The Return of the Hammersmith League

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and none more so than in chess! After a break of a few years, we are delighted to report that the Hammersmith League is making a comeback!

The League in its original form was always a local, casual arrangement between a handful of clubs in West and South-West London, providing face-to-face game opportunities for juniors and new or inexperienced players from the clubs involved, in addition to their other league setups.

With that in mind, the ethos of the League remains and we think this will really appeal to many of our newer members, and those looking for more experience over the board. There will be three Gameweeks as follows, with all games to be played at The Anvil/Lytton Hall.

Save the Dates:

  • 19th March
  • 9th April
  • 30th April

Hammer will be entering two teams, with Wyatt and Ben having agreed to stand as captains – thanks chaps! Battersea will also enter a team, along with SW London juniors. Look out for an email or two from our captains soon, as they look to nail down teams for the fixtures.

The rules are as follows:

  • Time Control: 30 minutes, plus 15 second increment per move
  • All games will be recorded
  • Each team will have 5 players
  • There will be two matches each night against the same player – one as black, and one as white
  • Second game begins as soon as the first is finished
  • Average grade of each team to be less than 115 ECF
  • All games will be graded (and will count to towards a Rapid rating)
  • A Trophy will be on offer for the winners
  • No player can play for more than one team
  • John White will act as arbiter on each of the evenings in the event of any queries

It’s a welcome addition to the chess calendar, and we look forward to the first round in March!

In Other News…

No match reports this week, but we are delighted to report a trio of great results.

On Monday, the Middlesex team ground out a superb result in League 2, squeaking home 4.5-3.5 against Albany. A hastily assembled match card is presented for your enjoyment:

With Carsten & Bajrush on boards 3 & 4, hopefully you get some idea of the standard of chess being played!

This was followed closely by a superb 5.5-2.5 victory for our London 4 team. The scorecard tells it’s own story, with us being out-graded by 14 points on average – a phenomenal result!

Particular credit must go to Charlie, achieving a draw against an opponent graded 38 points above him. And a special mention for Wyatt – not only for the superb win in beating a much stronger opponent, but also for stepping in last-minute to fill a late drop-out. Brilliant stuff – our new Super Sub!

And finally, our London 6 team achieved a creditable draw against one of the League’s strong teams, Hackney. Particularly good result for Nick, with a charming draw on board 3 against a stronger opponent.

GM Jon Speelman – Monday 26th February

The day is almost upon us – GM Jon Speelman is down at the club tomorrow evening to give a lecture on all things chess & tactics, plus some chess anecdotes, and he’ll be stopping round for a Q&A session! Don’t miss it!!

If you haven’t done so already, please get in touch to sign up today!

And Finally…

You can’t keep a good club down. Our efforts have been picked up by local councillor, Harry Phibbs, who invited our PR guru John to write a guest blog post for the Hammersmith & Fulham Forum website.

It’s a great little piece – have a read for yourself:

John White: Help for Hammersmith schools to start chess clubs

 

Blitz Tourney – Round II

The Second Leg of the Hammer Blitz Tournament Cycle – 12th February 2018

Chess in every format is coming thick and fast to Hammerites at the moment. On the 12th February, at The Anvil,Round II of the tri-tourney cycle to decide the 2017-18 Hammer Blitz Champion takes place.

Before I fill in the juicy details of the evening, remember if you want to win the title, you have to play in at least two of the three rounds. Your two best scores will count towards your final position. So, if you play all three legs you are maximising your chances of having a decent score. As has been said before…

“You gotta be in it to win it”

There is an unwritten law in the Constitution of the club that says whenever blitz is on the menu, our Chairman Bajrush (Wily) invariably triumphs. Such was the case in the first round played at Christmas, where he triumphed yet again. Can anybody stop him going for a repeat?

