A Hammer in Bavaria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo of my first round opposition by Thomas Müller

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

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

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

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

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

photo courtesy of Mariya Yugina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christof

Bunratty & Dunkirk in 2020!

The Bunratty Chess Challenge 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

No introduction needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John (aka. Clueless).

The Kings Head Annual Jolly to Dunkirk

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Puzzle of the Week #030

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

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

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

A true beauty.

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

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

Puzzle of the Week #029

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

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

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

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

The Epsom Challenge & Summer Updates!

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

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

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

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

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

Save the dates & don’t miss out!!

The Epsom Challenge – 15th July / 9th August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hammer and the Holy Grail pt. II

29.05.19 – London League Division 2: Hammersmith vs. Dulwich

Act 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Act 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Division, prepare yourself for the Hammer.

El Loco, at last, finally silent.

Hammer B v Kingston B

23.04.19: Thames Valley League Division 3 – Hammer v Kingston

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

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

Christof on board 2, with the black pieces commented:

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

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

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

Final score: 3-3

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

Robin.

 

April Updates from Planet Hammer

Welcome dear readers – it’s been a while! Please read on for a slew of match updates, and the conclusion of this Season’s Hammersmith League!

The North London Trilogy – March 2019 – Disaster and Foundation

This is a painful report that has been delayed by your correspondent as it was truly a case of March madness. This report from Middlesex 2 and 1 sectors, makes grim reading and is a tough one to put down on paper let alone a website.

Hammer 2 took on Muswell Hill 2 and Hendon 3 in bruising encounters whilst the ray of light was shone by Middlesex 1 – in a bloodthirsty encounter with a real powerhouse Hendon 1 – in possibly the most heroic performance since Horatius defended the Pons Sublicus in the 6th Century AD. Total Clueless hyperbole you may say, but wait and read the full report.

Furthermore, the use of Foundation in the title of this report is a nod to the Foundation Trilogy written by Isaac Asimov and arguably the most influential Sci-Fi series ever written. The story of the Foundation being the shining light preserving knowledge and science as a decaying imperial empire unwinds, contrasts very well with the Hammer and Hendon chess clubs. I leave you to decide which is which.

Middlesex 2 needed a win against Muswell Hill to keep up in the battle against relegation. As you can see from the scorecard we just fell short. It was a tough night for the Hammers and the result was in doubt right down to the last seconds of the final game to finish.

First to the Hammer heroes – Javier S and Paul M – both played great games with Javier allowing zero counter-play whilst gradually squeezing his opponent – it was a commanding performance. Paul M played a model endgame and was able to convert his plus pawn advantage into a good technical win.

There were draws for Eddy, Neil and Captain Clueless. The first two played very solidly and were never in danger, whilst Clueless overlooked a queen manoeuvre in the Scotch which might have yielded a win – such is chess.

Tough losses for both Charlie and Javier G with the latter though a pawn down, had the initiative and all the pressure. Due to my own game I did not see what happened but it was sudden and hence I can only put it down to an error on Javier’s part, it was just one of those games.

Charlie decided to be aggressive form the start and was launching his K-side pawns up the board against the castled white King. A tactic much utilised by our beloved Chairman. Unfortunately, his King was not safe and his opponent took full advantage – Charlie was left with a passive position and little could be done to save the day.

The most impressive performance of the night was that of Paul K – aka “Dead Eye” – he played a game that reminded me of Fischer in the second game of the 1992 rematch with Spassky. Through sheer gutsy defence and tenacity, he emerged a pawn up in an endgame which saw white with rook, bishop and knight versus Paul’s two knights.

Dead-Eye gradually improved his position and started the march of his passed pawns – alas the position was so complicated he consumed too much time on his clock. I think there was a study-like win there, but would have required a Magnus Carlsen to find it. In the end searching for the firebird, our man went down in flames – he was so unlucky.

The second encounter that week saw the Hammer 2 team travel to a nemesis of ours – Hendon 3. Clueless could not attend and Brian stepped into the breach and took control of the team. This was the grimmest of nights where the Hammer heroes were out-graded on average by approximately 40 points a board.

The score-card tells the story – a really tough night for Hammer 2 – no disguising it.

All I can say is I feel your pain and was frustrated not to be there.

