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!

Robin.

 

April Updates from Planet Hammer

Welcome dear readers – it’s been a while! Please read on for a slew of match updates, and the conclusion of this Season’s Hammersmith League!

The North London Trilogy – March 2019 – Disaster and Foundation

This is a painful report that has been delayed by your correspondent as it was truly a case of March madness. This report from Middlesex 2 and 1 sectors, makes grim reading and is a tough one to put down on paper let alone a website.

Hammer 2 took on Muswell Hill 2 and Hendon 3 in bruising encounters whilst the ray of light was shone by Middlesex 1 – in a bloodthirsty encounter with a real powerhouse Hendon 1 – in possibly the most heroic performance since Horatius defended the Pons Sublicus in the 6th Century AD. Total Clueless hyperbole you may say, but wait and read the full report.

Furthermore, the use of Foundation in the title of this report is a nod to the Foundation Trilogy written by Isaac Asimov and arguably the most influential Sci-Fi series ever written. The story of the Foundation being the shining light preserving knowledge and science as a decaying imperial empire unwinds, contrasts very well with the Hammer and Hendon chess clubs. I leave you to decide which is which.

Middlesex 2 needed a win against Muswell Hill to keep up in the battle against relegation. As you can see from the scorecard we just fell short. It was a tough night for the Hammers and the result was in doubt right down to the last seconds of the final game to finish.

First to the Hammer heroes – Javier S and Paul M – both played great games with Javier allowing zero counter-play whilst gradually squeezing his opponent – it was a commanding performance. Paul M played a model endgame and was able to convert his plus pawn advantage into a good technical win.

There were draws for Eddy, Neil and Captain Clueless. The first two played very solidly and were never in danger, whilst Clueless overlooked a queen manoeuvre in the Scotch which might have yielded a win – such is chess.

Tough losses for both Charlie and Javier G with the latter though a pawn down, had the initiative and all the pressure. Due to my own game I did not see what happened but it was sudden and hence I can only put it down to an error on Javier’s part, it was just one of those games.

Charlie decided to be aggressive form the start and was launching his K-side pawns up the board against the castled white King. A tactic much utilised by our beloved Chairman. Unfortunately, his King was not safe and his opponent took full advantage – Charlie was left with a passive position and little could be done to save the day.

The most impressive performance of the night was that of Paul K – aka “Dead Eye” – he played a game that reminded me of Fischer in the second game of the 1992 rematch with Spassky. Through sheer gutsy defence and tenacity, he emerged a pawn up in an endgame which saw white with rook, bishop and knight versus Paul’s two knights.

Dead-Eye gradually improved his position and started the march of his passed pawns – alas the position was so complicated he consumed too much time on his clock. I think there was a study-like win there, but would have required a Magnus Carlsen to find it. In the end searching for the firebird, our man went down in flames – he was so unlucky.

The second encounter that week saw the Hammer 2 team travel to a nemesis of ours – Hendon 3. Clueless could not attend and Brian stepped into the breach and took control of the team. This was the grimmest of nights where the Hammer heroes were out-graded on average by approximately 40 points a board.

The score-card tells the story – a really tough night for Hammer 2 – no disguising it.

All I can say is I feel your pain and was frustrated not to be there.

The only way to respond to this is to move on – we and especially Captain Clueless, will do better next time.

The ray of sunshine was the following scorecard from Middlesex – Hammer 1 lead by the legend that is Zeus.

The Hammer crew took on the winners of the Middlesex League for the last eight season – Hendon 1. Just take a look at the score-card – Hammer were out-graded by 44 points a board – Hendon fielded two of England’s top 15 players on the top two boards.

Zeus had trouble getting a full team out – Sorted and Clueless answered the call to arms, yet we came within a half point of drawing the match – and in some ways we should have won it.

There were huge wins for Carsten, Bajrush and Zeus – all three downing opponents whose ECF rating is something you do not see every day of the week.

One of the abiding memories of the night is the sight of all seven Hammer players surrounding the board as Carsten found his way to a deserved win. This was real Hammer spirit from the lads and a stellar performance from Carsten. This is what makes a club and a team – you could feel the collective will in the room. There was only the non-playing captain from the Hendon side to urge their man on. To me, that is what Hammer is all about.

Please forgive the scarcity on detail here but my game was totally absorbing and demanding.

Board One saw Chris take on GM John Hawkins, British Chess Champion from 2015, despite downing an IM in the last 4NCL weekend, this was a bridge too far for Chris. He was also unwell and answered the call to arms despite that – he is a true Hammer and Tiger blood.

Board 2 saw Thomas lose on time to an IM rated 247 – the fact was he had made it to a drawn position – he was so unlucky. Unreal performance.

Our Great Dane on board 3 just won by accumulating pawns – he harvested well and scored a superb win.

Bajrush, played a dream of end0game where his opponent was relying on error to save the day. Wily was just so technically right and scored a decisive win – just brilliant.

Sylvain, was also under time pressure and it cruelly robbed him of a deserved draw – he was so unlucky.

Zeus on board 6 was in his best form – he basically won at a canter. It was superb – Hammer at this stage were level on the scoreboard.

Charlie was out-graded by 60 points, he defended the black side in a French and although two pawns down put up a great fight. He did Hammer proud.

