Solid as a Hammer

The combined might of Hammer has been experiencing something of a collective Purple Patch this last couple of weeks. Read on to find out about some more cracking results:

  • London 2 vs. Kings Head
  • London 4 vs. UCL
  • Week 3 of the Hammersmith Rapid League
06.02.10 – London League 2: King’s Head vs. Hammersmith

Although on paper this match might have seemed straightforward – our opponents had already lost seven of their eight matches this season – as a former King’s Head man myself, I know that you dare to underestimate such a strong and renowned club at your peril.

And as I suspected, they turned up with a much strengthened team in a late bid to avoid the drop. When one sees experienced, formerly 200+, players such as Connor O’Shaughnessy and Rik Thomas on the middle boards, you know you are in for a bare knuckle fight.

Before the match, the Hammertime WhatsApp banter made jovial reference to the need for a demonstration of the Spartan “come and take it” attitude. And thus it transpired…

I think I may have inadvertently created a monster. Chris seems to have taken a distinct liking to top board, and is clearly in no hurry to vacate the hot seat. Another neat Sicilian miniature followed, presented below for your enjoyment with Chris’s lucid notes.

13.f5 was a mistake – I was impatient and wanted to open up the centre. I felt I would have pressure for the pawn [Jim: Seems natural and fine to me]
[Jim – 17.Bf4? this allows…Be7, and…0-0! better 17.bg5 when the plausible 17…Bd6?? allows 18.Rxf7! Kxf7, 19.Rf1+ mating shortly]
17…Qd4? was a big mistake, allowing me to activate a number of pieces and point everything at his King.
By move 20 he had only 2 minutes for 10 moves, so I was looking for 2-3 move tactics that would make him pause and rethink. Playing 21.d4 I saw that the natural 23…Rc8? fails to a neat tactic. (Try and find it!).
When you are a little worse, or down a pawn, always keep pressure and initiative, and you will have a good chance to fight back into it.
[Jim – a nice game. 25.Bf6! is even more sadistic]

On board 2, Thomas was engaged in a fierce time scramble, where his extra pawn was compensated by his strong opponent’s initiative and clock advantage. Draw agreed.

Engrossed in my own game, I did not get to follow much of the play on boards 3 to 5. Bajrush, so often our match winner this season, went down, while Sylvain and Marios recorded solid draws.

The match was getting more tense with each passing minute. On six against my Richmond Juniors colleague Rik Thomas, I ventured a couple of risky moves in my favourite Grünfeld and twice briefly stood very badly. A difficult endgame finally tilted in my favour as the clock ran down. A satisfying win, and important in edging us ahead again. Check out the gory details below.

11…Qh5?! is dubious, the natural 11…Qa5 gives near equality but is to lifeless for such a critical match.
15.Qxh5? a lucky escape. The sneaky 15.Qe1! Threatening Bd1 and eyeing the loose Na5 sets black near insurmountable problems.
19…e5! This is way too sharp. 20.Nf6+ Kg7, 21.Nd7! Rxd7, 22.Rxd7 Be6, though tricky, clearly favours white.
30.Nh3? Time pressure takes its toll, the N is strong and secure on g5. Later 33.Ng5! holds while 33.Kf3 and 34.Ke4 though natural, loses. Rik has long been a strong player. I was satisfied with my endgame play.

A short draw by Pavel on board 9, and a heroic, but ultimately unsuccessful rearguard action from Kostis on ten, left the match tied at 4-4 going into the final moments.

Jeremy, on board 8, kept a firm grip on his earlier advantage, steering a well played game to victory in the endgame.

So, all eyes on Paul on board 7. A fluctuating struggle seemed to be won for us, and Paul also had a vital extra minute on his clock. Alas, his opponent’s dogged resistance began to eat away at Paul’s time advantage. A Hammer loss on time seemed inevitable, until his opponent, with 12 seconds left versus 5 seconds, albeit in a hopeless position, offered a draw. Thankfully Paul had the presence of mind to accept, sparing his team mates a collective coronary. We’ve all been in such tense positions and know how logic often falls by the wayside.

So as the dust settled, Hammer had won the match 5.5-4.5. Perhaps a little fortunate, but undoubtedly a critical point in our season. We now need to make the most of this reprieve in the crucial upcoming matches.

Many thanks to everyone for a tremendous effort. Particularly Jeremy and Kostis for stepping in at the last minute and performing so admirably.


The current standings in Division 2:

11.02.19 – London League 4:UCL vs. Hammersmith

Ancestral Voices Prophesying Waraka a trip to UCL

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-burning tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

With echoes of Coleridge chiming in our ears, we faced University College London in their home citadel. That all-too-familiar bastion of higher education – the Rugby Tavern pub close to Holborn.

The room smelling of un-tempered bellicose spirit, mild dread, and salt & vinegar crisps. Here, the Mongol spirit of fallen heroes would be summoned to contest our learned foes on equal footing.

We stared blankly into the abyss of a 30 ECF point deficit per board.

It was time.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Hammer were not to be outdone, fighting bravely to hold our rivals to a 4-4 DRAW. The Great Khan would have been proud.

This wasn’t a night for weak, apologetic chess, with all 8 matches proving decisive one way or the other.

The triumphant Cherbi were Charlie, Dave, Wyatt and Nick, each taking down their higher-rated opponents. But surely there was no better performance than Wyatt. Drafted into the fray only hours before battle, he ably took down his man in double quick time, ushering a humble thumbs-up as he emerged from the board.

