Get excited! Our Summer Programme is back for 2018, bigger & better than ever! We will be upstairs at The Albion every Monday night this Summer, putting on a host of different activities:
The club’s top players will be hosting a total of SIX training sessions throughout the Summer. Specific details will be announced nearer the time, but we already have some great things scheduled.
ECF-accredited coach, Paul McKeown, will host a pair of sessions (9th July & 30th July) focused on “Calculation and visualization with Michael Tal” – each session aimed at different strength players, though as with all our events, everybody is welcome.
Two of our strongest players – Jim Stevenson, and Carsten Pedersen – will be taking a session each. Jim will be focusing on “Practical Thinking Skills” (25th June), using illustrations from classic Bobby Fischer games. Meanwhile, Carsten will be providing his expert analysis on some games submitted by members (23rd July) – you’re invited to submit 3 or 4 games each, at least one win and one loss, and Carsten will take us through some of the more instructive ones.
(For those not in the know, our Jim is also an avid user of Twitter, and is well worth a follow: @Jimovskytwenty3 – some fabulous chess analysis & musings on life!)
And another ECF-accredited coach, Tony Niccoli, will be taking a session on 20th August. Details TBC at the moment, but those who came to Tony’s session earlier in the season will recall what a well-run and instructive evening that was.
As well as the training, Carsten will be providing us with a fascinating lecture on the History of Chess, for general interest on 13th August.
After the amazing success of similar events last Summer, our Tournament wizard Adam, will be organizing three more events this year:
Team Rapidplay (2nd July) – attendees will be split into four teams and play one rapidplay game against each of the others. Prizes to the winning team!
Handicap Blitz (3rd Sept) – a straight up Blitz tourney played out in traditional Hammer handicap style
Bughouse (16th July) – This chess variant is great fun and hugely popular. Players will be paired according to grade and fight it out for the grand prize
Arguably the highlight of Summer 2017 – this year’s Kensington pub crawl will incorporate even more pubs, with plenty of chess along the way. Save the date – 6th August!
The powers that be have selfishly littered a few Monday nights with big football games and bank holidays. No problem! Come along to The Albion anyway and there’s sure to be plenty of like-minded folks around to play some chess.
And don’t forget – as well as all this, there are also 6 Tuesday evenings of Summer League Chess down at Battersea Chess Club (5 mins from Clapham Junction). We are entering even more teams this year, so there’ll be loads of competitive chess to play!
After the shortest AGM in Hammer history, the hammerites got down to the fun part of the evening – the final leg of our three-tourney-cycle to determine the Handicap Blitz Champion of the Club for the 2017-18 season.
Twenty-three of the best of our club entered this final round with the two blitz gurus of the club, Chairman Bajrush, and Carsten, vying for top dog status. They were #1 and #2 in the rankings after the first two rounds and surely one of them would emerge as the champion?
However, matters were not so simple, with 23 points up for grabs for first place in this final round.
Without further ado I can announce that the winner of the third-round of the Blitz Tourney with a perfect 8/8 was Tony Niccoli.
Not only that, but he also seized the overall title as well with this superhuman performance that propelled him into first place. A stunning score of 43.5 points.
In second place was new member Thomas, with a total of 42.5 points – another epic performance.
In third and fourth respectively were bookies favourites, Carsten and Bajrush.
The best result of the night was Robin Lee, who finished joint 5th despite being ranked 15th – a really stellar performance.
A big vote of thanks must go to Adam who ran the tournament really well and used the software expertly to keep matters rolling along.
So, we have a new champion – yet another sign of all the changes happening in our vibrant club – roll on next season! The best is yet to come.
The inaugural Hammersmith League came to a dramatic conclusion last Monday at the Anvil – with three teams in with a shout for the title.
In pole position the SW Juniors, followed closely by the Hammerheads and the Circus. Battersea were playing for pride and honour.
