The Hammer of Love

Hammersmith’s 2017 Reporter of the Year, and Thames Valley captain, Robin Lee, takes us through last week’s away trip to the outer-reaches of West London, followed by the latest dispatches from the Middlesex 2 battle front, courtesy of 2018’s Reporter of the Year, John White. All rounded off with some details of this year’s Czech Open. Do read on…

11.02.19 – Thames Valley Division 3: Maidenhead vs. Hammersmith

First to finish was Javi on board 5, his French Defence taking the point, so score 1-1 and balancing our default: we were short one player. Javi has definitely improved his openings in the last month.

This was quickly followed by Kostis on board 4, with a dogged anti-Sicilian leading to a stranglehold on the black king. This Kostis exploited, and soon enough came the win with blitz style finish, and score 2-1.

Your captain on board 3 with the black pieces meanwhile, dug in, facing an unknown 1.e4 2.Bc4, that my opponent thought was called the Bishop’s opening. It just didn’t compute. I tried to make it a Scotch Game, maybe equalising. After some to and fro, black attacked the white king with a diamond cutting tool, two bishops scything down on an ill-protected king.

White dipped his king, in view of the inevitable rook and queen coming to deliver checkmate. Score now level-pegging at 2-2.

I turned to watch board 1 and saw John White a queen up. It was fascinating, watching our top board with a queen, rook and minor tackling two minors and rook. A very comfortable situation, as John encroached on the opposing king, having only to diffuse the danger of two advanced, linked pawns in the centre. Yes, the win was inevitable, score 3-2. I thought I saw a smiling Cheshire cat, sitting on the window sill in the room.

John’s game is given below, with additional commentary beneath:

10. 0-0, 0-0 – Atrociously played opening – was trying to tempt an early e5 and retreat my knight back to g8, to get him totally out of his book – he didn’t bite.
19. f4, exf4 – White throws away advantage, I gain the upper hand, the new reality, to which he doesn’t adjust, common to chess players of all strengths.
24. Be2, Ng6 – I make space for my Queen on g3 and also float another piece towards his king.
27. Rg1, Re5 – partly psychological – gains a huge error but his time trouble makes me opt for this move, followed by 28…Nxh3
37. Re1 Qf3+ – the rest is mopping up and simplification

Meanwhile on board 2 John Goodacre was coincidentally battling a junior in blitz style, with knight, king and pawns versus knight and king. In contrast to John’s sedately played game, it was all fire and smoke on the other board. I thought I heard a groan, as the junior came to the last minutes on his clock, with John G almost an hour up. Possible he just signed or made the wrong move on a theoretically drawn position. Unlucky. So it ended 4-2.

John G later commented, “these teenagers… are a bit sharp. I am usually better tactically than positionally, so their strength is the same as mine. I was rusty… but he was under a lot of pressure, and he could calculate.”

Definitely things to ponder there, thankfully we had a win.

Maidenhead was a long schlep getting there, but we were flying back on empty roads. The Albion beckoned us as we reached terra firma, the whole Hammer crew – Adam, Chris and Carsten – and Monsieur Cornette welcomed us back. Charlie, Wyatt and David were doubtless celebrating over in Holborn; they knew our win thanks to WhatsApp. Yeah, we were a tight crew, bonded by our chess camaraderie. What’s not to like?

I think this was fortune smiling on us this time, possibly only a small uptick in our seasons’s poor performance. Who can say?

14.02.19 – Middlesex Division 2: Metropolitan vs. Hammersmith

A Valentine’s Tale of Extreme Valour

Believe it or not there are times when even Captain Clueless is lost for words. This is one of those times, but then it would make for a very tedious report regarding the heroic rearguard action fought by the Hammer crew this Valentine’s day past. This was epic stuff, against all odds and a firm reminder of the enduring spirit of Hammer Chess Club. Hence, this report is full of hyperbole and slight exaggeration. Definitely not fake news, but shall we say slightly embellished.

First of all, this skirmish was fought on the day of love – a touch choice for anyone – the love of your God (Caissa) or the love of your beloved (Valentine). Surely they are one and the same and nobody should ever have to choose. I leave you to reflect on that.

Non-playing captain Clueless had to make an early exist – I am afraid the love for Karen or possibly the potential ire of Karen, made my decision inevitable. Dave and Adam stepped into the breach.

The Hammer heroes in Board order 1-6: Marios (Zeus), Paul K (Dead-Eye), Jeremy (Brexit), Matteo (The Suit), Nadhmi (The Gift) and Adam (Pickle).

On boards 7 and 8 we had one new Hammer, and one veteran Hammer.

Navarone (“Nav”) was making his league debit and hence in time-honoured tradition a nickname is designated – he will be known as “VR” – in tribute to that most brilliant batsman Vivian Richards (a true sporting hero of mine).

Board 8 saw Dave Lambert making his debut fora  team I captained. My memory may be failing (definitely) but I think this is the first time it has happened in 4 plus years. All I can say is – he is one of Hammer’s finest and will now be known as “Toffee” – in honour of his beloved Everton and his resilience at the chess board.

Things did not start well – VR got deleted and had to default. Toffee moved up to board 7. Zeus and the Suit were delayed by work and the vagaries of the District Line, and arrived 30 plus minutes late. Add in the fact that the Metropolitan Chess Club is harder to find than any integrity in Donald Trump, made it a stressful time for Clueless. The clocks were ticking, Clueless’s BP was going North, and Karen was waiting… Valentine was not happy.

All I can say is the team performed heroically to a man.

I was still in the building when Toffee agreed a draw, Zeus and the Suit had yet to arrive. This was totally solid stuff from Toffee – playing the white side of a Sicilian Dragon, he was never in danger and was an exchange up but with vulnerable pawns. A draw was a wise decision. Hammer 0.5-1.5 in arrears.