Nick took advantage of his opponent’s ‘casual’ approach to time management, ramping up the pressure as his time slowly ticked away. Oblivious as his flag fell, it was a small matter for the Hammer man who continues his fine form since the Summer.

Proving it’s not only UCL boys who can leverage the benefits of academic advancement, Charlie’s been doing some studing of his own, veritably imbibing the sweet liquor of Nimzowitsch’s masterwork, My System. It paid dividends as he entered a seemingly even endgame, but our friend zugzwang was to scream into view, ensuring Charlie commanded the centre, and thus the game. Beautiful takedown.

Your captain benefitted from an overly aggressive pawn push in the opening which allowed an e4-e5 counterthrust. With the Rook now under attack, material loss was inevitable, an advantage that persisted into the endgame. The game is presented here.

Our fallen heroes numbered 4 – Tommaso, Matteo, Brian and Paul. Their bodies burned away on a pyre of leaden ash, their souls ready to return to fight another day. Tommaso reached an endgame with Bishop and pawn vs. Rook and pawn. Tricky to defend, but even more so when you have 15 seconds left, and you’re facing down a 200 ECF. It wasn’t to be – the extra seconds may have counted as the post-match analysis suggested a draw may have been lurking in the mire.

Matteo and Paul had nights I suspect they’d rather forget. Paul confessed to never having gotten going, stumbling into unfamiliar territory against the London System, and Matteo was left to rue what could have been after reaching a promising +1.0 position against his much higher graded opponent.

I’ll leave you with Brian and his most unfortunate loss. Again, time played a crucial role here – the material advantage was there, but it’s hard to close out when time is short. Brian has also kindly annotated the game with some of his post-match thoughts.

We ride again on Tuesday 19th against Greater London. More of the same please…!!


The Division 4 table:

Hammersmith Rapid League – Round III

Another cracking night of chess action – with Battersea manoeuvring themselves into contention, The Crazy Gang remaining undefeated, and Hammersmith finally getting off the mark.

Yes, the midway point of the 2019 Hammersmith Rapid League is starting to take shape, as we approach the business end of the tournament.

Hackney vs Battersea

After a first-round hiccup the Frenemies are back with a vengeance. With a winning score line of 7-1, with no draws against Hackney. Tremendous performance from the team – here is the scorecard:

Great credit to captain Gregg – the team are now serious contenders.

Football Radar vs Tony’s Lions

In some ways the Lions have not had the rub of the green in this tournament, and that trend continued against the 100% Radars.

The match card does not tell the full story and the win could have gone either way – this was edge of your seat stuff – or is it that these kids are just damn good?

This was a close encounter but plaudits to the Radar lads who kept focused and keep on winning.

Hammersmith vs. Tony’s Tigers

Both teams had much to gain from victory here – Hammersmith to get on the scoreboard, and the Tigers to maintain their 100% records. Something had to give – who would blink first?

Hammer Captain Kostis shuffled the pack and gave season debuts to Ben and Jakub. The Tigers were men down with no Nadhmi and Connall available they had to call up the reserves.

A tight match was the outcome but some highlights – Ben despite being a piece down in one game still won. Nick Rutherford went 2-0 and Taymour with outs.

So, at the midway point the cross table and league table are given below. Round 4 was up this Tuesday, with many things on the line – watch out for that report soon!

Will Football Radar be halted in their tracks? Can Battersea maintain their form and push for the title? Have the Tigers peaked too soon, and will the Lions get a break? Will Hackney find their mojo? Is the Hammer revival or real?

All these questions and more will be revealed after Round 4 -stay tuned!

The Best of Frenemies

05.02.19 – London League 4: Battersea vs. Hammersmith

The sixth round of action within London Division 4 pitted Hammer 2 against old frenemies Battersea. You know the drill: call them out on Twitter for anything, but still enjoy supping their cheap beer.

Well it wasn’t to be this time. After a fiercely contested battle, we were edged out in a 3-5 DEFEAT. Still, take a look at those grading differences! Full credit to the team who fought against a grading deficit on every single board.

The heroes of the evening were Andy, John and Matteo, each bringing home the full point.

Andy with the black pieces, wrestled down 137-rated Derek Harvey, making light of the near 50 point grading gap. Holding his own throughout, he was well-positioned to take advantage of some ill-considered moves by his opponent to steal the win. As is his custom, he was one of the first to finish. His quick-fire victory is presented here:

John triumphed over Vic Ramsey on Board 2 using a very clever tactical combination. Sacrificing material, he willingly gave up his Queen for a Rook and minor piece, but his dark-squared Bishop was beautifully placed, and dominated his opponent’s chances of withstanding further losses. Watch the magic unfold here:

Matteo, who for a long time was a knight down for two pawns, managed to advance his connected c-d pawns menacingly enough that his opponent sac’d the piece back to get rid of them. Our man then won another pawn with his opponent in time trouble, expertly shepherding his rook’s pawn home with his king and rook, whilst guarding against relentless rook checks.

Ken deserves an honourable mention for producing a devastating attack against his opponent graded over 40 points higher, but the game was always very double-edged and needed lots of thought. Ken was always behind on the clock, and despite having doubled rooks and Queen bearing down on his opponent’s King-side positions, the opponent managed enough threats with Queen and minor pieces on Ken’s King to create real difficulties in wrapping up by move 36. Unfortunately, Ken lost on time with both clocks hovering close to the edge.

Nadhmi held his own against an opponent whose January grade is 172, keeping his k-side pawns moving despite the opponent’s q-side pawn majority, which eventually proved decisive, when Nadhmi had to sac a piece to avoid a pawn queening.

Alas, the subtleties of the other games were lost in the usual melee of trying to concentrate on your own game!