The only way to respond to this is to move on – we and especially Captain Clueless, will do better next time.

The ray of sunshine was the following scorecard from Middlesex – Hammer 1 lead by the legend that is Zeus.

The Hammer crew took on the winners of the Middlesex League for the last eight season – Hendon 1. Just take a look at the score-card – Hammer were out-graded by 44 points a board – Hendon fielded two of England’s top 15 players on the top two boards.

Zeus had trouble getting a full team out – Sorted and Clueless answered the call to arms, yet we came within a half point of drawing the match – and in some ways we should have won it.

There were huge wins for Carsten, Bajrush and Zeus – all three downing opponents whose ECF rating is something you do not see every day of the week.

One of the abiding memories of the night is the sight of all seven Hammer players surrounding the board as Carsten found his way to a deserved win. This was real Hammer spirit from the lads and a stellar performance from Carsten. This is what makes a club and a team – you could feel the collective will in the room. There was only the non-playing captain from the Hendon side to urge their man on. To me, that is what Hammer is all about.

Please forgive the scarcity on detail here but my game was totally absorbing and demanding.

Board One saw Chris take on GM John Hawkins, British Chess Champion from 2015, despite downing an IM in the last 4NCL weekend, this was a bridge too far for Chris. He was also unwell and answered the call to arms despite that – he is a true Hammer and Tiger blood.

Board 2 saw Thomas lose on time to an IM rated 247 – the fact was he had made it to a drawn position – he was so unlucky. Unreal performance.

Our Great Dane on board 3 just won by accumulating pawns – he harvested well and scored a superb win.

Bajrush, played a dream of end0game where his opponent was relying on error to save the day. Wily was just so technically right and scored a decisive win – just brilliant.

Sylvain, was also under time pressure and it cruelly robbed him of a deserved draw – he was so unlucky.

Zeus on board 6 was in his best form – he basically won at a canter. It was superb – Hammer at this stage were level on the scoreboard.

Charlie was out-graded by 60 points, he defended the black side in a French and although two pawns down put up a great fight. He did Hammer proud.

Clueless on board seven should have won – the fact he did not has haunted him for the past 8 days. I basically outplayed a guy graded 58 points higher than me – this was possibly the best chess I have ever played. I was gutted that all I achieved was a draw – but it was a pure failure of technique. This was the position:

I thought I could win by chopping the rook off and grabbing the pawn – then I would gain the opposition and Queen my pawn – I was so wrong. Put it into Stockfish and see how the brain wins it.

This Middlesex 1 result was probably the best performance by any Hammer team in our 57-year history – we put in an average team rating of 216 across all eight boards – amazing.

Hammer is going in the right direction – doing it the right way – our best days are ahead of us. Our new tagline on the web site is “More than a chess club” – this is what we are.

Hammer Royalty enjoying the delights of the Duke of Cornwall after the Hendon 3 encounter.

So there is light in this report and possibly the start of something very special. Captain Clueless urging all Hammers to stay true and keep the faith.

1st April 2019 – Staines A vs Hammersmith B

This match took place in a very prosperous part of Surrey, in Egham – read on about our adventures there!

A country walk that is quite remarkable is that from Egham to Runnymede, where the Magna Carter was signed. Egham is a satellite hamlet a few miles from Staines, that has accumulated much wealth over the years as a prosperous commuter centre to Londinium.

We welcome Christof Brixel who debuts to our team in this match, on board one. Here are his comments:

“It was not a fairly tale start of my retirement and of my first game for Hammersmith.

It was not as I envisaged, losing in 3 tough hours when my opponent avoided all mating tricks (or I didn’t find the ultimate winner)”

The critical moment in his game follows: can white win?

Nadhmi had the black pieces on board 2. His opponent was FIDE-rated, ex-Olympiad and a chess coach, according to credible sources. Nadhmi’s mum takes up the story:

“She played the London system and developed a strong centre… eventually Nadhmi broke the centre open and laid a trap… she fell for a fork, losing the exchange. The end game was rook and 3x pawns for Nadhmi, against a Rook; it was won, when she flagged.”

Nadhmi said afterwards that he used time to his advantage, he had at least 10 minutes more than her by the end of the game and at times during the game up to 25 minutes more than her early on.

Well done! Everybody else draw, although Jonathan had adjourned first.

