A Charming Draw

No Bruce Springsteen this week, but the Glory Days are very much here as we travel headlong towards The Promised Land. Read on!

Middlesex League 3: Hammersmith v Hendon – 13.11.17

On Monday Hammer’s 2nd team were back at Lytton Hall to face Hendon 5 – a junior team often known as Hendon Barnet Knights. On paper we out-graded them by a whopping 35 grading points on average, but as with all juniors they were expected to punch above their weight.

It didn’t go well on the top boards. Sheikh and Matteo, often first team call-ups, were brought in to bolster the lineup. They both blundered pieces early on and resigned, leaving us 2-0 down.

Regulars John and Brian were on boards 3 and 4. John can always be relied upon to dispatch weaker players, and as expected clocked up a win fairly quickly. Brian took a little longer, but ultimately had too much for his young opponent. He describes his game:

“I played the Sicilian O’Kelly/Tartakover variation, pressurising white’s centre with an early e5 and Bb4 to pin white’s knight defending e4.

My opponent overlooked a tactical trap on move 8, losing his knight for two pawns. But he made good use of his two bishops to support his menacing d-pawn advance. To eliminate that pawn and complete my cramped development I had to sac my two q-side pawns.

Having swapped queens and a pair of rooks, I advanced my king to support my pieces through a series of tricky late-middle-game exchanges and win back a pawn, reaching the ending with knight & three pawns v opponent’s five pawns. Dealing with his remote pawn pair, in time trouble I allowed his king entry to gobble up two of my pawns, but retreated the knight just in time to save the remaining pawn for the win.”

Board 5 saw Simon employ a version of the London System recommended by his namesake, Ginger GM Simon Williams. Known as the “Black Half-Asleep Variation”, Simon planted his pawns on d4 and e4 with a knight on c3, against a king-side fianchetto. He soon eliminated black’s menacing dark-square bishop and seized a strong positional advantage. Simon couldn’t find a clear route to victory, however, and his opponent fought back well. Pieces got exchanged and the game boiled down to a draw.

By his own admission, Dipender played a very disappointing game. He lost a piece early on and never really got back into it. It was as if he had other things on his mind – possibly his wedding this weekend! A big congratulations – we wish him well on his honeymoon and hope to see him back at the chessboard stronger than ever!

Mr Dipenderble * wife not pictured

Ken got extremely lucky on board seven. He offered a draw in a losing position with far less time on his clock. His opponent, possibly considering the grade difference rather than the position, kindly accepted, leaving us 3-4 down with one to play.

It was down to Ben, making his debut for the club, to come up with the goods on board 8. He did so in emphatic style, playing a very good game to wipe his opponent completely off the board.

So for the second match in a row we ended with a slightly disappointing draw.

We remain top of the table, but this has to be qualified by the fact we’ve played two games more than our closest rivals, and we  have the toughest fixtures still to come.

Ken drops level with John as MVP (I’m not giving the accolade to anyone having played just one game). Sheikh, Matteo and Ben bring the number of members to have played this season up to 19 at the half way point, closing in on last season’s total of 28.

Next up is Kings Head 2 away on 13th December.

Adam.

Middlesex League 2: Hammersmith v Hendon – 13.11.17

On the same evening, our first team also scored a 4-4 against Hendon. Full report to follow!

Training Nights – 20th November, 27th November

Don’t forget the second of our two training nights next week – details as follows:

  • Monday 27th November – club legend & Middlesex 3 Captain Pickle (aka Adam) will host a session specially designed for players around 100 ECF or below. It’ll be a shorter session than Marios’s, allowing time afterwards for people to play their RapidPlay Round II matches, if they wish. Session starts at 7.30pm, running for about an hour.
Can You Topple the King of YouTube?

Well now you can find out! Our good friends at Battersea Chess Club will be hosting IM John Bartholomew on 29th November for an evening of chess!

It all kicks off at 5pm at their Battersea Labour Club home, full details are available on Battersea’s Website.

It’s FREE and you don’t even need to be a Battersea member!

Let’s Get Quizzical

The learned minds at Hammer Chess have decided to  branch out beyond the 64 squares of the chess board and take part in a pub quiz later this month!  We reckon there’s enough general knowledge there to give anyone a run for the their money (a test run last week resulted in a respectable 2nd placed finish – firm foundations!), so we’re going to have a crack at one of the local pubs in Hammersmith.

We’ll be hitting up the quiz at The Crabtree pub on Tuesday 28th November. If you’d like to take part please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

The more the merrier! Quiz starts at 8pm (drinks at 6!) – see you there!

A pair of important reminders:
  • GM Keith Arkell SimultaneousMonday 11th December – £6 to enter and take on Keith over the board! Should be a cracker – get in touch to reserve a spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com
  • Rapidplay Round II – our new Rapidplay competition continues this week, with all players looking to get their second round games complete before the end of November. If you’ve not yet done so, get in touch with your opponent NOW!! You’ll both score a default if you don’t get the game finished before the end of the month. Contact Dave or Adam with any queries:
  • adam1234321@gmail.com
  • davidlambert80@gmail.com

That’s all for now – plenty of games this week and next, more updates soon!

Born to Run

Another bumper week of chess has just flown by – four big games, and a whole bunch of important reminders and updates for your perusal. There’s plenty of things coming up the next few weeks too – including the return of our training programme – so please read on!

Middlesex League Division 2: Hammersmith v Hendon – 06.11.17

Glory Days for Hammer 1 in the Middlesex League

Yes dear reader, Bruce Springsteen has now been dragged into the Hammer orbit.

