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 RadarBBCA 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!

The Cork Chess Congress, and FIDE World Championship Visit

Hammerites! We’re pleased to share details of some upcoming events which may be of interest to you all – keep on reading…

2018 Cork Congress

Our good friends over in Cork have announced details of their 2018 Congress. It’s a fantastic annual tournament, split into grade-limited sections, with an amazing €3,000 in prize money! Got to be worth a trip over! Details as follows:

  • When: 5th – 7th October 2018
  • Where: Gresham Metropole Hotel, Cork City, Ireland (easily accessible from Cork Airport, Train and Bus stations!)
  • What: 6-round swiss event, with 3 sections: 1600+, 1200-1600, and U1200, €40 to enter
  • Who: corkcongress@gmail.com to enter
  • Web: www.corkchess.com/congress

The hotel is running a special B&B rate for attendees, and loads more information is available on their webpage – link above.

All the best!

FIDE World Chess Championship

Hammersmith Chess Club presentsa trip to the FIDE World Chess Championship in London!

Members will be attending Round 5 – the eagerly awaited contest between reigning World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, and his younger contender, Fabiano Caruana, on Thursday 15th November 2018 at The College in Holborn, Central London.

To secure a ticket, please visit https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/FIDE-world-chess

Further details are available from Dipender Gill (dipender.gill@imperial.ac.uk), who is organizing the Hammer visit! Friends & partners welcome!

Puzzle of the Week #022

Our last puzzle proved a bit of a thronker, with only one real solution proffered by the mighty Hammer faithful.

It’s Adam “Pickle” Cranson who takes the plaudits – congratulations! – with the following line:

  1. Nc6! Qc7 2. Re7!! – Winning the Queen for Rook & Bishop, with an easily won position.

This was from a game in 1954, Bykova v Kogan, at a Moscow-Ukraine match. Taken from The Soviet School of Chess, by Kotov and Yudovich, which apparently does actually contain some decent chess, amongst all the Soviet propaganda! East-side!!!

To this week’s thinker – white to move and win, answers in the comments:

Puzzle of the Week #021

Straight down to business this week – last week’s puzzle generated a lot of responses (not all of them from Charlie!). It wasn’t until our very own Irish Ace – PaulDead EyeKennelly – got in on the act, that order was restored and the correct solution proffered.

Yes, the not-immediately-obvious 1.Rd7! was correct! Black resigned due to the line …Qxd7 2. Qxh5, gxh5 3.Bh7#

Rd7 was necessary as after an immediate Qxh5, black has the defence Qxh2+

Congratulations Paul!

To this week’s puzzle then… White to play – answers in the comments please:


The Dutch & The Irish Weekender

Question: What connects Amsterdam, Cork, and Hammersmith?

Stumped? Then read on…

The Irish tricolour, the national flag of Ireland, comprises of three colours – green, white and orange. A flag which carries huge symbolism.

The colour Green represents the Catholic and Republican population, and Orange that of the Protestant community. Orange is a colour long associated with the Netherlands through the name of the Royal Family (e.g. William of Orange) and is also worn proudly by the country’s sporting stars. White is one of the constituent colours of the Union Flag and coincidentally happens to be the surname of the author of this report.

There must be a connection….. of course – it is chess!!

If only the common history of Ireland, the Netherlands and England could have been worked out on the 64 squares, where would we be now?

Yes, after enjoying the magnificent generosity of the chess clubs of Espion and Cork, it was Hammer’s turn to play host in a weekend festival of chess. The designated weekend was agreed: the 22nd to 24th of June, and Hammer had to deliver.

At this stage the whole of Hammer Chess Club must thank the Hammersmith & Fulham Council, who enthusiastically backed the idea.

The format of the weekend was quickly agreed with the following key points:

  • A casual Friday night drink with some blitz
  • Saturday morning a long-play game followed by a blitz tourney and ending the chess activities with a chess-based quiz
  • A typical British meal Saturday evening – it had to be curry!
  • To round things off, on Sunday morning a mass simultaneous where our guests and selected Hammers would take on Hammer legend GM Keith Arkell

Now last year, in Amsterdam, the Hammer crew were not very cooperative guests and dominated the long-play match, inflicting a heavy defeat – there was also the recent match for the Ring of Cork that had ended in deadlock. The scent of revenge was in the air and the fact that both the Netherlands and Ireland were not at the World Cup weighed heavily (only joking… or not?!?).