That doyen of football analysts, Alan Hansen in 1995, after watching a young Manchester United team crash in their opening game of the season opined, “You can’t win anything with kids”.
He was subsequently proved wrong by those same kids when they secured the Premier League title later that season. Not the first time a pundit had egg on their face. I must confess when looking at the teams this season in the Hammersmith League I thought the winner would come from Hammersmith or Battersea.
The SW Juniors would be gallant participants but older wise heads would rule the day.
Show you how much I know!!!
Before I get to the bones of the finale I must correct an error in the table of the last report. I got the points plus wrong, so here is how things actually stood before the last round:
The SW Juniors were flying high and “just” needed to win their last match to secure the first Hammersmith Rapid League Table.
The final pairings were as follows:
SW Juniors v Hammer Circus
Battersea v Hammerheads
To the second match first. Battersea have had a tough tournament and were in all reality only playing for pride. However, our noisy neighbours are not ones to go down without a fight, and in an excellent display inflicted a decisive defeat on the Hammerheads:
A great performance that took the Hammerheads out of the title race and restored a lot of pride to Battersea.
This meant the destination of the title was down to the SW Juniors match against the Hammer Circus.
I can report exclusively for the Hammer website that the Juniors stayed strong and are deserved first champions of the Hammersmith Rapid League. Many congratulations to them!
Clueless has joined Alan Hansen with egg on his face!!
The scoresheet reads as follows:
Only Adi for the Circus held the line and won his individual match.
The SW Junior heavyweights Alexander and Nadhmi were in dominating form and scored a clean sweep. Both Connal and Charlie delivered the extra points needed to secure the win and the title.
The SW Juniors are champions and it proves kids can win championships. Their coach Tony Niccoli deserves great credit for their result.
My only advice to my fellow Hammerites is watch out! These kids are good and they are coming.
The final table and standings are as follows:
On a final note I must pick out Alexander Jamieson as player of the tournament with an ultra-impressive 6/6, a definite start of the future.
Roll on next year and hopefully we can have even more teams competing!
It was back on September 6th 2017 when we first announced our new, season-long RapidPlay competition. Over 7 gruelling rounds since, we’ve edged ever closer to discovering our first Champion in the inaugural Hammersmith RapidPlay Championship!
Round 7 – played across the month of April – didn’t turn up too many surprises, with most results running largely to form. However, there are two results worthy of note, both of which may well be instrumental in deciding the award winners at the end of May, as our 8th and FINAL Round draws to a close.
Tony triumphed against Marios in the battle of the big hitters, leaving Bajrush out in front to secure the overall prize
Ben edged out Wyatt in the hotly-contested “Battle of the Captains”, which might just have a hand in deciding the prize in the <100 category
As we look ahead to the pairings for Round 8, let’s remind ourselves of the 4 award categories as well as the runners & riders still in contention to claim victory:
Open – Overall winner
Bajrush is the man to beat here. A positive result against Nadhmi will bring home the silverware…
Marios and Tony will be hoping young gun Nadhmi can spring an upset so they can usurp our all-conquering Chairman
Kings – Under 160
Matteo “the Suit” Bezzini leads the way, with 5 points from 7
A whole host of players lie in wait, hoping for a slip-up; John White and Nadhmi could be the beneficiaries
Bishops – Under 130
Simon and Ben are jostling for top position with 4 points from 7
RichWingfield is best placed to steal-in if Simon and Ben oblige
Knights – Under 100
Ben’s destiny is in his own hands here. A draw/win will clinch it
Beyond that, it could still be anyone’s… very tight!
Monday 21st May has been allocated a “RapidPlay Night” at the club, so we’d love you to play your match there if you can.
However, we know that won’t be possible for everyone; not least Bajrush, Tony and Marios who are in action that night. Either way, please get in touch with your opponent asap so you can organise your match as quickly as possible. We’d love to have the tournament sewn up by that Monday if possible so we can hand out the gongs on the night!