With Zeus and the Suit in situ, Clueless made his exit – worried, anxious and apprehensive – we were out-graded on average by approximately 10 points a board and we were 30 minutes plus down in two games on the clock. These were dark times.

There was a news blackout in the Clueless bunker, and then suddenly via the wonders of that modern-day carrier pigeon, WhatsApp, at 9.16pm Captain Toffee reported a famous victory. Hammer had seized the day and had won by 4.5-3.5!!!

This was just sensational stuff.

Wins from Zeus, Dead-Eye and Brexit – the Hammer vets leading the way. With solid draws from the Gift and Pickle – added to Toffee’s earlier draw, saw Hammer nose it.

I have asked for some PGN’s but so far only Zeus – as a good God should – has delivered. He was as usual completely scathing of his effort with such comments as “I blundered three pawns for no real compensation…”. Personally, I think it was a Petrosian-like masterpiece – here is the final position with our man/God as white:

The one thing that can be said is this result has done us no harm in our quest to retain Division 2 status – a testimony to the spirit of the team and their true fighting nature.

Clueless salutes you.

Here are the match card and latest table for your delight:

Czech It Out

Yes, we went there. Anyway, the 19th International Chess Festival Series – Czech Tour 2019/2020 and the International Czech Open, have both recently been announced – what could be better than some Summer chess in the heart of Europe?

Dates and locations are as follows:

  • 16th March 2019 – Prague International Chess Festival
  • 28th July – Czech Open, in Pardubice
  • 9th August – Summer Prague Open, in… Prague
  • 17th August – Olomouc Chess Summer
  • 15th September – Sunny beach Open, in Bulgaria

Terrific tournaments, with sections for all levels of players, inc. the amateur patzers, so if you fancied combining your Summer hols with some Chess, here’s how you do it:

http://www.czechtour.net/news/

http://www.czechopen.net/en/news/

 

A Theresa May of a Fortnight

Read on for a January update from the Middlesex Division 2 team, followed by a super writeup on our top team in London Division 2, with bonus games to play through – very worth your while.

We also have the February pairings for our Rapidplay competition, and a few friendly reminders of some upcoming events!

A Theresa May of a Fortnight on the Middlesex 2 Battlefront

Yes, hostilities resumed for Hammer 2 on the Middlesex battlefront with the first three skirmishes of 2019. The question was, could Hammer carry on the excellent start – 2.5/3 – and not only cement our position in Division 2, but actually entertain thoughts of promotion to the top flight.

From the headline to this report I think you can conclude that things did not go as well as hoped. I ask you to read on with some trepidation…

The Hammer opponents for the month were:

  • 14th January – Albany 1 at The Anvil
  • 17th January – Harrow 1 at Harrow
  • 28th January – Hendon 4 at The Anvil

Hammer 2 were full of post-festive cheer, and were ready for the Albany challenge. The team consisted of, in Board order: Paul KDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, SheikhPandit“, Clueless, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, SimonBond” and IzzyThe Money“.

Suffice to say we were out-graded on average by 21 points a board, and the memory of the fighting draw we achieved away in November was a distant one. Here is the match card:

The hero of the evening was Dead-Eye, who won an excellent game against a very tricky opponent. here is the game and thoughts at various critical stages. I would say it is worth comparing with the Chris Skulte game from the away fixture in November. Both are excellent examples of attacking chess.

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 4. Be2 e6 5. O-O Nbd7 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8. c5 generally when this is played against me I attack it immediately with b6 and a5.but it never seems to come out right, so tonight I left it.
h6 To tuck the B if necessary.

9. b4 Qc7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Rc1 Bh7 12. Qa4 e5 13. Rfd1 e4 14. Nd2 Rfe8 I wanted to get my N on d7 into the game. Also Nf8 is one of those moves that always make me feel comfortable. Larsen said you will never be mated with a N on f8. That’s good enough for me.

15. b5 Nf8 16. Nb3 Bf5 I like this move, my B was doing nothing on h7 so I got it to a more active diagonal.

17. h3 Bd7 18. Qb4 N6h7 19. Nd2 f5 20. a4 Bd8 21. Qb3 Nf6 22. Ra1 f4 23. exf4 Qxf4 24. Nf1 Ng6 25. Ne3 up till now the engine says the game is equal but with this move it gives Black a plus. Bc1 is much better for White. Qg5 26. Kh1 Qf4 The engine says Bc7 is best but I was worried my Q was in danger of running out of space also it is attacking f2 so he must react. 27. Kg1 Bc7 Now I am almost +2.  28. g3 Qg5 29. Bc1 Bxg3

Now White can resign. 30. fxg3 Qxg3+ 31. Ng2 Bxh3 32. Bf1 Ng4 *white gave up.

Pandit and The Money came in with fighting draws to account for the other point. The latter fighting back from a piece down.

For the other Hammers it was a grim night with my own game being particularly grisly.

A tough 6-2 loss at home was a reality check.

In the same week we travelled up to Harrow – a real schlep but I am proud once again as Hammer fielded a full team. Serious kudos to the team members.

The line-up was as follows: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, Paul KDeadEye“, JohnClueless“, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, AdamPickle” and debutante Jon.

In time honoured tradition, I designate the nickname “G&T” to Jonathan. Not all of you know, but he was the winner of the bottle of Dutch Gin when our friends from Espion visited us last June.

Again, out-graded and playing in a chilly hall, my advice to all Hammers is to wear warm clothes if playing there at the height of Winter, plus bring along a thermos flask of coffee.

Harrow are an excellent chess club, but I plead that you address the temperature and refreshment issue!!

Having got that off my chest, I have to say that was no excuse for what occurred. This was a definite case of a double-hangover week – one of those weeks that are best forgotten.

The final score was 6.5-1.5, with the top three boards securing draws whilst the rest of us went down in flames – despite all  boards fighting to the bitter end.

The third battle of the front saw us take on Hendon 4 at The Anvil. A moral-raising victory was never more needed. Captain Clueless went for experience and called in the heavy troops.

