Tourneys & Training

Last week, the club descended on The Albion for a night of rapid play. The competition was hugely varied – members, non-members, graded, un-graded, and from serious club players to beginners, all showed up to play.

Everyone was to play two games to be submitted to the July 2018 grading list. The lineup looked like this:

Round 1 threw up a few surprises. Potential new member, Nad, scored a fine win over John. While a blunder from Pouya allowed Mike Mac to capitalise.

The last game to finish saw Richard take out arch-nemesis Dave in a game that went right to the wire:

With tiredness setting in, there were a couple of dropouts for round 2. The highlight of the round saw Desislava taking Thomas right to the wire, missing a tricky win at the end and ultimately losing:

When the dust settled, Richard was the winner on the night, with 2 wins from 2. An honourable mention to Desislava, who played two good games against players graded over 200!

An enjoyable evening surely to be repeated in future!

Training Update

Last night, Carsten hosted his second much-anticipated training session of the Summer. He played through three games of Chris Moore’s on the demonstration board, explaining common themes and describing Chris’s progression over the past two years.

It was a very well-attended and enlightening session. We look forward to many more in the future!

Coming Up

Next week the club is “officially” closed for the Bank Holiday. However, all the equipment will be at The Albion and no doubt there’ll be several members using it – we’d love to see you there.

This will be followed by our final two weeks at The Albion, starting with a session on September 4th from Matteo “Suit” Bezzini, going through the intricacies of the Caro-Kann defence:

The Summer season culminates on September 11th with our Summer handicap blitz tournament, with prizes to be won! Save the date!!

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.


  • 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!

North v South

The Southern Counties Chess Union (SCCU – catchy!) celebrates 125 years of existence this year. It was the first of what was to become five regional chess unions in England, which later gave birth to today’s English Chess Federation.

To mark the historic milestone they’re hosting a huge chess shindig up at Swiss Cottage next month.

It’s going to involve upwards of 400 players taking part in a massive North v South game – a nod to the distribution of the historic counties of England around the river Thames. You can read more about the fascinating history here, but the essentials you need to know are as follows:

  • When: Saturday 16th September, from 1pm
  • Where: The Hall School, Swiss Cottage, NW3 4NU
  • What: All moves over 125 minutes, across as many boards as possible
  • ECF rated? – YES!

Hammersmith members have already started registering their interest – all you need do is choose a side, and drop an email to the relevant team captain. Rivalry aside, it’s rare to see so many competitive games in a single place – should be a belter!

Rumour has it the nearby Swiss Cottage Tavern will be rather busy afterwards too… Good luck!

Stop Press! Graded Rapid-play Tourney!!

Brace yourselves for a frantic evening of chess! This coming Monday 14th August we’ll be hosting a pre-season Graded Rapid-play night.

Following hot on the heels of last season’s hugely successful Rapid-play evening, this is another opportunity for everyone in the club to obtain a quick-play grade.

Details as follows:

  • Where: The Albion pub (upstairs function room)
  • When: Monday 14th, two games starting at 7.45, and 8.45 – one as White, and one as Black, against an opponent of similar ability
  • Time Control: 30 mins per person, no increment

Anybody who is ECF registered for the 17/18 season is eligible to play, we’ll just need to know your ECF number – this includes any non-members who want to come along.

And, in a sneak preview of our plans for next season – we’re finessing details for our season-long Club Rapid-play tournament. We’ll be offering graded Rapid-play games on a monthly basis for anyone who wants to enter… watch this space!

Down & Out in Kensington!

01.08.2017 – Yes, the Hammer posse took to the mean streets of Kensington to bring chess to the good citizens of the Royal Borough.

The vehicle to deliver our brilliant game was a pub crawl. Not a curious choice considering the partiality of many Hammerites to the odd tipple!

The idea, originally, was to play a 10-minute blitz tourney playing two rounds in each pub – a noble idea. The pubs in question, and the order in which we would proceed were the Elephant and Castle, The Goat, The Builders Arms and the Devonshire Arms. However, I have to report a deviation from the plan when the posse missed out on the Builder’s Arms, choosing The Greyhound instead.

Unfortunately, due to various factors the concept was quickly abandoned and the job of casual chess accompanied by lots of beer, took over. Coupled with a somewhat leisurely approach to time-keeping, the evening proved a more social than competitive event.

