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!

Planet Hammer

It’s been another busy week of chess (and a few other things!) on planet Hammer this last 7 days. Five games of chess, one IM getting a Hammering, and several other things coming up in the next few days. Read on to hear more!

Rapidplay Round 1 – Monday 23rd October

It can’t have escaped your notice that our awesome new Rapidplay tournament kicks off this coming Monday 23rd at Lytton Hall.

The pairings have been announced, preparations have been finalised, and we’re all set for 8 months of Rapid chess with 25 players in the frame.

As such, it’s going to be a busy one at Lytton Hall, but don’t worry – we’ll still have room for casual chess if you’re not taking part in the tournament, and I have a feeling it will make for excellent spectating!

If you’ve signed up to play, you need to show up, else you’ll forfeit the first game! Harsh but fair!! See you there from 7.30pm!

Thames Valley / Middlesex Double-Header – 16.10.17

Hammer faced a double header this Monday just gone, with our Thames Valley team facing the mighty Surbiton, whilst our Middlesex 3 lot played host to Willesden.

Busy times at the home of chess, W14

Details for the TV game are quite sketchy, but I’m pleased to report that Hammer finished the evening 4-2 ahead, with two games adjourned, both looking like scoring points. This would represent an excellent result!

Adam on Board 7 has generously supplied us with full details of his game: “It was a very aggressive and tactical battle in the Dutch Defence, and I was pretty happy with the win given I started with only 35 minutes on the clock”:

Next up for the TV team is Kingston away, on November 27th.

Middlesex League Double-Header

It was a very busy week for Hammer 2 in the Middlesex League this week. We had two games, the first at home to Willesden and the second away to Harrow 2.

Willesden are one of the two teams who came down from Division 2 last year (the other has since dropped out of the League altogether). They were only relegated by the narrowest of margins, however, so we knew we were in for a tough fight.

Willesden descended on Lytton Hall with only seven players. Those seven players differed in grade by a full 78 grading points. In contrast, the differential between our boards one and seven was only 35 points. It was going to be a tough day at the office for the top boards, while at the bottom end we would look to pickup some vital wins.

Casual players relegated to the back of the room again! Busy times

On board seven John Ryan had the black pieces. He played a very solid game, and his opponent finally cracked when he fell for a piece-winning tactic and the win was sealed. That brings John to 2/2 for the season, the team’s current best-performer.

Simon had the white pieces on board is. Playing his favoured 1.Nf3, not seen too often at club level, he decided to enter a London System. He attacked down the Queenside, navigating some tricky tactics in the early middle game. Realising his opponent’s King was slightly exposed, Simon decided to sacrifice the exchange for a very dangerous attack. It was too much for black to handle, and the Hammer newbie soon delivered mate on the board.

Simon has provided a wonderfully in-depth analysis of the game, which won’t be included in this report, but stay tuned for the next instalment in the “Games & Analysis” section.

Dave’s debut in the Middlesex League this season did not go quite to plan on board five. He lost a piece early on but escaped with positional compensation. He soldiered on, managing to turn this compensation into three pawns. With white’s Knights dancing around in the midfield and with very little time on the clock it was starting to get very tough to calculate. Full credit is due to his opponent, who spotted a very nice mating attack that won him the game.

Nadhmi continues his excellent run of form on board four. He played the Scotch and some excellent tactics in the opening won him a piece. This must have come as a surprise to his more experienced and higher-graded opponent, who did everything he could to try and get back into the game. Nadhmi did not flinch and a very nice finish sealed the victory. Playing like this I have no doubt that Nadhmi will very soon be torturing opponents as a stalwart of Hammer’s first team.

Gawain son!! Our new sponsors delivered some Chess magazines to Lytton Hall for our perusal!

So Hammer were 4-1 up with just the top three boards to go. Could John, Brian or Pouya get anything out of their games against opponents graded 181, 174 and 166?

Pouya could not. He got somewhat tied down in the opening and his opponent did not release his grip. Pouya ended up blundering a piece and resigned.

The Magnus Carlsen of Hammersmith, Brian Dodgeon, could not either. He fought hard with the white pieces, but was eventually squeezed out.

