A Theresa May of a Fortnight

Read on for a January update from the Middlesex Division 2 team, followed by a super writeup on our top team in London Division 2, with bonus games to play through – very worth your while.

We also have the February pairings for our Rapidplay competition, and a few friendly reminders of some upcoming events!

A Theresa May of a Fortnight on the Middlesex 2 Battlefront

Yes, hostilities resumed for Hammer 2 on the Middlesex battlefront with the first three skirmishes of 2019. The question was, could Hammer carry on the excellent start – 2.5/3 – and not only cement our position in Division 2, but actually entertain thoughts of promotion to the top flight.

From the headline to this report I think you can conclude that things did not go as well as hoped. I ask you to read on with some trepidation…

The Hammer opponents for the month were:

  • 14th January – Albany 1 at The Anvil
  • 17th January – Harrow 1 at Harrow
  • 28th January – Hendon 4 at The Anvil

Hammer 2 were full of post-festive cheer, and were ready for the Albany challenge. The team consisted of, in Board order: Paul KDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, SheikhPandit“, Clueless, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, SimonBond” and IzzyThe Money“.

Suffice to say we were out-graded on average by 21 points a board, and the memory of the fighting draw we achieved away in November was a distant one. Here is the match card:

The hero of the evening was Dead-Eye, who won an excellent game against a very tricky opponent. here is the game and thoughts at various critical stages. I would say it is worth comparing with the Chris Skulte game from the away fixture in November. Both are excellent examples of attacking chess.

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 4. Be2 e6 5. O-O Nbd7 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8. c5 generally when this is played against me I attack it immediately with b6 and a5.but it never seems to come out right, so tonight I left it.
h6 To tuck the B if necessary.

9. b4 Qc7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Rc1 Bh7 12. Qa4 e5 13. Rfd1 e4 14. Nd2 Rfe8 I wanted to get my N on d7 into the game. Also Nf8 is one of those moves that always make me feel comfortable. Larsen said you will never be mated with a N on f8. That’s good enough for me.

15. b5 Nf8 16. Nb3 Bf5 I like this move, my B was doing nothing on h7 so I got it to a more active diagonal.

17. h3 Bd7 18. Qb4 N6h7 19. Nd2 f5 20. a4 Bd8 21. Qb3 Nf6 22. Ra1 f4 23. exf4 Qxf4 24. Nf1 Ng6 25. Ne3 up till now the engine says the game is equal but with this move it gives Black a plus. Bc1 is much better for White. Qg5 26. Kh1 Qf4 The engine says Bc7 is best but I was worried my Q was in danger of running out of space also it is attacking f2 so he must react. 27. Kg1 Bc7 Now I am almost +2.  28. g3 Qg5 29. Bc1 Bxg3

Now White can resign. 30. fxg3 Qxg3+ 31. Ng2 Bxh3 32. Bf1 Ng4 *white gave up.

Pandit and The Money came in with fighting draws to account for the other point. The latter fighting back from a piece down.

For the other Hammers it was a grim night with my own game being particularly grisly.

A tough 6-2 loss at home was a reality check.

In the same week we travelled up to Harrow – a real schlep but I am proud once again as Hammer fielded a full team. Serious kudos to the team members.

The line-up was as follows: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, Paul KDeadEye“, JohnClueless“, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, AdamPickle” and debutante Jon.

In time honoured tradition, I designate the nickname “G&T” to Jonathan. Not all of you know, but he was the winner of the bottle of Dutch Gin when our friends from Espion visited us last June.

Again, out-graded and playing in a chilly hall, my advice to all Hammers is to wear warm clothes if playing there at the height of Winter, plus bring along a thermos flask of coffee.

Harrow are an excellent chess club, but I plead that you address the temperature and refreshment issue!!

Having got that off my chest, I have to say that was no excuse for what occurred. This was a definite case of a double-hangover week – one of those weeks that are best forgotten.

The final score was 6.5-1.5, with the top three boards securing draws whilst the rest of us went down in flames – despite all  boards fighting to the bitter end.

The third battle of the front saw us take on Hendon 4 at The Anvil. A moral-raising victory was never more needed. Captain Clueless went for experience and called in the heavy troops.