We went down to the wire this match and lost by one point: Staines 3.5 – 2.5 Hammer B.

Had I planned properly and got a proper train ticket, and had I beaten the kid with under e100 rating, we might have won, so I award myself the “wooden spoon”.

9th April 2019 – Hammersmith B vs. Staines A

Another week, another report, but why Hercules? Read on…

Hercules, son of the Greek God, Zeus, is turned into a half-god, half-mortal by evil Hades, God of the Underworld, who plans to overthrow Zeus. Hercules is raised on Earth and retains his god-like…

Although he was seen as the champion of the weak and a great protector, Hercules’ personal problems started literally at birth. Hera sent two witches to prevent the birth, but they were tricked… Hera then sent serpents to kill him in his cradle, but Hercules strangled them both!!

Welcome to Andrew Macdonald, a junior who debuts in the team this season.

We had black on top board. First to finish was board 6, Andrew who eclipsed his guy in record time using a 2 piece combo attack to win a rook early on. Nice!

Then came Jonathan Hoong with a draw, about an hour later, from a symmetric rook and minor piece and pawns each, not surprising. Score 1.5-0.5

Then came John White against a seasoned FIDE rated player, S.Schmitt on board 3. Looking about equal for a long time, having 2 doubled rooks in play, perhaps John was winning. But then the rooks got separated, and his opponent got prolonged checks on 7th and 8th ranks with a rook and bishop which John doggedly defended without being mated and without pawn loss.

Eventually though, a pair of rooks were swapped, and pawns were lost, John’s lone rook had an uphill battle against a bishop and 2 or 3 linked passed pawns, one of which queened and he was forced to resign. Score all square at 1.5-1.5

Paul Kennelly had a very tough game but had the edge, down to the wire with minutes to go, right at the end, his opponent somehow left his rook en pris, possibly with Paul having an intermezzo check. He immediately resigned on losing the rook. Well done Paul! 2.5-1.5

Our two juniors Alexander Jamieson on board 1, and Nadhmi Auchi on board 3, got into long endgames that looked like wins, but were inconclusive at the end, a Herculean effort. I thought Nadhmi was winning for a while. Bad luck!

Alexander was facing the Staines captain on board 1, who never let any real advantage occur even in double extra time. Draws reluctantly agreed. Very sporting! 3.5-2.5

Congratulations to Paul K and Andrew M for their wins, which secured our  victory.

Hammersmith League – Round 5 – The Finale 2019

The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at The Anvil. The first four rounds had seen some bloodthirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts with three teams vying for the coveted title of Hammersmith Rapid League Champions.

The maths was simple: if Football Radar win, they would be crowned champions. If they lost, they could be overtaken by either Battersea or Tony’s Tigers. This was the perfect finale to the tourney.

A dramatic night unfolded once again… I invite you to read on.

The final round threw up the following match-ups:

  • Football Radar v Hackney
  • Battersea v Tony’s Tigers
  • Hammersmith v Tony’s Lions
Football Radar v Hackney

To be honest the Radar were in Fischer mode, not only did they sweep the Hackney crew aside but they did so in imperious form… just unstoppable. Great credit to Adam and his teammates, they really won the title in style.

The Radar were unbeaten – scoring 90% in the tourney and winning four matches, with one draw.

Our deserved champions – they have come a long way in less than two  years.

Battersea v Tony’s Tigers

The second match saw the potential challengers face off… Battersea and the Tigers… this was a match of two halves with Nadhmi and Gregg both pocketing two points each in powerful displays.

Battersea won the first round 3-1 but the Tigers reversed that in Round 2. A drawn match was the fair result, with both teams demonstrating great sportsmanship and tenacity.

I must single out Chris Rebbeck here, whose sportsmanship was of the highest quality. A total gent.

Hammersmith v Tony’s Lions

To the final match which was a real fight for honour. A close match ensued between the Hammers and the Lions.. this was the wooden spoon game. What followed was a fascinating match.

In the early kickoff, Amaya over-powered Charlie in both games with a real neat mating finish in game one. The second saw her more experienced technique carry the day. Hammer 2-0 up.

Connall and Ben completed their two drawn games at a rapid pace… the quality was there, it is just they did not hang around. Two draws on the top board.