Huge thanks to Brian for captaining on the evening. He also provided much of the match report you’re reading here. Much appreciated!

We go again on Monday against University College London. Another tough match in store!


The Hammersmith League 2019 – Round II

Round II happened at Mother Anvil this past Tuesday. There were big questions in the air.

Could Hammer get back on track against the Crazy Gang??
Could the Lions overcome our frenemies at Battersea??
Would the Tigers have their wings clipped by the Hackney Posse??
The answers would be forthcoming…

In contrast to Round I, the second round provided two decisive results and one heroic comeback. The chess was bloodthirsty with only one draw in the evening, out of 24 games.

To the matches then.

Tigers vs Hackney

This was an odd match because the Tigers waked it 8-0 with default win being the real hero. Hackney were a no-show due to a variety of factors, but the rules are the rules. The Tigers win 8-0, the game card is predictable.

Final Score: Tigers 8 – 0 Hackney

Hammersmith vs Football Radar

The Hammer boys ran into a determined and dogged Football Radar Team. After drawing the first round 2-2, things looked hopeful for the Hammer crew. Unfortunately, the Radar gang had very different ideas. A painful 4-0 sweep occurred giving a 6-2 win to the Football Radar.

Excellent performances from Adam and Michael who went 2-0 against Jonathan and Wyatt. Kostis and Nick rescued the only wins for Hammer.

A stellar performance from the Crazy Gang.

Final Score: Hammersmith 2 – 6 Football Radar

Tony’s Lions vs Battersea

Both these teams needed a win – that was clear. Who would triumph??

Battersea had to default Board 2, which made their task even harder. The first round ended in a Lion’s win by 2.5-1.5, with a great win from Connall and a fighting draw from Raman seeing them through. However, in a great fightback Battersea won all three active games in the second round to sneak a tight win 4.5-3.5.

A tremendous fightback and great credit goes to skipper Gregg, who went 2-1 and kept his teammates focused.

Final Score: Lions 3.5 – 4.5 Battersea

So after Round II the cross table looks like this:

And the standard league table looks like this:

Roll on Round III, on January 29th!

A Theresa May of a Fortnight

Read on for a January update from the Middlesex Division 2 team, followed by a super writeup on our top team in London Division 2, with bonus games to play through – very worth your while.

We also have the February pairings for our Rapidplay competition, and a few friendly reminders of some upcoming events!

A Theresa May of a Fortnight on the Middlesex 2 Battlefront

Yes, hostilities resumed for Hammer 2 on the Middlesex battlefront with the first three skirmishes of 2019. The question was, could Hammer carry on the excellent start – 2.5/3 – and not only cement our position in Division 2, but actually entertain thoughts of promotion to the top flight.

From the headline to this report I think you can conclude that things did not go as well as hoped. I ask you to read on with some trepidation…

The Hammer opponents for the month were:

  • 14th January – Albany 1 at The Anvil
  • 17th January – Harrow 1 at Harrow
  • 28th January – Hendon 4 at The Anvil

Hammer 2 were full of post-festive cheer, and were ready for the Albany challenge. The team consisted of, in Board order: Paul KDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, SheikhPandit“, Clueless, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, SimonBond” and IzzyThe Money“.

Suffice to say we were out-graded on average by 21 points a board, and the memory of the fighting draw we achieved away in November was a distant one. Here is the match card:

The hero of the evening was Dead-Eye, who won an excellent game against a very tricky opponent. here is the game and thoughts at various critical stages. I would say it is worth comparing with the Chris Skulte game from the away fixture in November. Both are excellent examples of attacking chess.

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 4. Be2 e6 5. O-O Nbd7 6. c4 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8. c5 generally when this is played against me I attack it immediately with b6 and a5.but it never seems to come out right, so tonight I left it.
h6 To tuck the B if necessary.

9. b4 Qc7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Rc1 Bh7 12. Qa4 e5 13. Rfd1 e4 14. Nd2 Rfe8 I wanted to get my N on d7 into the game. Also Nf8 is one of those moves that always make me feel comfortable. Larsen said you will never be mated with a N on f8. That’s good enough for me.

15. b5 Nf8 16. Nb3 Bf5 I like this move, my B was doing nothing on h7 so I got it to a more active diagonal.

17. h3 Bd7 18. Qb4 N6h7 19. Nd2 f5 20. a4 Bd8 21. Qb3 Nf6 22. Ra1 f4 23. exf4 Qxf4 24. Nf1 Ng6 25. Ne3 up till now the engine says the game is equal but with this move it gives Black a plus. Bc1 is much better for White. Qg5 26. Kh1 Qf4 The engine says Bc7 is best but I was worried my Q was in danger of running out of space also it is attacking f2 so he must react. 27. Kg1 Bc7 Now I am almost +2.  28. g3 Qg5 29. Bc1 Bxg3

Now White can resign. 30. fxg3 Qxg3+ 31. Ng2 Bxh3 32. Bf1 Ng4 *white gave up.

Pandit and The Money came in with fighting draws to account for the other point. The latter fighting back from a piece down.

For the other Hammers it was a grim night with my own game being particularly grisly.

A tough 6-2 loss at home was a reality check.

In the same week we travelled up to Harrow – a real schlep but I am proud once again as Hammer fielded a full team. Serious kudos to the team members.

The line-up was as follows: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, Paul KDeadEye“, JohnClueless“, BrianThe Hat“, CharlieSorted“, AdamPickle” and debutante Jon.

In time honoured tradition, I designate the nickname “G&T” to Jonathan. Not all of you know, but he was the winner of the bottle of Dutch Gin when our friends from Espion visited us last June.

