held out and gained a great revenge win.
Chris (Gimli) was in awesome form and when that is the case, a win usually ensues – he did not disappoint. Hammer at 2-0
The Fellowship heroes of the morning, Aragorn (Bajrush) and Legolas (PaulK) both suffered afternoon reverses with their opponents playing excellent forcing chess that merited two deserved wins. It was getting tense at two points apiece.
Clueless Baggins was involved in a real struggle having punted a Budapest gambit, and with forceful play had established a definite edge. As is common with Baggins, he has issues converting positional advantages into a win. Pushing hard for victory, he let his worthy opponent off the hook and went down in flames.
Both Faramir (Chris M) and Gandalf (Wyatt) scored excellent wins against stronger opponents. Indeed with his heroics this weekend Wyatt has emerged as Gandalf the White and definitely not Grey. A tremendous performance by both men.
Two more losses were suffered by Elrond (Dipender) and Merry (Mike) with both Fellowship heroes fighting to the last. Hammer down 5-4 and on the ropes.
All eyes turned to the final encounter which would decide the destiny of the Ring of Cork – a win for either Cork or Hammer in this game, and the Ring would stay intact and balance would not be found. A draw would see the Ring of Cork broken and divided.
All eyes turned to Pippin.
In a great struggle Pippin (Shiraz) ended up in a rook and pawn endgame that really went down to the last pawn. He had a winning line, that he failed to see in time pressure, and the game petered out to a draw.
This meant that the overall match was drawn and the Ring of Cork would be cleaved in two and its spell broken! Harmony and balance would triumph and both clubs would be forever bound in friendship.
In the end, Fellowship won and the great chess clubs of Cork and Hammer will always be bound by friendship, an appreciation of beer, and a mutual love of the noble game of chess.
With the serious business done and dusted both clubs ambled along to the Franciscan Well brewery, where with the burden of combat already a distant memory, beer, chat and chess endured long into the night. There is nothing like copious amounts of good beer and pizza to create a brilliant night.
Friendships were formed and will endure.
I have vague memories of leaving The Well at about 1am in the company of those ill-reputes: Bajrush, Chris S, Ryszard and Wyatt, in search of another bar. Cork City was still buzzing.
There was definitely more beer and shots consumed and somewhere around 3am Ryszard, Bajrush and I surrendered and sought our way back home. Wyatt and Chris went in search of more entertainment – I can only admire their capacity and stamina.
The following morning Chris S missed his flight – a definite case of the effects of over-indulgence, while the remnants of the Fellowship gathered for the last hurrah at the Cork Chess Club. A blitz tourney had been arranged as a parting gift – from a medical perspective one of the best antidotes to excessive beer consumption and hangovers!
In an excellent tourney, First Place was taken by Ryszard with the critical encounter against Bajrush proving a mesmerising battle. In the end Ryszard won and deservedly took first place.
We thanked our hosts – they had put on a brilliant chess and social weekend that will live long in the memory, and departed on the best of terms. Real kudos should go to Mark and the Cork Chess Committee.
This is where the tale should end, but some of the Fellowship decided to wander the streets of Cork City, take in a meal, consume the odd drink before, before heading for the airport and home.
Honour had been satisfied – we had also had the very best of weekends. There will be further adventures to come.
It all kicks off next Tuesday evening from 7pm at Battersea’s home venue – The Battersea Labour Club, down on Falcon Road, a mere 5 minute stroll from Clapham Junction station.
Remember, the Summer League is a bit different from the usual staid and sometimes stuffy atmosphere of most league chess, and the launch night will be no different – it’s going to be a chess extravaganza! With fully 26 teams this year (yes, twenty-six – that’s not a typo!!), Summer Chess has gone London-wide, with entries from all over the city.
First up, GM Simon “The Ginger GM” Williams, will be providing one of his entertaining & equally insightful lectures for the audience. This will be followed by a blitz tournament, a Chess-themed quiz, and a series of puzzles.
