The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"The Campbell Report" - May/June 2001

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“Arguably the strongest …”

One of the most respected journalists in the cc community in the USA is FIDE Master Alex Dunne. In his Chess Life column "Check is in the mail" for April 2001 he listed the correspondence chess organizations that serve USA residents. His description of APCT started, “Arguably the strongest of the U. S. clubs, this organization is for more experienced postal players.” Thanks for the fine compliment, Alex! APCT is the standing U. S. National Team Champion, having won the championship in competition with the other leading cc organizations in the NTC-1 tournament. APCT columnist Jon Voth was the team captain of our victorious 50-board team in that very successful competition. I played board 43. Bravo APCT! We are the best!

ICCF Rating List … APCT'er Enters Top 200

ICCF publishes their rating list twice a year. The April 1, 2001 list (covering results reported by Dec. 31, 2000) just came out before I wrote this column. There are currently 9,268 people in the list, leading to a lot of work for ICCF Ratings Commissioner Gerhard Binder of Germany, who processed 16,519 results from 6,118 players in 1,323 tournaments and 119 country matches.

I always find it interesting to see how I and my friends rate on the latest list. Dr. Ian Brooks, who many will remember for his excellent APCT NB columns, has been steadily rising on the list and has now firmly placed himself in the Top 200 list. He sent me the amusing comments below:

“I thought that my rating was going to be 2551 and that I would just make the top 200 list. I pulled up the list and looked around 2551 and was disappointed not to find my name. I did a search and almost fell of my chair! I never thought I would be ranked 133, maybe 180 but not that high. Immodestly I suspect this may be the highest ever ranking and rating for an APCT player?”

Well, what a pleasant surprise for Ian! Actually, his rating is 2563, which would place him third among USA players (actually, Brooks is listed for England, though he has resided in the USA for some time). The top USA player listed is at 2605. Following are two lists of top players, based on my best efforts.

Top Five USA Players

  • 53. René P. duCret (2605)
  • 57. Alik Zilberberg (2603)
  • 149. Victor V. Palciauskas (2558)
  • 149. Gary Abram (2558)
  • 170. John C. Timm (2552)

Top Five [correction: SIX] APCT Players

  • Ian Brooks (2563)
  • Jon Edwards (2509)
  • N. Eric Pedersen (2452)
  • Tony Albano (2420) [correction: Tony left out of original list by mistake]
  • Allan Savage (2400)
  • Robert Domanski (2399)

Happy 50th Birthday ICCF!

The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) was constituted on 22nd March 1951 and has, since then, served the international cc community, held world championships & team Olympiads, granted titles and international ratings and generally promoted our art/sport/science throughout the world. APCT is a member federation of ICCF and APCT members are eligible to play international chess in ICCF competitions. Competition is available to all classes of players. To celebrate this significant occasion of the ICCF Jubilee, the ICCF President Alan Borwell has announced several free tournaments and special events. Read his Special Jubilee Press Release at the ICCF web site or contact the ICCF-U.S. office for additional information. The ICCF site is at: http://www.iccf.com/ and the ICCF-U.S. office can be contacted at: ICCF-U.S., 1642 N. Volusia Ave., Suite 102, Orange City, FL 32763. The closing date for entries is July 15, 2001.

FIDE Continues to be Controversial

The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) continues to shine when compared to the corresponding OTB organization FIDE. The President of FIDE has been accused of various personal wrong-doings. The attempts to commercialize the game by FIDE has attracted much criticism. Recently the President of FIDE announced that time limits would be shortened to make the game more attractive to TV and sponsors. Though some players have expressed conditional support, many have expressed strong opposition. Some liken it to eliminating serious chess competition.

In another development, FIDE is starting a series of Grand Prix events. This would not only require the use of the shorter time limits but would funnel all prize funds through FIDE. There is naturally a lot of resistance to this. The organizers of three of the super chess tournaments recently met and announced their decision to remain independent.

The press release issued started as follows: “The representatives of the organizational committee from the three major chess tournaments: Corus, Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands), Dortmund (Germany) and ‘Ciudad de Linares’ (Spain) have decided in their meeting during the XVIII edition of the 'Ciudad de Linares' International Chess Tournament to issue the statement in a connection with the proposal from FIDE COMMERCE LIMITED concerning to constitute the Foundation of the WORLD CHESS GRAND PRIX.” It continued that they wished to retain their independence and would not, at this time, be part of the FIDE Grand Prix.

Artiom Tarasov, President of FIDE Commerce International Ltd, the group given complete commercial rights to FIDE, issued the following statement: “In certain cases, for the progressive good of chess, we will organise new tournaments in the capital cities of some of these countries. This would be a slightly unfortunate situation for some events as the new Grand Prix events will be likely to take place at the same time as those events rejecting our proposal.” It sounds rather like a threat to me, stating that they plan to organize competing tournaments in the same locations and the same times in order to force them to accept FIDE's demands. It sort of reminds me of the old “protection” racket.

Thank goodness for ICCF!

