London League Round-up – L5 & L3

 

09.05.17 – London League 3: Kings Head v Hammersmith

“Not with a Bang and not with a Whimper… but with a…”

Our last match of the season saw Hammer 1 take on Kings Head.

Although our objective of retaining Division 3 status had already been achieved, Hammer 1 were playing for pride! This game was a tough ask with Hammer 1 out graded on the top six boards by an average of 15 points per board.

Losses on the top four boards made saving the match a really hard task. All four Hammerites fought valiantly but it was just one of those nights at the office.

Bajrush, Paul, Jeremy and Marios scored 50% plus over the whole season – they have given all for the team.

The next three boards gave Hammer optimism as Sheikh, Matteo and I won. Sheikh and Matteo won brilliantly, and on the night. Both had very complicated games where they verged on the edge of disaster and held the line. They saw through all the pitfalls and emerged triumphant. Two really great wins.

My win was achieved after an adjournment, but playing the Black side of a Benoni I achieved an initiative from about move 20. Accurate play allowed me to convert. I have re-discovered my chess mojo in the final part of the season!

Josue and John Ryan achieved draws. My feeling is both of them had the initiative and maybe on another night would have won. A perfect example of some of the tough luck Hammer 1 has endured this season.

Robin had another encounter with a familiar face – Ian Adam – they have had many battles over the years. This time Caissa decided it was Ian’s turn to triumph and he duly did so. Robin was fairly sanguine about the result, but he has been a real support to me and the team at critical times during the season and I thank him.

I also feel it is appropriate that I announce our player of the season. It is….. A.N. OTHER!… you will all just have to wait and see at the AGM on 5th June.

On a final note, Hammer 1 will be back stronger, better and well-equipped to mount a promotional challenge in 2017-18. The dream of Division 2 chess is something Hammer 1 deserve and the learnings and experience gathered this season will help us achieve that goal. Roll on 2017-18.

Keep the faith, and go Hammer!!!

John.

Result: Kings Head 6-4 Hammersmith

Current standings, with a handful of games left

11.05.17 – London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith

We returned to Pimlico on time this time, and to an almost empty hall. Pimlico had no one available to play, so they defaulted on their 4th board – we started the evening 1 point up!

We even had the toss of the coin, which Pimlico proceeded to win. Nevertheless, we stuck in with Black pieces on boards 1 & 3, and White on board 2.

Board 3 was Kaan Corbaci in his second game of the season for our division 5 team. He played a Kings Indian defence to a Queen Pawn opening, and accounted well for himself, winning the exchange. At the endgame he had a Rook and a Bishop against 2 Bishops, and maybe one pawn down. A draw was agreed.

Board 1 saw veteran John White defending to a Kings Pawn opening with a Petroff Defence, which however an hour later saw many pieces swapped. John had reached an ending with only Queens left; however he was 2 pawns down. John, no pushover, had a very active Queen, which could check his opponent’s exposed King, so a draw was agreed.

Board 2 was David Lambert with the White pieces, opening with his Kings Pawn to an Open Sicilian. The middle game saw his opponent mounting a highly unusual battery of Rook, Queen and Rook on the semi-closed c-file; all aimed against the hapless c2 pawn (part of a fianchetto structure) defended by a Rook, Queen and King. Add a Black Knight into the picture and chaos soon ensued.

We saw the Knight fork of the Rooks on the first rank or the loss of a weak pawn. After White lost the exchange, Queens swapped, and further White pawns attacked, Black posted two Rooks onto the second rank. White’s only hope, a Bishop, was merely a spectator. The end was not long in coming and David capitulated against a very strong adversary.

A draw for the second time. Your Captain – and author – sat this one out, preferring Kaan to play.

Robin.

Result: Pimlico 2-2 Hammersmith

Honours Even in London 5

04.05.17 – London League 5: Streatham & Brixton v Hammersmith

We were expecting a battle royale to make amends for our prior 3-1 defeat… (“An Evening of Roosters & Foxes” – a great writeup from back in January!)

Board 4 saw Chris Moore attacking on the Queenside from the English Opening. But Black prevailed and started pressing on White’s undeveloped Kingside. Only the Knight had moved.

With sparks flying, Black finally a touched a Rook, found he preferred something else, and let go. Game rules said he had to move the Rook, which meant the Rook was captured and the game all but lost a few minutes later.

