Rapidplay – Round One, plus… Simul Evening!

The 2018-19 Hammersmith Internal Rapidplay Tournament has begun!

20 brave souls have thrown their hats into the ring for the opportunity to win this prestigious annual event. As with last year there are 4 sections, so plenty of opportunity for everyone to bag some glory, regardless of playing strength.

We’ll be running updates every month with the current standings and new pairings – so stay tuned.

The first round officially kicks off today, with the full (random) pairings below. Future pairings will operate on a Swiss system, so they get much tastier as the competition goes on:

Players are asked to contact their opponents using the information emailed out to you, and arrange your games ASAP – the round needs to be completed by close of business on Friday 16th November. If you miss this deadline, you’re looking at a default and nil points!

If you have any queries (or maybe the FOMO is too much and you want a late, late entry!), please contact the tournament controllers:

Good luck Hammers!!

Bonus: Simul Evening – 22nd October

This coming Monday 22 October marks our first free evening at Lytton Hall this season with no home games, and as a result we’re putting on a small competition!

It was originally intended to be a training night, but we thought it’d be much more fun to play a few simultaneous games against our top players – Carsten, Tony and Bajrush – and get their thoughts & analysis afterwards.

This is a great opportunity to take on a top chess player, with the added time and thinking advantage that a Simultaneous provides! Depending on numbers, we’ll split the group and have 5-10 Hammerites taking on each of our top bods. Games will all be on a casual basis – no ratings for this one!

In addition, there’ll be the usual opportunity to play some more casual chess against other Hammerites, and enjoy a cup of tea with a hobnob. Who could ask for more???

Happiness is a warm cup

 

Hammer Internal Rapidplay Tournament 2018-19

Register by 13th October to Guarantee Your Place!

The Hammer Internal Rapidplay Tournament is back! Last year’s tournament was a great success, and we hope to build on it this season.

With a score of 7.5/8, our chairman Bajrush was last year’s clear winner in the Open section, and he took home the trophy. Grading prizes were awarded to the following:

  • Kings (<160): Matteo Bezzini – 5/8
  • Bishops (<130): Ben Rothwell – 5/8
  • Knights (<100): Chris Moore – 4/8

Undoubtedly the real winner was Hammersmith Chess Club, who now boast 31 players with a rapid grading, up from 20 in January 2018!

This year the tournament will be run over 7 matches, down from 8 last year. Pairings will be decided by a Swiss system, and the controllers will be Adam Cranston (Middlesex 2 Captain) and Dave Lambert (London 4 Captain). All matches will be graded with the ECF under ‘rapidplay’.

This year there will only be two rounds before Christmas – the first running from mid-October to mid-November, and the second from mid-November to Christmas. After Christmas we’ll revert to one round per month.

It’ll be up to each of you to track down your opponent and arrange a time/date of your choosing to play – we’ll provide the necessary contact details. We ask for you to do this within the first week after pairings are released, and enter the agreed date and venue into a shared spreadsheet.

With fewer matches on Monday’s at Lytton Hall this season, we hope these will provide a good opportunity to play your games. This is not a requirement though – the game could be played at one of your houses, or down the pub. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re both happy with the conditions & the game gets played within the month.

You arrange your match and enter it into the spreadsheet; You play your match; You let Adam & Dave know the result, and they’ll do the rest.

They’ll tabulate the standings and publish the next set of pairings at the start of each round. Then you’ll have the next week to arrange Game 2, and so it goes.

Competition Structure
  • Fee: £0 – included in HCC Membership Fee (however, you must have paid your subs)
  • Matches: 7, over course of seasons
  • Pairings: Swiss system
  • Graded: Yes, all games to be submitted for July 2019 grading list
  • Scoring: 1 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw, 0 points for a loss
  • Tie-Breaks: Decided by Sonneborn-Berger method
  • Format: Rapidplay
  • Time Control: 30 minutes for all moves; 15 seconds increment
  • Conditions: Entirely up to you and what you agree with your opponent. If you’re both happy, that works for us.
Competition Timing
  • October: Registration – if you wish to play, contact Adam or Dave by 13th October
  • October-May: Games 1 to 7
  • Entry Requirements: You’re a member of Hammersmith Chess Club. You’re registered with the ECF for the 2018-19 season. You’re happy to commit to playing the full 7 matches throughout the season
Prizes

Prizes will be awarded for the best score in each of the below categories. No one will be eligible to win more than one award:

  • Open: No grade limit
  • Kings: <160 ECF
  • Bishops: <130 ECF
  • Knights: <100 ECF
Small Print

Grades will be based on the July 2018 grading list

  • If you have a Rapidplay grade, we’ll use that
  • If you only have a Standard grade, we’ll go with that
  • If you have neither, we’ll estimate your grade
Byes

All players will be permitted to take a maximum of 2 byes over the course of the tournament between rounds 1 and 6, scoring 0.5 points in each case.

