SW London Junior Chess Challenge

The might of Hammer took on the very different challenge of SW London Juniors in a double-header this month.

The format of the match agreed was two nights of chess – one at the home of the Juniors, and one at the home of Hammer – Valhalla, as we like to call it.

Played over as many boards as possible with each pairing playing each other twice on the night – once as Black, once as White.

The time control was 20 minutes to start, plus 5 seconds increment per move. All games will be graded and thus the participants would achieve a Rapidplay grade.

Before relaying the events of both nights, I feel I must first comment on the SW London Juniors and our Hammer Club.

The Juniors is an impeccably run club – the two Tony’s who masterminded the birth of the club and run it have established a culture that is friendly, welcoming and safe. The coaching is top-class and the discipline and behavior of their young charges is equally impeccable. Please check their website out: www.swchess.co.uk

As for my club, Hammer, I am proud to say that over twenty members rose to the challenge and met their young foes over the board, displaying great grace, patience and a will to win. There are very few clubs where senior chess players would put themselves up for this kind of match. But our club did, and that says a lot about the club culture and commitment to the future that Hammer Chess has embraced over the last two years.

Ok, enough of the slaps on the back for all concerned – let us review the actual chess!

The first match was held at SW Junior HQ, situated near Earls Court. The date was the 1st March. Thirty-one games of chess were played in total and the big people triumphed 20.5-10.5. The chess was so frenetic I was unable to keep track of my fellow Hammerites as the pieces flew round the boards.

Tony gives the Juniors some last-minute advice

One thing about playing children is that they have no fear, they relish the challenge of bringing down an adult, they play at speed, and boy do they love attacking! The top-tip is to remember that defence is something they have yet to learn, so a controlled, aggressive approach is always the right way to approach such games.

Unfortunately, this does not always work and Marios on board 1 was facing defeat in a prepared line of the Scotch – indeed, he was objectively lost in every sense. Unfortunately for his young opponent – but fortunately for Marios and us – he missed a back-rank check mate.

This was a definite wake-up call and showed that these young people could play; and play very well. This was the only game Marios played – but what a game! I know for a fact that he analysed this line very extensively after the game – he will not be caught again.

The rest of the results were as follows:

  • There were two wins clocked up by Jay, Orial, Adam, Enkh-Ochir, Des, Andy, Kaan and myself
  • Honours were split for Anda, Chris and Ken – one win apiece
  • The double-doughnuts were Robin, Danny and Shaun. Indeed, Robin lost to a young man with the same surname. The new Lee is on the block!!
  • Somesh had one loss and a draw

Although the score line seems one-sided, I can assure you it was not!

The return leg took place on the 13th March at Valhalla, and Hammer this time had an idea of what we were facing. The feel-good factor from the first encounter meant that we tried to get twenty boards out. Have to say, SW Juniors delivered, whilst Hammer had to default a few boards.

Valhalla; just how the Vikings remember it

The result was a good win for Hammer again, but the SW Juniors played outstandingly well and went down fighting. However, the march of time is relentless and these juniors are increasing their strength at an alarming rate. I am not sure in a year’s time Hammer will triumph again.

I hope all who took part enjoyed the evening – I know I certainly did.

My funniest memory of the evening was the sight of Jay, Ken and myself sitting on the blue kiddy chairs to play our games! I had enough sets, boards and tables, but did not think we would ever fall short on the chair count! Please note for future reference: we only have about 32 chairs!

Once again, thank you to the two Tony’s, the SW Juniors, and the Hammer Heroes – we will repeat next year!

John.

 

A Fast & Furious Night At Golden Lane

14.03.17 – London League 3: Hammersmith v Hackney

Hammer 1 rolled into the Barbican last night determined to continue the drive to consolidate their Division 3 status. In the way were Hackney 3, also caught up in their own relegation struggle. This was a true six-point game, to quote the football parlance.

On paper Hammer 1 had the strength in depth and a healthy advantage grading-wise. However, matters are never that simple; holding all the aces still means you have to convert them.

In short, Hammer 1 came through this contest in fine style with a 6.5-3.5 win. We are now on 3.5 match points and almost on the verge of safety and thus retaining our place in Division 3 of the LL!

To the runners and riders (my only Cheltenham metaphor, I promise!):

In reverse running order, boards 10 and 9, Orial and Matteo respectively, secured solid wins without ever being in any real danger. Hammer were on their way.

Boards 8, 7 and 6 saw Josue, Safi and Sheikh all take draws to keep the points ticking over. Again, the draws were all pragmatic and in light of the way the match was moving, entirely sensible. This was a night where the match result was everything.

Boards 5, 4 and 3 saw myself and our new member Marios, plus Jeremy, step up. Well, to be entirely honest Jeremy and Marios did – I on the other hand, was away with the fairies!

Marios won in fine style against a Benko gambit and coaxed the error from his opponent, whilst Jeremy also took advantage of a blunder to secure his win. He felt he was lucky – my own view was that he was due some fortune after some of his mishaps earlier this season. Remember, the mantra is a win is a win! Plus their two wins secured the match.

As for myself, I contrived to play a totally wrong move order in a Sicilian Najdorf – fought back, achieved equality, relaxed and then blundered. I think my chess brain is frazzled at the moment, and skiing can not come soon enough.

Our boards 2 and 1 saw the reliable due of Paul and Bajrush in play. Bajrush finished his game first and was the epitome of the WOSF and a man in a hurry. Whilst Paul, fatigued from his exertions the previous evening where he triumphed in an adjourned game from a Thames Valley match vs Richmond, played his worst game of the season. Just one of those nights.

Just some asides to put a bit of colour into the evening…

Josue is now sporting a white-bleach-blonde set of hair which is dramatic to say the least! He foolishly made a bet that Barcelona would not come back against PSG with a friend. Guess what happened, and guess what the forfeit was?

Sheikh agreed a draw in the adjourned game against his Surbiton A opponent without hostilities being resumed. This spared us the humiliation of an 8-0 whitewash and all in, team Hammer owe him a huge debt of gratitude! We bow before thee, Sheikh!!

The match was played at a rapid rate and we were all out of Golden Lane, including Hammer 5, who were also on duty, well before 10pm. Is this the fastest time ever for clearing Golden Lane with all games completed?

I firmly believe that with the addition of one or two players, such as Pavel and AN Other next season, we will be strong challengers for promotion. Part One of the master plan is nearly complete with the goal of Division 3 retention all but achieved.

However, rest assured, there will be no let up from me for the final three matches. A top-half finish is achievable.

Finally, as captain of this excellent bunch of soldiers, my thanks.

John.

Royal Bloodshed!

14.03.17 – London League 5: Hammersmith v Kings Head

We were up against it last night, facing Kings Head – top of the League and the clear favourites to win the game, but nothing was certain. No quarter was given and Hammersmith did not succumb without a struggle.

Handshakes all round as the match gets underway

On Board 1, Brian Dodgeon with the Black pieces got to defend against a ferocious 3 pawns abreast attack in the centre – did someone say a Maroczy Bind?? After an exchange or two, there was a Knight fork against King and Rook, so Brian ended up a Rook down, capitulating soon after. Bad luck!

Board 3 saw David Lambert getting to an equal position with two Bishops and Knight on both sides, and symmetric pawn positions. An early draw was agreed soon after Brian’s loss on top board.

Board 4 saw our winningest player, Chris Moore (4.5 out of 5 matches so far this season) go two pieces down but still making a fight of it. In the endgame his opponent – who out-graded Chris by 15 points – had both Bishops and Rook buried behind jammed-up pawns, but got into time difficulties. So it looked for a while as if a two piece deficit could be ignored. Sadly the game was lost when the Rook and Bishops finally emerged.

Our hero of the match was John Woolley on 2nd board, who had a might nice English opening, and both sides looking very solid. Suddenly, John launched a pawn break in the centre, which caused an exchange of several pieces. This led to John’s Rook pinning an undefended Knight against the Queen, and the win looked good. Somehow though, John’s opponent managed to wriggle out and a draw was agreed. John looked close to winning – better luck next time!

All things considered, not a bad result against a strong side.

Robin.

An Early Bath at Morley College

10.03.17 – London League 4: Morley College v Hammersmith

What a difference a year makes. It was only 12 months ago we made the trip to Morley College for the final game of the season, rooted to the bottom of the league and desperately in need of a win to avoid picking up the League’s wooden spoon.

I’m pleased to say this season has brought happier times; buoyed by an intake of enthusiastic new players, we’ve more than held our own in the division and I’m pleased to have a different problem – deciding who to pick or leave out when we’re oversubscribed for games.

All smiles at the start of the evening

Whilst the backdrop is different, I’m delighted to confirm our match result appears to be heading the same direction! We triumphed last season, and we look set to do the same this time round, leading 4-2 with two games scheduled for adjournments. Robin’s match remains in the balance but mine looks pretty positive (Fritz has it +10.0!).

The match itself was pretty, well… odd. We started with a default; their board 8 was a no-show. We played our games under near constant chatter from the walk-ins and late arrivals. And then we ended the evening by being kicked out of the building by security whilst several games were still going. Fine if it’s a slow play, but mine was Quick and designed to finish on the evening. Bizarre!

Under the circumstances, I confess I didn’t get to see much of the other games, so then just a word of acknowledgement to our winners. John got back into winning ways with a great result on Board 2. He appeared to be being edged in the middle game but the position was fairly complicated, and a series of quick-fire errors meant before long his opponent’s Queen was no more. That was the end of that.

Rich ground down his opponent with heavy pressure pivoting around a pawn on the 7th, drawing a broad smile from his opponent when the hammer finally fell. I think he knew he was done long ago but battled on bravely for the sake of his team. Fair play.

Down to business

The final victor of the night was David Pearson, who calmly chalked up his first win in Division 4. Very well done. I asked Adam what had happened and he was equally perplexed having watched some of it – “I don’t know. It seemed to be pretty even with loads of pieces on the board and then bang… a few moves later he’d won”. You’ll have to show us that trick next time around, David. Worth sharing!

The great week for Hammer seems to be extending into a fortnight! Long may it continue.

Dave.

Hammer v GM Chris Ward – pt. deux!

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a very exciting announcement – Hammersmith Chess Club will be hosting GM Chris Ward next month for a Simultaneous across 25 boards!! Details below:

  • Date: Tuesday 4th April
  • Time: 7pm start
  • Venue: Lytton Hall (our home venue)
  • Boards: 25
  • Entry: £3 per board
  • Contact: John White to confirm your spot

Please remember this is strictly first come, first served, so reserve your place now!

We hosted Chris this time last year, putting out 15 boards in one of the best events of the last 12 months. It was a fantastic evening of competitive chess, interspersed with some great stories and patter from the esteemed GM. Sadly for us, Chris won 14-1, but our sole victor Carsten did a great write-up of his victory.

The rarified atmosphere of a GM Simul is something else!

One of the highlights of a Simultaneous is the opportunity it presents for players of all abilities. Two of the closest-run games last time came from players rated under 125. The pressure on the GM is immense and quite a leveller. You stand to learn something no matter what the result.

We’re expecting a strong response on this one, so make sure you get in touch with John White (john.white49@ntlworld.com) to confirm your spot as soon as possible. We’ll be opening up the invite to other clubs & non-members later in the month if there are any spots left!

In Other News…

Don’t forget the return leg of our double-header against South-West London juniors at Lytton Hall this Monday 13th. As usual, it’s an early start for the youngsters with the game kicking off at 6.15pm. We’ve got 20 boards confirmed, so promises to be a hectic evening!

SW London’s main man, ECF trainer Tony Niccoli will be staying with us after the game to present another evening of training and analysis. His last session was a truly valuable evening. He’s a super-strong, ultra-sharp and engaging trainer. No matter what your grade, I guarantee you will learn something from Tony!

 

London 3 – A Fight for Survival

When an animal is cornered, even one as cultured and sophisticated as Hammer 1, they will fight tooth and nail for survival.

Tonight, when the chips were down and Hammer 1 were facing the prospect of relegation, the fighting nature endemic in all Hammer chess players came to the party.

The mantra was: we may still be relegated…. but not on this night, not as a result of this match, and not against Kings Head 3!

Hammer 1 stepped up to the plate and delivered. We took a giant step towards retention of Division 3 status in a great display of sheer will power from all involved.

Enough of this hyperbole – let’s examine the nuts and bolts of the night in board order.

On board one our Chairman the WOSF himself cruised to a comprehensive victory. Bajrush meant business – our first point on the board.

Paul on second board had the nights only adjourned game. His opponent has sealed the move and the consensus is that Paul has a won game. Let us hope his opponent agrees.

Board three saw Jeremy display the skills of Houdini to escape the grip of an eternal pin and agree a draw in a bitterly fought contest.

Board four saw your correspondent agree a draw for my own sanity and that of Hammer 1. Despite being a pawn up, the draw was the right decision for our team and myself. Please feel free to ask me at the club as to why this was so.

Sheikh was next up and played a beautiful game with the Black pieces in a Sicilian. He won the exchange and smoothly converted. Classic Sheikh.

Next to our only fallen warrior of the evening – Safi. He had one of those games on one of those nights. To be honest he was far from his best and the loss was inevitable.

Matteo demolished a fellow Italian on board seven, even having to explain the en passant rule to his opponent. Matteo was as cool as the suit he was wearing and scored a well-deserved victory.

Josue had a dominating win and was the first to finish – just a comprehensive win.

Orial, the wizard of Dingle, brought the luck of the Irish to his match. He claimed he played terribly… but he still won… and that is all that counts. Memories of Napoleon come to mind – do not give me great generals; give me lucky ones. To be honest I think Orial was too hard on himself and he was never in danger.

Board ten was a walkover and Hammer 1 got its first freebie point of the year.

So, in summary – we lead 7-2 with one game to be decided. Our biggest win of the season and one that should ensure survival in LL Division 3.

The moral of the story is do not mess with Hammer 1 when they are facing down the barrel of a gun. These boys are tough and not to be messed with.

Great job lads – I am dead proud of you all!!!

John.

The Muswell Massacre

06.03.17 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith v Muswell Hill 2

With seven wins from eight games and four to play, Hammersmith are still going strong at the top of the Middlesex League.

Last night’s victims were Muswell Hill 2, who put up some resistance on the top boards but ultimately went down 7-1. As has unfortunately been traditional at recent home games, the opponents turned up without a full team with no advance notice. John White very kindly offered to step out, allowing Josué his first game for the club…

… although it might best be described as a massacre. His ungraded opponent opted against developing his Queenside and didn’t feel the need to castle. As might be expected against as strong a positional player as Josué, this strategy did not work out well. In one of the quickest wins I’ve seen in club-level chess, the game was over on move 20 with a bizarre yet utterly dominating checkmate.

Board six featured Brian “Magnus” Dodgeon, and as is often the case his opponent was not offered a single chance to get into the game. Brian started turning the screw from move one, and the evaluation just got better and better. Eventually his opponent could withstand the squeeze no longer and offered his hand in resignation.

Sheikh “Snake” Mabud provided yet another fine performance on board five. With a very strong pawn planted on e5, he started manoeuvring his pieces. His opponent followed suit, with both seemingly creating an additional pin or fork threat with every move. Sheikh handled the complications splendidly, eventually clearing the g-file for his Rooks to come flying in with checkmate.

It was not to be Jeremy’s day on board four; his superior chess set and digital clock seemingly not enough to intimidate his opponent. With the Black pieces Jeremy appeared to get a fine opening, planting two super-strong Bishops on d4 and e4. A slight let-up allowed his rival to bring his big guns into the game, and out of nowhere Jeremy was forced to resign.

Paul sat down on board three with one thing in mind: to rain hell over the board. He didn’t disappoint. The second game to finish on the night was one of the most convincing wins of the match; hopefully Paul can keep up his fine form for the rest of the season and into the next (ed: and maybe provide us with an annotated version of the game??).

And onto the top two boards, which both followed a strangely similar pattern. Bajrush with White and Pavel with Black both outgraded their opponents by 34 points, yet both managed to play horrific openings.

Bajrush was forced to retreat his Knight to b1 on move four, and later missed a tactic that almost cost him a piece. Pavel’s opening was arguably worse, as he failed to develop any of his Queenside and was forced to defend against an advanced pawn on f5, a dangerous Bishop eyeing his Kingside and a Knight providing constant forking threats.

At this point, both decided it was time to wake up! With a little help from their opponents, both turned their predicaments around, each eventually extinguishing all the enemy threats and creating unstoppable passed pawns!

With four games left to play, the title is still by no means guaranteed. Harrow and Hendon could still feasibly both finish above us if we ease off too much towards the finish line. Despite this, I’d still like to give some appearances to more of the club’s burgeoning member base.

Josué’s win makes him the 25th player to play for the team and the 13th now sitting on 100%! My target is for us to reach 30 players by the end of the season.

Result: Hammersmith 7 – 1 Muswell Hill 2

Adam.

A Very Good Week

This last 7 days has been a week of sweet, sweet victories for Hammersmith Chess Club, perhaps historically so!

With fully 4 of our 7 teams in team in action this week, plus a 15-board thriller of double-headed RapidPlay action against South West London Juniors, I’m delighted to report that Hammersmith won every single game – five strong victories, including two white-washes, for a total score of 38-13:

  • Monday: 6.5-1.5 against Harrow in the Middlesex league
  • Tuesday: 4-0 against Metropolitan in London 6 (scorecard below)
  • Wednesday: 20.5-10.5 against South West London Juniors
  • Thursday: 4-0 against West London in London 5 (scorecard below)
  • Thursday: 3-1 against Hackney in London 6 (scorecard below)

A huge well done and thank you to all involved!

HammerChess marches on!!

From the Archives, part VIII

Another treat for you all this evening, with a detailed analysis of an interesting game from his back catalogue from another one of our newer members, Josue.

Back in 2011 he faced a much stronger opponent, graded some 20 points higher than him. It’s a brutal, hard-fought game lasting well over 50 moves with some great analysis and insight.

Have a read here.

Many thanks to Josue for sharing, and as always if you’d like to submit a game to the website please get in touch! The more the merrier!

Marching on in Middlesex

27.02.17 – Middlesex League: Hammersmith v Harrow

The Middlesex League team notched up another fine win last night with a dominant display against Harrow.

Despite being our biggest rivals in the league on paper, Harrow have been struggling to match their home strength at their away fixtures. Last night was no exception – the visitors brought just six players, with only four graded 100+.

Sheikh’s game on board five was the first to finish. His opponent lost a Queen early on, picking up just two Knights in compensation. Black pieces continued to drop, and the inevitable resignation could probably have come several moves earlier. Sheikh now has three wins from three in the league.

Paul, playing on board two, finished second. With the Black pieces and a grade advantage of just six, he was more than content to take a draw in a very equal looking position to leave the team needing just one more point.

New member Marios became the team’s 24th player to play this season. His very young opponent was not able to provide much competition at the board: Mario’s superiority in all departments meant the game was over almost before it started, and Hammersmith had hit the magic 4.5 mark.

Bajrush’s game was not one for the Hammersmith books. A strong opening left him with two passed-pawns that he should have converted into a win. All it took was one oversight, however, and suddenly he had lost a Bishop and pawn. Despite the blunder, his opponent was left with very weak light squares and two uncoordinated Knights. To his credit he defended resolutely, organizing his pieces at the correct moment and before long it was all over for Bajrush.

Yasser’s game on board three opened up very early. Soon both players had pawns on the seventh rank and Black’s King came marching up the board. After some tactical manoeuvres from both players, it was Yasser who came out a pawn up and converted the advantage without a hitch. Yasser also moves to 3/3 for the season.

Despite John spending more time watching Yasser’s game than his own, he played some good chess, establishing an early passed-pawn and a strong hold on the centre of the board. Swapping off most of the pieces he started to push his passed pawn and force White’s King from behind it. It could have been more difficult had his opponent spotted a tactic to gather the pawn, entering a tricky RPP v RP endgame. In winning the game, John becomes the third player now sitting on 3/3.

All-in-all, a pretty convincing win that puts us further in front of the chasing pack. Five matches remain, including a grudge match next Monday against Muswell Hill 2, the only team to have beaten us this season.

Adam.