Again, out-graded and playing in a chilly hall, my advice to all Hammers is to wear warm clothes if playing there at the height of Winter, plus bring along a thermos flask of coffee.

Harrow are an excellent chess club, but I plead that you address the temperature and refreshment issue!!

Having got that off my chest, I have to say that was no excuse for what occurred. This was a definite case of a double-hangover week – one of those weeks that are best forgotten.

The final score was 6.5-1.5, with the top three boards securing draws whilst the rest of us went down in flames – despite all  boards fighting to the bitter end.

The third battle of the front saw us take on Hendon 4 at The Anvil. A moral-raising victory was never more needed. Captain Clueless went for experience and called in the heavy troops.

In Board order, the lineup: ChrisSydney“, MariosZeus“, JimEl Loco“, YasserTellit“, PaulDead-Eye“, JeremyBrexit“, NadhmiThe Gift“, and CharlieSorted“.

As non-playing captain I should have been able to give an excellent insight to the games, unfortunately I was involved in a life and death struggle with Bajrush in the club internal rapid tourney!

However, from what I saw, Sydney had a brilliant win against a very talented opponent – I think GM Simon Williams comment when he beat Magnus aged 10 – best meet them early in their chess career – is applicable here. His opponent has an immense amount of talent.

Zeus is recovering his best form – a really nice win against a very tricky opponent, putting Hammer at 2-0.

Jim and Yasser had solid draws with neither in trouble at any time. Hammer cruising at 3-1.

Dead-Eye with excellent play and ignoring certain comments from his opponent, secured victory number three with his usual accuracy. This pushed Hammer to 4-1.

Victory was secured by “The Gift” – playing an awkward opponent who would not resign, despite facing a lone K vs. a K and R scenario. Signs here of his growing maturity and mental toughness. He is true Hammer granite. Hammer at 5-1.

Lastly to Brexit and Sorted. They both had tough losses and both fought all the way but, alas, on the night their opponents held firm.

So, a 5-3 Hammer win, but this is subject to a steward’s inquiry – this is due to the nominated players issue in the Middlesex Leagues – so this card may change. I will keep you updated.

The current table looks like this:

So, a true Brexit-May rollercoaster ride of a month on the Middlesex front and matters yet to settle, like real political life. This Captain stated in his goals that securing Division 2 status was the first objective, and I believe we will achieve this. However it will require commitment from the whole squad.

Captain Clueless – over & out.

30.01.19 – London League 2: Hammersmith vs. Ilford

Our London League fixtures are coming thick & fast, this being the third in a series of six during a busy January and February period.

Our opponents Ilford, at one time a major London club, have had their problems this season, including defaulting an entire match. With a large grading advantage on almost every board we were solid favourites, and in the end the match panned out much as expected.

The fabled ‘Yellow Jersey’ of Hammer board 1 has seen quite a few owners this season. Carsten, Thomas and Bajrush have all defended Hammer’s honour with great distinction.

Tonight the job rested on the shoulders of one of our more promising young players ;o), Sydney Showbag himself – Chris. As the game below demonstrated, he was keen to put down a marker with a neat win in under 20 moves. A couple of instructive tactical points, with mate in 4 at the end should black recapture… gxf6. The jersey is now his to lose, as they say!

On board two, our Great Dane Carsten ran into some sharp opening preparation and went down in flames. It happens to even the best of us occasionally. Of course, Carsten’s role extends well beyond being just a top board stalwart, and following last week’s pleasant after match trip to the Princess Louise, this evening he introduced us to the excellent Holborn Whippet pub in the appropriately named nearby Sicilian Avenue.

On three, Thomas provided yet another example of his powerful controlled aggressive style, wrapping up the point nicely after the time control.

On board four, even Bajrush’s tremendously wily ingenuity and fighting spirit could not break down Ilford’s most solid player. A draw with bare King’s eventually resulted.

Sylvain displayed his customary precise play to win a very smooth game with the popular closed Italian Game on five.

On board six, Marios continued his recent welcome return to form with a well played King’s Indian, totally outplaying an opponent seemingly aiming for a draw from move 1.

My own game on seven was straightforward. Marios had played my opponent in Monday’s ill-fated Middlesex League Match vs. Hendon, and in two minutes flat he showed my how badly his opponent had played a Bird’s Opening as white. So when my opponent uncorked a Leningrad Dutch as black, I just followed Marios’s recipe. See for yourself below. 1.Nf3! rather than my usual 1.e4 hackery was intended as modest tribute to the retiring former World Champion, Kramnik.

Paul on eight recovered from the sight of his opponent playing Bf1-b4!! in the early opening, imposing an iron clamp on his opponent and rounding off with a display of crisp endgame technique.

Pavel on nine started with an aggressive English Attack against the Sicilian. His opponent defended well and reached a better endgame which Pavel was unable to save, despite valiant efforts.

Charlie, who has recently become such a key member of the team, showed his customary great tenacity and fighting spirit battling back from an awkward position as black in a French. His determined attitude to get a vital point for the team, turning down a draw when a pawn down in the endgame, was admirable. Nice work mate!

So it ended 7.5-2.5 to the good guys. There seemed to be a slightly strained atmosphere from our opponents for whatever reason, but the important thing is that we got the job done without fuss. The battle for promotion looks like going right down to the wire.


Rapidplay – February Pairings

January’s pairings in the Rapidplay are now all complete – full results card below. Some big upsets here, with Wyatt, Taymour, and Yingqi all beating higher graded opponents, and John scoring an impressive draw against top seed Bajrush.

