Two Personal Highlights
As most readers probably know, I maintain a personal chess web site (The Campbell Report). My old columns are archived there, as well as many other features, such as current ICCF and US CC Championship crosstables, articles, annotated chess links, cartoons and other material. Recently, my site received it's 100,000th visit (it took a little over 3 years).
My second personal highlight was being nominated for the annual Fred Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism for my work on the web site for CJA, the Chess Journalists of American (http://chessjournalism.org/) along with Dan Lucas (Georgia Chess Bulletin), Hanon Russell (Chess Café web site), GM Yasser Seirawan (Inside Chess web site) and GM Eduard Gufeld (General Works). It seems unlikely that I could win, but being nominated along with these outstanding gentlemen of the chess journalism world is award enough.
My Approach to using Reader Contributions
I love input from readers. Whether I'm reading New in Chess or Chess Life, one of the first things I read are the letters from readers. Larry Evans' popular CL column is in this format, with letters from readers followed by his responses. The readers form the life blood of a publication, and their opinions and observations are important. Thus, I try to use as many reader contributions as possible. For one thing they represent a wide spectrum of opinion and membership interests. For another, they stand as a useful foil to the viewpoints of an individual columnist and are useful in curbing excesses and oversights all too possible for an individual.
Here is a response I received recently:
Since you've ignored my last 3 or 4 contributions to your column, it leads me to suspect that your liberal politics don't put you above censoring somebody.
It turned out that my ignoring the last 3-4 contributions was a misunderstanding due to publication delays. I had not ignored anything. Also, there is some truth to the accusation that I have liberal political leanings. In fact, I could actually be labeled a "flaming liberal." I'm also a "card carrying ACLU member." However, claiming "your liberal politics don't put you above censoring somebody" is insulting indeed! Censorship is hardly a liberal concept! Quite the opposite is true. I often publish opinions that are in conflict with my own. I will argue my point of view, but I will not censure.
Well, editorial judgment must certainly be exercised. If I judge a contribution to be unsuitable for publication in my column for any reason I will not use it. Contributions that are of poor quality, address unsuitable subjects or are abusive or offensive are good candidates for exclusion. I also retain the right to make corrections in spelling and punctuation and to make slight changes in grammar. I will also edit for length in some cases, though it is my objective to be totally fair and to avoid any misrepresentations or any changes that would alter the meaning of the contribution or the opinions of the contributors. Clearly (as shown by the past) I won't satisfy everyone, though my intentions are the best.
N. Eric Pedersen's Qualifications
Congratulations to APCT's N. Eric Pedersen on what appears to be a record. As documented in the following e-mail message I received from him recently, he has not only qualified for the top events in the three major USA domestic organizations, but he's playing in all three simultaneously! Wow I'm impressed. Way to go, Mr. Pedersen!
Top Six APCT Players in ICCF Ratings
Once again I must revise my list. It's not easy sorting through these rating lists looking only for certain subsets of players! Congratulations to John Knudsen for "joining the list" (sorry for leaving you out before, John).
Using a Demo Board for CC
7th U. S. Correspondence Chess Champion Dave Taylor recently accepted the challenge of playing a team of players who are regulars at The Correspondence Chess Message Board (TCCMB) on the Internet. I commented on his speed of play he has used one day of time for his first 24 moves. I got this response from Simon Fitzpatrick of the message board, which I found quite interesting:
An interesting approach to analyzing a current cc position. I wonder how common the use of a demonstration set may be.
More on Computer Use in CC
I recently received the following from APCT'er Chip Chapin of Hawaii. I don't honestly know if his speculation about wide-spread illegal use of computers is correct or not. I've always thought of APCT'ers as a good group of competitors who play by the rules. The APCT rules are very clear about the illegality of using a computer for anything but record keeping and database searching no use of computer chess engines (which evaluate moves) is allowed!
A new term has recently been coined "Postman." A postman is a person who handles the mail for the computer. When a move arrives the "postman" feeds the move to the computer and waits for "orders." When the computer has made a move the "postman" records the move and puts the response in the mail. I use to use the term "secretary" for this type of person. Thus the former player becomes the servant of the computer, doing the menial work while the computer makes all the intelligent decisions. What kind of reversal of roles is this, where the human serves as the servant of the computer, instead of vice versa?