Requests for byes must be submitted in advance of the end of the previous round.

Late entries may be permitted at the discretion of the tournament controllers. Late entrants will start with 0 points as standard.

Defaults

Failure to arrange a match within the first week: Both players will be awarded 0 points. Unless a player can demonstrate they have made reasonable and repeated (3 or more) attempts to find a suitable time & date for the match, in which case they may be awarded the win by default.

Failure to complete a match within the designated month: Both players will be awarded 0 points.

Adam and Dave to make the final decision on any disputes.

The tournament controllers reserve the right to make minor tweaks to the tournament as the season progresses due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a scenario, a written update will be provided to all the players.

If you have any questions, please drop Adam or Dave an email:

And remember – if you wish to play, please let us know by 13th October at the absolute latest. We’ll produce the first set of pairings shortly after the deadline.

Thanks, and good luck!

Adam and Dave.

Cappelle la Grande, via Kings Head

The small town of Cappelle-la-Grande, located in the far North-East corner of Normandy, is home to a surprisingly large & popular annual chess tournament, The Cappelle International Open. It’s no small feat, with up to 750 players getting their game on in the cultured surroundings of the Palais des Arts.

The 2016 Cappelle Open

With such a strong connection to the game, it’s no wonder that London’s Kings Head Chess Club organises an annual trip to Cappelle, to take on the local teams at the Palais. And excitingly, they have extended the invite to Hammersmith for 2019!!

Details below, but broadly speaking it involves a coach trip to Dunkirk, a couple of nights in la Belle France, and a whole heap of chess against the locals (very Hammer-style, you might say!):

  • 3rd to 6th May (bank holiday weekend)
  • £50 coach/transport, and £75 accomodation
  • Contact Mark Davey if you’d like to take part: mark@fozzy.me.uk

Further details can be found on the Kings Head website:

http://www.khcc.org.uk/autumn2017/cappelle.html

Kings Head in action!

 

The 2018 Summer Programme

Get excited! Our Summer Programme is back for 2018, bigger & better than ever! We will be upstairs at The Albion every Monday night this Summer, putting on a host of different activities:

Training Sessions

The club’s top players will be hosting a total of SIX training sessions throughout the Summer. Specific details will be announced nearer the time, but we already have some great things scheduled.

ECF-accredited coach, Paul McKeown, will host a pair of sessions (9th July & 30th July) focused on “Calculation and visualization with Michael Tal” – each session aimed at different strength players, though as with all our events, everybody is welcome.

Two of our strongest players – Jim Stevenson, and Carsten Pedersen – will be taking a session each. Jim will be focusing on “Practical Thinking Skills” (25th June), using illustrations from classic Bobby Fischer games. Meanwhile, Carsten will be providing his expert analysis on some games submitted by members (23rd July) – you’re invited to submit 3 or 4 games each, at least one win and one loss, and Carsten will take us through some of the more instructive ones.

(For those not in the know, our Jim is also an avid user of Twitter, and is well worth a follow: @Jimovskytwenty3 – some fabulous chess analysis & musings on life!)

And another ECF-accredited coach, Tony Niccoli, will be taking a session on 20th August. Details TBC at the moment, but those who came to Tony’s session earlier in the season will recall what a well-run and instructive evening that was.

History Lecture

As well as the training, Carsten will be providing us with a fascinating lecture on the History of Chess, for general interest on 13th August.

Tournaments

After the amazing success of similar events last Summer, our Tournament wizard Adam, will be organizing three more events this year:

  • Team Rapidplay (2nd July) – attendees will be split into four teams and play one rapidplay game against each of the others. Prizes to the winning team!
  • Handicap Blitz (3rd Sept) – a straight up Blitz tourney played out in traditional Hammer handicap style
  • Bughouse (16th July) – This chess variant is great fun and hugely popular. Players will be paired according to grade and fight it out for the grand prize
Some of last years tournament winners, with prizes!!
Pub Crawl

Arguably the highlight of Summer 2017 – this year’s Kensington pub crawl will incorporate even more pubs, with plenty of chess along the way. Save the date – 6th August!