In Board order, the lineup: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, JimEl Loco“, YasserTellit“, PaulDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, NadhmiThe Gift“, and CharlieSorted“.

As non-playing captain I should have been able to give an excellent insight to the games, unfortunately I was involved in a life and death struggle with Bajrush in the club internal rapid tourney!

However, from what I saw, Sydney had a brilliant win against a very talented opponent – I think GM Simon Williams comment when he beat Magnus aged 10 – best meet them early in their chess career – is applicable here. His opponent has an immense amount of talent.

Zeus is recovering his best form – a really nice win against a very tricky opponent, putting Hammer at 2-0.

Jim and Yasser had solid draws with neither in trouble at any time. Hammer cruising at 3-1.

Dead-Eye with excellent play and ignoring certain comments from his opponent, secured victory number three with his usual accuracy. This pushed Hammer to 4-1.

Victory was secured by “The Gift” – playing an awkward opponent who would not resign, despite facing a lone K vs. a K and R scenario. Signs here of his growing maturity and mental toughness. He is true Hammer granite. Hammer at 5-1.

Lastly to Brexit and Sorted. They both had tough losses and both fought all the way but, alas, on the night their opponents held firm.

So, a 5-3 Hammer win, but this is subject to a steward’s inquiry – this is due to the nominated players issue in the Middlesex Leagues – so this card may change. I will keep you updated.

The current table looks like this:

So, a true Brexit-May rollercoaster ride of a month on the Middlesex front and matters yet to settle, like real political life. This Captain stated in his goals that securing Division 2 status was the first objective, and I believe we will achieve this. However it will require commitment from the whole squad.

Captain Clueless – over & out.

30.01.19 – London League 2: Hammersmith vs. Ilford

Our London League fixtures are coming thick & fast, this being the third in a series of six during a busy January and February period.

Our opponents Ilford, at one time a major London club, have had their problems this season, including defaulting an entire match. With a large grading advantage on almost every board we were solid favourites, and in the end the match panned out much as expected.

The fabled ‘Yellow Jersey’ of Hammer board 1 has seen quite a few owners this season. Carsten, Thomas and Bajrush have all defended Hammer’s honour with great distinction.

Tonight the job rested on the shoulders of one of our more promising young players ;o), Sydney Showbag himself – Chris. As the game below demonstrated, he was keen to put down a marker with a neat win in under 20 moves. A couple of instructive tactical points, with mate in 4 at the end should black recapture… gxf6. The jersey is now his to lose, as they say!

On board two, our Great Dane Carsten ran into some sharp opening preparation and went down in flames. It happens to even the best of us occasionally. Of course, Carsten’s role extends well beyond being just a top board stalwart, and following last week’s pleasant after match trip to the Princess Louise, this evening he introduced us to the excellent Holborn Whippet pub in the appropriately named nearby Sicilian Avenue.

On three, Thomas provided yet another example of his powerful controlled aggressive style, wrapping up the point nicely after the time control.

On board four, even Bajrush’s tremendously wily ingenuity and fighting spirit could not break down Ilford’s most solid player. A draw with bare King’s eventually resulted.

Sylvain displayed his customary precise play to win a very smooth game with the popular closed Italian Game on five.

On board six, Marios continued his recent welcome return to form with a well played King’s Indian, totally outplaying an opponent seemingly aiming for a draw from move 1.

My own game on seven was straightforward. Marios had played my opponent in Monday’s ill-fated Middlesex League Match vs. Hendon, and in two minutes flat he showed my how badly his opponent had played a Bird’s Opening as white. So when my opponent uncorked a Leningrad Dutch as black, I just followed Marios’s recipe. See for yourself below. 1.Nf3! rather than my usual 1.e4 hackery was intended as modest tribute to the retiring former World Champion, Kramnik.

Paul on eight recovered from the sight of his opponent playing Bf1-b4!! in the early opening, imposing an iron clamp on his opponent and rounding off with a display of crisp endgame technique.

Pavel on nine started with an aggressive English Attack against the Sicilian. His opponent defended well and reached a better endgame which Pavel was unable to save, despite valiant efforts.

Charlie, who has recently become such a key member of the team, showed his customary great tenacity and fighting spirit battling back from an awkward position as black in a French. His determined attitude to get a vital point for the team, turning down a draw when a pawn down in the endgame, was admirable. Nice work mate!

So it ended 7.5-2.5 to the good guys. There seemed to be a slightly strained atmosphere from our opponents for whatever reason, but the important thing is that we got the job done without fuss. The battle for promotion looks like going right down to the wire.

Jim

Rapidplay – February Pairings

January’s pairings in the Rapidplay are now all complete – full results card below. Some big upsets here, with Wyatt, Taymour, and Yingqi all beating higher graded opponents, and John scoring an impressive draw against top seed Bajrush.

Unfortunately in this round we had to award two walkovers and one double default because players did not arrange their games.

Please arrange your games in the first week of the month & enter details into the fixtures spreadsheet!

Tony is now the only player left on 100%, and he’s got the black pieces against last year’s winner, Bajrush, in a game that could prove to be crucial for the final standings.

Here are the full Round 4 fixtures – games to be completed by Thursday 28th February! Good luck.

And Finally… Some Friendly February Reminders!
  • Raffle – don’t forget to sign up for the fundraising, prize giveaway that is the Hammer/Celtic Tigers raffle! There are still tickets available, and the chances of winning a prize are ridiculously high. Read the full post here!

Contact Chris Skulte to make your purchase, before it gets opened out to the wider chess community: chrisskulte@gmail.com

  • Poland Trip – our Summer excursion this year is to beautiful Wroclaw, in Poland! We’ll be lining up against the famous Wroclaw Chess Club, and enjoying the cultured surroundings of a stunning, medieval city in central Europe.

