The Hammer 2019 Christmas Party – 6th December 2018

Yes, the dread C-word has entered the Hammer lexicon and orbit. For once, I am not talking about chess, but the one associated with mulled wine, over-indulgence and presents.

In the immortal words of Noddy Holder…. it’s Christmas!!!

The restaurant and bar area has been booked – and all Hammer members are invited, as are partners (they do put up with a lot – this is a small thank-you!) – indeed all are invited, including Mums & Dads.

This is the social event of the year – it will be glamorous, it will be intelligent, and it will be FUN!

The venue is Wahaca restaurant on Charlotte Street in W1 – a central location with excellent transport connections (Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road, and Oxford Circus stations are all very close) and great food. If you have never been, this is a chance to enjoy some great Mexican food and excellent drinks of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties.

Wahaca, Charlotte Street – the stuff of Christmas dreams!

Check it out online:

We’ve booked part of the cocktail bar for 40 people between 7-10pm – with options for finger food style buffet, although if you decide you’d prefer a sit-down meal we can arrange table bookings in the restaurant. The booking can also accommodate more people if needed!

The next steps are as follows – we need to know numbers, and food requests by November 25th at the latest.

For food there are three choices:

  • Lighter bites (£12.50 pp)  – details below
  • The Whole Shebang (£17.95 pp) – details below
  • Sit Down Meal (on request – refer to menu on website)

Email John to confirm your attendance, and preferred food choice:

Hammer will be bossing Fitzrovia on the 6th December so be there and make it a brilliant night to kick-off the holiday period!

This is an official product of the John White Social club & I approve this message.



Hammer vs Hammer in London Division 4

Some things just shouldn’t happen. Like ketchup on a good steak, or denim on denim. Another of those things is Hammer turning on Hammer in an unholy match-up. Still, rules are rules and our two sides in London League Division 4 were pitted against each other to kickoff the 2018-19 season.

It was a well fought match with Dave’s higher graded Team Deux ultimately coming out on top against Ben’s Team Trois. As ever though, the tale of the tape is much more complex than just running through the match card presented here.

First to finish was the Clash of the Captains. Dave came out on top with some unusually attacking play in the old ‘castle long and throw your pawns forward’ Sicilian ruse. Ben’s h6 defence ‘felt’ wrong (and displeased Tony in the analysis) but the computer, thinking 10-moves deep thought it okay. Nevertheless, it was a tough one to defend and the position soon developed in Dave’s favour. 1-0 to Hammer 2

It was soon level as Robin quickly dispatched Abakar on board 7. A tough gig for Abakar making his debut, and inheriting a tighter than normal time control given he stepped in due to a no-show. There was no chance of Robin going easy on the youngster though. Tactics abound and the hammer soon fell. 1-1

Kostis continues his fine unbeaten run in his Hammer career with a somewhat fortunate win against Dan. Ruggers built up a strong positional edge flowing from a solid opening, and looked ready to take control, before a mistake allowed a Knight fork on Rook and Queen. Dan threw everything forward to try to score a retaliatory attack, but it wasn’t to be. 2-1 to Hammer 2

The Italian Job in board 1 was settled in Tomasso’s favour, as he managed to out-maneouvre Matteo in an extremely open tactical struggle. I didn’t see the game develop but the position looked like Tommaso had once again employed his trademark style of favouring fast development over nice-to-haves, like pawn structure! 3-1

Dipender overcame Shiraz in a good encounter on Board 6. Things looked fairly even until a capture with check turned the tide in Dr Gill’s favour. He now had a centralised Queen and the initiative to pick holes in Shiraz’s defence. 4-1

Andrew continues the fine form that won him last season’s Most Improved Player accolade, with a fine draw against Adam – graded some 23 points higher! I wonder what that gap will be next season! Andrew is improving quickly and surely has the potential to push on towards the 130-range within the next 12 months. A draw a fair result on the night. 4.5-1.5