In Board order, the lineup: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, JimEl Loco“, YasserTellit“, PaulDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, NadhmiThe Gift“, and CharlieSorted“.

As non-playing captain I should have been able to give an excellent insight to the games, unfortunately I was involved in a life and death struggle with Bajrush in the club internal rapid tourney!

However, from what I saw, Sydney had a brilliant win against a very talented opponent – I think GM Simon Williams comment when he beat Magnus aged 10 – best meet them early in their chess career – is applicable here. His opponent has an immense amount of talent.

Zeus is recovering his best form – a really nice win against a very tricky opponent, putting Hammer at 2-0.

Jim and Yasser had solid draws with neither in trouble at any time. Hammer cruising at 3-1.

Dead-Eye with excellent play and ignoring certain comments from his opponent, secured victory number three with his usual accuracy. This pushed Hammer to 4-1.

Victory was secured by “The Gift” – playing an awkward opponent who would not resign, despite facing a lone K vs. a K and R scenario. Signs here of his growing maturity and mental toughness. He is true Hammer granite. Hammer at 5-1.

Lastly to Brexit and Sorted. They both had tough losses and both fought all the way but, alas, on the night their opponents held firm.

So, a 5-3 Hammer win, but this is subject to a steward’s inquiry – this is due to the nominated players issue in the Middlesex Leagues – so this card may change. I will keep you updated.

The current table looks like this:

So, a true Brexit-May rollercoaster ride of a month on the Middlesex front and matters yet to settle, like real political life. This Captain stated in his goals that securing Division 2 status was the first objective, and I believe we will achieve this. However it will require commitment from the whole squad.

Captain Clueless – over & out.

30.01.19 – London League 2: Hammersmith vs. Ilford

Our London League fixtures are coming thick & fast, this being the third in a series of six during a busy January and February period.

Our opponents Ilford, at one time a major London club, have had their problems this season, including defaulting an entire match. With a large grading advantage on almost every board we were solid favourites, and in the end the match panned out much as expected.

The fabled ‘Yellow Jersey’ of Hammer board 1 has seen quite a few owners this season. Carsten, Thomas and Bajrush have all defended Hammer’s honour with great distinction.

Tonight the job rested on the shoulders of one of our more promising young players ;o), Sydney Showbag himself – Chris. As the game below demonstrated, he was keen to put down a marker with a neat win in under 20 moves. A couple of instructive tactical points, with mate in 4 at the end should black recapture… gxf6. The jersey is now his to lose, as they say!

On board two, our Great Dane Carsten ran into some sharp opening preparation and went down in flames. It happens to even the best of us occasionally. Of course, Carsten’s role extends well beyond being just a top board stalwart, and following last week’s pleasant after match trip to the Princess Louise, this evening he introduced us to the excellent Holborn Whippet pub in the appropriately named nearby Sicilian Avenue.

On three, Thomas provided yet another example of his powerful controlled aggressive style, wrapping up the point nicely after the time control.

On board four, even Bajrush’s tremendously wily ingenuity and fighting spirit could not break down Ilford’s most solid player. A draw with bare King’s eventually resulted.

Sylvain displayed his customary precise play to win a very smooth game with the popular closed Italian Game on five.

On board six, Marios continued his recent welcome return to form with a well played King’s Indian, totally outplaying an opponent seemingly aiming for a draw from move 1.

My own game on seven was straightforward. Marios had played my opponent in Monday’s ill-fated Middlesex League Match vs. Hendon, and in two minutes flat he showed my how badly his opponent had played a Bird’s Opening as white. So when my opponent uncorked a Leningrad Dutch as black, I just followed Marios’s recipe. See for yourself below. 1.Nf3! rather than my usual 1.e4 hackery was intended as modest tribute to the retiring former World Champion, Kramnik.

Paul on eight recovered from the sight of his opponent playing Bf1-b4!! in the early opening, imposing an iron clamp on his opponent and rounding off with a display of crisp endgame technique.

Pavel on nine started with an aggressive English Attack against the Sicilian. His opponent defended well and reached a better endgame which Pavel was unable to save, despite valiant efforts.

Charlie, who has recently become such a key member of the team, showed his customary great tenacity and fighting spirit battling back from an awkward position as black in a French. His determined attitude to get a vital point for the team, turning down a draw when a pawn down in the endgame, was admirable. Nice work mate!