Clueless on board seven should have won – the fact he did not has haunted him for the past 8 days. I basically outplayed a guy graded 58 points higher than me – this was possibly the best chess I have ever played. I was gutted that all I achieved was a draw – but it was a pure failure of technique. This was the position:

I thought I could win by chopping the rook off and grabbing the pawn – then I would gain the opposition and Queen my pawn – I was so wrong. Put it into Stockfish and see how the brain wins it.

This Middlesex 1 result was probably the best performance by any Hammer team in our 57-year history – we put in an average team rating of 216 across all eight boards – amazing.

Hammer is going in the right direction – doing it the right way – our best days are ahead of us. Our new tagline on the web site is “More than a chess club” – this is what we are.

Hammer Royalty enjoying the delights of the Duke of Cornwall after the Hendon 3 encounter.

So there is light in this report and possibly the start of something very special. Captain Clueless urging all Hammers to stay true and keep the faith.

1st April 2019 – Staines A vs Hammersmith B

This match took place in a very prosperous part of Surrey, in Egham – read on about our adventures there!

A country walk that is quite remarkable is that from Egham to Runnymede, where the Magna Carter was signed. Egham is a satellite hamlet a few miles from Staines, that has accumulated much wealth over the years as a prosperous commuter centre to Londinium.

We welcome Christof Brixel who debuts to our team in this match, on board one. Here are his comments:

“It was not a fairly tale start of my retirement and of my first game for Hammersmith.

It was not as I envisaged, losing in 3 tough hours when my opponent avoided all mating tricks (or I didn’t find the ultimate winner)”

The critical moment in his game follows: can white win?

Nadhmi had the black pieces on board 2. His opponent was FIDE-rated, ex-Olympiad and a chess coach, according to credible sources. Nadhmi’s mum takes up the story:

“She played the London system and developed a strong centre… eventually Nadhmi broke the centre open and laid a trap… she fell for a fork, losing the exchange. The end game was rook and 3x pawns for Nadhmi, against a Rook; it was won, when she flagged.”

Nadhmi said afterwards that he used time to his advantage, he had at least 10 minutes more than her by the end of the game and at times during the game up to 25 minutes more than her early on.

Well done! Everybody else draw, although Jonathan had adjourned first.

We went down to the wire this match and lost by one point: Staines 3.5 – 2.5 Hammer B.

Had I planned properly and got a proper train ticket, and had I beaten the kid with under e100 rating, we might have won, so I award myself the “wooden spoon”.

9th April 2019 – Hammersmith B vs. Staines A

Another week, another report, but why Hercules? Read on…

Hercules, son of the Greek God, Zeus, is turned into a half-god, half-mortal by evil Hades, God of the Underworld, who plans to overthrow Zeus. Hercules is raised on Earth and retains his god-like…

Although he was seen as the champion of the weak and a great protector, Hercules’ personal problems started literally at birth. Hera sent two witches to prevent the birth, but they were tricked… Hera then sent serpents to kill him in his cradle, but Hercules strangled them both!!

Welcome to Andrew Macdonald, a junior who debuts in the team this season.

We had black on top board. First to finish was board 6, Andrew who eclipsed his guy in record time using a 2 piece combo attack to win a rook early on. Nice!

Then came Jonathan Hoong with a draw, about an hour later, from a symmetric rook and minor piece and pawns each, not surprising. Score 1.5-0.5

Then came John White against a seasoned FIDE rated player, S.Schmitt on board 3. Looking about equal for a long time, having 2 doubled rooks in play, perhaps John was winning. But then the rooks got separated, and his opponent got prolonged checks on 7th and 8th ranks with a rook and bishop which John doggedly defended without being mated and without pawn loss.

Eventually though, a pair of rooks were swapped, and pawns were lost, John’s lone rook had an uphill battle against a bishop and 2 or 3 linked passed pawns, one of which queened and he was forced to resign. Score all square at 1.5-1.5

Paul Kennelly had a very tough game but had the edge, down to the wire with minutes to go, right at the end, his opponent somehow left his rook en pris, possibly with Paul having an intermezzo check. He immediately resigned on losing the rook. Well done Paul! 2.5-1.5

Our two juniors Alexander Jamieson on board 1, and Nadhmi Auchi on board 3, got into long endgames that looked like wins, but were inconclusive at the end, a Herculean effort. I thought Nadhmi was winning for a while. Bad luck!

Alexander was facing the Staines captain on board 1, who never let any real advantage occur even in double extra time. Draws reluctantly agreed. Very sporting! 3.5-2.5

Congratulations to Paul K and Andrew M for their wins, which secured our  victory.

Hammersmith League – Round 5 – The Finale 2019

The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at The Anvil. The first four rounds had seen some bloodthirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts with three teams vying for the coveted title of Hammersmith Rapid League Champions.

The maths was simple: if Football Radar win, they would be crowned champions. If they lost, they could be overtaken by either Battersea or Tony’s Tigers. This was the perfect finale to the tourney.

A dramatic night unfolded once again… I invite you to read on.

The final round threw up the following match-ups:

  • Football Radar v Hackney
  • Battersea v Tony’s Tigers
  • Hammersmith v Tony’s Lions
Football Radar v Hackney

To be honest the Radar were in Fischer mode, not only did they sweep the Hackney crew aside but they did so in imperious form… just unstoppable. Great credit to Adam and his teammates, they really won the title in style.

The Radar were unbeaten – scoring 90% in the tourney and winning four matches, with one draw.

