#HammerGoesDutch – Chess on Tour

Hammers (From and) To Amsterdam

09-11 June 2017: Yep, the Hammer boys went Dutch and descended like a plague of locusts on the fair city of Amsterdam this weekend just gone.

The Hammer crew needed chess satisfaction, and unlike Mick and the Stones, we got a serious overdose of it!

Twelve brave souls and a few family members ventured forth. Before we get to the gory details of the weekend, just a few words about how it all came about.

After the Brexit result last year, your correspondent decided in conjunction with the Hammer Committee, to organise a weekend raid on a European Chess Club. The aim to show that, although the UK was exiting the EU, we are most definitely not exiting Europe! Chess would be used to build bridges, and of course provide the perfect cover for consumption of copious amounts of beer.

No expense spared for the Hammer crew!

A furious Google search yield Du Pion chess club in Amsterdam (check out their website: www.espion.amsterdam). A beautiful city steeped in chess history, beer and culture… a dream destination for any chess aficionado.

First contact was made and a swift dialogue was quickly established. They would be delighted to host us – little did they know – and the dates were fixed.

The Hammer posse lined up as follows:

  • Bajrush – aka “Wily Coyote
  • Matteo – aka “The Suit
  • Orial – aka “The Wiz
  • Andy – aka “Spidey
  • Chris – aka “R U Serious
  • Ken – aka “King of Kool
  • Alex – aka “Cola Man
  • Dave – aka “The Rave
  • Jeremy – aka “Brexit
  • Paul – aka “Dead-Eyed
  • Adam – aka “Pickle
  • And John, aka “Clueless

A more disreputable and diverse group of Hammerites you would find hard to pick.

Clueless and Henk.. a match made in Heaven!

Before I got onto the action I must say a special thank you to Chairman Raymond and all of the Du Pion Chess Club for a superbly organised weekend. They were so hospitable, friendly and generous.

The bar has been set very high and Hammer will have to step up to deliver a comparable program when the Dutch club pay us a return visit in June 2018.

The Hammer contingent arrived by plane at different times on the Friday, and were staying at various locations around the city.

However, a few of us – Wily, Pickly, Dead-Eyed, Spidey, The Suit, Kool, Brexit and Clueless – gathered at Cafe de Kaaiman for an informal drink at about 11.30pm. The bar had an extensive range of draught beer to tempt you – Heineken, Heineken or Heineken. Sometimes choice can be overrated.

Cafe de Kaaiman… Hammer plot their raid!

The lack of beer choice, however, did not impede the conversation and the bonding of the Hammer squad. We were here to make new friends, enjoy a fabulous city and play some chess. The squad was primed to deliver. Beer always helps fortify the soul, especially in chess matters.

The next morning we gathered at Henrick de Keijserplein 45 at 10.15am – Brexit was late and confused (like the real thing??) – and met our counterparts from Du Pion. A great venue, it was well-organised and Du Pion are a well-equipped and superbly-run chess club, with nice sets and boards plus loads of digital clocks.

There were bikes… lots of bikes

Free coffee and snacks were available in abundance and we got chatting to the Du Pion chaps. With ice broken, Chairman Raymond made an excellent welcoming speech in perfect English (why are they so good!!), and presented two framed photographs of Nigel Short to Wily and your correspondent, Clueless.

Breaking bread (and coffee) with the Dutch!

Responding on behalf of HCC, Clueless effusively thanked all at Du Pion for their invitation and presented a framed photograph of Julian Hodgson, personally signed, to Raymond and Du Pion club.

There then followed the excruciating sight of your correspondent giving an eleven sentence speech in Dutch. My nickname for this trip was Clueless and I am pretty sure I lived up to the title extremely will in giving this speech. I think Du Pion were very generous in their appreciation and enthusiasm of my effort and fortunately no diplomatic incidents occurred.

Clueless tries his best Dutch!

We then got down to chess business – a twelve board match – the really serious part of the day. Would the honour of Hammer Chess be preserved, or would we be Double-Dutched?

The first game to finish was Spidey, and sadly he lost. Was this an omen? The next result saw Pickle equalise the scores. I think, as my particular game was all-consuming, Hammer went two down when Rave succumbed in a complex game.

A tightly-contested first match… edged by Hammer 9.5-2.5

Hammer were down 2-1 and the flying Dutchmen were on their way. However, Hammer Steel came to the rescue and a series of wins from Wily, Dead-Eyed, Brexit, The Suit, The Wiz, Kool, and R U Serious, put us in a commanding position 8-2 ahead. Cola agreed a draw, and Clueless was the last to finish with another Hammer win.