So it ended 7.5-2.5 to the good guys. There seemed to be a slightly strained atmosphere from our opponents for whatever reason, but the important thing is that we got the job done without fuss. The battle for promotion looks like going right down to the wire.

Jim

Rapidplay – February Pairings

January’s pairings in the Rapidplay are now all complete – full results card below. Some big upsets here, with Wyatt, Taymour, and Yingqi all beating higher graded opponents, and John scoring an impressive draw against top seed Bajrush.

Unfortunately in this round we had to award two walkovers and one double default because players did not arrange their games.

Please arrange your games in the first week of the month & enter details into the fixtures spreadsheet!

Tony is now the only player left on 100%, and he’s got the black pieces against last year’s winner, Bajrush, in a game that could prove to be crucial for the final standings.

Here are the full Round 4 fixtures – games to be completed by Thursday 28th February! Good luck.

And Finally… Some Friendly February Reminders!
  • Raffle – don’t forget to sign up for the fundraising, prize giveaway that is the Hammer/Celtic Tigers raffle! There are still tickets available, and the chances of winning a prize are ridiculously high. Read the full post here!

Contact Chris Skulte to make your purchase, before it gets opened out to the wider chess community: chrisskulte@gmail.com

  • Poland Trip – our Summer excursion this year is to beautiful Wroclaw, in Poland! We’ll be lining up against the famous Wroclaw Chess Club, and enjoying the cultured surroundings of a stunning, medieval city in central Europe.

Friends & partners are also welcome to join. If you’d like to take part please contact John White for further information: john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • GM nights – We have not one, but TWO Grandmasters visiting the Anvil in the coming months, to spread the good word, and impart some of their lifetime of knowledge and stories to the Hammer faithful.

First up is 2016 French Champion, GM Matthieu Cornette on Monday 11th February. Please contact John to reserve your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

  • Member Profiles – you might have noticed a new page on the top menu. We now have a selection of Member Profiles featured, as part of our drive to widen our recruitment! If you’d like to be included, drop us a line: updates@hammerchess.co.uk

A Bumper Week

It’s only the 12th of January, but already we have loads of things to update you all on – read on for a taste of what’s coming up, featuring foreign travel, breweries, more competitions, and a couple of GM’s paying us a visit in the next few months…

Poland trip

In case it’s escaped your notice this last week, the Annual Hammer trip abroad has been confirmed – we’re off to Breslau, Poland!

The trip takes place on the weekend of 7-9th June, and it’s going to be a brilliant experience. Breslau is a stunning medieval city, steeped in European history. Direct flights are available at reasonable cost from Standsted and Luton airpots, and there are already 10 Hammers booked to travel. What more could you ask for?

If you’re keen to join the intrepid party, please take the following steps:

  • Email John to confirm your attendance: john.white49@ntlworld.com
  • Book your flights (this part is your responsibility, however as there are only a couple of flight options, chances are you’ll be on the same plane as at least one other Hammer)
  • Join the Breslau WhatsApp group to sort accommodation – similar to previous trips, this will be a combination of Airbnb for those wishing to share or reduce costs, and hotels for the well heeled who prefer their own space! It’s entirely up to you.

Don’t delay – flights are still cheap, so get in there while you can!

Chess Up in a Brewery

Could this be a World’s First? A chess match in a brewery??

Yes, the mighty Hammer is taking on the slightly-less-mighty Battersea Chess Club over 14 boards in a local brewery – Sambrook’s!

A brilliant confluence of many enjoyable things, this is going to be a fantastic afternoon of entertainment.

The match takes place on Saturday 26th January, 1-5pm, and we are looking for players! If you’re keen to play, get in touch with John: john.white49@ntlworld.com

Places are going fast, so sign up soon if you want to be involved!!

Hammersmith & Celtic Tigers Raffle

A special raffle is taking place as we speak, to raise funds for Hammersmith and our sister club in the 4NCL, Celtic Tigers! Amongst the 50+ prizes on offer are:

  • Several training sessions with top players
  • Digital clocks
  • Championship chess sets
  • Ginger GM DVD’s
  • …and much more!

The odds of winning a prize are well over 50% , so you don’t even need to be that lucky to win something!!

