League Season Update – April 2024

The 2023/24 Season is reaching its crucial stage, and many of our teams have been doing well and fighting for the top stop at their respective League Table. With 15 different teams across 4 Leagues and 12 Divisions, there is still a lot to play for! We bring an update on how we’ve been doing and what to look forward to.

Team Stats and Ranks:

So far, 98 Hammersmith members have taken part of League Matches this season, playing a total of 765 games and scoring 423.5 points (55%). We’re hoping a few more newer members will join a team so we can make it to 100 before the season ends!

As for team stats, below are our standings and scores for each of them:

Notice many of them currently sitting on the top 3, with special mention to Hammersmith 1 who have already become Champions of Middlesex League Division 2 with a few matches to spare, and Hammersmith 2 securing first place on Central London League Division 3, with one final match remaining (Wanstead vs Battersea) where the former could catch us at the top – though we trust the tiebreaks will work in our favour. Congrats and big thanks to both Luke and Nick, respectively, on captaining these teams.

We also have good chances to win the trophy for the third time in 4 years in the Thames Valley League, where we are currently tied for first alongside defending champions Kingston with one more match to be played for each team – make sure to contact Bajrush if you want to take part in the final match against Maidenhead on Monday 29th of April.

Another team with good chances to end up at the top is Hammersmith 3 (Middlesex League Division 3), trying to catch up with Willesden and Brent, who started slow (2 draws and a loss) and then went on a furious rampage with 9 wins in a row. Even then, Hammer 3 has won all their matches against other clubs so far, and keeps chances to win the league by doing well in the last 3 games.

Last but not least is the remarkable campaign of Hammersmith 2 (London League Division 3), where competition has been extremely tough and several teams are still in contention: the unis UCL and KCL have had tremendous seasons and are currently tied at the top with 16 points. Hammer 2 could overtake them by winning our remaining 2 matches – but one of them is against Lewisham who could also get promoted if they don’t drop any more points in the rest of the season, so we can expect them to bring their very best.

Notable Upcoming Fixtures

In addition to the aforementioned match against Maidenhead where we’ll try to win the Thames Valley League, there are plenty other matches to look forward to!

Next Tuesday (16th April), our Women’s team will be facing Lewisham at the Mindsports Centre, where a win would take us to second place behind the runaway leaders London Universities. We are hoping to be able to use our DGT board to livestream the game and provide commentary from some Hammer players – stay tuned for more details.

A week after that (23rd April), our First team will be playing our hardest match of the year against the unstoppable Wood Green – champions of the London League every season since 2002/03. We will also use our DGT board, but we are hoping people can show up in person and support the team, there will be a commentary room at the MSC where we will analyse the game and try to get into the mind of a strong GM – an amazing chance to hear how experienced players come up with ideas during their games, don’t miss it!

There will be many matches as well during the month of May, that will help clarify the situation in most of the Leagues and Divisions, and only a handful to be played in June. While it still depends on other results over the next few weeks, there is great anticipation already for our very last match of the season: Lewisham 2 vs Hammersmith 2 (11th June)! If both teams win their remaining matches, then the result of this encounter will decide the promotion to Division 2 of the London League (while a draw could mean UCL will be the team getting promoted!).

Crowds gathering to watch Lewisham vs Hammersmith at Leadenhall Market last March

Lewisham has had a fantastic season so far, with their first team in Division 1 beating strong clubs such as Hackney and Cavendish, and they’ve shown strong results in other Leagues they play in. This undoubtedly strengthens the competitive landscape of London Chess and we look forward to high quality games in what could be the SuperBowl of Division 3!

Game of the Season Award

Like we did last year, we will be awarding the best game of the season played by a Hammersmith member with our favourite GM, Danny King, selecting the winner and publishing a video with his analysis of the best game. Getting your game analysed by a fantastic commentator such as Danny is a great honour and we encourage everyone to send in their most entertaining game of the season – please contact Gaston with your submission (highly preferable in .pgn format or text notation rather than a photo of the scoresheet). Please also include the date and teams involved, if you can.

We hope everyone has enjoyed the season so far and wish our players good luck in the remaining matches!



Champions of Middlesex Chess League Division 2

We are Champions!!

Yesterday the team travelled to Muswell Hill to play our 4th away match of the season. It was an important match as we had the knowledge that a win would make us champions with 3 matches to spare. There were unfortunately also many issues with team selection, as we were short of players until the day before the match, and one of the selected players found himself unwell on the day and needed a quick substitution.