First things first it was so good to catch up with Raymond and the thirteen other Espion boys on the Friday night – it served as a huge reminder of the real friendship between our clubs and the power of chess to break down barriers (are you listening Theresa May??). A bit of blitz was played and we were joined by GM Keith and had a brilliant evening. No thoughts of the deadly combat to follow the next day.

We gathered the next morning in the Anvil at the unearthly hour of 9am – snacks and coffee were consumed and everybody got their game-face together. Mark from Cork also joined us in good time.

Speeches by Wily, Raymond and Mark were well-received and an exchange of gifts was conducted.

Clueless very gratefully accepted a photo-collage of our Amsterdam weekend from Raymond, and Mark brought half of the Ring of Cork and a T-Shirt with a logo proclaiming the “Republic of Cork”. Hammer really needs to invest in a trophy cabinet, methinks.

A special edition of the Espion chess magazine – entitled the “Magazine with No Name” was also distributed with a serious quiz challenge with an awesome prize – a bottle of Dutch gin. Where would Hogarth and the rest of the English be without the Dutch – a G&T, the absolute definition of an English tipple is, in fact, all down to the Dutch!!!

[Famously, after the Glorious Revolution, in an effort to wipe out the profitable French Brandy trade, Dutch Gin – deriving from the Dutch word ‘jenever’ for it’s main botanical ingredient, Juniper – was introduced to these Isles, with deadly consequences!]

Hogarth’s celebrated ‘Gin Alley’

Clueless revealed the Tri-Club trophy that would be the prize for the forthcoming match. Hopefully, this will be contested annually!

Finally, we got to the serious chess business. There were two morning events, both run simultaneously.

An elite clock simul saw GM Keith take on some of the cream of Hammer – the Great Dane (Carsten), Zeus (Marios), Sydney (Chris S), Brexit (Jeremy) and Alexander (The Future).

This was a tough assignment with GM Keith taking on an average of ECF 176 – with only really 20 minutes thinking time at each board. This was a fascinating challenge, which ended with Keith scoring three wins and two losses.

He blundered against our Great Dane, and his King endured a long pursuit over an open chessboard. Credit to Keith for keeping it going for so long when many of us would have walked away.

He then scored two typical “Arkell-esque” wins with his superb endgame technique as Sydney and Zeus fell to the legend.

The Future has real talent and in a spectacular game went so close to causing an upset, however the sheer experience of Keith saw him through.

Finally, as in real life, all eyes turned to Brexit. The Hammer version, unlike DD and the rest, gets stuff done – there is no MAY about it, he just carries on – but, as opposed to our miserable politicians – with purpose and fortitude.

With time running out and a theoretical win on the board that was a serious endgame study, Keith generously resigned. He then demonstrated the various manoeuvres required to prosecute the win but was so gracious and complimentary of our Jezza’s play. Yep, Brexit had done it… again.

The main event saw the pride of Hammer take on the combined might of Espion and Cork. Two vs. one… not bad odds.

First, the caveats…

Pickle was suffering from the mother of the morning-after-the-night-before sydnromes. Clueless was a late substitute when Safi pulled out with 30 minutes to the start. A black cat crossed my path that morning, I walked under several ladders and saw two magpies – the omens were not good – these are all real life alternative facts!!

If you believe the hogwash in the last paragraph then you obviously have the gift of Trumpism and believe that fairies are real.

The Hammer boys, in the immortal words of a famous Norwegian football commentator, took a bit of a beating.

The match card cannot disguise the fact that Hammer were not only Double-Dutched, but were also given a decent chess Mickey Finn.

The scoreboard makes painful reading.

There were some good individual results with Dead-Eye (Paul K), Sorted (Charlie), Wannabe (Ken) and Vintage (Shiraz) scoring good wins.

Clueless did his usual trick of blowing a positional edge with the very rash g4, resigning shortly afterwards… just desperate.

