23.10.17 – The Hammer Rapidplay Tournament is off to a flying start! 22 players descended on Lytton Hall this Monday to take part in the first round. Two are still to play next week, with a handful taking first round byes.
As is often the case with open Swiss tournaments, the first round threw up a few mismatches. Still, very few games finished early and the underdogs provided some scares – and the occasional result.
Board 2 saw Shiraz paired against second seed Tony Niccoli. Both had suffered tough losses the week before, so form dictated that the game wouldn’t be of the highest quality.
However, both pulled off a very fine display. In a Symmetrical English Opening, Shiraz caused real problems with the white pieces, but ultimately his light-square weaknesses proved too costly. He provides an insightful analysis of the game:
On board 4 it was up to our esteemed Webmaster General, Andy to attempt to take out first team captain John “Useless” White. He played a great game, with John on the ropes for most of it – and apparently with an unseen winnable combination – before endgame technique sealed the win for John on move 38.
Performance of the night however, has to go to new member Wyatt “The Wizard of Oz” Donaldson. His opponent, 9 year old Nadhmi, has become a force to be reckoned with of late – there are very few who’d want to take him on with the black pieces.
That task was Wyatt’s on Monday, who takes us through their game, where he showed excellent technique to dismantle Nadhmi in the endgame.
Round 2 will surely throw up some juicy pairings, with the big (and small) guns starting to square off against each other.
The pairings go out on November 1st – and from now on it will be necessary for players to arrange their own games each month.
It’s been another busy week of chess (and a few other things!) on planet Hammer this last 7 days. Five games of chess, one IM getting a Hammering, and several other things coming up in the next few days. Read on to hear more!
Rapidplay Round 1 – Monday 23rd October
It can’t have escaped your notice that our awesome new Rapidplay tournament kicks off this coming Monday 23rd at Lytton Hall.
The pairings have been announced, preparations have been finalised, and we’re all set for 8 months of Rapid chess with 25 players in the frame.
As such, it’s going to be a busy one at Lytton Hall, but don’t worry – we’ll still have room for casual chess if you’re not taking part in the tournament, and I have a feeling it will make for excellent spectating!
If you’ve signed up to play, you need to show up, else you’ll forfeit the first game! Harsh but fair!! See you there from 7.30pm!
Thames Valley / Middlesex Double-Header – 16.10.17
Hammer faced a double header this Monday just gone, with our Thames Valley team facing the mighty Surbiton, whilst our Middlesex 3 lot played host to Willesden.
Details for the TV game are quite sketchy, but I’m pleased to report that Hammer finished the evening 4-2 ahead, with two games adjourned, both looking like scoring points. This would represent an excellent result!
Adam on Board 7 has generously supplied us with full details of his game: “It was a very aggressive and tactical battle in the Dutch Defence, and I was pretty happy with the win given I started with only 35 minutes on the clock”:
It was a very busy week for Hammer 2 in the Middlesex League this week. We had two games, the first at home to Willesden and the second away to Harrow 2.
Willesden are one of the two teams who came down from Division 2 last year (the other has since dropped out of the League altogether). They were only relegated by the narrowest of margins, however, so we knew we were in for a tough fight.
Willesden descended on Lytton Hall with only seven players. Those seven players differed in grade by a full 78 grading points. In contrast, the differential between our boards one and seven was only 35 points. It was going to be a tough day at the office for the top boards, while at the bottom end we would look to pickup some vital wins.
On board seven John Ryan had the black pieces. He played a very solid game, and his opponent finally cracked when he fell for a piece-winning tactic and the win was sealed. That brings John to 2/2 for the season, the team’s current best-performer.
Simon had the white pieces on board is. Playing his favoured 1.Nf3, not seen too often at club level, he decided to enter a London System. He attacked down the Queenside, navigating some tricky tactics in the early middle game. Realising his opponent’s King was slightly exposed, Simon decided to sacrifice the exchange for a very dangerous attack. It was too much for black to handle, and the Hammer newbie soon delivered mate on the board.
Simon has provided a wonderfully in-depth analysis of the game, which won’t be included in this report, but stay tuned for the next instalment in the “Games & Analysis” section.