Thankfully Sohum Lohia helped us solve the former issue by volunteering to play, and Christof Brixel stood in at very short notice (noon on the day) to replace the player who couldn’t play. I really appreciate Sohum and Christof for volunteering themselves ahead of this important match, especially in view of the remote location of the playing venue.

The match unfortunately didn’t start well as one of our players defaulted. However, Sohum and myself got very strong positions early in our games, and converted our advantages. Congrats also to Sohum for scoring his first win for this team. Christof then won a sharp game sending us to 3-1, so we required only one more half-point to secure our title. Eventually, Greg Billenness was the hero who scored the win to push us over the finishing line, making us the champions of the 2023-24 season of Middlesex League, Division 2! Finally, Carsten Pedersen rounded the match off in an adventurous game on the top board. As a result, we prevailed 5-1 with 5 wins, and with that our quest to be division champions culminated in success. Detailed match results are below or at this link.

With this result, we scored 9 wins out of our 9 matches (so far), which means we are champions with 3 matches to spare. The league table can be found below or at this link.

We currently have 18 match points, while no other team in the league could obtain more than 17 points even if they win all of their remaining matches. Managing 9 wins in a row has been an impressive feat, which only because of our players’ contribution was possible. Several players, including Zain Patel, Lazar Lukic, Raman Vashisht-Pigem, Maria-Alexandra Ciocan, Alexander Freeland and Paul Kennelly impressively made perfect scores in their games for this team, while players Carsten, Christof, Tom Townsend (4 games), Grigoris Sklavounos, Greg Billenness and Paul Kennelly contributed massively to our season playing many matches. Special mentions go to Chris Skulte, Tom and Christof who helped with captaining duties at (just) a few of our matches where I was late or unavailable, and Adam Cranston, who despite having never played for this team, managed some of the correspondence with ECF LMS.

The only team picture we have from a match night… we should really take some more photos…

There were also some players who scored especially important or notable results, such as Carsten, who scored the decisive victory at our away match against Metropolitan, by far our closest match of the season which we prevailed only with a tight score of 3.5-2.5; Chris, who won an important game in our close away match against Harrow Juniors back in December; Ceferino Gonzales, who took a draw in a better position in the aforementioned match against Harrow Juniors to secure our match victory; and Gaston Franco, who last week scalped a notable (home) win against Harrow Juniors’ Bodhana Sivanandan, the reigning champion of the World Youth U8 Chess Championship (Girls category). Also I must thank the players who had to replace other players at short notice, especially for matches away at remote venues, and in several cases under awful weather as well. These players include Marco Gallana and Ceferino who kindly volunteered to travel to Harrow for our aforementioned away match in December, and Sohum and Christof whose contribution in yesterday’s match was invaluable and deeply appreciated. However, it must be said that all other players contributed massively to our success this season, a perfect run is the perfect substantiation of both the ability and dedication of all of our team members. Even the smallest mishap or distraction could ruin a perfect run, but all our players managed to keep our focus right from the beginning until the end, racking up match wins after wins after wins. An impressive number of 23 different players have featured at least once in our matches. I can’t overemphasise how much I appreciate how much all our players have contributed to the team, not just by playing but also in other ways, e,g. with administrative duties, or by participating in interesting discussions in the WhatsApp group which have (arguably) helped enhance the team’s morale :D.

Example morale building post…

Players who contributed should pat yourself on the back, this team could never have achieved this much without you, and please let it be known that you have this captain’s gratitude and appreciate for what you have done. More detailed player stats can be found below, or at the link this link.

With this, the summary of our quest to be champions is concluded. Thank you all for your time.

Luke Lau
Proud Captain of Hammersmith 1, Middlesex League Division 2 Champions

League Season Update – January 2023

Happy New Year to all our members and friends! As the 2022-23 season reaches its halfway point, we would like to share an update on how our teams have been doing so far.

As of the 15th of January, our 17 teams have played in 72 matches, which means over 400 games of chess for our members! Around 90 different players have joined the competition proudly representing Hammersmith Chess Club and have shared a lot of fun -the kind you only get on team matches – and there’s still more to come!

Below is a list of the current standings for all of our teams. Many of them are sitting in the top 3 in their respective divisions and keep good chances to take the title:

Special thanks go to all our Captains who do a lot of work to ensure we get good lineups for every match, and to Club Captain Robin Sarfas who always assists on the coordination, especially whenever we have more than one match on the same night.

If you haven’t had the chance to play this season yet, or if you are a new member of the club, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with a team captain and try to get involved – it’s a great way to get to play high quality games and a chance to improve your rating (or to get your first one!). We have teams of all strengths and everyone is more than welcome to join. Please have a look at the Calendar to see if there is an upcoming match you would like to participate in.