Next to finish was John Woolley on Board 2, who had a standard looking Queens Pawn opening. After reaching a critical position, Black and White repeated moves, and a GM style draw was agreed. John is our draw-master, 5 games in a row. Kudos!

Here is what Brian Dodgeon on board 1 emailed me: “My game as Black was pretty tricky: my opponent (graded 144) played the Trompowski system (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). I played 2… g6 and he took the Knight before I could fianchetto, messing up my central pawns. As a result he got a lot of pressure in the centre, supported by his White-squared fianchettoed KB.

I was often about to lose a pawn and he had a dangerous Queen and Rook doubled on the a-file, but just in time I gained control of the long Black diagonal and won his pawn on b2, which allowed my Queen to penetrate his back rank and get a perpetual check.”

Finally your Captain, who reported that: “In my game a conventional defence got my Queenside weak. I should stick to the obscure gambit.”

“After meeting the first clock dealing, and a tough position more or less locked-up, I had 5 minutes more than my opponent, so the position finally opened up. Funny how I finally got a Rook free to go pawn hunting, got careless, in a scramble to win the ending and got King and Rook Knight forked. The game was lost as a pawn majority broke through on the King side.”

So…. the final result was 2-2; a drawn match. All in all, I feel it was a good result as Streatham were lying second in the league table.

Robin.

Puzzle of the Week #006

Okay, okay… it’s been slightly longer than a week, but we have been extra busy in the meantime raising loads of money for charity!

First things first, our winner from last time… Well, it was a difficult puzzle that’s for sure. After several people had a crack at it, I can confirm that the winner was…. Matteo! (1. Bc6 Rb1+ 2. Ke2 Rxh1 3. Bg2+ Kxg2 4. Nf4+ Kg1 5. Ke1 g2 6. Ne2#) – Complimenti!

So to this week’s puzzle. There’s a tenuous link to Morphy with this one – Black to move this time, and solutions in the comments as usual please!

Chess Bosses Lyric Square, W6

29.04.17 – This time last year our Club submitted an article to the English Chess Federation about the initiatives we were implementing in an effort to revive the Club and recruit more members (link here). It represented an attempt to share our experiences of how we had turned around the slow decline in our Club’s fortunes & membership, with a view to benefitting others experiencing similar difficulties.

As a result, the ECF’s publicity manager, Mark, got in contact to see if we would be interesting in hosting a “Chess Master at the Local” event in a local cafe or pub to promote chess in the community. Hammersmith gratefully accepted the offer, but we wanted to go beyond the confines of a building and take the event to the streets!

Furthermore, we wanted to combine it with a fund-raising effort for the local branch of Mental Health charity, MIND. As most of you know, MIND is the adopted charity of the ECF and a perfect companion to our great game.

The calm before the storm

So, with the help of Mark and the ECF, we recruited Lateefah Messam-Sparks for the day. We were also able to secure Lyric Square in Hammersmith for the event. For those of you not familiar with the geography of West London, the Square sits outside the famous Lyric Theatre, right in the heart of the shopping district and the passing hordes.

The main point was that we had the opportunity to take our game to the heart of our community, giving us the best opportunity to raise awareness of the game, much needed money for MIND, and promote our club.

After overcoming numerous obstacles, such as public liability insurance(!), planning for inclement weather, logistics, manpower and getting MIND on board, we set the date for 29th April 2017.

Extensive use of social media and our contact with fellow London Chess Clubs was to be central to the success of the day.

Can you beat a chess club player??

The next thing was to form an event management committee and start the process of pulling the event together. This was duly done and delivered, and whilst we did not achieve every aspect of the plan – you learn more in the first hour of the event than the entire month of planning beforehand! – we did deliver in spades on the fundraising, the promotion of our game to the masses, and the advertising of Hammersmith Chess Club.

An incredible sixteen Hammersmith players volunteered for the event, most for the whole day. We had a total of 14 boards and clocks in place, and I’m pleased to confirm they were in constant use for most of the day! Our members also proved adept at collecting money for MIND and encouraging people to have a game. This is a crucial lesson – you have to door-step members of the general public and get them involved!