Dave on Board 2 lost a piece early on to Kamrans and was always on the back foot. Somehow he swindled his way back in and won. I know he felt very guilty about it. It takes great strength of character to come back from that, but Kamran showed loads of it, to comfortably draw the second game.

Debut player Daniel played two excellent games against Nadim to score a 2-0 win… this was a great performance and made the final score 4.5-3.5

The final table:

 

Eventful at Hammersmith

Hammers – an update on some upcoming events & a match report from one of our Reporters of the Year! Read on…

The Grandmaster Danny King Evening -29th April 2019

Yes, the next blockbuster event, brought to you by 21st Century Hammer Chess Productions is an evening with GM Danny King – chess player, media start, author and all-round top bloke.

He will be, for one night only, holding forth at The Anvil – home of Hammersmith Chess Club. This will be another brilliant night for Hammer members. Read on for the juicy details…

The evening will be part lecture, and part question time.

Those of you who attended the Jon Speelman evening in February last year will know what an evening like this can do for your chess knowledge.

Hammer members attending will be asked to make a voluntary donation on the evening, but you must register prior to the 18th April, as we are limited to 50 people at Lytton Hall. So if you want to attend and guarantee your place, please let our PR Officer know via email – john.white49@ntlworld.com

Please note: WhatsApp or text messages will not count!

If there are spare places after the 18th April it will be opened up to Non-Hammer members at a cost of £7.

Hammers – it’s over to you!!

MIND Day – 11th May 2019

Yes, the Hammer chess club’s major community event is coming up, celebrating it’s THIRD anniversary! This is an amazing day where the Hammers boss Lyric Square for the day, introducing the general public to our brilliant game, and raising money for Hammersmith MIND, not to mention further enhancing the camaraderie of the club!

In the last two years we have raised over £1,200 for MIND and recruited a number of new members – this all happens because of the volunteer mentality endemic in all Hammer members.

Hammersmith MIND will also be there, and coincidentally it is the weekend before Mental Health Awareness Week!

The day will cover the hours from 8.30am to 4.30pm. The timetable is as follows:

  • 8.30am – Meet at Lytton Hall to pickup chess equipment, tables and chairs
  • 9am – Setup in Lyric Square
  • 10am-4pm – Play chess against the general public and raise funds
  • 4pm-4.30pm – Breakdown and return kit to Lytton Hall
  • 4.30pm onwards – chess, beer and food in “The Albion”

This cannot happen without you volunteering – even for a couple of hours.

So, Hammers, it is time to clear the diary and get involved. Email the PR Office – john.white49@ntlworld.com – stating that you want to get involved, and what times you’re available for.

Two members have already volunteered, and the committee will step up as usual,  but we need the mass participation that we get every year to make this a day to remember – now it’s your turn!

Hammersmith MIND and Hammersmith Chess Club – together it makes sense.

18.03.19 – Thames Valley Division 3: Hammersmith v Wimbledon

Come what may… groan!, this was a draw 3-3, lessons to be learnt… please read on.

I thought we could get a positive indicated result, but our two juniors were to be cruelly done in.

Board 6 saw junior Amaya Macdonald quickly handed her King by a very experienced player who was fide rated 50 or 60 points her superior. 0-1

Board 5 saw Edward Goldman with the black pieces, facing an English opening with a Botwinick pawn structure. Eddie’s defence was actually an attack on the white trenches. White was strangely passive, dithering with his queen side pieces, never castling. Eddie attacked with 7 out of 8 pieces. A knight sac started the hunt, soon the white king was running bit couldn’t hide in the g1 corner. Carnage really, with a won end game but the opponent had had enough and resigned. Well done Eddie! Score 1-1

Board 4 saw a fine win also by Charlie Sturt who was seemingly losing to his opponent. Charlie on his back foot suddenly unleashed a 3 move combo attack on his opponents back row, with mate to follow. So it was the opponent who resigned and Charlie was triumphant! As Kingscrusher admonishes, paraphrasing Sun Tzu (The Art of War), “put yourself beyond defeat, before you attack“. Score 2-1

Board 2 was a hard fought struggle, indeed, by our second junior, Nadhmi Auchi. Nadhmi with the white pieces slowly increased his space advantage and looked to be winning. But as the expected finale came, and the clocks wound down, illegal moves were made under stress (discovered checks that were not announced) causing clock penalty. This happened first to Nadhmi’s opponent, but then immediately following to Nadhmi. He found he was a piece down and he resigned or lost on time. Bad luck! Score 2-2

