Hammer Getting It Done in The Community

As you know Hammer are very active on social media and updating our website. Indeed, the enquiries about our club that we take because of that activity are truly stunning in number. We are blessed to have Benji and previously Andy as our web and social master.

However, there is a section of the population who do not use social media and hence are not aware of our club.

So, when an opportunity arises Hammer are more than willing to step up to the mark.

The management of Hammersmith Broadway Shopping Centre approached the club about doing an event around the giant chessboard they have put out on display in the mall. Swift negotiations took place, and the date of the 27th of August 2022 was agreed on between 11am and 3pm. Chris Skulte and Gaston are masterminding the event – with ideas around chess promotion and distributing leaflets about our club.

I believe a microphone will also be provided – a running commentary on the activities will be provided – blindfold demos, possibly piece odds challenges et al are on the menu.


The critical part is we need true-blue Hammers to help Chris and Gaston on the day so please volunteer on the chat groups or contact them directly and get involved.

Hammers this will be fun and a great chance to promote our club and the game we love.


Just hot off the press Hammer has won the ECF Chess in the Community award for 2022. More details to follow………………..

Chairman John aka “Lord Clueless”

A View from The Hammer Chair – July 2022

First, I would like to thank the club for this opportunity to serve and continue the evolution of our amazing chess club.

I must also thank Club Captain Ben and in particular our Chairman Bajrush for their service. Both have played vital roles in helping the club get to where we are today. I wish Ben all the best in the fair city of Dublin and am delighted that Bajrush will continue to contribute with his knowledge and experience by serving on the Committee.

I must also welcome Robin and Gaston to the Committee. I know they will be successful and dedicated in their new roles.

Finally, I am immensely happy that Nadim, Benji, Adam, Chris and Matteo have agreed to stay on. With the exception of Chris, they are all continuing in their current roles and providing great service to the club. Chris takes over from as PR and Events Officer… certainly a role he will excel in.

We have achieved so much in the past 8 years it is hard to believe. Some of those achievements are staggering:

  • Our membership has grown from 19 (yes 19 !!!) to over 200 members
  • We have a thriving Junior section
  • We have moved into the Mindsports Centre – the best club venue in London
  • We have visited three chess clubs abroad in Holland, Poland and Ireland
  • We have had a guest speaker list that has been a who’s who of chess
  • We pioneered the idea of giving advantageous membership rates to girls and women to play at our club
  • We have run our first Chess Congress and want to make it an annual event.
  • We have won trophies and divisions across the 4 leagues we compete in

There are many other achievements that could be listed. However, what I am most proud of is that our chess club is welcoming, accepting, friendly, open to change and lives up to its motto “More than a Chess Club”.

This is an amazing legacy to build on and a sizable challenge for any incoming Chairman.

My focus on the year to come will be on the following – obviously there will be other challenges that inevitably come along:

  • Oversee the running of the club
  • Work with the Junior Officer and the Junior Sub-Committee to establish a working blueprint and program that meets the needs of all our juniors
  • Encourage and recruit club members to help out with the running of the club
  • Address the training needs for all members, regardless of strength, so they can develop their chess ability to the full
  • Helping all the Officers of the club to perform to the best in their roles
  • Establishing the legal status of the club and sorting out our relationship with the bank once and for all
  • Running Hammratty 2
  • Adding to the trophy cabinet… once you have the taste of success it is hard to suppress it
  • Helping Benji roll out the Hammersmith merchandise
  • As Chairman being available to all members if they have concerns they wish to raise
  • Making sure Hammersmith delivers value for money for all its members
  • A club members’ survey so we can understand what our members think and need from their Committee and Club
  • Plus, other new initiatives yet tba

As Adam has recently posted on the report of the AGM we have created a new Committee position – that of Junior Officer. The role and responsibilities will cover:

  • Forming the Junior Sub-Committee
  • Oversee the work of the Junior Sub-Committee
  • Manage the allocated budget for the Junior Section
  • Formulate a programme for the Junior Section
  • Liaise with the Child Protection Officer to ensure all protocols are being observed
  • Represent the interests of Junior Section on the Club Committee

This was backed and seconded by the Committee and agreed at the AGM. Jim Stevenson has agreed to serve.

I would also like to remind you that the December – Ostend trip is closing its book on the 31st July. You have less than 3 weeks to commit to the trip. I have written previously that the main issue will be accommodation as it is the first weekend of Ostend’s famous Christmas market… we need to get in early.

In the meantime the view from the chair is there are exciting times ahead for Hammer and its motley crew… roll on 22-23!!!