However, it is totally justified in this case as Hammer 1 – Middlesex variation- totally “Bossed” Hendon 4 at The Anvil last night.

The Hendon crew came down to The River (Thames) and into the River they dived. They did not surface.

The Hammer posse were in imperious form last night as they swept, Fischer-style, their Hendon opponents 8-0 and thus continue their regal progress in Division 2.

The Hammer team, in board order, lined up as follows – The Surgeon, Zeus, Wily, Brexit, Spock, Tellit, Dead-Eye and on board 8 your humble correspondent Clueless.

The following report comes with a caveat in the sense that Clueless was so involved in his game he did not see much of the carnage that took place.

I definitely recall Wily being in scintillating form and briskly dispatching his opponent with barely an hour gone.

Other victories swiftly followed in the form of Tellit and Dead-Eye. The latter having an awkward game where he was under some pressure. Unfortunately, his opponent moved too quickly, misreading a taking sequence and dropped a rook. Dead-Eye pounced and was the model of sympathy afterwards.

Clueless got in on the act with a well-played game where he explored the themes of space restriction, castle prevention and black-square weakness. I actually utilised an excellent piece of advice, courtesy of Zeus – when you have an edge, do not rush matters – just keep improving your position. I can vouch that Mount Olympus advice is worth following.

Next to join the party were Spock, Brexit and The Surgeon.

Spock had a game that saw action on both sides of the board. I have some memory of his opponent’s king being hunted down by two bishops, rook and queen. Serious weapon deployment and on a semi-open board, the result was never in doubt.

Brexit was the beneficiary of a complete blunder by his opponent who advanced his pawn leaving his rook en-prise. Brexit pounced and clocked up another Hammer win. To be honest Brexit was strategically winning at the time (unlike in real life! #political) and would have won eventually.

As for the Surgeon, he had a study-like win in a pawn and king endgame. Playing precisely and accurately, like the good surgeon he is, the win was safely delivered.

Finally, to Captain Zeus and his well-known opponent and all-round top guy – Mo from BBCA – appearing for his second club, Hendon. All I can report is it was complicated with heavy pieces operating on an open board. Somehow, I guess it is sheer talent, Zeus had it all under control and duly converted, completing the 8-0 scoreline.

This means that we are 4-0 at this stage of the season and real contenders for promotion.

The force is strong at the Anvil!!!

Middlesex League Division 3: Ealing v Hammersmith – 06.11.17

This was the fifth match in Middlesex Div 3 for the Hammer second team, and the closest so far. Thanks to everyone for turning up to the right place and on time. Ealing’s venue isn’t the easiest to find, and it was the first trip there for many of our team.

Board 8 saw Dan mount a strong attack early on the Kingside. His opponent struggled to find the right defensive moves, expending a lot of time trying to work out how to react. The game ended in a loss on time for Dan’s opponent in a losing position. 1-0

Wyatt was playing on board 7 – a fairly even middle game exchanging down to a level endgame with a rook and three pawns each. Wyatt then lost his way somewhat (and two of his pawns). Luckily he was up on the clock, and his opponent was flagged in a position he’d surely have gone on to win. 2-0

Ken was next up on board 6. He elected to try out the unusual 1.f3 Barnes opening, and it paid dividends. His opponent was flummoxed from the off, and Ken sealed the victory in 23 moves. Ken becomes the team’s new top performer, with two wins from two. 3-0

On board 5, John Ryan was faced with 1.f4 Bird’s Opening. Although he wasn’t very familiar, he proceeded to make sensible moves, manoeuvred his bishop to a8 and closed up the position, agreeing a draw when there was no play left. 3.5-0.5

Dipender came into his game on board 4 in scintillating form, and looked like he would notch up yet another win. He found himself in a completely winning position – his opponent’s knight pinned from every direction. Dipender then had a moment of sheer madness, releasing the pin and blundering his own bishop in a single move. He regained his composure and tried to play on, but sadly there was no way back. 3.5-1.5

Nadhmi played a very tactical game on board 3. With few pawns left and all the heavy pieces still on the board, both kings became very exposed. Nadhmi lost a rook with a clever tactic from his opponent, but reacted by lunging towards the enemy king with all he had left. His rival saw nothing better than to settle for a 3-fold repetition. 4-2

Pouya kindly offered to step in as a late replacement on board 2. He had the white pieces and soon obtained a space advantage. Sadly he overlooked a tactic that lost a knight, and clinical play from his opponent gave Pouya no opportunities to get back into the game. 4-3

Your reporter was up on board 1, and like John was faced with Bird’s Opening. Not knowing the opening well, I elected to play my tried and trusted London setup. Although not ideal against a Dutch setup (see: Glorious Revolution), I was not being beaten as much as my opponent would have me believe in the post-game analysis, with the computer suggesting a roughly equal evaluation.

It was my opponent with the initiative, however, and in a momentary lapse in concentration I hung a knight, failing to realise the defending pawn was pinned to my king. 4-4

At the end of the day neither team really deserved the win, with careless blunders and poor time handling settling several of the games.

Next up is Hendon 5 on Monday 13th, a junior team that always seem to punch above their grades. It promises to be a tough encounter.

Adam.

London League Division 4: Hammersmith v Alfil – 08.11.17

We were back to winning ways in Division 4 this week with a fine 5.5-1.5 victory against Alfil at the Citadines.

