El Chessico 2021 Style -Bring It On

Yes, those noisy neighbours are back for more. The gauntlet has been thrown down and the challenge has been accepted.

The lovable frenemies of South Chelsea – Battersea (pronounced “Batt-taze- eeahhh”) are desperate to get their mittens on that fabled chess trophy….. El Chessico. 

For Hammer the trophy is important but the bragging rights are priceless.

They want a bit of the ‘ammer family silverware..despite having lost the last three matches…like all good masochists, they keep coming back for more.

It is time to take your Covid/Lockdown enhanced chess frustration and dish it out on a hapless bunch of South London wannabes.

The critical points are

  • This year’s challenge will be a two-legged affair a la any European cup tie.
  • With the away leg being played in Battersea on the 5th of October and the return at the Hammer home on Monday the 11th of October.
  • The time control is 75 minutes with 15-second increments.
  • The games will be rated so get your ecf membership sorted.
  • Trying to get a minimum of 25 boards going – in non-Covid times it would be 40.

So, to all Hammers, I summon you to defend freedom, vanquish the frenemy, repel all borders, secure our birthright, take control and just get it done (copyright@ Priti Patel 2021).

Hammers, our honour is at stake – time to get real and get in the ring for a proper chess fight

Lord General Melchett Clueless

A Knight with Nosher (aka GM Nigel Short)

Hammer played host to chess royalty this past Monday – Grandmaster Nigel “Nosher” Short and FIDE vice-president was our guest speaker. The man who crushed Anatoly Karpov playing brilliant chess to challenge Gary Kasparov for the World Chess Championship. The first Briton to challenge for the world title in over a century. The 1993 match made headlines all over the world.
Stepping in at the last minute NS gave a brilliant talk centred around three games drawn from his first published chess book titled “Winning”.

As you know Lord Clueless is partial to extreme exaggeration, occasionally, but I can state without any hyperbole this was an amazing night. Nigel was a great presenter, with great stories and a very courteous manner. He also provided a fascinating insight into the thinking of a grandmaster and the role psychology can play in chess games. The other thing that was refreshing, he did not duck questions and was forthright in his opinions – something our politicians should take note of, and practice.

The lecture lasted about 90 minutes with Nigel taking questions all the way through and then enjoying a few glasses of wine afterwards. There was more drama to follow but more of that later.

The lecture was packed with so much but for me, these were some of the highlights

  • Nigel reckons too much attention is paid to the opening and that the critical elements and how you can best improve your game are in the middle game and end game.
  • The move Bh3 when it was already on its prime diagonal h1-a8 and the reasoning behind it -critical in the equation was his centralised knight on d4
  • The adoption of the white pawn structure c4, d3 and e4 brought joy to our President’s heart – although I was really impressed with the early d4 that followed.
  • His negotiation of multiple tactical counter threats whilst keeping control of the position
  • The preference for the two bishops
  • The use of psychology against an opponent who had lost the previous round and was content to play for a draw. Nigel destabilised the position deliberately which meant a fight would occur. A win followed demonstrating that courage and the occasional ?! move
  • The switching of advantages – he was not wedded to one route to victory
  • His reflections on calculation and his thought processes
  • His comments on the use and application of engines and what writing the book taught him about this resource.
  • Interspersed with anecdotes on playing chess in many (a trip to Iran was a definite highlight) and various tournaments – the evening was superb.
  • A definite stand out moment in the 60 – year history of this great club.Normally I would sign out here but there was more drama to follow.
    Following a full debriefing with a few glasses of vino we exited the MSC gathering outside. Nigel was not to be seen- we presumed he had gone home -the building was secured and we departed into the night.

    This was the start of “LockinGate”- The biggest chess scandal since some dodgy yoghurt in Baguio City 1978 – Nigel was still in the building – he even tweeted about it. To misquote the classic Jam lyric – “He was down in the MSC at midnight” – yep when Hammer don’t what you to leave – as Chris Skulte commented – there are no lengths to which Hammer will go to raise the strength of our club – kidnapping is not as low as we go.