So it was left to John White, the final game to finish, to make something happen on board one. His opponent pressed very hard and obtained a passed pawn on the c-file. John defended vehemently and managed to win the pawn before it reached the seventh, at the expense of a very cramped position. They went into an endgame very short on time. John was almost in Zugzwang, but after a small move order inaccuracy from his opponent, John found the only move that could keep his hopes alive. His opponent descended into thought for most of the rest of his time, realising that John’s last remaining pawn was so dangerous that he had to settle for a draw.

So it was a win against probably the strongest team in the league with some superb individual performances. Could Hammer 2 dare to dream of promotion?

Thursday’s match gave us the answer to that question – a resounding “no”. This time we were playing Harrow 2, probably the weakest team in the league. The match itself doesn’t merit much discussion.

Yours truly found a neat way of turning a won endgame into a stonewall draw with over an hour on the clock. Nadhmi could not get close to the level he was playing at in the previous match, conceding a disappointing loss to a relatively weak player. Further losses for Shiraz, Wyatt and Dan, and a frustrating no-show, sealed an emphatic defeat.

Highlights of the evening included good wins for Pouya and Dave, the latter of whom refused to be distracted by his opponent’s poor etiquette and gamesmanship, including embarking on chit-chats during Dave’s move, and explaining where Dave went wrong after he’d won the game!

The next three matches follow shortly, so watch out for an email from me in the next few days.

Adam.

London League 5: Hammersmith v Hackney – 18.10.17

Our second match brought us to our knees with a surprise loss to Hackney, whom we beat last time rather spectacularly. So yes, a team whom we meet on equal grading terms this time puts us down, but hopefully not out! Read on for more details on this match.

We lost the toss, so were black on even boards. Boards 1 and 4 saw draws soon on. Our middle two boards fought on. Gokhan reported he blundered again and had to resign.

In the final game to finish, I had won the exchange and tried to press home against a vulnerable King on the a and b files, upon which I launched several pieces. My opponent stubbornly resisted, but without sufficient firepower my cause was hopeless.

Final score 1-3.

Congratulations to our two drawing boards, Brian Dodgeon and Nick Rutherford, both of whom debut’d for the team on this occasion.

Sophocles said: “I have no desire to suffer twice; in reality and then in retrospect”

Robin.

Next up is Pimlico away, on November 23rd.

Middlesex Division 2: Harrow v Hammersmith – 19.10.17

The Hammer crew were on the road last night, trying to extend their excellent start in the Middlesex League with a match against Harrow.

First, a bit of education. Yesterday was the celebration of the great Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of Diwali. This fabulous, noisy and very colourful celebration, represents the twin triumphs of good over evil and of light over darkness.

Now I would not ever designate Harrow as representing evil and darkness – they are in fact a great club with a fabulous venue, and are most welcoming. However, when it comes to chess Hammer go into caveman mode and the winning mentality takes over. We were there to win… period.

Before we get to the nuts & bolts we need to add to the nickname list and thus the roll of honour is extended with the following designations:

  • Tony – “The Surgeon”
  • Yasser – “Tellit”

To the tale of the evening…

On board one, the Great Dane had a positional crush where he had total control of the board. In these situations, positional domination always leads to a tactical denouncement and this particular game followed the script perfectly. Faced with either mate or fatal material loss, the Great Dane’s opponent gracefully resigned. Hammer 1-0 to the good.

Board 2 next. The Surgeon had one of those nights – his scalpel technique was just not in sync – and he succumbed to a painful loss. It was a definite aberration and the lesson is the Surgeon will rebound stronger than ever. Hammer pegged back to 1-1.

Next up was our captain – Zeus. He won at a canter with plenty in hand, continuing his excellent form this season. He really is a force to be reckoned with at the moment. Hammer forge ahead 2-1 to the good.

On board 4 Wily had the most amazing finish with a Queen sac leading to a beautiful mating pattern. This was Wily at his best with his Bishops dominating the board. A superb game and a prosaic finish. Hammer cruising at 3-1.

Brexit on board 5 had a draw in one of those games where nothing much happened. He was never in any trouble and held a slight advantage for the whole game. Unfortunately, there was never enough to force anything else. Hammer now at 3.5-1.5.

Board 6 saw Tellit convert the positional advantage of two Bishops on an open board with excellent technique. This was another dominating Hammer performance. The match was secured and Hammer lead 4.5-1.5.

