Chess After Brexit

Breaking News: Hammersmith Chess Club issues invites for newly-created Yellowhammer Cup this evening

Brexit is back in the news, and how! We learned about a revolutionary new idea from the ECF, which was initiated after a meeting between PM Boris Johnson and Nigel Short, Vice President of FIDE and outspoken Brexit opponent – though he is aligned with Boris in his critique of Theresa May “the only person who has ever lost by three-fold repetition”.

Johnson insists that the domination of the continental powers over the development of chess regulations during the past few centuries must be halted, and that Britain will take back control of the game.

Chess historians will know that the rules of chess changed dramatically in the 15th century, owing to Spanish influence. Bishops were no longer restricted to one square at a time, with the rules changing to permit them multiple squares per turn. As a consequence, the Germans still call the Bishop “runner”, and the French even call it a “fool” – quite the sacrilege! The continental domination continues to this day, with the international federation taking a French abbreviation, FIDE.

A joint statement from the ECF and the UK Sports Minister on the matter:

“Now it is time to take back control, starting with the Knight. As with other pieces, it has been mistreated in various European languages, mostly called ‘horse’ or ‘rider’, occasionally ‘vaulter’. Over hundreds of years of continental regulations it was permitted to move 2 squares in any direction, and 1 square perpendicular. The complexity is not a problem, infact many English love that – look at our non-metric systems, the game of cricket, or our 3-digit ECF rating system. 

However, we do object to the disrespect shown to the traditions of Knighthood. We demand that players can choose to execute a Knight jump once OR twice per move. All other light and heavy pieces enjoy this liberty, even lowly pawns have a double-move option on their first move. 

The Knights would thus once again become the central pieces on the board, outshining the ‘fools’ and ‘runners’ of the board. Golden times lie ahead.”

The rule change would generate thousands of new jobs for very high-skilled workers, a most welcome political benefit. It is said that more chess books are published than books of all other games and sports combined – and most of those are opening books, which would have to be re-written, providing employment for many years to come.

Middlegames will become so complex that we dare not even consider it yet, and endgame theory would explode. Mate with two Knights is not only possible, but probably quicker than with two Bishops. The difficult Knight & Bishop mate becomes a beginners exercise, and two Knights would outshine even the Queen. Wow!

The ECF is currently gathering support from other chess ruling bodies. The Welsh Chess Union has indicated tentative support, on condition the ECF recognises the Welsh origins of Caissa, the chess Godess. The Scottish federation is proving trickier – pointing to their long(er) tradition of chess history as demonstrated by the Isle of Lewis figures. Scottish support now rests on these pieces being returned from the British Museum, to the National Museum of Scotland.

The ECF will also need to garner international support. Already the ECF is looking to sacrifice its 3-digit ratings, and adopt the 4-digit FIDE system. That however, is something which may ensure the ECF fails in this bid – opponents to the change have gently pointed out that it’s more likely we’ll see miles replaced by kilometres, before this change is implemented.

FIDE representatives have responded to rumours of the proposal as a “poisoned knight sacrifice”, and a “Trojan chess horse”. Plenty of work is still to be done!

As for Hammersmith Chess Club, having diversity in our DNA we are open to all forms of change in the game, proven by our recent response to the Coronavirus outbreak. To keep up this momentum, we will be organising the world’s first tournament under these new rules – provided lichess finishes updating their servers in time (the recent weekend outage was a test-run).

Starting this evening, April 1st at 7.30pm, online at lichess.com we will inaugurate the YellowHammer Cup. Named, of course, in honour of the UK govt’s no-deal Brexit planning, there is a chance the Prime Minister will personally join the game, following his recent success at hosting a Zoom cabinet meeting. If not as a player, as a true Kibitzer.

Visitors are of course welcome, but if you want to play you have to be a member – see here for joining details.

Good luck!

Sledgehammer & Rockhammer Tournament Updates

Hammers! After the launch of our internal Long and Rapid-play tournaments at the start of the season – respectively named the Sledgehammer and Rockhammer tournaments – it’s time to provide an update on the standings – who are the runners & riders??