 

For their part, the Great British Public delivered enormously too. It was a real thrill to see people of all ages and backgrounds sit down for a game – within a couple of hours we’d played chess against: a series of old-timers who “hadn’t played in ages” (that old chestnut!!), scores of youngsters in town with their parents who were overawed with excitement at the unexpected prospect of a game, young men and women out for the day who stopped by for a (sometimes highly-competitive!) game, people with luggage on their way to Heathrow, and a pair of Dutch chaps in town for the weekend, amongst many, many others.

The day had so many highlights and here are just a few that stick in my mind:

  • A huge number of people delighted to see chess promoted in a public space
  • Enthusiasm and commitment of the Hammersmith members
  • The esprit de corps generated throughout the club both in the build up and on the day. It is amazing what you can achieve when you work together
  • The unifying nature of chess in action! Chess proved to be a common language across all nationalities, races and religions
  • Our Chairman Bajrush playing, and losing, to a four-year old girl watched on by her delighted mother and grandmother. Did he fall or was he pushed??
  • The number of people who told us we should be doing this every week
  • Perhaps most importantly, the money we were able to raise for MIND – pushing £400 at the last count – truly amazing!!
Three generations… and Bajrush!

So, on reflection the day was a huge success for all concerned. In fact, we are holding a club Open Evening on 15th May as a follow-up for the people who expressed interest in chess, and our club.

There were also many learnings from the day, which of course we’ll address as we move forward. The overwhelming feedback is that this should become an annual event!

We must thank Mark and the ECF for their help and guidance, the members of the Club who gave up their time for a game they love, and Hammersmith MIND, whose participation gave the event an added and welcome focus!

Some more of our favourite photos below, plus many more on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011647381730

 

April Updates

Several updates for you today…

Firstly – you will hopefully all be well aware that we are going to be in Lyric Square, Hammersmith town centre this coming Saturday 29th, from 10.30am to 4pm, playing chess and having lots of fun in aid of a fantastic cause – supporting Hammersmith & Fulham MIND, a mental health charity.

The response from members has been great and we’ll be out in numbers, with lots of people volunteering for the whole day alongside other members who’ll be turning up throughout the day. If you don’t already have plans on Saturday, come down and join in!

We’ll be playing games against the public, Phil is organizing some Chess Swap(!), we have the fabulous Lateefah Messam-Sparks with us – she’ll be organizing some events with children, and there may even be a simultaneous in the mix. Spread the word, and come on down!!

26.04.17 – London League 3 Update: Hot off the Press!!!

My fellow Hammerites – sensational news that Hammer 3 has retained Division 3 status in the London League!

Objective for the season achieved with one game still to go, and despite the loss of half a match point due to defaults.

I want to thank all the players who turned out for the team this season. This is all down to you and the great esprit de corps that runs through our chess club.

Yet, in the midst of it all there is a slight tinge of regret. Hammer lost so many matches by the odd point/half-point, and if the roll of the dice had been different we would be in a real promotion battle.

We lost 5 matches by 0.5 or 1 point. With the exception of the first match of the season against Cavendish we were very competitive, despite being outgraded on many evenings. The truth be told, the margins between where we ended up and where we could have ended was very fine. It came down to maybe seven individual games over the season.

This gives us real hope for next season and achieving promotion to Division 2 as a realistic goal.

Roll on 2017-18 season, and go Hammer!!!

John.

25.04.17 – London League 5: Greater London v Hammersmith

History is said to repeat its lessons on the inattentive or unprepared.

Yes, the result was a repeat of our last score against Greater London, 1.5 – 2.5 back in October 2016.

The only consolation is that our opponents had some 40 points over us in grading points across 4 boards this time around.

Board 4 with the white pieces saw Chris opening with the English and an early Rook to Rac1 in itself, a good omen actually. Suddenly white had trapped his opponent’s Queen on the a-file and resignation followed. Chris has a daunting attacking style with lightning moves one after another. Well done Chris!

Board 1 saw John Woolley with a super-sold Sicilian and a draw agreed, when no pawn break could be attempted.

The captain, black on board 3, had no real opening that could be recognized against standard 1.e4, perhaps the point of it, as it all came down to skill rather than opening knowledge… After an early sally on the castled King, black was unable to maintain pressure, and after trading Queens with Knights, with a view to setting a trap that white easily circumvented, black ended up with 2 isolated pawns and one doubled-pawns – not lost, but not very pretty.