Of course, a player may make use of a computer chess engine to help evaluate positions and decide on moves to play without being a "postman." I can frankly appreciate that some people would enjoy this role, even though I'm with Chip on this one it doesn't suit me at all. I had to perform this role for 1-1/2 years in the Senior Master Steve Ham vs. Computer Engines match, where I did the grunt work of running the computer and not being involved in any of the chess decisions of the games. It was a worthy experiment, but I sure got tired of running the computer's errands.
I don't know whether illegal computer use is a real problem with APCT or any other organization. Rest assured that any use of computer chess engines to evaluate positions brands you a cheater in APCT play. See what Chip has to say:
Ian Brooks scores GM Norm
Many APCT News Bulletin readers will remember with fondness the regular column by Ian Brooks. I would like to congratulate him on his recent GM norm and second place finish with O. Buraschi (ARG) in the ICCF Reg Gillman Memorial B tournament. The GM norm was 9 points and Ian scored 10/14, just half a point behind the winner V. Andriulaitis (LIT).
From the FIDE web site http://www.fide.com/ coverage of the games of the "Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting 2001". In a round 8 game Anand - Topalov (annotated by Vladimirov and Ehlvest) I read, "Topalov's opening choice indicates that despite dark colour of his pieces he is in an aggressive mood. An important role plays, of course, that Anand is in groggy." As indicated, this was not a good tournament for Anand. Most of us have probably experienced an event where we could describe our play in this fashion ("in groggy").
There's an amusing web site http://www.engrish.com/ which documents similar humor, though I didn't spot any instance of chess humor there. By the way, the FIDE web site is certainly much improved over the past and is worth visiting.
Speaking of Weird Stuff on the Web
GM Valery Salov maintains a web site as President of the World Players' Council. I believe this group purports to represent the interests of professional chess players, but, to tell the truth, the following description for Salov often crosses my mind: running dog of FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzinov. I always loved that old communist descriptive term "running dog" and it seems to apply here. It's funny to think of this guy as representing the interests of the players. The site has articles with titles like "Another Democracy Hater? Mark Crowther Spurns Peaceful Dialogue" and "The Moral Bankruptcy of Yasser Seirawan." Of course, Mark Crowther is one of the outstanding chess journalists and GM Yasser Seirawan is famous as a great gentleman of chess and for his logical and reasoned letters. Here is a quote from Seirawan and the response by Salov:
Man, this had me rolling on the floor! Sometimes things are so over the top that they are downright funny.
In another article discussing the lawsuits brought against FIDE, as reported by chess journalist Leontxo Garcia in his chess column for El Pais (in Spanish):
Well, I am really astonished at the way GM Salov expresses himself. It's hard to take his points seriously, when they are couched in such vitriolic language. It's no wonder that Seirawan eventually decided to stop publishing their exchanges on his web site.
Notes from a Super-Max Prison
I often hear from prisoners, inmates and clients, whatever the proper title. The message is pretty much the same, stories of harsh treatment, lack of interest in rehabilitation, over-crowding and of "warehousing" of prisoners. Chess can provide one small window to normalcy, though, and provide a source of pleasure and some small measure of self expression and a feeling of self worth and achievement. One such chessfriend recently sent me a publication describing the Supermax Prisons, with this cover note:
More on the Tournament of World Champions
Last time I discussed the amazing ICCF Jubilee tournament matching the eight living world champions plus the ratings leader. Never has there been such a tournament!
Michael Ware wrote the following, just before my last column was published:
I'll try to give adequate coverage. I'll certainly be following this wonderful event with great interest. I fully expect excellent coverage by the ICCF web site. Since it's being conducted by e-mail it should move right along. I suspect some of the players will experience some difficulty adjusting to an unfamiliar form of the game (e-mail). I predict we'll see some outstanding chess competition that will enrich our chess heritage and leave us with some memorable games. But who will win?
