RapidPlay – Round VIII – The Grand Finale!

It was back on September 6th 2017 when we first announced our new, season-long RapidPlay competition. Over 7 gruelling rounds since, we’ve edged ever closer to discovering our first Champion in the inaugural Hammersmith RapidPlay Championship!

Round 7 – played across the month of April – didn’t turn up too many surprises, with most results running largely to form. However, there are two results worthy of note, both of which may well be instrumental in deciding the award winners at the end of May, as our 8th and FINAL Round draws to a close.

  • Tony triumphed against Marios in the battle of the big hitters, leaving Bajrush out in front to secure the overall prize
  • Ben edged out Wyatt in the hotly-contested “Battle of the Captains”, which might just have a hand in deciding the prize in the <100 category

As we look ahead to the pairings for Round 8, let’s remind ourselves of the 4 award categories as well as the runners & riders still in contention to claim victory:

  • OpenOverall winner
    • Bajrush is the man to beat here. A positive result against Nadhmi will bring home the silverware…
    • Marios and Tony will be hoping young gun Nadhmi can spring an upset so they can usurp our all-conquering Chairman
  • KingsUnder 160
    • Matteothe SuitBezzini leads the way, with 5 points from 7
    • A whole host of players lie in wait, hoping for a slip-up; John White and Nadhmi could be the beneficiaries
  • BishopsUnder 130
    • Simon and Ben are jostling for top position with 4 points from 7
    • Rich Wingfield is best placed to steal-in if Simon and Ben oblige
  • KnightsUnder 100
    • Ben’s destiny is in his own hands here. A draw/win will clinch it
    • Beyond that, it could still be anyone’s… very tight!

Monday 21st May has been allocated a “RapidPlay Night” at the club, so we’d love you to play your match there if you can.

However, we know that won’t be possible for everyone; not least Bajrush, Tony and Marios who are in action that night. Either way, please get in touch with your opponent asap so you can organise your match as quickly as possible. We’d love to have the tournament sewn up by that Monday if possible so we can hand out the gongs on the night!

Good luck all.

Volunteers Needed!! & The Return of Summer Chess

Calling all Hammers!! – we need your help on Saturday 19th May as we take chess back to the streets of Hammersmith & help our local branch of MIND raise money for a good cause!

As you may have read this week – we are returning to Lyric Square, W6 next month for a day of chess, activities and fundraising. Your support is critical – and we want to smash this out of the park.

It was a massive, massive success when we did this last year, and a brilliant day out for all involved, raising over £400 for MIND.

We need help with logistics, leafleting, playing chess, taking contact details & new inquiries, fundraising and much more. Even if you can only spare a few hours between the hours of 9am and 4pm, we will be enormously grateful!

If you’re willing to get involved – brilliant! Please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

We need to know how many of you are willing to help out ASAP – so please get in touch by Friday 4th May, so that we can plan accordingly!

The Return of Summer Chess

Yes, the rumours are correct… after a truly amazing first season, the Summer Chess League is back for 2018!

It’s going to be even bigger & better this year with the number of team entries having doubled from last time – not including the many clubs still to confirm their entries – and Hammer looking to field an additional couple of teams from last time too! We’re also aiming to introduce a divisional structure to help even out the matches & retain the competitiveness.

Nevermind the Summer of Love – this will be the Summer of Chess!

As with last year, the league will be played over five Tuesday evenings, all at Battersea’s spacious, technologically advanced & beer-fuelled home venue.

Final details are still to be confirmed, but rest assured – you will be the first to know!

Hammer & MIND Takeover Lyric Square – Saturday 19th May 2018

Calling all Volunteers!

SAVE THE DATE – The importance of 19th May 2018 cannot be stressed enough – not only are Harry & Megan tying the knot with the FA Cup final kicking off later in the day, but the BIG news is that Hammer will be bringing chess to the streets of Hammersmith again – or to be precise, Lyric Square.

After our hugely successful event last year in conjunction with mental health charity, Hammersmith MIND, we are again venturing forth to raise awareness of mental health, raise some funds for that worthy organisation, and raise the profile of Hammersmith Chess Club.

This is a quick reminder to pledge your time & attendance in some capacity on the day – whether the full day, a few hours, or just some help with logistics, it is all hugely appreciated!

We will be setting up from 8.30am in the morning, with the official start at 10am. We’re scheduled to be there until 4pm, and then probably retiring to the Albion to enjoy the FA Cup final.