Our deserved champions – they have come a long way in less than two  years.

Battersea v Tony’s Tigers

The second match saw the potential challengers face off… Battersea and the Tigers… this was a match of two halves with Nadhmi and Gregg both pocketing two points each in powerful displays.

Battersea won the first round 3-1 but the Tigers reversed that in Round 2. A drawn match was the fair result, with both teams demonstrating great sportsmanship and tenacity.

I must single out Chris Rebbeck here, whose sportsmanship was of the highest quality. A total gent.

Hammersmith v Tony’s Lions

To the final match which was a real fight for honour. A close match ensued between the Hammers and the Lions.. this was the wooden spoon game. What followed was a fascinating match.

In the early kickoff, Amaya over-powered Charlie in both games with a real neat mating finish in game one. The second saw her more experienced technique carry the day. Hammer 2-0 up.

Connall and Ben completed their two drawn games at a rapid pace… the quality was there, it is just they did not hang around. Two draws on the top board.

Dave on Board 2 lost a piece early on to Kamrans and was always on the back foot. Somehow he swindled his way back in and won. I know he felt very guilty about it. It takes great strength of character to come back from that, but Kamran showed loads of it, to comfortably draw the second game.

Debut player Daniel played two excellent games against Nadim to score a 2-0 win… this was a great performance and made the final score 4.5-3.5

The final table:

 

Eventful at Hammersmith

Hammers – an update on some upcoming events & a match report from one of our Reporters of the Year! Read on…

The Grandmaster Danny King Evening -29th April 2019

Yes, the next blockbuster event, brought to you by 21st Century Hammer Chess Productions is an evening with GM Danny King – chess player, media start, author and all-round top bloke.

He will be, for one night only, holding forth at The Anvil – home of Hammersmith Chess Club. This will be another brilliant night for Hammer members. Read on for the juicy details…

The evening will be part lecture, and part question time.

Those of you who attended the Jon Speelman evening in February last year will know what an evening like this can do for your chess knowledge.

Hammer members attending will be asked to make a voluntary donation on the evening, but you must register prior to the 18th April, as we are limited to 50 people at Lytton Hall. So if you want to attend and guarantee your place, please let our PR Officer know via email – john.white49@ntlworld.com

Please note: WhatsApp or text messages will not count!

If there are spare places after the 18th April it will be opened up to Non-Hammer members at a cost of £7.

Hammers – it’s over to you!!

MIND Day – 11th May 2019

Yes, the Hammer chess club’s major community event is coming up, celebrating it’s THIRD anniversary! This is an amazing day where the Hammers boss Lyric Square for the day, introducing the general public to our brilliant game, and raising money for Hammersmith MIND, not to mention further enhancing the camaraderie of the club!

In the last two years we have raised over £1,200 for MIND and recruited a number of new members – this all happens because of the volunteer mentality endemic in all Hammer members.

Hammersmith MIND will also be there, and coincidentally it is the weekend before Mental Health Awareness Week!

The day will cover the hours from 8.30am to 4.30pm. The timetable is as follows:

  • 8.30am – Meet at Lytton Hall to pickup chess equipment, tables and chairs
  • 9am – Setup in Lyric Square
  • 10am-4pm – Play chess against the general public and raise funds
  • 4pm-4.30pm – Breakdown and return kit to Lytton Hall
  • 4.30pm onwards – chess, beer and food in “The Albion”

This cannot happen without you volunteering – even for a couple of hours.

So, Hammers, it is time to clear the diary and get involved. Email the PR Office – john.white49@ntlworld.com – stating that you want to get involved, and what times you’re available for.

Two members have already volunteered, and the committee will step up as usual,  but we need the mass participation that we get every year to make this a day to remember – now it’s your turn!

Hammersmith MIND and Hammersmith Chess Club – together it makes sense.

18.03.19 – Thames Valley Division 3: Hammersmith v Wimbledon

Come what may… groan!, this was a draw 3-3, lessons to be learnt… please read on.

I thought we could get a positive indicated result, but our two juniors were to be cruelly done in.

Board 6 saw junior Amaya Macdonald quickly handed her King by a very experienced player who was fide rated 50 or 60 points her superior. 0-1

Board 5 saw Edward Goldman with the black pieces, facing an English opening with a Botwinick pawn structure. Eddie’s defence was actually an attack on the white trenches. White was strangely passive, dithering with his queen side pieces, never castling. Eddie attacked with 7 out of 8 pieces. A knight sac started the hunt, soon the white king was running bit couldn’t hide in the g1 corner. Carnage really, with a won end game but the opponent had had enough and resigned. Well done Eddie! Score 1-1

Board 4 saw a fine win also by Charlie Sturt who was seemingly losing to his opponent. Charlie on his back foot suddenly unleashed a 3 move combo attack on his opponents back row, with mate to follow. So it was the opponent who resigned and Charlie was triumphant! As Kingscrusher admonishes, paraphrasing Sun Tzu (The Art of War), “put yourself beyond defeat, before you attack“. Score 2-1

Board 2 was a hard fought struggle, indeed, by our second junior, Nadhmi Auchi. Nadhmi with the white pieces slowly increased his space advantage and looked to be winning. But as the expected finale came, and the clocks wound down, illegal moves were made under stress (discovered checks that were not announced) causing clock penalty. This happened first to Nadhmi’s opponent, but then immediately following to Nadhmi. He found he was a piece down and he resigned or lost on time. Bad luck! Score 2-2

