CORRECTION: Castling… at the Elephant?

Bit of a gremlin in the machine earlier… a clarification on the plan for tomorrow nights pub-based chess festivities:

We start off at the Elephant & Castle pub, in Kensington (Holland Street, W8 4LT), and continue from there!! We won’t be visiting Elephant & Castle in South London after all…

1. The Elephant and Castle – 7.15-8pm
2. The Goat – 8.15-9pm
3. The Builders Arms – 9.15-10pm
4. The Devonshire Arms – 10.15-11pm

Links to all the pubs above – they’re all within walking distance of each other in the Kensington area. Apologies to anyone who was really looking forward to going South of the River – maybe next time!!

The Elephant & Castle pub, Holland Street… easily confused with a place in South London!!!


Castling… at the Elephant?

From Hammersmith, to Amsterdam, and now… to Elephant & Castle!! (that’s in Saaaf London, for the un-initiated!)

Yes that’s right, tomorrow night sees Hammersmith hitting up the burgeoning casual chess scene in the Zone 1 landmark destination South of the River. Our top members John and Adam will be leading the charge – we’re taking half a dozen sets with us to explore a couple of pubs in the area and show them what West London is made of, chess-wise.

We’ll be taking on locals, visitors and anyone else who happens to be in one of the following public houses tomorrow night, and of course having a few drinks while we’re at it:

1. The Elephant and Castle – 7.15-8pm
2. The Goat – 8.15-9pm
3. The Builders Arms – 9.15-10pm
4. The Devonshire Arms – 10.15-11pm

Despite it’s south-of-the-river location, Elephant is actually very central and stupendously well linked for transport – Northern Line tube, and several mainline services serve the area, along with a multitude of buses. Sounds like fun to me – hope to see as many of you there as possible!

If you were wondering how the place got it’s unusual name (I was!), look no further – it derives from a coaching inn which used to occupy the site. The coaching inn took the inspiration for it’s name from the former occupants of their site – a Blacksmith & a Cutler (knife-maker).

The coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers (one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London) features an Elephant & Castle – the elephant representing the ivory formerly used in the handles, and the castle representing a Howdah – an elephant-borne carriage (think holidays in Thailand!!), thought to represent strength!

Fascinating stuff, I’m sure you agree, and a brilliantly unusual landmark for London!

Mr. Dipenderble

A couple of weeks ago we hosted our first ever team rapidplay night at the Albion. The teams were as follows:

Reti Rovers – Carsten, Ken, Ljubomir
Capablanca Crushers – Marios, Kaan, Nadim
Lasker Legends – Thomas, Pavel, Nick
Alekhine Athletic – Jay, Dipender

Each player played one 15-minute rapidplay game against a player from each other team. It was a hard-fought affair.

Reti Rovers 3 – 0 Capablanca Crushers
Carsten 1 – 0 Marios
Ken 1 – 0 Kaan
Ljubomir 1 – 0 Nadim

Lasker Legends 0.5 – 2.5 Alekhine Athletic
Pavel 0 – 1 Jay
Nick 0 – 1 Dipender
Bye 1/2 – 1/2 Bye

Reti Rovers 1.5 – 1.5 Alekhine Athletic
Carsten 1 – 0 Jay
Ljubomir 0 – 1 Dipender
Bye 1/2 – 1/2 Bye

Capablanca Crushers 2.5 – 0.5 Lasker Legends
Marios 1 – 0 Pavel
Nadim 1 – 0 Nick
Bye 1/2 – 1/2 Bye

Reti Rovers 0 – 3 Lasker Legends
Carsten 0 – 1 Thomas
Ken 0 – 1 Pavel
Kaan 0 – 1 Nick

Capablanca Crushers 1 – 2 Alekhine Athletic
Marios 1 – 0 Jay
Kaan 0 – 1 Nick
Nadim 0 – 1 Dipender

Alekhine Athletic emerged victorious, with Jay and Dipender dropping just half a match point, winning a tasty chocolate bar and an exciting card game. Player of the tournament was Dipender, scoring three wins out of three.

More fantastic prizes on offer later in the summer
Ath Rov Leg Cru MP GP
Alekhine Athletic x 1.5 2.5 2 2.5 6
Reti Rovers 1.5 x 0 3 1.5 4.5
Lasker Legends 0.5 3 x 0.5 1 4
Capablanca Crushers 1 0 2.5 x 1 3.5

After the success of the first training session of the summer, Carsten hosted our second session on Monday. He spent two hours going through a game that I lost in the summer league a few weeks ago:

He had clearly put a lot of preparation in, and I think everyone, especially me, learnt a lot.

Key Ideas

  • Avoid playing very theoretical openings (e.g. Najdorf Sicilian). Your opponent only has to learn one variation, whereas you have to prepare for many
  • In closed positions, look at which pawn breaks will improve your position and how best to prepare them
  • Any pawn that can not be defended by another pawn is, by definition, a weak pawn. Look for these weaknesses and try to exploit them
  • Everyone misses tactics from time to time. This is not the time to panic. Collect yourself and play the position

The next training session of the summer will be hosted by our chairman Bajrush on 7th August.