Those of us who took part last year will recall what a memorable and worthy event it was. There is a huge appetite for the game amongst the good people of Hammersmith, and they are generous folk when it comes to giving to charity too, as we raised over £400 for the Hammersmith branch of MIND – a total we are hoping to smash this time round.

So please, if you can spare any time – please get in touch with John ASAP: john.white49@ntlworld.com

We saw around 25 members take part last year, and are hoping to top that this time! Link to last years event below:

Chess Bosses Lyric Square, W6

Blitz, Bury & The Hammer League

The Hammer train never stops, and none more so than this week. We’ve got a great set of updates for you to read through – it’s a long one, so make sure you read all the way to the bottom!

  • Thames Valley Cup v Richmond – Semi-Final Result
  • Hammersmith League – Round II
  • Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II
  • The John White Drinking Club Bury St Edmunds Visit

Read on!

Thames Valley Cup – One Win From Glory!

First up, in some superb BREAKING NEWS this week, we are delighted to report that our Thames Valley team superbly navigated their Semi-Final against Richmond this week, winning 3.5-2.5 to make it through to the FINAL of the Cup Competition!!

This is a superb achievement – it’s a brutal knockout competition with no second-legs, so it really is a case of putting everything on the line each round. Massive congratulations must go to Captain Bajrush and the rest of the squad for this marvellous achievement.

Hammerites toasting the superb Semi-Final result earlier this week!

We’ll be facing the titans of Harrow, or Kingston in the final – full details to follow. It promises to be an absolute CRACKER!

Hammersmith League – Round II – Dispatches from the Battlefront

The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at the Anvil. The first round had seen some blood-thirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts. What would the second round reveal about the teams and their captains?

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

Round II threw up the following match-ups:

  • Battersea v Hammersmith Circus
  • SW Juniors v The Hammerheads

The first of these encounters saw two teams who had experienced very different results in round one. Battersea had negotiated a very tricky encounter with the SW.

The Circus had a bruising encounter with their fellow Hammerites – the ferocious sounding Hammerheads. In a full-blooded encounter they went down 8-2 with only Captain Ben preventing the dreaded double-bagel scoreline of 5-0 and 5-0. They needed to bounce back hard if they were to have any chance of fighting for the title.

I think when the chips are down and your back is against the wall, then the Hammer characteristics of tenacity and sheer grit shine through. We do not go quietly into the night.

To the match – this is a real tale of blood and guts. No draws. All results decisive.

Gokhan had a tough task on board one and tried his best, but he was taking on a 194 and sadly for his team, it was too much of an ask.

However, this was the only blip in an otherwise excellent performance by the Circus team. The tale of the tape was seven victories and just a solitary defeat. The Circus Crew are back in the mix!

The second game saw the SW Juniors take on the in-form Hammerheads. Confidence was high in the Hammerhead camp, especially after their thrashing of the Circus in round one.

What followed was a bitterly contested match with the Juniors not backing down, and in the end, deservedly winning 5.5-4.5

Alexander again starred, and is now on 100% for the tourney, although he had to rescue two inferior positions against Simon. I felt sorry for Simon because he deserved better from the chess he produced. Caissa can be cruel!

Dave suffered a bit of a debacle in the first game with Connal but was back to his best in the second leg and won in good style.

Pouya had a little too much experience for Charlie and won their mini-match 1.5-0.5. This one was definitely down to experience and an older, wiser head.

Wyatt overwhelmed Taymour in the first game and confidence was high for the return encounter. However, these Juniors do not get down. When they lose, they just shrug it off, and come back twice as hard. Taymour played an excellent game and earned a well-merited revenge win.

In the final lineup Nadim and Laith shared the points with some unbelievable blunder and counter-blunder sequences mixed in with some excellent chess.

The SW Juniors had come through a tough examination and not only demonstrated chess acumen way beyond their years, but also a grit and resolve that is uncommon in ones so young. They will become even more formidable chess players in the future, is the only conclusion this correspondent can come to.

So, it is all change in the League table and again there is all to play for in the next and FINAL round, with three teams in the running for the title of Champions.

League Standings:

Cross Table:

Tune in for the next instalment!!

The Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II

A very late update!!

In the absolute avalanche of matches and events in February, this important new item got missed! The second round of our internal blitz tourney took place on the 12th February at the Anvil. This is a quick update on the events of that evening.