Club Nights

The powers that be have selfishly littered a few Monday nights with big football games and bank holidays. No problem! Come along to The Albion anyway and there’s sure to be plenty of like-minded folks around to play some chess.

Summer League

And don’t forget – as well as all this, there are also 6 Tuesday evenings of Summer League Chess down at Battersea Chess Club (5 mins from Clapham Junction). We are entering even more teams this year, so there’ll be loads of competitive chess to play!

Full details of all events below, and on our Club Calendar:

Stop the Press!! Hold the Front Page!!!

The Hammersmith Blitz Champion 2017-18

After the shortest AGM in Hammer history, the hammerites got down to the fun part of the evening – the final leg of our three-tourney-cycle to determine the Handicap Blitz Champion of the Club for the 2017-18 season.

Twenty-three of the best of our club entered this final round with the two blitz gurus of the club, Chairman Bajrush, and Carsten, vying for top dog status. They were #1 and #2 in the rankings after the first two rounds and surely one of them would emerge as the champion?

However, matters were not so simple, with 23 points up for grabs for first place in this final round.

Without further ado I can announce that the winner of the third-round of the Blitz Tourney with a perfect 8/8 was Tony Niccoli.

Not only that, but he also seized the overall title as well with this superhuman performance that propelled him into first place. A stunning score of 43.5 points.

In second place was new member Thomas, with a total of 42.5 points – another epic performance.

In third and fourth respectively were bookies favourites, Carsten and  Bajrush.

The best result of the night was Robin Lee, who finished joint 5th despite being ranked 15th – a really stellar performance.

A big vote of thanks must go to Adam who ran the tournament really well and used the software expertly to keep matters rolling along.

So, we have a new champion – yet another sign of all the changes happening in our vibrant club – roll on next season! The best is yet to come.

The tournament results in full:

The Hammersmith League Finale

The inaugural Hammersmith League came to a dramatic conclusion last Monday at the Anvil – with three teams in with a shout for the title.

In pole position the SW Juniors, followed closely by the Hammerheads and the Circus. Battersea were playing for pride and honour.

That doyen of football analysts, Alan Hansen in 1995, after watching a young Manchester United team crash in their opening game of the season opined, “You can’t win anything with kids”.

He was subsequently proved wrong by those same kids when they secured the Premier League title later that season. Not the first time a pundit had egg on their face. I must confess when looking at the teams this season in the Hammersmith League I thought the winner would come from Hammersmith or Battersea.

The SW Juniors would be gallant participants but older wise heads would rule the day.

Show you how much I know!!!

Before I get to the bones of the finale I must correct an error in the table of the last report. I got the points plus wrong, so here is how things actually stood before the last round:

The SW Juniors were flying high and “just” needed to win their last match to secure the first Hammersmith Rapid League Table.

The final pairings were as follows:

  • SW Juniors v Hammer Circus
  • Battersea v Hammerheads

To the second match first. Battersea have had a tough tournament and were in all reality only playing for pride. However, our noisy neighbours are not ones to go down without a fight, and in an excellent display inflicted a decisive defeat on the Hammerheads:

A great performance that took the Hammerheads out of the title race and restored a lot of pride to Battersea.

This meant the destination of the title was down to the SW Juniors match against the Hammer Circus.

I can report exclusively for the Hammer website that the Juniors stayed strong and are deserved first champions of the Hammersmith Rapid League. Many congratulations to them!

Clueless has joined Alan Hansen with egg on his face!!

The scoresheet reads as follows:

Only Adi for the Circus held the line and won his individual match.

The SW Junior heavyweights Alexander and Nadhmi were in dominating form and scored a clean sweep. Both Connal and Charlie delivered the extra points needed to secure the win and the title.

The SW Juniors are champions and it proves kids can win championships. Their coach Tony Niccoli deserves great credit for their result.

My only advice to my fellow Hammerites is watch out! These kids are good and they are coming.

The final table and standings are as follows:

On a final note I must pick out Alexander Jamieson as player of the tournament with an ultra-impressive 6/6, a definite start of the future.

