The Return of the Hammersmith League

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 Kings Head (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!

Adam.

 

RapidPlay – Round VII

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 Dave Lambert.

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.

Good luck!!

 

Rapidplay – Round VI

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month – it can only mean one thing!! Yes, the next round of our excellent Rapidplay Tournament is upon us.

Round V saw things go mostly to form. Our top pairing saw the game finish in a draw, leaving both players still unbeaten… amazing!! Can anyone topple Bajrush this season??

Further down the order, Ben scored a terrific draw against Pouya. We also saw Super-Sub Wyatt gain a brilliant victory over tournament controller Adam. Great chess!

Finishing positions are really up for grabs at the moment, with the situation changing each month. Lovely stuff.

So to Round VI, where a truly continental struggle sees Matteo take on Marios.

Star performer Ben faces a tough task against young gun Nadhmi, while Yasser tries to get some points on the board against Wyatt – not easy on current form!

The pairings further down the order are very even, so we hope to see some tight games and frantic finishes. Should be a cracker!

As usual, please arrange the location & date of the game with your opponent, and get your results to controllers Adam & Dave  by the end of the month.

Good luck one & all!!

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.