It was our Division 4 debut at our new Hotel venue and whilst we didn’t quite need ‘oxygen tanks’ as one of our members suggested, it wasn’t far off! There were SIX separate matches playing simultaneously, so breathing space was at a premium.

Fortunately the Hammer crew have evolved to thrive on pride and passion (and maybe biscuits) instead of mere oxygen. The cramped conditions worked in our favour as we ran out comfortable winners.

The setup didn’t make it easy to spy on other games so some of my comments are a bit threadbare. Thankfully I’m able to supplement the commentary with a few PGNs from the evening. Hope you enjoy.

First to finish were John and Simon who each notched up wins in quick fire time. I didn’t catch much of John’s game, although his position looked comfortable without being dominant when I glanced over. Things must have turned quickly though, because the match was soon over. John’s our current Div4 MVP with 2 wins out of 2. Great start to the season.

Simon’s game was pretty brutal, with his opponent failing to see the danger of a quasi-pin on his King. A clever tactic claimed a fork on Queen and King and from that point on, it looked a bit of non-contest. Simon’s analysis is definitely worth playing through. Entertaining stuff and some sharp tactics on show. 2-0 to Hammer

Wyatt was also keen to get his match finished and head to the bar early doors, and he duly obliged! Gaining the upper hand with a couple of extra pawns, he allowed a few passive/inactive moves and suddenly the advantage appeared to wither away. A draw was taken in the end; no great disgrace in that. 2.5-0.5

My game was interesting, if only for its stark illustration of how there’s seldom an even-trade when pieces are exchanged! I emerged from the Scotch opening in a relatively staid position with little in the way of winning chances for both sides. Indeed, the computer analysis confirmed the same. But the match turned on two decisions to exchange pieces – one that handed me the slight initiative and one that was damning for my young opponent. 3.5-0.5

Dan was next to finish, chalking up another win for Hammer. Full credit is due for playing a strong game amid the chatter (and whistling coffee machine) of the anteroom. The squeeze in the main room meant it was difficult to find space for Dan’s game. When I started to watch, Dan was a minor piece and a bunch of pawns up! (think I stopped counting at 3). His young opponent graciously resigned rather than prolong the agony. 4.5-0.5 and the win was secured.

The penultimate match was played – and won – by Adam. I’d been watching and thought his chances looked fleeting. But then I was momentarily distracted by the Ginger biscuits (controversial), and returned to see the post-match analysis was in full flow and Adam had emerged victorious. Definitely one where the match speaks louder than words. Take a look! 5.5-0.5

There was a little reorganisation required before we could conclude the results from Boards 1 and 2. Matteo was a late dropout, scheduled as our #1, but given their #2 followed suit, we re-jigged the board order giving Brian a match against their top player on shortened time controls. A really interesting match that ultimately went in favour of Alfil and Joshua John. Despite his young age, Joshua has been around for a few years now and is developing into quite the player.

Brian picks up the analysis from here…

Against my King’s Indian Defence he made an aggressive advance of all his Kingside pawns at the expense of not developing his Kings Bishop and Knight. I fianchettoed both bishops and concentrated on solid piece development while he castled queenside and established a strong central pawn phalanx.

Taking more time than my opponent, I calculated a way of breaking up his central pawns and temporarily sacrificing the exchange to win his f3 pawn, forking his two rooks to regain piece equality. I gained a second pawn at the expense of loosening my king-side pawn structure. He advanced his now-isolated pawn to d6 and threatened to swap queens and fatally invade my 8th rank with rook supported by pawn.

By checking his exposed king I manoeuvred my queen back to defend against this, but he switched the focus to attack my cramped king position with queen and rook, and in time trouble on move 30 I allowed a fatal check on f7 which soon resulted in a loss. Nevertheless it felt better to play an exciting game ultimately lost, than win by default, since we still won the match. Brian.

5.5-1.5 final result.

That’s us done in Division 4 now until the New Year. I’ll be in touch late run December to arrange the game for early Jan.

See you all soon!

Dave.

London League Division 6: Hammersmith v Hackney Gorki – 08.11.17

“A Pair of Thorne’s in our Side”

On the same evening as the London 4 team, our London 6 crew took on Hackney’s table-topping second team, Gorki.

Hammer had a solid lineup – captain Rich up on board 1, Charlie Sturt on 2, Webmaster Andy on 3, and Nadim on 4.

Sat by the main entrance, it was a somewhat distracting evening for the boys, added to by a default from Hackney on board 2, putting Hammer 1-up from the off, although it meant Charlie didn’t get a game. 1-0

Nadim was next to go – he looked to have a solid position against his young opponent, Thorne Jnr. He picks up the commentary from here:

I made some early middle game mistakes that I have managed to compensate and come back. Then I could have had a chance at least to draw if I had exchanged rooks in the endgame which I mistakenly declined (move 27). The end of the story was a black loss, as white had more pawns. 1-1

(lookout for a missed Queen capture by White on move 16!)

Next to drop was Rich, succumbing to defeat in an open-looking game, punctuated by noticeable bonhomie and laughter between both players – great to see! We’re not entirely sure what happened, but it left Hammer a game down and facing a draw at best. 1-2

Last to finish was Andy on board 3, playing Thorne Snr (Chris, as he’s known!). An unusual game in many ways, notable for a lot of distractions but played in a great spirit & very enjoyable for both opponents. Two evenly-matched players, the game swung wildly with both players assuming the advantage at different times. Andy looked in peril approaching the endgame, but he held his cool, drawing a blunder from his opponent and exchanging Rooks, ending in a drawn position.