When reporting the result, Henck from Du Pion put it beautifully – our Dutch friends were “modest” in their performance was how he phrased it. I have to say, Hammer were ruthless and although the idea of the weekend was to make new friends, when it comes to over the board chess, Hammerites are basically cavemen.

A truly lovely touch by our new friends – thank you!

We were then served a delicious lunch with soup and sumptuous rolls, all paid for by Du Pion, and we got to know our friends a little bit more.

The afternoon session started with some Duo Chess – pairings of one Dutch and One English v one Dutch and one English. You moved alternately and could not confer. This certainly brought the sharp difference in style to the fore. It was great fun and again reinforced the bonding process and common enjoyment of chess.

International Duo Chess – a proper head-scratcher

We then broke for biscuits and coffee. I have to say the biscuits were delicious and far too tempting for my sweet tooth. Once refuelling had been finished we returned to two options – some endgame studies, or playing rapid chess where the Hammerites had to play the English and the Du Pion guys had to play the Dutch. It sounds like a dream session for the Ginger GM (Simon Williams is a serious practitioner of the Dutch) if only he were Dutch!!!

The next part of the day was the solution presentation of the Puzzle challenge, with one of the puzzles actually having been the creation of Henck. Indeed, it had even stumped the great GM Jan Timman. The puzzles were hugely entertaining and very educational. A real winner.

Henck gets instructional!

We then rounded off the pure chess part of the day with a new game – “Brexit chess”. A chess version where one side would have four Bishops and no Knights, and the other side would have four Knights and no Bishops. You’ll have to take my word for it, but the concept has something to do with the international trade in horse semen & scared clergymen…

Brexit Chess… basically a bit mad

Anyway, this was an unbelievably challenging way to play the game, with the Knights dominating the early stages. Indeed, the only way for the Bishops to win was to open the position up from move 1 – not an easy task!!

This is an idea we may well use during next season at Hammer!

The final part of the day was a meal together at Duble restaurant in the city centre. A Mediterranean establishment with stunning food, good beer and great wine. The perfect location for a great chat and a wind down after the chess mania. Those who chose the main course meat dish had a serious load to demolish, while the healthy amongst us found the salmon dish just right.

After the chess… the food & drink!

The meal concluded and we bid farewell to our new best friends and set forth into the heart of the city to hunt down a bar. At this stage the Wiz, Cola and Wily parted ways for various reasons. This left Rave, Pickle, R U Serious, Dead-Eyed, Kool, Spidey, The Suit and Clueless and we found our Mecca in the form of the Three Sisters in Rembrandt Square.

There was nothing remotely artistic about the night except the consumption of beer and the inevitable rubbish that men talk about when beer is free-flowing. I have vague memories of doing a vodka shot, as did some of the others.

Suit & Brexit enjoying a beer

About 1am Dead-Eyed and myself bid “geode nacht” to the lads and headed back to our Airbnb. What happened afterwards I have no idea. What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam…


The weary Hammer troops gathered the next morning at the Max Euwe Centre for a privately organised tour – it is great having friends with connections!

There was many a sore head but the tour of the Centre was fascinating and if the Three Sisters was the Mecca of drinking, then the Max Euwe Centre is the nirvana for all chess lovers.

It was like walking through chess history with stacks of memorabilia and a chess library of the Gods. Stories were told by our guide that were insightful and fascinating. It was a total treat. To those of the crew who missed it – not mentioning any names but the Wiz and Spidey – you missed something very special.

This concluded the organised part of the weekend but Raymond had one more surprise and that was the chance to go to a cafe to watch the two Van Forest brothers (One a GM, the other an IM) take on two FM’s in 3-minute Blitz. They were due to play 50 games each!!

I have to say this was too good an opportunity to miss and we enjoyed seeing chess at an entirely different level. The speed and accuracy in the numerous blitz finishes was outstanding and something a mere wood-pusher like me can only dream of.

This really concluded the trip and by various trains, planes and automobiles the Hammer crew made its way home to West London and yonder.

To summarise – the best of weekends.

Great company, new friends, brilliant city, great chess, history, art, beer, food and talking rubbish all reached new rarefied levels.

It seems appropriate to nominate the outstanding Hammer performers of the weekend:

  • The “Party Till I Drop Animal” – The Wiz – getting home at 8am Sunday morning, just an outstanding effort.
  • The “Brexit I Know It All Cab Driver’s Award” – The one and only Jeremy, who did provide the photo of Julian – just brilliant company.
  • The “I’m Still Standing After Drinking Most Beer Award” – Pickle – Adam did his club and country proud.
  • The “Cultured and Considerate Hammer Personality Award” – Cola – he saw as much culture as the rest of us drank beer.
  • Best Hammer Chess Player Award – we all were!!!