The game became a four-a-side football with 2 Bishops and 2 Rooks opposing each other. With play on both sides, the middle game could have gone either way. White’s dawn raid became inevitable and he launched a Rook on the 7th, supported by 2 Bishops mating attack.

Black loses a Rook to avoid the mate. Enter white’s e-pawn into the field of carnage, which is pushed to the 6th… leaving black with no option but to capitulate.

David on board 2 had an advanced variation of the French to deal with. On the face of it, white had a nice pawn centre up to the 5th with the e-pawn on point. White seemingly had an advantage, but not sustainable.

After simplification to a Bishop versus a Knight, and many pawns, the ending became highly technical, with a draw in the offing. After board 3 went down, however, David surrendered also, material down.

Congratulations to Chris on a magnificent win!

Robin.

Shootout at the Wheatsheaf Corral!

24.04.17 – London League 3: Albany v Hammersmith

A seismic evening of London League 3 chess took place last night in London W1. A critical relegation fixture in Division 3. Hammer were pitted against the might of Albany, who are gunning for promotion to Division 2.

As I said in my last dispatch, this is belt and braces time and Hammer need to deliver.

Let me set the scene – for one moment just closer your eyes. Think Clint Eastwood riding into town in “A Fistful of Dollars” – the Ennio Morricone soundtrack in the background. The long gunman facing insuperable odds.

Imagine that scene and you will be halfway there to where your Hammer heroes were last night. There was only going to be one outcome as they sat down to fight.

As with all things this season, Hammer do not do things the easy way – they are just addicted to pressure. We just have an innate desire to make things as difficult as possible… for ourselves!

Let me demonstrate why:

  • Three of our nominated players have not been able to compete this season
  • Last night we were missing Orial, Josue and Marios. Not easy men to replace.
  • We defaulted a game – Sheikh had an unfortunate lapse of memory. Something I cannot reprimand him for because he has been so good this season.
  • It mean that Hammer started this crucial match already a point down.

Fortunately Brian, Adam and Robin were able to step up. Hammer were ready.

The scene has been set… let’s look at the detail of the evening.

The first man to finish was Robin in rapid fashion. Playing white the game was over so quickly I only saw a brief glimpse of it. My memory is of a white Knight on b5 coupled with his usual fianchettoed Bishop on g2 and pawn on d3 setup. That is all I can relate. Hammer were now 1-1.

Next up was Safi playing one of his best games of the season, he left his b2 pawn en prise. A greedy black Queen took the bait and then proceeded to get trapped. Safi smoothly converted. 2-1 to Hammer.

Things then settled down and the evening wore on.

The outcome saw victories for Paul, Adam and myself. Draws for Bajrush, Jeremy and Matteo. A tough loss for Brian after achieving a winning position, was the only blemish on a great night of Hammer chess.

Paul’s game was one of classical manoeuvring and probing. Paul very rarely plays badly and is very solid and logical in his approach. This was another good and deserved win. Hammer now at 3-1.

Adam was in dominant mood. I think he was four pawns up at one stage and he only had to negotiate a couple of tactics to secure the win. This he duly did and Hammer cruised to 4-1.

Chess is a really easy game if you are playing well and your opponent helps.

My win was on the white-side of a Caro-Kann that had elements of an advanced French. Luckily, I came out of the middle game with a passed b-pawn which grew as it advanced up the board. I had multiple ways to win and decided the most prudent course was to head for an endgame with the same number of pawns, but the bonus of an extra Knight. My opponent actually lost on time but his position was completely bust! I was just glad to get the point – Hammer now flying at 5-1.

Our WOSF of a Chairman performed his usual Kosovan wizard – turning a lost position into a murky one and then into a draw. How does he do it? Who cares – the match point was secured. 5.5 – 1.5.

Jeremy has had a very solid season for Hammer – no losses and standing at 70%. Last night he was solid on every level. Playing black, he agreed the draw when he had the edge but made a pragmatic decision. Hammer now in heaven at 6-2.

Finally, Matteo also agreed a draw when a sealed move was imminent. Hammer beyond paradise at 6.5-3.5 win (including our defaulted board). An outstanding result and achieved in the face of tough odds.

One slightly sour note is that as a result of the defaulted game we lost half a match point. Hence, we are still not theoretically safe. The last three matches have cost us and now we can afford no more mistakes in our last match against Kings Head on the 9th May.