Roll on next year and hopefully we can have even more teams competing!

John.

RapidPlay – Round VIII – The Grand Finale!

It was back on September 6th 2017 when we first announced our new, season-long RapidPlay competition. Over 7 gruelling rounds since, we’ve edged ever closer to discovering our first Champion in the inaugural Hammersmith RapidPlay Championship!

Round 7 – played across the month of April – didn’t turn up too many surprises, with most results running largely to form. However, there are two results worthy of note, both of which may well be instrumental in deciding the award winners at the end of May, as our 8th and FINAL Round draws to a close.

  • Tony triumphed against Marios in the battle of the big hitters, leaving Bajrush out in front to secure the overall prize
  • Ben edged out Wyatt in the hotly-contested “Battle of the Captains”, which might just have a hand in deciding the prize in the <100 category

As we look ahead to the pairings for Round 8, let’s remind ourselves of the 4 award categories as well as the runners & riders still in contention to claim victory:

  • OpenOverall winner
    • Bajrush is the man to beat here. A positive result against Nadhmi will bring home the silverware…
    • Marios and Tony will be hoping young gun Nadhmi can spring an upset so they can usurp our all-conquering Chairman
  • KingsUnder 160
    • Matteothe SuitBezzini leads the way, with 5 points from 7
    • A whole host of players lie in wait, hoping for a slip-up; John White and Nadhmi could be the beneficiaries
  • BishopsUnder 130
    • Simon and Ben are jostling for top position with 4 points from 7
    • Rich Wingfield is best placed to steal-in if Simon and Ben oblige
  • KnightsUnder 100
    • Ben’s destiny is in his own hands here. A draw/win will clinch it
    • Beyond that, it could still be anyone’s… very tight!

Monday 21st May has been allocated a “RapidPlay Night” at the club, so we’d love you to play your match there if you can.

However, we know that won’t be possible for everyone; not least Bajrush, Tony and Marios who are in action that night. Either way, please get in touch with your opponent asap so you can organise your match as quickly as possible. We’d love to have the tournament sewn up by that Monday if possible so we can hand out the gongs on the night!

Good luck all.

Volunteers Needed!! & The Return of Summer Chess

Calling all Hammers!! – we need your help on Saturday 19th May as we take chess back to the streets of Hammersmith & help our local branch of MIND raise money for a good cause!

As you may have read this week – we are returning to Lyric Square, W6 next month for a day of chess, activities and fundraising. Your support is critical – and we want to smash this out of the park.

It was a massive, massive success when we did this last year, and a brilliant day out for all involved, raising over £400 for MIND.

We need help with logistics, leafleting, playing chess, taking contact details & new inquiries, fundraising and much more. Even if you can only spare a few hours between the hours of 9am and 4pm, we will be enormously grateful!

If you’re willing to get involved – brilliant! Please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

We need to know how many of you are willing to help out ASAP – so please get in touch by Friday 4th May, so that we can plan accordingly!

The Return of Summer Chess

Yes, the rumours are correct… after a truly amazing first season, the Summer Chess League is back for 2018!

It’s going to be even bigger & better this year with the number of team entries having doubled from last time – not including the many clubs still to confirm their entries – and Hammer looking to field an additional couple of teams from last time too! We’re also aiming to introduce a divisional structure to help even out the matches & retain the competitiveness.

Nevermind the Summer of Love – this will be the Summer of Chess!

As with last year, the league will be played over five Tuesday evenings, all at Battersea’s spacious, technologically advanced & beer-fuelled home venue.

Final details are still to be confirmed, but rest assured – you will be the first to know!

Hammer & MIND Takeover Lyric Square – Saturday 19th May 2018

Calling all Volunteers!

SAVE THE DATE – The importance of 19th May 2018 cannot be stressed enough – not only are Harry & Megan tying the knot with the FA Cup final kicking off later in the day, but the BIG news is that Hammer will be bringing chess to the streets of Hammersmith again – or to be precise, Lyric Square.

After our hugely successful event last year in conjunction with mental health charity, Hammersmith MIND, we are again venturing forth to raise awareness of mental health, raise some funds for that worthy organisation, and raise the profile of Hammersmith Chess Club.

This is a quick reminder to pledge your time & attendance in some capacity on the day – whether the full day, a few hours, or just some help with logistics, it is all hugely appreciated!