Friends & partners are also welcome to join. If you’d like to take part please contact John White for further information: john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • GM nights – We have not one, but TWO Grandmasters visiting the Anvil in the coming months, to spread the good word, and impart some of their lifetime of knowledge and stories to the Hammer faithful.

First up is 2016 French Champion, GM Matthieu Cornette on Monday 11th February. Please contact John to reserve your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • Member Profiles – you might have noticed a new page on the top menu. We now have a selection of Member Profiles featured, as part of our drive to widen our recruitment! If you’d like to be included, drop us a line: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

When Will I, Will I Be Famous?

We can answer that!

Yes, in some very exciting news Hammersmith Chess Club has been contacted by a production company who are working with Channel 5 in the UK, and are seeking some willing participants to take part in filming for a documentary focused on bridging the generational divide.

Interested? Then read on…

The show will be a 4-part series, involving a senior citizen being paired with an 18-22 year old over the course of a few days, to see what they can learn from each other, and understand a bit more about each other’s lives.

Filming commences at the end of February, and the production company are looking for active participants, over the age of 65, with a story to tell, and a willingness to participate with today’s youth!

Having spoken to the producers, we’re offering it out to the Hammer faithful – what an opportunity to promote the club, and spend an enjoyable few days making television! It will be London-based, you’ll be well looked after, and you’ll get on TV!

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, or you know someone who would be interested, please drop us a line – updates@hammerchess.co.uk – and we’ll put you in touch with the producers.

 

The Chess-Up in a Brewery

Yes, Hammer and our frenemies Battersea renewed their rivalry by boldly taking our brilliant sport to places it has never been before.

Saturday saw the inaugural event of a Chess-Up in a Brewery. Some said it couldn’t be arranged, and it was a tough ask for members who had committed to a dry January, and even tougher for those of us who have not, but could not attend.

Not mentioning names but Carsten, our Great Dane, was subjected to huge online banter due to the fact he could not attend and was bemoaning the missed chance of sampling Sambrook’s excellent range of beer remedies. [They also do fantastic pies!!]

Due to various factors a serious OTB encounter between our great clubs was not feasible, so a handicapped rapid tourney was put in place instead. In some ways, this was by far the best choice for the day as the X-Factor of beer certainly lent itself very well to this slightly more sociable format of chess.

Some big shout-outs before I get to the gory details of the chess:

  • To Sambrook’s brewery for the invitation and the hospitality. They really went out of the way to accommodate us… the beer and venue are superb. On a scale of 1 to 10, Sambrook’s is an 11!!
  • Our barman Jacob, who looked after us so well – nothing was too much trouble.
  • Finally, to the incomparable Aldo, who brought all the kit along and the software for the pairings – I also know he hates public acclaim but he made sure the day chess-wise went very smoothly indeed.

To the chess.

A six-round Swiss Tourney with a 15-minute start and 2 second increment – however there was a handicap based on grade differential.

The final table looked like this:

On face value, no surprises at the top where Blair and Ryszard dominated proceedings, both scoring 5.5/6 – the half-point coming from their drawn game against each other.

However, the table also tells of some great performances from some Hammer Heroes – Paul K in 3rd place, and Dave Lambert in 4th – some great wins there by both these guys.

Adam and potential new Hammer member, Javier in joint 5th place – very solid performances and well deserved.

I must also mention Edward and Kennedy for joining in, again, two new potential Hammer members and both performed very creditably. We hope to see them and Javier at a club night very soon.

An honourable mention must also go to Charlie, for winning the beer side of things. The strains of his singing along to Led Zeppelin made for an excellent chess backdrop, and it must be said that the choice of soundtrack was generally excellent!

The true winner of the day, however, was camaraderie, banter and the beer. This is a brilliant venue and we will repeat this event. The chess played was certainly of the imaginative variety!

Clueless in rehab – again – over & out!

Saturday 26th – Sambrook’s! & Much more

El Chess Up in a Brewery – it’s on! This Saturday 26th, Hammersmith will be taking on local upstarts Battersea, in a Rapidplay tournament at the home of Wandle, Sambrook’s Brewery!

Starting at 1pm sharp, and running all afternoon (until roughly 5pm), we’ll be in the taproom at their Brewery on Yelverton Road, SW11 3QG – nearest station, Clapham Junction!

It will be 15 minutes per game, with 3 sec increments, with some handicaps for extreme grading differentials.

It’s going to be a fun day, and we hope to see you all there – the venue is superb and the beer outstanding, and well-priced!

  • What? Rapidplay tourney, 15 min + 3
  • When? Saturday 26th Jan, 1-5pm
  • Where? Sambrook’s Brewery, Yelverton Road, SW11 3QG
  • How much? FREE!
The Hammersmith Rapid League 2019 – Round I

After the success of last year’s event, the second season of the Hammersmith Rapid League got underway last Monday. Six teams, five nights of chess, four boards, three senior chess teams, two junior chess teams, and one footy stats team… sums up the 2019 incarnation nicely!

This is the league where you play two games of rapid chess against the same opponent each night – one as black and one as white. All the games are rated and count towards an ECF rapid grade.

What more could any chess player want??

This year’s lineup was as follows:

  • The fearsome Tony’s Tigers
  • The awesome Tony’s Lions
  • The dreaded Hackney Posse
  • The Crazy Gang of Football Radar
  • The ferocious Battersea Crew
  • And the Mighty Hammer

To the matches – the first round saw some really close matches with an internecine battle as the Tigers took on the Lions, Football Radar taking on Battersea, and Hackney squaring up to the Hammers.

Tigers vs. Lions

This was a seriously competitive match with a real heavyweight clash on top board, and the other three all closely contested. All the games went to the bitter end with no quarter given.

The Lions shaded it in Round One, with wins for Connall and Xu. Taymour struck back for the Tigers and the top board was drawn.

At the halfway stage the Lions had sneaked ahead, 2.5-1.5.

The Tigers had been wounded but were not down – the come back was possible. Plus we all know there is nothing more frightening than a wounded Tiger.