The first 30 moves of the game are below:

Sadly it wasn’t enough to bring the team home and we finished with a  narrow defeat overall. 1.5-2.5

Training Evenings – 20 & 27 November

At Hammersmith we pride ourselves on giving back to our members and the community – and this month sees us pickup the training baton in good style, with two sessions coming up from a couple of our top players.

We’re really lucky in having strength in depth at the upper-end of our club these days, and we’re particularly lucky that some of the guys are happy to give up their time to help coach the rest of the club.

  • Monday 20th November – stalwart & Middlesex 2 Captain Zeus (aka Marios) takes us through a session on the use of fianchetto structures. Marios has a pair of games utilising fianchetto that he’ll take us through, but if you have any other interesting games in your personal collection you’d like to see analysed, please drop him a note: m.kouis14@gmail.com . The session starts at 7.30pm and will run for a couple of hours.
  • Monday 27th November – club legend & Middlesex 3 Captain Pickle (aka Adam) will host a session specially designed for players around 100 ECF or below. It’ll be a shorter session than Marios’s, allowing time afterwards for people to play their RapidPlay Round II matches, if they wish. Session starts at 7.30pm, running for about an hour.

Huge thanks to both players for giving up their time! As usual these are both open sessions – anyone is free to attend, member or not!

Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day Update

You may recall a small number of Hammer players answered the call to arms for World Mental Health Day recently, heading down to Lyric Square to partner up with our friends at Hammersmith & Fulham MIND.

Our contact at MIND, Victoria kindly dropped us a note this week to thank our members for helping out.

More importantly, the charity was able to raise over £500 on the day! Brilliant stuff, and we say a huge THANK YOU to those members who volunteered.

Keith Arkell Simul – Monday December 11th

SAVE THE DATE 11th December sees us host GM Keith Arkell for a Simultaneous at Lytton Hall on the final day of the London Chess Classic.

We have limited places for this one, so you need to get in touch ASAP if you’d like to take part! There’ll also be a small board fee of £6 to enter.

Simuls are always a cracking affair – not only do you get to play one of the world’s top players, but you can very often give them a close-run game!

If you do want to play, please get in touch with an email to one of the following & reserve your spot:

RapidPlay Round II – Reminder!

We’re almost halfway through November, which means there’s only a couple of weeks left for you to arrange & play your Round II games in the new RapidPlay tournament.

By now you should have at least arranged a date with your opponent – if not, you can find full details of your opponent here, or in your inbox. Get in touch, and agree a mutually agreeable date, time and location!

Then it’s just a matter of playing the game and letting the controllers – Adam and Dave – know the result.

If you have any queries or problems, just drop them a note:

Remember – if you fail to play the game by the end of the month, you’ll both default and score nil points!

Good luck!

 

RapidPlay Round 2 Pairings Announced!

01.11.17 – STOP PRESS!!

After a brilliant opening round of our new RapidPlay tournament, the Lytton Hall supercomputer has crunched the numbers and produced the fixture list for Round 2 as follows:

It’s now down to you to arrange the game with your opponent.

All games must be completed in November, and the results passed to the tournament controllers, Adam and Dave. Both players will receive zero points if this doesn’t happen.

You should have received an email listing contact information for all players – we encourage you to make contact with your opponent immediately and arrange a suitable time to play.

Our Monday schedule at Lytton Hall is as follows:

  • 6th November – 1 x home match (8 boards)
  • 13th November – 2 x home matches (16 boards)
  • 20th November – TBD, probably a training session
  • 27th November – TBD, probably a mini-tournament or training session

Of course, you don’t have to play at the club. It just needs to be a venue & date that works for the both of you.

If you have any questions or queries, or are still to receive contact details for your opponent, please get in touch with Adam or Dave:

Good luck!

 

 

Rapidplay Round 1 Roundup!

23.10.17 – The Hammer Rapidplay Tournament is off to a flying start! 22 players descended on Lytton Hall this Monday to take part in the first round. Two are still to play next week, with a handful taking first round byes.

As is often the case with open Swiss tournaments, the first round threw up a few mismatches. Still, very few games finished early and the underdogs provided some scares – and the occasional result.

A familiar sight this season – a bustling Lytton Hall ahead of the big kickoff!

Board 2 saw Shiraz paired against second seed Tony Niccoli. Both had suffered tough losses the week before, so form dictated that the game wouldn’t be of the highest quality.

However, both pulled off a very fine display. In a Symmetrical English Opening, Shiraz caused real problems with the white pieces, but ultimately his light-square weaknesses proved too costly. He provides an insightful analysis of the game:

 

On board 4 it was up to our esteemed Webmaster General, Andy to attempt to take out first team captain John “Useless” White. He played a great game, with John on the ropes for most of it – and apparently with an unseen winnable combination – before endgame technique sealed the win for John on move 38.

Performance of the night however, has to go to new member Wyatt “The Wizard of Oz” Donaldson. His opponent, 9 year old Nadhmi, has become a force to be reckoned with of late – there are very few who’d want to take him on with the black pieces.

Tension rising during the Wyatt / Nadhmi game as a crowd gathers

That task was Wyatt’s on Monday, who takes us through their game, where he showed excellent technique to dismantle Nadhmi in the endgame.

Round 2 will surely throw up some juicy pairings, with the big (and small) guns starting to square off against each other.

The pairings go out on November 1st – and from now on it will be necessary for players to arrange their own games each month.

Good luck!

Adam.

