Tournaments, Simuls, and Chicken Biryani!

Ladies & Gents – we’ve got some exciting news of a few fantastic London-based chess events to share.

First up, our friends at Battersea Chess Club have given us the opportunity to be amongst the first to register for a pair of events they will be holding in December.

On Tuesday 6th December, they’ve a double-header – firstly, IM John Bartholomew will be playing a Simul against all-comers from 5.30 to 7.30pm. Full details can be found here, but in short – entry is £10 per player, which includes two free drinks from the bar at their venue, and free entry to their open Blitz tournament which starts immediately afterwards.


The Blitz tourney will be run Swiss-style, with the first 60 entrants absolutely free, although if you’ve already paid up for the Simul your entry is guaranteed to be free no matter how many people play. It starts at 7.30pm sharp, with the winner taking all donations and a very fine trophy too! You don’t even need to be a club member – Can’t say fairer than that!

If that’s not enough, on Tuesday 20th December Battersea will be hosting former British Champion – the “Prince Charming” of Chess – GM David Howell for a Simultaneous exhibition.


With a FIDE Rating of 2655, David is one of England’s strongest players. The Simul starts at 7.30pm, with entry £20 for non-members. Further details here.


And last – but most certainly not least – our friends at the British Bangla Chess Association have informed us of an International Chess Tournament they are hosting at the London Enterprise Academy in Whitechapel (E1 1RD) on Sunday 4th December.

Full details can be found on their Facebook page here, but broadly speaking it’s a 7-round Rapid play Swiss tourney with three different groupings depending on ability. Substantial cash prizes are on offer for placing, from £500 down to £40.

Entry is £15 for adults, £5 for juniors, and the fee includes free refreshments throughout the day, along with a Biryani (chicken or veggie!) for lunch. Almost worth it for the food alone!


Plenty of Chess to look forward to!!

Middlesex Fixtures & the Return to Lytton Hall

We have now confirmed all our upcoming fixtures in the Middlesex League – full details available on our calendar, and on the Middlesex website.

Please take a moment to check the fixtures in advance – with Hammersmith entering 7 teams across 6 leagues this season, the fixture list is busier than it has been in a long time! Thames Valley fixtures should be confirmed next week.

In addition, we are pleased to confirm our return to our home venue Lytton Hall on Monday 26 September, after a very successful (and hot!) Summer at the Albion.

It will be a busy evening – starting with a short presentation ceremony for our players of the season, closely followed by a blitz tournament for all-comers. Promises to be a great opener to the season & we’d love to see as many faces down there as possible!

The Life of a King

It’s not often a film about chess comes along – though the recent biog of Bobby Fischer stands out – but here are some details about an upcoming chess-themed cinematic event…

The film “Life of a King” is being screened on Tuesday 30th August at Walthamstow Empire cinema. The film stars Cuba Gooding Jnr, and is an inspirational tale based on the true story of an ex-con who, determined to help at-risk youths avoid the mistakes he made, forms a chess club to offer them an alternative to street gangs. Tickets are £10.50 and the screening starts at 7pm – full details can be found here.

Move before you… dammit! 

As part of the screening, Hackney’s first team captain FM Bob Eames is giving a free simultaneous on the afternoon of Saturday 27th August. Keep your eyes posted on Hackney’s website for details.

Sue Maroroa vs. Hammersmith!

As regular readers will know, Hammersmith Chess Club had the enormous pleasure of taking on Women’s International Master Sue Maroroa in a Simultaneous display across 14 boards on Monday 25th July.

It was a sultry evening in the Big Smoke and the atmosphere in the upstairs function room of The Albion pub was no different. What little ventilation was on offer didn’t really help, as we just about managed to squeeze in enough boards to accommodate everyone!

Former Hammersmith player Sue had generously agreed to play us this Summer and it was an enthusiastic crowd that turned up, ranging from our old timers, recent new members, and the odd potential signing. Sue had hoped that the evening would be “quick and painless”. Whilst we could ensure an evening free of physical torment, with 14 boards it looked anything but rapid!