Finally please note the upcoming Monday 24th July session, originally planned for Cafe Nero, has been moved to the Albion after a poor showing from the regulars last time. See our schedule for full details of the summer programme.


C4, D4, or E4… that is the Question?

I thought it was about time to get Shakespeare on the Hammer website.

At club level chess, I am currently rated ECF 150 (roll on July) – you do wonder what is the best opening move.

Taking the White side first.

I am a confirmed e4 player as White – it feels more natural, I have more knowledge of the openings resulting from this move. I am in my comfort zone.

This season, more than ever before, I am feeling the irresistible pull of d4 or c4. Indeed, I am experimenting more and more on in bullet chess. The problem is translating that experience into the over-the-board, long game and match scenario.

Always a good read – the opening Explorer – e4 the clear favourite

One of the pearls of wisdom I can pass on to the more youthful members of the club from my 58 years in this mortal coil, is that the older you get, the more risk averse you become.

To put it another way. Imagine me as a 25-year old – I was one once – and I had been a competent skier. If the choice was between a black run or a red run, the former would win every time! Thirty-two years later the choice is now between red and blue – with the latter winning most times. In other words, your desire to be reckless diminishes as surely as the march of time.

So, will I make the change? Maybe, or maybe not! Next season is the crunch time.

Now the Black perspective.

When an opponent flashes out c4 or d4 I immediately assume they are a more sophisticated player. They have read a bit!

In my mind, they are prepared for a strategic and positional struggle. They know a thing or two!

The stats don’t lie – c5 by far the most common Black response to 1.e4

e4 feels more basic, more caveman than high-brow. The struggle will be more tactical and a positive result more likely. It feels like your opponent is shouting “charge!”. A fight to the death is taking place and you cannot avoid it.

c4 or d4 feels like let’s see where we go, as I exert the advantage of first move. However, they will seek to slowly strangle you, and do so without risk to themselves.

Bobby Fischer played e4 for practically his entire chess career, until embarking on his WCC match against Spassky.

I know there were two c4 games in the interzonal in that cycle, but his real switch came when the title was on the line.

Poor Spassky must have been totally bemused as it appeared he had no preparation to go on, and coupled with his laid-back character, no defence.

In a recent article for the website I referred to the use of psychology in chess. The result in a game of chess, like all other sport, is often dictated by mental strength. If you can, legally and fairly, get inside the head of your opponent and use that properly, you are well on your way to victory.

Fischer’s use of c4 made hours of analysis and preparation completely redundant. A massive psychological blow.

To sum up – and remember this is just my view! – all three moves are good, and maybe wisdom and experience comes in to the equation.

I have been a confirmed e4 man all my life but am starting to feel the irresistible pull of a Queen-sized offering. Am I being pragmatic, or just getting old? You decide!!

John White.

If you’d like to write an article for the website, please get in touch. All contributions welcomed! 


Reminder: Theory Night – Monday 17th July

Don’t forget, the next evening of training & learning takes place this coming Monday at the Albion, starting about 7.30pm.

Our top-rated player, Carsten Pedersen, will be running through a couple of games to give us his thoughts & insights. Come join us!

A Ginger (GM) Analysis

A couple of interesting media-related links to share with you this week, first up:

  • Simon “Ginger GM” Williams gives us his analysis of the Game of the Week from the last round of the Summer League

After every set of fixtures, the team captains from all the clubs involved have a chess-based conclave to decide which performance warrants the “Game of the Week” moniker.

The white smoke this time went up in favour of an enthralling battle between Mo Islam (East London Knights) and Malcolm Dancy (Battersea), featuring a hard-fought positional struggle, a number of winning chances and ever-changing initiative, plus some strategic mistakes for both players.

There’s also a shout-out for Hammer’s only victor of the round – with a Performance of the Week – young Nadhmi. Check it out!

Thanks to all involved for the video, and well done to the above mentioned players!


  • As if that’s not enough… hot on the heels of awarding us 3rd place in their Britain’s Best Chess Club Website list, the well-informed folks at Chess Journal have also featured us in the latest of their Club Profiles. You can read the full article here:

Club Profile #4: Hammersmith Chess Club


And the 3rd Best British Chess Club Website is…

… that’s right folks, a mere 18 months after we re-launched our website in January 2016, we have been officially recognised as one of the finest Chess Club websites in Britain by the wise folks at ChessJournal. You can read their full article here:

The Top 5 British Chess Club Websites

We are naturally delighted to have placed in the top 5, and even more delighted to have placed ahead of our local friendly rivals, Battersea! Not the first time that’s happened either…

It’s been a fine effort by the many people who contribute regular articles & updates, not least our ever-faithful team Captains. ChessJournal were particularly complimentary about the number of events we hold too, and how this “really makes you want to visit the club“. Props to all involved!

To mark the occasion, we’re issuing a call to all members for new articles to post – we want your contributions! As long as it’s vaguely-chess related, we’ll publish your article! It could be about anything at all, but here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • How you got involved with the game, your personal “chess journey”
  • Playing chess in another country, for those non-UK member out there, and how it compares
  • Your most memorable game – perhaps it was a funny moment that happened, or you played chess somewhere particularly exotic!
  • A short writeup of a tournament you’ve played in – bonus points if it was somewhere other than London!
  • Your preferred opening lines, tricks & tips, or other playing advice
  • Anything else – we’ll post it!

If you’d like to write something please let us know:

We’re already got a few ideas from the usual suspects, but we want to hear from all of you. It’s your contributions that make this website such a success – don’t be shy and get in touch!!

Hammer in the 21st Century

Ladies & gents, an exciting new era in team-management beckons!

Our Summer League captains, Marios and Ken, are trialling a new way of managing teams & we want all Hammersmith players onboard.

The simple solution is a brilliant app called Teamer. It’s a standard download on your smartphone and will allow much simpler, more dynamic and intuitive arranging of teams in future. It’s definitely the way forward, and we want everyone at Hammer to be on board with it.

There are many Pro’s to recommend it to you all, but in summary:

  • Very user friendly
  • Match calendars readily visible
  • Accept/decline match invitation with a simple click
  • Performance and attendance stats recorded
  • Cool features – photo-sharing, team discussions
  • Makes a captain’s life much, much easier
  • Organises all our teams on a single, streamlined platform
  • An end to group emails

Ken and Marios have already set up all Hammer members on the app – you’ll have received your invitation email already, and it’s remarkably easy to sign up from there.

If they’ve missed you – don’t worry, please click the following link to set yourself up so that we don’t miss you!

Any questions, feel free to add a comment – thanks!

Ken & Marios.

Teamer in action

“Just Hammered” by name…

27.06.17 – Summer Chess League – Battersea Volts v. Just Hammered

Downpour, suspended railway services and poor performances over the board sets the background for a baptism of fire rather than a captain’s debut!

Stranded in Shepherd’s Bush railway station waiting for a train to Clapham among countless souls, I got to experience a bit of Greece in West London… every train to Clapham gets cancelled and we are informed only seconds before the scheduled train arrives at the platform.

Luckily our opponents agreed to delay the kick-off so that we could get there on time (Kaan also struggled on his way from Uxbridge!!!). Thank you, Volts, very sportsmanlike!!!

On to the chess stuff, Board 1 saw the highest rated pair of the night, Chris Beckett vs Carsten Pedersen going all out.  Beckett made a dubious pawn sacrifice to gain the initiative but Carsten failed to find the best route out of the tactical mayhem and mutual blunders in time trouble allowed White to force a perpetual. 0.5-0.5

Board 2 – Yours truly vs M. Gudenas, I managed to get my opponent into a line of the Ruy Lopez – Schliemann I had prepared for Pavel (… now you know bud!!) then I mixed the move order and a complete meltdown followed. My opponent played very accurately, never allowing me a chance to come back. Apparently, knowing too much about a position is as dangerous as being clueless. 1.5-0.5

Board 3 – Tim Valentine vs Paul Kennelly, Paul played his favourite French and gained a material advantage after his opponent went all berserk on the Kingside. Unfortunately, he relaxed before the game was over and blundered all his advantage away, plus interest. 2.5-0.5

Board 4 – David Lambert vs Rayan Balluz, David tried to be creative in a theoretical line of the Najdorf… that’s a NO NO unless your surname is Kasparov. Despite having to drop the exchange he got a pawn and the Bishop pair for it and fought valiantly but was unable to save the half point. 3.5-0.5

Board 5 – Leon Watson vs Kaan Corbaci. This was a very interesting fight in a Benoni-Kings Indian Defence hybrid which was decided in time trouble by Black’s lack of space and light square weaknesses. 4.5-0.5 JH we are not looking good…

Board 6 – Nadhmi Auchi vs Peter Yusoff. A very special game, “Peter was born in the year Jesse Owens won golds at the Berlin Olympics, Nadhmi was born in the year Pirates of the Caribbean II came out“, as Leon pointed out! Nadhmi got a decisive advantage on move 4!!! and converted smoothly. Our beacon of hope in a rather grim night and the only Hammersmith player out of two squads to score a full point on the night. 4.5-1.5

That’s all folks!


3rd July – Team Rapidplay

Our Hammersmith Summer of Chess continues this coming Monday 3rd July with a team Rapidplay tournament at The Albion.

The tournament will kick off just after 7.30pm, lasting until around 10pm, with each player assigned to one of four teams. Everybody will get to play three games against similarly-rated opponents on each of the other teams.

Time control will be 20 minutes for all moves, with no increment, and the games will not be graded.

It’s an open event – no need to pre-register, but latecomers should be aware that they may not be able to participate once the teams have been sorted and the first games have kicked off! Non-members and casual drop-ins are of course very welcome!

Anyone not wanting to take part in the tourney is welcome to join us for the evening and play some regular blitz/casual chess on the side.

Lastly, and most importantly… a mystery prize will be awarded to the winning team!! Come on down – should be a great evening of chess!

While we’re on the subject, we have finalised details of our Summer Training evenings – save the following dates:

  • 17th July – Carsten gives us his analysis of some games submitted by members
  • 7th August – Bajrush presents an evening of Openings and Tactics
  • 4th September – Matteo takes us through the Caro Kann Defence