13th March – We were a bit worried when the school started to warn us that it may close any day, given the situation. They even sent helpful guides of how to login to Microsoft Teams – not very useful for me, a tech phobe, but Kumar seemed fine with this.
16th March– I was working away in a corner of the London Library when the message flashed: “the School will close immediately for the duration… please pickup your son from school.”. I leave the accumulated books on the table and hurry to the school, where parents have started to gather. Westminster is closing even before Boris could get to it…
18th March – All schools closed in England, but classes for a few hours in the morning will continue for the next week… until Easter holidays kick in.
19th-20th March – The first few days, new WhatsApp groups are formed between parents; funny videos are circulating amongst all of us.
The social distancing has started. Kumar thinks this is an early Easter Holiday – he’s playing cricket with himself in our shared office space, paper flying all around. London Library closed; Chatham House closed; I can’t escape!!
21st – 22nd March – Sunny weekend, someone sends a photo of crowds in the parks, but we are following strict social distancing. Kumar’s mum is from Barcelona and terrible news from Spain makes us ultra-cautious.
And it’s not funny any more. Local Carluccio’s at South Ken closes down – so many memories of happy lunches here on Sundays.
Kumar is getting stir-crazy – how long can one play Monopoly? Kumar plays FIFA against his friend online; he hasn’t played real chess in 6 months (too much homework, and a sudden passion for squash and tennis at weekends), but decided to give it a go on chess.com blitz, but it seemed the Chinese side might have gone slow, not many connections.
24th March – I remember that there is Junior Hour online at Hammersmith Chess Club with Christof! Kumar eager to join. His interest in chess has revived! After piano on iPad, classes on Microsoft Teams, we now have another platform: Zoom for Christof! Kumar has a great time – speaking to real people, rather than anonymous players on chess.com
Christof mentions the Hammersmith Training website, and that many more sessions are being setup by Jim. Well, Jim and Paul McKeown were the very first people that Kumar ever played with when he started chess at Fulham 4 years back. My earlier Indian Chess with Kumar doesn’t count – no castling, no en-passant, no stale-mate, no double-move by pawns in first move…
26th March – Jim’s session well attended – the More Gambit against the Sicilian.
Kumar is totally hooked on the Chess sessions. He has done another one with Christof on young Carlsen, training with Jim, a couple of online Simuls, and booked for more on Sunday and planning to play for Tony (another of his former coaches) against a German Juniors Team – he will be busy the next few weeks! His interest in chess has come back, and I can go back to my books!
Thank you Hammer Online!!
With thank to Kumar’s father, Lokhi, for the brilliant writeup! If you’d like to share your story of the lockdown, drop us an email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Hammers – with the blossoming of our online presence, we must also acknowledge that the virtual game presents different challenges compared to the face-to-face game.
Words and actions can be made with less though for your opponents – or interpreted differently; distractions are much easier to come by; and the opportunity for computer or book assistance is ever-present.
Thankfully, most online chess platforms offer sophisticated anti-cheating software, but for the avoidance of doubt we expect all Hammers to abide by the following Code of Conduct when participating for the club in online games, tournaments, or other activities. And we will take appropriate action if any individuals do not.
Hammer Online – Code of Conduct
Respect your opponents & other online participants, and treat them no differently than you would in a face-to-face game.
Avoid using foul, abusive or upsetting language in any chat channels or online meetings.
Whether you win, lose or draw, be gracious at the end of your game.
Do not cheat – do not use computer assistance, book assistance, or any other form of outside help in your game.
Strive to do your best for the club whenever you play for us online.
We trust that all our members already abide by these simple steps, and we look forward to continuing with our hugely successful programme of online events.
Hammers – chess continues to flourish at Hammersmith, even during these troubled times! Our online activities have expanded and we are seeing a huge take-up for the games, training and other events – it’s been a fantastic response!
Please ensure you join our WhatsApp group to stay up to date on the latest details – contact us if you’d like to be added.