Play commenced shortly after 7.30 and it quickly became evident that Sue would have a fight on her hands – not only was Hammersmith fielding a former Punjab Chess Champion in Amit Sharma, amongst other strong opposition, but the setup of the pub meant a long walk down to the far end of the bar with every circuit Sue completed – Hardly ideal given the heat & humidity!

It was a loooong way to get round all the boards

First blood went to Sue however, with a brisk ten-move victory over Shaun (someone had to be first!). Your correspondent followed soon after, conceding after 26 moves. Sue gradually clocked up the victories and whilst the war was clearly being won by the WIM, there remained a number of intriguing skirmishes that would end with victory for Hammersmith.

Amit eventually ended up victorious from a deep strategic game that had Sue thinking hard all evening.

The ice-man… Amit. The coolest thing in the pub that night

John Wooley went two pawns up in a commanding position leaving Sue with little option but to concede.

Jay Hinolan wound up with doubled pawns in a tight endgame, but somehow managed to get one to an imminent Queening position, forcing Sue to resign.

Jay looking very happy with his position

Chris Moore sealed a draw by taking out Sue’s last pawns. He came agonisingly close to forcing the game but there just wasn’t enough material to get his last pawn to a Queening square. Bad luck!

Chris looked under the cosh early doors but ended with a brilliant draw

Club Secretary Mike Mackenzie managed to hold on with even material throughout a long game which looked to be heading for a draw, however Sue was able to push forward and claim victory.

The evening finished with Sue notching up 10 wins, 1 drawn game, and conceding 3. Congratulations go to those players who obtained a result – some terrific chess was played. Thanks also to everyone who turned out for the event, it was great to see so many faces.

Special thanks to Sue for donating her time and energy on a very warm evening in the capital – Hammersmith Chess Club salutes you, and we hope it wasn’t too painful!

For more photos of the evening please check out our Facebook Album, and don’t forget to check out Battersea Chess Club’s website if you would like to play in the Simul they are organising against Simon William, aka the Ginger GM!

El Chessico – The Result!

Tuesday evening saw the second and deciding leg of our Summer double-header against Battersea Chess Club, dubbed “El Chessico” by those in the know. We had the pleasure of visiting their home venue – Battersea Labour Club – and what a venue it is!

A lovely centre near Clapham Junction with ample room, audio visuals, and pints from £2.35!! Mike Mackenzie was overheard describing it as “a hell of a drum”. Our hosts were equally hospitable – I’m planning my return trip as we speak!

The Battersea Labour Club – rumoured to serve the cheapest pints in SW London

Down to business though – the 15-board return leg was fabulously well organised – credit to Aldo & the Battersea folks for the arrangements. It was an even match up across all boards and the game played out accordingly, with a handful of games going right down to the wire.

It could easily have gone either way, but by the end of the evening the teams couldn’t be separated and the match ended drawn at 7.5-7.5, handing Hammersmith a win over the two legs, 1.5-0.5.

A full house – 15 boards of chess!
Simon Cowell turned up with a glass of Pinot Grigio

A few of the Hammersmith results deserve a shout out – firstly to Paolo for winning on his competitive debut for the club; Jorge also picked up another win in his second outing for us; Chris continued his excellent form with yet another result!; Carsten secured a tasty victory with a 10 move forced combination, and Jeremy secured a hard-fought win after a hair-raising struggle in the middle game (described as “a humdinger of a game”!). John, Pavel and Paul all with creditable draws in the mix too.


Thanks again to our hosts and opponents, and to everyone who turned out over the two legs (27 boards in total – quite a feat!). Well done to Hammersmith for the narrow victory, and here’s to making this an annual fixture!!

Battersea’s match report can be found here.