Calling all Hammers!! – we need your help on Saturday 19th May as we take chess back to the streets of Hammersmith & help our local branch of MIND raise money for a good cause!
As you may have read this week – we are returning to Lyric Square, W6 next month for a day of chess, activities and fundraising. Your support is critical – and we want to smash this out of the park.
It was a massive, massive success when we did this last year, and a brilliant day out for all involved, raising over £400 for MIND.
We need help with logistics, leafleting, playing chess, taking contact details & new inquiries, fundraising and much more. Even if you can only spare a few hours between the hours of 9am and 4pm, we will be enormously grateful!
We need to know how many of you are willing to help out ASAP – so please get in touch by Friday 4th May, so that we can plan accordingly!
The Return of Summer Chess
Yes, the rumours are correct… after a truly amazing first season, the Summer Chess League is back for 2018!
It’s going to be even bigger & better this year with the number of team entries having doubled from last time – not including the many clubs still to confirm their entries – and Hammer looking to field an additional couple of teams from last time too! We’re also aiming to introduce a divisional structure to help even out the matches & retain the competitiveness.
Nevermind the Summer of Love – this will be the Summer of Chess!
As with last year, the league will be played over five Tuesday evenings, all at Battersea’s spacious, technologically advanced & beer-fuelled home venue.
Final details are still to be confirmed, but rest assured – you will be the first to know!
SAVE THE DATE – The importance of 19th May 2018 cannot be stressed enough – not only are Harry & Megan tying the knot with the FA Cup final kicking off later in the day, but the BIG news is that Hammer will be bringing chess to the streets of Hammersmith again – or to be precise, Lyric Square.
After our hugely successful event last year in conjunction with mental health charity, Hammersmith MIND, we are again venturing forth to raise awareness of mental health, raise some funds for that worthy organisation, and raise the profile of Hammersmith Chess Club.
This is a quick reminder to pledge your time & attendance in some capacity on the day – whether the full day, a few hours, or just some help with logistics, it is all hugely appreciated!
We will be setting up from 8.30am in the morning, with the official start at 10am. We’re scheduled to be there until 4pm, and then probably retiring to the Albion to enjoy the FA Cup final.
Those of us who took part last year will recall what a memorable and worthy event it was. There is a huge appetite for the game amongst the good people of Hammersmith, and they are generous folk when it comes to giving to charity too, as we raised over £400 for the Hammersmith branch of MIND – a total we are hoping to smash this time round.
The Hammer train never stops, and none more so than this week. We’ve got a great set of updates for you to read through – it’s a long one, so make sure you read all the way to the bottom!
Thames Valley Cup v Richmond – Semi-Final Result
Hammersmith League – Round II
Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II
The John White Drinking Club Bury St Edmunds Visit
Thames Valley Cup – One Win From Glory!
First up, in some superb BREAKING NEWS this week, we are delighted to report that our Thames Valley team superbly navigated their Semi-Final against Richmond this week, winning 3.5-2.5 to make it through to the FINAL of the Cup Competition!!
This is a superb achievement – it’s a brutal knockout competition with no second-legs, so it really is a case of putting everything on the line each round. Massive congratulations must go to Captain Bajrush and the rest of the squad for this marvellous achievement.
We’ll be facing the titans of Harrow, or Kingston in the final – full details to follow. It promises to be an absolute CRACKER!
Hammersmith League – Round II – Dispatches from the Battlefront
The Hammersmith League contestants once again do battle at the Anvil. The first round had seen some blood-thirsty encounters as well as some subtle positional efforts. What would the second round reveal about the teams and their captains?
A dramatic night once again unfolded… I invite you to read on.
Round II threw up the following match-ups:
Battersea v Hammersmith Circus
SW Juniors v The Hammerheads
The first of these encounters saw two teams who had experienced very different results in round one. Battersea had negotiated a very tricky encounter with the SW.