Cyclonic Win for Hammersmith Hedger

Our Hedger team visited Greater London Chess Club at their home in Little Russel Street near Holborn earlier this month, for our second game in 2020.

As usual our friends at GLCC welcomed us very warmly and made us feel at home, maybe too much!

It all started on board 2, where Nick Rutherford (aka Triple X) did a very quick job. All I was able to see was Mr.X updating the match sheet with a nice “1” for Hammer. Like usual, when Triple X does not make any big mistakes, all remained very quiet and calm until you hear a big SIGH of relief indicating a victory!

Then board 1, where Dave Lambert (aka Toffee) delivered the point as well. In a typical Caro game, Toffee played white and managed to keep the advantage, preventing any counter attack until black had nothing left to do.

A Charming Pair – Toffee and Triple X ready for action

Next, board 4, where your man (aka Il Consiliatore) was facing a tough experienced player rated not less than 40 ECF points higher. I was able to avoid mistakes and take advantage during the middle game and early endgame. Then the clock started taking a toll on both sides, and I have to say that with my 28…Ng4? I sent the night away from the action and my position suffered a bit. My opponent started repeating moves and a draw was agreed down the line on move 34. Still, a good result for me and a very good game.

Hylands v Osseiran:

But the defining game of this match was on board 3. Clouds were gathering for our player Javier Silvarrey (aka Cyclone), as he found himself in a difficult situation down a Bishop early in the game. But any weather scientist will tell you how a cyclone sucks the pressure away from where it hits. Move by move, Cyclone aggressively and stubbornly disintegrated the opponents pressure, and finally the clock helped Black collapse, delivering the final win to the Hedger team. Unfortunately the most interesting part of this game was not written down as time was at a premium! But the crowd held their breath watching this cyclonic ending.

The man of the moment – Cyclone nears the endgame!

Silvarrey v Scott:

Great chess entertainment!!

Final score 3.5-0.5 to Hammer, and four unbeaten boards against a strong and respectable opponent.

Let’s continue like this for the rest of the season!

Hammer Hodgson Update

On Friday 31st Jan, Hammer Hodgson took on Morley College in London League Division 5. Although we managed to retain our *unbeaten* run, our perfect record of wins was ended as we barely escaped with a 2-2 draw.

Reminiscent of those football matches where one team gets a player sent off in the first 5 minutes, we had begun the evening with high hopes and Morley on the back-foot after defaulting their top board due to a late withdrawal of one of their players. 1-0 to the Hammers.

However, straightforward wins were not to be the theme of the night, as Morley staged an improbably comeback in the remaining games.

On Board 2, Rahulan was having a tricky game, under pressure in the opening after an early attack in the Goring Gambit and then reeling after his opponent uncorked 6.Bxf7, disrupting his Kingside castling, regaining his sacrificed piece and building a dangerous initiative. Showing typical hammer grit, Rahulan managed to trade Queens, fight back and equalise, but made a mistake later in the game. 1-1

On Board 4, Javier, playing his French Defence, had a pleasant positional advantage over his opponent for most of the game, but just couldn’t find the decisive hammer-blow to end resistance. In the efforts to press for a win, he somehow managed to allow his opponent to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. This is a story that happens to us all. 2-1 to Morley.

Nick Rutherford on Board 4 played his customary English opening, won a piece with good tactical vision early on, and then never let his opponent back into the game, grinding out a good result. 2-2

It was probably a fair result, as we didn’t fully take our chances, but East Ham have now caught us at the top of the league. Our set of games are likely to be crucial if we want to stand a chance of promotion this year. So, please let me know if you are available in our fixtures across March, April and May.

Our next match is on 19th February against Football Radar. If you haven’t already done so, please let me know if you would like to be considered for those/any fixtures coming up:

  • 19 Feb – Football Radar, Citadines 18:45
  • 4th Mar – Kings Head, Citadines 18:45

Onwards and upwards!

Other crucial remaining fixtures:

  • 7th Apr – Battersea (Cats), Battersea Labour Club 19:30
  • 6th May – East Ham, Citadines 18:45
  • 27th May – Hackney, Citadines 18:45


Lightning Strikes Twice in London Division 4

Quick on the heels of our victory over their 4th team, we visited Metropolitan’s home venue to take on their big brother in the form of Metropolitan 3. The grades were higher but the result was the same: a 6-2 WIN for Hammer.

Full scorecard below; a clean sweep of the top 4 boards, with honours even on the lower boards.

