Summer in the City

As the regular chess season draws to a close and the AGM becomes a hazy memory, don’t panic!! – there’s plenty of chess action still to come.

We are very, very excited to announce the launch of our first full Summer programme. It’s a jam-packed agenda of games, events, and even a pub crawl! Read on to find out the details.

A Triumphant Return to The Albion

First things first, don’t forget that our Lytton Hall venue is now closed for the Summer months. Hammersmith Chess Club de-camps a short distance to the Albion public house for our Monday Club Nights, a short walk away on Hammersmith Road.

The kind folks at the Albion allow us to use the upstairs function room/area, so there’s always plenty of space for chess.

Summer Chess League – London’s Lighter League

After much hard work, many meetings & dozens of emails, we are ridiculously pleased & excited to announce the launch of the inaugural Summer Chess League!

It all kicks off on Tuesday 13th June at 7.30pm at the home venue of our good friends Battersea – full details here. It’s an opportunity to hear a few details about the league setup, meet the other teams, all punctuated with a presentation from the Ginger GM Simon Williams and his good friend IM Simon Ansell, and of course some of the cheapest beers in London (thank you Battersea Labour Club!). Simon’s presentation will be followed by an open blitz tournament – everybody is welcome!

The Summer League is a fantastic new idea, following hot on the heels of our successful double-header which we played (and won – natch) against Battersea last Summer where we got out a WHOPPING 27 boards across two evenings. This year we have managed to rope in 4 clubs – Battersea, Streatham & Brixton, British Bangla Chess Association, and your very own Hammer, to create a competitive mini league.

With ourselves and Battersea putting out two teams each, there’ll be 6 teams in total, with five match nights as follows:

  • 20th June
  • 27th June
  • 18th July
  • 22nd August
  • 5th September

All games will be played at Battersea’s home venue on Falcon Road (walkable from Clapham Junction). Game timings will be 60 minutes with a 30 second increment per move, and no adjournments. All games to be graded and completed on the evening. Couldn’t be easier!

Full details of the venue, dates, contacts etc. can be found on the excellent website – please check it out:

www.summerchessleague.org.uk

We’ll shortly be contacting all members to get our teams sorted – look out for the emails. And if the league proves successful this year, who knows where it may lead!

The Summer Program In Full!

As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also been hard at work compiling a full program of events for our Summer club nights and other dates in between.

After a hugely successful year for the club we are keen to extend the season into the Summer. In addition to the Summer League, there’ll be something happening every Monday – all sessions will take place upstairs at the Albion unless otherwise mentioned. Enjoy!

Training – 26/06, 17/07, 07/08, 04/09
We plan to conduct four training sessions throughout the Summer, using the big demo board. Get your ideas and suggestions in for what you want to learn, or games you’ve played that you’d like one of our talented trainers to analyse and run through.

Cafe Nero Invasion – 10/07, 24/07, 21/08
There is a healthy contingent that plays chess in the Cafe Nero on Kensington High Street every Monday. Let’s invade the cafe and show them how Hammer play chess! When we’ve had enough caffeine we can retire to the Albion for more chess and a few cold beverages! We did a quick hit here last Summer and it was ace!

Nero got nothing on Hammer!!

Teams Rapidplay – 03/07
Attendees will be split into four teams of roughly equal strength. Each team plays one ungraded 20 minute rapidly match against each other team. Most match points determines the winning team on the night!

Graded Rapidplay – 14/08
Each attendee will play two 30-minute Rapidplay games against two players of roughly equal strength. Everyone will get one game as White and one as Black. Games will be played under match conditions and sent for grading.

Blitz Tournament – 11/09
A seven-round Swiss System handicap blitz tournament.

Middlesex League – Kings Head 3 v Hammer (19/06)
Hammer’s final match of the season. It will be played over eight boards upstairs at The Carpenters Arms, 12 Seymour Place, W1H 2DD. Please let me know if you would like a place on the team.

Pub Crawl – 31/07
1. The Elephant and Castle – 7.15-8pm
2. The Goat – 8.15-9pm
3. The Builders Arms – 9.15-10pm
4. The Devonshire Arms – 10.15-11pm

Two 10 minute blitz games in each pub, then move on. Usual points for win, loss and draw, however bonus points awarded for number of drinks consumed! We will give out leaflets and promote the club on the way round.

We’ll be using our new Facebook page to promote and gauge interest for some of these activities. Please start following the page and lookout for updates!