My final thoughts are with our new friends in Du Pion – Raymond, Henck, Tom, Dik, Hari and the rest, you were just complete stars!

Roll on 2018 when Hammer are the hosts.

Clueless now signing off… and in rehab!


In Other News…

Summer Tournaments at GLCC

You may be interested in the tournaments below, hosted by Greater London Chess Club (GLCC), which are also open to non-members. All events take place at GLCC’s central London venue at St George’s Bloomsbury, 6 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HR (close to the British Museum).


Summer Chess League

You’ve undoubtedly already been made aware of Hammer’s entry into the inaugural Summer Chess League this year. We’ve got a bunch of games coming up over the next two months and will be in need of players! Check your emails. We’re hoping to make this a regular Summer fixture so your support is most appreciated!

The launch event happened earlier this week at Battersea’s home venue, featuring amongst many others, the Ginger GM, plus IM’s Richard Bates and Simon Ansell.

The Hammer team & some guy claiming to be a GM…

Check out the website for a great writeup and full details of upcoming games: http://www.summerchessleague.org.uk

The AGM & Season Finale

05.06.17 – @Valhallah – The last hurrah of the 2016/17 season at Hammersmith Chess Club took place on the 5th June 2017 in Valhalla, aka Lytton Hall for mere mortals.

Just an anecdote before we start, but pertinent to the tale of the evening.

A close friend of mine attended the AGM of Fullers Brewery many years ago as a very minor shareholder. The AGM, for a listed PLC, took seven minutes but there was an incentive – a free bar for the rest of the day!

The moral of the story is if you are offering free beer then things get done!

Now Hammersmith Chess Club can offer many things, but free beer sadly is not one of them, however we did have the incentive of handicapped blitz chess – the final round of our season-long blitz cycle.

To the AGM… It was chaired and superbly handled by Chairman Bajrush, ably assisted by Secretary Mike and Treasurer Chris. All the reports had been emailed to members beforehand and things ran very smoothly.

The highlights of the evening:

  • A lively discussion on investing in some new equipment. The Committee is going to buy several top-of-the-range digital clocks. This was approved by the AGM with the addition that the Committee also now examine boards & pieces as well. A fair request and we will look at this in September.
  • The financial report naturally received most scrutiny. The fact is that Hammer are in a much healthier position financially than we have been in some time. Costs are under firm control, and membership is up. We are now touching 50 members, and still growing. Membership fees will remain the same as last year.
  • The players of the 2016-17 season were named for each Hammer team, as well as the best overall player:
    – Middlesex League: Sheikh Mabud
    – Thames Valley League: Carsten Pedersen
    – London League 3: Matteo Bezzini
    – London League 4: Rich Wingfield
    – London League 5: Chris Moore
    – London League 6 (Hedger team): Nick Rutherford
    – London League 6 (MB): Chris Moore
  • The best overall Hammersmith player of the season: Sheikh Mabud. Congratulations to Sheikh, and all our winners!
  • A vote of thanks to the Committee from the floor initiated by John Ryan, was greeted with applause from all members.

From start to finish the AGM took 59 minutes – by 8.30pm we were ready for chess. Speaking to Mike afterwards, he recalled AGM’s stretching well past the three hour mark in the past!

So, at last, to the chess…

For the first time, we utilised some online software to create a Swiss tournament format that was superbly run by Adam. This added a welcome new dimension to the whole evening. The excitement of reporting results, seeing who you were paired with next, and seeing your name on our TV screen added to the drama. A total of eighteen brave souls took part.

To remind you, the final overall result would be determined by the summing up of the three best scores achieved out of the four legs of the tourney by each individual player.

Going into the final round our Chairman – the WOSF (c) himself – Bajrush, had an unassailable lead. So, although the destiny of the title was already decided there was no let-up in the ferocity of the chess.

The final standings for the season are as follows:

The last round of the cycle was won by new member Tomas “T-Bone” Bonn, who played a devastating sequence of games. He has a lovely positional style and even though he lost to the WOSF he was magnificent in his other games. A deserved winner.

The usual suspects Bajrush, Carsten, Paul, Pavel, Tony and Lucas (a guest for the evening) occupied the next few spots. The outstanding result of the evening was our treasurer Chris, who finished in 7th place with the lowest grade in the top 10 by a country mile. I think financial health in the Hammer bank account translates into improved chess performance! A superb effort by Chris.