Thanks to Chris “Batman” Skulte who answered his calls for help, and he was released from his incarceration well after midnight. Nigel was fine and even gave his consent to the following series of tweets.

In the end all’s well ends well ruled the night.


A big shout to Nigel and he is welcome at the Hammer anytime – next time we will not incarcerate him.


Lord Clueless

Hammer’s Junior Hour is back

This week, Hammersmith Chess Club hosted not only Nigel Short, England’s most famous former chess prodigy, but also some of its own future prodigies when Junior Hour kicked off. The first evening was more of an introduction to the venue, to some of the participants, and to how we plan to conduct Junior Hour on a regular basis. It was encouraging to see how quickly and joyfully even the very young kids settled down to play each other, while others watched the demonstration games and advised on checkmating moves.

From next Monday onwards, we will start with a more structured program. The evenings begin with a few warm-up puzzles, going from easy to difficult, before proceeding to a 15-minute or so lecture on a specific topic, and these will provide a red thread throughout the season. After that, Juniors play games with each other, preferably against someone of a similar level. This is good preparation for a Junior tournament which we plan to do before the Christmas break.

We were glad to see so many young faces which tells us that we should initially focus our lectures on the beginners. Advanced players will not miss out though. They might refresh their knowledge in the first 20 minutes, and there will be the opportunity to play with one of the teachers present. And of course, everyone is invited to stay longer when adults come in after 7 pm.

WHERE: London MindSports Centre, 21-23 Dalling Road in Hammersmith, W6 0JD London. It is a 2-minutes walk from Ravenscourt Park Station (District Line).
The main playing hall is large, bright and well-ventilated. Adjacent is a small bar and kitchen, ideal for parents if they want to be there.

Who are the Hammer coaches? The club has a variety of coaches who will from time to time provide their lectures, each one with their specific background and focus, all experienced in teaching Juniors. The variety ensures that the game can be seen from different angles.
Point of contact and any question: Christof Brixel via email: cbrixel@yahoo.com.au

See you next Monday at 6pm!

This Monday: lecture by GM Nigel Short

Hi all,

Unfortunately, Grandmaster Simon Williams is sick and can’t make it on Monday. Though we have an exciting announcement that filling in for him will be English GM Nigel Short – who was one of the most successful chess players of the 1980s and 1990s and was still in the top 100 well into his 50s. The peak of his career came in 1993, when he challenged for the World Championship in a match against Garry Kasparov.

Winning - Nigel Short

We will also be selling his new book in the night – Winning by Nigel Short, which has been short-listed by ECF for book of the year. He is happy to also sign any copies of his book too!!!

Grandmaster Nigel Short realised that every tournament win has a unique narrative and challenge. In this exceptional chess book, Short discusses eight of his foremost tournament wins, describing the drama with insightful game annotations and entertaining anecdotes. For those wanting to win in chess, this book is the place to start.


A New Hammer is Born – Bringing Chess into the 21 st Century

I joined Hammersmith Chess Club some seven years ago – at the time we met at the Lytton Community Hall in West Kensington. The first night I attended there were four people playing chess – all white, aged 70 plus and it was grim. I almost decided there and then this was not the club for me. Fortunately, Mike MacKenzie, the then secretary, persuaded me otherwise and following a popular uprising at the AGM later that year the club’s fortunes changed dramatically.

We grew quickly with a new modern website, utilisation of social media, charity events and a dynamic Committee committed to living up to the ideal of being more than a chess club.

We have won trophies, run amazing events and travelled to Amsterdam, Cork and Wroclaw to take on chess clubs. Hopefully next year Lubeck will be our destination.

Last year pre-Covid we moved to the YCBC premises at Goldhawk Rd and now we moving to a purpose-built facility – the Mindsports Centre in Hammersmith. This will be the best premises of any chess club in London and will set new standards in club facilities. The playing area is superb and there is a bar and restaurant for all, especially parents, to enjoy.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Hammersmith Chess Club -It has been a long journey, with many peaks and troughs, and I think our founders would be extremely proud of what the club has achieved in the past six years.