Tickets are £10 a pop, or £15 for two, and the money is going to two great causes, supporting chess in the local area. If you want to nab a ticket, please contact fellow Hammer, Chris Skulte: chrisskulte@gmail.com

Good luck!!!

BBCA Rapidplay goes Monthly!

After the huge success of their annual big-money Rapdiplay tournament, our good friends in East London, the British Bangla Chess Association, have now launched a MONTHLY Rapidplay competition, and I’m pleased to report that the big money prizes are still there!!

Starting Sunday 27th January, and hosting up to 60 players per month, the competition will have Open (no limit) and Minor (Newcomers up to 80 ECF) sections, with prizes for 1st and 2nd places, plus several grading prizes – plenty of chance to win something!

Further details as follows:

  • Dates (all Sundays): January 27th, February 24th, March 31st, April 28th, May 26th, June 30th, July 28th, August 25th, September 29th, October 27th, November 24th, December 29th.
  • When: 4pm – 8pm
  • Where: The Hason Raja Centre, Spitalfields Housing Association, 117 Vallance Road,E1 5BW
  • Time Control: 15 minutes per player
  • Prizes: Open: 1st – £100, 2nd – £70; Minor: 1st – £30, 2nd – £20. Grading prizes: £25, for each of U180, U160, U140, U120, U100
  • Cost: £20 for ECF Silver or Gold, £27.50 for ECF Bronze or non-ECF, and £10 for all entries in the Minor section.
  • Contactbritishbanglachess@gmail.com
  • Entry forms are available herehttps://form.jotform.co/90074668579876

As usual, we expect this will be a brilliant competition, and the BBCA do a fantastic job in their local community – well worth your support!

And don’t forget – our last foray into this competition saw a couple of Hammers walk away with cash prizes:

Thames Valley Division 1 – Hammer Riding High!

Our Thames Valley team are continuing their unbeaten run in this season’s league. We ‘stole’ a victory from Ealing A on Monday night, who put out a very strong team.

With two games left, Ealing were edging it 3.5-2.5, with just Bajrush and Tony to finish. Thankfully, both Hammers brought home the bacon and we squeaked out a 4.5-3.5 win! Amazing result:

We now sit top of the table, and are the only unbeaten team in the league. After Surbiton’s 5.5-2.5 win at Wimbledon A, we also have a game in hand over our nearest rivals.

The purists amongst us will know that since TV records began in 1974, Hammersmith have never been Division 1 champions. Indeed, the last dozen years has seen honours rotated pretty evenly amongst Wimbledon, Ealing, Richmond and Surbiton.

Is this the season we buck the trend? Do we dare to dream??? Stay tuned…

An Evening with GM Matthieu Cornette – Monday 11th February

2016 French Champion, Celtic Tiger, and all-round top player, GM Matthieu Cornette will be gracing the Anvil on Monday 11th February form 7.30pm, for an evening of chess talk!

Matthieu will be providing a 2 hour talk and discussion, focused on club players in the range 100-150 ECF, so this will be of massive interest to many at Hammersmith.

The evening is free of charge, however we are limited to 48 people due to Health & Safety, so places will be limited. As ever, contact John to register your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

An Evening with GM Danny King – Monday 29th April

As if one GM isn’t enough, on 29th April we will be bringing you another evening of top-level chess instruction, humour, debate and anecdotes in the form of media-star GM Daniel King!

A GM since 1989, Daniel received huge plaudits for his coverage of the 1993 World Chess Championship on UK Channel 4, and has gone on to have a hugely successful career in chess broadcasting and media, with highlights including coverage of Kasparov v Deep Blue, work for the BBC, and even Cilla Black!

Daniel is a top level tutor and instructor, with a very successful YouTube channel, and remains a top British player. He’s also a native of West London! Couldn’t be better.

This will be a popular evening, so if you sign up as an ‘early bird’ before 10th April, it is only £7 per place, rising to £10 thereafter.

Tickets are exclusively for Hammer members up to March 31st, so don’t delay to secure your place amongst the lucky 48!

Contact John ASAP to book your spot: john.white49@ntlworld.com

And Finally…

Stay tuned in the next few days for write-ups on the first round of the Hammersmith League Rapidplay, and some of this week’s games!