Planet Hammer

It’s been another busy week of chess (and a few other things!) on planet Hammer this last 7 days. Five games of chess, one IM getting a Hammering, and several other things coming up in the next few days. Read on to hear more!

Rapidplay Round 1 – Monday 23rd October

It can’t have escaped your notice that our awesome new Rapidplay tournament kicks off this coming Monday 23rd at Lytton Hall.

The pairings have been announced, preparations have been finalised, and we’re all set for 8 months of Rapid chess with 25 players in the frame.

As such, it’s going to be a busy one at Lytton Hall, but don’t worry – we’ll still have room for casual chess if you’re not taking part in the tournament, and I have a feeling it will make for excellent spectating!

If you’ve signed up to play, you need to show up, else you’ll forfeit the first game! Harsh but fair!! See you there from 7.30pm!

Thames Valley / Middlesex Double-Header – 16.10.17

Hammer faced a double header this Monday just gone, with our Thames Valley team facing the mighty Surbiton, whilst our Middlesex 3 lot played host to Willesden.

Busy times at the home of chess, W14

Details for the TV game are quite sketchy, but I’m pleased to report that Hammer finished the evening 4-2 ahead, with two games adjourned, both looking like scoring points. This would represent an excellent result!

Adam on Board 7 has generously supplied us with full details of his game: “It was a very aggressive and tactical battle in the Dutch Defence, and I was pretty happy with the win given I started with only 35 minutes on the clock”:

Next up for the TV team is Kingston away, on November 27th.

Middlesex League Double-Header

It was a very busy week for Hammer 2 in the Middlesex League this week. We had two games, the first at home to Willesden and the second away to Harrow 2.

Willesden are one of the two teams who came down from Division 2 last year (the other has since dropped out of the League altogether). They were only relegated by the narrowest of margins, however, so we knew we were in for a tough fight.

Willesden descended on Lytton Hall with only seven players. Those seven players differed in grade by a full 78 grading points. In contrast, the differential between our boards one and seven was only 35 points. It was going to be a tough day at the office for the top boards, while at the bottom end we would look to pickup some vital wins.

Casual players relegated to the back of the room again! Busy times

On board seven John Ryan had the black pieces. He played a very solid game, and his opponent finally cracked when he fell for a piece-winning tactic and the win was sealed. That brings John to 2/2 for the season, the team’s current best-performer.

Simon had the white pieces on board is. Playing his favoured 1.Nf3, not seen too often at club level, he decided to enter a London System. He attacked down the Queenside, navigating some tricky tactics in the early middle game. Realising his opponent’s King was slightly exposed, Simon decided to sacrifice the exchange for a very dangerous attack. It was too much for black to handle, and the Hammer newbie soon delivered mate on the board.

Simon has provided a wonderfully in-depth analysis of the game, which won’t be included in this report, but stay tuned for the next instalment in the “Games & Analysis” section.

Dave’s debut in the Middlesex League this season did not go quite to plan on board five. He lost a piece early on but escaped with positional compensation. He soldiered on, managing to turn this compensation into three pawns. With white’s Knights dancing around in the midfield and with very little time on the clock it was starting to get very tough to calculate. Full credit is due to his opponent, who spotted a very nice mating attack that won him the game.

Nadhmi continues his excellent run of form on board four. He played the Scotch and some excellent tactics in the opening won him a piece. This must have come as a surprise to his more experienced and higher-graded opponent, who did everything he could to try and get back into the game. Nadhmi did not flinch and a very nice finish sealed the victory. Playing like this I have no doubt that Nadhmi will very soon be torturing opponents as a stalwart of Hammer’s first team.

Gawain son!! Our new sponsors delivered some Chess magazines to Lytton Hall for our perusal!

So Hammer were 4-1 up with just the top three boards to go. Could John, Brian or Pouya get anything out of their games against opponents graded 181, 174 and 166?

Pouya could not. He got somewhat tied down in the opening and his opponent did not release his grip. Pouya ended up blundering a piece and resigned.

The Magnus Carlsen of Hammersmith, Brian Dodgeon, could not either. He fought hard with the white pieces, but was eventually squeezed out.

So it was left to John White, the final game to finish, to make something happen on board one. His opponent pressed very hard and obtained a passed pawn on the c-file. John defended vehemently and managed to win the pawn before it reached the seventh, at the expense of a very cramped position. They went into an endgame very short on time. John was almost in Zugzwang, but after a small move order inaccuracy from his opponent, John found the only move that could keep his hopes alive. His opponent descended into thought for most of the rest of his time, realising that John’s last remaining pawn was so dangerous that he had to settle for a draw.

So it was a win against probably the strongest team in the league with some superb individual performances. Could Hammer 2 dare to dream of promotion?

Thursday’s match gave us the answer to that question – a resounding “no”. This time we were playing Harrow 2, probably the weakest team in the league. The match itself doesn’t merit much discussion.

Yours truly found a neat way of turning a won endgame into a stonewall draw with over an hour on the clock. Nadhmi could not get close to the level he was playing at in the previous match, conceding a disappointing loss to a relatively weak player. Further losses for Shiraz, Wyatt and Dan, and a frustrating no-show, sealed an emphatic defeat.

Highlights of the evening included good wins for Pouya and Dave, the latter of whom refused to be distracted by his opponent’s poor etiquette and gamesmanship, including embarking on chit-chats during Dave’s move, and explaining where Dave went wrong after he’d won the game!

The next three matches follow shortly, so watch out for an email from me in the next few days.

Adam.