The second round saw the Tigers go to work and with three wins and a draw they swept to a well-deserved victory. Both these teams will be serious contenders for the title.

Final Score: Tigers 5 – 3 Lions

Battersea vs. Football Radar

This saw the clash of the newboys. Football Radar, and our beloved Frenemies Battersea.

Things did not go well for the Footy boys in the first round and they succumbed to a narrow but decisive 3.5-4.5 defeat. This match really could have gone either way and Battersea can consider themselves very unlucky.

Great performances from both Alistair of the Radar and Darius of Battersea, who both went 2-0. The game that attracted my attention was the second game between Alistair and James that had a very nice tactical sequence. It is one that will hopefully feature in a later posting.

Final Score: Battersea 3.5 – 4.5 Football Radar

Hammersmith vs. Hackney

Following the trend set by the other two matches, the Hammer boys were leading 2.5-1.5 at the halfway point. It could have been a half-point more but for a tactic missed by Wyatt. That game was the longest of the first round and could have gone either way. In the end, stoic defence from Wyatt secured the half-point.

However, the Hackney boys were not down, and definitely not out. They rallied superbly in the second round of games with three wins on the top three boards. Dipli bravely held the line on board 4 against Hackney captain, and great bloke, Bryan, but alas could not prevent Hammer going down 3-1.

A tough loss for Kostis to take, especially in his captain’s debut, but he can feel proud of his team.

Congratulations to captain Bryan and the Hackney team – they really fought back well. The sportsmanship in this contest was totally indicative of the whole evening, and all teams and players must be applauded for that.

Final Score: Hammersmith 3.5 – 4.5 Hackney

So after Round I the cross table looks like this:

And the normal table looks like this:

Roll on Round II – we look forward to seeing all the teams back on the 29th of January!

10.01.19 – Middlesex Div 3: Harrow 2 v Hammersmith

With Adam away gracing Europe’s ski slopes, it was left to your author, Dave, to captain the Hammer side in Middlesex Division 3, as we took on Harrow 2. Fortunately we ran out 4.5-3.5 winners which meant I could welcome Adam back with some good news!

Full score-card as follows:

In the end, a very satisfying victory against a side almost matching us grade-for-grade as we moved down the board order. Even more so when you consider that we started the match 1-0 down due to a default. Very well done one & all… !

I’m able to present two games for your enjoyment here, both of which ended up as full points for the good guys.

Brian secured the victory with some aggressive play as White in a Sicilian Najdorf, creating complications which ultimately led to a tactical mistake from his opponent. Some fine play, particularly when trying to make up some time on the clock.

Your temporary captain for the evening took home the point after playing out a slightly unusual encounter. Playing as Black, I felt I was slightly on the back-foot for the first 14-15 moves before my opponent exchanged several pieces. Each exchange seemed to favour me, and before I knew it, I had some fairly well-placed pieces, with the threat of mate or serious material advantage. Resignation soon followed.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming games, when normal service resumes under Adam’s stewardship.

Dave.

And Finally…

The lovely folk who sponsor us, Chess & Bridge, are happy to offer any Hammer Members a FREE 3 month subscription to Chess magazine!

To claim this offer, simply drop them an email info@chess.co.uk or call them (020 7486 7015), and provide your name, address, telephone and email – of course, mention Hammersmith Chess Club!

Offer is valid until the end of Jan, and it is well worth signing up – a great magazine, and 3 free issues is a great offer!

Hammer Goes Global!

A couple of recent match reports follow, but first up some exciting news from chess-site.com:

Hammer Joins the Global Elite of Chess Clubs

In a sign of our increasing reach, and a digital ‘pat on the back’ for our ongoing efforts to improve the club, I’m pleased to report that Hammersmith has been added to the illustrious list of “The Best Chess Clubs” on one of the top chess resource websites in the world, chess-site.com

Taking our place alongside 11 other top performing clubs world wide, it’s a huge honour to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of the world-famous St. Louis Chess Club, and the Bangkok Chess Club. [dis-honourable mention to our frenemies at Battersea!]

As fellow lovers of the game, John Jackson, the CEO of Chess-Site, and his team, have written up a wonderful and generous profile of Hammersmith, as part of their mission to produce a definitive one-stop resource for the game.

Their website contains a ton of useful information for chess-lovers, and is a terrific resource for anyone with an interest in the game. Well worth a read and a share, and we thank John for taking the time to profile us. Long may the association continue!

10.01.19 – London League Division 2: Metropolitan v Hammersmith

Happy new year to all my Hammer colleagues and comrades. We began the first of six matches in January/February with a visit to one of our main rivals for promotion. The anticipated difficulty of accessing their base somewhere in the depths of Middle Earth did not prove to be quite as baffling as anticipated, the match however was a sterner test of our resolve.

My apologies for being blunt, but an issue has been growing over our opening four matches which I cannot avoid mentioning.

How seriously does Hammersmith, both as a club and we as individuals, really care about having a team in London League D1?

Of course, I fully understand that we all have very busy schedules, of which chess can only be a small part. Also, as a relative newbie, perhaps it is not for me to say. But still, with our resources, while promotion to D1 should be very do-able, the reality is a little different. As it stands, our promotion chances appear rather slim.

For whatever reasons, a sizeable minority of nominated players are unable to play regularly. A very unhelpful state of affairs. This is then compounded by the restriction on bringing in players from second and third teams, since this would quickly bar them from those teams. Worse still, our fixture list is so congested that asking people to play at short notice is rarely successful.

One thing I would ask for is for people to at least reply promptly (or indeed at all) to say whether they can play. A “no” is much preferable to no response. 

Okay, with that little moan over with, on to the match. I will say that everyone gave the proverbial “110%” effort befitting a Hammerite. Particular thanks to those stepping in at short notice.