It’s going to be massive!
Importantly – if you are planning on coming along, you need to ensure you complete the doodle below so that the Battersea folks can manage numbers & ensure everyone gets to take part. It takes all of 20 seconds to complete:
Get excited! Our Summer Programme is back for 2018, bigger & better than ever! We will be upstairs at The Albion every Monday night this Summer, putting on a host of different activities:
The club’s top players will be hosting a total of SIX training sessions throughout the Summer. Specific details will be announced nearer the time, but we already have some great things scheduled.
ECF-accredited coach, Paul McKeown, will host a pair of sessions (9th July & 30th July) focused on “Calculation and visualization with Michael Tal” – each session aimed at different strength players, though as with all our events, everybody is welcome.
Two of our strongest players – Jim Stevenson, and Carsten Pedersen – will be taking a session each. Jim will be focusing on “Practical Thinking Skills” (25th June), using illustrations from classic Bobby Fischer games. Meanwhile, Carsten will be providing his expert analysis on some games submitted by members (23rd July) – you’re invited to submit 3 or 4 games each, at least one win and one loss, and Carsten will take us through some of the more instructive ones.
(For those not in the know, our Jim is also an avid user of Twitter, and is well worth a follow: @Jimovskytwenty3 – some fabulous chess analysis & musings on life!)
And another ECF-accredited coach, Tony Niccoli, will be taking a session on 20th August. Details TBC at the moment, but those who came to Tony’s session earlier in the season will recall what a well-run and instructive evening that was.
As well as the training, Carsten will be providing us with a fascinating lecture on the History of Chess, for general interest on 13th August.
After the amazing success of similar events last Summer, our Tournament wizard Adam, will be organizing three more events this year:
Team Rapidplay (2nd July) – attendees will be split into four teams and play one rapidplay game against each of the others. Prizes to the winning team!
Handicap Blitz (3rd Sept) – a straight up Blitz tourney played out in traditional Hammer handicap style
Bughouse (16th July) – This chess variant is great fun and hugely popular. Players will be paired according to grade and fight it out for the grand prize
Arguably the highlight of Summer 2017 – this year’s Kensington pub crawl will incorporate even more pubs, with plenty of chess along the way. Save the date – 6th August!
The powers that be have selfishly littered a few Monday nights with big football games and bank holidays. No problem! Come along to The Albion anyway and there’s sure to be plenty of like-minded folks around to play some chess.
And don’t forget – as well as all this, there are also 6 Tuesday evenings of Summer League Chess down at Battersea Chess Club (5 mins from Clapham Junction). We are entering even more teams this year, so there’ll be loads of competitive chess to play!
After the shortest AGM in Hammer history, the hammerites got down to the fun part of the evening – the final leg of our three-tourney-cycle to determine the Handicap Blitz Champion of the Club for the 2017-18 season.
Twenty-three of the best of our club entered this final round with the two blitz gurus of the club, Chairman Bajrush, and Carsten, vying for top dog status. They were #1 and #2 in the rankings after the first two rounds and surely one of them would emerge as the champion?
However, matters were not so simple, with 23 points up for grabs for first place in this final round.
Without further ado I can announce that the winner of the third-round of the Blitz Tourney with a perfect 8/8 was Tony Niccoli.
Not only that, but he also seized the overall title as well with this superhuman performance that propelled him into first place. A stunning score of 43.5 points.
In second place was new member Thomas, with a total of 42.5 points – another epic performance.
In third and fourth respectively were bookies favourites, Carsten and Bajrush.
The best result of the night was Robin Lee, who finished joint 5th despite being ranked 15th – a really stellar performance.
A big vote of thanks must go to Adam who ran the tournament really well and used the software expertly to keep matters rolling along.
So, we have a new champion – yet another sign of all the changes happening in our vibrant club – roll on next season! The best is yet to come.
It has officially been one month since our previous Puzzle of the “Week”, so without further ado, the winner from our previous Puzzle is….