Dave’s debut in the Middlesex League this season did not go quite to plan on board five. He lost a piece early on but escaped with positional compensation. He soldiered on, managing to turn this compensation into three pawns. With white’s Knights dancing around in the midfield and with very little time on the clock it was starting to get very tough to calculate. Full credit is due to his opponent, who spotted a very nice mating attack that won him the game.
Nadhmi continues his excellent run of form on board four. He played the Scotch and some excellent tactics in the opening won him a piece. This must have come as a surprise to his more experienced and higher-graded opponent, who did everything he could to try and get back into the game. Nadhmi did not flinch and a very nice finish sealed the victory. Playing like this I have no doubt that Nadhmi will very soon be torturing opponents as a stalwart of Hammer’s first team.
So Hammer were 4-1 up with just the top three boards to go. Could John, Brian or Pouya get anything out of their games against opponents graded 181, 174 and 166?
Pouya could not. He got somewhat tied down in the opening and his opponent did not release his grip. Pouya ended up blundering a piece and resigned.
The Magnus Carlsen of Hammersmith, Brian Dodgeon, could not either. He fought hard with the white pieces, but was eventually squeezed out.
So it was left to John White, the final game to finish, to make something happen on board one. His opponent pressed very hard and obtained a passed pawn on the c-file. John defended vehemently and managed to win the pawn before it reached the seventh, at the expense of a very cramped position. They went into an endgame very short on time. John was almost in Zugzwang, but after a small move order inaccuracy from his opponent, John found the only move that could keep his hopes alive. His opponent descended into thought for most of the rest of his time, realising that John’s last remaining pawn was so dangerous that he had to settle for a draw.
So it was a win against probably the strongest team in the league with some superb individual performances. Could Hammer 2 dare to dream of promotion?
Thursday’s match gave us the answer to that question – a resounding “no”. This time we were playing Harrow 2, probably the weakest team in the league. The match itself doesn’t merit much discussion.
Yours truly found a neat way of turning a won endgame into a stonewall draw with over an hour on the clock. Nadhmi could not get close to the level he was playing at in the previous match, conceding a disappointing loss to a relatively weak player. Further losses for Shiraz, Wyatt and Dan, and a frustrating no-show, sealed an emphatic defeat.
Highlights of the evening included good wins for Pouya and Dave, the latter of whom refused to be distracted by his opponent’s poor etiquette and gamesmanship, including embarking on chit-chats during Dave’s move, and explaining where Dave went wrong after he’d won the game!
The next three matches follow shortly, so watch out for an email from me in the next few days.
London League 5: Hammersmith v Hackney – 18.10.17
Our second match brought us to our knees with a surprise loss to Hackney, whom we beat last time rather spectacularly. So yes, a team whom we meet on equal grading terms this time puts us down, but hopefully not out! Read on for more details on this match.
We lost the toss, so were black on even boards. Boards 1 and 4 saw draws soon on. Our middle two boards fought on. Gokhan reported he blundered again and had to resign.
In the final game to finish, I had won the exchange and tried to press home against a vulnerable King on the a and b files, upon which I launched several pieces. My opponent stubbornly resisted, but without sufficient firepower my cause was hopeless.
Final score 1-3.
Congratulations to our two drawing boards, Brian Dodgeon and Nick Rutherford, both of whom debut’d for the team on this occasion.
Sophocles said: “I have no desire to suffer twice; in reality and then in retrospect”
Middlesex Division 2: Harrow v Hammersmith – 19.10.17
The Hammer crew were on the road last night, trying to extend their excellent start in the Middlesex League with a match against Harrow.
First, a bit of education. Yesterday was the celebration of the great Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of Diwali. This fabulous, noisy and very colourful celebration, represents the twin triumphs of good over evil and of light over darkness.
Now I would not ever designate Harrow as representing evil and darkness – they are in fact a great club with a fabulous venue, and are most welcoming. However, when it comes to chess Hammer go into caveman mode and the winning mentality takes over. We were there to win… period.