London League 5: Hammersmith v Hackney – 18.10.17

Our second match brought us to our knees with a surprise loss to Hackney, whom we beat last time rather spectacularly. So yes, a team whom we meet on equal grading terms this time puts us down, but hopefully not out! Read on for more details on this match.

We lost the toss, so were black on even boards. Boards 1 and 4 saw draws soon on. Our middle two boards fought on. Gokhan reported he blundered again and had to resign.

In the final game to finish, I had won the exchange and tried to press home against a vulnerable King on the a and b files, upon which I launched several pieces. My opponent stubbornly resisted, but without sufficient firepower my cause was hopeless.

Final score 1-3.

Congratulations to our two drawing boards, Brian Dodgeon and Nick Rutherford, both of whom debut’d for the team on this occasion.

Sophocles said: “I have no desire to suffer twice; in reality and then in retrospect”

Robin.

Next up is Pimlico away, on November 23rd.

Middlesex Division 2: Harrow v Hammersmith – 19.10.17

The Hammer crew were on the road last night, trying to extend their excellent start in the Middlesex League with a match against Harrow.

First, a bit of education. Yesterday was the celebration of the great Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of Diwali. This fabulous, noisy and very colourful celebration, represents the twin triumphs of good over evil and of light over darkness.

Now I would not ever designate Harrow as representing evil and darkness – they are in fact a great club with a fabulous venue, and are most welcoming. However, when it comes to chess Hammer go into caveman mode and the winning mentality takes over. We were there to win… period.

Before we get to the nuts & bolts we need to add to the nickname list and thus the roll of honour is extended with the following designations:

  • Tony – “The Surgeon”
  • Yasser – “Tellit”

To the tale of the evening…

On board one, the Great Dane had a positional crush where he had total control of the board. In these situations, positional domination always leads to a tactical denouncement and this particular game followed the script perfectly. Faced with either mate or fatal material loss, the Great Dane’s opponent gracefully resigned. Hammer 1-0 to the good.

Board 2 next. The Surgeon had one of those nights – his scalpel technique was just not in sync – and he succumbed to a painful loss. It was a definite aberration and the lesson is the Surgeon will rebound stronger than ever. Hammer pegged back to 1-1.

Next up was our captain – Zeus. He won at a canter with plenty in hand, continuing his excellent form this season. He really is a force to be reckoned with at the moment. Hammer forge ahead 2-1 to the good.

On board 4 Wily had the most amazing finish with a Queen sac leading to a beautiful mating pattern. This was Wily at his best with his Bishops dominating the board. A superb game and a prosaic finish. Hammer cruising at 3-1.

Brexit on board 5 had a draw in one of those games where nothing much happened. He was never in any trouble and held a slight advantage for the whole game. Unfortunately, there was never enough to force anything else. Hammer now at 3.5-1.5.

Board 6 saw Tellit convert the positional advantage of two Bishops on an open board with excellent technique. This was another dominating Hammer performance. The match was secured and Hammer lead 4.5-1.5.

The Suit had a slight edge but never enough to prosecute a victory. The Suit bemoaned his current form and was slightly down in the dumps. My view is that he will turn it around very quickly and is not far away from his best form. He is too good a player. Hammer now 5-2 ahead.

Clueless joined the party with an easy victory on board 8. His designated opponent did not show up and thus a last-minute substitute who faced a near 30-minute time deficit stepped in. Clueless gave him no chance and a desperado Knight sacrifice was coolly and logically refuted. Hammer gaining a 6-2 match win.

A great overall performance by the Hammer boys – this sets us fair for the rest of the season and our goal of challenging for promotion.

So, the good ship Hammer Middlesex II is well and truly launched. Bring on the rest of the season and keep the faith – go Hammer!

John.

Next up is the return leg v Harrow at Lytton Hall on 30th October.

Pavel Nefyodov v IM Andrey Ostrovskiy

We all like to indulge in a bit of online chess from time to time, and it turns out that those at the top of the game are no different!

Hammer’s own Pavel Nefyodov (aka Spock) played IM Andrey Ostrovskiy in a blitz game earlier this week, which the IM was recording for his YouTube channel!

It’s a thumping battle, and of particular interest for an amateur wood-pusher like myself is the IM’s dispassionate – and often third person – commentary on his and Pavel’s moves. A really interesting insight into the mind of a top player.

The video is linked below – Pavel’s game starts at 43:12:

ECF Digital Clocks – Special Offer

Here at Hammer, we love a new digital clock as much as the next chess fan, and we’re pleased to report that the ECF has received an almost-too-good-to-be-true offer from FIDE on the latest DGT clocks.

Full details of the offer are available here: http://www.englishchess.org.uk/new-dgt-clocks/

In summary, top of the range DGT clocks are being made available to English clubs for £20-25 (compared to a retail price of around £70).

#drool

As we’ve recently refreshed our clocks and upgraded to digital, we won’t be ordering any for the club…. but we are happy to place an order on behalf of any of our members who wish to purchase one. It’s a true bargain, and we already have 4 members on our list to purchase.

If you’d like to take advantage of this fantastic offer & get hold of a top-of-the-range digital clock, please drop John White an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

A Walk in the Chess Valley

Get your walking boots on – Hammer is going to the countryside! Sort of…

We’d like to introduce you to the delights of the Chess Valley, which starts up in Chesham and follows a route down to Rickmansworth – both of which are stops on the tail end of the Metropolitan line (aka “Metro-Land”) – a short hop on the tube.

Not a wood-pusher in sight!

It’s beautiful scenery and what better way to combine the game we love, with a stunning walk in a valley that shares its name!