All events are also on our calendar, and will be open to all-comers. If you’re not a member but would like to come along, just drop us a line. We can’t wait!!!

Hammersmith Chess Club AGM – Reminder

Ladies & Gents – a final reminder that the Annual General Meeting of Hammersmith Chess Club takes place on Monday 5th June from 7pm, at our home venue, Lytton Hall. Please make every effort to attend!

It’s always an informative and fun occasion as we hear from our Committee members on the progress of the Club this last 12 months, along with details of some plans in the pipeline and various business for our members to vote on (details of committee members standing for re-election can be found here).

We’ll also have the fourth and final round of our season-long Blitz tournament (current standings here), awards for Players of the Season, plus some drinks and nibbles. Should be a good one!

Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Hammersmith Chess Club
Date: Monday 5th June 2017
Time: From 7pm
Location: Lytton Hall (home venue)

 

An Englishman in Division 5

25.05.17 – London League 5: Hammersmith v Hackney

We had three significant wins this time around, and one bad luck loss, plus an unusually large number of games involving the English!

Chris Moore on Board 3 with the black pieces played a Scandinavian Defence, but soon got into difficulty and had to sacrifice a bishop for a pawn to rescue his Queen trapped at a5. At this point he was really disadvantaged, and things didn’t look good with his opponent having better development.

However, within perhaps 3 more moves with neither side yet Castled, there came a shock in the chess position, echoed by some physical shock in the room, manifested as a table collapsing (I kid ye not!), sending pieces flying off Chris’s board. I didn’t know X-man was on the team, supporting us, the Team of Light.

After order was restored, I saw Qxg2 and Black was now winning with White’s King having to run to escape check mate. Then everything got swapped off, including Queens, there remained only a Rook each and many pawns, but Chris had 4 extra, linked pawns. White had to resign.

Board 4 saw Kaan Corbaci playing the English Opening with the White pieces. A quiet, positional game ensued and Kaan looked all set for a draw after many pieces were traded. However, a central isolated pawn was suddenly pushed to the 6th and couldn’t be stopped from Queening. Kaan had to resign.

Board 2 saw John Woolley opening with the English, and finishing with a fine win as he assailed an entrenched King guarded with fianchettoed Bishop and 3 pawns. I believe he used ever more tightening of the screw tactics on his opponent, so eventually something had to crack. In this case to ward off a check mate, a piece was lost. A fine season for John Woolley with sex incredible draws in a row and a winning finale! He left the best for the last!

On Board 1 we saw Brian Dodgeon defending with the Black pieces against the English Opening (surprise, surprise!). He reached a drawish-looking endgame with Rook and Bishop versus Rook and Knight. Careful manipulation of pawns and tight clocks on both sides saw White’s advantage slipping away, his Bishop and Rook becoming moribund.

Eventually White went 2 pawns down and was lost. Brian had an active Knight posted at d5 that could check but never did in fact. The implied check threat was never executed, and somehow must have amplified the Knight’s intrinsic value, creating a mental burden on his hapless opponent in the final 5 minutes. So well done Brian! Always great to finish with a win!

TV Double Header v Wimbledon

15.05.17 – Thames Valley League: Wimbledon B v Hammersmith

Wimbledon’s venue at the Trinity Club was the stage to host Hammer’s TV team in a double header last week.

First up was a match on 15th May, where Hammersmith faced the Wimbledon B team. This was a crucial match for both teams in their quest to retain Top Flight status. The atmosphere was tense from the start!

We started with a win on Board 4 where Pavel was playing Yasser. Paul on 3 got a draw in a game that was even from the beginning.

Next to finish was your Captain, and unfortunately I lost my game so we were back to level-pegging, at 1.5 a piece. This only served to increase the pressure on the rest of the team.

Sheikh and Marios were next to finish, and they both did well to score wins. Marios commented afterwards: “I played the Black side of a Sicilian accelerated dragon. My opponent allowed me to play Ng4, exchanging his dark squared Bishop early on. I continued to attack on the dark squares and won a pawn later on in the exchange. He resigned a couple of moves later in a completely lost endgame.”

This was followed by Matteo dropping a point, to give Hammersmith a slight edge at 3.5-2.5, with Jeremy and Carsten still playing.

Both games were very dramatic right up to the end. Jeremy’s game ended up with both players going for the win on either side, move by move. His opponent missed two opportunities for a Queen mate(!), allowing Jeremy to hold his nerve and convert the win, taking Hammer to 4.5-2.5 and with it the victory!