Man vs. Computer Match Nears End

I'll probably wrap up my story about Senior Master Steve Ham vs. the Fritz and Nimzo chess engines next time. The chess engines have demonstrated surprising strength playing at cc time limits. It looks like Nimzo 7.32 will finish with a win and a draw while Fritz 6 will have two draws (one Fritz game is still underway). My impression is that, even in correspondence play, the consistency of chess software is the key. Without suffering instances of being tired, having other duties to distract it or just being tired of playing, the chess engines play consistently move after move, while the human player has his weak moments which cause errors. I got the impression throughout of the human having a better "understanding" of the position, yet without the moments of weakness the computer chess engines obtained excellent results. These games were played as though the opponent were another human … no anti-computer techniques were used. A repeat match using such techniques would certainly be interesting.

But Not Only Moral Lessons …

Readers are always glad to hear about or from our chess friend Stephan Gerzadowicz. In the Jan-Feb 2001 issue we heard some of his ideas under the title “The Moral Lessons of Chess.” I recently received additional information concerning his teaching program at the International Charter School in Trenton, NJ. To quote SG:

“Three years ago I was hired to teach chess in Princeton because of the game's demonstrated ability to improve academic performance and enhance intellectual development. I am convinced chess does that and has done it here.

“Unfortunately that is difficult to measure. So it is gratifying that scholastic tournaments exist to give some indication of the worth of our program. But I wish to assure parents that we are not a chess factory. It is possible to teach chess with the sole aim of maximizing tournament success, the equivalent of SAT test preparation. I do not do that.

“My aim is to teach logic and orderly, sequential thinking, sportsmanship and civilized behavior. If this approach also helps kids win games, then that's a bonus.”

It is apparent that he has achieved all the aims of his program, including the bonus of winning games. Congratulations to him and his kids on their great success in the state championships. They achieved First Place in the K-3 division and Second Place in the K-6 division with many excellent results by individual team members.

Dr. Eduard Dyckoff Top CC Player in History?

Chess Mail magazine recently named Tõnu Õim as the Top CC Player in History, based on a reader poll (see my column in the Jan-Feb 2001 issue of APCT NB). APCT'er Walter J. Lewis of Soledad, CA has a different opinion. He sent the following:

“I would like to comment on the recently published results of a reader poll in Chess Mail magazine for the five top correspondence chess players in the history of the game.

“It was sad to see no mention of Dr. Eduard Dyckoff. For those not familiar; in 1929, 1930, and 1931 he won the European Correspondence Chess Championship which was then the equivalent of the world championship. In 1932 he was second behind H. Muller and in 1937 second behind Dr. M. Vidmar. Of the fifty games he played in these tournaments he lost none!

“If you think the competition was soft in those days, I submit the following game, which features a Queen sacrifice against none other than Grandmaster Paul Keres!”

Keres,P - Dyckhoff,D [C83]
1935-36 Correspondence Olympiad, 1935
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Be7 10.Be3 0-0 11.Nbd2 Nxd2 12.Qxd2 Qd7 13.Qd3 Na5 14.Bc2 g6 15.Bh6 Bf5


Black does not allow White a powerful deployment of his attacking forces by 15… Re8 16. Ng5 Bc5 17.Qf3

16.Qe2 Rfe8 17.Nd4 Bxc2 18.Nxc2

The knight heads for g4 after the push f4 by White. 18… Bd6 19.f4 f6 20.Qd3 fxe5 21.f5 Bc5+ 22.Kh1 e4 23.Qg3 Bd6 24.Qg5 Re5 25.Ne3 if now 25… Qe7 to exchange Queens, 26.Ng4 Qxg5 27.Bxg5, and White wins the exchange.

25… Qf7 26.Qh4!

Very deep analysis by Dr. Dyckhoff shows that this is better than 26.f6. Black must now walk a tightrope and come up with some truly amazing moves. 26… Nc4! 27.fxg6 Qxg6 28.Rf6 Rh5!


An incredible move! A Queen sacrifice that actually loses a tempo, how often do you see that? Clearly, this moves exemplifies Dyckhoff's genius.

29.Rxg6+ hxg6 30.Qf6 Rxh2+ 31.Kg1 Rxh6 32.Qg5 Kh7 33.Ng4! Bc5+ 34.Kf1 Rh1+ 35.Ke2 Rxa1 36.Qh6+ Kg8 37.Qxg6+ Kh8! 38.Qf6+ Kh7 39.Qh6+ Kg8 40.Qg5+ Kh8! 41.Qxd5 Rf8 42.Qh5+ Kg7 43.Qxc5 Rff1 44.Qxc7+ Kg6 45.Qg3! Rae1+ 46.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 47.Kxe1 Nxb2 48.Kd2 Kf5 49.Ne3+ Kf4 50.Nd5+ Ke5 51.Nc7 Nc4+ 52.Ke2 Na3 53.Nxa6 Nb1 54.Nb4 Nxc3+ 55.Kd2 Nb1+ ½-½

“Maybe the readers of Chess Mail didn't give Dr. Dyckhoff a vote, however, I'd venture he'd get a vote from Paul Keres.”

