After the holiday period, our First team had their return to league matches with a crushing and undefeated win against a very strong Athenaeum. 5 wins and 3 draws with many interesting positions to analyze!
Happy New Year to all our members and readers! We present you with our top team’s first London League match of 2024: on the 10th of January, we visited Athenaeum Chess Club determined to get a win: our team would have been ready to play even if the Tube strikes had gone ahead!
In terms of lineups, we had a small edge on the top 2 boards, while the bottom six saw virtually no difference between our players and the opposition. It was an impressive team for Athenaeum and we knew from the start that it wouldn’t be an easy match.
The first two games to finish were on boards 3 and 4, with Fedja and Carsten making relatively quick draws, one with each colour so the match remained balanced. All the other six games went well past 9pm so it was a great fight!
The first decisive game came on board 5, where Gaston kept building up pressure against black’s pieces in the center until his opponent made a mistake that allowed him to win an exchange with Ne4! taking advantage of a pin on d5. There were some complications to go through, but the point went to us in the end.
Soon after, Maria also managed to win an exchange against Athenaeum’s team captain, and a full bishop a few moves later, and so she gave us our second win. Christof was facing some trouble on board 8, but he managed to not only defend against a very dangerous opening, and then going on to win after his opponent’s back rank weakness left the white queen overloaded after Qg5+!.
The score was 4-1 going into the last few games of the night, with Tom, Marco and Cian all having promising positions. On the top board, black was a bishop up but with a lot of weaknesses around his king, while white’s own monarch was able to walk up the board and regain the piece. After simplifying, white was about to win a lot more material with a fork on d6, and black resigned.
On board 7, young Cian had a very strong initiative, but his experienced opponent found ways to defend. A draw was agreed in mutual time trouble. Lastly, Marco showed great technique to win a long Rook vs Bishop endgame. Final Score: 6.5 – 1.5, with no defeats!
The win will brings us up to second place on the League Table, ahead of our match against the current leaders Richmond & Twickenham at the end of the month. It should be an exciting one, so keep an eye out!
2023 is somehow already coming to an end, and a lot has changed in the world of chess: we have had World Championship matches (with Ding Liren becoming the new Champion after Carlsen’s withdrawal, and Ju Wenjun extending her reign by defeating Lei Tingjie), the always interesting World Cup (won by MagnusCarlsen for the first time), lots of drama, controversy and cheating accusations, and currently an exciting race for the last two spots in the 2024 Candidates Tournament.
From HCC, we want to wish everyone happy holidays and an even happier new year! In that spirit, our Handicap Blitz Tournament scheduled for Monday 18th of December will be Xmas-themed, so we encourage you to wear festive jumpers (or any festive outfit, feel free to be creative!) and we’ll play some music to say goodbye to this year while playing some chess. See you there starting at 7:30pm.
2023 in Review
We are extremely happy to have met so many new people this year. The chess boom is certainly not going anywhere and it’s great to see new members each week and share our love for the game with as many people as we can, while creating an inclusive and respectful environment where everyone is welcome to be who they are, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, cultural or religious background, or any disabilities. Chess is a universal language and, once we sit down in front of the board to play a game, it makes us all equals.
We’d like to share a brief summary of the year and the activities we have done at the club. We firmly believe there are very few other places that can offer as much as we do, and we want to keep giving back to our members and making sure everyone gets value for being a Hammer, be it through games, lectures/training sessions, league matches, friendship, etc. All of us in the Committee are volunteers, so we want that for ourselves as well!
We also have a small favour to ask all of you: as we plan for 2024, we’d like to hear from you on what you think of the club, what we should do more of, and what we should perhaps avoid. We came up with a survey where everyone can share their opinions and it would be so helpful to know what our members think. The survey is optional, confidential, and anonymous – though we allow you to share your name in case you’d like to do so. Please see the link below – we’re reposting it at the bottom of this article in case you want to read on first and have a look at the survey later.
We’ve had many strong players giving lectures at the Mindsports Centre this year, sharing their knowledge and speaking about various topics.
GM Frode Urkedal is a member of our sister club in the 4NCL, the Celtic Tigers, and while he was in town for one of the competition weekends, he presented a few games showing the importance of piece activity.
IM Callum Kilpatrick is one of England’s top 50 players, also a Celtic Tigers player, and he joined us to speak about how your emotions interact with your mind and can affect your decision making process.
Some of our own members also gave lectures, such as the “Best and Worst Games of Every World Champion” series, and the “Opening of the Month” lectures and themed tournaments. It’s great to hear from our clubmates and we encourage others to please get in touch if you’d like to organize any similar events.