Charlie (aka. Sorted) & Adam (aka. Pickle), both of whom were correct, albeit with ever-so-slightly different styles of responding! Honours shared this time – congrats to both excellent solutions.
1…Nxd5 2. exd5, Rxd1+ 3. Ke2, Rxd5
The puzzle was taken from Sokolov-Thogersen, Rilton Cup 2018. White should now have continued with Rxb7 with reasonable drawing chances but Sokolov played Bxa7 and eventually lost, securing his opponent a well deserved FM title.
The position was from the weekly column in the Danish newspaper Fyens Stiftidende, a personal tribute to their long standing chess correspondent Niels Erik Neilsen, who is recovering from a recent stroke.
Our puzzle-setter in chief, Carsten, has known Niels Erik for almost 40 years, so I’m sure we all join Carsten in collectively sending Niels Erik our best wishes too!
On to this week’s offering then – White to move and draw! Answers in the comments please:
If that’s not enough for you, our friends over at Battersea Chess Club will be hosting GM Danny Gormally for a Simultaneous exhibition next week – and it’s FREE to enter!
The details you need to know:
Where?Battersea’s Home Venue – Battersea Labour Club, 81-83 Falcon Road, SW11 2PF. It’s next to Clapham Junction Station
The inaugural Hammersmith League came to a dramatic conclusion last Monday at the Anvil – with three teams in with a shout for the title.
In pole position the SW Juniors, followed closely by the Hammerheads and the Circus. Battersea were playing for pride and honour.
That doyen of football analysts, Alan Hansen in 1995, after watching a young Manchester United team crash in their opening game of the season opined, “You can’t win anything with kids”.
He was subsequently proved wrong by those same kids when they secured the Premier League title later that season. Not the first time a pundit had egg on their face. I must confess when looking at the teams this season in the Hammersmith League I thought the winner would come from Hammersmith or Battersea.
The SW Juniors would be gallant participants but older wise heads would rule the day.
Show you how much I know!!!
Before I get to the bones of the finale I must correct an error in the table of the last report. I got the points plus wrong, so here is how things actually stood before the last round:
The SW Juniors were flying high and “just” needed to win their last match to secure the first Hammersmith Rapid League Table.
The final pairings were as follows:
SW Juniors v Hammer Circus
Battersea v Hammerheads
To the second match first. Battersea have had a tough tournament and were in all reality only playing for pride. However, our noisy neighbours are not ones to go down without a fight, and in an excellent display inflicted a decisive defeat on the Hammerheads:
A great performance that took the Hammerheads out of the title race and restored a lot of pride to Battersea.
This meant the destination of the title was down to the SW Juniors match against the Hammer Circus.
I can report exclusively for the Hammer website that the Juniors stayed strong and are deserved first champions of the Hammersmith Rapid League. Many congratulations to them!
Clueless has joined Alan Hansen with egg on his face!!
The scoresheet reads as follows:
Only Adi for the Circus held the line and won his individual match.
The SW Junior heavyweights Alexander and Nadhmi were in dominating form and scored a clean sweep. Both Connal and Charlie delivered the extra points needed to secure the win and the title.
The SW Juniors are champions and it proves kids can win championships. Their coach Tony Niccoli deserves great credit for their result.
My only advice to my fellow Hammerites is watch out! These kids are good and they are coming.
The final table and standings are as follows:
On a final note I must pick out Alexander Jamieson as player of the tournament with an ultra-impressive 6/6, a definite start of the future.
Roll on next year and hopefully we can have even more teams competing!
Skulte, Carsten, Jim and new Hammer members Rauno and Ryszard currently play for the Celtic Tigers(Hammersmith’s sister club) in the national league (aka. 4NCL).
Celtic tigers needed one win from three remaining games for promotion into Division 1. They are also expanding to two teams next year, where a few extra Hammers are planning to join this elite competition.
What better way to prepare for a difficult chess weekend than a crazy Friday night of fun in true Hammer style!