The Sledgehammer

Our long-play competition remains popular, with over 50 games having been played so far. Christof leads the way with a solid 12.5/16 (translating to 68 Sledgehammer points!) and doesn’t look like being toppled, so it’s very much a battle for second place here.

The field is tight, with no less than three of our experienced players bidding for the silver medal place at this point. Further down the leaderboard there are only 3 points separating the next five players, so things could change very quickly.

It’s all to play for at this point – if you want to arrange a game, please get in touch with an opponent and arrange your head-to-head. You just need to agree a suitable time & venue, then let Nadim know the result.

And remember, you can now play two games against each opponent – one as white, one as black – so there are plenty of points on offer between now and the end of the season. Full competition rules are available here.

Who will lift the inaugural Sledgehammer trophy??

 

The Rockhammer

The Rockhammer has had a slower start, but with only 11 games played and 7 active players so far, it’s going to be a lot easier to ride up the leaderboard.

Current standings are below – and here are the tournament rules. It’s a rapidplay competition, so should be easy to up your game count and grab some points! Give it a shot!

The Rockhammer is born!

Last summer we launched the Sledgehammer internal tournament to create plenty of opportunities for Hammers to play internal graded slow games. We also have regular rounds of internal blitz tournaments counting towards a blitz title over the year. Something needed to be done in internal rapidplay land, and therefore we have decided to create Sledgehammer’s little brother – The Rockhammer!

Basically this is another handicap based tournament, where everyone can play everyone else in both black and white over the season. The default time control is 30 minutes plus 15 seconds increment, but when both players agree, they can play from 15 to 30 minutes, from no increment and up to 30 seconds increment per move. Here’s a link to the full set of rules.

To make things simple, we will consider that all players registered for the Sledgehammer are also registered for the Rockhammer. The contact lists for both tournaments will be merged, as well as the the regular communications to the players which include results and contact lists, however the standings for the two tournaments are separate.

Finally, if someone wants to register for the Rockhammer and the Sledgehammer, please send an email to sledgehammer@clubmember.org.

So let’s get started, and contact your opponents to put those rapidplay games in your diaries!

Nadim

Introducing… The Sledgehammer

Hammers,

We are pleased to announce the start of our brand new, Hammersmith Chess Club, season-long, internal long-play competition…. the Sledgehammer Tournament!

This is a quick-start guide for you to understand how it works, how to register, and start playing!

  1. Send an email to sledgehammer@clubmember.org to register.
  2. We will send you an updated contact list of the other participants on a regular basis (please keep it confidential… GDPR and all that).
  3. Contact any of the other participants on the list, and book a game with them. You are free to select any other participant, and play them in a standard ECF rated game no more than once per season (from June 2019 to end of May 2020).
  4. You can play anywhere, anytime, as you convene with your opponent at the club on a Monday evening, or elsewhere.
  5. Games need to be Over the Board (OTB) and played in one session.
  6. The default time is 60 minutes + 30 seconds increment, but players can agree longer time controls if they both want to.
  7. This is a handicap-based tournament, so players beating stronger players will get plenty of points counting towards the cup.
  8. Send the results and PGN file not more than one week after the game was played to sledgehammer@clubmember.org
  9. We will send updated results and standings on a regular basis, and keep updated results on the club website.
  10. Game results will be sent to ECF for grading by the end of the following month.

The full details and rules of the tournament can be found here: Tournament Description

We’re eager to kick-off this new tournament ASAP, with the aim to provide plenty of standard chess playing graded game opportunities within the club, and increase interaction amongst our members!

Note that by registering for this tournament you agree for us to share your contact information with the other participants.

Thanks & good luck!!

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!!!

May is Women’s Chess Month at Hammersmith

Yes, starting 7th May 2019, Hammersmith Chess Club will be running events tailored for women, aimed at beginners and intermediate players, seeking to encourage woman to participate in the game we all love!

