Chess Piece Collector
Chess columnists often hear from interesting people with interesting stories. I recently received the following:
I sent some suggestions on where chess pieces might be found. My personal favorite is the British Museum, where the famous Isle of Lewis chess set is housed (they have since sent a representative collection of pieces back to the Isle of Lewis, a major event which inspired a big chess festival in celebration). Back to the story & since I saw this set in person over 25 years ago in London this has been my favorite set. The world just hasnt been the same since then. There are many replicas of this set available, including one made by the London Museum using the original pieces to make the molds. They now offer a few individual pieces from this set, and I plan to put them on my Christmas list for this year. Hopefully Ill possess a replica White King from this set by the end of the year!
You can imagine how pleased I was to receive the following message from Debra:
Man, this message made my day! I cant say how pleased I am knowing that this young man and I will both be enjoying owning a piece of chess history after Christmas. The King, Queen and Knight are all available as individual pieces (actually playing chess with a set of non-Staunton pieces doesnt appeal to me, however).
If any of you out there would like to contribute to the chess passion of this young man please send the pieces to me. If you want a piece returned in exchange Ill try to arrange this also. I could also put you in direct touch with this family. If you have extra pieces sitting in your closet, if you have an interesting set and dont display all the pieces, if your club has a box of spare pieces sitting around, if you have an incomplete set which cant be used anyway, if you (fill in the blank) & perhaps you would consider sharing a few pieces with this enthusiastic collector. This is just one more way to share our common love of the game. Unless you request otherwise Ill mention any contributors in this column. Im sure this young man and his mother will be thrilled to receive a nice collection of chess pieces from APCT members, especially if there are some interesting and unusual pieces included. Of course, any information on how to find other collectors for them to contact would be most appreciated.
From the pen of Ted Bullockus
Im sure most of you are familiar with the famous USA cc personality Dr. Ted Bullockus. I was quite pleased to receive the following from this grand gentleman of cc:
Thanks for this description of your personal experience with chess in Iran, Ted. I hope your book sees print soon.
Speaking of Books
Chess Mail publisher and book author Tim Harding has just published a new book titled, Startling Correspondence Chess Miniatures. Tim has promised me a review copy and hopefully I can give a first-hand report next time, but for now Ill depend on John Knudsens review to tell me what I would expect of any Harding production. 100 outstanding miniatures are promised along with some tactical exercises. If it sounds appealing to you, I would suggest not waiting for any reviews but just purchasing the book. I cant believe you wont enjoy it. Watch the magazine for a listing & Im sure APCT will be carrying this well-produced book.
And, speaking of books
Whatever happened to him?
I was recently corresponding with Robin Smith about the crosstables for the USCCC finals. Hes currently leading the 13th USCCC finals (US CC Championship) with 7-0 and was interested in checking past USCCC performances. His checking revealed the outstanding performance of David C. Taylor in the 7th USCCC (1987-90) where he finished this strong tournament with 13½-½. This led Smith to ask the following:
Well, what a coincidence. I had just received a pre-publication copy of a book written by Taylor. Ill quote from the cover letter:
Prior to beginning this work in earnest, Dave successfully played the Ponziani in the 7th U. S. Correspondence Chess Championship (which he dominated with a score of 13½-½!). After that, he retired from correspondence play, since then concentrating his efforts on the creation of this work.
This work is a 36 chapter, 80-page spiral-bound book titled Ponziani Power, covering this opening in great detail (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3). Im no opening expert, so I cant speak to the technical quality of the book, but it is an impressive production, with contributions from Rick Melton that go beyond simple publication. Those of you familiar with Ricks 1996 book Secrets of a Chess Master will instantly recognize the similarities in production values. This book is clearly a labor of love by our 7th USA champion that will surely please those interested in trying out this provocative opening. Rick Melton thought enough of it to postpone finished up his sequel to Secrets & till next year to help Taylor get this book published, which speaks volumes about what he thinks of this book.
USA Fields Strong Team for NATT5
Max Zavanelli, ICCF-U.S. Secretary, has announced the team that will represent the USA in the North Atlantic Team Tournament V (NATT5) event. Alan Jones will serve as team captain, and play begins December 30, 2000.
IM Douglas Eckert (2361) and Andrew Katz (2405) are the reserve players, and the above team order may be altered. The USA team finished in 2nd in NATT4 behind a powerful English team.