The Suit had a slight edge but never enough to prosecute a victory. The Suit bemoaned his current form and was slightly down in the dumps. My view is that he will turn it around very quickly and is not far away from his best form. He is too good a player. Hammer now 5-2 ahead.

Clueless joined the party with an easy victory on board 8. His designated opponent did not show up and thus a last-minute substitute who faced a near 30-minute time deficit stepped in. Clueless gave him no chance and a desperado Knight sacrifice was coolly and logically refuted. Hammer gaining a 6-2 match win.

A great overall performance by the Hammer boys – this sets us fair for the rest of the season and our goal of challenging for promotion.

So, the good ship Hammer Middlesex II is well and truly launched. Bring on the rest of the season and keep the faith – go Hammer!

John.

Next up is the return leg v Harrow at Lytton Hall on 30th October.

Pavel Nefyodov v IM Andrey Ostrovskiy

We all like to indulge in a bit of online chess from time to time, and it turns out that those at the top of the game are no different!

Hammer’s own Pavel Nefyodov (aka Spock) played IM Andrey Ostrovskiy in a blitz game earlier this week, which the IM was recording for his YouTube channel!

It’s a thumping battle, and of particular interest for an amateur wood-pusher like myself is the IM’s dispassionate – and often third person – commentary on his and Pavel’s moves. A really interesting insight into the mind of a top player.

The video is linked below – Pavel’s game starts at 43:12:

ECF Digital Clocks – Special Offer

Here at Hammer, we love a new digital clock as much as the next chess fan, and we’re pleased to report that the ECF has received an almost-too-good-to-be-true offer from FIDE on the latest DGT clocks.

Full details of the offer are available here: http://www.englishchess.org.uk/new-dgt-clocks/

In summary, top of the range DGT clocks are being made available to English clubs for £20-25 (compared to a retail price of around £70).

#drool

As we’ve recently refreshed our clocks and upgraded to digital, we won’t be ordering any for the club…. but we are happy to place an order on behalf of any of our members who wish to purchase one. It’s a true bargain, and we already have 4 members on our list to purchase.

If you’d like to take advantage of this fantastic offer & get hold of a top-of-the-range digital clock, please drop John White an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

A Walk in the Chess Valley

Get your walking boots on – Hammer is going to the countryside! Sort of…

We’d like to introduce you to the delights of the Chess Valley, which starts up in Chesham and follows a route down to Rickmansworth – both of which are stops on the tail end of the Metropolitan line (aka “Metro-Land”) – a short hop on the tube.

Not a wood-pusher in sight!

It’s beautiful scenery and what better way to combine the game we love, with a stunning walk in a valley that shares its name!

There’s a 10 mile route, details of which are available here: http://www.petes-walks.co.uk/Chess%20Valley%20Walk/cvw_frame_page.htm

We’re thinking – a yomp through the 10-mile route, followed by some blitz chess in a country pub at the end of it (along with the necessary refreshments!).

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, please get in touch: john.white49@ntlworld.com or updates@hammerchess.co.uk 

If there are enough takers, we’ll look to arrange something in the coming weeks!

Final Thoughts

Another busy week of chess action as the Hammer train steams on – thanks goes to all our players and contributors for some top games and reports. For details of what’s coming up next week, please check out our Calendar.

Chess on Fire

It’s been an absolutely BLISTERING start to the new season for everyone at Hammer! New Equipment, New Tournament, and six days into the new season I can proudly report that we are UNBEATEN, having won 4 and drawn 3 of our opening games – a fantastic start!

Without further ado, a full roundup of this week’s action follows.

World Mental Health Day

First up, we are proud to report that a group of our members lent their support to our friends at the Hammersmith & Fulham branch of mental health charity MIND, in their event to mark World Mental Health Day this Tuesday just gone.

Lyric Square, W14 – familiar territory for Hammersmith Chess Club

Similar to our fund-raiser earlier this year, we hooked up with the MIND folks in Lyric Square at the heart of the community to generate interest and publicity for the wonderful work MIND does, and of course play some chess!

Mike Mackenzie – Benoni’d to within an inch of his life

Our thanks goes to everyone involved in organising and volunteering for such a worthwhile cause! Tony Niccoli was a particular star, helping with transporting tables, chairs, sets boards and clocks, and manning the tables until 11.30am.