Adam once again showed us why he is the King of Karaoke. Marios let his hair out rocking an anthem that would define the night ahead!
Hopping into our Hammerzine (see what I did there), WGM Klaudia Kulon shared some of her secret chess tips which got everyone excited!
Finishing the night in style with a 4-hour chess marathon at Skulte’s new house, everyone received official Tiger swag, ready for next season.
Great news is that the party worked! Tigers won their first round match (Round 9 of 11), along with some strong results for the other rounds, and ended up coming 2nd – meaning we are now promoted to Division 1, and will meet the GM & IM-filled teams next season when the real challenge begins!
You can follow the Tigers progress on Twitter: @CelticTigersCC
And if you’re keen to hear more or get involved with the team, you can contact Chris Skulte: email@example.com
The Middlesex League season has drawn to a close with the last match of the season for Hammer 2 in division three. We descended on Kings Head’s pub venue with the enviable mindset of knowing we were already promoted. It was a chance for some of Hammer’s newer recruits to stamp their mark on the league, and for the MVP contenders to rack up one last win.
On boards one and two, Simon and I were paired against two of Kings Head’s ruthless 170+ players. Neither of us played a fantastic game, and as one might expect, we found ourselves in difficulties early on. We both left castling a bit too late and paid the price, coming under deadly attacks culminating in resignation. 0-2
At the other end of the room, Jeremy and Wyatt sat down on boards seven and eight with a tiny grade advantage. What’s opponent played quickly, exchanging down to a pawn endgame that was very difficult to hold. Here Wyatt’s rigorous endgame training regime, courtesy of the John White Drinking Club, came into its own. He played very methodically, queening with one tempo remaining to stop his opponent doing the same.
Jeremy played a promising defence against the King’s Indian Attack, but ultimately failed to find a good plan. After losing two pawns rather cheaply it looked like it might not be his day, but luckily his opponent blundered a rook in a winning position to hand Jeremy victory. 2-2
Boards five and six were occupied by John Ryan and Dipender, both of whom have been integral to the team’s success this season. John’s endgame was incredibly sharp, with both players possessing plenty of heavy pieces and weak squares. Coupled with five minutes each on the clock, there was no way they could calculate all the variations. John mustered up a brave attack on the enemy king, but couldn’t quite find checkmate. Sadly this left his own king very vulnerable, and saving it cost too much material and the game.
Dipender’s game was far different. In a Sicilian Dragon, Dipender held a slight advantage with the white pieces before his opponent blundered a bishop. From here the outcome never looked in doubt, and with the win Dipender joins Simon and John on a very respectable 4/6 for the season. 3-3
And so our fate was left in the hands of Charlie and debutante Adi. From the outset, it was clear Charlie’s opponent was not set up for a sharp game. Charlie tried his best to spice up the position, rejecting two draw offers, before finally accepting the third, by which point his position was slightly worse.
On the white side of a Semi-Slav, Adi started off very strongly, building up a big centre and eventually winning a pawn. He thought he had spotted a knight sacrifice that would deliver mate in three, but as can so often happen in chess, he had overlooked one small but important details – that the knight capture would give check and pick up a game-changing tempo. Two moves later, Adi threw in the towel. A frustrating debut, but from what I’ve seen, I have no doubt he will be a key player next year as we look to preserve division two status. 3.5-4.5
With two matches outstanding, we can only be caught by Hendon, and only if they thrash Kings Head away from home.
Adi becomes the 25th player to play this year, three short of last year. With eight of the club’s top players ineligible due to first team nomination, I’m extremely proud of the strength in depth the club now possesses. Having seen so many great performances, this year’s MVP will be a very tough choice.
Bring on next year!
Hammer 1 Goes Into Fischer Mode in WC1V
After the Greek Tragedy in W1 there had to be a rebound in WC1V. Redemption was the only course on the menu for the boys of Hammer.
