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

 

Buddy Up!!!

To tie in with the new ECF grades released today, Hammersmith Chess Club is proud to launch an equally new (and sparkly) scheme to support our members. With any luck we should see collective grades receive a boost too! We introduce our HCC Buddy Programme…

To complement our wide range of in-house training sessions, another useful way to improve your chess is if you have someone to turn to for that little bit of extra support throughout the season. That might be someone who’s happy to review your annotated games, or who can give you a few helpful tips following club tournaments. Obviously, it helps if that person is:

  • A little stronger than you
  • Willing to help (nothing more annoying than feeling you’re bugging someone!)

That’s where our Buddy Programme steps in. We’re looking to pair up willing volunteers who’ll be happy to maintain that 1-2-1 connection across the season. How that pair interacts following the pairing is entirely up to them – we’ll just act as the mechanism to put like minded people together!

What do we need from you? Please let us know – no later than Sunday 5th February – if you’d:

  • Like to offer your services as a Buddy
  • Like to be paired with a Buddy who can support you
  • Or if you’d like to put yourself forward to do both! I hope a number of people will fall into this camp

We’ll be able to confirm pairings on Monday 6th February. Suggest these run until the Summer and then we can review again.

And please, don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I’m only graded X, I won’t be able to help anyone”. That’s nonsense! The best way to learn is from someone who’s only slightly better than you.

The scheme will be administered by Dave Lambert – please send all replies, comments or suggestions in his direction at davidlambert80@gmail.com

Thanks,
Dave.

Save the Dates – FREE Training

Dear Members, as part of our training programme this season we have massively upped our game with the addition of Tony Niccoli to the roster. Tony is an ECF-registered trainer, and a top English player (198 standard/203 rapid), and he’ll be taking two more training evenings – in March and April.

The demo board – seen more action than most this year

Ahead of that we’re equally excited to announce that Monday 23rd January sees our next in-house training session. Hosted by our Thames Valley and London 3 Captains, Adam Cranston and John White, we’ll be analyzing games at the demo board and providing tactical and strategic insights and advice. You’re invited to submit games to Adam by 7pm Friday for inclusion in the session.

Finally we can also confirm our own Danish Dynamo, Carsten Pedersen, will be hosting a training session in May. Carsten has long been one of our top players (192 standard) and is highly skilled with his analysis and insights, with a very accessible and engaging presentational style. His session will be a great finale to this years programme.

Full details below – make sure you save the dates!

  • Monday 23rd January – Adam Cranston & John White
  • Monday 13th March – Tony Niccoli
  • Monday 10th April – Tony Niccoli
  • Monday 8th May – Carsten Pedersen