We will be setting up from 8.30am in the morning, with the official start at 10am. We’re scheduled to be there until 4pm, and then probably retiring to the Albion to enjoy the FA Cup final.

Those of us who took part last year will recall what a memorable and worthy event it was. There is a huge appetite for the game amongst the good people of Hammersmith, and they are generous folk when it comes to giving to charity too, as we raised over £400 for the Hammersmith branch of MIND – a total we are hoping to smash this time round.

So please, if you can spare any time – please get in touch with John ASAP: john.white49@ntlworld.com

We saw around 25 members take part last year, and are hoping to top that this time! Link to last years event below:

Chess Bosses Lyric Square, W6

Blitz, Bury & The Hammer League

The Hammer train never stops, and none more so than this week. We’ve got a great set of updates for you to read through – it’s a long one, so make sure you read all the way to the bottom!

  • Thames Valley Cup v Richmond – Semi-Final Result
  • Hammersmith League – Round II
  • Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II
  • The John White Drinking Club Bury St Edmunds Visit

Read on!

Thames Valley Cup – One Win From Glory!

First up, in some superb BREAKING NEWS this week, we are delighted to report that our Thames Valley team superbly navigated their Semi-Final against Richmond this week, winning 3.5-2.5 to make it through to the FINAL of the Cup Competition!!

This is a superb achievement – it’s a brutal knockout competition with no second-legs, so it really is a case of putting everything on the line each round. Massive congratulations must go to Captain Bajrush and the rest of the squad for this marvellous achievement.

Hammerites toasting the superb Semi-Final result earlier this week!

We’ll be facing the titans of Harrow, or Kingston in the final – full details to follow. It promises to be an absolute CRACKER!

Hammersmith League – Round II – Dispatches from the Battlefront

The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at the Anvil. The first round had seen some blood-thirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts. What would the second round reveal about the teams and their captains?

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

Round II threw up the following match-ups:

  • Battersea v Hammersmith Circus
  • SW Juniors v The Hammerheads

The first of these encounters saw two teams who had experienced very different results in round one. Battersea had negotiated a very tricky encounter with the SW.

The Circus had a bruising encounter with their fellow Hammerites – the ferocious sounding Hammerheads. In a full-blooded encounter they went down 8-2 with only Captain Ben preventing the dreaded double-bagel scoreline of 5-0 and 5-0. They needed to bounce back hard if they were to have any chance of fighting for the title.

I think when the chips are down and your back is against the wall, then the Hammer characteristics of tenacity and sheer grit shine through. We do not go quietly into the night.

To the match – this is a real tale of blood and guts. No draws. All results decisive.

Gokhan had a tough task on board one and tried his best, but he was taking on a 194 and sadly for his team, it was too much of an ask.

However, this was the only blip in an otherwise excellent performance by the Circus team. The tale of the tape was seven victories and just a solitary defeat. The Circus Crew are back in the mix!

The second game saw the SW Juniors take on the in-form Hammerheads. Confidence was high in the Hammerhead camp, especially after their thrashing of the Circus in round one.

What followed was a bitterly contested match with the Juniors not backing down, and in the end, deservedly winning 5.5-4.5

Alexander again starred, and is now on 100% for the tourney, although he had to rescue two inferior positions against Simon. I felt sorry for Simon because he deserved better from the chess he produced. Caissa can be cruel!

Dave suffered a bit of a debacle in the first game with Connal but was back to his best in the second leg and won in good style.

Pouya had a little too much experience for Charlie and won their mini-match 1.5-0.5. This one was definitely down to experience and an older, wiser head.

Wyatt overwhelmed Taymour in the first game and confidence was high for the return encounter. However, these Juniors do not get down. When they lose, they just shrug it off, and come back twice as hard. Taymour played an excellent game and earned a well-merited revenge win.

In the final lineup Nadim and Laith shared the points with some unbelievable blunder and counter-blunder sequences mixed in with some excellent chess.

The SW Juniors had come through a tough examination and not only demonstrated chess acumen way beyond their years, but also a grit and resolve that is uncommon in ones so young. They will become even more formidable chess players in the future, is the only conclusion this correspondent can come to.

So, it is all change in the League table and again there is all to play for in the next and FINAL round, with three teams in the running for the title of Champions.

League Standings:

Cross Table:

Tune in for the next instalment!!

The Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II

A very late update!!

In the absolute avalanche of matches and events in February, this important new item got missed! The second round of our internal blitz tourney took place on the 12th February at the Anvil. This is a quick update on the events of that evening.

Twenty-three Hammerites and one guest turned up for the second leg of our tri-tourney series to contest and vie for the title of Hammer Blitz Tourney Champion. One of the largest turnouts in the modern version of this event.

Superbly organised by Club Captain Adam, we were divided into four groups for the all-play-all section.

The qualifiers from the groups were: Thomas, Charlie, Carsten, Alexander, Bajrush, Mohammed (a guest for the evening), Tony and your reporter John W.

The knock-out secant saw Thomas, Carsten, Bajrush and Tony, who respectively beat Charlie, Alexander, Mohammed and John W.

The big-four had made it through to the semi-finals.

In a throw-back to yesterday the two semi-finals yielded Bajrush and Carsten as the winners. A definite case of deja vous! God knows how many blitz games these two stalwarts of the club have contested over the years!

The critical significance would be if Bajrush triumphed, he would have sealed the title with one round to go.

However, Caissa took a hand and Carsten took the win and kept the destiny of the 2017-18 Hammer Blitz Champion still up for grabs.

A great night of blitz and lots of congratulations to all who took part.

Here is the scoreboard so far:

All this means that there is still all to play for!!

Remember, it is your two best scores that count – so roll on the final leg after our AGM on the 4th June. All Hammer make a note!

Hammer Goes Mad in Suffolk and Cambridge

Yes, the Hammer Crew were off on their travels and using the old excuse of a ‘chess challenge’ as cover for excessive beer consumption.

The chess part of this tale came about by pure chance. Paul Mustafa, one of our new members, had entered the Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress, and the organiser – Steve Lovell – contacted me to discuss what his estimated grade should be so he could be entered in the correct competition. During the course of a series of emails, your correspondent chucked in the idea of a challenge match sometime in 2018.

Steve responded positively and matters escalated from there. The date, format and venue were set and agreed – the Hammer Crew were taking on the powerhouse of Suffolk chess.

First, I must acknowledge the work and effort put in by Steve and the Bury St Edmunds club, who were most welcoming and hospitable. They really put the boat out for us and I am very grateful. Steve is not only a first-class bloke, but is possessed of a fantastically calm temperament. Despite me having three late withdrawals he did not throw a fit but just kept calm & carried on!

What follows is the story of a chess challenge match, but it was so much more than that – it was about Hammer camaraderie, new friendships and beer.

The weekend started early Friday with the tale of Hammerites in three cities: London, Bury St.Edmunds and Cambridge.

The London crew consisted of Bajrush and Alex, who travelled up early Saturday for the match.

The John White Drinking Club on tour

Two of our new guys – Wyatt and Charlie – spent an excellent Friday night in Bury St. Edmunds.

Whilst the Cambridge party Friday night mob consisted of some of the worst elements in Hammer Chess history – namely Carsten, Chris Skulte, Adam and Clueless. They were joined by another reprobate called Ryszard fora  night of beer and curry. For once I am proud to put my name to the events of that evening – yes, the John White Drinking Club (c) was officially out. The guys were out on the town.

Gandalf, Sorted & Pickle doing what they do best

For those beer aficionados, Cambridge has an excellent array of watering holes. Chris and Clueless joined the party late afternoon. Our leader for the night was the Great Dane himself – King of Knowledge and Chess Wisdom – the one and only Carsten. But, most importantly for our purposes, a genius at finding excellent pubs to drink in. The fact he had been drinking since midday testifies not only to his love of beer, but his redoubtable stamina.

We played a bit of chess and drank a couple of pints at the Kingston Arms. This was followed by a visit to the superb Calverley’s brewery and finishing up at the Cambridge Blue. The quality of beer was top-drawer and the company sensational. Finally, just before 11pm, Carsten departed and the survivors found a curry house.

I have to confess, the rest of the night was a total blank – I have no memory of getting to my hotel. All in all, a great night and perfect training for our chess challenge the next day.

By foot, bicycle, train and automobile, the Hammer team assembled at the Moreton Community Hall in Bury St. Edmunds to defend the honour of Hammersmith Chess Club.

We were greeted by Steve and the rest of their team with decent coffee and tea supplies on hand (accepted most gracefully the semi-hungover Hammerites!).