The initiative is a first for Hammersmith and is a demonstration of our drive to become the club of choice for women chess players in London, and help redress the balance of underrepresented groups in the chess world. We are grateful to the English Chess Federation for their support and funding. Read on!

The following events will be FREE of charge to all women (and girls!) that wish to attend – please drop us an email to register your place at any of these events in May – john.white49@ntlworld.com

All players are welcome to attend – men and women – however we will be giving priority to women at all of these events:

7th / 14th / 21st May – Women’s Master Maria Manelidou
  • Tuesday 7th May, 6pm – A Chess Lecture from Women’s FIDE Master Maria Manelidou on “Opening Themes
  • Tuesday 14th May, 6pm – A second lecture from Maria on “Check Mate Patterns
  • Tuesday 21st May, 6pm – A third and final lecture from Maria on “Basic tactics
FIDE Master Maria joins us at Hammersmith in May
21st May – Women’s Tournament – £250 Prize Money

After the final lecture on 21st May, we will then be hosting a women-only rapid chess tournament wth £250 of prizes on offer. It will be a Swiss tourney, 10 minutes per player for all moves, with cash prizes as follows:

  • Winner: £125
  • Runner-up: £75
  • Third: £50
Special Offer to Join Hammersmith in May

Finally, to round off Women’s Chess Month at Hammersmith, any female players who want to join the club can do so in May for the special price of £40, which will cover membership for the remainder of this season and all of next season – up until June 2020 – including ECF membership worth £15!

This gets you full club membership, and English Chess Federation membership,  providing you with rated games, all club tournaments and activities, lectures, training, and much more!

It’s going to be great – please get in touch to register your interest and secure your places! john.white49@ntlworld.com

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:

 

A Theresa May of a Fortnight

Read on for a January update from the Middlesex Division 2 team, followed by a super writeup on our top team in London Division 2, with bonus games to play through – very worth your while.

We also have the February pairings for our Rapidplay competition, and a few friendly reminders of some upcoming events!

A Theresa May of a Fortnight on the Middlesex 2 Battlefront

Yes, hostilities resumed for Hammer 2 on the Middlesex battlefront with the first three skirmishes of 2019. The question was, could Hammer carry on the excellent start – 2.5/3 – and not only cement our position in Division 2, but actually entertain thoughts of promotion to the top flight.

From the headline to this report I think you can conclude that things did not go as well as hoped. I ask you to read on with some trepidation…

The Hammer opponents for the month were:

  • 14th January – Albany 1 at The Anvil
  • 17th January – Harrow 1 at Harrow
  • 28th January – Hendon 4 at The Anvil

Hammer 2 were full of post-festive cheer, and were ready for the Albany challenge. The team consisted of, in Board order: Paul KDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, SheikhPandit“, Clueless, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, SimonBond” and IzzyThe Money“.

Suffice to say we were out-graded on average by 21 points a board, and the memory of the fighting draw we achieved away in November was a distant one. Here is the match card:

The hero of the evening was Dead-Eye, who won an excellent game against a very tricky opponent. here is the game and thoughts at various critical stages. I would say it is worth comparing with the Chris Skulte game from the away fixture in November. Both are excellent examples of attacking chess.

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 4. Be2 e6 5. O-O Nbd7 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8. c5 generally when this is played against me I attack it immediately with b6 and a5.but it never seems to come out right, so tonight I left it.
h6 To tuck the B if necessary.

9. b4 Qc7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Rc1 Bh7 12. Qa4 e5 13. Rfd1 e4 14. Nd2 Rfe8 I wanted to get my N on d7 into the game. Also Nf8 is one of those moves that always make me feel comfortable. Larsen said you will never be mated with a N on f8. That’s good enough for me.

15. b5 Nf8 16. Nb3 Bf5 I like this move, my B was doing nothing on h7 so I got it to a more active diagonal.