There’s a 10 mile route, details of which are available here: http://www.petes-walks.co.uk/Chess%20Valley%20Walk/cvw_frame_page.htm

We’re thinking – a yomp through the 10-mile route, followed by some blitz chess in a country pub at the end of it (along with the necessary refreshments!).

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, please get in touch: john.white49@ntlworld.com or updates@hammerchess.co.uk 

If there are enough takers, we’ll look to arrange something in the coming weeks!

Final Thoughts

Another busy week of chess action as the Hammer train steams on – thanks goes to all our players and contributors for some top games and reports. For details of what’s coming up next week, please check out our Calendar.

The B of the Bang

After what seems like an age, the new chess season is finally upon us – and it started with a Bang!

Monday 2nd October saw the opening game of the 2017-18 season, with the two Hammer teams battling it out in Lytton Hall for bragging rights in the Hammersmith Derby – more on that later.

If you haven’t taken a look at our Calendar recently – please do so! It’s a rip-roaring story of competitive games coming thick & fast, with no fewer than 16 matches this month, plus the opening night of our RapidPlay tournament. In fact, the months up to Christmas are going to be chocka – including a top class Simultaneous!

Our weekly digest of goings-on at the club follows…

Hammer Derby – 02.10.17

Our two London League 6 teams faced off in the traditional season opener at the start of the week. A tense affair as always, we were delighted to hand league debuts to two new members, Charlie and Wyatt – welcome chaps! The game unfolded as follows…

Board 1 saw Captain Rich take on stalwart John. It proved a very tough affair with the players evenly matched. The tussle ended in a late flurry of moves in order for both players to reach the time control, with the game going to an adjournment. Subsequently, the players agreed a win for White. First blood, 1-0

Board 2 had Club Secretary Mike taking on newbie from down under, Wyatt. An all out attack from White (Wyatt) was repelled by a very stubborn defence. When the dust settled, there was spaghetti all over the board, and Black had the upper hand. However, wily Wyatt managed to steer the game to a draw, 1.5-0.5

Board 3 had our other newbie Charlie, taking on one of our charming long-timers, Nick. As experienced players will know, the draw is always on offer with Nick, and the game went true to form with an early draw being agreed, 2-1

Board 4 was another even matchup – just 2 grading points separating the players. The experienced Dan (as Black) played a smooth game, ending in a Queen & Rook mating net. Bad luck to Nadim, but a great tussle. Honours even at 2-2

RapidPlay Tourney – Pairings Announced!

You’ve probably heard about our new RapidPlay tournament this season – it’s going to last the full 8 months of the season, with a round each month, and we literally can’t wait for it to kickoff!!

To date it’s been a HUGE success, with 25 players signing up to take part. The big news this week – entries have now closed and the Supercomputer at Lytton Hall has determined the initial pairings as follows:

There’s a couple of tasty pairings in here – and the opportunity for a whole load of upsets! It’s a remarkable feature of chess how time can be an almighty leveller. Those gradings will mean very little with just 45 minutes on the clocks.

It properly kicks off on Monday 23rd October, 8pm sharp – see you there!

GM Keith Arkel Simultaneous – 11.12.17

We are DELIGHTED to announce that esteemed GM Keith Arkell will be gracing us with his presence at Lytton Hall on the final night of the London Chess Classic – Monday 11th December – for a Simultaneous display at the club!

Gary meets GM Keith Arkell

Keith has been a GM since 1995, British RapidPlay Champ in 1998, and has a peak ELO rating of 2545. He tied for British Champ in 2008, and shared first place in the World Senior Championship in 2014. He ain’t no fool!!

Full details will be announced shortly – there’ll be a small fee to enter, and places will be limited, but you can register your interest early by dropping us an email: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

Monday 11th December – Save the date!!

NEW Equipment!

After much searching and deliberation, we are pleased to announce that we’ve purchased a boatload of shiny new equipment for our members to use! It takes Hammer Chess right into the 21st Century and is a solid investment for the Club.

First up and fresh off the plane from China this week – we’ve secured a raft of new digital clocks. These can’t be beaten on functionality and will allow us to use timing increments for the first time. They’re also FIDE approved for when we next host Carlsen et al for some tea & biscuits on a rainy Monday night in W14.

We’ve also purchased a raft of new boards and pieces – weighted, no less! – for casual use, and are in the final stages of agreeing some brand new, solid wood match boards for the premium matches!

It all bodes well for the future of Hammer Chess!

 

Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day

If you haven’t heard already, we’re rekindling our link with Hammersmith & Fulham MIND next week, with a team of volunteers from Hammer Chess helping out in Lyric Square to support the charity as they mark World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October, 10am – 4pm.

It’s not too late to get involved – if you’re available and would like to help out, please drop John an email: john.white49@ntlworld.com

 

Like Playing in a Foreign Country

As we know, the Hammer Foreign Legion is strong – having successfully toured Amsterdam earlier this year, a couple of our members have recently had some chess-based experiences in foreign lands.

First up, our intrepid London League 4 Captain, Dave, had the pleasure of taking on some of the locals in Slovakia recently. It was an interesting experience, and rumour has it he’s made some permanent friends on the chess.com app!

The Slovaks… crazy for the beautiful game

And whilst experiencing the delights of Moorish Spain, webmaster Andy did some background reading on the Nasrid dynasty, coming across the following fascinating passage in a book – finally explaining the meaning of Alfil!