Correspondence Chess Inspiration
To quote from the May-June edition of this column:
My first correspondence chess hero was, without a doubt, the Fifth Correspondence Chess Champion of the world Dr. Hans Berliner. His book on the championship tournament The Fifth Correspondence Chess World Championship, with co-author Ken Messere, was my cc bible for some time. I played the Alekhines Defense, following his practice in that tournament.
I received this pleasant note from the outstanding Canadian cc competitor
J. Ken MacDonald, who was equally impressed by this volume: I also did the same thing after reading my favourite chess book of all time! I took up the Alekhine and did well with it!
Of course, the Fifth World Champion Dr. Hans Berliner had done very well with the Alekhines Defense in this tournament. It was a useful weapon to have as Black and he grabbed me with his infectious description of this defense in his book. But Im not so sure it was any technical merit of the opening that helped me. Im more inclined to believe it was the inspiration I drew from this incredible chess player and first cc world champion from the USA. He played amazing chess, winning the world championship by a large margin. I found his example as inspiring to me as many found Fischers OTB example. Im pleased to hear that Im not alone in my admiration of this wonderful chess publication.
More Live cc Coverage
While live coverage of correspondence chess on the Internet continues to be a topic of heated discussion, major events are starting to move to this wonderful style of presentation. I can tell you from personal experience that posting games live on a web site is very labor-intensive. The action is exciting and fun to follow, but it takes some real dedication to keep the games updated on a regular basis. I myself cover just over 40 games at my web site, and it keeps me hopping (especially the email games, where moves seem to arrive hourly)!
Last time I reported on the remarkable Millennium Email Chess Tournament, featuring six of the top ten from the current ICCF rating list. This event has now been joined by the Capa X Anniversary GM Tournament matching three very strong Argentinian players vs. three other world-class players in an invitational all-GM event sanctioned by the ICCF. The players: Roberto Gabriel Álvarez (ARG), Rubén Berdichesky (ARG), Juan Sebastián Morgado (ARG), Hans-Marcus Elwert (GER), Grigory Sanakoev (RUS), and Olita Rause (LAT).
There are several top-ten players here including former cc World Champion Sanakoev and world number six Ms. Rause. We are promised monthly updates.
One feature of the coverage of these big on-line tournaments is that they arent updated daily. In fact, they are updated monthly, plus there is at least a 3-move delay between the moves played and the moves displayed. This insures that there is no advantage gained by opponents observing your other games. If you happen to have the same position with two or more players then your opponent in each game doesnt know which move you may be planning next.
Personally, I understand the 3-move delay, but I find the monthly posting rather pathetic. As a toiler in the field I can understand it from the point of view of labor, though. Man, thats one tough job.
Current Status of Steve Ham vs. Computer
The first result is in! Senior Master Steve Ham was held to a draw by Nimzo 7.32. It was a disappointing game for Steve, since he held a likely winning advantage, only to have the computer lock up the pawns, preventing any possible penetration. To quote Steve Ham,
Of course, Steve Ham played very well, but like any human player had a few moments of inconsistency. This is certainly a strength of the computer no relaxing, no overconfidence, no blunders of the normal fashion that all humans must suffer. The computer engines have performed surprisingly well, though. Many of us have been surprised by how well Nimzo and Fritz have performed in this match.
In a recent OTB tournament played in July 2000 in Dortmund, Germany Deep Junior, playing on a very powerful PC, was able to play even with top Grandmasters at standard time limits finishing with +2 -2=5. However, its losses seemed embarrassingly easy when the GMs played a form of anti-computer chess, which took advantage of the computer engines weaknesses. However, poor Peter Leko was knocked out of equal first in the event when he lost his last-round game to Fritz.
Stay tuned for future reports on the remaining three games. It looks like Ham will need a little luck to even up the match since hes trailing in two games. With the experience gained in this match hell be looking for revenge against another top chess engine. The author of this unnamed chess engine has challenged Ham to a 2-game match. The final arrangement still must be agreed upon, so for now I must maintain silence on the identity of this powerful chess engine.
Ham,Steve (ICCF 2508) - Nimzo 7.32 [E32]
copyright © 2000 by J. Franklin Campbell
|Home||Column Menu||Previous Column||Next Column|