The final two matches went to the wire. Simon and John played out a very entertaining draw, which pitted legal eagle against executive chair of the JWDC. A prestigious match-up if ever there were one. John has claimed to ratchet up the pressure but Simon parried well, reducing proceedings to a tense endgame with both Queens on the board. As is often the case in such situations, a perpetual check is never far away and discretion proved the better part of valour as a half-point apiece was secured. 5-2

The match of the evening was reserved for the last to finish. A titanic struggle between Blair and Nadhmi, played infant of the baying masses with only seconds remaining on the clock. We had a well-balanced, tense middle game with blocked pawn chains and myriad tactics ready to be unleashed if someone made a wrong turn. Nadhmi looked the more likely to progress, slowly building pressure on the Queen-side with doubled rooks and a useful looking knight.

Blair defended brilliantly and kept finding the right resource in order to keep Master Auchi at bay. With a couple of minutes on the clock, Blair broke free with an advanced pawn and looked to romp home before Nadhmi sacrificed his Bishop to carve out the defence and push for a crushing attack.

Great chess on both sides, but there had to be a winner and Blair coolly played through to take the win, seemingly ignorant of the ticking clock. I think I felt more pressure watching it!

6-2 and the match awarded in favour of Hammer 2.

A great evening’s chess, and thoroughly enjoyable being part of it. I’m sure both sides have much to look forward to over the course of the season.

But alas, time waits for no man and the same is true for Hammer. Both sides are in action again in short order:

  • Hammer 2 face Lewisham tonight (Wednesday) 10th October
  • Hammer 3 take on Morley College on Friday 12th October
Hot off the Press!

And a quick note on last night’s result at Greater London, where our London Division 6 HEDGER team took on stalwarts GLCC.

A keenly-contested match saw Dan Rugman on top board, stand-in Captain Andy on two, and youngsters Taymoor and Laith on three and four respectively.

With all boards deciding to go quick-play, the match was over by 8.30pm and I’m pleased to report that Hammer secured a creditable 2-2 draw against our hosts, who outgraded us across the shop.

A tense affair on top board

Particular credit must be given to Taymoor, with a fast-paced romp home in little over an hour, followed soon after by Andy edging out his opponent. At 2-0 up (game presented below), Hammer looked in great shape and with an outside chance of forcing a win.

Alas, it wasn’t to be – despite level-pegging for much of their games, both Dan and Laith eventually succumbed to a combination of sharp tactics, and unfortunate errors. However, both played solid games and there will be much more to come from them this year.

Still, a good result for the team and much to be positive about for all four Hammers.

Hammer Internal Rapidplay Tournament 2018-19

Register by 13th October to Guarantee Your Place!

The Hammer Internal Rapidplay Tournament is back! Last year’s tournament was a great success, and we hope to build on it this season.

With a score of 7.5/8, our chairman Bajrush was last year’s clear winner in the Open section, and he took home the trophy. Grading prizes were awarded to the following:

  • Kings (<160): Matteo Bezzini – 5/8
  • Bishops (<130): Ben Rothwell – 5/8
  • Knights (<100): Chris Moore – 4/8

Undoubtedly the real winner was Hammersmith Chess Club, who now boast 31 players with a rapid grading, up from 20 in January 2018!

This year the tournament will be run over 7 matches, down from 8 last year. Pairings will be decided by a Swiss system, and the controllers will be Adam Cranston (Middlesex 2 Captain) and Dave Lambert (London 4 Captain). All matches will be graded with the ECF under ‘rapidplay’.

This year there will only be two rounds before Christmas – the first running from mid-October to mid-November, and the second from mid-November to Christmas. After Christmas we’ll revert to one round per month.

It’ll be up to each of you to track down your opponent and arrange a time/date of your choosing to play – we’ll provide the necessary contact details. We ask for you to do this within the first week after pairings are released, and enter the agreed date and venue into a shared spreadsheet.