Plus, the natural camaraderie aspect and good conversation added to the evening. In other words, the usual rubbish that chess players usually engage in!

So, this report has little to do with chess, but more to do with the quality of beer consumed.

As you know, I have a penchant for bestowing nicknames on the participants of any Hammer event, and there will be no exception here. The Magnificent Seven were:

  • Carsten – The Great Dane (in honour of Bent Larsen and his latest ECF grading)
  • Adam – Pickle
  • Matteo – The Suit
  • Jay – Jaz Z (obviously!!)
  • Dipender – Mr Dipenderble (Dr D for short!)
  • Ken – Kool
  • Me – Clueless

Plus a late night interloper, Jeremy aka “Brexit” – I must point out that did not turn us into the Hateful Eight!! My first and only Quentin Tarantino reference of this report!

We also picked up a friend of Dr D, and a couple of members of the public who were duly dispatched by the veterans in summarily manner.

I think the Great Dane was troubled, in chess terms, only by The Suit and maybe Jay Z.

Kool, Pickle and Dr D had a solid evening of beer consumption and a mixed evening at the board.

As for Clueless, he successfully pickled Pickle but crashed and burned against the Great D. Finally, he had a 50/50 result with Jay Z where the chess played was of the most dubious nature. I think beer at this stage was definitely affecting his play – and definitely not for the better. At the end, he won his first game against Brexit, and then lost the next three.

To be honest the night took on something of a posh version of Ulysses by James Joyce as, like the great literary work, we progressed regally from pub to pub. Indeed, we looked like a CAMRA investigation team rather than a highly-regarded and prestigious West London chess club!

The winner of the evening overall was the social craic, with the beer a close second and in a distant last place the quality of the chess.

In terms of competition I can only report the result of the best pub.

The winner was clear-cut – The Devonshire Arms. In the words of the Great Dane, they have “Summer Lightning” – enough said.

In clear second place, the Elephant & Castle (not the South London version), followed by The Greyhound and finally, The Goat.

It was an odyssey of an evening and maybe wisdom/nirvana in the form of The Devonshire Arms was found in the end.

So, a great night and thanks to the Magnificent Seven plus One – totally worthwhile.

Normal chess life resumes at The Albion on Monday, with the next of our Training & Theory evenings – see you there!


CORRECTION: Castling… at the Elephant?

Bit of a gremlin in the machine earlier… a clarification on the plan for tomorrow nights pub-based chess festivities:

We start off at the Elephant & Castle pub, in Kensington (Holland Street, W8 4LT), and continue from there!! We won’t be visiting Elephant & Castle in South London after all…

1. The Elephant and Castle – 7.15-8pm
2. The Goat – 8.15-9pm
3. The Builders Arms – 9.15-10pm
4. The Devonshire Arms – 10.15-11pm

Links to all the pubs above – they’re all within walking distance of each other in the Kensington area. Apologies to anyone who was really looking forward to going South of the River – maybe next time!!

The Elephant & Castle pub, Holland Street… easily confused with a place in South London!!!


Castling… at the Elephant?

From Hammersmith, to Amsterdam, and now… to Elephant & Castle!! (that’s in Saaaf London, for the un-initiated!)

Yes that’s right, tomorrow night sees Hammersmith hitting up the burgeoning casual chess scene in the Zone 1 landmark destination South of the River. Our top members John and Adam will be leading the charge – we’re taking half a dozen sets with us to explore a couple of pubs in the area and show them what West London is made of, chess-wise.

We’ll be taking on locals, visitors and anyone else who happens to be in one of the following public houses tomorrow night, and of course having a few drinks while we’re at it:

1. The Elephant and Castle – 7.15-8pm
2. The Goat – 8.15-9pm
3. The Builders Arms – 9.15-10pm
4. The Devonshire Arms – 10.15-11pm

Despite it’s south-of-the-river location, Elephant is actually very central and stupendously well linked for transport – Northern Line tube, and several mainline services serve the area, along with a multitude of buses. Sounds like fun to me – hope to see as many of you there as possible!

If you were wondering how the place got it’s unusual name (I was!), look no further – it derives from a coaching inn which used to occupy the site. The coaching inn took the inspiration for it’s name from the former occupants of their site – a Blacksmith & a Cutler (knife-maker).

The coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers (one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London) features an Elephant & Castle – the elephant representing the ivory formerly used in the handles, and the castle representing a Howdah – an elephant-borne carriage (think holidays in Thailand!!), thought to represent strength!