Later on we were joined by new members Charlie and Nadim, with our heavyweight duo Marios and Mike joining later in the afternoon.

Some of the day’s highlights:

  • Numerous enquiries from the public about the club
  • Hammer Chess showing how much it is part of the local community
  • The camaraderie of our club is just outstanding
  • The number of people who love chess
  • And finally a surreal moment that became clear 24 hours later. During a lull in the proceedings, Marios, Mike and I played through the classic Petrosian-Spassky 1966 WCC final game involving the classic swooping Queen sacrifice. The next day on chess.com, that game was the Daily Puzzle challenge – spooky or what??

Our thanks go to Victoria and our friends at MIND, plus John, Tony, Nadim, Charlie, Marios and Mike, who gave their time to support a worthwhile cause.

Hammer bossing it in Lyric Square – yet again!

Middlesex League Double Header – 09.10.17

Monday 9th October saw both of our Middlesex Teams competing in their opening games of the season – it was quite literally standing room only at Lytton Hall, with a few brave souls playing casual chess on some makeshift tables right at the back of the room!

Fantastic to see so many players down at the club on a dark Monday evening! Our 2nd team match report follows…

Standing room only for the casual players!

This was the first ever match for our brand new team in Middlesex Division 3!

Astonishingly, 14 players wanted to play in a team that could hold 8, leaving the captain with tough selection decisions. I decided to give as many of the new guys as possible a chance to play, and rested some of the stalwarts for the potentially far harder second fixture.

We ended up beating our opponents by a score of 6.5-1.5 with not a single player losing a game. Coincidentally this matches our score against them last year – which funnily enough was also the first game of the season (report here). Of course, in that case we didn’t have a second team, and put out our first team – a testament to the progression we’ve made as a club in 12 months.

Dipender’s game was the first to finish. He surprised his opponent on move 1, and proceeded to play aggressively, forcing resignation in a 14-move manoeuvre.

The full, brutal demolition is below!

Next Monday we play host to Willesden, who join us from Division 2 last season. I expect us to be out graded across all boards, but we’ll be full of confidence following a fine first showing.

Adam.

The same evening our other Middlesex team – “the 1st team”, playing in Division 2 – ran out 4.5-3.5 winners under new captain “Super” Marios.

A fabulous result given the tough standard of our opponents, and another Hammer team off to a winning start this season.

London League 4: Hammer v Morley College – 06.10.17

A great start for our “2nd team” in London Division 4 as we got off to a flyer against Morley College. It’s always nice to start the season with a win but even more pleasing when you’re able to complete the job without losing a match. We’re up 6.5-0.5 with one adjournment, and things are looking positive in that one too.

Also great to see so many people battling for places. Alas, I had to knock back several players this time around, but managed to find spots for Pouya and Charlie, both of whom ran out winners on the night.

Here’s the scoresheet…

And then onto the games…

First to finish was Charlie’s mash-up on Board 8. We could only have been 5 minutes in when I saw the White Knight forking King and Rook. The Bishop and Queen followed closely behind and we looked set for a <10 minute victory. In truth, I think it probably lasted a few minutes more than that but the hammer soon fell. Great win to get things moving. 1-0

Your author’s match on Board 7 wasn’t far behind. A couple of slow moves in the opening allowed me to take the initiative and gain space with an early pawn push. I trapped his Bishop, and found myself in the driving seat materially and positionally. The fact his King was vulnerable to checks meant I always had a good move brewing (perhaps “too many”, to quote Mike Mac), and forced a resignation a few moves later. 2-0

John was next to strike on Board 6, putting his opponent in all sorts of trouble in the middle-game. It didn’t help that he castled the ‘wrong side’, when all the pointers seemed to suggest a King-side defence was tighter. Suddenly John’s Bishop on h2 was a monster, and his marauding c-file pawn was a menace. When a pin was sprung on his opponent’s Queen there seemed no way out short of losing significant material. John bust open the defences and finished with an elegant checkmate. Nice to watch. 3-0, and it seemed we were working from the bottom of the scoreboard upwards!