With fewer matches on Monday’s at Lytton Hall this season, we hope these will provide a good opportunity to play your games. This is not a requirement though – the game could be played at one of your houses, or down the pub. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re both happy with the conditions & the game gets played within the month.

You arrange your match and enter it into the spreadsheet; You play your match; You let Adam & Dave know the result, and they’ll do the rest.

They’ll tabulate the standings and publish the next set of pairings at the start of each round. Then you’ll have the next week to arrange Game 2, and so it goes.

Competition Structure
  • Fee: £0 – included in HCC Membership Fee (however, you must have paid your subs)
  • Matches: 7, over course of seasons
  • Pairings: Swiss system
  • Graded: Yes, all games to be submitted for July 2019 grading list
  • Scoring: 1 point for a win, 0.5 points for a draw, 0 points for a loss
  • Tie-Breaks: Decided by Sonneborn-Berger method
  • Format: Rapidplay
  • Time Control: 30 minutes for all moves; 15 seconds increment
  • Conditions: Entirely up to you and what you agree with your opponent. If you’re both happy, that works for us.
Competition Timing
  • October: Registration – if you wish to play, contact Adam or Dave by 13th October
  • October-May: Games 1 to 7
  • Entry Requirements: You’re a member of Hammersmith Chess Club. You’re registered with the ECF for the 2018-19 season. You’re happy to commit to playing the full 7 matches throughout the season

Prizes will be awarded for the best score in each of the below categories. No one will be eligible to win more than one award:

  • Open: No grade limit
  • Kings: <160 ECF
  • Bishops: <130 ECF
  • Knights: <100 ECF
Small Print

Grades will be based on the July 2018 grading list

  • If you have a Rapidplay grade, we’ll use that
  • If you only have a Standard grade, we’ll go with that
  • If you have neither, we’ll estimate your grade

All players will be permitted to take a maximum of 2 byes over the course of the tournament between rounds 1 and 6, scoring 0.5 points in each case.

Requests for byes must be submitted in advance of the end of the previous round.

Late entries may be permitted at the discretion of the tournament controllers. Late entrants will start with 0 points as standard.


Failure to arrange a match within the first week: Both players will be awarded 0 points. Unless a player can demonstrate they have made reasonable and repeated (3 or more) attempts to find a suitable time & date for the match, in which case they may be awarded the win by default.

Failure to complete a match within the designated month: Both players will be awarded 0 points.

Adam and Dave to make the final decision on any disputes.

The tournament controllers reserve the right to make minor tweaks to the tournament as the season progresses due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a scenario, a written update will be provided to all the players.

If you have any questions, please drop Adam or Dave an email:

And remember – if you wish to play, please let us know by 13th October at the absolute latest. We’ll produce the first set of pairings shortly after the deadline.

Thanks, and good luck!

Adam and Dave.

El Chessico – la segunda parte, 6th November

The gauntlet has been thrown down, and Hammer have answered.

Just over two years ago the noisy neighbours – Battersea Chess Club – challenged Hammer to a mass-board match. The first “El Chessico” match was on, and the ranks of Hammer were mustered.

Naturally, Hammer won the first match played in SW11 and drew the second in our Summer home, The Albion.

2016 – the game that launched the Summer League

One of the unintended consequences of this was the launch of the Summer League. It has also led to a healthy over-the-board and social media rivalry as well – and let’s not forget the friendship aspect (or should we?). So….

After much debate with Battersea and after receiving the full endorsement of your Hammer Committee, it has been decided to make this an annual event, with a serious trophy.

The unique aspect of this challenge match is that it’s literally club-against-club. It will be a match played over at least thirty boards at the home of Battersea. It will be mega, it will be awesome.. it will be EPIC!

The event is to be held on Tuesday 6th November 2018. This is the best chess club in West London, taking on the best club in South-West London (they don’t have much competition, admittedly).

Who will come out on top, not only securing the trophy, but most importantly at least 12 months of bragging rights.

No true Hammer can turn down the opportunity to put one over the noisy neighbours, surely??