Carsten had a tough game too, playing very carefully right up to the end and securing our last point of the evening: 5.5-2.5.

This victory secured our Division 1 status for next season! A great result, and well done to all involved.

18.05.17 – Thames Valley League: Wimbledon A v Hammersmith

The second game on the 18th was against the A-team – a crucial match for them if they were to win the Division, being level on points with Surbiton but with an inferior board scoring. A win or a draw would be enough to secure top spot.

Our brave Hammer heroes were outgraded heavily on almost every board, but we were hungry for the game regardless!

With both teams defaulting a board to start on 1 game a piece, Jeremy and Paul were first to finish. Both put up a great fight against far stronger opponents, but it wasn’t to be, and we quickly fell to 1-3

Sheikh played another fine game, eventually securing a draw despite missing a move that could have won it. Bad luck! 1.5-3.5

Matteo produced a solid performance to secure victory, bringing Hammer up to 2.5-3.5

This was swiftly followed by Carsten with his first draw in the TV league(!), bringing the score to 3-4, and Hammer in sight of an extraordinary result.

Your correspondent was the last to finish. I had a small advantage from the beginning of the game, and managed to hold on to it throughout. With a prepared checkmate trap, I managed to capture my opponents Knight and finished the endgame in some style!

It was a great performance from the team, securing a 4-4 draw against a terrifically strong team.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated during the season for their commitment and effort for the team. It’s been a tough season, but we can look forward to improving next season and staying out of the relegation dogfight! Table below, with one match to go.

Many thanks,
Bajrush.

Campioni, Campioni!

16.05.17 – Middlesex League: Hendon 5 v Hammersmith

Having already won the league, Hammer went into their penultimate fixture full of confidence. This was a slightly unusual match; we were up against Hendon Barnet Knights, a junior team with no player over the age of 12! Despite this, they are one of the strongest teams in the league, frighteningly sharp when it comes to tactics with uncanny positional awareness.

With the first team playing two games in the Thames Valley League this week, it was necessary to allow most of them a rest and to rotate the team. Combined with a last minute dropout, this meant we were slightly out graded on average, and starting the game at 0-1.

On board one Marios did what he has grown accustomed to doing over the last few months – another incredibly precise display and total annihilation of his young opponent. 1-1

John White wasn’t so successful on board two. After a very level opening and middle game he blundered in time trouble and had to accept defeat. 1-2

Josué played extremely aggressively with the white pieces. He very quickly created pins and forks across the board. The victory was sealed before the time control, bringing the score to 2-2.

Playing a Scandinavian, Adam soon managed to enter a line his opponent was unfamiliar with. It didn’t go too well from there though. Despite good control of the centre, he made the dubious decision to castle Kingside and soon found himself with serious pressure on his c2 pawn.

With the Queens, Rooks and a Bishop each still on the board, a sharp battle commenced, with both parties navigating mating threats. Ultimately it was experience that won out. With thirty minutes on his clock versus Adam’s five, his opponent played too quickly, missing a tactic that won a Rook. After forcing a swap of Queens, the game was over. 3-2

On board five, John Woolley played a solid opening and it looked like the game would be heading for a draw. Unfortunately – and much like the other John – a blunder led to almost instant defeat. 3-3

Dave was playing on board six. He made the decision to give up a pawn for the Bishop pair. On the face of it this was quite possibly a sound investment, but as the game progressed and pieces were exchanged, it appeared to get harder and harder to find the winning plan.

He gave up the Bishop pair to win back the pawn, but had unknowingly entered a lost endgame. Unlike so many juniors, his opponent played it flawlessly to convert the win. 3-4

So it was down to young Nadhmi, playing his first game for the team, to save us. Only a win would salvage a point… and this he duly provided!

He played some fantastic chess, very focussed throughout, and picked up the point with relative ease. Very excited to see how he progresses; hopefully he’ll be knocking on Carsten’s door for the board one spot in the not too distant future!

Result: Hendon Barnet Knights 4 – 4 Hammersmith

The final match is likely to be played in June after the AGM, as soon as Kings Head can find a suitable date at their venue. With no less than 15 players on 100% out of a total pool of 28 (Ed: and a captain unbeaten on 81%!), nominating a player of the season will surely be a tough call!

London League Round-up – L5 & L3

 

09.05.17 – London League 3: Kings Head v Hammersmith

“Not with a Bang and not with a Whimper… but with a…”

Our last match of the season saw Hammer 1 take on Kings Head.