Next to finish was Brian who selfishly messed up the pattern! Still, he got a win so I can’t complain too much. Playing White, Brian disrupted the pawns on the opposition’s King-side forcing him to castle Queen-side. Whilst material was level, his pawn structure was superior and following an ill-advised pawn charge on the h-file, he was left with his own soldier who could march up the board unchallenged. Harry!!! Simon Williams would be proud. 4-0

Matteo secured a draw against their strongest opponent on Board 1. He was left to rue several moves that the computer considered suboptimal (always easier when checking in the pub afterwards) but in truth, there wasn’t much in it from start to finish, and in the end a draw was probably the right result. 4.5-0.5, and the match was won.

Pouya found himself up against Morley College stalwart Simon Shaw on Board 3. A cursory look suggested the match was finely balanced as the players entered the endgame with two Rooks and almost a full complement of pawns apiece. However, looks can be deceiving. The Hammersmith debutant’s pieces were coordinated much better and taking a leaf out of Nimzovich’s “Rook on the 7th” mantra, the momentum suddenly swung in his favour. Pawns were mopped up left, right and central, and the resignation came shortly afterwards. 5.5-0.5

The final match to finish was Rich’s. Imagine the scenario: Queen, Knight vs. Rook, Bishop, Knight, with a couple of pawns apiece. Add to the mix a centralised (and checkable) King, and a couple of minutes on the clock. Rich had the edge, but he was one careless move away from oblivion! With nerves of steel, he kept things extremely tight and effectively managed to wind down his opponent’s clock further still. A gracious resignation broke the tension and set Rich up for a well-earned point (and pint). 6.5-0.5

Which brings us to our unresolved encounter between Nadhmi and John Williams. There looked nothing in it throughout the encounter, even following a sharp exchange of pieces that left both sides with a Knight and six pawns each. I suppose a supercomputer would say it was a theoretical draw but they played on, still several moves short of their 36 moves. Nadhmi seemed more confident in the position and forced through a passed-pawn before the adjournment came. Frustrating one, with the balance of power moving towards Master Auchi, but they’ll live to fight another day! Adjournment date TBC.

Thanks to everyone for playing. Look forward to next time.

Dave.

London League 5: Hammersmith v Kings Head – 11.10.17

In our other game this week, our League 5 team scored a 2-2 draw against Kings Head. It maintains our unbeaten run and gets a few more players out of the starting blocks! Hopefully we can squeeze out a victory next time round.

Sponsorship – Chess & Bridge Shop

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed the addition of a new “Shop” link on our menu and a sponsor on the right hand side of the page.

We are pleased to announce that we’ve agreed a sponsorship deal with London’s premier chess equipment store – Chess & Bridge – www.chess.co.uk

It’s a great link for both of us and has allowed us to renew some more of our equipment at a great price – watch our for more new boards & pieces coming soon! And if you’re looking for some equipment yourselves, we’ll have a stack of magazines down at the club shortly for your perusal!

London League 3: Hackney v Hammersmith – 11.10.17

Saving perhaps our best result for last, and confirming our “on fire” status so far this season, London 3 Captain John White gives us his take on the opening night for our League 3 team.

Cue Captain James Tiberius Kirk voice…

Welcome to the voyages of the Starship Hammer as it commences its one season mission to boldly go where??….. to Division 2 in the London League, and we don’t need 5 years!!!

Okay Trekkies, that’s your lot for the moment.

Yes, the new London League Division 3 season opened at a new venue – The Citadines Hotel in Holborn (not a shabby place!) – starring Hammer 1, rejuvenated, reinvigorated, packed with new and old talent and ready to take to the stage in an encounter with Hackney 3.

However, before we get to the nitty-gritty please indulge your correspondent in a rewind to the end of last season and my reflections on our journey last year. I noted that we had achieved our primary objective, which was to retain Division 3 status. However a detailed analysis revealed that we had a plus score in game points and that with the odd individual game results going our way, we would have been much further up the table.

With this in mind I thought a realistic objective for 2017-18 was promotion to Division 2. Our first match against Hackney 3 confirmed the logic of this.

The Hammer team this season is a very different beast.

Our nominated players this season are Marios, Bajrush, Jim, Chris, Paul McK, Jeremy, Pavel, Sheikh, Paul K and John G. In other words, I do not even make the team and I am the captain!