17. h3 Bd7 18. Qb4 N6h7 19. Nd2 f5 20. a4 Bd8 21. Qb3 Nf6 22. Ra1 f4 23. exf4 Qxf4 24. Nf1 Ng6 25. Ne3 up till now the engine says the game is equal but with this move it gives Black a plus. Bc1 is much better for White. Qg5 26. Kh1 Qf4 The engine says Bc7 is best but I was worried my Q was in danger of running out of space also it is attacking f2 so he must react. 27. Kg1 Bc7 Now I am almost +2.  28. g3 Qg5 29. Bc1 Bxg3

Now White can resign. 30. fxg3 Qxg3+ 31. Ng2 Bxh3 32. Bf1 Ng4 *white gave up.

Pandit and The Money came in with fighting draws to account for the other point. The latter fighting back from a piece down.

For the other Hammers it was a grim night with my own game being particularly grisly.

A tough 6-2 loss at home was a reality check.

In the same week we travelled up to Harrow – a real schlep but I am proud once again as Hammer fielded a full team. Serious kudos to the team members.

The line-up was as follows: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, Paul KDeadEye“, JohnClueless“, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, AdamPickle” and debutante Jon.

In time honoured tradition, I designate the nickname “G&T” to Jonathan. Not all of you know, but he was the winner of the bottle of Dutch Gin when our friends from Espion visited us last June.

Again, out-graded and playing in a chilly hall, my advice to all Hammers is to wear warm clothes if playing there at the height of Winter, plus bring along a thermos flask of coffee.

Harrow are an excellent chess club, but I plead that you address the temperature and refreshment issue!!

Having got that off my chest, I have to say that was no excuse for what occurred. This was a definite case of a double-hangover week – one of those weeks that are best forgotten.

The final score was 6.5-1.5, with the top three boards securing draws whilst the rest of us went down in flames – despite all  boards fighting to the bitter end.

The third battle of the front saw us take on Hendon 4 at The Anvil. A moral-raising victory was never more needed. Captain Clueless went for experience and called in the heavy troops.

In Board order, the lineup: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, JimEl Loco“, YasserTellit“, PaulDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, NadhmiThe Gift“, and CharlieSorted“.

As non-playing captain I should have been able to give an excellent insight to the games, unfortunately I was involved in a life and death struggle with Bajrush in the club internal rapid tourney!

However, from what I saw, Sydney had a brilliant win against a very talented opponent – I think GM Simon Williams comment when he beat Magnus aged 10 – best meet them early in their chess career – is applicable here. His opponent has an immense amount of talent.

Zeus is recovering his best form – a really nice win against a very tricky opponent, putting Hammer at 2-0.

Jim and Yasser had solid draws with neither in trouble at any time. Hammer cruising at 3-1.

Dead-Eye with excellent play and ignoring certain comments from his opponent, secured victory number three with his usual accuracy. This pushed Hammer to 4-1.

Victory was secured by “The Gift” – playing an awkward opponent who would not resign, despite facing a lone K vs. a K and R scenario. Signs here of his growing maturity and mental toughness. He is true Hammer granite. Hammer at 5-1.

Lastly to Brexit and Sorted. They both had tough losses and both fought all the way but, alas, on the night their opponents held firm.

So, a 5-3 Hammer win, but this is subject to a steward’s inquiry – this is due to the nominated players issue in the Middlesex Leagues – so this card may change. I will keep you updated.

The current table looks like this:

So, a true Brexit-May rollercoaster ride of a month on the Middlesex front and matters yet to settle, like real political life. This Captain stated in his goals that securing Division 2 status was the first objective, and I believe we will achieve this. However it will require commitment from the whole squad.

Captain Clueless – over & out.

30.01.19 – London League 2: Hammersmith vs. Ilford

Our London League fixtures are coming thick & fast, this being the third in a series of six during a busy January and February period.

Our opponents Ilford, at one time a major London club, have had their problems this season, including defaulting an entire match. With a large grading advantage on almost every board we were solid favourites, and in the end the match panned out much as expected.

The fabled ‘Yellow Jersey’ of Hammer board 1 has seen quite a few owners this season. Carsten, Thomas and Bajrush have all defended Hammer’s honour with great distinction.