It is time for a new chapter, and I know Hammersmith are ready for the new challenges modern chess provides in a Covid aware world.

This coming Monday, September the 6th, is the first time we will come together at the Mindsports Centre. This will be from 7 pm and is very much an evening of getting used to the new venue and surroundings.

The 13th of September will be the first time our junior club will meet from 6pm and again this will be very much an introduction to the new premises. However, this will be followed by a very special event when we have an evening with GM Simon Williams – aka the Ginger GM.

Plans for the next 12 months are in formation and here is a brief overview of what we have planned.

  • League chess – the London league, Thames Valley, the Middlesex and the Central London League
  • A challenge match – home and away legs- with the Chess Centre in Bradford
  • A full-bloodied OTB match with the ultimate frenemies for the El Chessico trophy – Battersea
  • A clash with the Hackney Chess posse
  • A charity event in Lytton Square – in May 2022 – I am happy to take suggestions from club members for the charity that will receive the funds. Previously Hammersmith MIND has been the recipient.
  • A trip to Lubeck in June next year for a weekend of chess GM simul displays, a junior program with special events as well as loads more to celebrate 50 years of our club.

So, I hope to see you all this Monday coming for the most exciting chess year in the history of our club…. the new Anvil awaits

John White aka Lord Clueless
PR Officer

Announcements: Blitz Tournament, Summer Club, and our New Venue!

A few exciting announcements to bring you today!

Summer Club at the Prince of Wales

We mentioned three weeks ago that we’d be starting up again over-the-board at the Prince of Wales Townhouse. Our first night was a roaring success, with 26 players entering the tournament.


This week we hosted a bughouse tournament, which was won by junior pair Nicholas and Yashvardhan!

There will be five more meet-ups at the Prince of Wales during August. They will start at around 6:30pm:

  • Tuesday 3rd August
  • Monday 9th August
  • Monday 16th August
  • Monday 23rd August
  • Monday 30th August

Note that 3rd August is a Tuesday, rather than a Monday. 30th August is a bank holiday, but there’ll doubtlessly still be a few chess nuts keen to play.

On these dates there may be some more friendly tournaments organised or training offered via the demo board. To join the WhatsApp group where further details will be shared, please contact adam1234321@gmail.com.

Our New Venue

It gives us great pleasure that we can now announce that the new Hammersmith Chess Club venue will be the London MindSports Centre!

London MindSports Centre
21-23 Dalling Road
Hammersmith, London, W6 0JD

This venue, just down the road from the Prince of Wales, is due to complete its renovation very soon. It is spacious, well-ventilated, and with excellent facilities including a bar and kitchen, we expect it to provide a great atmosphere in which to play chess in London.

We hope to organise a moving-in party on September 6th with special guests – watch out for more details to follow!

Brainstorm Blitz – Monday 2nd August

The reason next week’s Summer Club is on a Tuesday, is that Hammer member Kishan Pattni is organising a blitz tournament on Monday, at The Globe, Marylebone.

  • 9 rounds
  • 3+2 mins per player
  • FIDE-rated (national membership not required)
  • 70% of all entry fees returned in prizes with 1st, 2nd and rating prize(s) guaranteed
  • Entry/cash on the day accepted. Advanced registration recommended as places are subject to availability.
  • Special offer entry fee for Hammer members if entering before the day of the tournament – £10.00

Juniors are welcome if accompanied by a parent/guardian. You can register using the form here: https://form.jotform.com/211964321309351


OTB Hammer Tournaments Are Back!

During the Lockdown and social distancing period, the online format for the Hammersmith Internal Tournaments was very popular and many players were able to compete and enjoy a good game of chess. 

Now that the social distancing rules are being progressively lifted, Hammers will be able to play OTB internal tournament games again, and this will be very enjoyable to all of us at the club!