Fascinating stuff, I’m sure you agree, and a brilliantly unusual landmark for London!

Mr. Dipenderble

A couple of weeks ago we hosted our first ever team rapidplay night at the Albion. The teams were as follows:

Reti Rovers – Carsten, Ken, Ljubomir
Capablanca Crushers – Marios, Kaan, Nadim
Lasker Legends – Thomas, Pavel, Nick
Alekhine Athletic – Jay, Dipender

Each player played one 15-minute rapidplay game against a player from each other team. It was a hard-fought affair.

Reti Rovers 3 – 0 Capablanca Crushers
Carsten 1 – 0 Marios
Ken 1 – 0 Kaan
Ljubomir 1 – 0 Nadim

Lasker Legends 0.5 – 2.5 Alekhine Athletic
Pavel 0 – 1 Jay
Nick 0 – 1 Dipender
Bye 1/2 – 1/2 Bye

Reti Rovers 1.5 – 1.5 Alekhine Athletic
Carsten 1 – 0 Jay
Ljubomir 0 – 1 Dipender
Bye 1/2 – 1/2 Bye

Capablanca Crushers 2.5 – 0.5 Lasker Legends
Marios 1 – 0 Pavel
Nadim 1 – 0 Nick
Bye 1/2 – 1/2 Bye

Reti Rovers 0 – 3 Lasker Legends
Carsten 0 – 1 Thomas
Ken 0 – 1 Pavel
Kaan 0 – 1 Nick

Capablanca Crushers 1 – 2 Alekhine Athletic
Marios 1 – 0 Jay
Kaan 0 – 1 Nick
Nadim 0 – 1 Dipender

Alekhine Athletic emerged victorious, with Jay and Dipender dropping just half a match point, winning a tasty chocolate bar and an exciting card game. Player of the tournament was Dipender, scoring three wins out of three.

More fantastic prizes on offer later in the summer
Ath Rov Leg Cru MP GP
Alekhine Athletic x 1.5 2.5 2 2.5 6
Reti Rovers 1.5 x 0 3 1.5 4.5
Lasker Legends 0.5 3 x 0.5 1 4
Capablanca Crushers 1 0 2.5 x 1 3.5

After the success of the first training session of the summer, Carsten hosted our second session on Monday. He spent two hours going through a game that I lost in the summer league a few weeks ago:

He had clearly put a lot of preparation in, and I think everyone, especially me, learnt a lot.

Key Ideas

  • Avoid playing very theoretical openings (e.g. Najdorf Sicilian). Your opponent only has to learn one variation, whereas you have to prepare for many
  • In closed positions, look at which pawn breaks will improve your position and how best to prepare them
  • Any pawn that can not be defended by another pawn is, by definition, a weak pawn. Look for these weaknesses and try to exploit them
  • Everyone misses tactics from time to time. This is not the time to panic. Collect yourself and play the position

The next training session of the summer will be hosted by our chairman Bajrush on 7th August.

Finally please note the upcoming Monday 24th July session, originally planned for Cafe Nero, has been moved to the Albion after a poor showing from the regulars last time. See our schedule for full details of the summer programme.


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 in bullet chess. The problem is translating that experience into the over-the-board, long game and match scenario.

Always a good read – the 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!

A Ginger (GM) Analysis

A couple of interesting media-related links to share with you this week, first up:

  • Simon “Ginger GM” Williams gives us his analysis of the Game of the Week from the last round of the Summer League

After every set of fixtures, the team captains from all the clubs involved have a chess-based conclave to decide which performance warrants the “Game of the Week” moniker.

The white smoke this time went up in favour of an enthralling battle between Mo Islam (East London Knights) and Malcolm Dancy (Battersea), featuring a hard-fought positional struggle, a number of winning chances and ever-changing initiative, plus some strategic mistakes for both players.

There’s also a shout-out for Hammer’s only victor of the round – with a Performance of the Week – young Nadhmi. Check it out!

Thanks to all involved for the video, and well done to the above mentioned players!


  • As if that’s not enough… hot on the heels of awarding us 3rd place in their Britain’s Best Chess Club Website list, the well-informed folks at Chess Journal have also featured us in the latest of their Club Profiles. You can read the full article here:

Club Profile #4: Hammersmith Chess Club