Tonight the job rested on the shoulders of one of our more promising young players ;o), Sydney Showbag himself – Chris. As the game below demonstrated, he was keen to put down a marker with a neat win in under 20 moves. A couple of instructive tactical points, with mate in 4 at the end should black recapture… gxf6. The jersey is now his to lose, as they say!

On board two, our Great Dane Carsten ran into some sharp opening preparation and went down in flames. It happens to even the best of us occasionally. Of course, Carsten’s role extends well beyond being just a top board stalwart, and following last week’s pleasant after match trip to the Princess Louise, this evening he introduced us to the excellent Holborn Whippet pub in the appropriately named nearby Sicilian Avenue.

On three, Thomas provided yet another example of his powerful controlled aggressive style, wrapping up the point nicely after the time control.

On board four, even Bajrush’s tremendously wily ingenuity and fighting spirit could not break down Ilford’s most solid player. A draw with bare King’s eventually resulted.

Sylvain displayed his customary precise play to win a very smooth game with the popular closed Italian Game on five.

On board six, Marios continued his recent welcome return to form with a well played King’s Indian, totally outplaying an opponent seemingly aiming for a draw from move 1.

My own game on seven was straightforward. Marios had played my opponent in Monday’s ill-fated Middlesex League Match vs. Hendon, and in two minutes flat he showed my how badly his opponent had played a Bird’s Opening as white. So when my opponent uncorked a Leningrad Dutch as black, I just followed Marios’s recipe. See for yourself below. 1.Nf3! rather than my usual 1.e4 hackery was intended as modest tribute to the retiring former World Champion, Kramnik.

Paul on eight recovered from the sight of his opponent playing Bf1-b4!! in the early opening, imposing an iron clamp on his opponent and rounding off with a display of crisp endgame technique.

Pavel on nine started with an aggressive English Attack against the Sicilian. His opponent defended well and reached a better endgame which Pavel was unable to save, despite valiant efforts.

Charlie, who has recently become such a key member of the team, showed his customary great tenacity and fighting spirit battling back from an awkward position as black in a French. His determined attitude to get a vital point for the team, turning down a draw when a pawn down in the endgame, was admirable. Nice work mate!

So it ended 7.5-2.5 to the good guys. There seemed to be a slightly strained atmosphere from our opponents for whatever reason, but the important thing is that we got the job done without fuss. The battle for promotion looks like going right down to the wire.

Jim

Rapidplay – February Pairings

January’s pairings in the Rapidplay are now all complete – full results card below. Some big upsets here, with Wyatt, Taymour, and Yingqi all beating higher graded opponents, and John scoring an impressive draw against top seed Bajrush.

Unfortunately in this round we had to award two walkovers and one double default because players did not arrange their games.

Please arrange your games in the first week of the month & enter details into the fixtures spreadsheet!

Tony is now the only player left on 100%, and he’s got the black pieces against last year’s winner, Bajrush, in a game that could prove to be crucial for the final standings.

Here are the full Round 4 fixtures – games to be completed by Thursday 28th February! Good luck.

And Finally… Some Friendly February Reminders!
  • Raffle – don’t forget to sign up for the fundraising, prize giveaway that is the Hammer/Celtic Tigers raffle! There are still tickets available, and the chances of winning a prize are ridiculously high. Read the full post here!

Contact Chris Skulte to make your purchase, before it gets opened out to the wider chess community: chrisskulte@gmail.com

  • Poland Trip – our Summer excursion this year is to beautiful Wroclaw, in Poland! We’ll be lining up against the famous Wroclaw Chess Club, and enjoying the cultured surroundings of a stunning, medieval city in central Europe.

Friends & partners are also welcome to join. If you’d like to take part please contact John White for further information: john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • GM nights – We have not one, but TWO Grandmasters visiting the Anvil in the coming months, to spread the good word, and impart some of their lifetime of knowledge and stories to the Hammer faithful.

First up is 2016 French Champion, GM Matthieu Cornette on Monday 11th February. Please contact John to reserve your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • Member Profiles – you might have noticed a new page on the top menu. We now have a selection of Member Profiles featured, as part of our drive to widen our recruitment! If you’d like to be included, drop us a line: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

The Chess-Up in a Brewery

Yes, Hammer and our frenemies Battersea renewed their rivalry by boldly taking our brilliant sport to places it has never been before.