Twenty-three Hammerites and one guest turned up for the second leg of our tri-tourney series to contest and vie for the title of Hammer Blitz Tourney Champion. One of the largest turnouts in the modern version of this event.

Superbly organised by Club Captain Adam, we were divided into four groups for the all-play-all section.

The qualifiers from the groups were: Thomas, Charlie, Carsten, Alexander, Bajrush, Mohammed (a guest for the evening), Tony and your reporter John W.

The knock-out secant saw Thomas, Carsten, Bajrush and Tony, who respectively beat Charlie, Alexander, Mohammed and John W.

The big-four had made it through to the semi-finals.

In a throw-back to yesterday the two semi-finals yielded Bajrush and Carsten as the winners. A definite case of deja vous! God knows how many blitz games these two stalwarts of the club have contested over the years!

The critical significance would be if Bajrush triumphed, he would have sealed the title with one round to go.

However, Caissa took a hand and Carsten took the win and kept the destiny of the 2017-18 Hammer Blitz Champion still up for grabs.

A great night of blitz and lots of congratulations to all who took part.

Here is the scoreboard so far:

All this means that there is still all to play for!!

Remember, it is your two best scores that count – so roll on the final leg after our AGM on the 4th June. All Hammer make a note!

Hammer Goes Mad in Suffolk and Cambridge

Yes, the Hammer Crew were off on their travels and using the old excuse of a ‘chess challenge’ as cover for excessive beer consumption.

The chess part of this tale came about by pure chance. Paul Mustafa, one of our new members, had entered the Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress, and the organiser – Steve Lovell – contacted me to discuss what his estimated grade should be so he could be entered in the correct competition. During the course of a series of emails, your correspondent chucked in the idea of a challenge match sometime in 2018.

Steve responded positively and matters escalated from there. The date, format and venue were set and agreed – the Hammer Crew were taking on the powerhouse of Suffolk chess.

First, I must acknowledge the work and effort put in by Steve and the Bury St Edmunds club, who were most welcoming and hospitable. They really put the boat out for us and I am very grateful. Steve is not only a first-class bloke, but is possessed of a fantastically calm temperament. Despite me having three late withdrawals he did not throw a fit but just kept calm & carried on!

What follows is the story of a chess challenge match, but it was so much more than that – it was about Hammer camaraderie, new friendships and beer.

The weekend started early Friday with the tale of Hammerites in three cities: London, Bury St.Edmunds and Cambridge.

The London crew consisted of Bajrush and Alex, who travelled up early Saturday for the match.

The John White Drinking Club on tour

Two of our new guys – Wyatt and Charlie – spent an excellent Friday night in Bury St. Edmunds.

Whilst the Cambridge party Friday night mob consisted of some of the worst elements in Hammer Chess history – namely Carsten, Chris Skulte, Adam and Clueless. They were joined by another reprobate called Ryszard fora  night of beer and curry. For once I am proud to put my name to the events of that evening – yes, the John White Drinking Club (c) was officially out. The guys were out on the town.

Gandalf, Sorted & Pickle doing what they do best

For those beer aficionados, Cambridge has an excellent array of watering holes. Chris and Clueless joined the party late afternoon. Our leader for the night was the Great Dane himself – King of Knowledge and Chess Wisdom – the one and only Carsten. But, most importantly for our purposes, a genius at finding excellent pubs to drink in. The fact he had been drinking since midday testifies not only to his love of beer, but his redoubtable stamina.

We played a bit of chess and drank a couple of pints at the Kingston Arms. This was followed by a visit to the superb Calverley’s brewery and finishing up at the Cambridge Blue. The quality of beer was top-drawer and the company sensational. Finally, just before 11pm, Carsten departed and the survivors found a curry house.

I have to confess, the rest of the night was a total blank – I have no memory of getting to my hotel. All in all, a great night and perfect training for our chess challenge the next day.

By foot, bicycle, train and automobile, the Hammer team assembled at the Moreton Community Hall in Bury St. Edmunds to defend the honour of Hammersmith Chess Club.

We were greeted by Steve and the rest of their team with decent coffee and tea supplies on hand (accepted most gracefully the semi-hungover Hammerites!).

Steve gave an excellent greeting speech and explained the days activities and rules. Clueless responded in kind and presented each of the Bury players with a Knight lapel pin, and put on the display the Hammer Chess Challenge Trophy – the prize for the winning team.