The chess never stops at Hammer! #hammertime

 

The 2018 Summer Programme

Get excited! Our Summer Programme is back for 2018, bigger & better than ever! We will be upstairs at The Albion every Monday night this Summer, putting on a host of different activities:

Training Sessions

The club’s top players will be hosting a total of SIX training sessions throughout the Summer. Specific details will be announced nearer the time, but we already have some great things scheduled.

ECF-accredited coach, Paul McKeown, will host a pair of sessions (9th July & 30th July) focused on “Calculation and visualization with Michael Tal” – each session aimed at different strength players, though as with all our events, everybody is welcome.

Two of our strongest players – Jim Stevenson, and Carsten Pedersen – will be taking a session each. Jim will be focusing on “Practical Thinking Skills” (25th June), using illustrations from classic Bobby Fischer games. Meanwhile, Carsten will be providing his expert analysis on some games submitted by members (23rd July) – you’re invited to submit 3 or 4 games each, at least one win and one loss, and Carsten will take us through some of the more instructive ones.

(For those not in the know, our Jim is also an avid user of Twitter, and is well worth a follow: @Jimovskytwenty3 – some fabulous chess analysis & musings on life!)

And another ECF-accredited coach, Tony Niccoli, will be taking a session on 20th August. Details TBC at the moment, but those who came to Tony’s session earlier in the season will recall what a well-run and instructive evening that was.

History Lecture

As well as the training, Carsten will be providing us with a fascinating lecture on the History of Chess, for general interest on 13th August.

Tournaments

After the amazing success of similar events last Summer, our Tournament wizard Adam, will be organizing three more events this year:

  • Team Rapidplay (2nd July) – attendees will be split into four teams and play one rapidplay game against each of the others. Prizes to the winning team!
  • Handicap Blitz (3rd Sept) – a straight up Blitz tourney played out in traditional Hammer handicap style
  • Bughouse (16th July) – This chess variant is great fun and hugely popular. Players will be paired according to grade and fight it out for the grand prize
Some of last years tournament winners, with prizes!!
Pub Crawl

Arguably the highlight of Summer 2017 – this year’s Kensington pub crawl will incorporate even more pubs, with plenty of chess along the way. Save the date – 6th August!

Club Nights

The powers that be have selfishly littered a few Monday nights with big football games and bank holidays. No problem! Come along to The Albion anyway and there’s sure to be plenty of like-minded folks around to play some chess.

Summer League

And don’t forget – as well as all this, there are also 6 Tuesday evenings of Summer League Chess down at Battersea Chess Club (5 mins from Clapham Junction). We are entering even more teams this year, so there’ll be loads of competitive chess to play!

Full details of all events below, and on our Club Calendar:

Puzzle of the Week #018… plus FREE GM Simul!

It has officially been one month since our previous Puzzle of the “Week”, so without further ado, the winner from our previous Puzzle is….

Charlie (aka. Sorted) & Adam (aka. Pickle), both of whom were correct, albeit with ever-so-slightly different styles of responding! Honours shared this time – congrats to both excellent solutions.

1…Nxd5
2. exd5, Rxd1+
3. Ke2, Rxd5

The puzzle was taken from Sokolov-Thogersen, Rilton Cup 2018. White should now have continued with Rxb7 with reasonable drawing chances but Sokolov played Bxa7 and eventually lost, securing his opponent a well deserved FM title.

The position was from the weekly column in the Danish newspaper Fyens Stiftidende, a personal tribute to their long standing chess correspondent Niels Erik Neilsen, who is recovering from a recent stroke.

Our puzzle-setter in chief, Carsten, has known Niels Erik for almost 40 years, so I’m sure we all join Carsten in collectively sending Niels Erik our best wishes too!

On to this week’s offering then – White to move and draw! Answers in the comments please:

 

And Finally…

If that’s not enough for you, our friends over at Battersea Chess Club will be hosting GM Danny Gormally for a Simultaneous exhibition next week – and it’s FREE to enter!

The details you need to know:

  • Where? Battersea’s Home Venue – Battersea Labour Club, 81-83 Falcon Road, SW11 2PF. It’s next to Clapham Junction Station
  • When? Kicks off at 7.30pm
  • Who? GM Danny Gormally, currently rated 2484!
  • Contact? Reserve your spot by emailing Aldo: aldocamilleri@aol.com

Battersea have generously reserved a number of spots just for us Hammers, so you’ll be guaranteed a place – you just need to drop Aldo an email to confirm first.

