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


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


Training Evening with Tony Niccoli

21.11.16 – A first for Hammer, and one more step on the road to creating a vibrant, learning culture at our Chess Club, as ECF trainer Tony Niccoli gave us an evening of his finest teaching!

It was a brilliant training session last night for 12 members of the Club. The clarity and format of the evening was perfectly pitched, and the subsequent working in pairs to solve the problems set for us by Tony was just right.

Tony gets into his stride… silence at the back!

There were two themes to the evening. Firstly, the importance of the outside pawn, and Second, the power of the pin. Even a Lombardy and Fischer game ending was brought into the mix!

The former was illustrated by the use of the three problems, and the learning was delivered in a measured way with plenty of audience participation. Having nailed the importance of this concept we were able to transfer these elements to the second theme – the power and use of the pin.

A crowd of eager Hammer members looks on intently!

Again, using problems of increasing difficulty we were shown how to exploit the power of the pin to it’s maximum effect. Some important concepts were highlighted, such as:

  • Not cashing in & taking the pinned piece too soon
  • Using the power of the pin to improve your position
  • Using the pin to ensure your opponent runs out of moves and is forced to surrender material (incorporating elements of zugzwang)
  • Increasing the pressure of the pin by bringing all your pieces to bear on it

Concepts that were new to some attendees and probably forgotten by the others. This was real eye-opening stuff, delivered in a manner that will stick.

Regardless of your strength, anyone would benefit from the content delivered in a  very professional and logical way by Tony. This was borne out with some of the trickier examples proving a significant challenge to our players rated 160+, indeed it’s fair to say not everyone got the right answers first time round.

Proof that homework can be fun… !

The evening ended with homework. Tony gave each attendee a puzzle sheet to take away and work on. A definite case of back to school days and a great way to follow-up on the lessons learnt.

On behalf of the club I wish to thank Tony for the huge effort he put into the evening, and his immeasurable patience with us!

To all Hammer members who did not attend, you missed a real treat and an evening that would have improved your game!

Another one will follow!!!



Hammersmith vs Fulham Juniors

Following a highly successful thriller of a match last season (it ended a 6-6 draw – details here), we again face the mighty Fulham Juniors in a one-off match next week at the Brunswick Club – Tuesday 15th November.

There are no grading restrictions, so if you are keen to play please contact John White to confirm your space in the lineup. It proved extremely popular last season so please get in touch if you don’t want to miss out.

The Brunswick Club is up on Haldane Road, SW6 7EU – a short walk from Fulham Broadway tube.

And looking further ahead… our Club Night on Monday 21st November features ECF-trainer (and 198-rated player) Tony Niccoli for a special evening of coaching.

Tony has generously volunteered to analyse and run-through some games, so if you have a particularly interesting encounter you’d like him to have a look at & share with the Club, please get in touch. Would love to see as many of you there as possible – promises to be very good.

SW London Juniors, and ECF Training at Hammersmith

Chess fans, some exciting news to share!

First up, we have arranged another double-header with a local Junior club – South West London Juniors. Based in SW10 (near West Brompton), the SW London club were founded in 2015 but already have a strong base of players and will be putting out 10 boards against us.

We’ll first play the Juniors at their home venue St Luke’s Church, Redcliffe Gardens on Thursday 23rd Feb, and play a return fixture at Lytton Hall on Monday 13th March. We’ll be looking at rapid play timings for both matches. Fixtures are on our Club Calendar – save the dates!

The SW London Juniors in action!

Secondly, in a brilliant gesture of friendship the Juniors co-founder and coach, Tony Niccoli, will be hosting a FREE evening of chess coaching at Hammersmith on the evening of Monday 21 st November.

Tony has been teaching chess since the age of 15, and is now an ECF trainer and arbiter, with a current rating of 198! More on Tony here, but suffice to say he is a top chess professional and it is a real treat to have him offer his services at Hammersmith.

The session is going to be based around a run through & analysis of some games submitted by members. Please get in touch if you’d like your game to be included, so that Tony has time to prepare an analysis first.

We’re really looking forward to seeing as many of you there as possible, should be a great night.