The current leaders are:

  • Bajrush (Wily) – 16 points
  • Ben (Hitman) – 15 points
  • Marios (Zeus) – 14 points
  • Paul (Dead-Eye) – 13 points

So, the challenge is there. It is still there to be won and setup for a Hammerite to achieve a huge surprise. Just look what Ben did last time out! Anything can happen – and usually does – in Hammer blitz.

The evening kicks off at 7.30pm, so come ready and bring your sprinting chess trainers, because if you are too slow there will be nowhere for you to go!!

In other news…

Entries for the Central London Chess Congress April 2018 are now open!

The CLCC is a 5-round FIDE rated tournament, with graded sections, played in the majestic surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall. With prizes up to £200, it’s got to be worth a crack!

The competition takes place from Friday 20th April to Sunday 22nd April. Further details – including entry forms – can be found on their website:

Central London Chess Congress at Imperial College: April 2018

 

Rapidplay – Half Time Roundup!

Thanks to everyone for completing your Round IV matches in our Rapidplay Tournament in timely fashion. Full set of results from the round are presented below.

Bajrush takes the plaudits in the battle at the top against Tony, but Marios’ win against gifted youngster Nadhmi ensures the pressure remains! Our two 100% records clash in Round V.

What will happen when the immovable object meets the irresistible force?!

Nevertheless, the performance of the round has to go to Ben Rothwell who “somehow” – to quote the man himself – managed to wrestle down Yasser against the odds. Perhaps our estimate of e95 was a little cautious for Ben, but there’s no escaping it was a great performance to overcome such a grading gap. Well done Ben!

Given we’re at the halfway point, it’s worth taking a quick look at the overall standings and begin to speculate who’s leading the pack to win one of our coveted prizes. Only a bit of fun at this stage, so we haven’t calculated the tie-break measures.

Remember, there’s four prizes in total: Open, Kings (<160 ECF), Bishops (<130 ECF) and Knights (<100 ECF)

  • OpenBajrush and Marios are neck-and-neck; things should be clearer after Round V!
  • KingsMatteo / John W / Simon, are tied for honours
  • BishopsSimon stands alone (Assuming he doesn’t win the Kings!)
  • KnightsBen and Paul M are looking Good

Great to see such a spread of names, particularly as it includes a few newcomers to the club. It’s a long way to go though and there’s everything to play for, particularly with the games now more evenly matched than they were at the start of the competition back in October.

And a reminder of our Round V pairings, which throw up some tasty matches:

  • Bajrush meets Marios in a crucial clash at the top
  • Captains of London 5 and London 6 meet as Rich plays Robin
  • Can Ben and Paul M keep up their giant-killing act as they face Pouya and Gokhan?

Remember, we need your results by February 28th at the latest – good luck!

Thanks,
Adam & Dave.

New Year, More Chess

The 2018 London Chess season kicked off again this week after our Winter break. Read on for the latest updates across Planet Hammer:

  • Thames Valley v Ealing
  • London 4 v Wanstead & Woodford
  • London 6 v Hackney
  • GM Jon Speelman visits Hammersmith
  • WhatsApp
  • Rapidplay Round IV pairings for January
Thames Valley: The Magnificent Seven – 08.01.18

In our January TV showdown we played our first match against Ealing. I’d first like to extend a welcome to our newest player in the TV League, Thomas Bonn, and I’m even more delighted to congratulate the team for a stunning win we’re going to dub the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN!

The score sheet looks like this:

With an average grade of 178(!) this was our strongest line up so far in the Thames Valley League. It was a great performance across all boards, and the result leaves in second place in the league, with 3 points from 3 games – 100% !

we have a busy few weeks coming up, with the following games:

  • Richmond (away) – Thursday 18th Jan
  • Surbiton A (away) – Wednesday 24th Jan
  • Surbiton B (away) – Wednesday 31st Jan
  • Ealing (home) – Monday 5th Feb

Bajrush.