Hammersmith vs Battersea

Save the dates!! We have agreed to hold a 12-board double-header against Battersea Chess Club in July, with one game at our Summer venue in The Albion on Monday 18th, followed by a game at Battersea’s home venue on Tuesday 26th. It’s a great opportunity to get a chess fix during the close season, and should be a competitive pair of games against London’s oldest chess club.


The games will be ECF graded and we’ll be playing London League (Quick Play) rules on all boards – so no adjournments. A great opportunity for all members, including those new to competitive chess. We have asked Battersea to put out an even spread of graded players so that we can have some relatively even match ups.

It’s an open invite and free to all members – if you’re interested in playing please leave a message below, drop us an email, or contact your team captain. Promises to be a great pair of evenings with some competitive chess which we’re really looking forward to!

Dates: Monday 18th July, Tuesday 26th July
Venues: Albion Pub, Battersea Chess Club
Details: London League Quick Play Rules, 12 Boards, ECF rated

1975 Club Championship Game

A treat from the archives this evening – Club Secretary Mike Mackenzie managed to dig out this classic from 1975 – the same year we saw the Thriller in Manilla, Thatcher became leader of the Tories, and Aston Villa were even a good club back then, winning the League Cup final!

Reigning Club Champion (since 1962!!) John Rogers – rated 200 ECF! – faced our late Chairman John White – rated 148 ECF – in the deciding game of the Club Championship.

On paper an easy victory for John Rogers and should’ve been a 13th straight Club Championship for him. Could the young upstart unseat him?

Click here to find out!

Theory & Practice Session – May 23rd

A reminder folks – we hold our next FREE theory & practice session at our club venue on Monday 23rd May, starting from 7.30pm.

As usual it is open to anyone who would like to join us – we’ll have a session involving some theory, and in-depth game analysis, followed by a bit of putting it into practice. If you’d like your game to be considered for analysis, please bring it along! One of our top club players will be hosting and we’ll have our usual selection of tea, coffee and other refreshments on hand.


Our previous session saw a fantastic turnout – no less than 17 people turned up including a number of new faces. It would be great to see some more new faces (and familiar ones of course!) this coming Monday – hope to see you there!!

A Newbie’s Guide to League Chess in London

Club membership – Paid.
ECF Membership – Sorted.
Played some games at your club to prove you know your way round the board – Done.

Now what?

Now you’re ready to play some London League chess, of course!

That’s where it started for me 3 years ago. It’s been at times bewildering, exhilarating, and sometimes just downright confusing (How did I just lose on time??), but I hope this post serves as a reasonable guide to assuage any doubts for those thinking about taking the plunge.

My first game was a memorable ride. Turning up at the ascribed venue near Euston station, I’d arrived early – eager to impress, clearly! – but it wasn’t hard to spot the chess crowd milling around. Nervous tension palpable, a slight sense of foreboding overcame me – how would I remember to write down each move correctly (harder than you might think when the board is un-annotated and you’re playing black!), press the clock, whilst trying not to embarrass myself on the board? Surely all new players go through the same set of thoughts, fears and emotions, I tried to reassure myself.

Thankfully my team captain was already there and helpfully pointed out where I should be sitting. The respective captains toss a coin to decide who picks which colour on the top board. The other boards then alternate down from that, as does the slow/quick play timing. It’s worth reminding yourself of the difference in the timing regimes and other rules of play before you start – I’ve won and lost cheaply through not knowing the details properly.

Typical league chess board setup with scoresheets and clocks

With my opponent and I in situ and apparently ready to go, there’s the awkward wait for the allotted start time to arrive. Do you engage your opponent in conversation? It doesn’t appear to be the done thing but some are more receptive to it than others. One thing that’s useful to do at this point is ensure you have written your opponents name and the other details of the match down correctly on your match sheet.

A general murmur of excitement builds, the home captain might make a quick announcement about mobile phones, and you’re ready to start. A quick shake of your opponents hand – mumble a “good luck” while you do it – and you’re off.