The match went very much to expected grading results. Although Thomas lost a complex struggle on top board, Carsten, Tony, Bajrush and Sylvain powered to convincing wins on boards 2-5. Bajrush continued his imperious form with a fourth straight win in his inimitable style. Hopefully he will be annotating his game for us shortly. We were also assisted a little by Met’s late substitution on board 2.

Alas, the engine room stalled a little on boards 6-8. Tomasso going down, while myself and Paul laboured in vain.

The last two games to finish, both ferociously fought, saw Charlie and Wyatt finally forced to tilt their kings in defeat. Nonetheless, great fighting chess by both against much higher graded opponents.

So the match ended 5-5, which can be interpreted in either glass half full or glass half empty mode as you prefer. We play five more matches before the end of February – Hammers, over to you!

Jim.

London League Blitz/Rapidplay – the people have spoken!

From social media this week, the London Chess League (@ll_chess) were spotted canvassing opinions for a new, London-wide Rapid or Blitz league using a Twitter poll.

The results were more resounding than the Prime Minister’s recent defeat – with a whopping 97% of respondents in favour of the launch of a London-wide Rapid or Blitz (or both!) league.

Food for thought indeed… we’d be keen to hear the views of Hammerites!

A Bumper Week

It’s only the 12th of January, but already we have loads of things to update you all on – read on for a taste of what’s coming up, featuring foreign travel, breweries, more competitions, and a couple of GM’s paying us a visit in the next few months…

Poland trip

In case it’s escaped your notice this last week, the Annual Hammer trip abroad has been confirmed – we’re off to Breslau, Poland!

The trip takes place on the weekend of 7-9th June, and it’s going to be a brilliant experience. Breslau is a stunning medieval city, steeped in European history. Direct flights are available at reasonable cost from Standsted and Luton airpots, and there are already 10 Hammers booked to travel. What more could you ask for?

If you’re keen to join the intrepid party, please take the following steps:

  • Email John to confirm your attendance: john.white49@ntlworld.com
  • Book your flights (this part is your responsibility, however as there are only a couple of flight options, chances are you’ll be on the same plane as at least one other Hammer)
  • Join the Breslau WhatsApp group to sort accommodation – similar to previous trips, this will be a combination of Airbnb for those wishing to share or reduce costs, and hotels for the well heeled who prefer their own space! It’s entirely up to you.

Don’t delay – flights are still cheap, so get in there while you can!

Chess Up in a Brewery

Could this be a World’s First? A chess match in a brewery??

Yes, the mighty Hammer is taking on the slightly-less-mighty Battersea Chess Club over 14 boards in a local brewery – Sambrook’s!

A brilliant confluence of many enjoyable things, this is going to be a fantastic afternoon of entertainment.

The match takes place on Saturday 26th January, 1-5pm, and we are looking for players! If you’re keen to play, get in touch with John: john.white49@ntlworld.com

Places are going fast, so sign up soon if you want to be involved!!

Hammersmith & Celtic Tigers Raffle

A special raffle is taking place as we speak, to raise funds for Hammersmith and our sister club in the 4NCL, Celtic Tigers! Amongst the 50+ prizes on offer are:

  • Several training sessions with top players
  • Digital clocks
  • Championship chess sets
  • Ginger GM DVD’s
  • …and much more!

The odds of winning a prize are well over 50% , so you don’t even need to be that lucky to win something!!

Tickets are £10 a pop, or £15 for two, and the money is going to two great causes, supporting chess in the local area. If you want to nab a ticket, please contact fellow Hammer, Chris Skulte: chrisskulte@gmail.com

Good luck!!!

BBCA Rapidplay goes Monthly!

After the huge success of their annual big-money Rapdiplay tournament, our good friends in East London, the British Bangla Chess Association, have now launched a MONTHLY Rapidplay competition, and I’m pleased to report that the big money prizes are still there!!

Starting Sunday 27th January, and hosting up to 60 players per month, the competition will have Open (no limit) and Minor (Newcomers up to 80 ECF) sections, with prizes for 1st and 2nd places, plus several grading prizes – plenty of chance to win something!

Further details as follows:

  • Dates (all Sundays): January 27th, February 24th, March 31st, April 28th, May 26th, June 30th, July 28th, August 25th, September 29th, October 27th, November 24th, December 29th.
  • When: 4pm – 8pm
  • Where: The Hason Raja Centre, Spitalfields Housing Association, 117 Vallance Road,E1 5BW
  • Time Control: 15 minutes per player
  • Prizes: Open: 1st – £100, 2nd – £70; Minor: 1st – £30, 2nd – £20. Grading prizes: £25, for each of U180, U160, U140, U120, U100
  • Cost: £20 for ECF Silver or Gold, £27.50 for ECF Bronze or non-ECF, and £10 for all entries in the Minor section.
  • Contactbritishbanglachess@gmail.com
  • Entry forms are available herehttps://form.jotform.co/90074668579876

As usual, we expect this will be a brilliant competition, and the BBCA do a fantastic job in their local community – well worth your support!

And don’t forget – our last foray into this competition saw a couple of Hammers walk away with cash prizes:

Thames Valley Division 1 – Hammer Riding High!

Our Thames Valley team are continuing their unbeaten run in this season’s league. We ‘stole’ a victory from Ealing A on Monday night, who put out a very strong team.

With two games left, Ealing were edging it 3.5-2.5, with just Bajrush and Tony to finish. Thankfully, both Hammers brought home the bacon and we squeaked out a 4.5-3.5 win! Amazing result:

We now sit top of the table, and are the only unbeaten team in the league. After Surbiton’s 5.5-2.5 win at Wimbledon A, we also have a game in hand over our nearest rivals.

The purists amongst us will know that since TV records began in 1974, Hammersmith have never been Division 1 champions. Indeed, the last dozen years has seen honours rotated pretty evenly amongst Wimbledon, Ealing, Richmond and Surbiton.