Things were looking even down to Board 10, but then a string of 5 wins took the Espion/Cork boys out of sight. Revenge is definitely a dish best served cold. The worst thing was they are all such nice people and gracious in victory.

Raymond, his Espion colleagues and Mark had delivered a lesson that will not be forgotten. Hammer were down but not out.

The afternoon session gave a great chance to recapture some dignity with a 34-man Swiss rapid tourney – and GM Keith participating but having a time handicap to even things out. Pickle was at the helm and did a magnificent job.

The one thing that can be said is blitz chess runs through the veins of every true Hammerite and the final tale of the tape saw the Hammer boys grab some much-needed dignity back.

The Legend that is Keith Arkell won despite his time handicap with 6 Hammers and 3 Espion players making up the top 10. This was poor man’s fare for Hammer, but at least heads were lifted and we could exit the Anvil with some pride restored.

The next part of the activities involved dividing into teams for the “Magnus Carsten Mastermind” chess quiz at The Albion – with the Great Dane reveling in his ability to find the most obscure questions relating to our brilliant sport. This was great fun and my knowledge of obscure openings and Chess facts was impressively expanded, and that alone was worth it!

To say things got feisty would be an understatement – indeed the banter and calling-out reached rarefied levels. The favourites were definitely team Raykell (Raymond’s team had GM Keith) – if you have a GM in your team things have got to go your way!

Clueless, in an exercise that would put even FIDE or FIFA to shame, blatantly engineered the result with team Raykell being leap-frogged at the end by Sorted’s band of Merry Men after the aware of the dubious bonus. This was a rigged result but who really cared – it was just huge fun.

Around 6pm all departed the Albion and proceeded to the Miram Masala, via Tesco for essential alcohol supplies, where all consumed an excellent buffet and chatted the night away. It was just a perfect example of chess camaraderie. The night ended with friendships renewed, expanded and started – just a brilliant time.

The next day started early with Wily, Sorted and Clueless on table/chair transfer duty from the Anvil to Better Gym. The two lads did a sterling job and all was ready for the challenge. Yes, the cream of Amsterdam, Cork and Hammer would be taking on GM Keith “The Legend” Arkell in a 26-board simultaneous.

For the amateur players this is a rare chance to take on a GM over the board with a decent change of getting a result.

In a superb demonstration of stamina, chess skill and just downright willpower over the course of three hours, Keith won 23, drew 2, and lost 1. The sole winner was Roland who played an outstanding game and scored a thoroughly deserved victory.

The answer to the question posed by Espion in the Magazine with No Name – a field in Northern France, Espion and Hammersmith – the point is equi-distant. This signaled the end of the chess weekend and the parting of ways.

It achieved so much and there are far too many people to thank, but here goes:

  • Raymond and the Espion boys who made the journey – our bond has grown stronger
  • To Mark from Cork Chess Club, who delivered the cleaved “Ring of C-orc-dor”
  • To Eva and Andy whose vital help secured the grant from Hammersmith and Fulham
  • To the moving firm – Sorted and Wily independent Traders – who got the furniture to the gym venue on time and back. They solved so many problems
  • To all the Hammer boys who took part and got involved – particularly Wyatt, Marios and the Hammer Lytton washing-up team
  • Adam (Pickle) who ran the blitz tourney superbly
  • Dawn and the Lytton Residents association who were so helpful
  • The incomparable Carsten – whose torturous and mind-boggling questions added a brilliant dimension
  • Finally, to the Legend GM Keith Arkell who helped make it an unforgettable weekend

Clueless signing off, but promising that 2019 will have a tough act to follow, but it will be bigger AND BETTER!!!

Have a great Summer,

Clueless (aka John).

Puzzle of the Week #020

Our previous puzzle appears to have been a bit of a tricky one, with only one solution submitted, although that was the correct one (and correctly described as “delicious“). Congratulations goes to Marios!

It was a great study from a brilliant woman, Judit Polar – generally considered the strongest female player of all time. Taken from a 1998 game against Vishy Anand, and featured in a book: “Judit Polar: The Princess of Chess”.

The full game is worth a look (puzzle starts on move 54):


So to this week’s offering. White to play and win!

Answers in the comments please.