Welcome to the latest boy’s own adventure of the voyages of the Starship Hammer 1 and its one-year mission to boldly go to Division 3 of the London League.
In homage to our Chairman, we open this report with two Albanian words:
Star Date – 9/05/2018
Hammer 1, after undergoing repairs and mental retuning, has locked into orbit around the planet Cave-N-‘Dish in the Holborn quadrant of the Londinium galaxy. The mission was a delayed encounter thanks to the machinations of “The Beast from the East” and hence was played at the Citadines complex rather than the home planet of the ‘Dish.
This was a task again deemed critical by Starfleet – with the added pressure of Hammer 1 having to regain their collective mojo.
What would the response be?
Clueless, despite missing Sydney and the Suit in the landing crew, was glad to welcome back the talents of Wily and Forza. This was destiny time – seize it and Hammer 1 were firmly back on track.
The landing part in board order:
Thomas – T-Bone
Marios – Zeus
Bajrush – Wily
Paul McK – Prof
Jim – Loco
Tommaso – Forza
Jeremy – Brexit
Paul K – Dead-Eye
Sheikh – Pandit
with Captain Clueless (John W) brining up the rear
Hammer got a break before the match started when Cave-N-Dish forfeited board 10 – Hammer 1-0 to the good.
First game to finish was Wily in crisp and rapid form – his opponent a former Hammer captain, took him to the 30 minute mark before resigning in a hopeless position. For those sadists amongst you, here is the encounter:
Hammer now at warp speed 2.
Next to join the party was Pandit, who won in less moves than Wily but his opponent consumed large amounts of time and hence he spent longer at the board. This was another chess massacre and Pandit continues his return to form. Hammer now at 3.0 warp speed.
Next to extend the Hammer lead was Forza – employing his usual tactic of consuming more time initially and sacking a pawn in the opening for dynamic piece play. In no time his pieces were swarming over the White Kind and the end followed very swiftly. Hammer cruising at 4-0.
Hammer were pegged back in the next game when Brexit blew a winning position and succumbed to a tactic that had more points to it than even his opponent saw. Indeed, it was only in the post-game analysis he realised the full implications – I will say this only once – I was gutted for Brexit and frustrated for him. Despite his stance on the Brussels matter he is a good bloke and a devoted Hammer player. His form is uncertain and he has definitely hit the Irish Border conundrum. I am sure he will solve it, unlike HM Government, and move back to his best form. Hammer stuck at 4-1.
That was the only setback of the evening.
Loco playing a Kings Gambit was in scintillating form – the game was a real throwback to the Morphy-chess era. It was great to watch and demonstrated that as well as being an accomplished positional player, Loco can, when required, go “Loco tactical“. The ending was prosaic with Black losing his queen in one move or two Hammer now at 5.1 warp speed.
The Prof, with the black pieces, faced an opponent who was determined to keep the position as dull as possible. The Prof with the bishop-pair advantage probed, provoked, and induced square weaknesses around the White King. White’s position deteriorated rapidly and under pressure he succumbed to a tactical shot of Qxh4+ with White unable to take the Queen due to a bishop pin. Faced with a complete collapse in his position his opponent gracefully resigned. Hammer at 6-1 with the match victory secured.
Dead-Eye going into this encounter was on 94% for the season and after it had moved to 95% for the season. Playing the black side in the French defence he snaffled an early pawn then grabbed another two. White tried a desperado attack that was coolly repelled, and then Dead-Eye simply marches his c-pawn to c2 and that was that. Hammer at Warp speed 7.1
The last two games to finish were the top two boards.
T-Bone on board 1 was facing a familiar face in LL chess – the captain of Cavendish 3, Bertie Barlow – who definitely knows a thing or two. T-Bone consumed huge amounts of time trying to find an edge in a position that was fairly sterile. Despite having the two bishops he was encumbered by the fact that the position was closed and one of those bishops had defensive duties. Thomas is the most visually expressive player we have in the club – you can almost sense what he is thinking. How he achieved victory is beyond me, but he did – and that was purely down to sheer willpower and tenacity. Hammer at 8.1 Warp Speed.