London League 4: Dazed & Confused, Hammersmith v Wanstead

It was a real Heartbreaker in London 4 this week, as we found ourselves on the wrong side of a 3-5 reversal against Wanstead. It was a bitter pill to swallow after we’d built up strong positions on nearly all of our boards, but it wasn’t to be. A combination of overconfidence, carelessness and good old fashioned bad luck saw to that!

Chief cheerleader on the night, Carsten, reckoned we should have won 6-2!! And given the cramped conditions in the Citadines, he probably had better scope to review the matches than anyone.

Still, a big Thank You is in order for new recruits Tommaso and Blair, who each took home the full point. Superb effort! Add Simon into the mix and it was a case of the new guard trying to make amends for the failings of the old! In fact, it was Good Times Bad Times across the board. Each match was decisive, with no draw recorded.

Full match-card below:

I was particularly disappointed in how I played, and from chatting to a few of you afterwards it seems The Song Remains The Same. It was a night of real missed opportunities across the board.

I can present my game here (playing White), which is a clear case of Nobody’s Fault But Mine:

Thanks all,
Dave.

London League 6: Hammersmith v Hackney

Our London 6 team took on East-Londoners Hackney in another clash at the Citadines this week.

With a double-default on board 3, Hammersmith edged it 2.5-1.5 on the night, with wins from stalwarts Chris and Charlie. A disappointing result from captain Rich on top board was the only downer on the evening!

An Evening with GM Jon Speelman

In case you haven’t heard, chess legend GM Jon Speelman is spending a night at The Anvil on Monday 26th February!

Jon is an absolute legend of the English game, with honours too numerous to mention. He’s an enlightened scholar in many other aspects and we are delighted he’s visiting us to talk about his game, guide us through a game of his, and answer questions from the crowd. It’s going to be utterly fascinating!

We have an EarlyBird offer for Hammer members: £7 if booked before 31st January, rising to £10 thereafter.

Tickets have been flying out of the door and we’ve already sold around half the allocation. If you want to come along, please get in touch with John to confirm your place: john.white49@ntlworld.com

Don’t leave it too late!

RapidPlay Round IV – January

Don’t forget – Round IV pairings for our season-long RapidPlay are now out. You have until the end of the month to arrange & complete your games, and get the result to the tournament controllers, Adam & Dave.

This month’s pairings are below, if you have any questions or queries please drop the chaps a line:

adam1234321@googlemail.com
davidlambert80@gmail.com

WhatsApp!

As our Chess Club continues to grow, we’re constantly looking for new ways to communicate and get our members involved in all things Hammer.

Some time ago we setup a WhatsApp group to help our captains communicate and arrange games. It’s now evolved to become an all-encompassing Hammersmith Chess ClubHammerTime” group chat, featuring no fewer than 21 members & counting!

It’s proven to be a great tool for all things Chess – chat, tactics, logistics, banter, advice, and humour! We’re keen to ensure as many members as possible can join, so if you have the app and want to take part, please drop us your mobile number and we’ll add you.

Definitely the more, the merrier!

Final Thoughts

That’s all for now – keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of our Puzzle of the Week, dropping in a couple of days time!

And good luck to our players next week – four big games coming up!

Hammer New Year!!

Welcome to 2018!! Christmas may just be over, but the chess calendar does not have a holiday with the small matter of FOURTEEN games coming up in January! It’s going to be busy…

On top of that, we have the latest round of our RapidPlay tournament to think about too. Round 4 pairings are now out, and tournament controller Adam brings us the story of festive Round 3 in December:

RapidPlay – December Results, and January Pairings

Round 3 is now complete, with the full results below. Shoutouts to John, Simon, Wyatt, Andy and Ken, who all scored wins against higher-graded opponents.

The Round 4 pairings throw up some tasty offerings in the form of Wyatt pairing up with John – what a result that could be!! Can Chris rediscover his sensational giant-killing form when he takes on Matteo??

In addition our two strongest players face off at the top as Tony takes on Bajrush, and further down the order sees the “Battle of Amsterdam“, with Andy taking on Ken. Sparks could fly!!