The Circus had a bruising encounter with their fellow Hammerites – the ferocious sounding Hammerheads. In a full-blooded encounter they went down 8-2 with only Captain Ben preventing the dreaded double-bagel scoreline of 5-0 and 5-0. They needed to bounce back hard if they were to have any chance of fighting for the title.
I think when the chips are down and your back is against the wall, then the Hammer characteristics of tenacity and sheer grit shine through. We do not go quietly into the night.
To the match – this is a real tale of blood and guts. No draws. All results decisive.
Gokhan had a tough task on board one and tried his best, but he was taking on a 194 and sadly for his team, it was too much of an ask.
However, this was the only blip in an otherwise excellent performance by the Circus team. The tale of the tape was seven victories and just a solitary defeat. The Circus Crew are back in the mix!
The second game saw the SW Juniors take on the in-form Hammerheads. Confidence was high in the Hammerhead camp, especially after their thrashing of the Circus in round one.
What followed was a bitterly contested match with the Juniors not backing down, and in the end, deservedly winning 5.5-4.5
Alexander again starred, and is now on 100% for the tourney, although he had to rescue two inferior positions against Simon. I felt sorry for Simon because he deserved better from the chess he produced. Caissa can be cruel!
Dave suffered a bit of a debacle in the first game with Connal but was back to his best in the second leg and won in good style.
Pouya had a little too much experience for Charlie and won their mini-match 1.5-0.5. This one was definitely down to experience and an older, wiser head.
Wyatt overwhelmed Taymour in the first game and confidence was high for the return encounter. However, these Juniors do not get down. When they lose, they just shrug it off, and come back twice as hard. Taymour played an excellent game and earned a well-merited revenge win.
In the final lineup Nadim and Laith shared the points with some unbelievable blunder and counter-blunder sequences mixed in with some excellent chess.
The SW Juniors had come through a tough examination and not only demonstrated chess acumen way beyond their years, but also a grit and resolve that is uncommon in ones so young. They will become even more formidable chess players in the future, is the only conclusion this correspondent can come to.
So, it is all change in the League table and again there is all to play for in the next and FINAL round, with three teams in the running for the title of Champions.
Tune in for the next instalment!!
The Hammer Blitz Tourney – Round II
A very late update!!
In the absolute avalanche of matches and events in February, this important new item got missed! The second round of our internal blitz tourney took place on the 12th February at the Anvil. This is a quick update on the events of that evening.
Twenty-three Hammerites and one guest turned up for the second leg of our tri-tourney series to contest and vie for the title of Hammer Blitz Tourney Champion. One of the largest turnouts in the modern version of this event.
Superbly organised by Club Captain Adam, we were divided into four groups for the all-play-all section.
The qualifiers from the groups were: Thomas, Charlie, Carsten, Alexander, Bajrush, Mohammed (a guest for the evening), Tony and your reporter John W.
The knock-out secant saw Thomas, Carsten, Bajrush and Tony, who respectively beat Charlie, Alexander, Mohammed and John W.
The big-four had made it through to the semi-finals.
In a throw-back to yesterday the two semi-finals yielded Bajrush and Carsten as the winners. A definite case of deja vous! God knows how many blitz games these two stalwarts of the club have contested over the years!
The critical significance would be if Bajrush triumphed, he would have sealed the title with one round to go.
However, Caissa took a hand and Carsten took the win and kept the destiny of the 2017-18 Hammer Blitz Champion still up for grabs.
A great night of blitz and lots of congratulations to all who took part.
Here is the scoreboard so far:
All this means that there is still all to play for!!
Remember, it is your two best scores that count – so roll on the final leg after our AGM on the 4th June. All Hammer make a note!
Hammer Goes Mad in Suffolk and Cambridge
Yes, the Hammer Crew were off on their travels and using the old excuse of a ‘chess challenge’ as cover for excessive beer consumption.
The chess part of this tale came about by pure chance. Paul Mustafa, one of our new members, had entered the Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress, and the organiser – Steve Lovell – contacted me to discuss what his estimated grade should be so he could be entered in the correct competition. During the course of a series of emails, your correspondent chucked in the idea of a challenge match sometime in 2018.