In fairness to Metro 3, they’re a stronger team than they showed on the night and we found ourselves slightly fortunate to out-grade them across the boards, which of course gave us a crucial advantage. Nevertheless, their captain Giovani was extremely complimentary of our team, and wished us well in our promotion charge.

The first five games to finish all went in our favour which meant the match result never looked in doubt. Eddy was the first to finish – not for the first time it has to be said – playing an expansive, attacking game with White creating more complications than his opponent could deal with. He quickly seized material advantage and claimed the win. I think he was just keen to get stuck into some Blitz in the foyer outside personally. Eddy’s on 100% for the team with 2 wins out of 2.

Christof also shares that honour, and is proving a dangerous foe on top board. In this match-up, his pressing forced some passive play from his opponent, allowing a devastating attack to flourish on the king-side. It was too much to hold without giving up significant material, which would otherwise have been enough to secure victory, but Christof preferred a thematic mate instead. Full game here:

The score was further flattered with wins from Liam, Adam and Paul on the higher boards. I didn’t get to see much of the action here, but wasn’t surprised to see them bringing home the bacon for the side; all 3 extremely reliable players who add a lot to the side.

Brian rounded off the victories with what he describes as a swindle in the O’Kelly variation of the Sicilian. Looks legit to me. I wouldn’t mind a couple of those ‘swindles’ coming my way.

The first faller was your captain on Board 8 – easily one of the most frustrating matches I’ve played. My opponent offered me the free capture of a Knight on g5 with the outstretched h-pawn, sacrificing the material for a dangerous attack. After a lot of thought, I took the Knight and calculated I could repel the attack. And that’s exactly what happened, but it burnt a lot of my time, and when I finally emerged unscathed – and it looked like the threat was over – I immediately blundered a crucial pawn completely changing the dynamic of the game (+6.0 to -7.5). Disaster.

Keeping us from the pub at the end was Jon, who found himself a pawn down in a tricky Rook / Pawn endgame. It was tricky, but was one of those that could have been held with a bit more time to think through the complexities. Alas, time wasn’t a luxury in Jon’s favour and his opponent skilfully worked a passed-pawn and that was that. 6-2

A final word for Adam and Eddy who both answered a last-minute request to play, each taking home the full point to boot. It was very much appreciated, and really shows the benefit of having a strong squad who are willing to pull out the stops to help the team.

The result leaves us in 3rd place overall, behind Battersea and DHSS who you have to say have looked impressive thus far. Next up for us is a tricky tie against Lewisham, where we hope our good form can continue. We need a victory there to keep up the pressure.

Long live Hammer.

Hammer and the Holy Grail pt. I

29.05.19 – London League Division 2: Hammersmith vs. Dulwich

Taking the liberty of mis-quoting a verse from one of my favourite old hippy songs:

“Following our fortune now the holy grail is found,
And the holy bread of div one it is given all around,
Farewell sorrow, praise god the open door,
We ain’t got no home in the Division two world no more”

(Ducks on a Pond. The Incredible String Band, from the legendary 1968 album “Wee Tam”.)

Certainly, there has been more than a zany hint of Monty Python, or perhaps more aptly, of the Pickwick Club at times in following Hammers LL Division 2 adventures this season.

Whether your scribe is more Alfred Jingle than Mr. Pickwick I leave for the reader to judge, as in characteristic vein we approached the final round of matches tied for the second promotion spot with the venerable Metropolitan Chess Club, that quintessentially “establishment” LL Club, about as different in every way you could imagine from the brash upstarts of Lytton Hall.

With 9 match points each, 73 game points apiece (following the adjournment heroics of Marios and Bajrush in our rout of Cavendish) and a tied individual match, we all feverishly consulted the obscure LL rulebook to discover that Board Count was the final tiebreak method. The finest mathematical and legal minds of the Hammertime WhatsApp group then set to work deciphering what this arcane system actually entails.

Apparently it favoured the good guys.

Continuing our Dickensian theme – it was the best of club chess, it was the worst of club chess, as now began the week of intrigue that future chess historians will debate and analyse ad infinitum.

What had happened to the result of Metropolitan v Wanstead? The LL website and management committee maintained a frosty silence. Wanstead were not available for comment. Had Metropolitan devised a plan so cunning that you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel? Secret negotiations spanning five continents, the corridors of Whitehall and even the watering holes of the city, could not prise out the result for love nor money. Twitter banter, classic memes and all sorts of fake news did the rounds.