Is this the season we buck the trend? Do we dare to dream??? Stay tuned…

An Evening with GM Matthieu Cornette – Monday 11th February

2016 French Champion, Celtic Tiger, and all-round top player, GM Matthieu Cornette will be gracing the Anvil on Monday 11th February form 7.30pm, for an evening of chess talk!

Matthieu will be providing a 2 hour talk and discussion, focused on club players in the range 100-150 ECF, so this will be of massive interest to many at Hammersmith.

The evening is free of charge, however we are limited to 48 people due to Health & Safety, so places will be limited. As ever, contact John to register your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

An Evening with GM Danny King – Monday 29th April

As if one GM isn’t enough, on 29th April we will be bringing you another evening of top-level chess instruction, humour, debate and anecdotes in the form of media-star GM Daniel King!

A GM since 1989, Daniel received huge plaudits for his coverage of the 1993 World Chess Championship on UK Channel 4, and has gone on to have a hugely successful career in chess broadcasting and media, with highlights including coverage of Kasparov v Deep Blue, work for the BBC, and even Cilla Black!

Daniel is a top level tutor and instructor, with a very successful YouTube channel, and remains a top British player. He’s also a native of West London! Couldn’t be better.

This will be a popular evening, so if you sign up as an ‘early bird’ before 10th April, it is only £7 per place, rising to £10 thereafter.

Tickets are exclusively for Hammer members up to March 31st, so don’t delay to secure your place amongst the lucky 48!

Contact John ASAP to book your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

And Finally…

Stay tuned in the next few days for write-ups on the first round of the Hammersmith League Rapidplay, and some of this week’s games!

The chess never stops at Hammer! #hammertime

 

Hammer Goes East! Poland Beckons in 2019

Happy New Year to all Hammers! Chess is back for 2019, and there is plenty to get you in the mood! First up…

Hammer Goes East – Poland Beckons in 2019

Yes, with the Christmas and New Year festivities done & dusted, Hammer Chess Club members and minds – like a TUI Boxing Day advert – are switching to thoughts of destinations for a Summer holiday.

In the past two years Hammer have sampled the delights of the beautiful cities of Amsterdam and Cork in search of Summer chess satisfaction.

The 2019 destination will be Wroclaw, in Western Poland. Formerly known as Breslau, and situated on the River Oder, it is the fourth largest city in Poland.

Beautiful Wroclaw beckons this Summer!

It is one of the most stunning and beautiful European cities, and the trip will encompass chess, culture, new friendships, and the odd beer or two.

I must thank Artur and the Wroclaw Chess Club for agreeing to host us, and we will certainly reciprocate with a return visit (fingers crossed!) in 2020.

From a chess point of view, Wroclaw are a top chess club and this will be a brilliant chess weekend.

I must also thank Ryszard for introducing me to Artur, and must also emphasise the strong ties between Hammersmith and Poland. The Polish Cultural Association is based in the heart of Hammersmith and is a visible example of the friendship and historical ties between our countries.

The visit will take place from the 7th – 9th June. I have just booked my flights and am returning early Monday morning (10th June).

So, how do you book a place:

  1. Email Clueless at john.white49@ntlworld.com, stating that you wish to come!
  2. Next, book your flights – Ryanair and Wizz airlines both fly direct to Wroclaw.
  3. Contact Clueless if you would like to share accommodation – probably airbnb.

Please respond ASAP – the Hammers who have been involved in the last two trips had a brilliant time. This is going to be an amazing weekend!

More Chess Action in January

Plenty more is coming up this month too – The Hammersmith League kicks off again this coming Tuesday 8th, at Lytton Hall, with a second round of fixtures on Tuesday 29th. Captains have already begun arranging their teams – if you are yet to be contacted, please get in touch.

The Celtic Tigers have a match weekend coming up on the 12th and 13th – expect a report the following week once the dust has settled!

If you’ve not done so already, you may wish to purchase a ticket or two for the Raffle being organised to raise funds for Hammersmith and the Celtic Tigers. There are dozens of prizes to be won – including some really valuable training sessions with top players – and the odds are very favourable!

And last but not least, Hammersmith is fielding teams in a further 22 competitive games this month. In fact, there are only 3 weeknights where we’re not in action – amazing! Check out the Calendar for details.

A Hammer’s Tale at the London Chess Classic

Ryszard, aka “Breslau”, took part in the Weekend Open this year at Olympia. Here, in his own words, is the tale of his journey.

Spoiler alert – he got joint-first place and should have won – he deserved it!!

The first round was on Friday evening. I got to Olympia early straight after work and had a meal before the game. No beer – so already huge sacrifice. I was ready for the first game.

So, it starts with an 1800 chap. He played a Slav where I always exchange usually with great results because I do not know anything else. However, I decided to try something else this time. Not sure about 6.g3, already maybe not so good and just leading to a draw after Na6 7.Bg2 Nb4 8.O-O Nc2 and repeating moves. So, I realised I needed to go crazy. After move 11 he is already doing very well but makes bad decision 12…Bd6 – one of those naive move many players would play. 12…Be7 and maybe not even enough compensation for white. Life after Bd6 was beautiful for me!

Maciol, Ryszard (2121) – Cherupalli, Ramprasad (1846)
10th CSC London Chess Classic (Olympia), 14.12.2018

1-0.

Second round after magic eggs and bacon from host Cluelesss. This one I struggled the most with. I do not know how to play black – I played 1….e5 for the first time in a long game I can remember. 5…Nge7 is not so good setup. I was not expecting he plays e4 as it was not what he played in games available online.

But ok it is chess and you need to defend sometimes. Move 15.Nd4 ed4 16.Bf4 was more principled and I would really suffer without any counter-play. But even in the game it is bad. I believe his mistake was 22.Ne7 after which it should be a draw (I have not checked with computer so may be wrong). 22.Re5 Be5 23.Re5 and it is very tough for me – close to lost.

After this I slowly outplayed him as I ensured I kept more time on the clock and he still believed in the ghosts of the great position he had. This is following Socko’s chess advice that time is the most important factor.