Steve gave an excellent greeting speech and explained the days activities and rules. Clueless responded in kind and presented each of the Bury players with a Knight lapel pin, and put on the display the Hammer Chess Challenge Trophy – the prize for the winning team.

The Hammer team consisted of, in board order:

  • CarstenThe Great Dane
  • RyszardBreslau
  • ChrisSydney
  • BajrushWily
  • JohnClueless
  • AdamPickle
  • AlexCola
  • CharlieSorted
  • WyattGandalf

The long play time control was 36 moves in 80 minutes, plus 15 minutes, with a 15 sec increment per move.

The niceties were done & dusted, and the challenge began.

First game to finish was your correspondent playing the white side of an Advanced French, I kept a tight lid on matters and essentially constricted my opponent to the back two ranks. He failed to make any pawn break and I simply moved over to the attack which played itself. Hammer on the scoreboard: 1-0

Next to finish was Charlie who manoeuvred into a position where he had a slight edge. He could have taken the draw, but he wanted more. As is sometimes the case when you push too hard, you can get burned, and sadly for Charlie and Hammer that’s what happened. In the analysis room afterwards Charlie, on balance, won his case and could have gained an advantage. Hammer pegged back to 1-1

Chairman Wily then joined the fun and triumphed in a really well-played middle game. He got a passed-pawn, then his knight and rook went to work. Victory was assured and Hammer went back in front: 2-1

There then followed three quick results consisting of two Hammer wins and a draw.

Gandalf won nicely, netting a piece on the way and keeping everything under control. Cola also played a really nice game where in the end he was just one move short for victory. His opponent got a perpetual and the point was shared. It was great to see Alex back playing for Hammer and in a long-play format.

Sydney had an excellent win against a Dragon, where he demonstrated convincingly what white can do when black slightly mislays the opening. Chris was in superb form and finished the game off in style. Hammer now leading at 4.5-1.5

Hammer secured the match when Ryszard (Breslau) finished strongly after being under pressure during the first half of the game, but a neat combination allowed him to net a rook and the point. A brilliant debut performance for Hammer.

The final two games saw Carsten triumph when his opponent was flagged. However, The Great Dane was a pawn up and the only possible winner. It was an excellent performance by Carsten and his opponent Ed was a very gracious loser.

Adam’s game was the last to finish and his game would grace any collection of thematic study games. His opponent Steve Lovell, tried everything to win but Adam was resolute in his defence. The rare finish of just a white knight and rook versus a black king and knight was the result. Steve tried hard to win but Adam held fast and did not allow his knight and king to be separated. The draw was agreed after numerous moves.

So, the final score was a Hammer win by 7-2 in what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable and friendly contest.

There was a break before the afternoon blitz tournament, during which Hammer were presented with a signed copy of the history of Bury St.Edmunds Chess Club. Club stalwart Laurie gave a wonderful speech with some terrific anecdotes. Here are just a couple:

  • The original club was founded in the 1860’s – it is nearly 100 years older than Hammer!
  • There are details of Capablanca’s 1919 simultaneous in Bury St.Edmunds
  • And perhaps best of all, Laurie himself was born at Queen Charlotte Hospital in Hammersmith. I always knew there was a connection between our clubs.

The afternoon was a frenetic affair with Alex and Ryszard opting out.

It was really fun with Steve doing his best to pair a Bury and Hammer player in the early rounds. In the end, as per usual, the Hammer blitz champion Wily surged to victory – overcoming all before him. The frustrating thing for me was I was a piece up against him and still contrived to lose! He really is Mr Blitz.

The day finished with both clubs enjoying the delights of the Nutshell (the smallest pub in the whole of the UK) and the Old Cannon Brewery.

In a nutshell…

The drink and the chat were all good and we departed our new friends late into the night. There was many a tired but happy Hammer who made it home.

A pickled Pickle

Once again, I must thank Steve, Laurie and all at Bury St Edmunds – they are a superb club and I look forward to inviting them to a challenge match next year at The Anvil. All I can say is Bring it on!

Finally, a quick advertisement for the beautiful town of Bury St Edmunds. A stunning Suffolk town steeped in history and culture. If you have not been there, it is definitely worth a visit.

Beautiful Bury St Edmunds – breathe it in!

Clueless over and out, and yet again in rehab….!