I conclude with a deep, heartfelt thanks to the lads last night and must single out Robin for special mention. Not only did he put himself forward when I was scrambling for a team – he stood down when Jeremy became available. He then responded immediately to my request to step in again when Marios had to withdraw on the day. Robin exemplifies all that is best in the Hammer spirit, and Hammer Chess.

We are lucky to have him.

Till the next time – live long and prosper my fellow Hammerites!!

 

Meanwhile… down at the Club House…

24.04.17 – Rapidplay @ Lytton Hall

It was a great evening last night as we marked our first attempt at a Rapidplay evening at Lytton Hall.

It’s long been an ambition to organise a fully-fledged internal Rapidplay tournament and last night marked a significant step towards making that a reality. Undeterred by having most of our “big hitters” in a pub somewhere in central London for our crucial Division 3 match, the rest of us rolled-up our sleeves and got stick in to some 30 minute action.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with some good attacking chess, and a couple of games that went right to the wire! Hopefully it worked for the guys involved too. Please let us know in the Comments below. It’s amazing how much quieter Lytton Hall is when people know it’ll affect their grade!

The night was also significant in that it marked our youngest ever member to take his bow. Yep, we were joined by 9-year-old Nadhmi making his debut for the club, and a very good show he made of it too. He ran me extremely close in his first match, only to lose on time (I wasn’t far behind), but managed to pip Nick in his second. A very solid performance and very happy to have him on board!

Other highlights included Shaun chalking up his first graded win! Well done, Sir. Let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come!

If there was a winner on the night, we probably have to give that accolade to Ken, emerging with 1.5 points from his 2 games played. But more broadly I hope everyone enjoyed the experience, and let’s see if this can’t pave the way for a more structured Rapidplay tournament next season. More on that at the AGM!

Full results below. You should see these results reflected in the July 2017 grades.

It was also a real pleasure to see so many new faces at the club. Last night we welcomed a total of 5 new people – Sassa, Panos, Aaron, Dipender and of course, Nadhmi. Sorry we couldn’t include you all in the Rapidplay. We’re a bit hamstrung unless you’re formally ECF-registered! Still, I hope you enjoyed your own matchups and your first taste of Hammer Chess! Hope to see you all again soon.

Dave.

Hammersmith Chess Club: Notice of AGM

Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Hammersmith Chess Club
Date: Monday 5th June 2017
Time: From 7pm
Location: Lytton Hall (home venue)

Ladies & Gents – our Annual General Meeting is on 5th June this year, at our home venue. As usual, it will be an informative and fun occasion as the Committee present details of our Club’s progress this season, and plans for next season, plus the usual business for members to vote on. It’s the chance for all members to have their say on how the Club is run – please make every effort to attend.

We’ll also have the fourth and final round of our season-long Blitz tournament (check out the standings after round 3!), and the usual drinks and nibbles – what a treat! Formal notice below:

Notice of the AGM for Hammersmith Chess Club

The Annual General Meeting of the Hammersmith Chess Club will take place on Monday 5th June 2017 at Lytton Hall, commencing at 7pm.

I give notice that the following Committee Members will be standing for re-election:

  • Bajrush Kelmendi – Chairman
  • Michael Mackenzie – Secretary
  • Chris Moore – Treasurer
  • John White – PR Officer
  • David Lambert – Auditor
  • Adam Cranston – Club Captain
  • Andy Routledge – Webmaster

Please note, if any Club member wishes to stand for a position on the Committee, under the Club Constitution they have to be seconded by another Club Member and written notice must be given to the Secretary at least 30 days before the AGM.

Furthermore, if a Club Member wishes to propose a motion at the AGM, it must be seconded by another Club Member and submitted to the Secretary at least 30 days before the AGM.

The minutes of the 2016 AGM will be displayed on the Club Notice Board by the 20th April for your examination.

Michael Mackenzie.
Club Secretary.
Hammersmith Chess Club.
michael.mackenzie5@btinternet.com

 

A Tough Night at the Office

20.04.17 – London League 4: Hammersmith v Streatham

Our penultimate match in Division 4 saw our battle-wearied troops face the top-of-the table Streatham. It always looked a tough match on paper (they’ve been known to have a 130 on Board 8!) and such was the case in practice. We lost the match 1.5 – 5.5, with Adam’s game yet to conclude.

