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 ūüôā 9…Qc2 is really dodgy, do not do it at home ūüėČ 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.

Dispatches from the Battlefront – Middlesex Division 2 Sector

Unquestionably, in my mind, the greatest musical genius to come out of 8 Mile Detroit is one Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem – in 2002 he released the album “The Eminem Show”, his fourth studio album. One of the tracks was “Without Me” and in homage I start this report with a verse from that song with huge apologies to the great man.

“Guess who’s back, back again,
Clueless’s back, tell a friend”

Yes, Captain Clueless, former erstwhile and hapless commander of Starship Hammer 1 LL Division 3, has returned to leadership duties. He has been re-assigned to the Middlesex front and has taken control of Hammer 2 Division. Captain Pickle has taken over Hammer 3 but has handed over a superb, battle-hardened and focused squad. They not only achieved promotion last year, but won the Division, and have started with a victory in the first skirmish against the fearsome Metropolitan One.

Last night saw the second battle encounter – an away fixture at another tough nut – Albany 1. They have form – last year they inflicted only one of two defeats on the Hammer 1 LL team – they definitely know chess!!

As is traditional, each team member will be designated a nickname/codename for this season. To be honest, it is for life… The Hammer Heroes, in board order:

  1. Chris Skulte – aka “Sydney” or “Showbag
  2. Tommaso – aka “Forza
  3. Paul K – aka “Dead Eye
  4. Jeremy – aka “Brexit
  5. Sheikh – aka “Pandit
  6. John – aka “Clueless
  7. Nadhmi – aka “The Gift
  8. Izzy – new member and future star – “The Money” – why, you may ask? Basically, because he is a graduate of LSE and he is up there with Tommaso and Matteo in the sartorial elegance department. In other words, he is in the 1% of chess players who know how to dress.

Please note Clueless was a last-minute substitute for MatteoThe Suit“, as he had to call off.

To the games:

Board 1 saw Sydney taking on a tricky opponent. This player always turns up between 20 and 40 minutes late and then proceeds to confuse and outplay his opponent by moving at lightning speed. This was the fate that befell Thomas T-Bone last season and hence Clueless imparted this intel to Sydney. Did he listen Рprobably not. Despite having a very  heavy dose of man-flu, Sydney, after a slightly dubious opening, played a Harbour Bridge of a game Рit was of the Grand Design variety. Hammer 1-0 up and here is the game for your enjoyment:

Board 2 the Forza playing white had a difficult night. His opponent kept the position closed and did not allow the open positions that our man thrives on. His opponent seized the control of the open b-file gradually and slowly built the pressure Рit was tough and very methodical. Although the force is strong in Forza, there was little he could do. Albany had made it 1-1.

Board 3 now and Dead-Eye taking on a very technically correct opponent. The position ended up in a K and P ending with his opponent holding an extra pawn. Dead-Eye tried everything to prevent him from realising the advantage but ultimately had to give ground and the point as well. Hammer down 1-2.

Eyes turn as they do in these Brexit times to our own version of Brexit – our Jeremy – our Brexit is the superior version with ideas galore and a totally pragmatic approach. He does not need an attorney-general – he finds his own way. Playing an opponent graded 20-plus points higher, he took the game to his opponent. He found a way and scored a great win – he is 3-0 for the season and pushing his grade back up to where it belongs. Here is the game:

All-square at 2-2 and things were getting tense. So, using author’s license I am going to skip the encounters of Pandit and Clueless for the time being.

Board 7 saw The Gift in imperious form and a beautifully-played game – his chess is definitely maturing and developing rapidly. His was the first game to finish and out Hammer on the scoreboard. Hammer now 3-2 ahead and confidence was growing.

Middlesex debutante IzzyThe Money” was on the money in taking on a wily campaigner in the form of Steve Sonnis, a player whose 129 grade conceals a lot of chess knowledge and skill. The Money played like a seasoned veteran and was never in trouble and comfortably secured the draw. Hammer on the verge, 3.5-2.5 up.

Clueless then chipped in with a hard-fought draw, employing his usual tactic of getting his opponent out of his opening repertoire and forcing him to rely on his own resources. The game ended in a multiple minor-piece and pawn ending, with both sides going for the win. With time running out, a draw offer was made by my opponent and with less than two minutes on my clock, was quickly accepted. Hammer now at 4-3.

A half match-point guaranteed – could be the full point.

All eyes turned to Pandit, who had been on the back foot for most of the game, however a rash time-trouble move by his experienced opponent allowed him back in. In a flurry of moves and with both flags about to fall, his opponent forced a checkmate. Hammer had just missed out.