Here’s a taster of some of the events coming up:
Friday 3rd April, 8.45pm – Classic Games by World Champions (Training)
Saturday 4th April, 5.30pm – ‘How Good is your Chess’ Quiz
Saturday 4th April, 8pm – London Club Team Battle
Sunday 5th April, 6pm – Simultaneous display with FM Bob Eames
Sunday 5th April, 7:45pm – Banter Blitz – Tony Niccoli vs Chris Skulte
Monday 6th April, 6pm – ‘The Gambit Guru’ series – FM Bob Eames takes us through the Chigorin Defence to the Queen’s Gambit
Tuesday 7th April, 6pm – Junior Hour with Christof Brixel
Breaking News: Hammersmith Chess Club issues invites for newly-created Yellowhammer Cup this evening
Brexit is back in the news, and how! We learned about a revolutionary new idea from the ECF, which was initiated after a meeting between PM Boris Johnson and Nigel Short, Vice President of FIDE and outspoken Brexit opponent – though he is aligned with Boris in his critique of Theresa May “the only person who has ever lost by three-fold repetition”.
Johnson insists that the domination of the continental powers over the development of chess regulations during the past few centuries must be halted, and that Britain will take back control of the game.
Chess historians will know that the rules of chess changed dramatically in the 15th century, owing to Spanish influence. Bishops were no longer restricted to one square at a time, with the rules changing to permit them multiple squares per turn. As a consequence, the Germans still call the Bishop “runner”, and the French even call it a “fool” – quite the sacrilege! The continental domination continues to this day, with the international federation taking a French abbreviation, FIDE.
A joint statement from the ECF and the UK Sports Minister on the matter:
“Now it is time to take back control, starting with the Knight. As with other pieces, it has been mistreated in various European languages, mostly called ‘horse’ or ‘rider’, occasionally ‘vaulter’. Over hundreds of years of continental regulations it was permitted to move 2 squares in any direction, and 1 square perpendicular. The complexity is not a problem, infact many English love that – look at our non-metric systems, the game of cricket, or our 3-digit ECF rating system.
However, we do object to the disrespect shown to the traditions of Knighthood. We demand that players can choose to execute a Knight jump once OR twice per move. All other light and heavy pieces enjoy this liberty, even lowly pawns have a double-move option on their first move.
The Knights would thus once again become the central pieces on the board, outshining the ‘fools’ and ‘runners’ of the board. Golden times lie ahead.”
The rule change would generate thousands of new jobs for very high-skilled workers, a most welcome political benefit. It is said that more chess books are published than books of all other games and sports combined – and most of those are opening books, which would have to be re-written, providing employment for many years to come.
Middlegames will become so complex that we dare not even consider it yet, and endgame theory would explode. Mate with two Knights is not only possible, but probably quicker than with two Bishops. The difficult Knight & Bishop mate becomes a beginners exercise, and two Knights would outshine even the Queen. Wow!
The ECF is currently gathering support from other chess ruling bodies. The Welsh Chess Union has indicated tentative support, on condition the ECF recognises the Welsh origins of Caissa, the chess Godess. The Scottish federation is proving trickier – pointing to their long(er) tradition of chess history as demonstrated by the Isle of Lewis figures. Scottish support now rests on these pieces being returned from the British Museum, to the National Museum of Scotland.
The ECF will also need to garner international support. Already the ECF is looking to sacrifice its 3-digit ratings, and adopt the 4-digit FIDE system. That however, is something which may ensure the ECF fails in this bid – opponents to the change have gently pointed out that it’s more likely we’ll see miles replaced by kilometres, before this change is implemented.
FIDE representatives have responded to rumours of the proposal as a “poisoned knight sacrifice”, and a “Trojan chess horse”. Plenty of work is still to be done!
As for Hammersmith Chess Club, having diversity in our DNA we are open to all forms of change in the game, proven by our recent response to the Coronavirus outbreak. To keep up this momentum, we will be organising the world’s first tournamentunder these new rules – provided lichess finishes updating their servers in time (the recent weekend outage was a test-run).