Zeus played in the only slow-play game of the evening. Why oh why do we persist with this anachronistic version of our game? It is an absurd and outdated option in the modern world of computers and busy lives!
Rant over and now to the actual game. Zeus has been in uncertain form in recent weeks but tonight was the night he returned to form. Dominating an open c-file he induced and injudicious b-pawn advance form his opponent. This duly got consumed and then Zeus opened up the King-side. The game was adjourned at move 35, with his opponent sealing the move. Pub analysis indicates that Zeus is +1.7 and has multiple ways to win. The hope is that his opponent will see sense and resign, otherwise the game resumes next Wednesday.
Hammer at 8-1 with one game adjourned. A dominating performance by the Hammer crew – they totally bossed the planet of Cave-N-Dish.
Clueless announced part 10 of the mission had been successfully completed and has resumed his state of inner peace and contentment.
There is an old adage that states every good run comes to the end. This is the best that can be said of a tragic cold Monday night in Fitzrovia. In scenes reminiscent of Medea and Oedipus Rex the Hammer 1 juggernaut came off the rails at the hands of Albany, crashing to our first defeat of 2018.
Welcome to the latest instalment of the Starship Hammer 1 and its one-year mission to boldly go to Division 2 of the London League.
Captains Log – Star date 30/4/2018
Starship Hammer 1 has gone into orbit around the Alba planet of Wheatsheaf in the Fitzrovian quadrant of the Londonium galaxy. The upcoming encounter of chess mental gymnastics is laced with potential venom and hidden danger. The playing venue has alcoholic distractions available and there is a hint of a Welsh poetic voice in the air as well as shades of Animal Farm and 1984. This planet has ghosts from the past.
Clueless is wary and concerned that there may be too many distractions and a possible air of complacency in the landing party. He is at fever pitch, the weight of expectation almost unbearable.
Read on if you dar and see if you can spot the use of Newspeak in this report in homage to George Orwell.
The team assembled on time, in the right place and in the right frame of mind. We had a strong team, confidence was high, the banter beforehand was spot on – surely nothing could go wrong.
We had a new board one Rauno – aka “Sync” – a miserable play on the capital city of a great country – Finland.
The team, in board order:
Paul (The Prof)
Matteo (The Suit)
Sync playing on board one returned to chess action after a substantial break from the game. He was delighted to be playing again. Indeed, all seemed well at first and into the middle game. He had established an edge with the white pieces and was on the brink of launching a devastating queen-side assault with a free bishop controlling d8. Alas, a couple of mis-moves followed and he allowed black time to mount a vicious attack on the kingside. The end was swift and Hammer were 1-0 down.
The T-Bone had an unnerving encounter of playing an opponent who always arrives 30 minutes late and then proceeds to play at Wily Ward Speed. Clueless counselled T-Bone on this matter beforehand and all looked well. Thomas was a pawn up and consolidating his position – he had two bishops versus two knights on an open board – he was in control and having a good think. Unfortunately, he placed his rook on b8 instead of c7 and this allowed a nasty white knight to jump in on c6 and pin his bishop. T-Bone has an excellent face crime face and I could clearly see his frustration. Despite strenuous and ingenious efforts, he could not avoid material loss and the rest of the game was a rear-guard action without hope. It was genuine daylight robbery. Hammer 2-0 down.
Board 3 saw Zeus in action. Even for a God, Zeus has played a lot of chess this season and in recent games has displayed a touch of weariness. Other possible explanations are a recent trip to Olympus or the amount of beer consumption and his recent love for karaoke (see our @Hammer_Chess twitter account for evidence!). Whatever, the answer to this dip in form is, it initially continued in this match. Zeus dropped a pawn in the opening – but this time there was no doubleplusungood ending as he fought back and equalised. A draw was agreed shortly afterwards – Hammer on the scoreboard but 2.5-0.5 down.