The match was drawn 4-4, a result Captain Clueless would have taken at the start of the night. A great performance from the team and yet another demonstration of the steely resolve that Hammer teams are displaying this 2018/19 season.

Clueless over and out, and roll on next Monday – I leave you with the current table:

And Finally…

Firmly in the Trevor McDonald tradition, here is a seriously entertaining game from Ryszard’s match against Kinds Head 1 in Division 1 of the Middlesex League… enjoy!

Good Times in Middlesex

As the World Championship concluded with a result, finally… we bring you some recent games ¬†from Hammer members to enjoy.

First up, a gruelling game from Brian which swings up and down, ultimately ending in a fair draw:

This was from a game in Middlesex Division 3, against Ealing, on Tuesday night.

The match ended 4-4, with a comfortable win for Sheikh on top board, defeats for Chris and Dave, and draws in the rest of the team (and a default win for Hammer on 8).

Big congratulations go to Ville Karhunen, playing outstandingly in his debut for the club! We look forward to many more successful games!

And this marks Dipender’s final game in the captain’s seat, as he hands the reins over to Adam. The team are in great shape – unbeaten, and top of the table! Our thanks to Dipender for steering a smooth course for the good ship Hammer!

Our other featured game is from Ryzsard, in the Middlesex Division 1 match against Hendon. A very stylish win on top board, capping off a mauling of the opposition,¬†6.1-1.5…. enjoy:

Christmas in the Middlesex League

19.11.18 – Middlesex Division 2: Hammersmith 2 vs. Metropolitan

On Monday the season got underway for the second team in the Middlesex League. This year we’re competing in division 2, having been promoted from a very competitive division 3 last season.

Our first opponents at the Anvil were Metropolitan, an established club from the city with a number of strong players.

Paul and Matteo sat down on boards 2 and 4. They started the clocks and waited patiently for an opponent to show up. No-one came. 2-0 Hammer.

Yasser, playing his first Hammer game of the season on board 1, had the black pieces. He played a solid game with few mistakes by either player. They entered a closed endgame with a lot of manoeuvring from both sides. In the end a zugzwang caused Yasser to lose control and succumb to a loss. 2-1.

Sheikh on board 3 played an exciting tactical skirmish. With kings exposed and pieces hanging all over the place, spectators had absolutely no idea what was going on. In the end his opponent found some crafty back rank ideas, forcing resignation. 2-2.

Nadhmi with white sat down on board 5 with his usual confidence and focus. He went up an exchange for a pawn, but his opponent had all the initiative. Nadhmi chose exactly the right moment to give back the exchange and steered the game to a draw. 2.5-2.5.

Charlie’s opponent saw a greek gift that not even Zeus could have claimed. From here the win was fairly straightforward. 3.5-2.5

Our new junior Yazhou was playing white on board 8. He played an impressive game against a strong opponent. Most pieces were exchanged off and they entered an endgame with a ¬†rook and five pawns each. Sadly for Yazhou, his opponent’s outside passed pawn gained him a couple of crucial tempi, as the white king was forced to the edge of the board. In the end black found a way to mop up the white pawns and queen one of his own. 3.5-3.5.

So it was down to Simon to determine the match result. He answered 1.d4 with …g6 and went from a Modern into a King’s Indian where white played an early e3 rather than e4. White played the opening a little un-ambitiously and Simon was nearly equal fairly early on. White pushed e4 and missed a tactic as nxe4 left a bishop on b2 en prise, going a pawn down. there was then a pawn clash on the queen side and Simon played a slight inaccuracy. White thought he had a tactic but Simon saw one move further which liquidated into a winning endgame. After a further blunder Simon was left with two passed connected pawns in the centre that were ready to roll. It was an instructive game, concerning control of the dark squares as well as tactical features. 4.5-3.5 Hammer.

Overall, a great start for the team, helped slightly by a couple of defaults. We have two more matches over the next three weeks, in which we’ll be looking to build our momentum and secure a strong league position going into Christmas.

Adam

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Christmas!

Don’t forget – the Hammer Chess Christmas Party takes place on Thursday December 6th, at Wahaca Charlotte Street, starting from 7pm!

Full details are available here, but in short, everyone is invited! It’s going to be a relaxed, fun evening amongst friends, and there may even be some chess boards!

If you’d like to come along please contact John to reserve your spot ASAP – john.white49@ntlworld.com

See you there!

 

El Chessico – Pt. II – Tuesday 6th November

Roll up, Roll up! The big day is almost upon us…

Forget about Christmas –¬†El Chessico pt. II is the only thing people are talking about this month, and it all kicks off tomorrow evening.

Three years of rivalry, grudges, scores-to-be-settled, oh and some friendship in there too – we’re putting it all on the line tomorrow night across 30+ boards against those noisy neighbours in saaaarf London, Battersea Chess Club.