Saturday saw the inaugural event of a Chess-Up in a Brewery. Some said it couldn’t be arranged, and it was a tough ask for members who had committed to a dry January, and even tougher for those of us who have not, but could not attend.

Not mentioning names but Carsten, our Great Dane, was subjected to huge online banter due to the fact he could not attend and was bemoaning the missed chance of sampling Sambrook’s excellent range of beer remedies. [They also do fantastic pies!!]

Due to various factors a serious OTB encounter between our great clubs was not feasible, so a handicapped rapid tourney was put in place instead. In some ways, this was by far the best choice for the day as the X-Factor of beer certainly lent itself very well to this slightly more sociable format of chess.

Some big shout-outs before I get to the gory details of the chess:

  • To Sambrook’s brewery for the invitation and the hospitality. They really went out of the way to accommodate us… the beer and venue are superb. On a scale of 1 to 10, Sambrook’s is an 11!!
  • Our barman Jacob, who looked after us so well – nothing was too much trouble.
  • Finally, to the incomparable Aldo, who brought all the kit along and the software for the pairings – I also know he hates public acclaim but he made sure the day chess-wise went very smoothly indeed.

To the chess.

A six-round Swiss Tourney with a 15-minute start and 2 second increment – however there was a handicap based on grade differential.

The final table looked like this:

On face value, no surprises at the top where Blair and Ryszard dominated proceedings, both scoring 5.5/6 – the half-point coming from their drawn game against each other.

However, the table also tells of some great performances from some Hammer Heroes – Paul K in 3rd place, and Dave Lambert in 4th – some great wins there by both these guys.

Adam and potential new Hammer member, Javier in joint 5th place – very solid performances and well deserved.

I must also mention Edward and Kennedy for joining in, again, two new potential Hammer members and both performed very creditably. We hope to see them and Javier at a club night very soon.

An honourable mention must also go to Charlie, for winning the beer side of things. The strains of his singing along to Led Zeppelin made for an excellent chess backdrop, and it must be said that the choice of soundtrack was generally excellent!

The true winner of the day, however, was camaraderie, banter and the beer. This is a brilliant venue and we will repeat this event. The chess played was certainly of the imaginative variety!

Clueless in rehab – again – over & out!

Saturday 26th – Sambrook’s! & Much more

El Chess Up in a Brewery – it’s on! This Saturday 26th, Hammersmith will be taking on local upstarts Battersea, in a Rapidplay tournament at the home of Wandle, Sambrook’s Brewery!

Starting at 1pm sharp, and running all afternoon (until roughly 5pm), we’ll be in the taproom at their Brewery on Yelverton Road, SW11 3QG – nearest station, Clapham Junction!

It will be 15 minutes per game, with 3 sec increments, with some handicaps for extreme grading differentials.

It’s going to be a fun day, and we hope to see you all there – the venue is superb and the beer outstanding, and well-priced!

  • What? Rapidplay tourney, 15 min + 3
  • When? Saturday 26th Jan, 1-5pm
  • Where? Sambrook’s Brewery, Yelverton Road, SW11 3QG
  • How much? FREE!
The Hammersmith Rapid League 2019 – Round I

After the success of last year’s event, the second season of the Hammersmith Rapid League got underway last Monday. Six teams, five nights of chess, four boards, three senior chess teams, two junior chess teams, and one footy stats team… sums up the 2019 incarnation nicely!

This is the league where you play two games of rapid chess against the same opponent each night – one as black and one as white. All the games are rated and count towards an ECF rapid grade.

What more could any chess player want??

This year’s lineup was as follows:

  • The fearsome Tony’s Tigers
  • The awesome Tony’s Lions
  • The dreaded Hackney Posse
  • The Crazy Gang of Football Radar
  • The ferocious Battersea Crew
  • And the Mighty Hammer

To the matches – the first round saw some really close matches with an internecine battle as the Tigers took on the Lions, Football Radar taking on Battersea, and Hackney squaring up to the Hammers.