Hardcore blitz action from the AGM

So then, the overall winner of the blitz cycle and still blitz champion of Hammer Chess, is our WOSF of a Chairman, Bajrush.

He won by a healthy margin and is a deserving winner. Who will knock him off his perch next year?

In strong second place was Sheikh, and in third your humble correspondent.

Ladies & gents, the mantra is if you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it! Only six Hammerites contested all four rounds. The table does not lie – the top four places were filled by members who played all four sessions. For the record, John Ryan was in 4th place.

So the end of the regular season has come, and we retire to our Summer Venue – the Albion Pub. However, we have a packed Summer program, so please keep abreast by checking your emails and the website.

To all Hammerites – have a great Summer, and remember, the best is yet to come!!


Summer in the City

As the regular chess season draws to a close and the AGM becomes a hazy memory, don’t panic!! – there’s plenty of chess action still to come.

We are very, very excited to announce the launch of our first full Summer programme. It’s a jam-packed agenda of games, events, and even a pub crawl! Read on to find out the details.

A Triumphant Return to The Albion

First things first, don’t forget that our Lytton Hall venue is now closed for the Summer months. Hammersmith Chess Club de-camps a short distance to the Albion public house for our Monday Club Nights, a short walk away on Hammersmith Road.

The kind folks at the Albion allow us to use the upstairs function room/area, so there’s always plenty of space for chess.

Summer Chess League – London’s Lighter League

After much hard work, many meetings & dozens of emails, we are ridiculously pleased & excited to announce the launch of the inaugural Summer Chess League!

It all kicks off on Tuesday 13th June at 7.30pm at the home venue of our good friends Battersea – full details here. It’s an opportunity to hear a few details about the league setup, meet the other teams, all punctuated with a presentation from the Ginger GM Simon Williams and his good friend IM Simon Ansell, and of course some of the cheapest beers in London (thank you Battersea Labour Club!). Simon’s presentation will be followed by an open blitz tournament – everybody is welcome!

The Summer League is a fantastic new idea, following hot on the heels of our successful double-header which we played (and won – natch) against Battersea last Summer where we got out a WHOPPING 27 boards across two evenings. This year we have managed to rope in 4 clubs – Battersea, Streatham & Brixton, British Bangla Chess Association, and your very own Hammer, to create a competitive mini league.

With ourselves and Battersea putting out two teams each, there’ll be 6 teams in total, with five match nights as follows:

  • 20th June
  • 27th June
  • 18th July
  • 22nd August
  • 5th September

All games will be played at Battersea’s home venue on Falcon Road (walkable from Clapham Junction). Game timings will be 60 minutes with a 30 second increment per move, and no adjournments. All games to be graded and completed on the evening. Couldn’t be easier!

Full details of the venue, dates, contacts etc. can be found on the excellent website – please check it out:


We’ll shortly be contacting all members to get our teams sorted – look out for the emails. And if the league proves successful this year, who knows where it may lead!

The Summer Program In Full!

As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also been hard at work compiling a full program of events for our Summer club nights and other dates in between.

After a hugely successful year for the club we are keen to extend the season into the Summer. In addition to the Summer League, there’ll be something happening every Monday – all sessions will take place upstairs at the Albion unless otherwise mentioned. Enjoy!

Training – 26/06, 17/07, 07/08, 04/09
We plan to conduct four training sessions throughout the Summer, using the big demo board. Get your ideas and suggestions in for what you want to learn, or games you’ve played that you’d like one of our talented trainers to analyse and run through.

Cafe Nero Invasion – 10/07, 24/07, 21/08
There is a healthy contingent that plays chess in the Cafe Nero on Kensington High Street every Monday. Let’s invade the cafe and show them how Hammer play chess! When we’ve had enough caffeine we can retire to the Albion for more chess and a few cold beverages! We did a quick hit here last Summer and it was ace!

Nero got nothing on Hammer!!

Teams Rapidplay – 03/07
Attendees will be split into four teams of roughly equal strength. Each team plays one ungraded 20 minute rapidly match against each other team. Most match points determines the winning team on the night!

Graded Rapidplay – 14/08
Each attendee will play two 30-minute Rapidplay games against two players of roughly equal strength. Everyone will get one game as White and one as Black. Games will be played under match conditions and sent for grading.

Blitz Tournament – 11/09
A seven-round Swiss System handicap blitz tournament.

Middlesex League – Kings Head 3 v Hammer (19/06)
Hammer’s final match of the season. It will be played over eight boards upstairs at The Carpenters Arms, 12 Seymour Place, W1H 2DD. Please let me know if you would like a place on the team.

