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

El Chessico 2021 Style -Bring It On

Yes, those noisy neighbours are back for more. The gauntlet has been thrown down and the challenge has been accepted.

The lovable frenemies of South Chelsea – Battersea (pronounced “Batt-taze- eeahhh”) are desperate to get their mittens on that fabled chess trophy….. El Chessico. 

For Hammer the trophy is important but the bragging rights are priceless.

They want a bit of the ‘ammer family silverware..despite having lost the last three matches…like all good masochists, they keep coming back for more.

It is time to take your Covid/Lockdown enhanced chess frustration and dish it out on a hapless bunch of South London wannabes.

The critical points are

  • This year’s challenge will be a two-legged affair a la any European cup tie.
  • With the away leg being played in Battersea on the 5th of October and the return at the Hammer home on Monday the 11th of October.
  • The time control is 75 minutes with 15-second increments.
  • The games will be rated so get your ecf membership sorted.
  • Trying to get a minimum of 25 boards going – in non-Covid times it would be 40.

So, to all Hammers, I summon you to defend freedom, vanquish the frenemy, repel all borders, secure our birthright, take control and just get it done (copyright@ Priti Patel 2021).

Hammers, our honour is at stake – time to get real and get in the ring for a proper chess fight

Lord General Melchett Clueless

A Knight with Nosher (aka GM Nigel Short)

Hammer played host to chess royalty this past Monday – Grandmaster Nigel “Nosher” Short and FIDE vice-president was our guest speaker. The man who crushed Anatoly Karpov playing brilliant chess to challenge Gary Kasparov for the World Chess Championship. The first Briton to challenge for the world title in over a century. The 1993 match made headlines all over the world.
Stepping in at the last minute NS gave a brilliant talk centred around three games drawn from his first published chess book titled “Winning”.

As you know Lord Clueless is partial to extreme exaggeration, occasionally, but I can state without any hyperbole this was an amazing night. Nigel was a great presenter, with great stories and a very courteous manner. He also provided a fascinating insight into the thinking of a grandmaster and the role psychology can play in chess games. The other thing that was refreshing, he did not duck questions and was forthright in his opinions – something our politicians should take note of, and practice.

The lecture lasted about 90 minutes with Nigel taking questions all the way through and then enjoying a few glasses of wine afterwards. There was more drama to follow but more of that later.

The lecture was packed with so much but for me, these were some of the highlights

  • Nigel reckons too much attention is paid to the opening and that the critical elements and how you can best improve your game are in the middle game and end game.
  • The move Bh3 when it was already on its prime diagonal h1-a8 and the reasoning behind it -critical in the equation was his centralised knight on d4
  • The adoption of the white pawn structure c4, d3 and e4 brought joy to our President’s heart – although I was really impressed with the early d4 that followed.
  • His negotiation of multiple tactical counter threats whilst keeping control of the position
  • The preference for the two bishops
  • The use of psychology against an opponent who had lost the previous round and was content to play for a draw. Nigel destabilised the position deliberately which meant a fight would occur. A win followed demonstrating that courage and the occasional ?! move
  • The switching of advantages – he was not wedded to one route to victory
  • His reflections on calculation and his thought processes
  • His comments on the use and application of engines and what writing the book taught him about this resource.
  • Interspersed with anecdotes on playing chess in many (a trip to Iran was a definite highlight) and various tournaments – the evening was superb.
  • A definite stand out moment in the 60 – year history of this great club.Normally I would sign out here but there was more drama to follow.
    Following a full debriefing with a few glasses of vino we exited the MSC gathering outside. Nigel was not to be seen- we presumed he had gone home -the building was secured and we departed into the night.

    This was the start of “LockinGate”- The biggest chess scandal since some dodgy yoghurt in Baguio City 1978 – Nigel was still in the building – he even tweeted about it. To misquote the classic Jam lyric – “He was down in the MSC at midnight” – yep when Hammer don’t what you to leave – as Chris Skulte commented – there are no lengths to which Hammer will go to raise the strength of our club – kidnapping is not as low as we go.


Thanks to Chris “Batman” Skulte who answered his calls for help, and he was released from his incarceration well after midnight. Nigel was fine and even gave his consent to the following series of tweets.

In the end all’s well ends well ruled the night.


A big shout to Nigel and he is welcome at the Hammer anytime – next time we will not incarcerate him.


Lord Clueless

Hammer’s Junior Hour is back

This week, Hammersmith Chess Club hosted not only Nigel Short, England’s most famous former chess prodigy, but also some of its own future prodigies when Junior Hour kicked off. The first evening was more of an introduction to the venue, to some of the participants, and to how we plan to conduct Junior Hour on a regular basis. It was encouraging to see how quickly and joyfully even the very young kids settled down to play each other, while others watched the demonstration games and advised on checkmating moves.

From next Monday onwards, we will start with a more structured program. The evenings begin with a few warm-up puzzles, going from easy to difficult, before proceeding to a 15-minute or so lecture on a specific topic, and these will provide a red thread throughout the season. After that, Juniors play games with each other, preferably against someone of a similar level. This is good preparation for a Junior tournament which we plan to do before the Christmas break.

We were glad to see so many young faces which tells us that we should initially focus our lectures on the beginners. Advanced players will not miss out though. They might refresh their knowledge in the first 20 minutes, and there will be the opportunity to play with one of the teachers present. And of course, everyone is invited to stay longer when adults come in after 7 pm.

WHERE: London MindSports Centre, 21-23 Dalling Road in Hammersmith, W6 0JD London. It is a 2-minutes walk from Ravenscourt Park Station (District Line).
The main playing hall is large, bright and well-ventilated. Adjacent is a small bar and kitchen, ideal for parents if they want to be there.

Who are the Hammer coaches? The club has a variety of coaches who will from time to time provide their lectures, each one with their specific background and focus, all experienced in teaching Juniors. The variety ensures that the game can be seen from different angles.
Point of contact and any question: Christof Brixel via email: cbrixel@yahoo.com.au

See you next Monday at 6pm!