Remember, January is a very busy month for matches, so be sure to contact your opponent asap to secure a date. Monday nights at The Anvil are as follows:

  • 8th January – FREE
  • 15th January – one 8x board match
  • 22nd January – FREE
  • 29th January – two 8x board matches

If you have any problems at all, please contact Adam or Dave.

Good luck!!!

The Last Hammer Hurrah of 2017

Yes, the calendar year of activity finished at The Anvil on Monday night and we went out with a moderately-sized bang, and definitely not a whimper.

Our Christmas finale was the first leg in the Handicapped Blitz trilogy of tournaments this season. Named after our late Chairman, the Tourney has always provided the perfect Christmas send-off for Hammerites to go off and enjoy the festive season.

This is chess played at its most furious and basic level. No quarter given and none asked for – it is when all members are equal as the time handicap ensures a level(ish) playing field.

Traditionally the format is so suited to the playing approach of our illustrious Chairman – Wily – he invariably tops the hustings. Balls of Steel chess are perfect in this environment. Would he triumph again?

Robin aka Wannabe, takes the award for Correspondent of the Year for 2017

The scene is set, so let’s look at the evening…

Before reporting on the events of the night, I think it’s fair that we continue the designation of nicknames for those with no name. Adding to the roll of honour:

  • RobinWannabe (self-nominated!)
  • NickTriple X
  • BenHitman (for reasons that will become apparent later)
  • SimonBond (move over Daniel Craig)
  • James TThe Future

There is also a re-designation. More may follow later in the year:

  • Charlie – aka Sorted, will now be known as Kiev (obscure Fast Show reference)

Onto the chess.

There were four preliminary groups rather originally named as Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4. Four players were placed into each group:

Group 1 – T-Bone, Gandalf, Bond and The Future

Group 2 – RU Serious, Eco-Prof, Wily and XXX

Group 3 – The Great Dane, Hitman, Wannabe and Clueless

Group 4 – Zeus, Dead-Eye, Mad Dog and Kiev

Cunningly, the harassed tournament controller had put a strong player in each of the groups. With that sort of planning why isn’t he running the country, I hear you ask – answers please are needed!

The top two from each group would go through to the knock-out, whilst the best of the rest would fight for the minor places.

The beauty of chess – and especially handicapped chess – is that it can occasionally send you a curve ball. For example, last week Kiev making his debut for Hammer 1 in the Middlesex League beat an opponent who was graded 50+ points above him – a stellar performance and a most welcomed and unexpected result. A definite curve ball.

The Great Dane receives his award, with Clueless looking on

Caissa was at it again in the group stages.

Wily lost to Eco-Prof, Zeus succumbed to Dead-Eye, and Clueless got annihilated and taken out by Hitman.

In an intense hour of blitz chess, the following souls were left standing and had earned the right to progress to the knock-out stages:

From Group 1 – T-Bone and Bond; Group 2 – Eco-Prof and Wily; Group 3 – The Great Dane and Hitman; Group 4 – Dead-Eye and Zeus.

There were two heavyweight clashes with Zeus taking out T-Bone and Wily beating the Great Dane. The latter was gutted as he was definitely better, but the Balls of Steel King would just not go down.

The other two quarter-finals saw wins for Hitman and Dead-Eye. The former dispatching Eco-Prof and the latter Bond. Dead-Eye definitely has the air of a man with Blofeld tendencies. Hitman was playing outstanding blitz chess using one of his strongest weapons – his time advantage – to full effect.

The semi-finals saw those two old protagonists Wily and Dead-Eye cross swords again – they have met many times over the years. This time it was Wily’s turn to triumph and again he turned an iffy position into a win – his Houdini magic was flowing.

In the other clash Hitman carried on with the approach that had served him so well. Zeus, despite being a Rook up lost to that most relentless of enemies – Time. Hitman had done it.

A final to savour: Wily vs The Hitman. The old against the new. So many questions to be answered. Could the ultra-lightning solid chess of Hitman ruin the continued reign of Wily?