For much of the evening, I saw Paul Kennelly concentrating fiercely on board 1, and he looked like he was in time trouble also. Just after Nadhmi’s game expired, Paul managed to get a magnificent draw against ex-Hammersmith veteran Yasser. We were lucky. Score 2.5-2.5

Board 3 saw an adjournment by John White, with the black pieces against an English opening, the Wimbledon captain arriving late, as in Strasbourg. But the adjournment was amicably settled as a draw almost immediately. And the match was drawn, score 3-3

You can see Edward Goldman’s win on board 5 here:

Conclusion:

This was a grudge match with Wimbledon, where previously we were crushed, this time we drew with a much stronger team on our Hammer side. So, a small success, which I’ll take anytime.

Match Analysis:

The rating  differential shows as zero on board 6, and the other boards are slightly heavier on the Hammersmith side. As we drew, Wimbledon may yet get credit with a point win, if rating differentials are used in closely matched season end results.

Hypothetically if the fide rated opponent’s rating using ecf equivalency were to appear on the score card rating differential, the point win might be reversed. That apparently is a big ask, but I mention this anyway.

R-Ealing from a Hammer Blow

Yes, stretching the fabric of acceptable punnage, we present here a recent match report from debut-correspondent, Kostis. Enjoy!

18.03.19 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith vs. Ealing

With four games to go in the Middlesex League and being at the top of the scoreboard, two points ahead of Willesden & Brent, the Hammers arrived at the Actonians Sports Club to play against Ealing, with no intention to negotiate.

It didn’t take more than an hour for the first two games to finish. Andrew managed a draw on board 3, followed by Paul shortly after on board 5 with a win after his opponent blundered from a position that was probably defendable. 1.5-0.5

Around ten minutes later, Jakub finished off his opponent in ‘rapid’ mode, going to a double rook endgame. Jakub played with confidence, blitzing his last several moves, which added even more pressure on his opponent, who had less than 10 minutes on his clock to Jakub’s 1hr 5mins! A rushed moving hoping to exchange both rooks and go into a pawn endgame, ended with Jakub a rook up instead. 2.5-0.5

Jakub’s game is presented here for your enjoyment:

A couple of boards down the order and things were starting to get clearer, with Ken bringing a second ‘lady’ into the game to finish in style. Ken made a mistake that could have cost him the game, but his opponent allowed him a counterattack which he executed precisely to secure our third full point. 3.5-0.5

Ken’s game follows:

On Boards 7 (Nick) and 8 (Javi), the games were almost over with both black sides up the exchange. Nick converted his advantage quickly, pushing his opponent’s pieces towards the King to deliver a deadly fork with his bishop, before shaking hands and securing the match for Hammersmith.

Javi stood his ground going to a rook vs knight endgame down the exchange. Unlucky! 4.5-1.5

Meanwhile on top board, Brian had an open position as black, having placed his knights in the middle of the board. After a couple of exchanges and a few tactical moves, a draw was agreed 5-2.

One game to go on board 2, with Jonathan having less than 3 minutes on his clock to his opponents 30+.

Carried away with the idea of running Jonathan’s clock down, his opponent missed a check-fork that would have wiped the White square Bishop off the board and instead grabbed the a2 pawn. 38 seconds on the clock and the material is “equal”, with Jonathan having a rook pair, a light squared Bishop and 3 pawns, to his opponents Queen, dark square Bishop and 4 pawns.

The game reached the position below with black to play and 3 seconds for Jonathan, who refused to drop his weapon.

Two blunders (…g3, Rd4+ Kg5, Kxg3 Qe5+) and Jonathan delivered the finishing blow to fork King and Queen with f4+ and one second on the clock. If only he had 20 seconds on the clock he could have even won the match (mate in 10). But saying that… his opponent would not have played so recklessly, as he was obviously focused on running him out of time, when he would have been better off using his advantage on the clock to outplay him – by probably chasing the rook and/or bishop over the board rather than the King.

A 5.5-2.5 win for Hammersmith then, and a very good chance of being promoted!

Kostis.

The Hammer Blitz!

A couple of thronking reports from the London League follow, but first up a reminder of Round II of our club Blitz Tourney!

4th March – Blitz Tourney, Round II

Yes, it only seems like yesterday that we had our inaugural Christmas round of the Blitz tournament, but Round II is already now upon us.

Save the date – 4th March 2019, Lytton Hall, 7.30pm

As ever, the rules are very simple:

  • First, you gotta be in it to win it.
  • Only the two best results from each of the three tourney’s count. In other words, if you play all three, you maximise your chances of being crowned champion.
  • It is a time handicap tourney, so if you are graded lower you may have up to 8 minutes to play the entire game, against the 2 minutes allocated to your higher-rated opponent.
  • This year, after a serious review of the scoring system, the following points will be awarded: First place: 1 point, Second place: 2 points, and so on. The overall winner of the competition will be the Hammer with the lowest score from the two tourneys that count. This will eliminate different entry numbers from the equation.
  • I would like to think (4) was my idea, but Ben – captain of LL Hammer 4 – is the source!
  • It will be a Swiss Tourney
  • It’s FREE for all Hammer Chess members

Good luck!