However, we should perhaps look at ourselves and say we could have done better! Their line-up was relatively soft by their high standards, and particularly with a few games sitting 50/50 for much of the evening, we could perhaps have run them a little closer.

One thing that wasn’t close was the battle on Board 8! A combination of illness and pest control robbed us of our final player, so we had to start with a default and 0-1 down.

My match was the first to finish. A fairly anaemic variation of the classical Sicilian that fizzled to a drawish position after 25 moves. I felt my opponent had the slightly better position, so was happy to take the draw. I was glad to see Fritz agreed with my analysis after the fact! 0.5 – 1.5

Next to finish was Brian playing on Board 1. He reached what looked like a fairly level middle game, but conceded immediately following a clever Knight fork on Queen & King. It looked like it wasn’t possible due to a Bishop recapture, but that in turn led to another discovered attack on the Queen.

What do they say? Tactics flow from a better position? That’s the challenge of facing someone performing at 175! That rounds off Brian’s season for us, as he’s stepping up to help John secure Division 3 status in the crucial closing matches. Cracking season all round though, Brian! Hope to have you onboard next time around. 0.5 – 2.5

The next 3 matches sealed our fate with each going the way of Streatham. Very unlucky not to take something from the trio.

Ken, as is his custom, played in an open, attacking style and reached a late middle game slightly down but with chances. He was a pawn down, his opponent conceding doubled-pawns in return, but the general structure allowed attacking play for both sides. With Queens still on the board, tactics would be decisive and Ken’s opponent forced through to create checking opportunities. When the trusty Rook got involved, a checkmate shortly followed. 0.5 – 3.5

John, as is NOT his custom(!), also got into a really open position! His opponent raided into his territory with his Queen but it appeared like a potential overstretch as John’s Rooks were connected and gave him chances to attack with tempo. He obtained a pawn advantage and told me later he regretted the opportunity to force a Queen exchange. Nevertheless, play picked up again in an even position. Tactics abounded and John was forced to give up his Knight to save his Rook. He battled on, trying to push for promotion but was eventually forced to concede. 0.5 – 4.5

Nick’s game only had Robin as competition for “most interesting” of the evening. It turned into a pretty unbalanced affair. Nick’s opponent, playing White, lodged a fairly horrible Bishop on the h6 square, which is where it stayed for most of the game. He also had to contend with a pair of advanced pawns that seemed to beckon the Knight to make them their outpost!

Nevertheless, Nick was a pawn up (unless my eyes deceived me!). If he could find an accurate defence, he might be able to hold out. Nick offered a draw, a charming offer that was declined on more than one occasion. With the clock ticking, Nick succumbed to time pressure as the flag fell. A minor inquest was held as to whether they’d played 36 (or was it only 35?) moves but the record books have this as a loss. 0.5 – 5.5

So onto Robin. The man with nerves of steel. Gifted a Knight in a previously equal middle game, in part due to his opponent having touched the wrong piece (!), Robin looked in a good spot. In normal circumstances, this may have result in a routine win but Robin was well down on the clock, so they played on.

He increased his lead from a Knight to a Rook with a tactic he learnt from chess.com (so he tells me) but it was still precarious. At this point it must have been 2 minutes v 20 – the time-out looked a real possibility. Sensing the situation, his opponent aimed for complications, forcing the clock into the final minute of play. Robin kept his cool mercurially and forced the mate with literally seconds to spare. Great to watch. 1.5 – 5.5

Last but not least was Adam. His position looked particularly unpleasant when his opponent rooted his Bishop on d6, right in the middle of his defence. It looked a monster, and effectively dominated a Queen and two Rooks! The battle was now to somehow exchange Bishops without losing pushing tempo to do so. He did it, but at the expense of an extra (doubled) pawn; not a bad price to pay in my book. In fact, Adam managed to chop off the doubled-pawn and that’s where they adjourned. It looks fairly even, so we’ll see what happens.

League table below with one match to play, for us at least..!

Thanks,
Dave.

Puzzle of the Week #005

Slightly later than planned (apologies – Bank Holiday weekend, and on-going preparations for the Charity Event on 29th April – volunteers still required!!), we return to Puzzle of the Week!

After some light heckling on the apparent easiness of last week’s effort, I can confirm that first prize goes to Paulcan you keep the noise downKennelly – well done Paul!

