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!

 

Caro-Kann: Monday 4th September

Save the date: this coming Monday our resident Italian gent, Matteo, is hosting an evening dedicated to the Caro-Kann, at The Albion.

This will be one of our final nights at the Albion before moving back to Lytton Hall when the season proper begins later this month, and it is set to be a cracker.

Matteo will be covering the main variations of the Caro-Kann defence, with the aim of showing how Black can always enter the middle game at least equal, if not ahead of White.

The session will also cover the seemingly unfair reputation amongst players that the opening has as a “drawish” line.

Lines to be covered will include the following:

  • Mainline (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5)
  • Two Knights Variation (1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3)
  • Anti-Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5)
  • Classical Variation
  • Modern Variation
  • Tartakower
  • Exchange
  • Advanced
  • Fantasy

No matter your level, it will certainly be an in-depth session on the defence – perhaps particularly relevant for players at the lower end of the rating scale who may be unfamiliar with it.

Session starts at 7.30pm – don’t be late! As ever, no need to be a member – this is open to anyone who’s interested. The more, the merrier! In the immortal words of Homer Simpson… “molto bene

 

If that’s not enough… please find some details below about an upcoming tournament being hosted by our friends at GLCC. Key details as follows:

  • Date: Tuesday 12th September
  • Time: 6.45pm start
  • Entry: £8 (advance), £12 (on the day)
  • Prizes: 40% of the entry pot!
  • More information: www.glcc.org.uk
  • Contact: tournaments@glcc.org.uk (Nigel Blades)

 

Training Night @ The Albion: 21st August

Looking at the last ECF grading list, the Hammer star turn has undoubtedly been Chris Moore, who has improved his grade over 2 years from 88 to 121, which means the Chris of 2017 would score 80% against the Chris of 2015 – if you believe the grading system!

This is particularly interesting as Chris was in the same situation as a number of other new (and newish) members of the club, who have all played some social chess before and are certainly not beginners, but on the other hand are not used to facing experienced club players regularly.

Chris eats a snack whilst contemplating his position

Chris has successfully bridged this gap in a short period of time, and in this session we will look at how his play has changed to achieve this, together with some suggestions regarding where he could look to improve further.

There will of course also be some concrete chess analysis, with a bit about opening theory and discussions of both positional and tactical themes.

Details:

  • The Albion Pub, Hammersmith Road, upstairs function room
  • Monday 21st August
  • Starting 7.30pm

Our top player Carsten Pedersen (206) will be hosting the session – See you there!

C4, D4, or E4… that is the Question?

I thought it was about time to get Shakespeare on the Hammer website.

At club level chess, I am currently rated ECF 150 (roll on July) – you do wonder what is the best opening move.

Taking the White side first.

I am a confirmed e4 player as White – it feels more natural, I have more knowledge of the openings resulting from this move. I am in my comfort zone.

This season, more than ever before, I am feeling the irresistible pull of d4 or c4. Indeed, I am experimenting more and more on chess.com in bullet chess. The problem is translating that experience into the over-the-board, long game and match scenario.

Always a good read – the chessgames.com opening Explorer – e4 the clear favourite

One of the pearls of wisdom I can pass on to the more youthful members of the club from my 58 years in this mortal coil, is that the older you get, the more risk averse you become.

To put it another way. Imagine me as a 25-year old – I was one once – and I had been a competent skier. If the choice was between a black run or a red run, the former would win every time! Thirty-two years later the choice is now between red and blue – with the latter winning most times. In other words, your desire to be reckless diminishes as surely as the march of time.

So, will I make the change? Maybe, or maybe not! Next season is the crunch time.

Now the Black perspective.

When an opponent flashes out c4 or d4 I immediately assume they are a more sophisticated player. They have read a bit!

In my mind, they are prepared for a strategic and positional struggle. They know a thing or two!

The stats don’t lie – c5 by far the most common Black response to 1.e4

e4 feels more basic, more caveman than high-brow. The struggle will be more tactical and a positive result more likely. It feels like your opponent is shouting “charge!”. A fight to the death is taking place and you cannot avoid it.

c4 or d4 feels like let’s see where we go, as I exert the advantage of first move. However, they will seek to slowly strangle you, and do so without risk to themselves.

Bobby Fischer played e4 for practically his entire chess career, until embarking on his WCC match against Spassky.

I know there were two c4 games in the interzonal in that cycle, but his real switch came when the title was on the line.