The Hammer team consisted of, in board order:

  • CarstenThe Great Dane
  • RyszardBreslau
  • ChrisSydney
  • BajrushWily
  • JohnClueless
  • AdamPickle
  • AlexCola
  • CharlieSorted
  • WyattGandalf

The long play time control was 36 moves in 80 minutes, plus 15 minutes, with a 15 sec increment per move.

The niceties were done & dusted, and the challenge began.

First game to finish was your correspondent playing the white side of an Advanced French, I kept a tight lid on matters and essentially constricted my opponent to the back two ranks. He failed to make any pawn break and I simply moved over to the attack which played itself. Hammer on the scoreboard: 1-0

Next to finish was Charlie who manoeuvred into a position where he had a slight edge. He could have taken the draw, but he wanted more. As is sometimes the case when you push too hard, you can get burned, and sadly for Charlie and Hammer that’s what happened. In the analysis room afterwards Charlie, on balance, won his case and could have gained an advantage. Hammer pegged back to 1-1

Chairman Wily then joined the fun and triumphed in a really well-played middle game. He got a passed-pawn, then his knight and rook went to work. Victory was assured and Hammer went back in front: 2-1

There then followed three quick results consisting of two Hammer wins and a draw.

Gandalf won nicely, netting a piece on the way and keeping everything under control. Cola also played a really nice game where in the end he was just one move short for victory. His opponent got a perpetual and the point was shared. It was great to see Alex back playing for Hammer and in a long-play format.

Sydney had an excellent win against a Dragon, where he demonstrated convincingly what white can do when black slightly mislays the opening. Chris was in superb form and finished the game off in style. Hammer now leading at 4.5-1.5

Hammer secured the match when Ryszard (Breslau) finished strongly after being under pressure during the first half of the game, but a neat combination allowed him to net a rook and the point. A brilliant debut performance for Hammer.

The final two games saw Carsten triumph when his opponent was flagged. However, The Great Dane was a pawn up and the only possible winner. It was an excellent performance by Carsten and his opponent Ed was a very gracious loser.

Adam’s game was the last to finish and his game would grace any collection of thematic study games. His opponent Steve Lovell, tried everything to win but Adam was resolute in his defence. The rare finish of just a white knight and rook versus a black king and knight was the result. Steve tried hard to win but Adam held fast and did not allow his knight and king to be separated. The draw was agreed after numerous moves.

So, the final score was a Hammer win by 7-2 in what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable and friendly contest.

There was a break before the afternoon blitz tournament, during which Hammer were presented with a signed copy of the history of Bury St.Edmunds Chess Club. Club stalwart Laurie gave a wonderful speech with some terrific anecdotes. Here are just a couple:

  • The original club was founded in the 1860’s – it is nearly 100 years older than Hammer!
  • There are details of Capablanca’s 1919 simultaneous in Bury St.Edmunds
  • And perhaps best of all, Laurie himself was born at Queen Charlotte Hospital in Hammersmith. I always knew there was a connection between our clubs.

The afternoon was a frenetic affair with Alex and Ryszard opting out.

It was really fun with Steve doing his best to pair a Bury and Hammer player in the early rounds. In the end, as per usual, the Hammer blitz champion Wily surged to victory – overcoming all before him. The frustrating thing for me was I was a piece up against him and still contrived to lose! He really is Mr Blitz.

The day finished with both clubs enjoying the delights of the Nutshell (the smallest pub in the whole of the UK) and the Old Cannon Brewery.

In a nutshell…

The drink and the chat were all good and we departed our new friends late into the night. There was many a tired but happy Hammer who made it home.

A pickled Pickle

Once again, I must thank Steve, Laurie and all at Bury St Edmunds – they are a superb club and I look forward to inviting them to a challenge match next year at The Anvil. All I can say is Bring it on!

Finally, a quick advertisement for the beautiful town of Bury St Edmunds. A stunning Suffolk town steeped in history and culture. If you have not been there, it is definitely worth a visit.

Beautiful Bury St Edmunds – breathe it in!

Clueless over and out, and yet again in rehab….!

Eggcellent Chess

April Fools’ – he wasn’t really dead!  (Happy Easter!)

With that out of the way, let’s get down to some chess updates. March ended with some mixed results for our teams – match reports follow. We’re also really excited to be able to share a very interesting evening at Battersea Chess Club coming up tomorrow – Tuesday 3rd April – and some details on the ever-growing casual chess scene at Hammersmith. Read on!

  • Middlesex Division 3 v. Willesden
  • London Division 6 v. Battersea
  • Middlesex Division 2
  • Battersea Hand & Brain Night
  • Hammersmith Social Chess
26.03.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Willesden & Brent v Hammersmith

From a captain’s point of view, Monday’s match v Willesden started several days before the first move was made. We knew we needed to field a strong team to stand a chance of winning, and eight of the best Hammerites were fit and ready to demonstrate our mettle on away turf. On Friday, the opponents announced their venue was shut & promptly called the match off… before asking to play at our place instead. Game back on!

After assuring me they would only be able to field seven players, I was a bit perplexed when they turned up with eight. Coupled with several members of our team being drafted into the firsts at the last minute, I was left scrambling for players – a big thanks to Ben, Eva and Wyatt, who stepped in at the last minute.

We were well out graded on every board, but played some good chess.

On Board One, Brian missed a piece-winning tactic that would have ended the game. After that, a few inaccuracies in time trouble led to a painful, but ultimately hard-fought loss:

Yours truly got a nice position out of the opening on the black side of a London System. Ultimately, my lack of a concrete plan and unwillingness to give up material cost the game:

Alexander played a very nice endgame which culminated in his opponent’s King walking into checkmate:

Pouya narrowly lost as well, so it was down to our lower order to try and salvage something from 3-1 down. They came very close – Ben, Jeremy and Wyatt made well-earned draws, and Eva pickup up her first win for the club.

So we ended the night second best – losing by a single point.

We go into our last two games in a four-way race for the two promotion spots. Next up is a crunch match against Muswell Hill, which may well determine our fate.

Adam.

27.03.18 – London Division 6: Battersea v Hammersmith (Hedger)

Hammersmith Hedger suffered our heaviest defeat of the season this week, going down 3.5-0.5 to arch-rivals Battersea.

Robin played black on Board One, securing the half-point. Having a solid setup, he held the position, giving away very little, ultimately settling for a draw in a King & pawn ending.

Nick played black on Three, having two active Bishops. However he had saddled himself with three isolate pawns and ended up resigning after losing the exchange. In Nick’s defence, he was facing an opponent the best part of 30-points higher than himself.

John’s opponent gave up the exchange to open an attack on John’s King. John defended it well and adjourned. However, after reviewing the adjourned position he decided the position was lost and resigned without resuming.

Dan on Board Four had worked his way into a decent position, however he ended the evening very disappointed as he fell for a mate.

28.03.18 – Middlesex Division 2

No match report for this one, but we are delighted to report a Hammersmith victory, 4.5-3.5, which means promotion to Division 1 is near-guaranteed.

Great to see both teams enjoying a bit of post-game conviviality afterwards too – the spirit of chess alive & well!

Hand & Brain Night – Battersea Chess Club – Tuesday 3rd April (tomorrow!), 7.15pm

Our good friends and noisy neighbours down in Battersea will be hosting a chess-quiz-double-header this Tuesday evening from 7.15pm down at their home venue (the Battersea Labour Club, 5 minutes from Clapham Junction – cheapest pints in London!).

Full details on their website – link below – but in brief, there’ll be a bit of a “guess-who” round of famous chess players, followed by an eight-round tournament, all of which will count towards your points total for the evening.

It’s an activity aimed at all levels – new players will be paired with stronger players to make it as balanced as possible – sounds like fun to us!!

http://www.batterseachessclub.org.uk/hand-brain-night-at-battersea-with-chess-who-quiz/

Entry: free!
Contact: aldocamilleri@aol.com – to confirm your spot
Start Time: 7.15pm sharp – there’s a lot to get through!
Location: Battersea Labour Club, Falcon Road, SW11 2PF

Hammersmith’s Burgeoning Casual Chess Scene!

And last but not least, we wanted to let everyone know about our extremely popular and ever-growing casual chess scene!

Started by a handful of enthusiasts from the club, we are now seeing regular meetups on weekends and during the week, of like-minded individuals who want to enjoy a bit of chess, often (but not always!) in a pub with a drink or two.

It’s a really fun, social & ever-evolving – and we want to encourage it as much as possible! If you’d like to get involved please get in touch with our man (mostly) at the helm, John White: john.white49@ntlworld.com, or leave a message and we’ll add you to the Club WhatsApp group (aptly named “HammerTime“), where most of this gets arranged (30 people and growing!).

Puzzle of the Week #015

After a brief hiatus last week, we are back with a bang – down to business.

As the only response to last week’s puzzle, PaulDead-EyeKennelly takes the plaudits this time – congratulations Paul!

It was taken from Kolb-Schroeder, Nuremberg in 1895. Snipped from the wonderful Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics.

On to this week’s puzzle – White has just played Rxb7 (so it’s Black to move). Why was that a bad idea??

Puzzle of the Week #014

With a record number of responses last week, it’s fair to say that our previous Puzzle of the Week was a proper thinker (or should that be thronker!).

Gokhan was first on the board with the correct (partial) sequence, but it was Bajrush who came in later with the full set of moves. Honours even this time, I think! Well done to you both.

Solution:

  1. Qd5 Rb8
  2. Qb7!! Rxb7
  3. axb7 – promotion is then unstoppable. The miserable position of the black knight costs dear!

(Source: What it Takes to Become a Grandmaster, Andy Soltis)

And so to round XIV. Black to move & win!

The Hammer Train Rolls On!

Lots more fantastic write-ups coming your way today with plenty of interesting games to play through, after four big matches in the various leagues this week. We also have some great info about playing in the 4NCL – UK & Ireland’s top chess league – make sure you read to the bottom of the update!

Before we crack on with those, don’t forget that it’s Round II of our season-long Blitz comp on Monday evening at Lytton Hall, starting 7.30pm. Full details here – should be a fun evening of quick-fire chess!

Middlesex League 3 vs. Muswell Hill – 05.02.18

On Monday we played host to Muswell Hill in Middlesex Division 3. As probably our biggest rival for the promotion spots, it was vital we picked up a result in our last home game of the season.

Nadhmi’s continuing surge up the grading ladder saw him sat down at board one for the first time. He had a tricky opponent who applied pressure throughout the whole game. Eventually the rooks invaded and it was game over. 0-1

Next up was Matteo. He turned on his Italian style and played a wonderful game, crushing the poor Englishman into the dust. 1-1

Brian entered a very closed position and both players were playing accurately. There was no progress to be made and they agreed a draw. 1.5-1.5

I played a London System on board 4 that went badly wrong. Castling on opposite sides, my kingside attack was far slower than my opponent’s queenside attack and I had to sacrifice an exchange for a pawn to relieve some pressure. He continued to play good moves, trading down to an endgame at the right time which he duly converted. 1.5-2.5

David played a long, tough game. He used a lot of time reaching equality out of the opening, trying to coordinate his pieces on the queenside to break free and shackle the Bishop on b3. His opponent pushed with a slightly premature e5 and then exd6, which opened up the position to Dave’s advantage. The final few moves are omitted due to time pressure but with a couple of minutes on the clock, Dave managed to fork King and Rook, effectively forcing the resignation. 2.5-2.5

Pouya played well on board 6, utilising his space advantage to provoke weaknesses. Eventually he broke through and scored a win. 3.5-2.5

Simon had white on board 7. His superior opening preparation saw him far better going into the middle game and his position continued to improve. The win was inevitable, and Simon moves to an impressive unbeaten 4/5 for the team. 4.5-2.5

Last but not least, our newest junior member Andrew was playing his first game for the club on board 8. Both players played very fast, but there could be no criticism of Andrew’s play. He dominated proceedings, winning a pawn out of the opening and going on to win an exchange with a  sneaky Bishop tactic. With the win he has firmly established himself amongst our growing pool of talented juniors and I have no doubt his grade will be rising very rapidly.

So there you have it, a third 5.5-2.5 win in a week and a half, and our promotion prospects are looking very rosy.

Andrew becomes the 22nd player to show for the team this season, while Ben, Ken, John and Simon look to be favourites for MVP as we look ahead to our final three, tough away fixtures.

Adam.

Thames Valley League vs. Ealing – 05.02.18

We came to the end of the “TV Month” with the last game against Ealing this week. It was a case of “Magnificent 7 – Reloaded!“, as we beat Ealing at home with the exact same score as when we played them away, 7-1. It was a great performance from every player, including our single defeat – Thomas should’ve got the win too, but was unlucky.