The Ant & Dec of Chess

Our first Hammer training session was well attended last night with many new faces – welcome to Matt, Orial, Daphne and Adam!!

However the evening was dominated by our own version of Ant and Dec – Baj and Car (BajCar) – aka Bajrush and Carsten – who gave us a thoroughly enjoyable evening with great advice and amusing comments!!

Bajrush getting in to his new role as Dec

The evening began looking at the three different types of pin that occur in chess – followed by a forensic examination of our own David Lambert’s game against GM Chris Ward.

The intention was not to heap more misery on David but to illustrate graphically how the pin can be utilised to tie your opponent in knots and gradually increase your advantage. To the extent where tactics are inevitable and this translates into victory. You really appreciated that playing simple (not that simple!) positional chess can lead to a win without any risk to yourself.

Very instructive!

Training – always a crowd pleaser!

The session then started to free wheel with lots of questions from the members and a quick examination of openings. For players new to the game this was invaluable and the advice given by Bajrush and Carsten was really pertinent

  • Learn one opening – practise it and experiment
  • Always ask the question what does your opponent intend with their move(s)
  • A heightened sense of paranoia and scepticism are excellent qualities in a chess player
  • Rapid development with gain of tempo are ideal

Our evening finished at 10pm and everyone went away happy and curious to apply what we had learnt asap.

Training Days

A reminder – the first training & theory evening of the new season kicks off on Monday 10th October at our Lytton Hall home venue.

This session will be hosted by our Kosovan wizard of a Chairman, Bajrush, and is entitled “The Power of the Pin in the Middle Game” – sounds very interesting!!

Attendance is free and non-members are welcome to join for a taster of what we’ll be offering throughout the season. If you’ve not done so already, please check out our Calendar for dates of future sessions.

The sessions proved very popular last season & we hope to see you all there on Monday!

Theory & Practice Session – May 23rd

A reminder folks – we hold our next FREE theory & practice session at our club venue on Monday 23rd May, starting from 7.30pm.

As usual it is open to anyone who would like to join us – we’ll have a session involving some theory, and in-depth game analysis, followed by a bit of putting it into practice. If you’d like your game to be considered for analysis, please bring it along! One of our top club players will be hosting and we’ll have our usual selection of tea, coffee and other refreshments on hand.


Our previous session saw a fantastic turnout – no less than 17 people turned up including a number of new faces. It would be great to see some more new faces (and familiar ones of course!) this coming Monday – hope to see you there!!

Training Night – April 25th

Last night at Lytton Hall the club had its latest training session, hosted by club Chairman Bajrush.  The session had two parts.  In the first part Bajrush presented some common positions featuring rook vs rook and pawn, and posed to us how a win (or draw) could be forced.

2016-04-25 training1 

In the second part of the session, the club was split into two teams: Knights and Bishops.  Each player lined up against someone from the other team and played three moves each on a board, then moved with their opponent to play three moves on the next board, which had already been played on by a different pair.  A pair of players would drop out when one checkmated the other. 

2016-04-25 training2

This session was great fun and forced everyone to examine positions they might not be familiar with.  In the end the session finished in a 3-3 tie.  The debate over which is stronger out of the Knight and the Bishop will continue!

Upcoming Training: Rook Endgames, and Knights vs Bishops!

Save the date: Monday 25th April, starting 7.45pm at our home venue!

This Monday evening our Chairman Bajrush will be leading us through a session on Rook endgames at the training board. Anecdotally this is probably one of the more common endgames you’re likely to come across in a face to face game, or online, so it’ll be very useful for all who attend. At this stage in the game the advantage can switch very easily and it’s valuable to know any tactics that can help sway things your way.

This will be followed by an interactive game of Knights v Rooks, where we’ll have two teams playing each other with players taking turns to make moves. Hopefully this will give everyone the chance to sense the positions and discuss possible moves – really get us thinking about the lines to play and combinations. Should be fun!!

As ever, the session will be free and open to anyone who wants to come along – just drop us a line first so we know to expect you. It’d be great to see you there!!

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2016 @ 6:28 pm