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.


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 –

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:

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:

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:

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: to enter
  • Web:

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

Further details are available from Dipender Gill (, 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).