Thanks for sharing your comments and this game with us, Walter. For those who may have missed it, here is the list published in Chess Mail magazine:

  1. Tõnu Õim (Estonia)
  2. Hans Berliner (USA)
  3. Vladimir Zagorovsky (Russia)
  4. Cecil Purdy (Australia)
  5. Gert Timmerman (Netherlands)

The Writing of Chess Stories

I've often suggested that chess enthusiasts should find multiple ways to enjoy our fabulous art/sport/science, since chess fits all these categories in numerous ways. Tim Blevins of Waverly, VA responded to a recent such suggestion by sending me one of his excellent chess-related short stories, “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: A Short Story” by Timothy Blevins.

As he feared, shortness of time has prevented me from reading the entire story but I have read the first third and was surprised at the quality of the writing and the interesting story. I'll certainly finish the story soon. A few professional writers are famous for their chess stories, but there is a lot of writing talent among APCT'ers and other less famous chess players. If you enjoy writing then why not give it a try. Mr. Blevins recommends keeping a chess set handy while reading his story, promising some real chess content.

Recently a like-minded chess enthusiast Harold Bearce has established a web site on the Internet dedicated to publishing chess-related stories. He recently added a link to the web site of one of the all-time top APCT players and former USA cc champion Jon Edwards, where you can read Edwards' stories “Uncle Fred's Gambit” and “Bob.” Following are the Internet addresses (URL's) of these two sites:


A Bride's Gotta Do What …

That was the headline over a short news item published in the 2001 Nr. 2 issue of New in Chess, my favorite chess publication. The “bride” is the singing star Madonna, who was recently married to film director (and chess enthusiast) Guy Ritchie. The article quotes a close friend as saying, “Like any new bride, Madonna wants to please her man. If that means learning his game, she'll do it.” The article further reports that both of them are currently taking chess lessons from Scottish champion Alan Norris.

Chess has frequently been connected to the arts’ community through the years with many famous artists and actors known to be chess enthusiasts. It appears that this connection continues. A recent controversy was created when the Chess Life editor decided to devote the cover of the magazine and considerable magazine space to the Kasparov vs. Sting chess publicity stunt. It seems that this popular singer and his band are big chess fans and that the well-publicized match between Kasparov and Sting was a big success. Some chess players were unhappy to see so much magazine space devoted to relatively weak chess players, but there is undoubtedly a lot of interest in our singers and artists, and when they are also chess enthusiasts, so much the better.

A Dose of Microbes …

One of the great chess writers is certainly past OTB champion Mikhail Tal, whose book Life and Games of Mikhail Tal is one of the great books of chess literature. I want to share with you a small excerpt from the beginning of this book and suggest that you check this book out for yourself.

“… When one of us first plays chess, he is like a man who has already caught a dose of microbes of, say, Hong Kong flu. Such a man walks along the street, and he does not yet know that he is ill. He is healthy, he feels fine, but the microbes are doing their work.

“Something similar, though less harmful, occurs in chess. You have just been shown that the knight moves like the Russian letter L, the Bishop -- diagonally, the castle -- in a straight line, while the Queen -- likes her own colour. You lose the first game. But at some time, if your father or elder brother or simply an old friend wants to be kind to you, then you win, and as a result feel very proud of yourself. A few days pass, and suddenly you involuntarily begin to sense that, without chess, there is something missing in your life. Then you may rejoice: you belong to that group of people that does not have a natural immunity to the chess disease …

“This is the way we all begin. And then --- the same road; for some it is smooth, for others less so. But when you sit down to play a match for the World Championship, then sometimes you recall that first game.”

My 60 Memorable Draws

“My grandfather plays more interesting chess than Peter...and he's been dead for years!” This is a quote from the English Grandmaster Nigel Short about the Grandmaster from Hungary Peter Leko, who also plays a bit of correspondence chess for the Hungarian Olympiad team. He is referring to the super-solid form of chess played by Leko, which leads to numerous draws and very few decisive games. In one of his reports on the Kasparov-Kramnik match in London John Henderson reports a discussion in the press room with some suggested book titles for Leko.

  • My 60 Memorable Draws
  • 1001 Drawing Combinations
  • Drawing Fundamentals
  • Warmth on Board (a take on Alexei Shirov's “Fire On Board”)

Henderson added a few more of his own:

  • Achieving The Draw
  • My Drawing System
  • The Drawing Labyrinth
  • The Chess Draw In Theory And Practice
  • Draw Is OK!

Welcome Frank Niro!

After editing this bulletin for approximately 30 years, Helen Warren is retiring and handing over the reins to Frank Niro. During these years Helen Warren has achieved many successes, from the small achievement of attracting me to the APCT organization based on the quality of the magazine to the greater successes recognized by the Chess Journalists of America through the many CJA awards given to the magazine as the “best correspondence chess magazine.” There were also a number of CJA awards for articles and columns published inside the magazine. One era ends as another begins. I wish to welcome Frank Niro to his new job and express confidence that our magazine will continue to grow and achieve even more success and recognition for excellence. It's a pleasure to be working with you, Frank!

copyright © 2000, 2001 by J. Franklin Campbell

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