First of all, I would like to welcome Jim and Paul McK to the club, and to the Hammer team. Both are very strong players and really beef up our top boards. Furthermore, the return of Chris (see below pic!) and John G is most welcome after an absence of two years. These recruits, coupled with Marios and Pavel being available for the whole season, really makes Hammer a competitive and tough nut this season. With Matteo, Brian, Orial, Safi and Adam to call on as super-subs, we have real strength in depth too.

Two years is a long time in chess, as Chris Skulte returns to the warm bosom of mother Hammer

I also need to designate nicknames to our team members, and so far this season we have:

  • Marios – “Zeus”
  • Bajrush – “Wily”
  • Jim – “Loco” (an obscure reference to the Flying Scotsman!)
  • Chris S – “Sydney”
  • Paul McK – “Prof”
  • Jeremy – “Brexit”
  • Pavel – “Spock”
  • Paul K – “Dead Eye”
  • Sheikh – “Pandit”
  • John G – “Sauvignon”
  • John W – “Clueless”
  • Matteo – “Suit”
  • Orial – “The Wiz”

Other designations will follow as and when.

Alas, Sauvignon, Spock and Dead Eye could not make the Hackney gig and thus the Suit, the Wiz and Clueless stepped up to the plate.

At last to the match report. Please note: as I was playing, the details are not extensive!

Hammer started at full throttle with Loco finishing his game in double-quick time. A crushing win and Hammer 1-0 to the good. There then followed a gold rush of wins as Hammer flexed its muscles.

Decisive wins followed from Zeus, Sydney, Pandit, Prof, Brexit and even Clueless got in on the act putting Hammer 7-0 up and the clock had not even reached 9.30pm. I can report that all of these were decisive wins and totally in keeping with the Caveman heritage that Hammer espouses. Victory was assured.

The three remaining games were in some ways the most interesting. The Wiz sadly went down and the score moved to 7-1. This was definitely a case of over-pressing with the Wiz trying to force a win.

The Suit has a sealed move scenario, unfortunately in a very murky position. I am pessimistic about his chances although there are counter-play possibilities.

As for Wily, what can I say? He snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat. A typical Wily game & performance. A rook imprisoned on h4, controlled chaos on the board and yet despite being a pawn and the exchange down, he was striving for the win. Wily chess requires balls of steel and his uncompromising approach always yields results. Some good, some bad!

So, at the end of the night Hammer are 7.5-2.5 ahead with 1 adjournment.

A successful takeoff and Hammer is ready to complete its 2017-18 mission. The force is with us!!

John.

 

Mental Health & Annual Awards

As many of you will know, Hammersmith Chess Club is a proud supporter and champion of our local branch of Mental Health Charity, MIND, having taken part in a wonderful day of fund-raising with them earlier this year, in Lyric Square in the heart of Hammersmith.

These wonderful people work to improve and support the Mental Health of our fellow citizens of the fine Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

As part of their work to mark World Mental Health Day, our local MIND branch will be returning to Lyric Square on Tuesday 10th October, and are looking for volunteers to help with their activities and fund-raising.

The team are looking for a handful of people to help out between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Even if you can only offer an hour or two, your support would be hugely welcomed.

Our efforts are being coordinated by John White – if you’d like to get involved, please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

Any support is enormously appreciated.

Annual Awards!

The great & the good of HammerChess assembled at Lytton Hall last night to witness our annual awards presentation by Club Chairman Bajrush, and our Club Secretary Mike. Some chess was also played!

The obligatory tea & biscuits

It was a great turnout with around 25 members of the course of the evening. The roll of honour follows…

Player of the Season & Middlesex Player of the Season: Sheikh

Most Improved Player: Nadhmi

London 4 Player of the Season: Rich

London 5 & 6 Player of the Season: Chris

And not pictured:

  • London 6 (2nd team) Player of the Season: Nick Rutherford
  • London League 3 Player of the Season: Matteo Bezzini
  • Thames Valley Player of the Season: Carsten Pederson

Well done to all our winners!

 

 

 

 

Blitz, Subs, Awards

No, it’s not a WWII word-association game, but rather a neat summary of what we have in store this coming Club Night on Monday 25th.

First up, we’ll be presenting our Annual Awards to those most deserving players – one from each of the 7 teams, plus a couple of special individual awards including the highly prestigious Player of the Season, and the Most Improved Player of the Season.