Steve responded positively and matters escalated from there. The date, format and venue were set and agreed – the Hammer Crew were taking on the powerhouse of Suffolk chess.
First, I must acknowledge the work and effort put in by Steve and the Bury St Edmunds club, who were most welcoming and hospitable. They really put the boat out for us and I am very grateful. Steve is not only a first-class bloke, but is possessed of a fantastically calm temperament. Despite me having three late withdrawals he did not throw a fit but just kept calm & carried on!
What follows is the story of a chess challenge match, but it was so much more than that – it was about Hammer camaraderie, new friendships and beer.
The weekend started early Friday with the tale of Hammerites in three cities: London, Bury St.Edmunds and Cambridge.
The London crew consisted of Bajrush and Alex, who travelled up early Saturday for the match.
Two of our new guys – Wyatt and Charlie – spent an excellent Friday night in Bury St. Edmunds.
Whilst the Cambridge party Friday night mob consisted of some of the worst elements in Hammer Chess history – namely Carsten, ChrisSkulte, Adam and Clueless. They were joined by another reprobate called Ryszard fora night of beer and curry. For once I am proud to put my name to the events of that evening – yes, the John White Drinking Club (c) was officially out. The guys were out on the town.
For those beer aficionados, Cambridge has an excellent array of watering holes. Chris and Clueless joined the party late afternoon. Our leader for the night was the Great Dane himself – King of Knowledge and Chess Wisdom – the one and only Carsten. But, most importantly for our purposes, a genius at finding excellent pubs to drink in. The fact he had been drinking since midday testifies not only to his love of beer, but his redoubtable stamina.
We played a bit of chess and drank a couple of pints at the Kingston Arms. This was followed by a visit to the superb Calverley’s brewery and finishing up at the Cambridge Blue. The quality of beer was top-drawer and the company sensational. Finally, just before 11pm, Carsten departed and the survivors found a curry house.
I have to confess, the rest of the night was a total blank – I have no memory of getting to my hotel. All in all, a great night and perfect training for our chess challenge the next day.
By foot, bicycle, train and automobile, the Hammer team assembled at the Moreton Community Hall in Bury St. Edmunds to defend the honour of Hammersmith Chess Club.
We were greeted by Steve and the rest of their team with decent coffee and tea supplies on hand (accepted most gracefully the semi-hungover Hammerites!).
Steve gave an excellent greeting speech and explained the days activities and rules. Clueless responded in kind and presented each of the Bury players with a Knight lapel pin, and put on the display the Hammer Chess Challenge Trophy – the prize for the winning team.
The Hammer team consisted of, in board order:
Carsten – The Great Dane
Ryszard – Breslau
Chris – Sydney
Bajrush – Wily
John – Clueless
Adam – Pickle
Alex – Cola
Charlie – Sorted
Wyatt – Gandalf
The long play time control was 36 moves in 80 minutes, plus 15 minutes, with a 15 sec increment per move.
The niceties were done & dusted, and the challenge began.
First game to finish was your correspondent playing the white side of an Advanced French, I kept a tight lid on matters and essentially constricted my opponent to the back two ranks. He failed to make any pawn break and I simply moved over to the attack which played itself. Hammer on the scoreboard: 1-0
Next to finish was Charlie who manoeuvred into a position where he had a slight edge. He could have taken the draw, but he wanted more. As is sometimes the case when you push too hard, you can get burned, and sadly for Charlie and Hammer that’s what happened. In the analysis room afterwards Charlie, on balance, won his case and could have gained an advantage. Hammer pegged back to 1-1
Chairman Wily then joined the fun and triumphed in a really well-played middle game. He got a passed-pawn, then his knight and rook went to work. Victory was assured and Hammer went back in front: 2-1
There then followed three quick results consisting of two Hammer wins and a draw.
Gandalf won nicely, netting a piece on the way and keeping everything under control. Cola also played a really nice game where in the end he was just one move short for victory. His opponent got a perpetual and the point was shared. It was great to see Alex back playing for Hammer and in a long-play format.
Sydney had an excellent win against a Dragon, where he demonstrated convincingly what white can do when black slightly mislays the opening. Chris was in superb form and finished the game off in style. Hammer now leading at 4.5-1.5
Hammer secured the match when Ryszard (Breslau) finished strongly after being under pressure during the first half of the game, but a neat combination allowed him to net a rook and the point. A brilliant debut performance for Hammer.
The final two games saw Carsten triumph when his opponent was flagged. However, The Great Dane was a pawn up and the only possible winner. It was an excellent performance by Carsten and his opponent Ed was a very gracious loser.
Adam’s game was the last to finish and his game would grace any collection of thematic study games. His opponent Steve Lovell, tried everything to win but Adam was resolute in his defence. The rare finish of just a white knight and rook versus a black king and knight was the result. Steve tried hard to win but Adam held fast and did not allow his knight and king to be separated. The draw was agreed after numerous moves.
So, the final score was a Hammer win by 7-2 in what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable and friendly contest.
There was a break before the afternoon blitz tournament, during which Hammer were presented with a signed copy of the history of Bury St.Edmunds Chess Club. Club stalwart Laurie gave a wonderful speech with some terrific anecdotes. Here are just a couple:
The original club was founded in the 1860’s – it is nearly 100 years older than Hammer!
There are details of Capablanca’s 1919 simultaneous in Bury St.Edmunds
And perhaps best of all, Laurie himself was born at Queen Charlotte Hospital in Hammersmith. I always knew there was a connection between our clubs.
The afternoon was a frenetic affair with Alex and Ryszard opting out.
It was really fun with Steve doing his best to pair a Bury and Hammer player in the early rounds. In the end, as per usual, the Hammer blitz champion Wily surged to victory – overcoming all before him. The frustrating thing for me was I was a piece up against him and still contrived to lose! He really is Mr Blitz.
The day finished with both clubs enjoying the delights of the Nutshell (the smallest pub in the whole of the UK) and the Old Cannon Brewery.
The drink and the chat were all good and we departed our new friends late into the night. There was many a tired but happy Hammer who made it home.
Once again, I must thank Steve, Laurie and all at Bury St Edmunds – they are a superb club and I look forward to inviting them to a challenge match next year at The Anvil. All I can say is Bring it on!
Finally, a quick advertisement for the beautiful town of Bury St Edmunds. A stunning Suffolk town steeped in history and culture. If you have not been there, it is definitely worth a visit.
Welcome back chess-fans – read on for details of the triumphant return of the Hammersmith League from it’s long hiatus, and a blistering write up of a make-or-break game in Middlesex Division 3…
The Hammersmith League
“A Brief History of How, Why and Round One”
The fifty-six year old history of Hammersmith Chess Club is both rich and varied. In our halcyon days, one of the most important competitions the club ran was the Hammersmith League. This was a long-play format that involved local clubs, but it sadly fell into decline and finally ceased, as the fortunes of chess clubs in West London withered.
It was always the desire of the current Committee when the club was reinvigorated and financially sound, to resurrect the League. The big question was how we could make it different to what is currently out there, and give it a modern, relevant twist.
The answer lay in the rapid grade you can now obtain as an ECF member. There was nothing out there – League wise – that would allow members to attain a rating – plus the idea that this should be an exclusive competition for players graded around 100.