20.02.19 – London League Division 2: Hammersmith vs. Lewisham

And so to the much anticipated match with Lewisham. I had expected them to be at full strength, rather like King’s Head in our previous fixture, but in fact they arrived missing some key players. This gave us a comfortable 10/20 grading point advantage on the middle and lower boards, which ultimately proved decisive.

That’s with the benefit of hindsight. We also had some problems when Marios had to pull out a day before, and Bajrush just before kick off. Both absolutely faultlessly I must stress, due to work and family priorities, but still not ideal pre-match.

As it transpired we won the match relatively comfortably, 7.5-2.5, though my own games complexity prevented me seeing much of the action on the other boards. So based on what I was told in the pub afterwards:

Board 1Chris: another flawless strategic masterpiece from our “Achilles”. At least that’s what he told me… I guess he plays better than Brad Pitt anyway. Seriously, a fine battling game, pressurizing a strong opponent into some middle game errors. I couldn’t persuade him to annotate it though…

Board 2Thomas played his customary power positional game, although I believe his opponent had very good drawing chances in a R+3p vs. R+2p endgame.

Board 3Carsten had a good position but lost after a very uncharacteristic tactical oversight. It happens to the best. As we are into our Greek heroes at the moment at Hammer, can I say “even Homer nods.”.

Board 4 – I had been joking with our super-sub Charlie, that even though he was only on hand as a spectator, he should keep his boots at the ready. I had in mind Sylvain, who was scheduled to arrive back from Paris just before kick-off, but as it turned out Bajrush’s late emergency dragged Charlie in at the last minute. What a solid performance he produced, confidently drawing quickly with a strong opponent. A big boost for the team. See below for an unusual treatment against the French Defence:

Board 5 – As mentioned, Sylvain arrived straight from the airport right on 7pm. Alas, he erred right at the very end in a rook endgame, after a tremendous tussle. No wonder with seconds left after a long, tiring day. But I think such selfless devotion to the cause is worthy of the highest praise: the true Hammer spirit!

Board 6Paul McK, making a welcome return to the team, brushed his opponent aside with his customary blend of iron logic and sharp tactics.

Board 7 – Thanks to the persuasive powers of our Celtic Tigers Supremo, Showbag, we welcomed Rauno to the team for his long-awaited LL debut. He wasted no time in demonstrating his class, first to finish, dispatching his bewildered opponent with some crisp, accurate tactical blows.

Board 8 – I was involved in a long, dour positional battle, interesting in all three phases. My slip in the time scramble at the end gave my opponent a fleeting drawing opportunity, which fortunately for me, he missed. Curiously, it was 40 years to the day from when I played my first serious graded game, so it was nice to get the full point.

Board 9Alexander continues to impress, turning in another smooth, well controlled performance.

Board 10Paul K produced a solid performance to down a former Hammer.

So the dogs may bark outside, but the Hammer caravan rolls on. Three more wins and that elusive first division winning lottery ticket is ours.

My Spartan call to arms before the match, “Hammers – what is your profession?” certainly provoked a favourable response.

Jim.

21.02.19 – London League Division 5: Hammersmith vs. Cavendish

Cavendish are one of London’s grand old clubs, and it’s always a pleasure to play at their venue. They always provide a warm welcome, with complimentary refreshments on hand, and an impressive set of full-size wooden sets. Alas, reserved for their first team this time around but let’s not split hairs!

Dave was acting as temporary captain in Rich’s absence and it was his match which eventually secured the draw in deep time trouble. I’m afraid that key detail explains the brevity of the notes that follow! I didn’t get to see much of the action on the other boards.

Andrew continued his unbeaten run for the Majors with a draw on board 3, but couldn’t convert for the full point. A similar story was in store for Joe on board 4.

Making his debut in the London league, he played the far more pressing chess and secured a pawn advantage. It looked like he’d romp home, but he admitted to a mistake in the latter portions of the match and had to console himself with the spoils shared. Still, great experience getting stuck into a full match over the board. I’m sure he’ll be an asset to the club.

Charlie, recovering from his higher-division heroics the night before, was pitted against veteran of the LL circuit, Ben Finn. A player whose 120 grade seldom does him justice. In fact, he’s showing his true colours this season playing c.20 points in excess of that.

Our man sacrificed an early Knight to gain the upper hand in development, and the imminent threat of reclaiming a minor piece in return. But there were a number of sharp tactics lying in wait, and precise play was needed to maintain the balance in his favour. It wasn’t to be, and Charlie succumbed, leaving us 1-2 down.

Dave tied up the match whilst defending a familiar line with the Sicilian. An early pawn was grabbed, handing his opponent the initiative but he couldn’t make it pay, meaning the +1.0 advantage was maintained and eventually extended as they entered the endgame. Time was a crucial factor as the analogue clocks ticked on, and despite missing an earlier 1-move mate (thanks, Charlie!) he had enough to hold out. 2-2 and a respectable draw.

The opposition captain Tomasz was a gentleman throughout. We wished them well for the remainder of the season as we sloped off to find a nearby pub.

The league table looks as follows. We’re in the mix, but the title may just be out of reach:

Next up is East Ham on 27th March. Get in touch with Rich Wingfield if you fancy playing that one.

Cheers,
Dave.

Livin’ on a Prayer

A bumper update awaits – with the latest from across the club this week, including: A mid-season update on our Sister club the Celtic Tigers, a match report from the Middlesex League against our West London rivals…. West London, and the latest round of the Hammersmith RapidPlay League!