Unfortunately in this round we had to award two walkovers and one double default because players did not arrange their games.

Please arrange your games in the first week of the month & enter details into the fixtures spreadsheet!

Tony is now the only player left on 100%, and he’s got the black pieces against last year’s winner, Bajrush, in a game that could prove to be crucial for the final standings.

Here are the full Round 4 fixtures – games to be completed by Thursday 28th February! Good luck.

And Finally… Some Friendly February Reminders!
  • Raffle – don’t forget to sign up for the fundraising, prize giveaway that is the Hammer/Celtic Tigers raffle! There are still tickets available, and the chances of winning a prize are ridiculously high. Read the full post here!

Contact Chris Skulte to make your purchase, before it gets opened out to the wider chess community:

  • Poland Trip – our Summer excursion this year is to beautiful Wroclaw, in Poland! We’ll be lining up against the famous Wroclaw Chess Club, and enjoying the cultured surroundings of a stunning, medieval city in central Europe.

Friends & partners are also welcome to join. If you’d like to take part please contact John White for further information:

  • GM nights – We have not one, but TWO Grandmasters visiting the Anvil in the coming months, to spread the good word, and impart some of their lifetime of knowledge and stories to the Hammer faithful.

First up is 2016 French Champion, GM Matthieu Cornette on Monday 11th February. Please contact John to reserve your spot:

  • Member Profiles – you might have noticed a new page on the top menu. We now have a selection of Member Profiles featured, as part of our drive to widen our recruitment! If you’d like to be included, drop us a line:

When Will I, Will I Be Famous?

We can answer that!

Yes, in some very exciting news Hammersmith Chess Club has been contacted by a production company who are working with Channel 5 in the UK, and are seeking some willing participants to take part in filming for a documentary focused on bridging the generational divide.

Interested? Then read on…

The show will be a 4-part series, involving a senior citizen being paired with an 18-22 year old over the course of a few days, to see what they can learn from each other, and understand a bit more about each other’s lives.

Filming commences at the end of February, and the production company are looking for active participants, over the age of 65, with a story to tell, and a willingness to participate with today’s youth!

Having spoken to the producers, we’re offering it out to the Hammer faithful – what an opportunity to promote the club, and spend an enjoyable few days making television! It will be London-based, you’ll be well looked after, and you’ll get on TV!

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, or you know someone who would be interested, please drop us a line – – and we’ll put you in touch with the producers.


Puzzle of the Week #027

Plus Bonus Match Report from London 4!

Our last Puzzle was almost a month ago, but fear not – props to Kostis for spotting the correct line: 1.Bb5!! (threatens Ne5# and Be8+, Kf8 Bg6#), Nc6 2.Ne5+, Nxe5 3.Be8+, Kf8 4.Bg6

Down to business this week – Black to move and win. Answers in the comments please, and don’t forget to read on for a writeup of last Friday’s demolition of Morley College

25.01.19 – London Division 4: Morley College v Hammersmith

Good tidings from London 4 where Hammer 2 recorded a wünderbar 7-1 victory over Morley College.

It was expected we’d out grade them across the board and that proved to be the case, as we ran out comfortable winners. A much needed victory that keeps us in contention with the chasing pack in the hunt for promotion. Sterner tests are to come against Battersea, UCL and Greater London in February.

Full scorecard below:

At one point it looked like a clean sweep was on the cards, as Andy, John, Dan and Jonathan recorded wins in no time at all. This, coupled with our 1-0 walkover advantage, handed us an unassailable 5-0 lead and the match result already secure.

Andy’s game was particularly noteworthy for its strange pawn structure (doubled pawns ahoy!), and the melee of activity in the centre of the board that suggested a magnet that was drawing all the pieces together. Strange one. To quote our esteemed Secretary, Mr. Mackenzie: “There were too many good moves”.  Full game below:

Two draws then followed from Brian and Dave, tainting the once beautiful scorecard of its uniformity. Brian played an attacking variation against his opponent’s Sicilian, which opened things up into a fine tactical battle in the middle game. Our man eventually forged a slight advantage but it wasn’t enough to secure the full point in an endgame with both Queens still on the board. An enjoyable game nonetheless, that is presented here: 5.5-0.5

Dave’s game soared the heights of supreme attacking chess, and plumbed the depths of outright stupidity. All with a few moves.

Playing the Sicilian Najdorf, I took advantage of some slow play in the opening to drive open my opponent’s long-side castled defence with a raiding b-pawn. Soon I had Queen and Rook in his back yard, and was threatening mate as his sorry King scarpered away. +20.8 reckoned Stockfish.

But it hadn’t reckoned on me blundering away my Queen in a maelstrom of madness. Now severely down on material, I somehow (no idea how) fought back to claim a draw. Discretion the better part of valour in terms of presenting the abomination here… 6-1.

Last but not least, Master Auchi cooly despatched their Board 1 in impressive style by offering a Rook sacrifice in an endgame with both players short on time. His opponent took the bait and handed Nadhmi a one-move checkmate. Well done, sir. The great form continues. 7-1.

Until next time,

The Chess-Up in a Brewery

Yes, Hammer and our frenemies Battersea renewed their rivalry by boldly taking our brilliant sport to places it has never been before.

Saturday saw the inaugural event of a Chess-Up in a Brewery. Some said it couldn’t be arranged, and it was a tough ask for members who had committed to a dry January, and even tougher for those of us who have not, but could not attend.

Not mentioning names but Carsten, our Great Dane, was subjected to huge online banter due to the fact he could not attend and was bemoaning the missed chance of sampling Sambrook’s excellent range of beer remedies. [They also do fantastic pies!!]