Starting this evening, April 1st at 7.30pm, online at lichess.com we will inaugurate the YellowHammer Cup. Named, of course, in honour of the UK govt’s no-deal Brexit planning, there is a chance the Prime Minister will personally join the game, following his recent success at hosting a Zoom cabinet meeting. If not as a player, as a true Kibitzer.
When you reach 60 years of age, things start to stop working properly (not that!!), so you have to work harder to keep them going.
The body starts to get lazy and sometimes painful – knees in particular – the powers of recovery take longer to kick in, and what was effortless previously, requires serious application and time.
In some ways it’s the mirror image of the lockdown we are all facing at the moment – life is limiting your choices – so you have to work harder to make things happen.
This requires a huge alteration in mindset and a definite step-up in motivation.
In the chess field I need to radically re-assess my options…
Ok I am gonna say it – I really miss over the board chess (this is the purest form of chess combat), the team camaraderie, the verbal banter and most of all the social side of club nights. Hammer is a huge part of my life – both socially and from an organising point of view.
There is a big, gaping chasm.
Suddenly, I have to embrace the new ways of working and socialising at chess. What were the nice to have extras – WhatsApp, email, and online – have become the new mainstream. No choice if I want to get my chess fix!
The biggest problem is to wean myself off bullet chess (2min + 1 second increment) – up till now I have had no patience for longer play online – it feels like a pointless waste of time. I have to accept longer time limits and get on with it – that is going to be so hard.
I guess I am an old reactionary – I just want to look my opponent in the eye – there are so many tells at the chess board. The psychological battle is tangible and real. It is not lost in the internet either.
This may be the second biggest struggle of the lockdown for me.
The social side of chess has also gone AWOL – the sad thing is nothing can fill that void. That is such a painful loss. I miss the banter with Sorted, Pickle, Sydney… all of you.
The sad fact is there are a few Hammers who are now cut off.
However, two positives…
Being able to watch the chess24 stream on the 2020 Candidates, and that has been incredible. With the rest of world sport in limbo or shutdown – chess is still going at the highest level. (edit: as of this morning, that too has been shut down!)
My chess.com puzzle rating has gone over 2300 for the first time.
Is it time to upgrade to membership and ditch the freebie version?
On the personal side, both Karen and I are working from home.
The trouble for Karen as a CBT therapist is that most patients want face-to-face treatment. That option on the NHS ended last week. She is having to conduct sessions by phone – just not the same, and a different skillset is required.
My digital Pharmacy TV business is very active – our screens are carrying Government and personal adverts about combating Covid-19. My pharmacy clientele is on the frontline of this pandemic fight, and struggling to cope with the workload and keeping safe at the same time.
This fight against the Covid-19 virus is like a chess game – the struggle is never over until it is over. You have to change strategy at times, and then maybe a tactical opportunity will present. There is sacrifice and loss in this battle – do not forget you have to protect the health workers on the frontline – our Kings. If you lose your King, you lose the battle.
Hammers, we will get through this but we must all do our bit – please remember 8pm this evening, and join the public show of support for our health care workers.
Over the board chess is not dead, it is just in a temporary coma.
Hammer will be back but for now we have Hammer Online – a big shout out to Adam, Christof, Andy and Jim (aka Pickle, Der Vader, Spidey and El Loco) they have so stepped up. (Round II of the Corona Cup continues this evening at 7.30pm – details will be posted in the WhatsApp!)
To IM Peter Roberson who did a sumul online for Hammer members – just brilliant.
Hammers, hold the faith, stay safe, and I will see you when all this has passed.
A small request…
Hammers – we are keen to hear the ‘lockdown’ stories of other Hammer members. If you have a story to share please get in touch: email@example.com, and we will post it on our website!
Hammers – as we continue to break ground with how our club operates in these strange times, here’s a quick summary and reminder of some fantastic events that are coming up.
Be sure to keep an eye out for further details on the HammerTimeWhatsApp group – and if you’re not yet part of the conversation, get in touch so that we can add you!