If you’d like to take part in this unique event, please drop an email to John:

With over 70 members in the Hammer ranks, places will be limited. The closing date for expressing interest is the 25th October. It will be a ‘friendly’ match, but games will be rated.

Hammers arise, and assemble – the call to arms is made. The honour of Hammer is at stake!


Hammersmith Chess Club & Diversity

We need your help!

The world of English chess has long been a bastion of predominantly white men, mostly above a certain age… and Hammersmith Chess Club is no different.

Recognising this fact is the easy part – doing something about it is the challenge.

At our recent Committee meeting, the club made a firm commitment to tackle this issue head on – we’re creating the role of Diversity Officer on our Committee, and we’re throwing this open for interested individuals to apply.

In summary, the role of Diversity Officer will have the following core responsibilities:

  • Suggesting & promoting ways to make the club a more attractive proposition for all minority groups – in the world of chess this includes, but isn’t limited to: Women & girls, Youngsters & Children, Ethnic minorities, and LGBT individuals
  • Providing a voice at Committee meetings on all proposals, ensuring club activities take account of diverse viewpoints and do not discriminate
  • Helping enshrine ‘best practice’ in diversity in all activities the club undertakes
  • Promoting measures to help recruit more members from under-represented minorities at the club
  • Commitment to attend 3-4 Committee meetings per year – these normally occur on a weekday evening, between 7-9pm

If you – or your partner, parent or otherwise connected individual – would like to offer your services for this role, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Please drop us an email with a sentence or two, outlining why you think you’d be a suitable candidate for this role:

We’d like to fill this position ahead of our next Committee meeting, and would therefore request that any interested individuals please contact us no later than Friday 26th October.

We’ll provide all the support & help required to the new position holder to hit the ground running & make a great contribution to the club.

Many thanks for your help, and for helping the club continue to evolve and thrive.

The Committee of Hammersmith Chess Club.

Puzzle of the Week #024

Welcome back, and we’re straight down to business again.

Last week’s puzzle generated a load of interest- quite a thronker, it’s fair to say. But it’s big JimlocoStevenson who takes the plaudits this time, with the following sequence:

  1. …        Rf1+!
  2. Rxf1, Rxd1+
  3. Kxd1, Kxf1 – and the pawn ending is won for black, as he maintains the opposition.

The actual game (BernsteinDake, US Ch. 1936) went: Rxd1, Kxd1, Rxf5, gxf5, f6, Ke2… ending drawn.

On to this weeks puzzle – White to move, answers in the comments please:

Cappelle la Grande, via Kings Head

The small town of Cappelle-la-Grande, located in the far North-East corner of Normandy, is home to a surprisingly large & popular annual chess tournament, The Cappelle International Open. It’s no small feat, with up to 750 players getting their game on in the cultured surroundings of the Palais des Arts.

The 2016 Cappelle Open

With such a strong connection to the game, it’s no wonder that London’s Kings Head Chess Club organises an annual trip to Cappelle, to take on the local teams at the Palais. And excitingly, they have extended the invite to Hammersmith for 2019!!

Details below, but broadly speaking it involves a coach trip to Dunkirk, a couple of nights in la Belle France, and a whole heap of chess against the locals (very Hammer-style, you might say!):

  • 3rd to 6th May (bank holiday weekend)
  • £50 coach/transport, and £75 accomodation
  • Contact Mark Davey if you’d like to take part:

Further details can be found on the Kings Head website:

Kings Head in action!


First Blood

No, we’re not talking about legendary lone warrior John Rambo – it is of course our opening fixture of the 2018/19 season. Read on for a plot almost as thrilling…

24.09.18 – Middlesex Division 3: Hammer 4 vs. Hammer 3

Sparks were set to fly in our opening match-up as Hammer were pitted against Hammer, in a no-holds barred grudge match to kick off another great season of chess.

Dipender’s Hammer 3 team (lead in his absence by the tactful Dave Lambert, while Dipender was sunning himself on a beach in Greece) were pitted against the Hammer 4 team captained by Wyatt in the third Middlesex League.