After consultation with SW London Juniors and our frenemies at Battersea, we launched the League on the 19th March 2018. For this inaugural competition, four teams are involved – Battersea, SW Juniors, and two from Hammer. The competition will be played over three nights in March and April and the basic rules are as follows:
Teams of five boards
Average grade for the team to be no higher than 114 ECF
Time controls – 30 minutes plus 15 second increment per move (the club’s decision to purchase digital clocks earlier this year made this possible)
All players to be ECF members and all games to be graded
A double-header – you play the same opponent twice, once as black and once as white
To be played over three nights on the 19th March, 9th April and the 30th April
I must acknowledge at this stage the help from Leon and Gregg at Battersea, Tony at SW Juniors and Adam our Club Captain, in realising the new League. Plus, due to helping out our Thames Valley team on the night, Tony Niccoli ran the first evening for me… hugely appreciated.
So, Hammer needed two new captains – and I am happy to report both Wyatt and Ben stepped up to the plate. We were ready to go!
The first round draw saw Battersea take on SW Juniors and the Hammerheads (Team Wyatt) take on their compatriots Hammersmith Circus (Team Ben).
The SW Juniors was a tense affair that went back and forth across the two matches. In the end it finished 5-5 and honours even. Notable performances were seen from SW Junior stars Alexander Jamieson and Taylor Auchi, both convincing winners at 2-0. Whilst Battersea stars Josef-Milne-Lewer and Joe Sullivan returned 2-0 victories as well.
The last match-up saw Gregg and young Connal contest two hard-fought draws. The match scorecard is given below:
Alexander Jamieson 2 – 0 Darius Zutautas
Teymour Harandi 0 – 2 Josef Milne-Lewer
Connal McBrinn 1 – 1 Gregg Hutchence (two draws)
Kirill Povarenkin 0 – 2 Joe Sullivan
Taylor Auchi 2 – 0 Perto Yusoff
The Hammersmith derby match now took centre stage.
Two new teams and two new captains. There is nothing like lording it over your fellow club mate. There was pride, bragging rights and a bit of putting-in-your-place on the line.
Truth be told it was a bit one-sided with the Hammerheads demonstrating a ferocious appetite for points. Worthy of certain Premier League champions elect.
The final results are not pleasant for Team Circus:
Charlie Sturt 2 – 0 Shiraz Suntook
David Lambert 2 – 0 Alex Meynell
Simon Harding 2 – 0 Dipender Gill
Wyatt Donaldson 2 – 0 Ken Kwabiah
Nadim Osseiran 0 – 2 Ben Rothwell
The Hammerheads triumphing 8-2 and surging to the top of the table. Their top four boards completing 2-0 sweeps and only Captain Ben heroically holding the line and preventing a whitewash.
London League 2 Captain Dave Lambert was in ruthless form and exploited the understandable rustiness of Alex Meynell. Exclusively, for Hammer Chess, he sharedshis thoughts on the two games:
Game 1 (Dave as Black) – we both fianchettoed King-side and then a bit of a standoff occurred in the middle until I grabbed the initiative with my e7-e5 pawn push. This ultimately left me a pawn up after I threatened a cheapshot mate with a Queen/Bishop battery, forcing Alex on the defensive. Alex also got himself into time trouble as he persistently forgot to press the clock! As we entered an endgame slightly favourable to me, he timed out.
Game 2 (Dave as White) – Alex defended with an unusual variation of the Petrov defence which allowed an exchange of Queen and minor piece each, but at the expense of damaging Black’s pawn structure. Perhaps somewhat prematurely, I raided forwards with a Rook which snagged a pawn at the expense of wasting several moves finding a safe square to retreat it to.
I entered an endgame with the slight edge but significantly down on time. It was soon a Knight and several pawns apiece, but White had the better centralised King which proved crucial as we entered the final minute. The Black King eventually ended up with two masters – preventing the pawn promotion and guarding his Kingside pawns. It was too much to bear or take, and Alex’s resignation followed very quickly.
Thus, after round one the Cross table and League Standings are as follows:
That is Round One folks, with more to come. There is still all to play for and some crucial, crunch games to come.
Bring on Round 2! John.
03.04.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Muswell Hill v Hammersmith
The team travelled to Muswell Hill’s brand new pub venue knowing that this game would make or break our season. The game was just as important for our opponents, and as with most second teams at this stage of the season, both teams were slightly weakened by ineligibility.