Due to various factors a serious OTB encounter between our great clubs was not feasible, so a handicapped rapid tourney was put in place instead. In some ways, this was by far the best choice for the day as the X-Factor of beer certainly lent itself very well to this slightly more sociable format of chess.

Some big shout-outs before I get to the gory details of the chess:

  • To Sambrook’s brewery for the invitation and the hospitality. They really went out of the way to accommodate us… the beer and venue are superb. On a scale of 1 to 10, Sambrook’s is an 11!!
  • Our barman Jacob, who looked after us so well – nothing was too much trouble.
  • Finally, to the incomparable Aldo, who brought all the kit along and the software for the pairings – I also know he hates public acclaim but he made sure the day chess-wise went very smoothly indeed.

To the chess.

A six-round Swiss Tourney with a 15-minute start and 2 second increment – however there was a handicap based on grade differential.

The final table looked like this:

On face value, no surprises at the top where Blair and Ryszard dominated proceedings, both scoring 5.5/6 – the half-point coming from their drawn game against each other.

However, the table also tells of some great performances from some Hammer Heroes – Paul K in 3rd place, and Dave Lambert in 4th – some great wins there by both these guys.

Adam and potential new Hammer member, Javier in joint 5th place – very solid performances and well deserved.

I must also mention Edward and Kennedy for joining in, again, two new potential Hammer members and both performed very creditably. We hope to see them and Javier at a club night very soon.

An honourable mention must also go to Charlie, for winning the beer side of things. The strains of his singing along to Led Zeppelin made for an excellent chess backdrop, and it must be said that the choice of soundtrack was generally excellent!

The true winner of the day, however, was camaraderie, banter and the beer. This is a brilliant venue and we will repeat this event. The chess played was certainly of the imaginative variety!

Clueless in rehab – again – over & out!

Match Reports, Swashbuckling Chess & ECF Grades

Read on for a draw snatched from the jaws of defeat, some truly swashbuckling chess, a classic writeup from our Reporter of the Year, and details of the January 2019 ECF grades!

15.01.19 – London League 4: DHSS v Hammersmith

Hammer 2 were forced to walk on a knife edge to secure the 4-4 DRAW against a combative DHSS side in London Division 4. We managed to put out our strongest squad of the season so far, yet still found ourselves running toe-to-toe against everyone’s favourite government department. After all, the others don’t provide free tea and biscuits…!

Full match card below:

Looking at the grades, our opposition had the slight edge over the top 4 boards, and we had the advantage over the lower 4. And thus, the results tended to edge that way too. It certainly wasn’t as straightforward as that though.

Sheikh appeared to have the advantage in a fairly tricky endgame. Certainly the material favoured the Hammer man, but his opponent had a raiding a-pawn which proved problematic as it moved up the board.

Tommaso was also disappointed as he blundered material in a relatively even position, playing into a time disadvantage. It looked a very un-Tommaso position. I don’t think there were any captures within the first 16 or so moves, resulting in a positional struggle. You normally expect a King-walk at that point in one of his games!

Adam continued his fine run of form with what looked like a fairly comfortable win against their captain. Playing as Black, he faced a dangerous looking pawn storm, but then the decision was made to castle behind the pawns. It seemed an odd decision as suddenly those pawns became a liability! The position certainly suited Adam and tactics abound to help him run out the victor.

Charlie and Chris also helped chalk up points onto the board, scoring a half and full-point respectively, but probably from positions that looked precarious at best. With both players short on time, and in a cramped position, Charlie offered his opponent a draw, which was gratefully received. Further computer analysis suggested he was actually -8.0 with correct play. Maybe that was a case of the superior grading working to our advantage.

By his own admission, Chris made a hash of the opening and found himself a couple of pawns down with little compensation. His natural attacking instincts kicked in and he offered a Knight sacrifice in order to prepare a crushing attack. Only problem was that he planning on using that Knight in the attack…!! (great analysis in the pub). Still, he clearly had his man spooked and he soon blundered his Queen, handing the win back to our man.

Brian succumbed following persistent pressure after finding himself down the exchange, and we were staring defeat in the face. Down 2.5-3.5 with Paul and your captain to finish. At this point, Paul’s match looked dead drawn and I was struggling to avoid being mated, after having the edge in the match for some time. My only salvation was that we were both short of time.

Moments later, I wandered over to Paul’s board hoping to see some unforeseen masterstroke to bring us victory, but instead I saw two players shaking hands and agreeing that it had looked drawn for some time. 3-4 down.

All the focus was now on my match, with the inevitable pressure of 6 blokes stood over your shoulder watching your every move. Something to focus the mind if ever it were needed! It was now 2 rooks and 4 pawns vs. my bishop, knight and 3 pawns. Two minutes apiece and with the advantage still very much with my opponent, he missed a couple of chances to force exchanges which would have extended his advantage.

I improved my rook into an active position and clawed my way back somehow. With time ticking away, he allowed a cheap-shot checkmate with a rook check, and his escape square covered by my Knight. Extremely lucky, but somehow it rounded out the 4-4 DRAW. Relief all round.

Here’s the game. I’m afraid the last few moves weren’t captured due to severe time pressure!

Next up is Morley College on Friday 25th, and then we have 3 quick fire matches in February. Please keep your eye out for that mail! Plenty of chances to play coming up over the next few weeks.

Swashbuckling Chess

A truly stunning game (which he won!!), courtesy of Tony “The Surgeon” Nicolli!