I have to confess at one stage I thought yes – Hitman moved quickly and logically, dealing with the usual Wily setup of c4, d3, e4, with g4 and h4 in motion. Things were looking promising for the Hitman until he allowed his Knight to be pinned on h7. Wily sensed blood and although there was a rescue move, the Hitman did not find it. A piece to the good, Wily swapped off all the major pieces, started hoovering up pawns and then forced a passed pawn.

The Hitman graciously conceded and Wily once again emerged the winner.

A great recovery after the early reversal at the hands of Eco-Prof.

The full results were as follows:

The club were also treated to the usual snacks and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) delights by our generous Chairman.

A cracking good time was had by all and roll on the next instalment – pencilled in for March.

Remember, it is your two best scores in the three rounds that count towards the final result. So there is still time to stop the march of Wily to another title. The gauntlet has been thrown down – who will pick it up?

Remember – you have to be in it, to win it!

Merry Christmas to all Hammerites!

John.

Christmas Blitz & GM Keith Arkell

Hammerites, you can read a beautiful write-up of our Simultaneous against GM Keith Arkell below, but first a quick reminder of our annual Blitz Tournament tomorrow evening.

Christmas Blitz Tournament

The John R White Blitz Tournament is in its third year and we’re kicking things off at the Anvil (aka Lytton Hall) tomorrow night from 7.30pm.

First up is the small matter of our annual awards for our best players, tournament winners and other contributors to the club – always great to give a small gesture of appreciation!

This will be followed in short order by the handicap Blitz tournament, named in memory of our former Chairman and life-long member, John R White. It’s a fast & furious display of attacking chess, where gradings and form go out of the window, as the ridiculously quick games throw up blunders and sacrifices at every turn. Don’t miss it!

We’ll also be laying on snacks & drinks to help everyone get into the festive spirit! It’ll be a cracker!!

A Night at the Anvil, with GM Keith Arkell

The background – Keith Arkell became a Chess GrandMaster in 1995. His career achievements are mind-boggling:

  • British Rapid Play Champion 1998
  • English Chess Champion 2006
  • Joint British Champion in 2008, losing in a play-off to Stuart Conquest
  • European over-50 Champion in 2014
  • Joint World Champion over 50 in 2014. Awarded the silver medal on tie-break
  • Winner of literally hundreds of chess tournaments
  • A peak ELO rating of 2545

Not bad for a Brummie lad who learned chess at the age of 13!

However, all these achievements pale into insignificance thanks to a chance and momentous encounter on the 12th December 2016 in a pub called the Albion, situated in Hammersmith. Keith, relaxing after a hard days chess at the London Classic, ran into the Hammer posse indulging in their passion for beer (and chess). Contact was made and what followed will enter folklore.

Yes, he agreed to do a simultaneous at the Anvil in December 2017…… read on!

First of all, for the record, Keith “The Legend” Arkell is not only a great chess player, he is really good company, a beer connoisseur and an all-round first class human being.

Due to flu and Christmas commitments, the Hammerite contingent was much depleted, however we did mange 14 boards.

The Legend, in the spirit of the occasion, decided it was best to do a clock simultaneous. The clocks were set at 80 minutes – meaning that on average “The Ledge” would only have less than 10 minutes per board, A serious challenge alone, but on top of that he gave his opponent choice of colour.

In time-honoured tradition the designation of nicknames from Clueless now follows:

  • Chris – “RU Serious”
  • Shiraz – “Vintage”
  • John R – “Eco-Prof”
  • Charlie – “Sorted”
  • Wyatt – “Gandalf”
  • Mike Mac – “Mad Dog”
  • Thomas – “T-Bone”

The rest of the Hammer posse consisted of Wily, Spock, Brexit, Clueless, Pickle and the Great Dane. Plus a guest for the evening called A.N.Other.

Brexit was on wine duty and tried to impair the Legend’s powers by giving him a bottle of Soave to aid his progress. Excellent idea, but did it work?