For much of the evening, I saw Paul Kennelly concentrating fiercely on board 1, and he looked like he was in time trouble also. Just after Nadhmi’s game expired, Paul managed to get a magnificent draw against ex-Hammersmith veteran Yasser. We were lucky. Score 2.5-2.5

Board 3 saw an adjournment by John White, with the black pieces against an English opening, the Wimbledon captain arriving late, as in Strasbourg. But the adjournment was amicably settled as a draw almost immediately. And the match was drawn, score 3-3

You can see Edward Goldman’s win on board 5 here:

Conclusion:

This was a grudge match with Wimbledon, where previously we were crushed, this time we drew with a much stronger team on our Hammer side. So, a small success, which I’ll take anytime.

Match Analysis:

The rating  differential shows as zero on board 6, and the other boards are slightly heavier on the Hammersmith side. As we drew, Wimbledon may yet get credit with a point win, if rating differentials are used in closely matched season end results.

Hypothetically if the fide rated opponent’s rating using ecf equivalency were to appear on the score card rating differential, the point win might be reversed. That apparently is a big ask, but I mention this anyway.

R-Ealing from a Hammer Blow

Yes, stretching the fabric of acceptable punnage, we present here a recent match report from debut-correspondent, Kostis. Enjoy!

18.03.19 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith vs. Ealing

With four games to go in the Middlesex League and being at the top of the scoreboard, two points ahead of Willesden & Brent, the Hammers arrived at the Actonians Sports Club to play against Ealing, with no intention to negotiate.

It didn’t take more than an hour for the first two games to finish. Andrew managed a draw on board 3, followed by Paul shortly after on board 5 with a win after his opponent blundered from a position that was probably defendable. 1.5-0.5

Around ten minutes later, Jakub finished off his opponent in ‘rapid’ mode, going to a double rook endgame. Jakub played with confidence, blitzing his last several moves, which added even more pressure on his opponent, who had less than 10 minutes on his clock to Jakub’s 1hr 5mins! A rushed moving hoping to exchange both rooks and go into a pawn endgame, ended with Jakub a rook up instead. 2.5-0.5

Jakub’s game is presented here for your enjoyment:

A couple of boards down the order and things were starting to get clearer, with Ken bringing a second ‘lady’ into the game to finish in style. Ken made a mistake that could have cost him the game, but his opponent allowed him a counterattack which he executed precisely to secure our third full point. 3.5-0.5

Ken’s game follows:

On Boards 7 (Nick) and 8 (Javi), the games were almost over with both black sides up the exchange. Nick converted his advantage quickly, pushing his opponent’s pieces towards the King to deliver a deadly fork with his bishop, before shaking hands and securing the match for Hammersmith.

Javi stood his ground going to a rook vs knight endgame down the exchange. Unlucky! 4.5-1.5

Meanwhile on top board, Brian had an open position as black, having placed his knights in the middle of the board. After a couple of exchanges and a few tactical moves, a draw was agreed 5-2.

One game to go on board 2, with Jonathan having less than 3 minutes on his clock to his opponents 30+.

Carried away with the idea of running Jonathan’s clock down, his opponent missed a check-fork that would have wiped the White square Bishop off the board and instead grabbed the a2 pawn. 38 seconds on the clock and the material is “equal”, with Jonathan having a rook pair, a light squared Bishop and 3 pawns, to his opponents Queen, dark square Bishop and 4 pawns.

The game reached the position below with black to play and 3 seconds for Jonathan, who refused to drop his weapon.

Two blunders (…g3, Rd4+ Kg5, Kxg3 Qe5+) and Jonathan delivered the finishing blow to fork King and Queen with f4+ and one second on the clock. If only he had 20 seconds on the clock he could have even won the match (mate in 10). But saying that… his opponent would not have played so recklessly, as he was obviously focused on running him out of time, when he would have been better off using his advantage on the clock to outplay him – by probably chasing the rook and/or bishop over the board rather than the King.

A 5.5-2.5 win for Hammersmith then, and a very good chance of being promoted!

Kostis.