Before we get to the nuts & bolts we need to add to the nickname list and thus the roll of honour is extended with the following designations:
Tony – “The Surgeon”
Yasser – “Tellit”
To the tale of the evening…
On board one, the Great Dane had a positional crush where he had total control of the board. In these situations, positional domination always leads to a tactical denouncement and this particular game followed the script perfectly. Faced with either mate or fatal material loss, the Great Dane’s opponent gracefully resigned. Hammer 1-0 to the good.
Board 2 next. The Surgeon had one of those nights – his scalpel technique was just not in sync – and he succumbed to a painful loss. It was a definite aberration and the lesson is the Surgeon will rebound stronger than ever. Hammer pegged back to 1-1.
Next up was our captain – Zeus. He won at a canter with plenty in hand, continuing his excellent form this season. He really is a force to be reckoned with at the moment. Hammer forge ahead 2-1 to the good.
On board 4 Wily had the most amazing finish with a Queen sac leading to a beautiful mating pattern. This was Wily at his best with his Bishops dominating the board. A superb game and a prosaic finish. Hammer cruising at 3-1.
Brexit on board 5 had a draw in one of those games where nothing much happened. He was never in any trouble and held a slight advantage for the whole game. Unfortunately, there was never enough to force anything else. Hammer now at 3.5-1.5.
Board 6 saw Tellit convert the positional advantage of two Bishops on an open board with excellent technique. This was another dominating Hammer performance. The match was secured and Hammer lead 4.5-1.5.
The Suit had a slight edge but never enough to prosecute a victory. The Suit bemoaned his current form and was slightly down in the dumps. My view is that he will turn it around very quickly and is not far away from his best form. He is too good a player. Hammer now 5-2 ahead.
Clueless joined the party with an easy victory on board 8. His designated opponent did not show up and thus a last-minute substitute who faced a near 30-minute time deficit stepped in. Clueless gave him no chance and a desperado Knight sacrifice was coolly and logically refuted. Hammer gaining a 6-2 match win.
A great overall performance by the Hammer boys – this sets us fair for the rest of the season and our goal of challenging for promotion.
So, the good ship Hammer Middlesex II is well and truly launched. Bring on the rest of the season and keep the faith – go Hammer!
We all like to indulge in a bit of online chess from time to time, and it turns out that those at the top of the game are no different!
Hammer’s own Pavel Nefyodov (aka Spock) played IM Andrey Ostrovskiy in a blitz game earlier this week, which the IM was recording for his YouTube channel!
It’s a thumping battle, and of particular interest for an amateur wood-pusher like myself is the IM’s dispassionate – and often third person – commentary on his and Pavel’s moves. A really interesting insight into the mind of a top player.
The video is linked below – Pavel’s game starts at 43:12:
ECF Digital Clocks – Special Offer
Here at Hammer, we love a new digital clock as much as the next chess fan, and we’re pleased to report that the ECF has received an almost-too-good-to-be-true offer from FIDE on the latest DGT clocks.
In summary, top of the range DGT clocks are being made available to English clubs for £20-25 (compared to a retail price of around £70).
As we’ve recently refreshed our clocks and upgraded to digital, we won’t be ordering any for the club…. but we are happy to place an order on behalf of any of our members who wish to purchase one. It’s a true bargain, and we already have 4 members on our list to purchase.
If you’d like to take advantage of this fantastic offer & get hold of a top-of-the-range digital clock, please drop John White an email: email@example.com
A Walk in the Chess Valley
Get your walking boots on – Hammer is going to the countryside! Sort of…
We’d like to introduce you to the delights of the Chess Valley, which starts up in Chesham and follows a route down to Rickmansworth – both of which are stops on the tail end of the Metropolitan line (aka “Metro-Land”) – a short hop on the tube.
It’s beautiful scenery and what better way to combine the game we love, with a stunning walk in a valley that shares its name!
If there are enough takers, we’ll look to arrange something in the coming weeks!
Another busy week of chess action as the Hammer train steams on – thanks goes to all our players and contributors for some top games and reports. For details of what’s coming up next week, please check out our Calendar.
After what seems like an age, the new chess season is finally upon us – and it started with a Bang!
