Reflections on the Summer Chess League’s first season, by JOHN WHITE

To be read in a Morgan Freeman voice as in the Shawshank Redemption…

As the sun sets on the first season of the Summer Chess League (SCL) I think a John Arlott-esque moment is called for and hence I shall share my thoughts with you, my fellow Hammerites, on this inaugural season.

The whole concept grew out of the challenge match between us and Battersea held on two nights in the Summer of 2016. The original El Chessico and the commencement of a great but friendly rivalry between our clubs.

Hammersmith's John White
Hammersmith’s John White

The biggest bonus of the event was meeting Leon and Aldo of Battersea Chess Club. Two ultra-chess enthusiasts with energy and vision you cannot buy.

The former drove the SL website as well as pioneering the idea of different names for the teams. He also had the stunning idea of approaching the BBCA and getting them to enter a team.

Aldo, was the creative genius behind the Summer League. The introduction of such things as listing all the games online, the Simon Williams analysis, the branding, the visual displays, the sets and clocks, the banner and the trophy were all down to him.

GM Simon Williams analyses the game
GM Simon Williams analyses the game

On top of it all, he organised the superb launch night – the best chess event I have ever participated in.

The League owes these two a huge debt and a huge vote of thanks and appreciation.

The other conspirators in this cabal were Richard Tillett from Streatham and Brixton and Mo Islam from BBCA.

The final Summer Chess League standings for 2017
The final Summer Chess League standings for 2017

Richard was the wise-head on all the technical and law matters. He is the
sort of guy you want on any Committee.

Mo, was the man who brought the BBCA to the party – he is great guy, good chess player (we drew on individual game) and a real gentleman.

Furthermore, the captain of the winning team.

From a Hammer point of view the final result saw us Totally and Just Hammered. We certainly lived up to our names.

However, I never felt that in this first season from our perspective that was the overriding factor.

This was about giving as many members exposure to competitive and rated chess games over the long summer.

Plus, a lot of new members got a chance to play their first competitive match.

Well over thirty members, including many new ones, took part and we were able to blood two new captains.

In fact, I must pay special thanks to both Marios and Ken in stepping up to the plate and giving Adam and I the luxury of just playing chess.

They did a first-class job – especially with such innovations as Teamer in team selection and a willingness to analyse games with members.

Two of our members featured in Simon William’s online analysis – Tony Niccoli and Adam.

Both games showed the fighting chess that Hammer is renowned for.

So, it ends till next Summer but we as a club have a solid base to build on as we start the “Old Chess Season”.

GMs Simon Williams and David Howell
GMs Simon Williams and David Howell

There is so much in the pipeline for our club, new equipment, a new
internal tourney, new members, a probable visit to Cork and the return visit from our friends in Amsterdam.

I will share one last anecdote and this one really encapsulates the spirit of the Summer League and our great game.

On the opening night of fixtures, the two gentlemen who founded the BBCA asked if they could address the gathered company before the games commenced.

These two guys were both teachers, one primary one secondary, and had founded the BBCA to give the young people of Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets a creative and educational outlet.

Not only that but they wanted to use chess as a tool against radicalisation and to promote harmony in that part of London.

I have seen chess do many things but if our wonderful, mad and beautiful game can achieve that then there really will be some hope for our world and our city.