Board 4 saw Sydney in his worst sober game of the season. Facing a Bajrush-style opening with the black pieces he got himself into a real positional bind. His strategy was totally malquoted. A desperado exchange sacrifice did not relieve the pressure on his position and the rest of the game was a matter of technique for his opponent. A truly horrible game for Sydney and very frustrating for him. It was just one of those nights when Caissa dished out a bit of humble pie. Hammer down 3.5-0.5 and Clueless reduced to downing pints and cursing Dylan Thomas and anyone else he could think of.
Loco on board five would surely stop the rot. Indeed, he did, but the combination of a slightly annoying opponent and a fairly dull position conspired against him converting the edge he had. In the bar afterwards, he confessed to a bellyfeel about the game that indicated it was going to be a draw. Hammer trailing at 4-1 and stick in impulse rather than warp speed.
Something had to change and the burden of recording Hammer’s first win shifted to the Prof. I have to confess Clueless was most anxious in his periodic visits to the board and altogether gloomy about the outcome. However, I forgot the Prof always takes the “Reverse Amber” approach (Rudd – I will not resign) and keeps throwing oil on the fire. This Lasker approach will always produce results, especially in mutual time trouble, and the Prof duly converted. The Prof along with Wily has more lives at the chess board than a cat, and his uncompromising approach will always yield interesting games that test the nerves of his opponent as well as those of his captain. The record does not lie and his record this season shows a clean sweep when he has played.
Hammer now at 4-2 but still stuck in impulse speed and the core reactor was still misfiring.
The fate of the match then moved to the next four boards and Clueless had assumed a more optimistic air. The outcome of the match was still to be played for and Hammer were well-placed in all four games. A definite case of plusgood.
Board 8 saw potential player of the season Dead-Eye once again deep in thought. Paul really is a picture of concentration at the board as he summons all his willpower for the coming struggle. This night was no different as he went into ownlife mode and struggled mightily to force a win for Hammer. It was a tough game as his opponent was obviously settling for a draw and that is what he achieved. Hammer now at 4.5-2.5 and still in arrears.
Pandit on board 9 once again rubbed Hammer salt in the wounds of his opponent, Charlie’s (Sorted) old maths teach, and scored a dominating win. I was so pleased for Pandit as he has had some tough losses this season and this was a return to form and most welcome. He induced a black-square weakness around the Black King and basically was threatening checkmate in a variety of ways. It was great to see Pandit playing effortless chess, it was total duckspeak. Hammer at 3.5-4.5 down.
The Suit played a perfect game against a lower-rated opponent. Snaffling a pawn and exchanging down to a King and pawn ending. He then demonstrated technique forcing his pawn through and gracefully accepting the resignation of his opponent. It is a minitrue that he is returning to his best form.
Hammer equalise at 4.5-4.5 – and like real political life, it was all down to Brexit.
I must add a caveat here and state I have taken writer’s poetic license here to add to the drama of this report and Jeremy’s game was not the last to finish. I have to confess employing goodthink to produce this report.
Brexit with the white pieces seemed to have everything under control despite his opponent controlling the f-file. Clueless was definitely not concerned and there was no hint of a hard border for Brexit. The conclusion was nothing to rectify here.
Unfortunately, this was just one of those nights and nothing really went Hammer’s way after a couple of mis-moves on Brexit’s part the game was over and Hammer had lost 4.5-5.5.
Clueless was distraught despite several pints of beer thrust into his hand he was inconsolable. On reflection I realised that nothing had changed – this is not newspeak – our destiny is still in our hands and if we play to our best we will go up and complete the mission.
My challenge to the Hammer boys is it’s do-or-die time, the clock is at 11 minutes to midnight and we have to seize our destiny. Hammer will win through, we are too good a team to let this golden chance slip.
This is not thinkpol on my part, nor fake news, but reasoned logic on how this team has performed this season. We will not be denied.
I leave you with the match card and current division standings.