Although our objective of retaining Division 3 status had already been achieved, Hammer 1 were playing for pride! This game was a tough ask with Hammer 1 out graded on the top six boards by an average of 15 points per board.

Losses on the top four boards made saving the match a really hard task. All four Hammerites fought valiantly but it was just one of those nights at the office.

Bajrush, Paul, Jeremy and Marios scored 50% plus over the whole season – they have given all for the team.

The next three boards gave Hammer optimism as Sheikh, Matteo and I won. Sheikh and Matteo won brilliantly, and on the night. Both had very complicated games where they verged on the edge of disaster and held the line. They saw through all the pitfalls and emerged triumphant. Two really great wins.

My win was achieved after an adjournment, but playing the Black side of a Benoni I achieved an initiative from about move 20. Accurate play allowed me to convert. I have re-discovered my chess mojo in the final part of the season!

Josue and John Ryan achieved draws. My feeling is both of them had the initiative and maybe on another night would have won. A perfect example of some of the tough luck Hammer 1 has endured this season.

Robin had another encounter with a familiar face – Ian Adam – they have had many battles over the years. This time Caissa decided it was Ian’s turn to triumph and he duly did so. Robin was fairly sanguine about the result, but he has been a real support to me and the team at critical times during the season and I thank him.

I also feel it is appropriate that I announce our player of the season. It is….. A.N. OTHER!… you will all just have to wait and see at the AGM on 5th June.

On a final note, Hammer 1 will be back stronger, better and well-equipped to mount a promotional challenge in 2017-18. The dream of Division 2 chess is something Hammer 1 deserve and the learnings and experience gathered this season will help us achieve that goal. Roll on 2017-18.

Keep the faith, and go Hammer!!!

John.

Result: Kings Head 6-4 Hammersmith

Current standings, with a handful of games left

11.05.17 – London League 5: Pimlico v Hammersmith

We returned to Pimlico on time this time, and to an almost empty hall. Pimlico had no one available to play, so they defaulted on their 4th board – we started the evening 1 point up!

We even had the toss of the coin, which Pimlico proceeded to win. Nevertheless, we stuck in with Black pieces on boards 1 & 3, and White on board 2.

Board 3 was Kaan Corbaci in his second game of the season for our division 5 team. He played a Kings Indian defence to a Queen Pawn opening, and accounted well for himself, winning the exchange. At the endgame he had a Rook and a Bishop against 2 Bishops, and maybe one pawn down. A draw was agreed.

Board 1 saw veteran John White defending to a Kings Pawn opening with a Petroff Defence, which however an hour later saw many pieces swapped. John had reached an ending with only Queens left; however he was 2 pawns down. John, no pushover, had a very active Queen, which could check his opponent’s exposed King, so a draw was agreed.

Board 2 was David Lambert with the White pieces, opening with his Kings Pawn to an Open Sicilian. The middle game saw his opponent mounting a highly unusual battery of Rook, Queen and Rook on the semi-closed c-file; all aimed against the hapless c2 pawn (part of a fianchetto structure) defended by a Rook, Queen and King. Add a Black Knight into the picture and chaos soon ensued.

We saw the Knight fork of the Rooks on the first rank or the loss of a weak pawn. After White lost the exchange, Queens swapped, and further White pawns attacked, Black posted two Rooks onto the second rank. White’s only hope, a Bishop, was merely a spectator. The end was not long in coming and David capitulated against a very strong adversary.

A draw for the second time. Your Captain – and author – sat this one out, preferring Kaan to play.

Robin.

Result: Pimlico 2-2 Hammersmith

Honours Even in London 5

04.05.17 – London League 5: Streatham & Brixton v Hammersmith

We were expecting a battle royale to make amends for our prior 3-1 defeat… (“An Evening of Roosters & Foxes” – a great writeup from back in January!)

Board 4 saw Chris Moore attacking on the Queenside from the English Opening. But Black prevailed and started pressing on White’s undeveloped Kingside. Only the Knight had moved.

With sparks flying, Black finally a touched a Rook, found he preferred something else, and let go. Game rules said he had to move the Rook, which meant the Rook was captured and the game all but lost a few minutes later.

Next to finish was John Woolley on Board 2, who had a standard looking Queens Pawn opening. After reaching a critical position, Black and White repeated moves, and a GM style draw was agreed. John is our draw-master, 5 games in a row. Kudos!

Here is what Brian Dodgeon on board 1 emailed me: “My game as Black was pretty tricky: my opponent (graded 144) played the Trompowski system (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). I played 2… g6 and he took the Knight before I could fianchetto, messing up my central pawns. As a result he got a lot of pressure in the centre, supported by his White-squared fianchettoed KB.

I was often about to lose a pawn and he had a dangerous Queen and Rook doubled on the a-file, but just in time I gained control of the long Black diagonal and won his pawn on b2, which allowed my Queen to penetrate his back rank and get a perpetual check.”

Finally your Captain, who reported that: “In my game a conventional defence got my Queenside weak. I should stick to the obscure gambit.”

“After meeting the first clock dealing, and a tough position more or less locked-up, I had 5 minutes more than my opponent, so the position finally opened up. Funny how I finally got a Rook free to go pawn hunting, got careless, in a scramble to win the ending and got King and Rook Knight forked. The game was lost as a pawn majority broke through on the King side.”

So…. the final result was 2-2; a drawn match. All in all, I feel it was a good result as Streatham were lying second in the league table.

Robin.

Puzzle of the Week #006

Okay, okay… it’s been slightly longer than a week, but we have been extra busy in the meantime raising loads of money for charity!

First things first, our winner from last time… Well, it was a difficult puzzle that’s for sure. After several people had a crack at it, I can confirm that the winner was…. Matteo! (1. Bc6 Rb1+ 2. Ke2 Rxh1 3. Bg2+ Kxg2 4. Nf4+ Kg1 5. Ke1 g2 6. Ne2#) – Complimenti!

So to this week’s puzzle. There’s a tenuous link to Morphy with this one – Black to move this time, and solutions in the comments as usual please!

Chess Bosses Lyric Square, W6

29.04.17 – This time last year our Club submitted an article to the English Chess Federation about the initiatives we were implementing in an effort to revive the Club and recruit more members (link here). It represented an attempt to share our experiences of how we had turned around the slow decline in our Club’s fortunes & membership, with a view to benefitting others experiencing similar difficulties.

As a result, the ECF’s publicity manager, Mark, got in contact to see if we would be interesting in hosting a “Chess Master at the Local” event in a local cafe or pub to promote chess in the community. Hammersmith gratefully accepted the offer, but we wanted to go beyond the confines of a building and take the event to the streets!

Furthermore, we wanted to combine it with a fund-raising effort for the local branch of Mental Health charity, MIND. As most of you know, MIND is the adopted charity of the ECF and a perfect companion to our great game.

The calm before the storm

So, with the help of Mark and the ECF, we recruited Lateefah Messam-Sparks for the day. We were also able to secure Lyric Square in Hammersmith for the event. For those of you not familiar with the geography of West London, the Square sits outside the famous Lyric Theatre, right in the heart of the shopping district and the passing hordes.

The main point was that we had the opportunity to take our game to the heart of our community, giving us the best opportunity to raise awareness of the game, much needed money for MIND, and promote our club.

After overcoming numerous obstacles, such as public liability insurance(!), planning for inclement weather, logistics, manpower and getting MIND on board, we set the date for 29th April 2017.

Extensive use of social media and our contact with fellow London Chess Clubs was to be central to the success of the day.

Can you beat a chess club player??

The next thing was to form an event management committee and start the process of pulling the event together. This was duly done and delivered, and whilst we did not achieve every aspect of the plan – you learn more in the first hour of the event than the entire month of planning beforehand! – we did deliver in spades on the fundraising, the promotion of our game to the masses, and the advertising of Hammersmith Chess Club.

An incredible sixteen Hammersmith players volunteered for the event, most for the whole day. We had a total of 14 boards and clocks in place, and I’m pleased to confirm they were in constant use for most of the day! Our members also proved adept at collecting money for MIND and encouraging people to have a game. This is a crucial lesson – you have to door-step members of the general public and get them involved!

 

For their part, the Great British Public delivered enormously too. It was a real thrill to see people of all ages and backgrounds sit down for a game – within a couple of hours we’d played chess against: a series of old-timers who “hadn’t played in ages” (that old chestnut!!), scores of youngsters in town with their parents who were overawed with excitement at the unexpected prospect of a game, young men and women out for the day who stopped by for a (sometimes highly-competitive!) game, people with luggage on their way to Heathrow, and a pair of Dutch chaps in town for the weekend, amongst many, many others.

The day had so many highlights and here are just a few that stick in my mind:

  • A huge number of people delighted to see chess promoted in a public space
  • Enthusiasm and commitment of the Hammersmith members
  • The esprit de corps generated throughout the club both in the build up and on the day. It is amazing what you can achieve when you work together
  • The unifying nature of chess in action! Chess proved to be a common language across all nationalities, races and religions
  • Our Chairman Bajrush playing, and losing, to a four-year old girl watched on by her delighted mother and grandmother. Did he fall or was he pushed??
  • The number of people who told us we should be doing this every week
  • Perhaps most importantly, the money we were able to raise for MIND – pushing £400 at the last count – truly amazing!!
Three generations… and Bajrush!

So, on reflection the day was a huge success for all concerned. In fact, we are holding a club Open Evening on 15th May as a follow-up for the people who expressed interest in chess, and our club.

There were also many learnings from the day, which of course we’ll address as we move forward. The overwhelming feedback is that this should become an annual event!

We must thank Mark and the ECF for their help and guidance, the members of the Club who gave up their time for a game they love, and Hammersmith MIND, whose participation gave the event an added and welcome focus!

Some more of our favourite photos below, plus many more on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011647381730

 

April Updates

Several updates for you today…

Firstly – you will hopefully all be well aware that we are going to be in Lyric Square, Hammersmith town centre this coming Saturday 29th, from 10.30am to 4pm, playing chess and having lots of fun in aid of a fantastic cause – supporting Hammersmith & Fulham MIND, a mental health charity.

The response from members has been great and we’ll be out in numbers, with lots of people volunteering for the whole day alongside other members who’ll be turning up throughout the day. If you don’t already have plans on Saturday, come down and join in!

We’ll be playing games against the public, Phil is organizing some Chess Swap(!), we have the fabulous Lateefah Messam-Sparks with us – she’ll be organizing some events with children, and there may even be a simultaneous in the mix. Spread the word, and come on down!!

26.04.17 – London League 3 Update: Hot off the Press!!!

My fellow Hammerites – sensational news that Hammer 3 has retained Division 3 status in the London League!

Objective for the season achieved with one game still to go, and despite the loss of half a match point due to defaults.

I want to thank all the players who turned out for the team this season. This is all down to you and the great esprit de corps that runs through our chess club.

Yet, in the midst of it all there is a slight tinge of regret. Hammer lost so many matches by the odd point/half-point, and if the roll of the dice had been different we would be in a real promotion battle.

We lost 5 matches by 0.5 or 1 point. With the exception of the first match of the season against Cavendish we were very competitive, despite being outgraded on many evenings. The truth be told, the margins between where we ended up and where we could have ended was very fine. It came down to maybe seven individual games over the season.

This gives us real hope for next season and achieving promotion to Division 2 as a realistic goal.

Roll on 2017-18 season, and go Hammer!!!

John.

25.04.17 – London League 5: Greater London v Hammersmith

History is said to repeat its lessons on the inattentive or unprepared.

Yes, the result was a repeat of our last score against Greater London, 1.5 – 2.5 back in October 2016.

The only consolation is that our opponents had some 40 points over us in grading points across 4 boards this time around.

Board 4 with the white pieces saw Chris opening with the English and an early Rook to Rac1 in itself, a good omen actually. Suddenly white had trapped his opponent’s Queen on the a-file and resignation followed. Chris has a daunting attacking style with lightning moves one after another. Well done Chris!

Board 1 saw John Woolley with a super-sold Sicilian and a draw agreed, when no pawn break could be attempted.

The captain, black on board 3, had no real opening that could be recognized against standard 1.e4, perhaps the point of it, as it all came down to skill rather than opening knowledge… After an early sally on the castled King, black was unable to maintain pressure, and after trading Queens with Knights, with a view to setting a trap that white easily circumvented, black ended up with 2 isolated pawns and one doubled-pawns – not lost, but not very pretty.

The game became a four-a-side football with 2 Bishops and 2 Rooks opposing each other. With play on both sides, the middle game could have gone either way. White’s dawn raid became inevitable and he launched a Rook on the 7th, supported by 2 Bishops mating attack.

Black loses a Rook to avoid the mate. Enter white’s e-pawn into the field of carnage, which is pushed to the 6th… leaving black with no option but to capitulate.

David on board 2 had an advanced variation of the French to deal with. On the face of it, white had a nice pawn centre up to the 5th with the e-pawn on point. White seemingly had an advantage, but not sustainable.

After simplification to a Bishop versus a Knight, and many pawns, the ending became highly technical, with a draw in the offing. After board 3 went down, however, David surrendered also, material down.

Congratulations to Chris on a magnificent win!

Robin.