Full details below – please get in touch if you have any last minute queries. And we have a tentative board order too (subject to change!). It’s going to be EPIC:

  • Tuesday 6th November, 7.15pm sharp start
  • Battersea Labour Club, 81-83 Falcon Road, SW11 2PF
  • Clapham Junction is the nearest station
  • Time Control: 70 minutes, +10 second increment
  • All games rated
  • There is a huge trophy to be won!

Tentative Board Order:

And There’s More!

Battersea will also be hosting a special Blitz tournament, inspired by the WCC match in conjunction with Chessable, on Tuesday 20th November.

There will be cash prizes, and more than a couple of Hammers have already thrown their hats into the ring.

If you’re keen to take part, please get in touch with Battersea’s Aldo, who is helping organise: aldocamilleri@aol.com

Puzzle of the Week #024

Welcome back, and we’re straight down to business again.

Last week’s puzzle generated a load of interest- quite a thronker, it’s fair to say. But it’s big JimlocoStevenson who takes the plaudits this time, with the following sequence:

  1. …¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Rf1+!
  2. Rxf1, Rxd1+
  3. Kxd1, Kxf1 – and the pawn ending is won for black, as he maintains the opposition.

The actual game (BernsteinDake, US Ch. 1936) went: Rxd1, Kxd1, Rxf5, gxf5, f6, Ke2… ending drawn.

On to this weeks puzzle – White to move, answers in the comments please:

2018-19 Fixtures are OUT!

With 11 teams to cater for this season, it has been no mean feat, but we have now finalised our fixtures for the coming season! You can check out all the details on our calendar: http://hammerchess.co.uk/calendar/

It all kicks off on September 24th at the home of chess (aka Lytton Hall), with our two teams in Middlesex Div 3 facing off. We then have a crazy busy October featuring 17 games!

This is followed by a steady flow of games in the run up to Christmas (don’t forget about the London Chess Classic in December!), and then back with a bang for 22 games in January, with the following three months also averaging 20 games a piece!

January 2019 – just the 22 games then…

Things slow down towards the Summer, with our current final (and 136th) fixture in early June. It is going to be a mad one!

Please ensure you familiarise yourself with our fixtures & the games you’re likely to be playing – our team Captains should have reached out to all of you to discuss which games you’d like to be involved in, and they’ll do their best to accommodate everyone when possible.

If you need to get in touch to ask a question or find out more info, you can find all details of our teams & captains (along with a link to their emails) here: http://hammerchess.co.uk/teams-captains/

Details of venues, addresses and match start times will be confirmed by captains ahead of each game. If you’re in any doubt, just drop them a line.

Amongst the fixture highlights this  year:

  • Newcomers Football Radar,¬†BBCA and Smartacus in London 5
  • Two new Hammer teams in the Middlesex League, meaning we will now play some home games at Lytton Hall on Tuesday evenings (we’ve reached capacity on Mondays!!)
  • New opponents East Ham (we’ve not played them in a while!) in London 2, and Maidenhead in the Middlesex League
  • We’ve also included the Celtic Tigers weekend fixtures on our calendar for the first time – a number of Hammer regulars are now playing for our sister team in the 4NCL

A final reminder – only players who have paid their membership, and are ECF-registered, are eligible to play league games for Hammersmith. If you want to get involved please ensure you have both of these sorted in time, else captains will be unable to pick you!

Get set… it’s going to be a great season!

The Return to Lytton Hall

It’s been a fabulous Summer – amazing weather, a packed calendar of Summer League¬†chess, plus our own Summer Programme (tip of the hat to Mr Cranston for organising such a feast of activities!), but all good things must come to an end.

As of this coming Monday 17th September, we say farewell to our Summer home at The Albion, and return to the familiar surroundings of Lytton Hall until next Summer.

Lytton Hall… aka The Anvil… aka Valhalla

But this being Hammer, we are marking the occasion with our Annual Awards ceremony and prize-giving. If you’ve not been before, it’s a rip-roaring evening of fun, celebrating the best of Hammer, aided with snacks and drinks, to mark the beginning of the traditional chess season!

Chances of Hobnobs – Strong to Certain

This year we’re giving out no fewer than TWELVE prizes to the following individuals:

  • Paul McKeown
  • Andrew Macleod
  • Paul Kennelly
  • Simon Harding
  • Nadhmi Auchi
  • Robin Lee
  • Charlie Sturt
  • Tony Niccoli
  • Bajrush Kelmendi
  • Ben Rothwell
  • Chris Moore
  • Matteo Bezzini

The fun starts from 7.30pm, at Lytton Hall – see you there!