Those tournaments will continue to combine online and OTB formats, so that the choice is available to players, and to maximise the opportunity to play high-quality games of chess between the members of our club.

On June 30th 2021, the 2020 season was officially closed and we can now announce the winners as follows:

Sledgehammer Cup 2020 results (Standard Play)

Winner:  Robin Sarfas (37 points)

Runner-up: David Lambert (30 points)

Third: Chris Moore  (17 points)

Rockhammer Cup 2020 results (Rapidplay)

Winner:  Christof Brixel (60 points)

Runner-up: Raluca Stroe (29.5 points)

Third: Adam Cranston (28.5 points)


Jackhammer960 Cup 2020 results (960 Rapidplay)

Winner:  Nadim Osseiran (29 points)

Runner-up: David Lambert (14 points)

Third: Javier Silvarrey (12.5 points)


Launch of the 2021/2022 Hammer Tournaments Season

This year we will continue to  have 3 different Cups:

  • The Sledgehammer Cup for Standard Play
  • The Rockhammer Cup for Rapid Play
  • The Jackhammer960 for 960 chess variant in Rapid Play time control

Those tournaments are open to all Hammersmith Chess Club members. All you need to do is to contact your fellow club members, agree an appointment for an OTB or Online game, and then submit the game result via this link to the game submission form.

Please note that

  • Online games count towards the ECF online grading (except for 960 chess)
  • Only games that are rated on the online platforms will be accepted, casual online games will not be accepted
  • Players are encouraged to have a live video connection during online games
  • All OTB games are ECF graded.
  • Players must be ECF-registered in order to play OTB games.
  • Game results will only be accepted via the provided game submission form, results by email will not be accepted.

For complete information and rules, please have a look at the Hammer Tournaments Documentation

Good luck for the 2021 Hammer Tournaments Season!

The Internal Tournaments Team


The Return of OTB Chess at Hammer!

Over the last 16 months, the global pandemic has played havoc with our lives. Some have been affected more than others, but one thing is the same for all of us: over-the-board chess has been off the menu.

To some extent we are lucky that chess can be played online, but there’s no doubting it isn’t quite the same. Gone is the buzz of moving physical pieces, hitting the clock, and enjoying our rival’s reaction as their position slowly crumbles! So it is with a huge amount of joy that we can finally announce that OTB chess is returning to Planet Hammer!

Sadly the pressures of the pandemic have meant that our old Goldhawk Road venue has changed ownership. However, we soon hope to announce an even better venue for the club, into which we’ll be moving early-September.

Until then, we intend to set up camp in the Prince of Wales Townhouse, right next to Ravenscourt Park station. It really is a hidden gem, with excellent food, fantastic beers, and a great atmosphere in which to play chess. Some members have been meeting there unofficially over the summer to get in a little OTB practice under strict Covid restrictions.

With lockdown easing from next week, the club intends to host a welcome back blitz tournament on Monday!

  • Date: Monday 19th July
  • Registration: 7pm
  • Start: 7:30pm

The tournament will be time-handicapped. Both players will receive 10 minutes between them, but the weaker player will receive a greater share of this time, depending on the difference in their ratings. Every player can expect to play around 7 games, the exact format to be decided based on the number of entries. There may be a small prize for the winner.

Please fill out this form if you intend to take part. If the event proves popular it may not be possible to accept additional entries on the night. Priority will be given to Hammersmith members.

Hope to see lots of you there!


Chess Champions of the 4 Nations!

Is there anything Hammersmith Can’t do?!?

By Christopher Skulte

Hammersmith has long been a bedrock of fame, be it Hammersmith Bridge that was first designed by William Tierney Clark, opening in 1827 as the first suspension bridge crossing the River Thames, or The Dove (pub), which boasts the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest public bar in the United Kingdom, or even the famous (infamous) movie star Hugh Grant, who was born in Hammersmith.

Now we can add a new accolade to the list, where a number of Hammer’s master-level players (IM Peter Roberson, IM Thomas Rendle & IM Mark Kvetny) played for the national league squad TigerSharks to win Division 1 of the 4NCL Online League, which consists of many professional and semi-professional chess players.