The unanswered, half-remarkable question, as El Loco and his troops assembled last Wednesday at Citadines at 6:50 prompt: Had the chess Maginot Line held, or did Hammer manage to carve a metaphorical route through the Low Counties and establish what score they needed against Dulwich to secure a historic promotion?

Pt. II to follow with the answers…

The Champions!

Yes, my fellow Hammerites, your eyes do not deceive you – Hammer has won its first Division 1 title in its 57th year. It has been a long wait, but boy is it worth it!

Cue “We are the Champions” by Queen, copious amounts of fizz and congratulations all round!

Under the superb captaincy of Captain Wily (aka. Bajrush), Hammer sewed up the Thames Valley Division 1 Championship on a glorious night last month, befittingly at the Anvil.

In a dramatic match against Ealing, Hammersmith ran out 5.5-2.5 winners to convincingly win the title. Just take a look at the final table – it is simply fantastic:

A score of nearly 88% in match points – 10 wins, 1 draw, and a solitary defeat – this was a season of domination by the Hammers in a tough division. This is a definite new high for our club.

The match card looked like this:

In honour of this great achievement, here are some of the games from that exciting night.

Board OneRyszard playing like only Ryszard can:

Board TwoThomas the “T-Bone” in awesome form:

Board EightJim tearing up the Smith-Morra:

Chris scored the vital point to secure the victory and was followed by Tony Niccoli (“The Surgeon“) winning a long game – Hammer at 5.5-0.5 – the losses for Wily and the Great Dane did not figure.

I have to say that Carsten deserved a lot more than a cruel loss in time trouble. Bajrush had one of those nights we all want to forget about at the board.

However, those defeats did not dampen the joy of victory and a huge squad effort – Captain Wily had two bottles to share out and boy did they not last! We then retired to the Albion to continue the celebrations well into the night.

Hammer has come of age!!!

Charity Begins at… Lyric Square, this weekend!

The 3rd Annual Hammersmith MIND Charity Day – Saturday 11th May 2019

As the football (and chess!) seasons draw to an exciting end, it’s time again for the annual Hammersmith Chess Club charity jamboree in Lyric Square – where HCC takes chess to the public, in association with Hammersmith & Fulham MIND, to raise awareness and money for a great cause!

We’ll be setting our stall out in Lyric Square, the heart of Hammersmith town centre, and taking on all-comers to drum up support for a worthy cause.

It’s one of the highlights of the year for our club, and a fantastic way to combine chess, charity, and a bit of socializing, whilst raising the profile of MIND and Hammersmith Chess Club in the local community.

We’ll be there from 11am through to about 4pm, so if you’d like to come along and volunteer your chess services, we’d be very grateful. Whether it’s for 30 minutes or 3 hours, your involvement is valuable and much appreciated!

John is organizing, so please drop him an email if you’re keen to get involved in any way – john.white49@ntlworld.com

We look forward to seeing you there!

Hammer B v Kingston B

23.04.19: Thames Valley League Division 3 – Hammer v Kingston

This match was Kingston’s return grudge match, and for  a while I thought we could win it. It was truly no-holds-barred contest, and both protagonists walked off the field wounded, but still alive, with thumbs up from noble Caissa, and standing spectators! No draws in sight, all wins or losses, very unusual . But then, chess can be strange like that.

Fine wins were recorded by maestri C.Brixel, M.Bezzini, and J.Hoong. Bad luck to juniors Nadhmi Auchi (a promising attack with minor piece sacrifice and open g-file fizzled out) and Amaya MacDonald (fell to knight fork early on, but the Surrey captain of the U120 team was 3 pieces and finally a Queen up and avoided the stalemate trick). Our top boarder, P.Kennelly adjourned after a promising attack also fizzled out and two pawns down, he resigned overnight, very sporting.

Christof on board 2, with the black pieces commented:

“There was no exchange of an piece for the first 18 moves. Then the Kingston opponent grabbed a (poisoned) pawn and it was game over in 5 moves.” Brilliant!

Matteo on board 4 looked about equal with a rook each, and par on pawns. Something happened, because when I looked back 5 minutes later he had 2 passed linked pawns, and capitulation came. Word is he is at least 10 points better than his grade, maybe 160-170 territory.

Jonathan on board 5 with the white pieces said he opened with a Scotch Gambit, a double-edged opening but then it got locked up. However he waited patiently, redeploying his heavy pieces and bishops, and his attack was overwhelming, soon enough. Nice!

Final score: 3-3

In our two match home and away summary between ourselves and Kingston, we scored 1 win and 1 draw. I’ll rate that as a creditable success!