It was the perfect opportunity for Tommaso to make his debut for the team on board one. He was playing Muswell Hill’s newly-graduated youngster, and a wild tactical struggle ensued. With crazy variations in the air, Tomasso coolly navigated the position and entered a Queen & Knight vs. two Rooks endgame. This he won with relative ease – a superb performance that set the scene for the remaining games. 1-0
John on board two was the only player out graded on the night. He entered a classic closed position with a good Knight vs. bad Bishop. He could possibly have pushed his fractional edge, but sensibly decided instead to take the draw. 1.5-0.5
Alexander had an evening to forget. He found himself in an opening he did not know and fell into trap after trap. Two pawns fell in quick succession, and then a piece. His King was hopelessly stranded in the centre of the board and although he defended tenaciously, the writing was on the wall. 1.5-1.5
Nadhmi had the black pieces on board four, and elected to play a solid defence. Both he and his opponent were on top form, and neither faltered. In the end a draw was the correct result. 2-2
Brian on board four found himself a piece down in the early-middlegame. He had decent compensation, however, and pressed his opponent to find some difficult moves. Eventually the extra piece proved decisive and Brian went home empty-handed. 2-3 #squeakybumtime
I faced the tricky 3.Nf3 Scandinavian,and could not recall any of my preparation. In trying to transpose into a line I knew better, my opponent built up a huge centre with c4 and d5, restricting my pieces to the back rank. Fortunately this was where my luck turned: instead of attacking my weak pawns or uncastled King, my opponent decided to slowly develop his remaining pieces to some passive squares, allowing me to untangle and address my weaknesses. The game ended abruptly with a fairly elementary piece-winning tactic, and to my relief I had undeservedly scored a win. 3-3
Charlie was facing none other than his former maths teacher! After Queens were exchanged, Charlie confidently marched his King to the centre of the board, and attempted to checkmate his opponent with his Rooks and Knight! The tactic did not quite go according to plan, and the players started repeating moves while trying to calculate alternative paths. Eventually the Knight was swapped for a Bishop, but Charlie’s pawn majority on the Queenside came under attack. The maths teacher decided to test Charlie’s arithmetic, offering a draw while three pawns down! Charlie politely declined, and delivered mate on the h-file two moves later. 4-3
Dave on board 8 played a complicated opening, with both players expending a lot of time to reach a middle game position where Dave was a fair bit better. Dave realised he had to speed up his play, but his opponent decided his best strategy was to slow down. As the last game to finish, with all spectators watching the seconds ticking down, only one player in the room was surprised when the flag dropped. 5-3
Go Hammer! The victory means the team is all but guaranteed promotion with a game to spare!
The remaining permutations are mind-boggling. In short, Willesden have to still to play Hendon, and Muswell Hill have still to play KingsHead (twice), so only one of each pair could possibly reach eight points.
Even in this rare scenario, and even if we lose our last game, we’d still have a strong chance of promotion based on game points, penalty points, or the league that no club can have three teams in a division.
A huge thanks to all 24 players who have contributed to the team thus far this season. The coveted MVP certificate is being hotly contested by Charlie, Ken, Ben, Simon and John. If any of these players win in our 12th match (and the other four don’t), the prize will be his!
We are definitely approaching the business end of the competition now, with even matchups every week and games generally going to form. There’s still plenty of jostling for position & honours to be done though!
All but one of the Round VI games were won with the black pieces – highly unusual! There were sadly no huge upsets this time, with Bajrush and Marios extending their lead at the top, and Simon justifying his 146 January grade with a good win over DaveLambert.
The full results table makes for an interesting read:
The penultimate round offers up some juicy pairings – not least the Battle of the Hammer League Captains – two in-form players, Wyatt v Ben.
Please contact your opponents ASAP and arrange a suitable time to play, and let the tournament controllers know the result before the end of the month.