Pub Crawl – 31/07
1. The Elephant and Castle – 7.15-8pm
2. The Goat – 8.15-9pm
3. The Builders Arms – 9.15-10pm
4. The Devonshire Arms – 10.15-11pm

Two 10 minute blitz games in each pub, then move on. Usual points for win, loss and draw, however bonus points awarded for number of drinks consumed! We will give out leaflets and promote the club on the way round.

We’ll be using our new Facebook page to promote and gauge interest for some of these activities. Please start following the page and lookout for updates!

All events are also on our calendar, and will be open to all-comers. If you’re not a member but would like to come along, just drop us a line. We can’t wait!!!

An Englishman in Division 5

25.05.17 – London League 5: Hammersmith v Hackney

We had three significant wins this time around, and one bad luck loss, plus an unusually large number of games involving the English!

Chris Moore on Board 3 with the black pieces played a Scandinavian Defence, but soon got into difficulty and had to sacrifice a bishop for a pawn to rescue his Queen trapped at a5. At this point he was really disadvantaged, and things didn’t look good with his opponent having better development.

However, within perhaps 3 more moves with neither side yet Castled, there came a shock in the chess position, echoed by some physical shock in the room, manifested as a table collapsing (I kid ye not!), sending pieces flying off Chris’s board. I didn’t know X-man was on the team, supporting us, the Team of Light.

After order was restored, I saw Qxg2 and Black was now winning with White’s King having to run to escape check mate. Then everything got swapped off, including Queens, there remained only a Rook each and many pawns, but Chris had 4 extra, linked pawns. White had to resign.

Board 4 saw Kaan Corbaci playing the English Opening with the White pieces. A quiet, positional game ensued and Kaan looked all set for a draw after many pieces were traded. However, a central isolated pawn was suddenly pushed to the 6th and couldn’t be stopped from Queening. Kaan had to resign.

Board 2 saw John Woolley opening with the English, and finishing with a fine win as he assailed an entrenched King guarded with fianchettoed Bishop and 3 pawns. I believe he used ever more tightening of the screw tactics on his opponent, so eventually something had to crack. In this case to ward off a check mate, a piece was lost. A fine season for John Woolley with sex incredible draws in a row and a winning finale! He left the best for the last!

On Board 1 we saw Brian Dodgeon defending with the Black pieces against the English Opening (surprise, surprise!). He reached a drawish-looking endgame with Rook and Bishop versus Rook and Knight. Careful manipulation of pawns and tight clocks on both sides saw White’s advantage slipping away, his Bishop and Rook becoming moribund.

Eventually White went 2 pawns down and was lost. Brian had an active Knight posted at d5 that could check but never did in fact. The implied check threat was never executed, and somehow must have amplified the Knight’s intrinsic value, creating a mental burden on his hapless opponent in the final 5 minutes. So well done Brian! Always great to finish with a win!

TV Double Header v Wimbledon

15.05.17 – Thames Valley League: Wimbledon B v Hammersmith

Wimbledon’s venue at the Trinity Club was the stage to host Hammer’s TV team in a double header last week.

First up was a match on 15th May, where Hammersmith faced the Wimbledon B team. This was a crucial match for both teams in their quest to retain Top Flight status. The atmosphere was tense from the start!

We started with a win on Board 4 where Pavel was playing Yasser. Paul on 3 got a draw in a game that was even from the beginning.

Next to finish was your Captain, and unfortunately I lost my game so we were back to level-pegging, at 1.5 a piece. This only served to increase the pressure on the rest of the team.

Sheikh and Marios were next to finish, and they both did well to score wins. Marios commented afterwards: “I played the Black side of a Sicilian accelerated dragon. My opponent allowed me to play Ng4, exchanging his dark squared Bishop early on. I continued to attack on the dark squares and won a pawn later on in the exchange. He resigned a couple of moves later in a completely lost endgame.”

This was followed by Matteo dropping a point, to give Hammersmith a slight edge at 3.5-2.5, with Jeremy and Carsten still playing.

Both games were very dramatic right up to the end. Jeremy’s game ended up with both players going for the win on either side, move by move. His opponent missed two opportunities for a Queen mate(!), allowing Jeremy to hold his nerve and convert the win, taking Hammer to 4.5-2.5 and with it the victory!

Carsten had a tough game too, playing very carefully right up to the end and securing our last point of the evening: 5.5-2.5.

This victory secured our Division 1 status for next season! A great result, and well done to all involved.

18.05.17 – Thames Valley League: Wimbledon A v Hammersmith

The second game on the 18th was against the A-team – a crucial match for them if they were to win the Division, being level on points with Surbiton but with an inferior board scoring. A win or a draw would be enough to secure top spot.