Poor Spassky must have been totally bemused as it appeared he had no preparation to go on, and coupled with his laid-back character, no defence.

In a recent article for the website I referred to the use of psychology in chess. The result in a game of chess, like all other sport, is often dictated by mental strength. If you can, legally and fairly, get inside the head of your opponent and use that properly, you are well on your way to victory.

Fischer’s use of c4 made hours of analysis and preparation completely redundant. A massive psychological blow.

To sum up – and remember this is just my view! – all three moves are good, and maybe wisdom and experience comes in to the equation.

I have been a confirmed e4 man all my life but am starting to feel the irresistible pull of a Queen-sized offering. Am I being pragmatic, or just getting old? You decide!!

John White.

If you’d like to write an article for the website, please get in touch. All contributions welcomed! 

 

Reminder: Theory Night – Monday 17th July

Don’t forget, the next evening of training & learning takes place this coming Monday at the Albion, starting about 7.30pm.

Our top-rated player, Carsten Pedersen, will be running through a couple of games to give us his thoughts & insights. Come join us!

3rd July – Team Rapidplay

Our Hammersmith Summer of Chess continues this coming Monday 3rd July with a team Rapidplay tournament at The Albion.

The tournament will kick off just after 7.30pm, lasting until around 10pm, with each player assigned to one of four teams. Everybody will get to play three games against similarly-rated opponents on each of the other teams.

Time control will be 20 minutes for all moves, with no increment, and the games will not be graded.

It’s an open event – no need to pre-register, but latecomers should be aware that they may not be able to participate once the teams have been sorted and the first games have kicked off! Non-members and casual drop-ins are of course very welcome!

Anyone not wanting to take part in the tourney is welcome to join us for the evening and play some regular blitz/casual chess on the side.

Lastly, and most importantly… a mystery prize will be awarded to the winning team!! Come on down – should be a great evening of chess!

While we’re on the subject, we have finalised details of our Summer Training evenings – save the following dates:

  • 17th July – Carsten gives us his analysis of some games submitted by members
  • 7th August – Bajrush presents an evening of Openings and Tactics
  • 4th September – Matteo takes us through the Caro Kann Defence

Training @ The Albion: Part 1

26.06.17 – The Albion Public House – Yes, the first training night of the Summer Program was delivered this Monday just gone by Clueless (aka. John White) – not a nickname to fill you with confidence – at our temporary Summer residence, The Albion.

The theme of my training session was to look at the following points, and what part they play in a chess contest:

  • The psychology of chess – what your opponent can do to you, and more importantly, what you can do to your opponent
  • The transition from Middle-game to Endgame
  • That even with reduced material you can still conjure up serious threats and tactics
  • Analysis of move options in a difficult position
  • The role of computers in analysis and adjourned positions

Using an illustrative game of mine, from just over two years ago, played against Ealing 2, I hoped to explore all of these themes. Please note, I will only examine the line played. You can have fun with all the variations and the what-ifs!

One caveat to all of this is my own ability as a chess player. I can probably calculate three moves deep on a good day, but due to the amount of chess I have played I do have some feel for what is the right move in any given position.

We join the game just as White, my opponent, had to seal his move.

Some background to the encounter which may explain some of the comments through the analysis:

  • The result of the game did not have any bearing on the result of the overall match – this was just for personal satisfaction
  • My opponent was quite abrasive and not friendly at the board. At the time, he was graded 143 and I was graded a mere 126. I think the grade disparity may have also influenced his opening choice – 1.f4 Bird’s Opening
  • On completing his sealed move, he offered me a draw. At the time I replied that I would like the opportunity to examine the position and decide once that had been done
  • I looked at the game briefly and decided that I would accept the draw if it was still on offer. I contacted my opponent and made the draw offer. He had obviously analysed the position – my suspicion is that he had probably used a chess program – and turned down the draw offer. After sometime, he agreed a resumption date. I did not look at the game again
  • His comment to me before we resumed, at the board, was “I bet you wished you had taken the draw offer”. This was unsportsmanlike and arrogant, but had the benefit of reinforcing my determination not to lose. It also dictated my behaviour over the first two moves I played

To the game, and I will supplement the move analysis with my thoughts at the time. The critical action took place over about 15 moves.

White sealed Rh3 – I was relieved when it was played on the board. I was dreading Ba3 and a subsequent BxN. At this stage I deliberately waited 10 minutes before playing my next move, KxP. I wanted it to appear I was shocked by his move.