One can only watch and admire this game:

21.01.19 – Thames Valley Div 3: Ealing B v Hammersmith B

It was a grey night as I trudged towards the Old Actonian Sports Club, built in some kinder era to remind us of our country’s venerable sporting culture, football, cricket, and other sports.

This was the end of January, and I recalled  Beware the Nones of January, for the tax man cometh, and rules over the land with cold iron. Not auspicious anyway, and I had shaved that morning, courting disaster as Samson has foretold.

Very much, this was a match in 2 halves, with our Stalwarts Paul K, John W, and Brian D on the top 3 boards, and 3 young’uns un the lower boards: Kostis, Javier, and David S.

For the first hour it was very quiet, and I was able to admire the spacious accommodations, with each player separated by about 10 foot or more from his neighbour. New flooring and fine wall decorations made it all so much better than the Citadines.

First to stand was Brian Dodgeon, however, with a draw. Perhaps he sensed the outcome, because he begged off the offer of a drink and left quickly. Then in quick succession the two bottom boards tramped out, with losses both, score 0.5-2.5.

Bu yes, John White stood up, shaking his head, and – apologetically perhaps – said his opponent had flagged out. 1.5-2.5. So it went, with Kostis and Paul adjourning eventually.

Overnight, the adjournments were settled – a draw by top man Paul K and a loss conceded by Kostis. Final score, 2-4, Ealing winning.

Fitting defeat perhaps, overhead a wan red moon could be seen dimly in the dark sky as I trudged back to the tube. I could almost hear the wolves baying for blood in the far hills.

Quick Analysis:

Our stalwarts played or caused to play 3 Sicilian Openings.
Our top half tends to score at par, which is to say average 1.5 per match over 3 boards.
Our bottom half tends to determine matters, they can win or lose the match.

Quick Conclusion:

Bottom boards better learn the Sicilian or its Grand Prix white variant.
Beef up the bottom half grades

ECF Grades

The ECF’s January 2019 grades are now out, and available here: ECF Grading

The full Hammer roster is beneath, and also available on our Members page.

Saturday 26th – Sambrook’s! & Much more

El Chess Up in a Brewery – it’s on! This Saturday 26th, Hammersmith will be taking on local upstarts Battersea, in a Rapidplay tournament at the home of Wandle, Sambrook’s Brewery!

Starting at 1pm sharp, and running all afternoon (until roughly 5pm), we’ll be in the taproom at their Brewery on Yelverton Road, SW11 3QG – nearest station, Clapham Junction!

It will be 15 minutes per game, with 3 sec increments, with some handicaps for extreme grading differentials.

It’s going to be a fun day, and we hope to see you all there – the venue is superb and the beer outstanding, and well-priced!

  • What? Rapidplay tourney, 15 min + 3
  • When? Saturday 26th Jan, 1-5pm
  • Where? Sambrook’s Brewery, Yelverton Road, SW11 3QG
  • How much? FREE!
The Hammersmith Rapid League 2019 – Round I

After the success of last year’s event, the second season of the Hammersmith Rapid League got underway last Monday. Six teams, five nights of chess, four boards, three senior chess teams, two junior chess teams, and one footy stats team… sums up the 2019 incarnation nicely!

This is the league where you play two games of rapid chess against the same opponent each night – one as black and one as white. All the games are rated and count towards an ECF rapid grade.

What more could any chess player want??

This year’s lineup was as follows:

  • The fearsome Tony’s Tigers
  • The awesome Tony’s Lions
  • The dreaded Hackney Posse
  • The Crazy Gang of Football Radar
  • The ferocious Battersea Crew
  • And the Mighty Hammer

To the matches – the first round saw some really close matches with an internecine battle as the Tigers took on the Lions, Football Radar taking on Battersea, and Hackney squaring up to the Hammers.

Tigers vs. Lions

This was a seriously competitive match with a real heavyweight clash on top board, and the other three all closely contested. All the games went to the bitter end with no quarter given.

The Lions shaded it in Round One, with wins for Connall and Xu. Taymour struck back for the Tigers and the top board was drawn.

At the halfway stage the Lions had sneaked ahead, 2.5-1.5.

The Tigers had been wounded but were not down – the come back was possible. Plus we all know there is nothing more frightening than a wounded Tiger.

The second round saw the Tigers go to work and with three wins and a draw they swept to a well-deserved victory. Both these teams will be serious contenders for the title.

Final Score: Tigers 5 – 3 Lions

Battersea vs. Football Radar

This saw the clash of the newboys. Football Radar, and our beloved Frenemies Battersea.

Things did not go well for the Footy boys in the first round and they succumbed to a narrow but decisive 3.5-4.5 defeat. This match really could have gone either way and Battersea can consider themselves very unlucky.

Great performances from both Alistair of the Radar and Darius of Battersea, who both went 2-0. The game that attracted my attention was the second game between Alistair and James that had a very nice tactical sequence. It is one that will hopefully feature in a later posting.

Final Score: Battersea 3.5 – 4.5 Football Radar

Hammersmith vs. Hackney

Following the trend set by the other two matches, the Hammer boys were leading 2.5-1.5 at the halfway point. It could have been a half-point more but for a tactic missed by Wyatt. That game was the longest of the first round and could have gone either way. In the end, stoic defence from Wyatt secured the half-point.

However, the Hackney boys were not down, and definitely not out. They rallied superbly in the second round of games with three wins on the top three boards. Dipli bravely held the line on board 4 against Hackney captain, and great bloke, Bryan, but alas could not prevent Hammer going down 3-1.

A tough loss for Kostis to take, especially in his captain’s debut, but he can feel proud of his team.