Celtic Tigers: Half way there, and livin’ on a prayer

Celtic Tigers (Hammersmith’s partner in the national league) has just completed the third week of the national league (aka 4NCL). It currently has a team in the first and fourth divisions of the national league. To learn more about the 4NCL, have a read here.

Division 1 progress (rounds 1-6 of 11)

We entered this division as the bottom ranked team in the competition, and have since gone on to beat 3C’s, and Blackthorn Russia, both teams with an average rating >2300 (FM level), or roughly 215 ECF.

In the latest weekend rounds 5-6, we were playing the 6th and 7th ranked teams, with us only requiring 2 points to make the championship pool and qualify for Europe, where we will be playing teams filled with the top 20 players in the world! Amazing!!

To strengthen the team, we welcomed 11 year old Marc Andria Maurizzi to the fold, from Corsica. That’s right, 11 years old! With a FIDE rating of 2250 he is higher rated than world champion Magnus Carlsen at that age. Definitely one to watch. Here is his Sunday game, where he easily dispatched a 193 ECF – Murray Smith:

Unfortunately we lost the Saturday match 3.5-4.5, and drew Sunday 4-4. This meant that even though we are currently 4th, a likely loss in the final round means our destiny relies on the match between the 7th and 8th placed teams at the moment. So in division 1, we are now livin’ on a prayer! All will be decided on the 16th March, where we hope the Sharks can win or draw against the 3Cs.

Division 4 progress (rounds 1-6 of 11)

This is the newest team to the Tigers roster, allowing a nice progression point for Hammers that want to compete on the national level. This year, players like Adam, John, Charlie and Bajrush have all stepped into the ring to test their skills against the best in the 4 nations.

We are currently ranked 12th out of 38 teams, with a respectable 2 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss. To get promoted we need to win at least 4 of the remaining 5 rounds, so it’s an upwards slug ahead, but definitely possible.

Here is an analysis video from Tiger Jacques on how to create fireworks against the Petroff:

t.co/yhOSQiQ6t4

If you have any questions about playing in the 4NCL, get in touch with Chris Skulte, who manages the team. If there is enough interest, we might expand to a 3rd team next season. Kostis is already begging for this!

More will come out in the next edition of the ROAR – the official newsletter of the Celtic Tigers, available here: https://www.celtictigers.club/newsletter

Until then, keep on having fun! :o)
Chris.

13.02.19 – Middlesex Division 3: West London vs. Hammersmith

Last Wednesday, the Hammer 3rd team were in action in the Middlesex League. We hopped on bikes, buses and trains, venturing two miles West along King Street to be welcomed by the grand interior of Chiswick Town Hall. Our opponents on the night were West London, a chess club matching Hammersmith for history, but lacking the forward-thinking ideas needed for a modern club to blossom.

As a captain, it’s a big relief when everyone shows up! In this regard Hammer were flawless: the whole team were ready and raring to go at the agreed start time, despite only one of our hosts being present. With several Hammers recently becoming auto-nominated for the firsts and seconds, we had a refreshing mix of players.

  • The old guard: Robin and Ken
  • The experienced junior: Andrew
  • Four new members this season: Jonathan, Olivier, Jeremy and Liam
  • One brand new member playing her first game for the club: Soumya

As the opponents trickled in and their team sheet appeared, it was clear we’d be up against it. West London’s board 1 to 5 were all experienced 160+ players. From there, there was a substantial drop off, but five points would be enough for them to win. The room was arranged across four tables – I’ll start at the bottom.

On board 8, Ken played a long tactical game with mating threats for both sides. In time trouble, his opponent was always one tempo up, forcing Ken to concede material in an attempt to defend. In the end the pressure was too much and Ken resigned.

Liam, on board 7, was somewhat surprised to receive a blundered knight on move 3. From here it was plain sailing – his opponent refused to resign, instead heading for a hopeless ending a piece down. 1-1

Board 5 saw Jeremy looking for his first win for the club – it was not going to be easy as he was massively out-graded. With black in a queen’s pawn game, Jeremy was slightly premature in developing his light square bishop, falling victim to a typical Qb3 motif, with a double attack on d5 and b7 that was impossible to defend. His opponent made no mistake in converting.

To demonstrate the difference between the two teams, Robin’s opponent on board 6 was a full 32 grading points weaker than board 5, yet still had 24 points on Robin. Robin was not to be intimidated though. He refused to let his opponent castle, sacrificing a pawn to plant a delicious knight on c5 and later d6. A vicious attack ensued, and Robin scored a convincing win. 2-2

Jonathan’s fine run of form continues. Here he played impeccably against the opposition captain, graded 172, going a full pawn up with little in the way of compensation. Here his opponent offered a draw, and Jonathan reluctantly accepted. It was definitely the correct decision given the opponent’s strength.

Olivier was sitting next to Jonathan and ready to do battle. On move 13, he made the totally understandable decision to weaken his king to maintain a material balance. However, this ultimately proved to be his downfall. The correct decision was to sacrifice a pawn, opening up the position and activating Olivier’s bishop pair – a long term strategic plan that’s not so easy for us mere mortals to find.