NB: TigerSharks are a combination of two division 1 4NCL teams, the Celtic Tigers (which many Hammers play for, and is managed by Hammer’s own Chris Skulte), and the Grantham Sharks. In the 4NCL Online they are managed by Ryszard Maciol (another Hammer).

Part 1: The Group Stages

The top division of the 4 Nations Chess League Online (online due to Covid), is made up of teams of 4, who are split into 4 groups of 8, where the top ranked team from each group goes through to the semi-finals.

TigerSharks finished top of their group with 6 wins, and 1 draw, and the second highest game points of 22 (an average game sore of 3.1-0.9 per match!). Only Chessable’s White Rose managed higher, with 23 game points over the 7 rounds.

The other teams progressing to the finals were:

  • Chessable White Rose 1
  • Guildford Young Guns (Guildford are current 4NCL champions)
  • Chessable White Rose 2
Part 2: The semi-final

It was all systems go for the semifinal, luckily for us, we faced the weakest of the 4 teams (though there is no easy opponent at this level), and form holding true we were able to win comfortably 3-1.

The other game saw the highest rank team, Chessable’s White Rose, led by England #3 and current Online European Blitz Champion Gawain Jones, draw the match with Guildford. IN the event of a draw, whoever wins the highest board wins, therefore an amazing upset win for Guildford.

Part 3: The Final

The moment of the season, having been knocked out of the previous knockout semi-finals by 2-2 draws (losing on board count), the team has one goal on our mind for the first final. Games have been commented on below in the order which they finished.

Board 3 (White): In a tight encounter against Grandmaster Mark Hebden, after a slight misplay by Kvetny on move 25, Hebden started to press, Mark gave a final attack to try and save the game, but alas it wasn’t enough.

3 games to go: TigerSharks 0-1 Guildford


Board 1 (White): In the next match to finish, Peter slowly built up an advantage, though some good defence and counter play by Wadsworth brought the game back into balance. Expertly played by both at this point, pieces were slowly traded down into a draw.

2 games to go: TigerSharks 0.5-1.5 Guildford

To win the match, we now had to win on board 2, otherwise we would lose on game points, or tiebreak – unfortunately at the time our opponents had a +4 advantage on that board.


Board 2 (Black): All eyes were on this game, it was an extremely tactical encounter between two strong international masters, Reimanis and Suarez. A key moment being White’s 26th move, which brought the game back to even. Reimanis then continued to outplay his opponent, got the advantage, and sealed the win with beautiful style.

1 game to go: TigerSharks 1.5-1.5 Guildford

To win the match, we only had to draw the last game.


Board 4 (Black): The final game of the match was international master Rendle vs Grieve. It was an extremely close encounter, with a lot of pressure built up on both sides. Navigating the difficulties, Rendle was able to steer the game towards a peaceful ending.

Final Score: TigerSharks 2-2 Guildford

We win the title!!!


The final match table is below, we sit down with a beer to digest the season, have a sleep, dust off our pieces, and get ready to defend our title. Hammer’s influence grows larger yet again!

25th May 2021 @ 7.30pm – An Online Chat with GM Daniel King

Hammers, a real treat – Grandmaster Daniel King, totally all-round superb chap, Hammer member, and chess media star, will be Zooming exclusively with the Hammer posse.

Image credit: Wikipedia

From 7.30pm on Tuesday the 25th May on the Hammer Zoom account, he will be presenting on the Kings Gambit (a reference to his DVD from last year) – taking questions, and giving insightful answers.

What questions will you ask?

Is the Kings Gambit really playable in modern chess? What chances does Nepo have against Carlsen? Where is Carlsen right now in terms of his chess evolution? When do you think OTB chess will return?

It is your opportunity to put these questions and many more to one of the people in the know.

If you want to be involved in this special event please email me: jdrw9591@gmail.com to pre-book your place. Hammer membership is a requirement.

PR Officer