March Madness!

As we approach the business end of the season, there have been some really spectacular results this month, not least when our London 4 team beat runaway favourites in that Division, BBCA!

The excitement continues this week, with another table-topping win for one of Hammer’s sides. Read on….

  • London Division 4 vs. Greater London
  • London Division 6 vs. Greater London
  • London Division 3 vs. Kings Head
  • BONUS: Chess, the Musical!
13.03.18 – London Division 4: Hammersmith v Greater London

A 4-4 tie against Greater London meant we were able to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat in London Division 4 this week. It felt like a win at the end as were under the cosh for much of the night and it was highly satisfying to take something from the match.

The result actually takes us to top-spot in the league, albeit having played more games than all the sides around us. A very pleasant sight for sure, although we have to bear in mind there will be 13 matches across the league before we’re next in action. Things could look a bit different then.

Returning to the match itself and we were handed a 1-0 head start due to a no-show on Board 2. Adam had a pleasant evening of drinking tea and eating biscuits, but I’m sure he’d rather have been playing chess.

We then found ourselves 1-2 down with losses for Charlie and John. Charlie’s proud, unbeaten run ended in inauspicious circumstances as he somehow moved the wrong Knight early on and allowed his Queen to be taken for free. A complete aberration that can perhaps be laid at the feet of John White and his Hammersmith Drinking Club offshoot that met at the weekend!!

I’m not sure the other John has such an easy target to blame though. By his own admission, he made a mess of the opening and despite throwing the kitchen sink at his opponent in retaliation, it wasn’t to be.

Rich was next to finish, again finding himself on the wrong side of a blunder (Rook this time) due to time trouble. Shame, as the position looked pretty dead-even before the mistake but the clock is merciless. 1-3 and it looked a real fight to get anything from the match.

Dipender continued his solid run for the team with a good win on Board 4 to bring things back to 2-3. The game seemed relatively well-balanced both materially and positionally, until some clever manoeuvring allowed Rc1+. That meant the Bishop had to come back and defend and suddenly pawns were vulnerable inside the camp. Dipender’s style always appears calm and in control (does it feel that way inside??) and he used that control to slowly improve his position before an opponent mistake allowed a cheap pin on minor piece and King. It was all over.

Wyatt and Paul playing on Boards 7 and 8 had mixed fortunes, but I think they both played well. Wyatt established a commanding position in the late middle-game with a wave of pawns advancing to certain promotion. Eventually one Queen’d and the material advantage looked crushing! Undeterred however, his opponent threw everything forward and tried to find a mate with Queen, Rook and Bishop aimed at the Hammer King. It looked hairy for a while, but Wyatt held his nerve, repelled the attack and soon has his own unavoidable mate on the cards. 3-3

Paul, making his debut for the club in any league, was forced to make some concessions out of the opening but fought back to reach what Fritz would probably say was a theoretically drawn 4 vs 4 pawn endgame, but it was tricky. His doubled-pawns meant slight errors were magnified and such was the case. Both colours eventually added another Queen to their ranks, but Paul’s opponent had an easy way to pin and remove both Queens, leaving another pawn to easily promote for the win. Solid performance from Paul on his first time out. 3-4 down

Paul and Wyatt, deep in thought

But the performance of the night has to go to fellow debutant Alexander on Board 1. He took down his higher-rated opponent in some style, forcing his Knight into an outpost on c6 which effectively dominated a quarter of the board. The game was level on material but Alexander always had the edge given his monster Knight, and managed to work some clever tactics involving a Queen on h8 and a battery of Rooks on the e-file. Great to watch. His opponent was very gracious in defeat, and it was nice to see enjoyment on both sides despite the result going in our favour. 4-4 DRAW, and relief all round in the Shakespeare!

Full scorecard below:

13.03.18 – London Division 6: Hammersmith v Greater London

In the second part of our GLCC double-header on Tuesday, the London 6 team took on their Greater London counterparts.

With Mike Mackenzie sitting this one out, our reporter-of-the-year Robin took over as captain and gives us the following brief notes:

Victory for Hammersmith Hedger, cruising to a smooth 3-1 win!

Dan the magic man was the first to finish. His opponent opened with the curious 1. b3!?, and was subsequently crushed. 1-0

The man of the moment – Dan, pictured far back on the right sporting a pink shirt. Great win

Captain Robin was next. He had 3 pawns for a Knight, and won a textbook ending. 2-0

Simon mated his opponent with Queen and Rook on f7 – no coming back from that. 3-0

Last up was Nick, who fell foul of the clock and, in a result that could never be described as charming, lost on time. Unlucky! 3-1

21.03.18 – London Division 3: Kings Head v Hammersmith

Parte sesta – welcome to the latest boy’s-own adventure of Starship Hammer 1 and it’s season-long mission to gain promotion to Division 2 of the London League.

Captain’s Log – Star Date 21/03/18

The team has beamed down to the multi-cultural planet Citadines to meet in deadly chess combat the species known as Regum Caput Duo.

They are the Division leaders and undefeated at the board this season.

The landing party was led by non-playing Captain Clueless. Read on and enjoy the dramatic night that unfolded…..

You could feel the tension in the air. The Hammer landing party were taking on the League Leaders and the result would shape and dictate the course of our season. A win and anything is possible. A loss would throw us firmly on to the back foot.

The team was primed and ready – they knew the task and they were there to deliver.

The Hammer team in board order:

Thomas (T-Bone), Marios (Zeus), Bajrush (Wily), Paul McK (Prof), Jim (Loco), Chris (Sydney), Jeremy (Brexit), Paul K (Dead-Eye), Sheikh (Pandit) and Pavel (Spock).

The clock ticked away and all the team were there except Zeus, who had gone AWOL. This caused Clueless a few anxious moments, but Gods always get there in the end (apologies to all secularists) and he duly arrived 10 minutes after the match had commenced.

In some ways he needn’t have bothered – his opponent was a no-show. Whether it was the reputation of our Zeus, or another reason, I leave to you to consider. It did not matter – Hammer were on the scoreboard. 1-0

Next to finish on board three was Wiley, who went for his classic (or disastrous, depending on your point of view) early g4 punt. It was initially double-edged but Wily always plays the middle-game and endgame strongly. He duly triumphed and his game is given below. Hammer forging ahead at 2-0

The next result saw Sydney make it 3-0. Sydney, after some uncertain steps early in the season, is coming into his best form. He won an early pawn and through forceful play translated this into a well deserved and most welcome win:

On board 10 Spock faced an unusual white setup from his opponent and play got complicated – and I have to confess, I was getting anxious. Being a non-playing captain is extremely frustrating at times and generally not good for the nerves. I was worried for Spock. As usual, my angst was misplaced – Spock is so solid he rarely plays bad moves. Sure enough, a draw was agreed and Hammer moved to 3.5-0.5

Now to the only reverse of the night with Pandit totally misplaying his game and his opponent’s ability to harvest pawns. Pandit battled on valiantly, hoping in vain for an error that never came, that would allow him to turn the tables. He gracefully resigned but stayed on to support the team. Hammer pegged back to 3.5-1.5

The next two games were draws as both Loco and Brexit secured the half-points for Hammer. Moving the Hammer landing party to 4.5-2.5

To be honest, Brexit played a bit of a David Davies – a lot of bluff and gusto, and nearly got “Barnier-ed“. He was a pawn down, on the white side of a Nimzo-Indian, with no real compensation against Kings Head Captain Peter – who thankfully offered a draw in a very murky position for our “Jezza”. Brexit, unlike in real life, had got something tangible.

On board five Loco faced an opponent who wanted to get from the opening to the endgame as quickly as possible. In the pub later, Loco lamented the move Bd3-Bc2 which threw away his advantage. He pushed hard and picked up a piece, unfortunately the black king was too active and was able to force a total pawn elimination. He was never in danger of losing but was frustrated by his move mis-step.

Victory was secured in the next game when T-Bone probed and manoeuvred his way to victory. He positionally outplayed his opponent on the white side of a Kings Indian Samisch, forcing a passed d-pawn and then concluding with a tactical denouement that netted the Black Queen. This was French flair chess at its best. Hammer winning now at 5.5-2.5

The last two games were both adjourned on the night.

Dead-Eye’s opponent offered a draw on move 12. This was brusquely turned down by Dead-Eye who was visibly annoyed. Not a good move from his opponent. Dead-Eye personifies the Speelman approach to chess – he was in warrior mode and ready to fight. “GM draws” are not in his chess dictionary. Suffice it to say, the Oracle – known as Stockfish – puts Dead-Eye at +7 in the adjourned position. I duly expect a resignation from his opponent in the next couple of days.

Finally to The Prof himself, who faced a tricky opponent. To be frank, The Prof was in no mood to be trifled with. His opponent in desperation threw a serious sack into the equation where a hasty response would have led to a possible perpetual. The Prof took his time and sealed his move – the most conservative of choices, but one that guaranteed victory. That move was fxe4, I can tell you that because we have received his opponent’s resignation the following day. Great performance from The Prof and a far more controlled affair than some of his flights of fancy this season.

So, Hammer 1 are currently at 6.5-2.5. This will become 7.5-2.5 when Dead-Eye duly wins as well.

A brilliant performance by the Hammer crew and one that indicates we are not only gunning for promotion but also to go up as champions. Captain Clueless is very content!

The result will resound throughout the Division and definitely enforce the feeling that Hammer 1 are a serious outfit this season.

Captain Clueless signing out – but leaving with one reflection.

The strength of this Hammer team is that it draws its players from all parts of the world, gathered together in union to fight as one, for a small corner of West London. That is really something.

Go Hammer, Go Hammer 1 – the road is rising to meet us. This was another step towards our goal and our destiny.

Clueless over and out.

Chess – the Musical!

Exciting times in the West End, as Chess the musical makes a welcome return to the London stage after many years!

It’s only on for 5 weeks starting in April – so you’ll need to secure tickets sooner rather than later.

The story of course features the beautiful game, set against a cold war backdrop:

The world’s two greatest chess masters – one American and one Russian – risk becoming pawns for each of their governments as they battle for the world title. Meanwhile, a remarkable woman and Hungarian refugee throws the two chess masters’ lives into further confusion by becoming the centre of their turbulent triangle. The three characters’ heightened passions mirror those of the political struggles around them: threatening to destroy lives and loves.

This epic musical love story will open on Thursday 26th April 2018 for a strictly limited 5-week season. Book your tickets for Chess at the London Coliseum today!

Chess includes international hit singles like “One Night in Bangkok” and “I Know Him So Well”. It also features well-known songs like “Anthem”, “Pity the Child”, “Heaven Helps My Heart” and “Someone Else’s Story”.


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