So the team were 3.5-2.5 down, with just Soumya and Andrew left to face the top two West London players. The conference table they sat across was four feet wide and rather tall, meaning that neither player was afforded a bird’s eye view of their army. Both generals fought very bravely at the one dimensional board, but were ultimately slain. Soumya’s game was a strange closed Sicilian, clearly a pet line of her opponent, who knew exactly how to get the most out of it with the white pieces. I have no doubt both Soumya and Andrew will be pushing for first team selection in the near future.

Final result 5.5-2.5

Despite the loss, the league table is looking good for Hammer. Most teams still have half their games remaining, so it’s too early to start dreaming of promotion just yet.

Adam.

Hammersmith Rapid League – Round IV

The penultimate round of the 2019 Hammersmith Rapid League once again threw up some intriguing fixtures – a top of the table clash, a pride of hungry lions hoping to find a nice meal in Hackney, and a tasty local derby.

Would the destiny of this year’s title be settled and would matters carry on to the final week? Read on and find out…

Hackney vs. The Lions

I think the Lions have been the unluckiest of the teams in this year’s league. They have played consistently good chess and have been unlucky not to have points on the board. That theme continued tonight.

Despite drawing the first rubber 2-2, the greater experience of the Hackney crew meant there was no tasty meal.

I must mention Tianyou Xu here – a great performance on taking down the wily Hackney captain Brian, 2-0.

A great result from Hackney, 5-3:

Football Radar vs. Tony’s Tigers

This was a top of the table clash that was meant to settle the destiny of the title At moments it looked like there would be a decisive result.

Alistair and Nadhmi swapped points on top board, and the same for Daniel and James on board 2.

Taymour has been in great form recently but he met his nemesis in the form of Radar’s Michael – an excellent 2-0 win for the Radar man.

Laith – the other third of the Auchi nation, and devoted Tiger, nailed it. A great 2-0 win made sure that the match was drawn and the title would not be decided until the final week.

Hammersmith vs. Battersea

“So, we meet again Mr Battersea” (a touch of Ian Fleming to spice things up) – yes, the latest derby match between these erstwhile frenemies took place on the evening. There have been so many clashes with out noisy neighbours this season, and it pains me to say that Battersea have definitely been holding the upper hand. Could Hammer reverse that trend in the Rapid League match up??

For a while matters looked promising – 2 points a piece after the first round with all to play for, but that solid iron man, Darius, scored a 2-0 win against Hammer hero and captain Kostis. The other matches were halved and allowed Battersea to shade it with a 5-3 win.

Hats off to Battersea – after their first-round defeat to the Radar team they have come back strong and are still in the mix for the title.

For Hammer, the league has been a story of so close, but so far – but shall be back!!

So with four of the five rounds complete, this is how the land lies:

The destiny of the title lies in the hands of the Crazy Gang – if they beat Hackney then nobody can catch them. However, if they slip up, either Battersea or the Tigers could sneak through and pinch the title.

things are coming nicely to the boil with three teams in for the title and all to play for.

The final round lineup reads like this:

  • Football Radar vs. Hackney
  • Battersea vs. Tony’s Tigers
  • Hammersmith vs. Tony’s Lions

The “Winter Break” now kicks in, and the final round will be played on the 2nd April – till then folks, live long and prosper.

John.

The Hammer of Love

Hammersmith’s 2017 Reporter of the Year, and Thames Valley captain, Robin Lee, takes us through last week’s away trip to the outer-reaches of West London, followed by the latest dispatches from the Middlesex 2 battle front, courtesy of 2018’s Reporter of the Year, John White. All rounded off with some details of this year’s Czech Open. Do read on…

11.02.19 – Thames Valley Division 3: Maidenhead vs. Hammersmith

First to finish was Javi on board 5, his French Defence taking the point, so score 1-1 and balancing our default: we were short one player. Javi has definitely improved his openings in the last month.

This was quickly followed by Kostis on board 4, with a dogged anti-Sicilian leading to a stranglehold on the black king. This Kostis exploited, and soon enough came the win with blitz style finish, and score 2-1.

Your captain on board 3 with the black pieces meanwhile, dug in, facing an unknown 1.e4 2.Bc4, that my opponent thought was called the Bishop’s opening. It just didn’t compute. I tried to make it a Scotch Game, maybe equalising. After some to and fro, black attacked the white king with a diamond cutting tool, two bishops scything down on an ill-protected king.

White dipped his king, in view of the inevitable rook and queen coming to deliver checkmate. Score now level-pegging at 2-2.

I turned to watch board 1 and saw John White a queen up. It was fascinating, watching our top board with a queen, rook and minor tackling two minors and rook. A very comfortable situation, as John encroached on the opposing king, having only to diffuse the danger of two advanced, linked pawns in the centre. Yes, the win was inevitable, score 3-2. I thought I saw a smiling Cheshire cat, sitting on the window sill in the room.

John’s game is given below, with additional commentary beneath:

10. 0-0, 0-0 – Atrociously played opening – was trying to tempt an early e5 and retreat my knight back to g8, to get him totally out of his book – he didn’t bite.
19. f4, exf4 – White throws away advantage, I gain the upper hand, the new reality, to which he doesn’t adjust, common to chess players of all strengths.
24. Be2, Ng6 – I make space for my Queen on g3 and also float another piece towards his king.
27. Rg1, Re5 – partly psychological – gains a huge error but his time trouble makes me opt for this move, followed by 28…Nxh3
37. Re1 Qf3+ – the rest is mopping up and simplification

Meanwhile on board 2 John Goodacre was coincidentally battling a junior in blitz style, with knight, king and pawns versus knight and king. In contrast to John’s sedately played game, it was all fire and smoke on the other board. I thought I heard a groan, as the junior came to the last minutes on his clock, with John G almost an hour up. Possible he just signed or made the wrong move on a theoretically drawn position. Unlucky. So it ended 4-2.