Nobody got the reason as to why it was chosen, however. It was in fact a tribute to American GM Art Bisguier, who died earlier this month. The position was from one of his best known games, Bisguier-Larsen, Zagreb 1965, White to move and win. Not very difficult, granted, but quite aesthetically pleasing! Solution Mainline:

Rxf6! Bxf6, Bg7! Bxg7, Qh7#, or Bxg5, Qh8#

Larsen played Bh8 to avoid this but was mated a few moves later anyway. The whole game is worth a look.

So to this week, and a puzzle chosen by our GM-slaying member Marios (heckle in his direction if you find it too easy!). He has said: “Its beauty is matched only by its difficulty!!“. White to move, answers in the comments please…

Golden Lane is Not Paved with Gold!

11.04.17 – London League 3: Metropolitan 2 v Hammer 1

April in the chess season always brings with it a congestion problem. This phenomenon is usually associated with our national sport where there are many trophies, competitions, and vital points to acquire. In other words, the business end of the season.

The challenge is also complicated by exhaustion and injuries making this the most difficult part of the season.

This is where Hammer Chess Club and our match against Metropolitan 2 was critical to our survival in Division 3 of the London League.

The previous evening Marios, Brian, Sheikh, Paul and myself were in Hounslow, fighting to retain Division 1 status in the TV League.

Unfortunately, we were missing our WOSF of a Chairman and Orial to bolster our ranks. Luckily Brian and David stepped into the breach and the Hammer team were ready.

Furthermore, we dropped a point due to a walkover. This made the task of winning or even drawing the match infinitely harder.

However, the news was not good – we were pipped 4.5 – 5.5 on the night and this has thrown us back into the relegation mix. We are now in a real fight for survival.

The irony is that even with the default we should have won or drawn the match – a familiar tale if you have followed the fortunes of Hammer 1 in LL3. Our recent run of luck finally ran out!!

The winners on the evening were Marios, Sheikh and myself.

The draws were picked up by Paul, Safi and David.

The fallers were Matteo, Brian and Josue.

To the detail…

Marios just keeps on going and keeps on clocking up the points. Despite suffering from a horrible cold and an obdurate opponent. He spurned draw offers – Marios got angry. Not visibly, or in his conduct, but in his determination to punish his opponent. In a quick-play finish his opponent finally blundered and lost a piece. Marios converted and deservedly won the game. Moral of the story – do NOT mess with this Greek!!

Sheikh’s game – despite him sitting beside me – was a blur. All I know is that Sheikh is in a fine vein of form and really delivering the points for Hammer in all leagues. Sheikhum Style is very much in vogue.

My own game was against an opponent I played two years ago. As is customary with me I lost despite having total control of the game – that loss really hurt at the time. Unfortunately, my memory for face is also going south – so I did not recognise my opponent – but it all became clear when he played the Petrov. As he had done two years earlier.

Revenge beckoned!!

For once I rose to the occasion and triumphed in sacrificial style – my best ending of a game this season. I may even submit the last 6 moves to the website.

Just remember – revenge is a dish best served cold!

Of the drawn games, I only saw brief glimpses – but I can say for sure that David held a pull throughout his game and deserved more than he got. As for Paul and Safi I cannot comment – I saw too little of their games. All I can say is that they have been great players for Hammer 1 this season.

The pain of defeat engulfed Matteo, Josue and Brian.

I think they would agree with me, but both Josue and Brian were chasing lost causes in their games. They were the sort of games where a loss or the draw was the only result you could get. The longer they went on, the further the draw option retreated into the distance and inevitably they succumbed to defeat. I think they are games they both need to forget quickly.

The one who should have drawn or even won was Matteo. Indeed, the computer analysis approved of his temporary sacrifice of a pawn to head for victory. Unfortunately, a common word in this report, he misplayed the ensuing complications. This was a painful loss and in his slightly dejected state he also left his wallet behind. After some rapid calling and texting, he responded and returned to the hall to reclaim it!!

On reflection a 5-5 score, even taking into account the default, would have been a fair result for both sides on the night.

The luck spurned Hammer 1 on the evening though.

Now is is belt and braces time if we are to retain Division 3 status – no  more defaults and no more match losses is our goal.

Go Hammer – keep the faith!!

John.