Puzzle of the Week #015

After a brief hiatus last week, we are back with a bang – down to business.

As the only response to last week’s puzzle, PaulDead-EyeKennelly takes the plaudits this time – congratulations Paul!

It was taken from Kolb-Schroeder, Nuremberg in 1895. Snipped from the wonderful Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics.

On to this week’s puzzle – White has just played Rxb7 (so it’s Black to move). Why was that a bad idea??

A Night at the Speelman

26.02.18The hallowed hall of The Anvil last night hosted chess royalty in the form of GM Jon Speelman. A special evening where over thirty Hammerites and guests listened, enthralled and captivated, to the wit and wisdom of a top man and a world-class Chess Grandmaster. The “Beast from the East” may have hit London but we had our Beast from Hampstead to keep us warm. The evening had something for everyone… read on.

First off, a few GM Speelman facts:

  • In 1989 he was ranked #4 in the world, with only some wood-pushers called Kasparov, Karpov and Timman keeping him off the top spot
  • He was a World Championship semi-finalist, losing narrowly to Jan Timman by the odd point
  • He is a writer, analyst, newspaper columnist, excellent company and all-round top bloke

My original brief to GM Jon Speelman was to analyse one of his games, talking us through his thought processes, reasoning and strategy. Needless to say, he delivered way beyond that, and graciously indulged us in a lengthy Q&A session.

For those of you who could not attend, you missed a treat. However, do not despair as all the games, puzzles and analysis are included in this report.

Packed to the rafters for the GM!
GM Jon takes us through a game on the practice board

The evening started with GM Jon laying out what he had in store for us, and supplying the first piece of GM Speelman wisdom on chess.

“I like games that are clear cut – either tremendously violent or logical, like this first illustrative game.”

The first game was a clash between Kramnik and SjugirovSochi 2016. The game is given below with Speelman analysis.

Jon – we are now BFF’s – went through the game encouraging and prompting answers from the audience. No idea or suggestion was too stupid, and all efforts were met with courtesy and listened to… then mostly demolished with logic and good grace.

The game itself is a brilliant example of a top-class Grandmaster, utilising a slightly superior position and giving his talented opponent no chance of counter play.

In particular, Jon enthused over move 24.g3, and as he explained his reasoning for his admiration of this move, uttered the second piece of Speelman chess wisdom of the night.

“If you have a positional advantage, do not press. Improve your position. The likelihood is your opponent will make bad moves”

At this stage of the evening Jon also revealed that he did not count moves when he calculated, he simply pinged!! A counting method I shall try out in my next over-the-board encounter.

Jon then turned to the second game to analyse, and this time he was less modest. It was his classic encounter from the 1989 Brussels Tournament against a certain Viktor Kortchnoi. A case of the unstoppable force meeting the…. unstoppable force. This was a real violent caveman encounter with no quarter asked, or given. As you would expect from two great chess warriors.

Here is the game:

Jon’s observations throughout this game were superb, and obviously heightened by his actual participation. The game goes mental from about move 7, and continues throughout with both GM’s walking a tightrope. The anecdotes about the game and then the final forcing line, were tremendously entertaining, educational and insightful – this was brilliant stuff.

The irony was, Jon confessed this was probably his best game – his “immortal”, but sadly contained a flaw. A rather dodgy character called GM John Nunn approached him immediately after the game and pointed out that if 16.Qc4 had been played by White, then Black had a lost position. How small are the margins between perfection and….. ?

The third piece of Speelman chess wisdom then emerged:

“Play positions you feel happy with. Regardless of material. If you are happy and are playing the game you want, then that is all you need”

The evening then changed tack with two studies being given the Speelman treatment. One an endgame study and one a middle-game fantasy. Both were fascinating and informative – by this stage I could only marvel at Jon’s patience and humour as numerous suggestions from the audience were shouted out. Two problems (with solutions) are given below:

The demonstration part of the evening concluded with Jon taking us through another violent game. This one featured GM Teimour Radjabov (famous for destroying Kasparov with the black pieces in a Kings Indian when he was ridiculously young) and a young, probably talented, upstart called Olexandr Bortnyk. The latter was dealt with harshly for obviously not showing enough respect or deference to the now thirty year old Teimour.