Our brave Hammer heroes were outgraded heavily on almost every board, but we were hungry for the game regardless!

With both teams defaulting a board to start on 1 game a piece, Jeremy and Paul were first to finish. Both put up a great fight against far stronger opponents, but it wasn’t to be, and we quickly fell to 1-3

Sheikh played another fine game, eventually securing a draw despite missing a move that could have won it. Bad luck! 1.5-3.5

Matteo produced a solid performance to secure victory, bringing Hammer up to 2.5-3.5

This was swiftly followed by Carsten with his first draw in the TV league(!), bringing the score to 3-4, and Hammer in sight of an extraordinary result.

Your correspondent was the last to finish. I had a small advantage from the beginning of the game, and managed to hold on to it throughout. With a prepared checkmate trap, I managed to capture my opponents Knight and finished the endgame in some style!

It was a great performance from the team, securing a 4-4 draw against a terrifically strong team.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated during the season for their commitment and effort for the team. It’s been a tough season, but we can look forward to improving next season and staying out of the relegation dogfight! Table below, with one match to go.

Many thanks,

Campioni, Campioni!

16.05.17 – Middlesex League: Hendon 5 v Hammersmith

Having already won the league, Hammer went into their penultimate fixture full of confidence. This was a slightly unusual match; we were up against Hendon Barnet Knights, a junior team with no player over the age of 12! Despite this, they are one of the strongest teams in the league, frighteningly sharp when it comes to tactics with uncanny positional awareness.

With the first team playing two games in the Thames Valley League this week, it was necessary to allow most of them a rest and to rotate the team. Combined with a last minute dropout, this meant we were slightly out graded on average, and starting the game at 0-1.

On board one Marios did what he has grown accustomed to doing over the last few months – another incredibly precise display and total annihilation of his young opponent. 1-1

John White wasn’t so successful on board two. After a very level opening and middle game he blundered in time trouble and had to accept defeat. 1-2

Josué played extremely aggressively with the white pieces. He very quickly created pins and forks across the board. The victory was sealed before the time control, bringing the score to 2-2.

Playing a Scandinavian, Adam soon managed to enter a line his opponent was unfamiliar with. It didn’t go too well from there though. Despite good control of the centre, he made the dubious decision to castle Kingside and soon found himself with serious pressure on his c2 pawn.

With the Queens, Rooks and a Bishop each still on the board, a sharp battle commenced, with both parties navigating mating threats. Ultimately it was experience that won out. With thirty minutes on his clock versus Adam’s five, his opponent played too quickly, missing a tactic that won a Rook. After forcing a swap of Queens, the game was over. 3-2

On board five, John Woolley played a solid opening and it looked like the game would be heading for a draw. Unfortunately – and much like the other John – a blunder led to almost instant defeat. 3-3

Dave was playing on board six. He made the decision to give up a pawn for the Bishop pair. On the face of it this was quite possibly a sound investment, but as the game progressed and pieces were exchanged, it appeared to get harder and harder to find the winning plan.

He gave up the Bishop pair to win back the pawn, but had unknowingly entered a lost endgame. Unlike so many juniors, his opponent played it flawlessly to convert the win. 3-4

So it was down to young Nadhmi, playing his first game for the team, to save us. Only a win would salvage a point… and this he duly provided!

He played some fantastic chess, very focussed throughout, and picked up the point with relative ease. Very excited to see how he progresses; hopefully he’ll be knocking on Carsten’s door for the board one spot in the not too distant future!

Result: Hendon Barnet Knights 4 – 4 Hammersmith

The final match is likely to be played in June after the AGM, as soon as Kings Head can find a suitable date at their venue. With no less than 15 players on 100% out of a total pool of 28 (Ed: and a captain unbeaten on 81%!), nominating a player of the season will surely be a tough call!

Honours Even in London 5

04.05.17 – London League 5: Streatham & Brixton v Hammersmith

We were expecting a battle royale to make amends for our prior 3-1 defeat… (“An Evening of Roosters & Foxes” – a great writeup from back in January!)

Board 4 saw Chris Moore attacking on the Queenside from the English Opening. But Black prevailed and started pressing on White’s undeveloped Kingside. Only the Knight had moved.

With sparks flying, Black finally a touched a Rook, found he preferred something else, and let go. Game rules said he had to move the Rook, which meant the Rook was captured and the game all but lost a few minutes later.