The 4th team was outgunned in every matchup and looking to take first blood straight away with a no-show on board 7, when Abakar bravely stepped up at the last minute to his first shootout for the club. Needless to say he was off guard and quickly thrown by one of the formidable Auchi trio, but he showed true Hammer spirit and will be a valuable asset in the future Hammer arsenal.

Being new to fatherhood clearly hasn’t hurt Simon’s game, with a strong performance against Shiraz on board 4, with some analysis from Simon below:

The only draw of the evening came on board 5 as old-hand Dave took on young-gun Kostis. In truth, it wasn’t a classic. Dave emerged from the opening with the slightest of edges but he couldn’t force any meaningful concessions, and the game fizzled out into a straight pawn vs. pawn endgame. A creditable result for Kostis who ended the match with the initiative on his debut.

On board 3 we saw a captain stand-off with Adam (Middlesex 2) coming head to head with Ben (London League 3), where after an exchange by Ben of two pieces for a Rook, Adam managed to come away with the win:

However, the upset of the night came from our very own recently-crowned most improved player, Andrew Macleod, who successfully turned giant-killer in taking down Brian. What a great result from the promising young talent!

After the dust settled and the night was over, the under dogs were unable to cause enough of an upset and the stronger Hammer 3 team came out victorious, with bragging rights to boot. With a rematch already scheduled for the end of November, Hammer 4 has time to regroup and rethink their strategy in order to prove themselves as formidable contenders for the top spot.

Coming up next week, another Hammer v Hammer grudge match beckons, with Ben’s London 3 team playing Dave’s London 2 squad. Stay tuned!

Puzzle of the Week #023

It’s been a couple of weeks, so here we go again!

Dipender takes the prize for last week’s puzzle, with his second bite at the cherry – well done Dipender!

Taken from a match in 1976, the finish was produced by 15yr old prodigy, Maia Chiburdanidze, on her way to becoming world champion.

To this week’s challenge then – Black to play and win. Answers in the comments:

2018-19 Fixtures are OUT!

With 11 teams to cater for this season, it has been no mean feat, but we have now finalised our fixtures for the coming season! You can check out all the details on our calendar:

It all kicks off on September 24th at the home of chess (aka Lytton Hall), with our two teams in Middlesex Div 3 facing off. We then have a crazy busy October featuring 17 games!

This is followed by a steady flow of games in the run up to Christmas (don’t forget about the London Chess Classic in December!), and then back with a bang for 22 games in January, with the following three months also averaging 20 games a piece!

January 2019 – just the 22 games then…

Things slow down towards the Summer, with our current final (and 136th) fixture in early June. It is going to be a mad one!

Please ensure you familiarise yourself with our fixtures & the games you’re likely to be playing – our team Captains should have reached out to all of you to discuss which games you’d like to be involved in, and they’ll do their best to accommodate everyone when possible.

If you need to get in touch to ask a question or find out more info, you can find all details of our teams & captains (along with a link to their emails) here:

Details of venues, addresses and match start times will be confirmed by captains ahead of each game. If you’re in any doubt, just drop them a line.

Amongst the fixture highlights this  year:

  • Newcomers Football RadarBBCA and Smartacus in London 5
  • Two new Hammer teams in the Middlesex League, meaning we will now play some home games at Lytton Hall on Tuesday evenings (we’ve reached capacity on Mondays!!)
  • New opponents East Ham (we’ve not played them in a while!) in London 2, and Maidenhead in the Middlesex League
  • We’ve also included the Celtic Tigers weekend fixtures on our calendar for the first time – a number of Hammer regulars are now playing for our sister team in the 4NCL

A final reminder – only players who have paid their membership, and are ECF-registered, are eligible to play league games for Hammersmith. If you want to get involved please ensure you have both of these sorted in time, else captains will be unable to pick you!

Get set… it’s going to be a great season!