Congratulations to captain Bryan and the Hackney team – they really fought back well. The sportsmanship in this contest was totally indicative of the whole evening, and all teams and players must be applauded for that.

Final Score: Hammersmith 3.5 – 4.5 Hackney

So after Round I the cross table looks like this:

And the normal table looks like this:

Roll on Round II – we look forward to seeing all the teams back on the 29th of January!

10.01.19 – Middlesex Div 3: Harrow 2 v Hammersmith

With Adam away gracing Europe’s ski slopes, it was left to your author, Dave, to captain the Hammer side in Middlesex Division 3, as we took on Harrow 2. Fortunately we ran out 4.5-3.5 winners which meant I could welcome Adam back with some good news!

Full score-card as follows:

In the end, a very satisfying victory against a side almost matching us grade-for-grade as we moved down the board order. Even more so when you consider that we started the match 1-0 down due to a default. Very well done one & all… !

I’m able to present two games for your enjoyment here, both of which ended up as full points for the good guys.

Brian secured the victory with some aggressive play as White in a Sicilian Najdorf, creating complications which ultimately led to a tactical mistake from his opponent. Some fine play, particularly when trying to make up some time on the clock.

Your temporary captain for the evening took home the point after playing out a slightly unusual encounter. Playing as Black, I felt I was slightly on the back-foot for the first 14-15 moves before my opponent exchanged several pieces. Each exchange seemed to favour me, and before I knew it, I had some fairly well-placed pieces, with the threat of mate or serious material advantage. Resignation soon followed.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming games, when normal service resumes under Adam’s stewardship.


And Finally…

The lovely folk who sponsor us, Chess & Bridge, are happy to offer any Hammer Members a FREE 3 month subscription to Chess magazine!

To claim this offer, simply drop them an email or call them (020 7486 7015), and provide your name, address, telephone and email – of course, mention Hammersmith Chess Club!

Offer is valid until the end of Jan, and it is well worth signing up – a great magazine, and 3 free issues is a great offer!

Hammer Goes Global!

A couple of recent match reports follow, but first up some exciting news from

Hammer Joins the Global Elite of Chess Clubs

In a sign of our increasing reach, and a digital ‘pat on the back’ for our ongoing efforts to improve the club, I’m pleased to report that Hammersmith has been added to the illustrious list of “The Best Chess Clubs” on one of the top chess resource websites in the world,

Taking our place alongside 11 other top performing clubs world wide, it’s a huge honour to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of the world-famous St. Louis Chess Club, and the Bangkok Chess Club. [dis-honourable mention to our frenemies at Battersea!]

As fellow lovers of the game, John Jackson, the CEO of Chess-Site, and his team, have written up a wonderful and generous profile of Hammersmith, as part of their mission to produce a definitive one-stop resource for the game.

Their website contains a ton of useful information for chess-lovers, and is a terrific resource for anyone with an interest in the game. Well worth a read and a share, and we thank John for taking the time to profile us. Long may the association continue!

10.01.19 – London League Division 2: Metropolitan v Hammersmith

Happy new year to all my Hammer colleagues and comrades. We began the first of six matches in January/February with a visit to one of our main rivals for promotion. The anticipated difficulty of accessing their base somewhere in the depths of Middle Earth did not prove to be quite as baffling as anticipated, the match however was a sterner test of our resolve.

My apologies for being blunt, but an issue has been growing over our opening four matches which I cannot avoid mentioning.

How seriously does Hammersmith, both as a club and we as individuals, really care about having a team in London League D1?

Of course, I fully understand that we all have very busy schedules, of which chess can only be a small part. Also, as a relative newbie, perhaps it is not for me to say. But still, with our resources, while promotion to D1 should be very do-able, the reality is a little different. As it stands, our promotion chances appear rather slim.

For whatever reasons, a sizeable minority of nominated players are unable to play regularly. A very unhelpful state of affairs. This is then compounded by the restriction on bringing in players from second and third teams, since this would quickly bar them from those teams. Worse still, our fixture list is so congested that asking people to play at short notice is rarely successful.

One thing I would ask for is for people to at least reply promptly (or indeed at all) to say whether they can play. A “no” is much preferable to no response. 

Okay, with that little moan over with, on to the match. I will say that everyone gave the proverbial “110%” effort befitting a Hammerite. Particular thanks to those stepping in at short notice.

The match went very much to expected grading results. Although Thomas lost a complex struggle on top board, Carsten, Tony, Bajrush and Sylvain powered to convincing wins on boards 2-5. Bajrush continued his imperious form with a fourth straight win in his inimitable style. Hopefully he will be annotating his game for us shortly. We were also assisted a little by Met’s late substitution on board 2.

Alas, the engine room stalled a little on boards 6-8. Tomasso going down, while myself and Paul laboured in vain.

The last two games to finish, both ferociously fought, saw Charlie and Wyatt finally forced to tilt their kings in defeat. Nonetheless, great fighting chess by both against much higher graded opponents.

So the match ended 5-5, which can be interpreted in either glass half full or glass half empty mode as you prefer. We play five more matches before the end of February – Hammers, over to you!


London League Blitz/Rapidplay – the people have spoken!

From social media this week, the London Chess League (@ll_chess) were spotted canvassing opinions for a new, London-wide Rapid or Blitz league using a Twitter poll.

The results were more resounding than the Prime Minister’s recent defeat – with a whopping 97% of respondents in favour of the launch of a London-wide Rapid or Blitz (or both!) league.

Food for thought indeed… we’d be keen to hear the views of Hammerites!