John G later commented, “these teenagers… are a bit sharp. I am usually better tactically than positionally, so their strength is the same as mine. I was rusty… but he was under a lot of pressure, and he could calculate.”

Definitely things to ponder there, thankfully we had a win.

Maidenhead was a long schlep getting there, but we were flying back on empty roads. The Albion beckoned us as we reached terra firma, the whole Hammer crew – Adam, Chris and Carsten – and Monsieur Cornette welcomed us back. Charlie, Wyatt and David were doubtless celebrating over in Holborn; they knew our win thanks to WhatsApp. Yeah, we were a tight crew, bonded by our chess camaraderie. What’s not to like?

I think this was fortune smiling on us this time, possibly only a small uptick in our seasons’s poor performance. Who can say?

14.02.19 – Middlesex Division 2: Metropolitan vs. Hammersmith

A Valentine’s Tale of Extreme Valour

Believe it or not there are times when even Captain Clueless is lost for words. This is one of those times, but then it would make for a very tedious report regarding the heroic rearguard action fought by the Hammer crew this Valentine’s day past. This was epic stuff, against all odds and a firm reminder of the enduring spirit of Hammer Chess Club. Hence, this report is full of hyperbole and slight exaggeration. Definitely not fake news, but shall we say slightly embellished.

First of all, this skirmish was fought on the day of love – a touch choice for anyone – the love of your God (Caissa) or the love of your beloved (Valentine). Surely they are one and the same and nobody should ever have to choose. I leave you to reflect on that.

Non-playing captain Clueless had to make an early exist – I am afraid the love for Karen or possibly the potential ire of Karen, made my decision inevitable. Dave and Adam stepped into the breach.

The Hammer heroes in Board order 1-6: Marios (Zeus), Paul K (Dead-Eye), Jeremy (Brexit), Matteo (The Suit), Nadhmi (The Gift) and Adam (Pickle).

On boards 7 and 8 we had one new Hammer, and one veteran Hammer.

Navarone (“Nav”) was making his league debit and hence in time-honoured tradition a nickname is designated – he will be known as “VR” – in tribute to that most brilliant batsman Vivian Richards (a true sporting hero of mine).

Board 8 saw Dave Lambert making his debut fora  team I captained. My memory may be failing (definitely) but I think this is the first time it has happened in 4 plus years. All I can say is – he is one of Hammer’s finest and will now be known as “Toffee” – in honour of his beloved Everton and his resilience at the chess board.

Things did not start well – VR got deleted and had to default. Toffee moved up to board 7. Zeus and the Suit were delayed by work and the vagaries of the District Line, and arrived 30 plus minutes late. Add in the fact that the Metropolitan Chess Club is harder to find than any integrity in Donald Trump, made it a stressful time for Clueless. The clocks were ticking, Clueless’s BP was going North, and Karen was waiting… Valentine was not happy.

All I can say is the team performed heroically to a man.

I was still in the building when Toffee agreed a draw, Zeus and the Suit had yet to arrive. This was totally solid stuff from Toffee – playing the white side of a Sicilian Dragon, he was never in danger and was an exchange up but with vulnerable pawns. A draw was a wise decision. Hammer 0.5-1.5 in arrears.

With Zeus and the Suit in situ, Clueless made his exit – worried, anxious and apprehensive – we were out-graded on average by approximately 10 points a board and we were 30 minutes plus down in two games on the clock. These were dark times.

There was a news blackout in the Clueless bunker, and then suddenly via the wonders of that modern-day carrier pigeon, WhatsApp, at 9.16pm Captain Toffee reported a famous victory. Hammer had seized the day and had won by 4.5-3.5!!!

This was just sensational stuff.

Wins from Zeus, Dead-Eye and Brexit – the Hammer vets leading the way. With solid draws from the Gift and Pickle – added to Toffee’s earlier draw, saw Hammer nose it.

I have asked for some PGN’s but so far only Zeus – as a good God should – has delivered. He was as usual completely scathing of his effort with such comments as “I blundered three pawns for no real compensation…”. Personally, I think it was a Petrosian-like masterpiece – here is the final position with our man/God as white:

The one thing that can be said is this result has done us no harm in our quest to retain Division 2 status – a testimony to the spirit of the team and their true fighting nature.

Clueless salutes you.

Here are the match card and latest table for your delight:

Czech It Out

Yes, we went there. Anyway, the 19th International Chess Festival Series – Czech Tour 2019/2020 and the International Czech Open, have both recently been announced – what could be better than some Summer chess in the heart of Europe?

Dates and locations are as follows:

  • 16th March 2019 – Prague International Chess Festival
  • 28th July – Czech Open, in Pardubice
  • 9th August – Summer Prague Open, in… Prague
  • 17th August – Olomouc Chess Summer
  • 15th September – Sunny beach Open, in Bulgaria

Terrific tournaments, with sections for all levels of players, inc. the amateur patzers, so if you fancied combining your Summer hols with some Chess, here’s how you do it:

http://www.czechtour.net/news/

http://www.czechopen.net/en/news/