John White aka Lord Clueless

AGM Report, LCL Congress, Summer at Hammer and beyond!

A short update on everything happening at the club, and what’s in store for the future!


Last Monday our Annual General Meeting was held at the Mindsports Centre. There was a good turnout and some lively discussion – a full version of the minutes can be found here. A summary of the key decisions that were voted through:

  • Subs will be increased slightly next season to ensure members can continue to be offered a first class venue and a top-notch and varied programme of events
  • A new role on the committee has been created – the Junior Officer, to be held by Jim Stevenson
  • John White takes over from Bajrush as Chairman
  • Chris Skulte takes over from John as PR and Events Officer
  • Gastón Franco takes over from Chris as Officer without Portfolio
  • Robin Sarfas takes over from Ben as Club Captain
  • All other officers retain their positions
  • The Hammer merchandise store has opened!
LCL Congress

The London League are hosting a 9-round ECF-rated Congress on Thursdays throughout summer – places are very limited so get in quick if you want to play!

Further details and the entry form can be found here.

Monday Night Hammer Events

We’ll be looking to put on some form of event every Monday night throughout summer. Here’s what’s arranged so far:

  • 18th July: 5-round ECF-rated Rapid (10+5) Tournament. Sign up here
  • 25th July: Chessboxing Challenge Match
  • 26th September: Lecture from British #1 Grandmaster Michael Adams
Super-Grandmaster Mickey Adams | photo: World Chess Championship Press

Keep an eye on the calendar and WhatsApp channels for announcements of further events.

2022/23 Subs

Membership for 2021/22 ends at the end of August. We’d like to invite members to sign up for next season. Payment ahead of September is much appreciated to avoid the tedious work involved in chasing people up.

  • Adults: £80 per annum
  • Juniors: £50 per annum
  • Concession: £50 per annum (for senior citizens, and unwaged)
  • Women, Girls & Titled Players: £20 per annum
  • Junior Hour Access: £35 per term (3 terms in a year) in addition to yearly junior membership

Payment can be made by electronic bank transfer or cash. Please see our bank details below:

Name: Hammersmith Chess Club
Sort Code: 40-03-21
Account Number: 91245120

Get in touch if you have any questions!


Hammratty 2022 – A Personal Reflection from Lord Clueless

A while ago, being the opportunistic plagiarist I am, I used a line from the superb speech given by Al Pacino in the movie “Any Given Sunday” in a piece about the Bunratty tournament. The line was my interpretation of the fact that sometimes life gets in the way of what you really want to do.

In a lot of ways, those words could be used to describe Hammer Chess Club and the running of a Chess Congress. Other things always had to take priority – survival, venue, membership, and the financials spring to mind as obvious major distractions. However, with the transformation of our club over the past six years it was time to get the bogeyman off our back.

When your committee gave Chris Skulte and me the authority, with our Diamond Jubilee happening this year, to put on our first chess congress both of us had very little idea what a massive responsibility and task this would be. We had just settled into our new home and with the challenges that were presented along the way I am surprised Chris, and I are not receiving therapy for Chess PTSD (a condition familiar to all chess players).

One thing we decided early on – is we wanted to create a tournament, that encapsulated the ethos of Hammer Chess Club – welcoming, fun, diverse and progressive. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the Bunratty 2020 tourney gave us the blueprint of what we wanted to achieve. We did not need to look elsewhere.

So, some core principles were quickly agreed

  • We wanted everyone to pay the same to enter – no freebies for titled players.
  • We wanted a blitz tourney on the eve of the main congress so entrants could embrace the spirit and camaraderie of the congress.
  • We wanted to showcase our new home – the Mindsports Centre
  • Promote Hammer Chess Club and our way of running a chess club

On reflection I think we over-delivered on those core principles – the rest would be the nitty gritty – sponsorship, time controls, rounds, entry methods, arbiters, PR, tables, rooms, chairs, logistics, the help required etc – the tough stuff.

Here I am going to list the people who were vital in running the festival and making it a huge success. In no particular order….

Chris Skulte – such a source of positivity and support – endless energy, trophy procurer and master of the budget and my successor as PR Events Officer for 2022-23.

Nadim Osseiran – the master of the entry system – worked tirelessly – Hammer are so lucky to have him 

Benjamin Portheault – Hammer webmaster – superb work on the promotion front

Adam Cranston – Sadly could not participate but was the voice of common sense when my ideas went too wacky

Adam Raoof – Chief Arbiter and his amazing team – particularly Rob and the true legend that is Lance – ran the tournament and pre-tournament superbly. They were essential in every way.

The Prince of Wales pub and its owners Big Smoke Brewery – are hugely supportive in every way

GM Daniel King – His video and volunteering to give out the main prize made such a huge difference to the congress – plus he is a Hammer !!

Gad Chana – Mindsports centre manager – helped in so many ways – the extra tables and chairs were entirely down to him – big thank you

Rosie White- Of YCBC and Mindsports Property Limited who gave us permission to use the large room upstairs which made having to rent extra space outside the centre redundant. A huge big thank you.

Finally, I want to thank our sponsor – Grenke Leasing – they made the difference between the event breaking even and turning a profit and allowing us to give out rating prizes. They were massive in making Hammratty a considerable success.

So, to the tournament itself.

The welcoming blitz tournament on the Friday night at the Prince of Wales attracted 30 plus participants – it was a riotous assembly with everyone getting the Hammratty vibe. In the end a play-off ensued between Hammer Tom Rendle and Abhinav Reddy Bathula to decide first place. The latter held his nerve and duly triumphed to cap what was a wonderful tournament to kick off the Hammratty festival.

There were great performances from the Hammer crew in this blitz – with top 10 finishes for five Hammers – Tom Rendle, Peter Roberson, Thomas Bonn and Cian Ward

The first round of the “proper” chess started at 10 am on the Saturday with London league time controls (75 plus 15 secs increment).

We had three categories – the Open, The Major and The Minor – All the results can be found on these Links:

The Open https://chess-results.com/tnr624030.aspx?lan=1

The Major https://chess-results.com/tnr624029.aspx?lan=1&art=0&turdet=YES&flag=30

The Minor https://chess-results.com/tnr624028.aspx?lan=1&art=4&turdet=YES&flag=30


The chess was absorbing in all sections of the Congress – 

The Open saw Yichen Han triumph in an Armageddon play-off against IM Richard Bates – both had remained undefeated through all five rounds and would split the prize money – however, the trophy went to Yichen.

The competition throughout this section was dominated by decisive results showing the full-bloodied nature of the competition. Hammers’ hopes were high with both IM Peter Roberson and IM Tom Rendle in the hunt. Solid performances by both Thomas Bonn (T-Bone) and Chairman Bajrush Kelmendi (Wily) both came in with three points from the competition.

The Major section was won by West London’s Andy Hayler – a win for the “older” generation. Hammer Liam Fleming (The Quiet Man) came in joint third having a lively encounter with fellow Hammer Frank Valle on the way.

The Minor section saw unrated Alex Stroud win the event with daylight and Rachel Yang came in second – an excellent result.

There were a host of best rating prizes, and the best game prize will be judged by GM Daniel King. I will make sure we publish this on the website

On a personal note I have realised that you cannot play in and organise a Congress at the same time – my chess which has not been good this season was ruthlessly exposed on two occasions – a couple of consolation wins and a long draw with Lawrie summed up my very average chess.

However, I take enormous consolation that the tournament was by the criteria we set ourselves at the beginning a huge success – I think we have created a unique tournament and is something we can turn into an annual event.

There are lessons to be learnt and the key people who helped put this event will have a review and implement any improvements, but I do think the basis of the tournament is right.

To the Hammers who did not or could not participate – we did have a bit of Platinum competition – you missed a fabulous time – please endeavour to join us next year.

John aka Lord Clueless

The Hammer Christmas Chess Soiree – Ostend – 2nd December 2022 to the 4th of December 2022.

The Hammer Christmas Chess Soiree- Ostend – 2nd December 2022 to the 4th of December 2022.

Covid has affected every part of our lives these past two- and a bit years. We have lost loved ones, had to cancel holidays, curtail our social lives and in our chess world, we endured no over-the-board chess for nineteen months. 

An early casualty of the pandemic was our planned trip to the beautiful German city of Lubeck. It is now approaching two years since Hammer last ventured abroad -the time is right to start again.

The Royal Chess Club of Ostend is a famous chess club in West Flanders and they have agreed to host us for the weekend – a blitz tourney Friday night and a long play game on Saturday. Interspersed will be a chance to enjoy the atmosphere and all the delights that await us.

Note the Royal designation – Hammer is definitely moving up in the world. Also, I must thank GM Daniel King who opened the door to negotiations and who has in the past turned out for Ostend over the board.


The rough itinerary is as follows

Friday 2nd December – Hammer crew boards a private coach at “middayish” – travel to Folkestone – travel through the tunnel and then up the coast to Ostend. We get settled into our hotel or accommodation (TBA), some grub to then be taken and then we attend the Royal Ostend chess club for a Friday night blitz tourney. I am sure a beer oasis awaits us later on and a chance to get to know our new friends.

Saturday 3rd December – In the morning we may do the Christmas markets, or a cultural tour followed by the club-on-club long play challenge. We will be playing for the Evans Cup. Then a meal with our hosts and then retire to a suitable bar

Sunday 4th December – more Christmas markets and sightseeing before returning to London mid-afternoon.

This is a unique opportunity for all Hammers to enjoy an amazing chess challenge against a more than worthy opponent – enjoy a historic city, and the fabulous Christmas markets, take in the culture and sample some amazing beer. Also, a chance to make new friends and spread the goodwill and camaraderie of our beautiful game and the renown of Hammer

Please note the Ostend club has an excellent Junior section so for the first time we would like to take a Junior Team for the trip if we can get the numbers.

Now some fun facts about Ostend and the Royal Chess Club

  • Ostend has over five miles of sandy beaches and is the 9th biggest city in Belgium.
  • Ostend is connected to Bruges and Ghent by canals
  • It has a population of over 70,000.
  • It is a historic city with a history dating back at least 1000 years.
  • It held two famous chess tournaments in 1907 and 1907 – these happened before I was even born. The names of Rubinstein, Bernstein, Janowski et al featured in these tournaments.
  • The creator of the Evans Gambit – seafarer William Evans – is buried in Ostend!

What true red-blooded Hammer could resist?

So, if you want to take part, now is the time for action. The Closing Date is the 31st July 2022. The reason for the tight decision date is this is an incredibly busy time of year and accommodation will go quickly.

So, what do you need to do if you want to take part?

  • First, email Lord Clueless to say count me in -jdrw9591@gmail.com
  • If you act early, then you will be on the trip – a deposit will be taken as the club will need to book a coach and possibly a deposit at the hotel. 


Time is short, as the many Hammers who have enjoyed the delights of Amsterdam, Cork and Wroclaw in the past three years – these weekends are just superb.

Ostend awaits us.

Lord Clueless expects every Hammer to do their duty!

The UK’s Strongest ever fully blind chess player is coming to Hammersmith


By Christopher Skulte

We are very very very excited (yes 3 very’s!) to announce that the 2015 IBCA Olympiad silver-medallist Chris Ross will be coming to Hammersmith Chess Club on the 20th June 2022 (start time 7:30pm).


It’s not every day that you will have a chance to listen and ask questions to the UK’s strongest ever fully blind chess player and learn about his journey from amateur club player to a 2250-strength player.


He has just released an 80-chapter book tackling some of the aspects of the game which club players find most difficult:  how to plan; manoeuvring and positional play; defence, and the all-important questions of practical over-the-board chess.



Praise for Blind Faith:


”Although Chris has never been a full-time chess player, having pursued a successful career in academia, his approach has always been professional. He has developed an impressive opening repertoire and worked on his endgames and middlegame planning. I hope the reader enjoys this fine collection.” – Grandmaster Neil McDonald


If you would like to pre-order a hard copy of Blind Faith by Chris Ross, I have 10 hard copies available for £20 each. (RRP is £19.95, I just don’t want to handle the change…) –  please message Chris Skulte on 07881472324 to reserve your copy.


Note: Digital copies can be purchased here for £9.99 – https://steelcitypress.co.uk/product/blind-faith-ebook/


We look forward to seeing everyone on Monday the 20th!



The Hastings Challenge(rs) on the 18th June 2022– time is running out !!

It is time to do Battle (geddit??!!!) again

Hammers the gauntlet has been thrown down – honour must be satisfied – the esteemed and noble Chess Club of Hastings (aged 140) has challenged the brash (but very nice) new kids on the block Hammersmith (aged 60). This will be a mighty clash over 14 boards with all to play for.

The Hammers will be captained by Adam and places are already going fast – it is time to get with it. If you want to take part contact Adam as soon as possible as he needs to finalise the team early next week.

The long play challenge will be followed by a blitz tourney and a few pints. 

Hastings is one of the most historic chess clubs in the world, home to the ECF for many years and just a train journey away.

Play will start midday and Adam will advise you of the travel arrangements. Hammer this is a club that has entertained the greats –Lasker, Capablanca Botvinnik, Karpov and Korchnoi are just some that spring to mind.

Now they have the new force in UK club chess turning up – Hammersmith.

This is your chance to create some chess history – contact Adam Cranston now!!!

Lord Clueless

Important Announcement – 2022 AGM

Dear Members, the club’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is approaching – this year it will be held on Monday 4th 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 the Covid-19 wave in January.

The Committee gives notice that the following members will stand for re-election:

  • Treasurer – Matteo Bezzini
  • Secretary – Adam Cranston
  • Club Captain – Ben Rothwell
  • Webmaster – Benji Portheault
  • Diversity Officer – Tom Rendle
  • Auditor – Nadim Osseiran
  • No Portfolio – Chris Skulte

We are sad to announce that Bajrush Kelmendi has decided to step down from the Committee this year. As Chairman for the last eight years, Bajrush has presided over the rise of a dwindling club with a mere 20 players to a sprawling community of 200 active members. The Committee is grateful for Bajrush’s contributions.

With this in mind, John White plans to stand for election as Chairman, meaning we are actively seeking applicants to John’s former role as PR and Events Officer.

Any member who wishes to stand for a committee position, or to submit a motion for the meeting, should do so at least 30 days prior to 4th July – that is, 5th June.

If you want to support any of the committee roles, we would love to hear from you too, as there is a lot of work to run the club and any time is valued.

Please contact Club Secretary Adam, to submit details: adam1234321@gmail.com

Thank you for your continued support!

Fast Track your Chess with First Team Training – Monday 9th of May


Next Monday (9th May), on top of the usual casual chess, several first team players (2000 – 2400 FIDE) are donating their time to work with club members to help them improve their chess.

We will be spread out over 3-4 tables from 730pm – 900pm (and maybe longer) to:

  • Go through your games (so bring your scoresheet or electronic copy of a game)
  • Provide our best tips for analysing your games
  • Give general advice on improving your chess

Though it will set up as a 1-1 chat, spectators are welcome if you want to listen in.

Depending on interest, we may only be able to go through 1 game at a time per person, though you can always re-join the back of the line.

A big thanks to the following first team players for volunteering their time:

  • International Master Thomas Rendle
  • Marco Gallana
  • Alistair Hill
  • Fedja Zulfic
  • Carsten Pedersen
  • Jim Stevenson
  • Yours truly (Christopher Skulte)

We look forward to seeing everyone Monday, and I’m sure the players above wouldn’t mind an optional beer donation if you feel they have done an amazing job, or at the start to encourage some creative thinking.

See you Monday.

Hammer bossing it in Middlesex

At the midpoint of the Season, Hammersmith’s second team went to visit Albany with a lot at stake in Division 2 of the Middlesex League: the lead was shared by Hendon, Ealing and Hammersmith all with 6 points, followed closely by Metropolitan and Albany with 5, so it was anyone’s game with a lot of matches still to be played.

Our team was coming from three away wins in a row and looking to continue our good run, while a win for the locals would have placed them at the top of table. After losing to them at home earlier this season, by a crushing 5.5-0.5 no less, we knew it would be a fierce battle and all the games met the expectations!

Our team had strong reinforcements with Chris Skulte joining our ranks on board 1 and the additions of Jake Stones and Anton van Niekerk on boards 4 and 5 respectively, in their first game for this team.

We were white on evens after losing the toss, and soon it looked tough in these 3 games, with Gaston getting a worse position against his opponent’s Najdorf Sicilian on board 2, Jake being an exchange down albeit with some initiative, and Charlie with an unfortunate blunder (after quickly getting a winning position) that gave the first point to Albany on the bottom board.

Meanwhile, the odd-numbered boards were not looking any easier for us with Chris reaching an unclear position in a Chigorin Defense, Anton facing some pressure on the kingside and trying to look for counterplay on the queenside, and Matteo in perhaps the most calm game of the bunch on board 3 as it seemed his opponent was mostly playing safe with the white pieces.

In a sudden turn of events, Anton equalized the match after finding 16… Nxb2! 17. Kxb2 Qb4+ followed by 18… Qxc3.

Soon enough we were leading with Chris sacrificing a piece and capitalizing on a mistake by his opponent with 28… Rg4+, winning the white Queen.

Shortly after that, Gaston won our third point after 26. Nf6+ gxf6 27. Ne4! when white’s attack becomes unstoppable.

All eyes were now on boards 3 and 4, with Jake’s initiative slowly vanishing, leading eventually to a loss and moving the score to 3-2 for the Hammers. Matteo was able to neutralize all of white’s attempts at an advantage, and even ended up playing for a win when a draw was enough to win the match, on another typical display of the Hammers’ fighting spirit. Even then, the position remained balanced and a draw by perpetual check in a Queen endgame was agreed.

The match ended in a win by the narrowest of margins 3.5-2.5, and Hammersmith claimed sole lead of Division 2.

With many more matches to come against strong teams, we’ll be looking to keep it up and finish on a high note this Spring.