Brexit also gave the rallying cry to the Hammer troops urging us all to rise to the challenge and help each other. For the greater good was the mantra we would all adopt!

On Board One the Ledge faced the balls of steel chess approach from Wily. An unbelievably fascinating game followed that ultimately ended in the rare scenario of King and Queen v King and Rook, with the Legend in the driving seat. Wily deployed all his powers but could not withstand the inevitable loss. Indeed, it could be said Wily was just “Out-Wilyied” (Hammer yet again expanding the English language). Acme Industries could not have planned it better.

On Board Two Spock struggled valiantly and with huge invention nearly saved the game. Unfortunately, he had the Bad Bishop versus Good Knight situation and two vulnerable advanced pawns. The Legend smoothly converted. Hammer 2-0 down.

Board Three Brexit, unlike real political life, was playing a Peaky Blinder. He was in control of his destiny and everything seemed in order. Unfortunately, when you deal with a Brummie/Devonian chess technocrat they have a way of lulling you into a false sense of security. Brexit thought he had the advantage but the Legend had prepared a devious tactical pin. It had all been so promising…. Hammer 3-0 to the bad.

Board Five had Pickle, playing white and his preferred London System, win the exchange and achieve a definite edge. Although, the position was hugely complicated with tactical possibilities abundant. This caused Pickle to use up huge amounts of time and in the end time pressure told and one of the tactics struck home. Hammer now at 4-0 down.

The next few boards saw RU Serious, Vintage, Eco Prof, Sorted and Gandalf all take a Hammering. RU Serious and Sorted played well beyond the point of no return to give the other Hammerites extra thinking time. Their efforts were not in vain, but more on that later. The other games I cannot comment on as my game totally absorbed my time. The tale of the tape now stood at 9-0 to the Legend.

The best moment of the night was to see Mad Dog take the Legend to the line. Although Keith had it all under control his courtesy and recognition of Mad Dog’s efforts were spot on post-match. He really is a gentleman. Mad Dog was over the moon with happiness. However, the scorecard moved relentlessly onwards to 10-0 in favour of The Legend.

Mad Dog, lording it

A guest of the night whose name escapes me, he shall be known as A.N.Other, also succumbed at the hands of The Legend. The Ledge was cruising at 11-0.

Arriving late but always up for a fight was our Top Dog – the Great Dane. With only forty minutes to play with, this was not his preferred format. He fell for a mate and now The Legend was looking at a whitewash of the Hammer Posse.

Thankfully, the honour of the Club was preserved by T-Bone and your correspondent, Clueless.

T-Bone was under pressure and the Legend misplayed a sequence of moves that allowed T-Bone to pounce with a mate in one. Analysing the position later both players agreed The Legend definitely held the advantage, but a win is a win. Hammer had stopped the rot.

Finally, to Clueless. Playing Black and a Benoni, Clueless took the Legend on in a no-holds-barred contest. There was going to be a result one way or the other. Fortunately for Clueless, Caissa decided the fates should fall his way. With only 90 seconds left on his clock Clueless accepted the Legend’s resignation.

To be frank I think he felt he morally owed me – bribes of accommodation, food, beer, free wi-fi etc. undermined the determination of the Legend. Having said that, I will take the win regardless. My first, and probably only, triumph against a GM.

The evening finished with a win for the Legend 12-2 in his favour Considering his exertions at the Classic and social enterprises over the past 10 days, the score line was amazing. His durability and energy are incredible.

The evening ended up full circle with a return to where it all started – The Albion. The conversation was great and the Legend stated for the record that whenever he is in London and there isa match on, he will turn out for Hammer! This commitment was met with great enthusiasm by the Hammer crew and reinforced our good opinion of him.

The Legend has chosen Hammer as his London home. Enough said.

Happy Christmas one and all and especially to GM Keith Arkell – now a Hammer Legend.

Clueless signing off.

 

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!