Monday 2nd October saw the opening game of the 2017-18 season, with the two Hammer teams battling it out in Lytton Hall for bragging rights in the Hammersmith Derby – more on that later.
If you haven’t taken a look at our Calendar recently – please do so! It’s a rip-roaring story of competitive games coming thick & fast, with no fewer than 16 matches this month, plus the opening night of our RapidPlay tournament. In fact, the months up to Christmas are going to be chocka – including a top class Simultaneous!
Our weekly digest of goings-on at the club follows…
Hammer Derby – 02.10.17
Our two London League 6 teams faced off in the traditional season opener at the start of the week. A tense affair as always, we were delighted to hand league debuts to two new members, Charlie and Wyatt – welcome chaps! The game unfolded as follows…
Board 1 saw Captain Rich take on stalwart John. It proved a very tough affair with the players evenly matched. The tussle ended in a late flurry of moves in order for both players to reach the time control, with the game going to an adjournment. Subsequently, the players agreed a win for White. First blood, 1-0
Board 2 had Club Secretary Mike taking on newbie from down under, Wyatt. An all out attack from White (Wyatt) was repelled by a very stubborn defence. When the dust settled, there was spaghetti all over the board, and Black had the upper hand. However, wily Wyatt managed to steer the game to a draw, 1.5-0.5
Board 3 had our other newbie Charlie, taking on one of our charming long-timers, Nick. As experienced players will know, the draw is always on offer with Nick, and the game went true to form with an early draw being agreed, 2-1
Board 4 was another even matchup – just 2 grading points separating the players. The experienced Dan (as Black) played a smooth game, ending in a Queen & Rook mating net. Bad luck to Nadim, but a great tussle. Honours even at 2-2
RapidPlay Tourney – Pairings Announced!
You’ve probably heard about our new RapidPlay tournament this season – it’s going to last the full 8 months of the season, with a round each month, and we literally can’t wait for it to kickoff!!
To date it’s been a HUGE success, with 25 players signing up to take part. The big news this week – entries have now closed and the Supercomputer at Lytton Hall has determined the initial pairings as follows:
There’s a couple of tasty pairings in here – and the opportunity for a whole load of upsets! It’s a remarkable feature of chess how time can be an almighty leveller. Those gradings will mean very little with just 45 minutes on the clocks.
It properly kicks off on Monday 23rd October, 8pm sharp – see you there!
GM Keith Arkel Simultaneous – 11.12.17
We are DELIGHTED to announce that esteemed GM Keith Arkell will be gracing us with his presence at Lytton Hall on the final night of the London Chess Classic – Monday 11th December – for a Simultaneous display at the club!
Keith has been a GM since 1995, British RapidPlay Champ in 1998, and has a peak ELO rating of 2545. He tied for British Champ in 2008, and shared first place in the World Senior Championship in 2014. He ain’t no fool!!
Full details will be announced shortly – there’ll be a small fee to enter, and places will be limited, but you can register your interest early by dropping us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday 11th December – Save the date!!
After much searching and deliberation, we are pleased to announce that we’ve purchased a boatload of shiny new equipment for our members to use! It takes Hammer Chess right into the 21st Century and is a solid investment for the Club.
First up and fresh off the plane from China this week – we’ve secured a raft of new digital clocks. These can’t be beaten on functionality and will allow us to use timing increments for the first time. They’re also FIDE approved for when we next host Carlsen et al for some tea & biscuits on a rainy Monday night in W14.
We’ve also purchased a raft of new boards and pieces – weighted, no less! – for casual use, and are in the final stages of agreeing some brand new, solid wood match boards for the premium matches!
It all bodes well for the future of Hammer Chess!
Hammersmith MIND – World Mental Health Day
If you haven’t heard already, we’re rekindling our link with Hammersmith & Fulham MIND next week, with a team of volunteers from Hammer Chess helping out in Lyric Square to support the charity as they mark World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October, 10am – 4pm.
It’s not too late to get involved – if you’re available and would like to help out, please drop John an email: email@example.com
Like Playing in a Foreign Country
As we know, the Hammer Foreign Legion is strong – having successfully toured Amsterdam earlier this year, a couple of our members have recently had some chess-based experiences in foreign lands.