Our League Season is currently going well, with 79 members having played for our 15 teams so far, and an overall score around 54%, representative of how everyone gets good games in these matches.
A few match highlights could be knocking out our frenemies Battersea of the London League Eastman Cup with a score of 7.5 – 0.5 around a month ago; the first (crushing!) victory of the season for our Juniorsteam: 6-2 vs. King’s Head; and the debut of our Women’s team, captained by Ana Royce, in the newly created Women’s Division of the London League.
This month we have also acquired a DGT board which will allow us to broadcast some games from our teams – we have just used it for the first time and followed live as Carsten Pedersen drew his game on a match that Hammersmith won by 5-1 against Muswell Hill
Challenge Matches and Simuls
As for special events, we could mention the visit of KOSK club from Belgium, who brought a very strong team to challenge us last September. We had a lot of fun, first with a blitz tournament won by IM Tom Rendle, and then a match of 2 standard games each, where our visitors showed their strength and beat us convincingly.
We have also hosted many simul nights, which give our members the chance to play against stronger opponents, while making it a difficult challenge for them as well. Most notably, last Monday (14/12) we were visited by GM Luke McShane, one of England’s top 5 and part of the Olympic team several times, who played 16 games against our members: winning 13, drawing one (against Luke Lau) and losing only 2 (against Thomas Bonn and 14 y.o. Raman Vashisht-Pigem).
Regular club members have also given simuls, with experienced first team players such as Carsten Pedersen, Alex Freeland, Gaston Franco, Maria Ciocan, Tom Townsend, or the aforementioned Thomas and Luke. We have even hosted events where our top junior players were giving simuls, including Harry Bryant, Kai Hanache and Cian Ward.
On top of all of this, we keep organizing various events to keep everyone entertained, such as ECF-rated Rapid and Blitz tournaments, Variants nights (e.g. Bughouse, Secret Queen), our Handicap Blitz series, etc. Our internal tournaments keep growing with more Sledgehammer and Rockhammer games being played each week, mostly on our Thursday evening meetings. Anyone can be paired against another member so if you’d like a game, please contact us through our “Thursdays” WhatsApp chat.
We remain interested in hearing what you’d like us to do more of, so please take a few minutes to answer to our Survey and help us plan the future of the club.
We’d like to share our plans for this month – with some of the specifics to be announced later on via our WhatsApp chats. Read on for details:
A new season begins!
Hammersmith will soon be battling again in the different Leagues we play in, and there could be no better warm up than taking part in our friendly match against our visitors from Belgium: a few spots are still open so let John Whiteknow if you wish to play on Friday 8/9 and/or Saturday 9/9.
There is still some work to be done regarding the final composition of all the league divisions and the numbers of teams we will enter this year, but captains will start reaching out to members once our fixtures have been scheduled.
Reminder that both Club Membership and ECF Membership are required in order to play, please make sure to renew yours so that captains will have you on their lists.
The Return of Junior Hour
Junior Hour (JH) starts once again on Monday 4/9 at 6pm after the summer break, this time with our new Junior Officer Tom Townsend as agreed on our latest AGM.
The fees structure has been changed from a term basis to an annual basis so it’s now a flat £100 per annum, in addition to the regular club membership for each junior. We have a page with additional details on Junior Hour
September Club Nights
Upcoming events on our Monday nights from 7:30pm are listed below, details and sign up forms (when needed) will be shared on our WhatsApp chats.
Monday 4/9: Internal Tournament hosted by Club Captain Robin Sarfas
Monday 11/9: Challenge one of our first team players in a simul exhibition
Monday 18/9: Special event with IM Callum Kilpatrick, member of our sister club in the 4NCL: the Celtic Tigers
Monday 25/9: The best and worst game of each World Champion, with Jim Stevenson presenting the legendary Bobby Fischer
We hope you’ll enjoy everything we have planned for September! See you soon at the MSC
Hammers, we are delighted to announce the visit of royalty to our noble but humble chess club. The Royal Chess Club of Ostend will be visiting us from Friday the 8th of September to Sunday the 10th September. To take part in a weekend of chess and camaraderie that will live long in the memory.
Nearly 20 Hammers travelled to Ostend last December to play some great chess, make new friends and enjoy unbelievable hospitality. It was an unforgettable experience. It is now our turn to be hosts and we will be putting on some show.
We want as many Hammers to get involved as possible. These are some of the things that are being planned.
Friday Night – Welcome buffet and much beer followed by a blitz tournament – I will be asking as many Hammers as possible to take part and will be asking you to register for some true Euro blitz.
Saturday – Starting about 11am -Two long play games with a basic time of one hour possibly with an increment where each KOSK player (there are 12 of them) will play one white and one black game. There will be a lunch break However, we would like to offer more than 12 Hammers the chance to play in this section.
After the chess is over, we intend to take our friends for meal locally in Hammersmith to round off the evening. You are all most welcome. We just need an indication that you will be joining us so we can arrange the seating plan.
There are also other events that may or may not happen that weekend– please keep your eyes glued to the website and chat groups for Updates.
Hammers, remember it is your club – so get involved – and more details will follow how you can join the range of activities.
Another Chess League Season went by and Hammersmith has participated with 17 teams across all the different leagues and divisions, which meant close to 1,000 competitive and rated games of chess for our members!
Our top team in the London League finished in clear second place, very close from taking the title from Wood Green this time – but the real highlight is how much fun everyone has when playing League chess as a team, it really is a great way of bringing the club together.
Over 50 of our members have played more than 1 game during the season, several of them being new joiners – the work of our Team Captains (and Club Secretary Adam Cranston) in encouraging them to join our teams has been excellent.
Many of our Captains have been new in their positions this year, including Club Captain Robin Sarfas, but they have all done an amazing job at finding players for their team’s matches, keeping an eye on the scores, and building a spirit of camaraderie across old and new members. We hope they have enjoyed the process and will stay for the next Season. Anyone else interested in becoming a Captain, please reach out to either Robin or Adam.
Below are our final standings for each team. This year we have also given out a Game of the Season Award, with commentary from GM Daniel King.
Hoping for an even more successful 2023/24 Season!
On Monday 10th of July starting at 7:30pm, to celebrate the release of their new Chessable Course, we have a special evening planned for members – read more below.
The zwischenzug, also known as an intermezzo, or an intermediate move, regularly catches out club players but gets little attention in books and courses. Finding it can be the difference between good and great chess play. It’s a tactic that was played successfully more than 30 times in the 2023 World Championship – helping Ding Liren to victory, and once you study it, it will pay you back over and over, allowing you to turn the tables on your opponents.
On Monday 10th July, WIM Natasha Regan and NI Matt Ball will visit Hammersmith chess club for an evening of zwischenzug puzzles and discussion followed by bughouse chess.
Natasha and Matt recently published the Chessable course “Zwischenzug! A comprehensive guide to intermediate moves” in which they explore the patterns in chess positions that mean an intermezzo may be lurking. Join them live and get ready to outplay your opponents with deadly effect.
The evening will involve a talk, puzzles, and finish with a bughouse tournament where you can put some of the lessons from the evening into practice. See you at the MindSports Centre on the 10th!
The summer period in the chess calendar is a strange time of year – the British Championship takes centre whilst club league chess goes into sleep mode. In other words, chess kind of takes a holiday.
So, in holiday mode the Hammers will be taking on the challenge of the Chess River Valley walk – from Rickmansworth to Chesham. The Hammer Summer Chess Challenge Walk.
The walk will take approximately 4 hours and is a low to medium challenge with some amazing countryside on offer.
The chance to encounter some raw nature with likely appearances from red kites, grazing horses, and livestock and slightly bizarrely…… alpacas.
The river is chalk-based so at times the water is crystal clear- indeed if it a warm day at about halfway there is a chance to dip your bare feet in the river whilst sitting on a low-bridge.
The reward, if you commit to the walk, is not only great camaraderie but the lure of the Mad Squirrel Brewery. All great physical exertion deserves the reward of a decent pint of beer. The Mad Squirrel delivers.
There is an option as well to have a curry afterwards or journey back into London for something to eat but let’s take it as it comes – by the way there is a Waitrose close to Rickmansworth station if you want to pick up a sandwich. Finally, some more detail can be found at this link:
Dear Members, the club’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is approaching – this year it will be held on Monday 3rd July at the Mindsports Centre. The observant among you will note that this is a month later than usual. This is due to the chess season being pushed back by a number of match postponements caused by tube strikes.
The Committee gives notice that the following members will stand for re-election:
President – John White
Treasurer – Matteo Bezzini
Secretary – Adam Cranston
Club Captain – Robin Sarfas
Diversity Officer – Tom Rendle
Auditor – Nadim Osseiran
PR & Events Officer – Chris Skulte
We are sad to announce that Benji Portheault and Jim Stevenson have decided to step down from the Committee this year. As Webmaster for the last two years, Benji has spearheaded the development of our fantastic new logo. This now features prominently on all the Hammer stash we sell via our new merchandise store, again set up by Benji. As Junior Officer for a year, Jim has continued to grow the size of our junior club, leading a new subcommittee instrumental in providing a high level of coaching to juniors of varying abilities. The Committee is grateful for Benji and Jim’s contributions.
With this in mind, Gastón Franco plans to stand for election as Webmaster, and Tom Townsend plans to stand for Junior Officer.
Hammersmith won a very exciting match against strong opposition, and we present you with some of the games, including analysis from our First team players.
As the League season is coming to an end, our last match for the First team in Division 1 was against none other than Cavendish Chess Club, a real powerhouse of the London chess community. We were sitting in second place (behind Wood Green, who had already secured the title), but since Cavendish had played fewer matches than us, they were one of the clubs with chances to catch us – the other one being Hackney. We were expecting them to bring their very best, so naturally we tried to do the same. The result was a thrilling match full of interesting games between the strongest players from both clubs!
We all gathered at Cavendish’s venue close to Russell Square, everyone was on time (yes, even Bajrush!) and ready for the big fight. Our Captain Jim Stevenson did not play, but he was present in support of the team and, as he had promised, he won the toss so we would get white on odd boards. Before the start of the games, we observed a minute of silence after hearing the tragic news of the passing of dear Hammer (and former board 1 for our club) WIM Sue Maroroa Jones earlier that day and our opponents respectfully joined us.
The games were entertaining from the start and Carsten drew first blood on board 6, not only defending against what looked like a scary kingside attack, but also setting up a devilish trap with precise calculation, which allowed him to win a piece when his opponent failed to see the danger. Carsten Pedersen’s thoughts on the game are below:
Cavendish hit back by winning on board 1, but Hammersmith took the lead again on board 8, with Bajrush ending his Div 1 season with an astonishing 6/6! Soon the score became 3-1 in our favour, with a win on board 7 full of tactics and hanging pieces. Comments by Gaston Franco:
Alex skilfully made a draw on board 3, in a game where it looked like one of his bishops might have been trapped at some point, but the rest of his pieces came to its rescue. We only needed one more win and we got it on board 4 with a positional masterpiece after his opponent got a weak pawn in the centre. Alistair Hill explains it below:
On board 6, Thomas was pressing with a strong initiative, but had given up some material and both players got in time trouble. As we all know, “T-Bone” is ruthless when it comes to blitz and spotted a nice tactic that ended the game immediately. The last game of the match was, as usual, played by Marco on board 2. His GM opponent sacrificed a pawn for initiative in the opening but black also had his chances and soon started playing for a win. Marco Gallana shares his ideas from a few instructive moments of the game:
Thus, the match ended with an impressive 6-2 win for our Firsts and the team went for a celebratory pint at a nearby pub, where we discussed the games and Jim may or may not have promised to stay as captain for one more season.
The win helps us remain in second place, and pending some results from other clubs it could mean we are the best (real) chess club in all of London! After getting some rest over the summer, we’ll be ready to try to defeat Wood Green next year once and for all.
While we still have a few more games to go for other teams/leagues, personally I might have to give them a miss. Wishing everyone a great summer and see you back soon at the board!
Now we share a home with other Mindsports, especially bridge players, a number of members and spouses / partners have mentioned they would really like to try bridge.
So we have organised something for you.We think it’s going to be really special.
You may not know it but fellow London Mindsports club, the YC bridge club, is the strongest in the land, and boasts umpteen national and international champions as members. Strangely enough, they look just like us!
We are truly delighted to be able to say that former English champion and renowned bridge teacher, David Parry, has agreed to run a special taster session for HCC members and friends and spouses / partners. We are also going to invite other London chess players and if you have someone you would like to bring along, please do so. This is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. Don’t miss it!
This is for complete beginners. If you know what a playing card looks like then you’re halfway there, jokes David. But if you have played a little in the past and want to pop along, then please feel free to do so.
The taster will take place at the London MindSports Centre on Tuesday 16 May 2023.
It will be a 90-minute session followed by blitz chess for those who want it, and general drinks and socialising in the bar for those who don’t.
And it’s all free! Well, apart from your drinks.
7.30pm Prompt Start
9.15pm Blitz Chess and Gossip
The taster is just that, a taster. David will be following up with a full Saturday Bridge for Beginners session later.
We can only accommodate as many people as will fit in the room, so if you want to come, please, please do sign up asap. Entry is strictly on a first come, first served basis, but as HCC members you have 24 hours to register before we open it up to all of London.