“Chess is one of the oldest games of war, and has been played in Spain longer than anywhere else in Europe, by Spanish Muslims since their arrival in the eighth century, and by Spanish Christians and Jews since the early tenth century. It started in ancient India, and the original pieces represented the units of the Indian army – foot soldiers, cavalry, armed chariots and elephants. The infantry, or pawns were led on the chessboard as in life by the King and his senior minister, his vizier. Some people think it was a game modelled on Alexander the Great’s campaigns in Persia, in which his squadrons were aligned in ranks of sixty-four squares, the number of squares on a chessboard.

The game reached Europe through Moorish Spain, where in Islamic chess, opening moves had romantic names such as the Sword opening, or Pharaoh’s Fortress. As it spread to medieval Europe, the pieces changed to reflect the feudal social environment of the times. Kings and pawns stayed the same, but the elephant piece was replaced in Christian chess by the Bishop, a powerful figure in the medieval church. In Spanish Muslim chess, the Bishop is just an alfil, meaning a chess piece and nothing more. The horse of the Indian game became the Knight, a symbol of feudal chivalry, the old armed chariot became the castle (or Rook in English, which comes from the Persian word for chariot), and the vizier changed into the Queen.

The 14th Century Nasrid ChessBoard

By the late fifteenth century, when the Nasrids were playing chess on the Alhambra chessboard, a dramatic change had taken place. The Queen was no longer the weaker companion of the King – she was the most powerful piece on the chessboard, with new long-range striking power. There was only one way to win the game, and that was through the irrevocable cornering and capture of the enemy King.”

The more you know!!

Hot off the Press – 06.10.17 !!

The London League 4 team have made a wining start to their season this Friday night, with a thumping 6.5-0.5 victory (plus one winning adjournment) against Morley College. Full writeup to follow…!

Blitz… Correction

A small update about our activities at the Club this coming Monday 25 Sep – owing to unforeseen circumstances, the John R. White Handicap Blitz Tournament will not actually start that night, however we will still be open as usual for a Club night of casual chess, tea and biscuits, plus our Annual Awards Ceremony and prize giving will also be taking place.

The first date for the Blitz Competition will be confirmed later in the month – stay tuned!

Blitz, Subs, Awards

No, it’s not a WWII word-association game, but rather a neat summary of what we have in store this coming Club Night on Monday 25th.

First up, we’ll be presenting our Annual Awards to those most deserving players – one from each of the 7 teams, plus a couple of special individual awards including the highly prestigious Player of the Season, and the Most Improved Player of the Season.

That will be followed in short order by the first round of our John R. White Handicap Blitz Tournament, named in honour of our indomitable late former Chairman. As with last year, it’ll be a Grand Prix format of 10-minute Blitz games, with points being awarded depending on final placings on the night.

With a further few rounds over the course of the season, the overall winner will be crowned at the end of the season based on their total score over every round! Should be a cracker if last years entrant numbers were anything to go by. We’ll be presenting the Winners trophy for last year on Monday too.

Last but not least, we’ll be available all evening to take membership payments from anyone still wishing to play for us this season who has not yet paid up. As ever, our team Captains will only be picking players who meet the following criteria:

If you want to get involved in one of our busiest seasons ever, come on down to the Club this Monday! See you there :o)

Blitz Roundup & Reminders!

Monday was the Club’s final night in The Albion, and we rounded off proceedings with a handicap blitz tournament.

As the last throws of Summer fizzled out this week, nine brave players showed up to battle it out for glory, graded from 210 down to 83 – a great spread!

The rounds unfolded as follows:

When the dust had settled, the scoreboard was tight at the top:

The top two players went into an Armageddon playoff. Wyatt had the black pieces and four minutes to Pouya’s five, but only needed a draw to win the playoff.

Pouya blasted through Wyatt’s defences in emphatic fashion, sealing the win with time to spare.

The top 3 places, with their… excellent prizes

Next week we’ll be heading back to Lytton Hall. There are no matches and no training, but a chance for everyone to meet some new faces and play some chess while not under the influence of beer!

Don’t Forget…

With the new season barreling towards us, our opening fixtures are less than 3 weeks away. If you want to play for the club it’s essential you meet the playing criteria of ECF Membership, and Club Membership. Captains will be unable to pick you for a team if you haven’t sorted both.

Full details can be found here.

And Finally…

There’s still time to sign up for our new Season-long Rapidplay tournament! We’ve already had over a dozen players sign up for what will be our most prestigious Club Competition this season. Entry is free – it’s included as part of your Club Membership.

Full details can be found here. Please email Adam or Dave to confirm your spot:

 

Handicap Blitz Tourney – Monday 11th Sep

This coming Monday night, 11th September, the Summer programme concludes with everyone’s favourite event – a handicap blitz tournament!

The format will be familiar to those who played in last year’s blitz competition:

  • 6-round Swiss system
  • 5 mins per person +/- 1 minutes per 20 grading points (up to 8v2 maximum handicap)
  • Start time 8.30pm, at the Albion Pub

There will be prizes on offer for the following placings:

  • Tournament winner
  • Highest-placed new member (joined since end of last season)
  • Exceptional performance or game (awarded at the discretion of the organiser – Adam Cranston)

This also marks the last of our Monday evenings at The Albion pub. She has served us exceptionally well this Summer & it will be a fond farewell we bid her.

Form Monday 18th September our home venue will revert to our usual regular season venue at Lytton Residents Hall, North End Crescent, W14 8TD.

If you have any questions about the move, please just ask or leave a comment.

Look forward to seeing lots of you at The Albion tomorrow night!