He immediately banged out Kg3. Again, I took my time and thought for 20 minutes – this was part deliberate, as well as part trying to figure out what to play. I knew he was not playing his researched line, and I wanted to find something he and his engine had not considered.

I reasoned that I wanted to keep as many pieces for now on the board, activate my pieces and prevent penetration by his Rook. The move I played, which I found at the board, allowed this to happen. I played Bf7. I played it with supreme confidence to rattle him. A bit of chess psychology.

He visibly started; my ruse had worked. He thought for a while and continued with his original plan. Kg4 was played.

I responded with Kg7 to prevent any Rook penetration along the h-file.

He then banged out Ba3 – if you put it in the engines a mistake. I immediately played Nd7.

His response was to play Bd6 to which I replied Rc3 and for the first time I felt the initiative had changed hands. He played Bb5 and I instantly replied Nf6+. I had achieved my goals set out when I played Bf7.

This is where the tactics started with any King move other than Kf3 allowing a juicy Knight fork. He retreated with said move and I followed up with g5, threatening g4+ and picking up the Rook. He retreated his King to g2. Check out the move options for white here.

I now felt slightly sadistic by playing Rc2+, driving him back to the first Rank. He played Kf1. Now consider the position – whose King has more space and whose pieces have real targets, and how vulnerable is White’s Queenside? Quite a transformation, and all in the space of 9 moves.

In the next few moves the minor pieces were swapped off and White picked up the g-pawn. However, the commanding position of the Black King and the vulnerability of the White Queenside pawns decided matters in favour of myself.

My opponent resigned many moves later – he did not shake hands and was totally bemused. He was beaten psychologically as he could not adjust to the change in events.

All I can say is that revenge is a dish best served cold.

This small section of the game decided matters and demonstrates all of the above themes.

The use of psychology to unsettle your opponent. Doing something out of the ordinary.

On a personal note, I find it unbelievable that we still allow adjournments in UK League Chess. In these days, when everybody is time precious, the extra costs involved and the use of chess programs makes the continued employment of the adjournment option ludicrous. I fervently believe this is the overwhelming view of most league chess players. We are being held back by a vociferous minority!

We have to get with the times!!

(And a final tip to all future trainers at The Albion – get there early as it took a while to locate the demonstration board and setup the furniture)

 

Puzzle of the Week #002

The results are in – they’ve been checked, double-checked, scrutinized to death, and independently verified. We can now proudly announce that the Winner of our first Puzzle of the Week is….

Matteo Bezzini

Well done Matteo!! Full puzzle and solution below. It was a great puzzle to start with, and easy to overlook Black’s pawn on the g-file, poised for promotion.

Solution: 1.Be6+ Kh7 2.Bg8+ Kh8 3.Bb3+ Kh7 4.Rxb7+ Kh8 5.Rb8+ Kh7 6.Bg8+ Kh8 7.Rxb1, then mate is inevitable.

This week, we bring you two puzzles – the first of which is fiendishly tricky and may take you a while to figure out.

The second is a little more straightforward.

It’s White to move in both, and the target is Checkmate. As always, first to leave the correct solution takes the plaudits – good luck!

Puzzle 1 – fiendish!
Puzzle 2 – a little easier!

 

Bishop Training – Monday 27th

Ladies & Gents – owing to a fixture change next week, we now have a free night at the club on Monday 27th March.

One of our top players, Marios, has kindly volunteered to run a training session on opposite-coloured Bishops, starting from about 7.30pm. It’ll be useful to players of any strength, but in particular will introduce thematic thinking around how to use Bishops – definitely going to be useful for those under 130 who’ve not had much coaching before.

No need to pre-register or even let us know – just turn up if you fancy it. Non-members also welcome! See you there.

 

GM Chris Ward Simul – Last Chance!

Dear members, we still have some spaces available for the Simultaneous against GM Chris Ward next month at the bargain price of £3 per entry. Full details below:

  • Date: Tuesday 4th April
  • Time: 7pm start
  • Venue: Lytton Hall (our home venue)
  • Boards: 25
  • Entry: £3 per board
  • Contact: John White to confirm your spot

If there are any spaces left by close of play we will be offering this out to our friends at other chess clubs, and the chess-playing public at large.

If you want to guarantee your spot, please drop John White an email right away: john.white49@ntlworld.com