The Fellowship of the Hammer – Corking in C-Orc-dor

[Official Warning – This report contains graphic passages on alcohol abuse and requires a knowledge of J.R.R. Tolkein’s masterpiece – The Lord of The Rings]

Yes, the official chess season was done and dusted and that could only mean one thing – the Hammer Crew were once again off on their foreign quest in search of beer, pubs, friendship, fun and a bit of chess. The Hammer 2018 tour party was primed and ready – the only question was where to go?

The chosen city of our munificence was the beautiful city of C-Orc-dor, set in the South West of the Emerald Isle in the ancient province of Munster. The prize was to destroy the legendary Ring of Cork and secure peace and friendship forever. A noble quest if there ever was one.

The chief protagonists in this cabal were Mark Watkins, aka Mark Gamgee, Chairman of C-Orc-dor Chess Club, and John White, aka Clueless Baggins, the Hammer emissary. A covert meeting was held on the 28th December 2017 in a dubious inn on the quayside in C-Orc-Dor. The two men quickly agreed dates and the format over a few beers and several casual games of chess. The deal was done and the challenge was on.

By plane, train, automobile and boat, the Hammer Fellowship arrived in Cork on Friday the 8th June. The Fellowship were given special codenames for this quest by Clueless – their familiar designations are also given below:

  • Chairman Bajrush – Wily – aka Aragorn
  • Ryzsard – Breslau – Eomer
  • Chris Skulte – Sydney – Gimli
  • Wyatt – Gandalf, and surprisingly… still Gandalf
  • Dipender – Mr Dipendable – Elrond
  • Shiraz – Vintage – Pippin
  • Chris Moore – RU Serious – Faramir
  • Mike – Mad Dog – Merry
  • Paul K – Dead Eye – Legolas [Ed – genius.. ]
  • Eva – Athena – Eowyn
  • John – Clueless – Clueless Baggins

This tale starts with a simple fact. The beautiful city of Cork is definitely not Mordor – it is simply stunning, with pubs, bars, restaurants and music galore. There is craic to be had everywhere and the people of this proud city are hugely welcoming and friendly.

The Fellowship assembled at the home of C-Orc-Dor Chess Club on the Friday after dumping their luggage at various places around the city. Clueless Baggins on behalf of the Fellowship presented a certificate to Mark Gamgee that declared everlasting friendship would be the goal, but we were there to win the Ring of Cork.

The C-Orc-Dor Chess venue is truly stunning with panoramic views of the River Lee and plenty of space to play. A genuine and relaxed atmosphere was established and all settled down to enjoy lots of bliss, chess and getting to know our new friends.

The leader of the Fellowship, Aragorn, was in great form and as the night wore on rallied the Hammer boys and urged them to great deeds in the two long-play matches scheduled for the following day.

As the night drew to a close the Fellowship dispersed with certain Hammers seeking alcoholic and musical entertainment. The inn that drew most of the attention went by the Gaelic name of Sin E (a very quaint quayside bar with a musical bent) – the raiding party consisted of Gimli, Aragorn, Eomer and Clueless and they were joined by Eowyn. A good few Stouts were consumed – as is well documented, alcohol can raise the courage levels. The music provided the perfect backdrop but travel fatigue took its toll and the Hammers hit the sack with a vengeance.

The following morning C-Orc-Dor greeted us with brilliant sunshine and the Fellowship gathered to take on the challenge of a morning long-play game. The fate of the contest would be decided over two ten-board contests – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The morning Hammer line-up in Board Order was:

Eomer, Gimli, Aragorn, Legolas, Clueless Baggins, Eowny, Faramir, Elrond, Pippin and Gandalf.

Before battle commenced, welcoming speeches and gifts were exchanged, and the Ring of Cork was revealed. Whether it would be a source of discord or harmony was to be determined…

My precious!!!

The games were played under time incremental conditions. In this tense morning session, the contest swung backwards and forwards, with both clubs at different stages holding the edge.

This was the tale of the morning session:

All the games were closely contested with a real, epic heavyweight contest on board One with Eomer (Ryszard) holding a slight edge – huge complications then ensued and the outcome of the contest hung in the balance. In a hard-fought game Eomer could not hold it down and went down in flames – a real battle of Helms Deep proportions.