That will be followed in short order by the first round of our John R. White Handicap Blitz Tournament, named in honour of our indomitable late former Chairman. As with last year, it’ll be a Grand Prix format of 10-minute Blitz games, with points being awarded depending on final placings on the night.

With a further few rounds over the course of the season, the overall winner will be crowned at the end of the season based on their total score over every round! Should be a cracker if last years entrant numbers were anything to go by. We’ll be presenting the Winners trophy for last year on Monday too.

Last but not least, we’ll be available all evening to take membership payments from anyone still wishing to play for us this season who has not yet paid up. As ever, our team Captains will only be picking players who meet the following criteria:

If you want to get involved in one of our busiest seasons ever, come on down to the Club this Monday! See you there :o)

Return of the Mac

Chess made a triumphant return to the rarefied surroundings of Lytton Hall last night, as we began to finalise our preparations for the rapidly-approaching new season of chess!

It was a welcome return to our spiritual home after a successful stint in the Albion this Summer, and we saw a huge turnout of around 25 people over the course of the evening.

There were several new faces, plenty of the friendly faces we’re all used to, and the welcome return of two old(ish) faces in the form of Chris Skulte and John Goodacre. Two loyal former-members coming back to the warm embrace of Mother Hammer.

What unfolded was a fantastic evening – many games were played, much tea was drunk, and dozens of biscuits were quietly devoured. It was also a great opportunity to get our house in order ahead of what is going to be a blistering Season of chess for the club.

With the Thames Valley League fixtures still to be decided we open our account in October with at least 16 matches that month, involving around 100 boards to be filled. Our captains will be busy this year!

With that in mind, please ensure that if you want to play for us this year, you meet our strict but simple set of eligibility criteria:

You’ll need to have both of these sorted before you play your first game – there’ll be no exceptions!

And finally… we’re still signing members up to our new, Season-long Rapidplay tournament. It’s a fantastic initiative, with over 20 players already committed to take part. If you want a piece of the action, please remember to contact Adam or Dave by the end of the month:

 

Blitz Roundup & Reminders!

Monday was the Club’s final night in The Albion, and we rounded off proceedings with a handicap blitz tournament.

As the last throws of Summer fizzled out this week, nine brave players showed up to battle it out for glory, graded from 210 down to 83 – a great spread!

The rounds unfolded as follows:

When the dust had settled, the scoreboard was tight at the top:

The top two players went into an Armageddon playoff. Wyatt had the black pieces and four minutes to Pouya’s five, but only needed a draw to win the playoff.

Pouya blasted through Wyatt’s defences in emphatic fashion, sealing the win with time to spare.

The top 3 places, with their… excellent prizes

Next week we’ll be heading back to Lytton Hall. There are no matches and no training, but a chance for everyone to meet some new faces and play some chess while not under the influence of beer!

Don’t Forget…

With the new season barreling towards us, our opening fixtures are less than 3 weeks away. If you want to play for the club it’s essential you meet the playing criteria of ECF Membership, and Club Membership. Captains will be unable to pick you for a team if you haven’t sorted both.

Full details can be found here.

And Finally…

There’s still time to sign up for our new Season-long Rapidplay tournament! We’ve already had over a dozen players sign up for what will be our most prestigious Club Competition this season. Entry is free – it’s included as part of your Club Membership.

Full details can be found here. Please email Adam or Dave to confirm your spot:

 

Handicap Blitz Tourney – Monday 11th Sep

This coming Monday night, 11th September, the Summer programme concludes with everyone’s favourite event – a handicap blitz tournament!

The format will be familiar to those who played in last year’s blitz competition:

  • 6-round Swiss system
  • 5 mins per person +/- 1 minutes per 20 grading points (up to 8v2 maximum handicap)
  • Start time 8.30pm, at the Albion Pub

There will be prizes on offer for the following placings:

  • Tournament winner
  • Highest-placed new member (joined since end of last season)
  • Exceptional performance or game (awarded at the discretion of the organiser – Adam Cranston)

This also marks the last of our Monday evenings at The Albion pub. She has served us exceptionally well this Summer & it will be a fond farewell we bid her.

Form Monday 18th September our home venue will revert to our usual regular season venue at Lytton Residents Hall, North End Crescent, W14 8TD.

If you have any questions about the move, please just ask or leave a comment.

Look forward to seeing lots of you at The Albion tomorrow night!