First up, our intrepid London League 4 Captain, Dave, had the pleasure of taking on some of the locals in Slovakia recently. It was an interesting experience, and rumour has it he’s made some permanent friends on the chess.com app!
And whilst experiencing the delights of Moorish Spain, webmaster Andy did some background reading on the Nasrid dynasty, coming across the following fascinating passage in a book – finally explaining the meaning of Alfil!
“Chess is one of the oldest games of war, and has been played in Spain longer than anywhere else in Europe, by Spanish Muslims since their arrival in the eighth century, and by Spanish Christians and Jews since the early tenth century. It started in ancient India, and the original pieces represented the units of the Indian army – foot soldiers, cavalry, armed chariots and elephants. The infantry, or pawns were led on the chessboard as in life by the King and his senior minister, his vizier. Some people think it was a game modelled on Alexander the Great’s campaigns in Persia, in which his squadrons were aligned in ranks of sixty-four squares, the number of squares on a chessboard.
The game reached Europe through Moorish Spain, where in Islamic chess, opening moves had romantic names such as the Sword opening, or Pharaoh’s Fortress. As it spread to medieval Europe, the pieces changed to reflect the feudal social environment of the times. Kings and pawns stayed the same, but the elephant piece was replaced in Christian chess by the Bishop, a powerful figure in the medieval church. In Spanish Muslim chess, the Bishop is just an alfil, meaning a chess piece and nothing more. The horse of the Indian game became the Knight, a symbol of feudal chivalry, the old armed chariot became the castle (or Rook in English, which comes from the Persian word for chariot), and the vizier changed into the Queen.
By the late fifteenth century, when the Nasrids were playing chess on the Alhambra chessboard, a dramatic change had taken place. The Queen was no longer the weaker companion of the King – she was the most powerful piece on the chessboard, with new long-range striking power. There was only one way to win the game, and that was through the irrevocable cornering and capture of the enemy King.”
The more you know!!
Hot off the Press – 06.10.17 !!
The London League 4 team have made a wining start to their season this Friday night, with a thumping 6.5-0.5 victory (plus one winning adjournment) against Morley College. Full writeup to follow…!
A small update about our activities at the Club this coming Monday 25 Sep – owing to unforeseen circumstances, the John R. White Handicap Blitz Tournament will not actually start that night, however we will still be open as usual for a Club night of casual chess, tea and biscuits, plus our Annual Awards Ceremony and prize giving will also be taking place.
The first date for the Blitz Competition will be confirmed later in the month – stay tuned!
No, it’s not a WWII word-association game, but rather a neat summary of what we have in store this coming Club Night on Monday 25th.
First up, we’ll be presenting our Annual Awards to those most deserving players – one from each of the 7 teams, plus a couple of special individual awards including the highly prestigious Player of the Season, and the Most Improved Player of the Season.
That will be followed in short order by the first round of our John R. White Handicap Blitz Tournament, named in honour of our indomitable late former Chairman. As with last year, it’ll be a Grand Prix format of 10-minute Blitz games, with points being awarded depending on final placings on the night.
With a further few rounds over the course of the season, the overall winner will be crowned at the end of the season based on their total score over every round! Should be a cracker if last years entrant numbers were anything to go by. We’ll be presenting the Winners trophy for last year on Monday too.
Last but not least, we’ll be available all evening to take membership payments from anyone still wishing to play for us this season who has not yet paid up. As ever, our team Captains will only be picking players who meet the following criteria:
Monday was the Club’s final night in The Albion, and we rounded off proceedings with a handicap blitz tournament.
As the last throws of Summer fizzled out this week, nine brave players showed up to battle it out for glory, graded from 210 down to 83 – a great spread!
The rounds unfolded as follows:
When the dust had settled, the scoreboard was tight at the top:
The top two players went into an Armageddon playoff. Wyatt had the black pieces and four minutes to Pouya’s five, but only needed a draw to win the playoff.
Pouya blasted through Wyatt’s defences in emphatic fashion, sealing the win with time to spare.