The Hammer Fellowship heroes were Gandalf (Wyatt), Pippin (Shiraz), Paul (Legolas) and Aragorn (Bajrush) who all scored excellent wins. Whilst Baggins (Clueless), Elrond (Dipender) and Gimli (Chris S) stayed true and solid to the quest and drew. There were tough losses for Eowyn (Eva) and Faramir (Chris) – like the Lord of the Rings they were united in their bravery.

The Fellowship had sneaked a 5.5-4.5 win – a truce was called and both teams regrouped and took on board refreshments ready for the afternoon struggle.

If it was possible, the afternoon session was even more intensely fought with the fate of the Ring coming down to the last game to finish.

Ryszard (Eomer) was under severe pressure, facing multiple threats, but as time pressure came into play, kept his cool and started finding consistently strong moves that challenged his opponent. In a battle of nerves and skill he held out and gained a great revenge win.

Chris (Gimli) was in awesome form and when that is the case, a win usually ensues – he did not disappoint. Hammer at 2-0

The Fellowship heroes of the morning, Aragorn (Bajrush) and Legolas (Paul K) both suffered afternoon reverses with their opponents playing excellent forcing chess that merited two deserved wins. It was getting tense at two points apiece.

Clueless Baggins was involved in a real struggle having punted a Budapest gambit, and with forceful play had established a definite edge. As is common with Baggins, he has issues converting positional advantages into a win. Pushing hard for victory, he let his worthy opponent off the hook and went down in flames.

Both Faramir (Chris M) and Gandalf (Wyatt) scored excellent wins against stronger opponents. Indeed with his heroics this weekend Wyatt has emerged as Gandalf the White and definitely not Grey. A tremendous performance by both men.

Two more losses were suffered by Elrond (Dipender) and Merry (Mike) with both Fellowship heroes fighting to the last. Hammer down 5-4 and on the ropes.

All eyes turned to the final encounter which would decide the destiny of the Ring of Cork – a win for either Cork or Hammer in this game, and the Ring would stay intact and balance would not be found. A draw would see the Ring of Cork broken and divided.

All eyes turned to Pippin.

No pressure

In a great struggle Pippin (Shiraz) ended up in a  rook and pawn endgame that really went down to the last pawn. He had a winning line, that he failed to see in time pressure, and the game petered out to a draw.

Definitely no pressure at all…

This meant that the overall match was drawn and the Ring of Cork would be cleaved in two and its spell broken! Harmony and balance would triumph and both clubs would be forever bound in friendship.

In the end, Fellowship won and the great chess clubs of Cork and Hammer will always be bound by friendship, an appreciation of beer, and a mutual love of the noble game of chess.

With the serious business done and dusted both clubs ambled along to the Franciscan Well brewery, where with the burden of combat already a distant memory, beer, chat and chess endured long into the night. There is nothing like copious amounts of good beer and pizza to create a brilliant night.

Friendships were formed and will endure.

I have vague memories of leaving The Well at about 1am in the company of those ill-reputes: Bajrush, Chris S, Ryszard and Wyatt, in search of another bar. Cork City was still buzzing.

There was definitely more beer and shots consumed and somewhere around 3am Ryszard, Bajrush and I surrendered and sought our way back home. Wyatt and Chris went in search of more entertainment – I can only admire their capacity and stamina.

The following morning Chris S missed his flight – a definite case of the effects of over-indulgence, while the remnants of the Fellowship gathered for the last hurrah at the Cork Chess Club. A blitz tourney had been arranged as a parting gift – from a medical perspective one of the best antidotes to excessive beer consumption and hangovers!

In an excellent tourney, First Place was taken by Ryszard with the critical encounter against Bajrush proving a mesmerising battle. In the end Ryszard won and deservedly took first place.

We thanked our hosts – they had put on a brilliant chess and social weekend that will live long in the memory, and departed on the best of terms. Real kudos should go to Mark and the Cork Chess Committee.

This is where the tale should end, but some of the Fellowship decided to wander the streets of Cork City, take in a meal, consume the odd drink before, before heading for the airport and home.

Honour had been satisfied – we had also had the very best of weekends. There will be further adventures to come.

Here ends the tale of the Fellowship of Hammer.