Next to finish was John Woolley on Board 2, who had a standard looking Queens Pawn opening. After reaching a critical position, Black and White repeated moves, and a GM style draw was agreed. John is our draw-master, 5 games in a row. Kudos!

Here is what Brian Dodgeon on board 1 emailed me: “My game as Black was pretty tricky: my opponent (graded 144) played the Trompowski system (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). I played 2… g6 and he took the Knight before I could fianchetto, messing up my central pawns. As a result he got a lot of pressure in the centre, supported by his White-squared fianchettoed KB.

I was often about to lose a pawn and he had a dangerous Queen and Rook doubled on the a-file, but just in time I gained control of the long Black diagonal and won his pawn on b2, which allowed my Queen to penetrate his back rank and get a perpetual check.”

Finally your Captain, who reported that: “In my game a conventional defence got my Queenside weak. I should stick to the obscure gambit.”

“After meeting the first clock dealing, and a tough position more or less locked-up, I had 5 minutes more than my opponent, so the position finally opened up. Funny how I finally got a Rook free to go pawn hunting, got careless, in a scramble to win the ending and got King and Rook Knight forked. The game was lost as a pawn majority broke through on the King side.”

So…. the final result was 2-2; a drawn match. All in all, I feel it was a good result as Streatham were lying second in the league table.


Puzzle of the Week #006

Okay, okay… it’s been slightly longer than a week, but we have been extra busy in the meantime raising loads of money for charity!

First things first, our winner from last time… Well, it was a difficult puzzle that’s for sure. After several people had a crack at it, I can confirm that the winner was…. Matteo! (1. Bc6 Rb1+ 2. Ke2 Rxh1 3. Bg2+ Kxg2 4. Nf4+ Kg1 5. Ke1 g2 6. Ne2#) – Complimenti!

So to this week’s puzzle. There’s a tenuous link to Morphy with this one – Black to move this time, and solutions in the comments as usual please!

Chess Bosses Lyric Square, W6

29.04.17 – This time last year our Club submitted an article to the English Chess Federation about the initiatives we were implementing in an effort to revive the Club and recruit more members (link here). It represented an attempt to share our experiences of how we had turned around the slow decline in our Club’s fortunes & membership, with a view to benefitting others experiencing similar difficulties.

As a result, the ECF’s publicity manager, Mark, got in contact to see if we would be interesting in hosting a “Chess Master at the Local” event in a local cafe or pub to promote chess in the community. Hammersmith gratefully accepted the offer, but we wanted to go beyond the confines of a building and take the event to the streets!

Furthermore, we wanted to combine it with a fund-raising effort for the local branch of Mental Health charity, MIND. As most of you know, MIND is the adopted charity of the ECF and a perfect companion to our great game.

The calm before the storm

So, with the help of Mark and the ECF, we recruited Lateefah Messam-Sparks for the day. We were also able to secure Lyric Square in Hammersmith for the event. For those of you not familiar with the geography of West London, the Square sits outside the famous Lyric Theatre, right in the heart of the shopping district and the passing hordes.

The main point was that we had the opportunity to take our game to the heart of our community, giving us the best opportunity to raise awareness of the game, much needed money for MIND, and promote our club.

After overcoming numerous obstacles, such as public liability insurance(!), planning for inclement weather, logistics, manpower and getting MIND on board, we set the date for 29th April 2017.

Extensive use of social media and our contact with fellow London Chess Clubs was to be central to the success of the day.

Can you beat a chess club player??

The next thing was to form an event management committee and start the process of pulling the event together. This was duly done and delivered, and whilst we did not achieve every aspect of the plan – you learn more in the first hour of the event than the entire month of planning beforehand! – we did deliver in spades on the fundraising, the promotion of our game to the masses, and the advertising of Hammersmith Chess Club.

An incredible sixteen Hammersmith players volunteered for the event, most for the whole day. We had a total of 14 boards and clocks in place, and I’m pleased to confirm they were in constant use for most of the day! Our members also proved adept at collecting money for MIND and encouraging people to have a game. This is a crucial lesson – you have to door-step members of the general public and get them involved!


For their part, the Great British Public delivered enormously too. It was a real thrill to see people of all ages and backgrounds sit down for a game – within a couple of hours we’d played chess against: a series of old-timers who “hadn’t played in ages” (that old chestnut!!), scores of youngsters in town with their parents who were overawed with excitement at the unexpected prospect of a game, young men and women out for the day who stopped by for a (sometimes highly-competitive!) game, people with luggage on their way to Heathrow, and a pair of Dutch chaps in town for the weekend, amongst many, many others.