Junior Hour & Club Nights
First up – our Junior Hour, and regular Club Nights will continue most Tuesday evenings as before, only hosted online as a Zoom meeting! You just need Zoom account, a reliable internet connection, and ideally a webcam to participate. Full joining instructions will be posted in our club WhatsApp group.
Both sessions will be hosted by an experienced Hammer, and we’ll rotate where possible. Club Nights will focus on themes, games, and the occasional competition.
Our Calendar has the full schedule of what’s coming up – please note: the next TWO Tuesday evenings will see us take part in club v club challenge matches, but normal Club Nights will resume after that!
We have a whole series of online games against other clubs coming up, starting this Saturday 28th as we partake in a London Club Team Battle! Details are sketchy at present, but it’s going to be a fast & furious melee of chess action – keep an eye out for further details, and please sign up for a lichess account if you want to take part!
Tuesday 31st sees us rekindle our friendship with the Dutch masters of EsPion chess club, in Amsterdam. After a highly successful pair of visits, we continue to cement our bond with this online club v club game, starting 7.45pm. Not to be missed!!
Friday 3rdwe take on the Hanseatic might of Lübeck chess club. Avid readers will know we had to postpone our Summer trip to this stunning medieval city, however you can’t keep a good club down – and we will take on the club next Friday, starting 7pm.
Tuesday 7th – the big one, el grande saucisson, not to be missed – the fourth instalment of El Chessico, and yet another chance for Hammersmith to Lord it over South London upstarts, Battersea, in the ongoing battle to be London’s Premier Club. We say it’s a battle – in reality it’s become a procession. Will Battersea pull something out of the bag this time? It’s gonna be big…
Online Coaching Sessions
Some of our more creative members have been hosting online coaching sessions (again, via Zoom meetings). So far, they’ve been extremely successful & are likely to continue as the ‘lockdown’ shows no signs of being a short-term measure.
The best way to get involved is via our WhatsApp group – please get in touch if you’d like to be added, or otherwise receive details about these sessions!
The situation continues to evolve daily, and we’re learning what works best with each session that we host, so stay tuned for future plans. And if you have any ideas that we could adopt, or are keen to host a session or other online activity, please just get in touch – we’d love to keep the chess going during these trying times!
Stay safe, keep your distance, and look after each other!
With the world going into lockdown, and the club closing its doors to over-the-board play, chess is very much alive at Planet Hammer.
We are moving all of our activities online, and that began with a simultaneous exhibition yesterday, from our German superstar, the one and only, Christof Brixel…
Covid-19 Simul Series – Part 1
After experimenting with a few platforms, lichess was chosen as the most user-friendly app for conducting a simul. Play kicked off at 6pm sharp, when four juniors – Andrew, Cian, Laith and Zain, put their chess skills to the test. The time control was 30 | 30, with Christof needing to play all four games in that time.
He did not go easy on the youngsters – crushing them with a resounding 4-0 scoreline.
At 7:30, the adults were up. This time Christof had 12 opponents to take on, still with just 30 minutes on the clock (2:30 per game). With white on all boards, Christof saw this as a chance to put his 1. d4 2. Nc3 3. Bf4 Jobava London System under the microscope.
Again, he played excellently, but this was a different kettle of fish. He ended up with an impressive score of 7.5/12 (+7=1-4), following up by sending each entrant a detailed analysis of their game. What a legend!
We’ll no doubt be holding more simuls over the coming weeks, so be sure to follow the club on Twitter and Facebook to find out when they’ll be played. We’ll also be maintaining a scoreboard to log the best challengers, with a fantastic prize to be presented to the highest scorer at the end of the lockdown (perhaps a 4 pack of Andrex?).
1= Andrew Cuff (1.0)
1= Cian Ward (1.0)
1= John White (1.0)
1= Moritz Reuter (1.0)
5 Kostis Nikolis (0.5)
Please get in touch if you’re a first-teamer keen to take on the challenge. Rumour has it that IM Peter Roberson may be conducting the next event, with double points available to anyone who posts a result!