This time last year we were in the relegation zone. But this year is a different story altogether. The current table is as follows:

Our remaining matches this season are as follows:

  • March 19th – Wimbledon away
  • March 26th – Surbiton away
  • April 16th – Richmond home
  • May 14th – Wimbledon home
  • May 21st – Kingston home (postponed from Jan 15th)

We’re also waiting to confirm the date for our home semi-final TV Cup match against Richmond.

Thanks to all players!
Bajrush.

London League 6 vs. GLCC – 06.02.18

“A Walk on the Wildside in Division 6”

A mid-week encounter beckoned us to Upper Vestry Hall as we took on Greater London in Division 6. And not for the first time this season, the middle-order battled back to save our blushes.

We ended a 2-2 draw, with Charlie and Wyatt chalking up good wins.

First to fall was Nadim. He made a careless Queen move early on which left his Bishop en prise. He battled on but it was difficult to come back from that.

The next to come to a sticky end was your very own captain for the evening, Dave. I felt I made a hash of the closed Sicilian opening, although the computer fancied I was in charge when it came to move 20. It never felt that way over the board though, and as we moved into the endgame a couple of innocuous looking moves turned the tide in my opponent’s favour and he emerged a pawn up, which he skillfully converted.

The pride of Hammer was on the line and Wyatt and Charlie duly rose to the occasion. Wyatt played a really solid game out of the opening and developed into a late middle-game pawn up and two Rooks apiece. He had far better King safety though, and when he doubled his Rooks on the 7th, it was one-way traffic from thereon in. His opponent’s flag eventually fell, but it only saved him the ignominy of a mate several moves later.

Which brings us to Charlie, who when seemingly faced with a safe move and a more pointed one, dismisses them both and searches for an even more aggressive option! He’s like the Hammer version of AlphaZero (in a way), material is nothing, and tempo is everything! The engines don’t like it but it’s highly effective and scored him another win. See below:

That’s it for now. Hedger roll again at the end of February when we take on Hackney.

Cheers,
Dave.

London League 4 vs. Athenaeum – 07.02.18

“The Dream is Over in London 4”

As John Lennon lamented during his time with Plastic Ono Band, “the dream is over”. And thus, with our narrow 3.5-4.5 loss at the hands of Athenaeum, the same must be said of our push for promotion from London League Division 4.

Nevertheless, it takes our record to W3 L3, in what is proving to be a creditable season for a team, many of whom are playing their debut seasons with Hammer.

As the scoreline suggested, the match was a close one with Hammer taking an early lead but ultimately being pegged back by strong play across the board order. Full scorecard is below:

First to finish was Dipender who kicked things off with a solid win with White. He worked a good tactic to claim a pawn in the early middle-game and then played flawlessly to line up a battery of Queen and Rooks, swapping off pieces to his advantage when the moment came. A momentary lapse in concentration nearly allowed his opponent to create complications in the endgame, but the opportunity was missed and his passed pawn proved crucial. Game is below. 1-0 to the good guys.

Adam was next to finish. Playing the Albin Gambit, he worked what looked to be a dominant attack on the cramped white position, with pins left, right and centre. However, despite the pressure, the defender always managed to find the right resource and managed to swap off a number of key pieces, leaving the position to fizzle out into something that looked far more drawish. A half point was dutifully taken. A good game to watch. 1.5-0.5

Jeremy, playing only his second match for the club, developed his White pieces nicely, but missed a clever outpost for the opposition bishop forking Queen and Rook. An immediate counter-thrust followed to create complications but tempo was not his friend, forcing him to lose material and to retract his Rook into an overly defensive position. It was a tough battle from thereon in. 1.5-1.5

Hammer regained the lead thanks to a beautiful turnaround from John on Board 6. Playing wily Mike Rose, John got himself into real tactical complications win the middle game and found multiple pieces under attack. The only way out of the trap was to concede a Bishop, and regroup. At that point, your captain wandered off to check on the other games, only to return a short while later with John threatening mate and an exchange up! A Houdini act that’s surely worth further investigation in the pub. 2.5-1.5

Potentially the match of the evening was played on Board 2, as Brian faced an opponent in fine form. Playing the Grunfeld and facing a tricky line where his opponent daringly sacrificed his Rook for a black-squared Bishop, it initially looked positive for Brian with chances to hold firm and stick it out for a won endgame.

But the pressure was unnerving on the King-side via a pawn advance and aggressive posting of bishops and knight. Brian was forced to give back the Rook to stay alive, but still the tactics kept coming. The clever 21.Bf7+ made all the difference.  Brian, as ever, was magnanimous in defeat, warmly congratulating his opponent on a match well played. He’s also good enough to present his game here. Brian had the black pieces. 2.5-2.5

Tomasso’s fine form for the team hit a speed bump as he faltered to his first defeat of his Hammer career. Playing White, he established a strong open position, with a Bishop posted on b3 which looked to be a menace  as the game progressed. However, a breakthrough from Black paved the way for an attack with broadly level material but with superior piece placement. Checks and tactics abound and defeat wasn’t far away. Tomasso will be back stronger I’m sure! 2.5-3.5

The final two matches ended in a draw, ensuring the score finished 3.5-4.5. But in truth, we were arguably lucky to emerge with the half point in both.

Gokhan had a strange game on Board 3. Superb attacking play earned him a whole Bishop advantage and his dominant position deserved a win, but a premature Queen move allowed a simple Rook capture with check on the back-rank. Suddenly he was the exchange down! It looked all over, but Gokhan doesn’t know when he’s beaten and brilliantly fought back with relentless pawn pushing and resourceful coordination of Bishop and King. A draw was inevitable at the end as there was a simple way to reducing everything to a Bishop & King vs. King endgame.

Charlie was last to finish… somewhat reluctantly taking a draw when most observers thought he should have bitten their hand off! His strong looking attack in the opening transpired to be fairly common theory according to his opponent, who ably defended and emerged a pawn up. Charlie did very well to remain solid and ensure limited chances for his opponent but there was definitely an opening at one point where a more confident pawn push would have sealed the deal. Nevertheless, Charlie continues his unbeaten run for the club. Very well done!

Next up is Lewisham on February 21st. We go again…

Dave.

And Finally… Celtic Tigers!

If you truly can’t get enough chess this year, fear not – there is more available!

Hammer’s own Chris Skulte, is also the manager for the Celtic Tigers team in the 4NCL – that’s the 4 Nations Chess League – the UK & Ireland’s top chess league. Our Great Dane, Carsten Pedersen, also plays for the team.

 

Celtic Tigers are looking to field a 2nd team in the 4NCL competition next season, as Hammersmith Chess Club are our London Chess Club, we are looking for a few members to consider playing one (or all rounds) next season.

What is 4NCL?

It’s the top league of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, played over 5 weekends (2 games a weekend, with 3 on the final weekend). You play one game each day, and usually stay the night in the venue, which adds to the social fun of the event. Usually its one weekend in November, January, February, March and May – see below for the current seasons dates:

www.4ncl.co.uk

Why Celtic Tigers?

Two Hammersmith members – Chris Skulte and Carsten Pedersen – already play for the club, and we are a very social club, enjoying our beers and dinner as a team. Have a read of our newsletters to see what it’s like playing for the Tigers: www.celtictigers.club

Will Everyone be Together?

Unfortunately divisions 1/2 and 3/4 play in separate venues, but if they are close enough we will try to organise a mutual location for dinner. Teams will usually be selected on playing strength, but the manager (Chris) has final call each weekend.

What is the Cost?

  • £25 to become a member, covers team registration. If you only play 1 game this will be refunded to you.
  • £62 per night for accommodation (including breakfast!), 1 night per weekend (if you want to stay – entirely optional)
  • Transport to/from the location – usually we will try to carpool
  • You must be a Gold ECF member or above if an ENG federation player (Bronze to Gold upgrade is £18)

Interested, got Questions?

Get in touch with Chris: chrisskulte@gmail.com

Next Years Dates & Locations

  • 17-18 November 2018 – Division 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 12-13 January 2019 – Division 3&4: South Park Inn Bedford
  • 9-10 February 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 13-14 April 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court
  • 4-6 May 2019 – Divisions 3&4: South Mercure Daventry Court

 

Puzzle of the Week #011

Happy Friday – we’re back once again with another Puzzle just in time for the weekend.

Last week’s was a reasonably straightforward mating puzzle, albeit not necessarily entirely intuitive.

Panos was the first to respond with the correct answer – effectively a Queen sacrifice to force the mating sequence. Well done Panos!

This week sees us celebrating the outbreak of mad romanticism in the London 4 team last week, with a game from the archives featuring Capt. Evans.

Evans-McDonnell, London, 1829. Not the first recorded game with the Evans Gambit, but a win by the inventor.

White to move, answers in the comments please!