I will admit, I spent most of my first game panicking about making a spectacular blunder. Check, double check, triple check every move and position – diagonals for bishops, potential forks for knights, discovered checks, any obvious intermezzos I’ve missed? The stress level and heart rate were both pretty high. I can’t really remember too much of the detail but after about 4 moves I was way off any openings I knew about (admittedly not saying much, but my opponent employed the English opening – 1.c4, rare enough for a beginner like me I think). Somehow I was able to convince myself it’s fine; just play your game and don’t worry too much about anything else.

I don’t remember the sequence of moves or my thought process at the time, but I ended up with an advanced knight threatening the squares near his King, with my Queen poised to move forward next move and check him. Surely this couldn’t be check mate, I thought, as I sat there pondering the combinations and desperately hoping my opponent wouldn’t make the obvious defensive move to repel me? The excitement and pressure at a moment like that can be quite intense. My mouth was dry, my right leg hopelessly twitching in nervous response to the sudden burst of adrenaline as I contemplated victory against a respectably strong player in my maiden game for my club.

The overriding thought was to double, triple, quadruple check to ensure I wasn’t leaving the back door open to a disastrous failed attack. Breathe and relax, write your move down and await your opponents response.

An eight board London League Match

One notable difference in face to face chess versus that played over the internet or on my phone, is that your opponent nearly always finds the right move to deny your thrilling combination. Your considered sacrifice resolves to vain, inglorious defeat. You quickly learn to leave your Mikhail Tal impression at home and more often play the dull – but safe – move. On balance this is where results are found in the London League. Very rarely does the frivolous attack lead to victory.

Not today though.

Beginners luck perhaps but my opponent failed to spot the threat, making a move of little consequence. I tried – and mostly failed – to nonchalantly advance my Queen, dispatching my opponents King with aplomb. I stumbled slightly in announcing “check mate” (as is de rigour when one achieves it), not entirely convinced of my own victory. After a brief pause to assess the position my opponent looked up and mumbled “Uhm… I didn’t spot that”, conceding defeat with the offer of a hand to shake.

What normally passes after a game has finished is the stilted assessment by bother players in hushed tones, offering advice or pointing out where victory/defeat was achieved. Aside from annoying your neighbouring players (and thus often having to de-camp to the nearest empty room), these little chess vignettes can be remarkably useful in understanding how you played, where you could have made better moves, or what the expected response to a certain opening was. It can be a good opportunity to get into the mind of your opponent too – they will often have assessed a situation quite differently to what you may have. On occasion I’ve had my opponent point out where I missed an opportunity for check-mate. Now that is frustrating!

As a relatively hardened pro I now tend to shy away from assessing my defeats with my opponent – pretty poor on my part this – but I do enjoy replaying the occasional game that was particularly enjoyable and close fought. I prefer to analyse my games a few days later with a book or two and perhaps a computer to aide me. I’ve found it one of the best ways to learn opening theory and spot holes or missed opportunities in my performance – though admittedly my current grade (92 ECF) does not reflect this!

Regardless of the outcome you can always be sure of learning something about the game in a face to face match. It may not be the fluid attacking combo you were hoping for, executing that opening you’ve been studying for weeks, or ruining your opponent in a 20-move blitz of style and sophistication, but even old pros get a bit of luck occasionally.

You can see my full “analysis” of that game here. Enjoy!
– Andy.

Training Night – April 25th

Last night at Lytton Hall the club had its latest training session, hosted by club Chairman Bajrush.  The session had two parts.  In the first part Bajrush presented some common positions featuring rook vs rook and pawn, and posed to us how a win (or draw) could be forced.

2016-04-25 training1 

In the second part of the session, the club was split into two teams: Knights and Bishops.  Each player lined up against someone from the other team and played three moves each on a board, then moved with their opponent to play three moves on the next board, which had already been played on by a different pair.  A pair of players would drop out when one checkmated the other. 

2016-04-25 training2

This session was great fun and forced everyone to examine positions they might not be familiar with.  In the end the session finished in a 3-3 tie.  The debate over which is stronger out of the Knight and the Bishop will continue!