Donati, Michele (1962) – Maciol, Ryszard (2121)
10th CSC London Chess Classic (Olympia), 15.12.2018

0-1

Saturday afternoon I got IM and board 1:

Move 12 was critical for both sides – Be7 just blunders a piece. Qe8 is only one move that allows a defensive but still solid position (the computer agrees). Qc8 has been played in the past but black is already under pressure – research showed black is lost in all but one game I found online.

This followed a game from Kramnik-Kasparov in their WCC match. That game was Bg5 not Qe2 on move 10 and the queen landed on b3 then Re1 with a quick sacrifice on e6 though not winning. However, Kasparov couldn’t hold the pressure in such position.

Maciol, Ryszard (2121) – Horton, Andrew P (2397)
10th CSC London Chess Classic (Olympia), 15.12.2018

1-0

And I am now sharing first place with 3 people.

To the Sunday games.

My morning game – started with another rubbish French but I finished checkmating my opponent 🙂 9…Qc2 is really dodgy, do not do it at home 😉 I need to work on openings one day…

Walker, Nicholas P (2135) – Maciol, Ryszard (2121)
10th CSC London Chess Classic (Olympia), 16.12.2018

0-1

And the last round was real fun – unfortunately I did not execute when I had the chance!

A lot of really great lines behind the scene! I should have gone for a quick 9.b4 after dodgy 7…Nc6 and 8…Na5. But the point is that I wanted a quiet game with a small edge as the draw gives shared first, just didn’t want unbalanced material and he thought for a couple of minutes and I didn’t. I kept time advantage for the whole game but the game was not quiet!! Computer thinks it is equal until 27…Bd7. 27…h4 is the move, recommend to study it for a while without computer which we both did during the game! Move earlier 26…b3 is what I was expecting with the forced draw, again far from obvious until you see a few moves further. Recommend to study for yourself!

Then it is winning in style for white after 27…Bd7?. I just blundered a piece in move 35 (Qb4 and Ne5 are just winning with Ne5 forcing checkmate or big losses).

I get a piece back next move and funny enough position is just equal. I offered a draw at the right moment as he needed to calculate huge amount of lines and accepted it with 1 minute vs 7 minutes on the clock.

Maciol, Ryszard (2121) – Kalavannan, Koby (2328)
10th CSC London Chess Classic (Olympia), 16.12.2018

Hope you enjoyed!!

Toasting a great result!

 

A Middlesex Mullering

Christmas Bust-Up at The Anvil – The Muswell Hill Gang ran out of the Wild West of London

The Muswell Hill gang mounted a daring raid on Mother Anvil last week, and were met with Fire and Hammer. Yes, the Middlesex Division 2 circus was back on the road last night with a round 3 clash between our clubs.

Hammer has started well in this Division and Captain Clueless wanted to notch up another good performance before the Christmas break.

Now I know this is the season of goodwill and peace on earth is what we all should be embracing, but when it comes to competitive chess, this is a step too far for Hammerites!

So, would it be “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, or a “Miracle on 34th Street” scenario??

The Hammer Heroes in Board order:

  • Marios aka “Zues
  • Chris aka “Sydney” or “Showbag”
  • Paul aka “Dead-Eye
  • Jeremy aka “Brexit
  • Sheikh aka “Pandit
  • Matteo aka “The Suit
  • Charlie aka “Sorted
  • Simon aka “Bond

Hammer got an early Christmas present when Muswell forfeited boards 7 and 8 mid-afternoon. Frustrating for Bond and Sorted, but the two of them still turned up to support the team. True Hammerites to the core!!

On Board One, Zeus was playing like a God should – he had snaffled the exchange and seemed to have everything under control. Unfortunately, his opponent was a Prometheus in sheep’s clothing and got some central passed pawns rolling. Zeus struggled to halt their relentless march but the pieces or fates were aligned against him and he had to resign.

Hammer pegged back to 2-1.

Board Two saw Showbag, not only in his Christmas jumper, but also in crisp form. Just a very well-played game by our man and here for your seasonal delight is the game:

 Chris had put Hammer 3-1 up.

Dead-Eye was the last to finish on board 3 and although a pawn down in an endgame, pressured his opponent on the clock. This was a fantastic demonstration of nous and chess experience in action. He literally willed the win and in the words of Picard – he made it so.

Watching Dead-Eye in action is fascinating – he summons amazing focus and willpower to every struggle. He is totally immersed in the moment and is the epitome of Hammer Chess.

Hammer cruising at 4-1.

Board 4 was Brexit territory. Our version – unlike real life – is in superb form this season. He is currently 3-0 in individual games so far – could he make it 4-0? The answer was an emphatic yes – he won at a romp – with a strategy of building pressure on the c and d files and winning material. He is definitely on the road to rediscovering his best form.

Hammer over the finish line 5-1: victory secure.

Pandit on Board 5 was involved in one of those games where he had an edge but deft liquidation by his opponent allowed him to secure a draw. Frustrating for our man, but he still kept the scoreboard ticking over. Hammer 5.5-1.5 ahead.

Finally to the Suit, who has a window to play a lot of chess. He is currently on garden leave and hence not subject to the demands of Italian banks or financial markets. He is able to enjoy his chess without serious distractions.

Basically, he massacred his opponent – he was a rook up early on and from there on in it was simply a matter of conversion. This he duly did and delivered another point to the Hammer side.

A decent win that gives this pleasant match card, and very satisfactory table:

Hammer currently at 83% and heading into Christmas in fine fettle.

There will be tougher challenges ahead, with Harrow, Albany and Hendon encounters in January, but captain Clueless is content and ready for the dietary and alcohol excesses of the Festive Season.

Part One of the Middlesex 2 Odyssey is done and dusted – roll on Part Two.

Hammer 2 Middlesex Division getting it done. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all.

Captain Clueless.