So, for your enjoyment and delight, admire the sheer brutality and the putting-you-in-your-place nature of this game.

After this piece of carnage another pearl of chess wisdom was bestowed.

“When you sit down at the board, you have to be in warrior mode. No half measures – you are there to fight”

The final part of the evening saw Jon doing his version of Question Time. Dealing with toughies such as:

  • What advice would you give kids when facing e4, Bc4 and Qh5?
  • Who will challenge Carlsen for the WCC?
  • When will we have a different World Champion?
  • I play c4, d3, e4… what do you think?
  • If Nakamura was playing you and he went e4, Qh5, what would you say or not say to him?
  • What’s the weirdest thing an opponent has done to you at the board? (One opponent actually laughed at him!!)
  • Who was the most talented player you ever met over the board?
  • What was your chess book collection growing up?
  • What were Petrosian, Smyslov, Spassky etc. like to play against?
  • What did you think of Fischer as a chess player, not as… ?

You can tell by the quality of the questions the Hammerites knew their stuff. By the way, two of the questions have the same answer – Ivanchuk. I leave you to work out what are the questions concerned.

Forty minutes past our official finish time your correspondent brought the evening to a close, and Jon accompanied various disreputable Hammerites to the Albion to carry on the evening. Knowing he had spent the weekend playing the Bunratty Chess festival, I can only admire his stamina.

The afterparty!

A couple of thanks before signing off – a big shout out to both Adam and Mike for helping me setup the furniture.

Also, a big note of thanks to Paul McK (the Prof) who kept Jon’s wine glass nicely topped-up and supplied the wine as well.

However, the biggest thanks go to GM Jon Speelman. An amazing chess player, analyst and raconteur, who can now bask in the added title of “Hammer Legend”.

Normal service resumes next Monday.

Puzzle of the Week #013

Unlucky for some, we are back for our thirteenth installment with another puzzle.

But first, to last weeks. It was another superb response from Hammerites with no fewer than 10 attempts – many of them not from Charlie!

The first correct reply was from Mohammad – well done to you sir! An honourable mention must also go to Gokhan with a slightly later, but equally correct, effort.

It was no mean feat – full solution as follows:

1.f6! gxf6
2. f4 Kd4
3. g5 fxg5
4. fxg5 Ke5 (if hxg5, h6 and black is outside the square, now it looks like he can stop the pawn except for…)
5. gxh6 Kf6
6. Kc2!!

Ed. Lasker – Moll, Berlin Ch 1904.

Black is now in Zugzwang! The actual game went 1.f4 f6, and black won, a tragedy for “Die Kleine Lasker” who would have won the city championship with a win in this game. (Source: The Bobby Fischer I Knew, Arnold Denker).

So to #13- White to move, answers in the comments please:

 

Puzzle of the Week #012

To say last week’s puzzle was popular would be something of an understatement – no fewer than 14 responses (albeit most of them from Charlie!!).

In the end, it was Charlie who got there first (on his 11th attempt), but credit to Adam too. Well done to you both and we’re loving the enthusiasm!

The full solution as follows:

1. Qc3+ (Qb2 is also ok), Kg8 (not forced but anything else loses lots of material)
2.  Qxh8+, Kxh8
3.  Bf6+, Kg8
4.  Re8+, mate!

So to this week’s puzzle, and it’s a bit more of a thinker.

All our recent puzzles have been about piece play, so this one celebrates the little guys – the pawns are the hero here:

White to move, answers in the comments…

Puzzle of the Week #011

Happy Friday – we’re back once again with another Puzzle just in time for the weekend.

Last week’s was a reasonably straightforward mating puzzle, albeit not necessarily entirely intuitive.

Panos was the first to respond with the correct answer – effectively a Queen sacrifice to force the mating sequence. Well done Panos!

This week sees us celebrating the outbreak of mad romanticism in the London 4 team last week, with a game from the archives featuring Capt. Evans.

Evans-McDonnell, London, 1829. Not the first recorded game with the Evans Gambit, but a win by the inventor.

White to move, answers in the comments please!