And now for an important message from Lord Clueless…
El Chessico – the 2020 Corona Edition
Hammers, the challenge is on – but online – we are arranging this year’s El Chessico against Battersea online.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak we cannot play this event over the board. So, after consultations with the frenemies we want to see if we can do it online. Read on if you want to take part.
There is a long and noble history of chess matches being played in a different way – here are a few from the past.
The 1945 radio match between the USSR and the USA – which gave notice to the world of the Soviet Union’s 25-year domination of world chess. The Soviet Union winning 15.5-4.5
The 1946 radio match between the USSR and Great Britain – again another dominating win for the Soviet Union by the same score.
At a tournament level, Bobby Fischer, due to the US embargo on Cuba, played the 1965 Capablanca Memorial in NY and had his moves transmitted by telex to Havana where his moves were played at the board by Jose Raoul Capablanca Junior.
So, we are following a well-trodden path by chess legends.
I am looking for 30 plus Hammers who want to take part in this unique event.
So, if you want to fight for Hammer, win and retain the trophy and bragging rights then please email Lord Clueless on firstname.lastname@example.org (please note change of email).
Next up we have an incredible offer from one of our top players – Jim “El Loco” Stevenson…
Corona Coaching – Exclusive to Hammer Members
In this post Coronavirus landscape, and having plenty of free time on my hands as the schools abandon chess classes, I would like to take the opportunity to offer free coaching/ training to my fellow Hammers who are interested in adding 30 ECF points to their grade, while studying chess in a fun but serious way.🤣
Possibly by Skype, as we must respect governmental and club directives on social distancing etc, but also in very small groups for those who are corona negative, and place trust in their own good judgement and common sense precautions.
If there is sufficient interest, probably in separate sections of U160, U130, U100 to provide the most appropriate training.
Absolutely free to all Hammer members, the only requirement is a willingness to open your (chess) mind and to try your best! If this is of interest you can contact me on email@example.com.
And finally, on to our series of online blitz tournaments to see you breeze smoothly through quarantine…
Last night we trialled a Swiss tournament on chess.com.
Unsurprisingly, with most of the world’s population under lockdown, their servers were under a very heavy load. Of the 11 entrants, 3 players lost their connections and got booted out. IM Peter Roberson came out on top, with Tony Niccoli a point behind.
lichess’s servers seem to be coping a little better, so will be used for the first round of our Corona Cup. This will be a 2-hour battle arena, exclusive to Hammer members, in which you’ll play as many 5-minute blitz games as possible within the allotted time. If you want to play more games, or are confident you’ll thrash your opponent, you can “go beserk”, halving the time on your clock in exchange for bonus points if you win!
This will take place at 7:30pm on Friday 20th March, and you must join the lichess Hammersmith Chess Team in order to play. If you don’t quite make it for the start, you can still join, but you won’t have as much time to score points.
Again we’ll be maintaining a scoreboard over the entire series, with scores handicapped slightly according to January ECF grades (exact method tbd).
As the UK Government has now formally moved to the ‘Delay’ phase of the Coronavirus Pandemic, we would like to share the following update from Hammersmith Chess Club:
We regret to inform members that all face-to-face chess activity at Hammersmith Chess Club is suspended as of Monday 16th March.
Teams will no longer participate in league fixtures (most leagues have already suspended fixtures), and we will no longer hold club nights on Tuesday evenings.
Please do not attend Club Nights until further notice.
Note – captains will be in touch regarding a small number of games this week where we have not yet agreed with our opponents to suspend the match. Please ensure you look out for any emails, and if you are in any doubt about a fixture this week, you should contact the team captain.
The situation continues to evolve and when we have a more substantive update to share regarding the eventual completion of suspended league fixtures, and the re-convening of club nights, we will do so.
Our Summer trip to Lübeck has been cancelled after discussions with Lübeck chess club. If you have already booked flights and/or accommodation, we recommend contacting your airline or hotel for advice.
Please continue to review & follow the official government advice: