Happy Holidays from Hammersmith Chess Club!

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 Magnus Carlsen 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.

The 2023 “Have your Say” Hammersmith Survey

Lectures and Training Sessions

We’ve had many strong players giving lectures at the Mindsports Centre this year, sharing their knowledge and speaking about various topics.

Norwegian GM Frode Urkedal (trying to find a way to prevent the London System?)

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 gave an interesting lecture referencing psychological aspects of the game

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.

League matches

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 Juniors team: 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).

GM Luke McShane vs Frank Valle

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.

The 2023 “Have your Say” Hammersmith Survey

We hope you have enjoyed this 2023 with us and once again we wish you happy holidays!

Hammersmith Chess Club

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