Next week we’ll be heading back to Lytton Hall. There are no matches and no training, but a chance for everyone to meet some new faces and play some chess while not under the influence of beer!
With the new season barreling towards us, our opening fixtures are less than 3 weeks away. If you want to play for the club it’s essential you meet the playing criteria of ECF Membership, and Club Membership. Captains will be unable to pick you for a team if you haven’t sorted both.
There’s still time to sign up for our new Season-long Rapidplay tournament! We’ve already had over a dozen players sign up for what will be our most prestigious Club Competition this season. Entry is free – it’s included as part of your Club Membership.
Full details can be found here. Please email Adam or Dave to confirm your spot:
After a successful trial earlier in the year, Hammersmith Chess Club will be running a Rapidplay Tournamentover the course of the 2017-18 season. Bear with us – you’re in for a lengthy post!
The tournament will be run over 8 matches, with pairings decided via a Swiss system. The controllers will be Adam Cranston (Middlesex Captain) and Dave Lambert (London 4 Captain). All matches will be graded, so we should be able to work towards almost everyone receiving a Rapidplay grade by the end of the season.
Tournaments have typically failed in the past due to difficulties getting players together on a given night. No more.
With the exception of the kickoff and closing matches – which we’ll host Face to Face at the club – there will be one round per month, and it’ll be up to each of you to track down your opponent, and arrange a time/date of your choosing to play . It could be Lytton Hall, it could be at one of your houses, or it could be down the pub. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re both happy with the conditions & the game gets played within the month.
You play your match. You let Adam and Dave know the result, and they do the rest. They’ll tabulate the standings, and publish the next set of pairings at the end of each month. Then you’ll have the next month to arrange Game 2, and so it goes…
Fee: £0 – included within HCC membership fee
Matches: 8, over course of season, one per month Oct 2017 to May 2018 inclusive
Pairings: Swiss system
Graded: Yes, all games to be submitted for July 2018 grading list
Scoring: 1 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw, 0 points for a loss
Tie-breaks: Decided by Buchholz method (sum of opponent’s raw tournament score)
Time Control: 45 minutes for all moves; no increment
Match Conditions: Kick-off & Closing matches (matches 1 & 8) at Lytton Hall: “Tournament” conditions (no talking, no mobiles etc.)
Matches 2-7: Entirely up to you, and what you agree with your opponent. If you’re both happy with the conditions, that works for us. We will however schedule designated “Rapidplay” nights at the club throughout the season for those who fancy playing at Lytton Hall, perhaps followed by Training.
September: Registration – if you wish to play, contact Adam or Dave by 30th September
Oct 23rd: Game 1 (Face to face at Lytton Hall)
Nov-April: Games 2 to 7
May: Game 8 (Face to face at Lytton Hall) & competition finale
You’re a member of Hammersmith Chess Club
You’re registered with the ECF for the 2017-18 season (Bronze will do)
You’re happy to commit to playing the full 8 matches throughout the season
Four prizes will be awarded for the best score in each of the below categories. No one will be eligible to win more than one award:
Open (no grade limit)
Kings <160 ECF
Bishops <130 ECF
Knights <100 ECF
Grades will be based on July 2017 grading list.
If you have a Rapidplay grade, we’ll use that
If you only have a Slowplay grade, we’ll go with that
If you have neither, we’ll estimate your grade
All players will be permitted to take a maximum of 2 byes over the course of the tournament, scoring 0.5 points in each case.
Requests for byes must be submitted in advance of the end of the month, and in advance of the round in question’s pairings having been communicated.
Byes cannot be taken for the final round.
May be permitted at the discretion of the tournament controllers
Late entrants will start with 0 points as standard
Failure to complete a match within the designated month:
Both players will be awarded 0 points
Unless a player can demonstrate they have made reasonable and repeated (>=3) attempts to find a suitable time/date for the match, in which case they may be awarded the win by default
Adam and Dave to make the final decision on any disputes
The tournament controllers reserve the right to make minor tweaks to the tournament as the season progresses due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a scenario, a written update will be provided to all the players.
If you have any questions please drop Adam or Dave an email: