A King Hammer gives a Night to Remember

Mother Hammer had an early Epiphany present, from a very wise man, in the form of GM Daniel King who brought a heavily laden basket of chess gifts and knowledge to the Anvil this past Monday. To those Hammers who missed the evening you missed a treat. Here is the lowdown.

I always say nice things about our guest speakers and GM DK will not be spared. He is the most natural of presenters – his easy-going style and ability to communicate clearly and involve everyone in the lecture is second-to-none. Combined with a voice that draws you in and makes learning very easy.

Danny’s audience is captivated

The first half of the talk was about a current lockdown obsession of his – two-move checkmates. The ulterior motive was to make us see and understand mating patterns, The first four involved the same four pieces – Black King, White King, White Queen and a White f-pawn on the 7th rank ready to promote. Simply by changing the position of all the pieces except the pawn on f7 you got four different kinds of two-move checkmates. This was fascinating and immediately all the Hammers were engaged.

Two more puzzles followed that were more complicated but again 2-move checkmates. One by the great Austrian player Karl Schlecter. Again, valuable lessons and processes were learnt.

White to play and mate in 2

For me certain things stood out:

  • Always ask what function and reason every piece has in the puzzle. They are all there for a reason. This is the first clue to solving the puzzle.
  • With this accomplished then look at what squares need to be covered and what the escape moves are available for the King.
  • The value in the exercise for me was so useful as in an era of blitz chess online you tend to never win in the most effective way possible – these exercises really help you see mating opportunities.

The second part of the lecture looked at a game between two Russian GM’s Kupreichik and Sveshnikov that was a brutally direct game that involved an intense psychological battle as well. With the former ensuring that he avoided the Sveshnikov version of the Sicilian with an initial clever move order and then initiating what looked like a hack attack on the Black King. The game was so complex with some stand out moves but a game worthy of Alekhine or Tal.

This game provoked so much interest from the Hammers followed by numerous suggestions from the audience – it really was a tactician’s dream. I think there was a way for Sveshnikov to save the game but in a game situation with the clock ticking and the pressure on he cracked. I strongly advise you to play through this game you will learn so much.

The evening ended with an extended Q & A sessions – with a variety of questions ranging from Nepo’s collapse, to the Kings Gambit and to improving or even changing your openings. All answered directly and with additional information given.

For me, his reasoning behind Nepo’s collapse was both mental and physical – however, he thought there was too much criticism of Nepo. He recounted there have been blunders by all world champions and their challengers– simply the pressure gets to everyone.

The evening ended with a huge round of applause from all present – yes Hammer 2022 just got off to the best of starts.

Please check out Daniel’s YouTube channel – there is a wealth of learning and fun to be had.

Remember GM King is a Hammer!!!!!

Lord Clueless

The Danny King Slightly Late Christmas Cracker

Yes, once again Hammer productions bring you the best of chess.

All round top guy, ace chess commentator and most importantly a Hammer, GM Daniel King, welcomes in the New Year on 3rd January with a chess talk at the Anvil aka the Mindsports Centre.

Those of you who have experienced a D.King lecture know it is a very different beast.

Danny’s lecture on stalemate themes had the audience captivated

His previous talks at Hammer have concentrated on the themes of stalemate and the King’s Gambit. He makes you think about chess in a very different way and is always ready for a good Q & A at the end.

So, Hammers – come on down at 7pm and get your health kick January, at least chess-wise, off to a flying start.

See you there!

Lord Clueless

And in other news…

The London League have postponed all January fixtures (to June) due to uncertainty around the pandemic. Middlesex, Thames Valley and Central London League matches are currently still going ahead. See our calendar for the latest league schedule.

Robin is generously offering festive chess coaching to club members…

Dear Hammers – as I am currently in isolation with COVID I have a bit of spare time on my hands and thought I would put it to good use. I would like to offer some chess coaching to newer/lower graded adult players (approx. U1600) to take place between now and the New Year. If you’re interested in getting some personalised analysis of your games or have particular chess questions you would like some help with then please email me on sarfasrobin@gmail.com – I’m envisaging most of this being 1-2-1 via zoom but if anyone is open to a group session that can be arranged too. All I ask in return is a gift donation to Crisis at Christmas, a charity which offers support to those experiencing homelessness at Christmas.

Robin Sarfas

Christmas Party with GM Maxime Lagarde

As the Christmas season approaches, we look back and reflect on a fantastic year for Hammersmith Chess Club.

The club has grown to 160 members, the junior club is thriving, and our 16 teams have been competing well across four leagues.

On Monday 13th we are planning a very special night, in the presence of the current French Champion and #5-ranked Grandmaster Maxime Lagarde.

Photo: Djerba Chess Festival

“The other Maxime” will be taking us through his best games, describing some of the ideas and calculations that got Maxime to where he is today.

Maxime’s lecture will commence at 7:30pm. Alongside this there will be a food buffet, and the bar will be open as usual for everyone to enjoy some Christmas merriment!

The event is totally free to Hammersmith members – we hope to see lots of you there!


With the recent surge of the Omicron variant, and with Plan B announced by the government, we ask that everyone take care to follow the public health guidance on COVID-19. Please don’t put yourself or others in danger by attending if there’s a risk you could pass on COVID-19.

As a members’ club, it is required to wear a mask when not seated in the bar taking refreshments. We also strongly advise that everyone take a lateral flow test before arrival to protect your fellow club members.

LCL Social FIDE Blitz

The London Chess League are holding two FIDE-rated social blitz evenings at the Mindsports Centre, the first of which is tonight!

The sign-up form is here: https://form.jotform.com/213253571163955

Date: Thurs 9/Dec & Thurs 16/Dec
Address: London Mindsports Centre, 21 Dalling Road, W6 0JD
Start Time: Arrive for 19.00, first games to start 19.30. Aiming to finish by ~22.00
Food and Drink: Bar selling food, snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at excellent prices on-site.
Cost: £6 per player per night (cash on the night is fine, please bring change) – you can choose to play on the 9th, or on the 16th, or both, they are treated as separate events
Time control: 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per player; each pairings will play each other twice, once with White and once with Black
Number of games: 12 games against 6 opponents
Rating and membership limitations: None, although please note if you do not have an existing FIDE ID, then your games will be treated as being played under the ENG federation
Arbiter: Adam Raoof

Please note that the tournament on 16th December clashes with a Middlesex League away match, to which we need to send six players.

Good luck to all who are playing!

Adam C

Hammer Evolution – The Next Step

Hammer Evolution – The Next Step

This club has made enormous strides in the field of diversity and opportunity in the last six years. The appointment of a Diversity Officer as a full Committee member was an indication of your committee’s intent to ensure that the club was welcoming to chess players of all backgrounds.

We have run Women’s tournaments, coaching from top women coaches, and seminars to boost and increase our women’s membership numbers. We have moved into a venue that offers superb facilities and a safe environment.

Despite our progress and efforts, we are still overwhelmingly at both Junior and Senior level a male dominated club. 

This is not unique to our club and is an issue that occupies the higher echelons of our brilliant sport.

It is time to do something radical.

The Hammer Committee voted last week to reduce the membership for women and girls from £65 to £10 for a season – this will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.

This is something the Committee was entirely at one with and determined to make work for both women chess players and the club.

Incidentally those women members who joined in the last 6 months will be contacted by our treasurer Matteo as they are entitled to a refund. Please check your email.

Finally, our previous Diversity Officer Raluca has had to relinquish the post due to various factors (main one being she has commenced a PhD)– she gave brilliant service and was innovative in the way she helped promote diversity in the club.

We are pleased to announce that Tom Rendle will be taking on the role of Diversity Officer on a temporary basis. The Committee would like to hear from members interested in the role long-term, as well as anyone with ideas/suggestions. Please apply asap to our secretary Adam,

John White aka Lord Clueless
PR Officer

The Hackney Manor Challenge

Yes, the latest mega match saw the Hammer Heroes take on those East End mobsters, Hackney, on holy ground – “The Anvil”- aka as the Mind Sports Centre. A battle spread over 31 boards with no quarter given, in a quest for ideological supremacy – a truly West vs East encounter. 

Putting aside all the usual Clueless hype and trash talk this was a great evening with two clubs, each with a long and distinguished history settling everything over the chessboard. Almost sounds civilised.

The most pleasing aspect of the evening was the genuine joy to be back playing over the board and being part of a team. All the usual chess nuances were on full display- the intensity, the sportsmanship, the support of your colleagues and the crowding round the board watching a game’s conclusion – things the internet cannot dream of delivering. It was so good to be back – with genuine competition and playing rated OTB chess.

Our opponents were a noble bunch and like Hammer have the right chess club philosophy and must extend thanks to Bryan Ellis and Bob Eames for their work in getting the show on the road

Any match of this size is a logistical nightmare and several noble Hammers stepped in to fight honourably for our esteemed opponents to make up the numbers. So, a big shout out to Jeremy, Alejandro, Abigail, Andrew and your reporter who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

The one benefit we could claim was we were able to use our blue-on-blue encounters as Sledgehammer matches at the same time – a double whammy.

Anyway, the scene was set, and this is the tale of the tape.

It is often a good idea to break a match of this magnitude into three sections 

  • Boards 1-10
  • Boards 11-20
  • Boards 21-31

It gives you the impression of three mini-matches within one big match

Hammer took boards 1-10 convincingly 6.5 – 3.5 with solid wins for Marco, Thomas, Jim, Alex, and Gaston. Our Great Dane Carsten admitted he was totally bust but somehow kept it going and was able to bounce back and secure the win. There was a draw for Christof and tough losses for Clueless, Tom and Robin.

The Jeremy vs Tom encounter was full-blooded with Tom sacking a piece for some pawns and hoping to get a pawn avalanche going. Jeremy played very coolly and demonstrated the superiority of bishop, knight and mobile king over a rook. A very instructive game.

The second mini match from 11-20 saw Hammer edge it 5.5-4.5 with again some fascinating games on offer – indeed this could have easily gone the other way with Jonathan seizing on an oversight by his opponent that allowed a bishop skewer of the white rooks. After that, it was a matter of technique to secure the win. There were solid wins for Liam, Michael, and Liam. Draws for Andrew, Chris, and John G. It was particularly good to see John G back in the club after a long absence. This was countered by losses for Matteo and Andrew C. Both had the edge in their games, and it was tough to see them fall after their initial strong play. Denis was a last-minute substitute and went against a very tough and seasoned opponent – I thank him for stepping in at such short notice.

So, Hammer leading this contest 12-8 – the match was down to the events on boards 21-31

The bottom boards always seem to be Hammer’s strength in these types of encounters and although a tight affair the Hammers brought it home 6.5-4.5. Some good wins for Guillaume, Nick, Nadim, Charlie and David. Fighting draws for Jamie, Javier, and ultra-new member Jonathan A. 

The three losses were painful – for young Alex he learnt how harsh chess can be when he lost from a winning position whilst Todd went in against a much higher and very experienced opponent. Jonathan’s game I missed.

In the end a very good Hammer victory – 18.5-12.5 and achieved with a lot of new faces.

There will be a return leg and I wait for the word from our Hackney friends – however, in mega board chess Hammer, for now, stands proud and undefeated.

Thank you to you all.

A very content Lord Clueless.

Here is the match card.

1 2256 Alistair Hill 0-1 Dashiell Shaw 2275
2 2223 Marco Gallana 1-0 Bob Eames 2268
3 2193 Thomas Bonn 1-0 Zoltan Kovacs 2125
4 2185 Carsten Pedersen 1-0 Piro Balloglu 2080
5 2110 Jim Stevenson 1-0 Jonny Tennyson 2020
6 2088 C Brixel 0.5-0.5 Lukasz Domanski 1980
7 2067 Alex Freeland 1-0 John White 1960
8 2000E Gaston Franco 1-0 Emyr Jones 1915
9 1900E Tom Townsend 0-1 Jeremy Hodgson 1908
10 1821 Robin Sarfas 0-1 Chris Levy 1870
11 1818 Matteo Bezzini 0-1 Paul Conway 1855
12 1803 Liam Fleming 1-0 Chris Gribben 1753
13 1765 John Goodacre 0.5-0.5 Paulo Rosario 1698
14 1713 Jonathan Hoong 1-0 Matthew Field 1700E
15 1660 Chris Moore 0.5-0.5 Marc Morgan 1660
16 ???? Denis Chapurin 0-1 Peter Burgoyne 1653
17 1653 Michael Telicki 1-0 Zeb Jones 1638
18 1623 Andrew Macleod 0.5-0.5 Aharon Landman E1600
19 1600E Liam Butler 1-0 Chris Thorne 1480
20 1570 Andrew Cuff 0-1 Joshua Sweed 1400E
21 1400E Nick Groves-Kirkby 1-0 Tony Saunois 1374
22 1400E Jamie Pitts 0.5-0.5 Alejandro Albiol 1400
23 1400E Todd Sandler 0-1 Mark Rivlin 1697
24 1400E Guillaume Allain 1-0 Shir Bar-Tal u/g
25 1375 Javier Silvarrey 0.5-0.5 David Battiscombe u/g
26 1350 Jonathan Ausena 0.5-0.5 Abigail Burton u/g
27 1250 Jonathan Mather 0-1 Robert Smillie u/g
28 1143 Alex Royce 0-1 Oli Cairns u/g
29 1135 Nadim Osserian 1-0 Andrew Kirk 1100
30 1100 Charlie Rigby 1-0 Bryan Ellis 17
31 1100 David Tyrrell 1-0 Thomas Lacy u/g


The Rise of Zain – a star is born, and he is a true Hammer

Once, in a while, something occurs that makes you stop and think – increasingly if like me you are past the 60-age barrier. Most of the time it is a Victor Meldrew moment – the “I don’t believe it” variety accompanied by a weary and exasperated expression. However, occasionally a different sort comes along, and young Zain is a perfect example of this. 

He joined Hammersmith over three years ago and with the huge support of his Mum Shan has become a stronger chess player and developed his talent. Maybe lockdown and those lessons online helped, but I think his success has been down to pure hard work and talent.

Early this month he came second in the British under 12 chess championship, despite in rating terms being in terms of rating the 11th highest in the field – a stellar performance.

He also got a trophy

He then followed that up by gaining a vital win in El Chessico – truly his star is rising.

So, Hammers, both Juniors and Seniors, give it up for a true Hammer and a future star of our great game – I give you Zain.

Lord Clueless

The Rumble in the Jungle – The Hackney Manor Challenge

The Rumble in the Jungle – The Hackney Manor Challenge

Yes, the news has spread of our triumph in El Chessico and those East End hard nuts, the Hackney Manor, want a piece of the action. Those American-Cockney-East End mobsters have thrown down the gauntlet, or in their case, the knuckleduster, and challenged Hammer to an epic battle over 30 boards. This truly is the Cold War rerun (nice- ed) – West versus East in a fight to the death for chess superiority, ideological purity and the all-important bragging rights in the banter world.

Seriously, following on from the huge success of El Chessico I am delighted another rated challenge match will take place on the 1st of November 2021 at the Anvil, aka the Mindsports Centre, with kick-off this time of 7pm – please note.

I also want to be clear Hackney are a great club with good people and like Battersea, have the right views on the future of club chess. So, in truth this should be really called the “Warm War” but that sounds a bit weak – so I am sticking with Cold War.

If you want to take part, please email me at jdrw9591@gmail.com – remember you must be a hammer member and a member of the ECF.

I need you to bear arms again.

Lord Clueless needs you Hammers.


El Chessico – A Norse Saga In Two Acts


Hammers it seems we are returning to a semblance of normality, Hammer is back with club nights, Wimbledon happened, The Euros went ahead and most importantly the OTB version of El Chessico returned.

Yes, the greatest club challenge chess match in the whole of the UK grabbed centre stage this October. Those best of frenemies – Battersea and Hammersmith – once again crossed swords for the legendary trophy that is “El Chessico” and more importantly the bragging rights that are beyond price. 

This year we spread the fixture over two legs – the old home and away scenario – the ultimate test of stamina, mental gymnastics and depth of squad. This format leaves nothing to chance, and the best club will surely triumph in the end.

Before I get to the nitty-gritty, I wish to publicly thank Aldo, Blair and all the Battersea members for not only making this event happen but making it a great one. Our clubs are totally united in our approach to club chess and what we want to achieve with our great sport.

I also wish to acknowledge my fellow Hammer, Frank Valle – aka “Vivaldi”- who has helped enormously with getting this article to the website. He is a new member but is already infused with Hammer spirit and beer.

My last full-blown El Chessico report was based on the Tragedy of Troy so continuing this established trend, and partly in tribute to Hammer legend Carsten “The Great Dane”, a Norse theme is the vehicle to be used. A huge amount of licence has and will be taken with part of his heritage here.

The year is 2021 and all is not well in Asgard -Loki son of Odin and sire of Battersea has desires on Sif, the legendary El Chessico. The thought of the trophy and the power it confers drives him to distraction. The problem is that it is firmly in the possession of his brother Thor – God of Thunder and the wielder of a great Hammer. A person not to be trifled with and who will resist all who wish to take El Chessico from his .

Loki pondered and formulated a plan – by appealing to Thor’s vanity and pride he could entice him to combat where the ownership of El Chessico would be at stake. 

Hammersmith Teamwork with talented players won El Chessico 

Final score 36-24 (14-16 at Battersea Chess Club and 20-10 at Hammersmith new venue)

Round one was a game of two halves, with Battersea dominating the score 10/5 on the first 15 boards, and Hammersmith coming back with a 4/11 on the last 15 boards, however, Round two at Hammersmith Club was a one-sided game for the Hammers, showing the London neighbours who’s the boss in London Chess OTB.

 The Hammersmith team, with a mix of experienced and new players (we had many more than 30 players ready to take the challenge to retain the trophy one more time) followed the commitment and guidance from experienced players such as John White, Chris Skulte, Adam Cranston, Christof Brixel and many others, by being engaged to understand how important this win is for the Club.

Despite the fierce rivalry with Battersea, It is right to give credit to their captain Blair Connell and his team for competing and showed great sportsmanship, no defaults over the two rounds which is something amazing counting that it was a total of 60 games.   

Interesting position and results in full below

El Chessico Round 2 –  11/10/21 (Battersea Chess Club)

Gaston Franco 1-0 Atef Ramadan

24…NXE6?? This was the move that put Gaston with a good advantage to win the game.

Chris Skulte 1-0 Thomas Maddox

Chris did not want to end El Chessico 2021 without a win. This was the blunder that lost it for Thomas, although we think Chris was winning anyway…

Frank Valle 1-0 Zoya Boozorginia

29…Qe6  The game was over 4 moves later…both players agreed on a rematch online 

The results in full are below:

El Chessico Round 1 – 05/10/21 (Battersea Chess Club)

Edward Clark 0-1 Andrew Cuff

Bf6 wins a piece and the game. The game continued 25….Bf6 26. Re4 Bxd4 27. Rexd4 Qxd4 28. Rxd4 Rc1+ 0-1

David Blackwell 0-1 Todd Sandler

…Ng5 tactical move won the game for Todd

Jamie Pitts 1-0 Paul-Hector Antoine

Jamie missed a mate in two. …Re8; g3 fxg3#

He did not see it and took him another 13 moves to win the game

Jonathan Mather 0-1 Grégory Konyakhin Borrelly 

This is more a positional endgame, interesting position, white took the b6 pawn instead of Re8+ that could have led to a better endgame for white

Chris Skulte 0-1 Blair Connell

Chris went for Rf1 in a winning position. If Chris does this blunder in The Chessico, the rest of the players should be perfectly fine next time we do a mistake in any tournament

Alex Gao 0-1 Frank Valle

Mate in 4 after 23. Qh2, it follows 23..Qf6+ 24. Ke2 Bg4+ 25. Ke3 Qg5+ 26. Qf4 Qxf4#

The results in full are below:

Special Rockhammer Rapidplay Tournament evening Monday 4th October

JESHOOTS-com | Pixabay

On Monday 4th October  we are organising a special Rockhammer evening:

  • There will be Three rounds (7:15pm, 8:15pm, 9:15pm), or fewer if anyone wants to arrive late or leave early
  • 25+10 time control
  • Entrants must be ECF-registered
  • Pairings done on the night
  • All games will count towards your ECF rapid grading and also towards the Rockhammer internal tournament results and standings.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind the members about the internal tournaments our club offers. Besides the Blitz tournaments organised from time to time in the club evenings, we have three longer play handicap tournament cups organised all year long:

Sledgehammer Cup: Standard play (typically 60’+30’’)
Rockhammer Cup: Rapidplay (typically 30’+15’’)
Jackhammer 960: Fischer Random Chess Rapidplay (960 games are not ECF graded)

Those are very flexible tournaments where the players can agree a time and place of their choice, whether on club night or elsewhere and play games counting towards the tournament, both in OTB or Online formats.

Beside being ECF graded games (online games are graded separately), the internal tournament points are based on a handicap system, so everyone has a good chance to mark points in the tournament and finish at the top of the standings, the participation in those tournaments is rewarded.

Currently, we have great conditions to develop those internal tournaments, with the return of OTB chess, the move to our fantastic new location in the Mind Sports Centre and many new members joining the club, this is the perfect opportunity to participate in those cups.

You can play two games in each cup against every member of the club, one with White pieces and one with Black pieces. This makes potentially 6 official games of chess with each member of the club during the year, ECF graded (except 960 games). With 120 members in the club, you can possibly  play 720 official rated games  of chess within one season, flexibly whenever and wherever you agree to play! This is a lot of training! Besides, there is no better way to improve at chess than sitting with your opponent and going through the games when you finish, and finding out about the good and the bad moves you made.

To make the communication easier, and to find opponents easily for those tournaments, we have created a WhatsApp group dedicated to these tournaments where we publish the standings on a regular basis, and where members can call for opponents who would like to play. If you are interested, just ask Adam to add your number to the group chat. ( ‘Hammer Tournaments’ WhatsApp group).

Once you play your games, all you need to do is to post the result on a Google Forms link (given below) and we will register the game for the results and for ECF grading after checking that everything is in order.

A few resources:

Hammers: Time to Get Involved


As definitely one of the older members of the Hammer crew, that label is simultaneously scary to me as well as a source of pride. Why, may you ask?

The former because it’s not the age thing for me – it is just the mileage. The latter because it tells me how far this club has come, and my generation will be able to hand it over in rude health to the next lot of younger Hammers. The transformation and rebirth of this club will have been complete (No Star Wars comparisons please).

 During my business life – there is one outside of chess – I was a member of a Rotary club in South-East London. The central theme of being a Rotarian is one of service – the thinking being that you use your business connections and time to help make things better in your community. We supported many initiatives throughout my membership- the local hospice, local hospitals, support groups for various medical afflictions and drugs education in primary schools. This was all done by using our time and business contacts.

I am asking you all to embrace this spirit and help your chess club – the immediate calls are for team captains for the coming season and help with Junior Hour.

If you want to be a team captain or want more information, please contact club captain Ben at rothwell.ben@googlemail.com.

For myself and on behalf of the force of nature that is Christof, we are looking for you all to volunteer for one hour of Junior Chess Club – once only between now and June 2022 – this means getting to the club at 6 pm and being prepared to take on the task of helping educate the next generation of chess players.

This is a noble purpose – you will be rewarded in two ways – personal development and secondly securing the future of our superb game and the club we all have built.

My target audience is you Hammers and the parents of our Juniors.

Email me asap on jdrw9591@gmail.com  if you want to get involved – we need you!

John “Lord Clueless” White