Tigers vs. Lions

This was a seriously competitive match with a real heavyweight clash on top board, and the other three all closely contested. All the games went to the bitter end with no quarter given.

The Lions shaded it in Round One, with wins for Connall and Xu. Taymour struck back for the Tigers and the top board was drawn.

At the halfway stage the Lions had sneaked ahead, 2.5-1.5.

The Tigers had been wounded but were not down – the come back was possible. Plus we all know there is nothing more frightening than a wounded Tiger.

The second round saw the Tigers go to work and with three wins and a draw they swept to a well-deserved victory. Both these teams will be serious contenders for the title.

Final Score: Tigers 5 – 3 Lions

Battersea vs. Football Radar

This saw the clash of the newboys. Football Radar, and our beloved Frenemies Battersea.

Things did not go well for the Footy boys in the first round and they succumbed to a narrow but decisive 3.5-4.5 defeat. This match really could have gone either way and Battersea can consider themselves very unlucky.

Great performances from both Alistair of the Radar and Darius of Battersea, who both went 2-0. The game that attracted my attention was the second game between Alistair and James that had a very nice tactical sequence. It is one that will hopefully feature in a later posting.

Final Score: Battersea 3.5 – 4.5 Football Radar

Hammersmith vs. Hackney

Following the trend set by the other two matches, the Hammer boys were leading 2.5-1.5 at the halfway point. It could have been a half-point more but for a tactic missed by Wyatt. That game was the longest of the first round and could have gone either way. In the end, stoic defence from Wyatt secured the half-point.

However, the Hackney boys were not down, and definitely not out. They rallied superbly in the second round of games with three wins on the top three boards. Dipli bravely held the line on board 4 against Hackney captain, and great bloke, Bryan, but alas could not prevent Hammer going down 3-1.

A tough loss for Kostis to take, especially in his captain’s debut, but he can feel proud of his team.

Congratulations to captain Bryan and the Hackney team – they really fought back well. The sportsmanship in this contest was totally indicative of the whole evening, and all teams and players must be applauded for that.

Final Score: Hammersmith 3.5 – 4.5 Hackney

So after Round I the cross table looks like this:

And the normal table looks like this:

Roll on Round II – we look forward to seeing all the teams back on the 29th of January!

10.01.19 – Middlesex Div 3: Harrow 2 v Hammersmith

With Adam away gracing Europe’s ski slopes, it was left to your author, Dave, to captain the Hammer side in Middlesex Division 3, as we took on Harrow 2. Fortunately we ran out 4.5-3.5 winners which meant I could welcome Adam back with some good news!

Full score-card as follows:

In the end, a very satisfying victory against a side almost matching us grade-for-grade as we moved down the board order. Even more so when you consider that we started the match 1-0 down due to a default. Very well done one & all… !

I’m able to present two games for your enjoyment here, both of which ended up as full points for the good guys.

Brian secured the victory with some aggressive play as White in a Sicilian Najdorf, creating complications which ultimately led to a tactical mistake from his opponent. Some fine play, particularly when trying to make up some time on the clock.

Your temporary captain for the evening took home the point after playing out a slightly unusual encounter. Playing as Black, I felt I was slightly on the back-foot for the first 14-15 moves before my opponent exchanged several pieces. Each exchange seemed to favour me, and before I knew it, I had some fairly well-placed pieces, with the threat of mate or serious material advantage. Resignation soon followed.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming games, when normal service resumes under Adam’s stewardship.

Dave.

And Finally…

The lovely folk who sponsor us, Chess & Bridge, are happy to offer any Hammer Members a FREE 3 month subscription to Chess magazine!

To claim this offer, simply drop them an email info@chess.co.uk or call them (020 7486 7015), and provide your name, address, telephone and email – of course, mention Hammersmith Chess Club!

Offer is valid until the end of Jan, and it is well worth signing up – a great magazine, and 3 free issues is a great offer!