The tournament should be underway, but due to delays till the games all diverge from one another plus a 3-move delay before publication, the ICCF site hasn't yet started "live" coverage. Hopefully we'll be seeing some positions soon.
Max Euwe Centenary
Dr. Max Euwe, the World Chess Champion from Holland, was born 100 years ago on May 20, 2001. This popular champion defeated Alexander Alekhine in 1935 to claim the championship and helped create the Dutch fascination with the game. One of my friends who lives near Amsterdam reports that they have 38 very active chess clubs in that one city! The chess tradition lives on to this very day.
I remember as a high school student who had recently learned the game (and was already firmly in Caissa's grip) that we called this venerable gentleman "Dr. U" or, sometimes, "Dr. A-E-I-O-U", having not the least idea how to pronounce his name. However, even then I understood this was a universally respected man and a very strong chess player.
In honor of his centenary, New in Chess has published an English language edition of the book Max Euwe, The Biography by Alexander Munninghoff, a new edition of his original 1976 Dutch book. We'll undoubtedly be reading a lot about Max Euwe and this new book plus interviews of the author Munninghoff.
(More) Reading Chess Annotations
In a game vs. Karpov, annotated by the young Russian talent Alexander Grischuk: "Looking at my position after reaching the time control, I discovered to my surprise that I was winning." Earlier in the same game he commented, "After my game with Polgar I realized that the main thing in chess is to attack various enemy pieces with every move. Following this method, I endeavor to create mating threats, which are especially effective with time trouble imminent." In an interview he said, "When I was very young, they thought that I might want to be a physicist, too [like his parents - JFC]. But when I was eight years old I told them that I wanted to be a football player first, then a chess player and only then a physicist. For soccer I don't have any talent, so now I am a chess player."
In his notes to games from the Cappelle la Grande 2001 tournament in Norway, Einar Gausel said, "Julian Hodgson, my colleague in the German club Lubeck, seems to have a lot of success with teaching kids so weak that they don't even know the chess rules. It makes his own playing more relaxed, he says. I just get tired and confused."
Writing about the amazing Viktor Korchnoi (who, by the way, at the age of 70 has just won a strong Biel tournament ahead of Svidler) Genna Sosonko told this story: "When Korchnoi plays chess, he forgets about everything. Tal once told me that before a simultaneous display in Havana, Viktor was told: 'You will be playing Che Guevara. He is a rather weak player, but he loves chess passionately. He would be delighted if he were able to gain a draw.' Korchnoi understandingly nodded his head. A few hours later he returned to the hotel. 'Well?' Tal inquired. 'I crushed them all, all without exception!' 'And Che Guevara?' 'Che Guevara? I also crushed Che Guevara -- he hasn't a clue about the Catalan Opening!'"
My First Invitational and E-mail Methodology
Last time I wrote about playing in my first invitational event, which would be played primarily via e-mail, with which I have little previous experience. My postal methodology, developed over years of postal play, was clearly not suitable, so mistakes are just waiting to happen in this new tournament. I received the following (via e-mail) from Stan Evans:
Thanks, Stan, you have some great ideas there. Of course, everyone will develop their personal methodology based on their personal approach to the game. I can apply some of your ideas directly to my approach, though. I can verify that the possibility to play "blitz" is very real. Most of my games have averaged less than a day per move. I am slowing down now, though, attempting to avoid rushing my replies without adequate time to absorb the intricacies of the position. I think I've come up with a pretty solid methodology at least there have been no notation or recording errors so far. It is obvious that e-mail is not the same as postal in the recording and other mechanical aspects of the game. I particularly appreciate your emphasis on redundancy, which I believe is an important ingredient in an effective cc methodology.
Your comment about avoiding knowing your opponents' ratings is also very interesting. I've noted in the past that I sometimes played differently against different opponents, being more cautious vs. the higher rateds. Though I occasionally check my opponents' ratings I now try to play with the same focus and in the same style against all opponents and do, indeed, forget their ratings. When it comes time to offer or accept a draw or to resign a game, though, I'll probably be checking those ratings very carefully.
copyright © 2001 by J. Franklin Campbell
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