The day had so many highlights and here are just a few that stick in my mind:

  • A huge number of people delighted to see chess promoted in a public space
  • Enthusiasm and commitment of the Hammersmith members
  • The esprit de corps generated throughout the club both in the build up and on the day. It is amazing what you can achieve when you work together
  • The unifying nature of chess in action! Chess proved to be a common language across all nationalities, races and religions
  • Our Chairman Bajrush playing, and losing, to a four-year old girl watched on by her delighted mother and grandmother. Did he fall or was he pushed??
  • The number of people who told us we should be doing this every week
  • Perhaps most importantly, the money we were able to raise for MIND – pushing £400 at the last count – truly amazing!!
Three generations… and Bajrush!

So, on reflection the day was a huge success for all concerned. In fact, we are holding a club Open Evening on 15th May as a follow-up for the people who expressed interest in chess, and our club.

There were also many learnings from the day, which of course we’ll address as we move forward. The overwhelming feedback is that this should become an annual event!

We must thank Mark and the ECF for their help and guidance, the members of the Club who gave up their time for a game they love, and Hammersmith MIND, whose participation gave the event an added and welcome focus!

Some more of our favourite photos below, plus many more on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011647381730


April Updates

Several updates for you today…

Firstly – you will hopefully all be well aware that we are going to be in Lyric Square, Hammersmith town centre this coming Saturday 29th, from 10.30am to 4pm, playing chess and having lots of fun in aid of a fantastic cause – supporting Hammersmith & Fulham MIND, a mental health charity.

The response from members has been great and we’ll be out in numbers, with lots of people volunteering for the whole day alongside other members who’ll be turning up throughout the day. If you don’t already have plans on Saturday, come down and join in!

We’ll be playing games against the public, Phil is organizing some Chess Swap(!), we have the fabulous Lateefah Messam-Sparks with us – she’ll be organizing some events with children, and there may even be a simultaneous in the mix. Spread the word, and come on down!!

26.04.17 – London League 3 Update: Hot off the Press!!!

My fellow Hammerites – sensational news that Hammer 3 has retained Division 3 status in the London League!

Objective for the season achieved with one game still to go, and despite the loss of half a match point due to defaults.

I want to thank all the players who turned out for the team this season. This is all down to you and the great esprit de corps that runs through our chess club.

Yet, in the midst of it all there is a slight tinge of regret. Hammer lost so many matches by the odd point/half-point, and if the roll of the dice had been different we would be in a real promotion battle.

We lost 5 matches by 0.5 or 1 point. With the exception of the first match of the season against Cavendish we were very competitive, despite being outgraded on many evenings. The truth be told, the margins between where we ended up and where we could have ended was very fine. It came down to maybe seven individual games over the season.

This gives us real hope for next season and achieving promotion to Division 2 as a realistic goal.

Roll on 2017-18 season, and go Hammer!!!


25.04.17 – London League 5: Greater London v Hammersmith

History is said to repeat its lessons on the inattentive or unprepared.

Yes, the result was a repeat of our last score against Greater London, 1.5 – 2.5 back in October 2016.

The only consolation is that our opponents had some 40 points over us in grading points across 4 boards this time around.

Board 4 with the white pieces saw Chris opening with the English and an early Rook to Rac1 in itself, a good omen actually. Suddenly white had trapped his opponent’s Queen on the a-file and resignation followed. Chris has a daunting attacking style with lightning moves one after another. Well done Chris!

Board 1 saw John Woolley with a super-sold Sicilian and a draw agreed, when no pawn break could be attempted.

The captain, black on board 3, had no real opening that could be recognized against standard 1.e4, perhaps the point of it, as it all came down to skill rather than opening knowledge… After an early sally on the castled King, black was unable to maintain pressure, and after trading Queens with Knights, with a view to setting a trap that white easily circumvented, black ended up with 2 isolated pawns and one doubled-pawns – not lost, but not very pretty.

The game became a four-a-side football with 2 Bishops and 2 Rooks opposing each other. With play on both sides, the middle game could have gone either way. White’s dawn raid became inevitable and he launched a Rook on the 7th, supported by 2 Bishops mating attack.

Black loses a Rook to avoid the mate. Enter white’s e-pawn into the field of carnage, which is pushed to the 6th… leaving black with no option but to capitulate.

David on board 2 had an advanced variation of the French to deal with. On the face of it, white had a nice pawn centre up to the 5th with the e-pawn on point. White seemingly had an advantage, but not sustainable.

After simplification to a Bishop versus a Knight, and many pawns, the ending became highly technical, with a draw in the offing. After board 3 went down, however, David surrendered also, material down.

Congratulations to Chris on a magnificent win!