The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"The Campbell Report" - November/December 2001

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Please note my new address above for any future contributions to this column (omitted in web page version). Reader input is always invited and often dictates the content of this column. If possible, email input is preferred.

Stephan Gerzadowicz Returns!

The last time I reported on APCT'er Stephan Gerzadowicz he was teaching chess at a private school in Princeton, New Jersey, and he was being very successful with teaching young people not only how to play chess but with conveying the other valuable lessons to be learned from chess. Now he has moved on to other challenges and is living in Dallas, Texas. Rumor is that he will be more involved than ever with APCT, but you'll have to look elsewhere for details on this, possibly near the front of this issue.

Many people appreciate the writings of this remarkable chess journalist. For instance, in a review by Silman of "Journal of a Chess Original" by Stephan Gerzadowicz we read:

The fine typesetting, interesting quotes, and intelligent layout aside, it's Mr. Gerzadowicz's writing style that makes this book very worthwhile. Postal chess is somehow turned into something exciting and a colorful human being bares his soul (well, at least a little part of it!) to give us an uncommonly good read.

A couple more quotes about this book:

"There's probably no more entertaining annotator today than Stephan Gerzadowicz of East Templeton, Mass. His analysis of 53 of his games, mainly from postal events, in 'Journal of a Chess Original' is more enjoyable than most game collections of world champions." - Andy Soltis

"Delightful book! You are the best annotator that ever put paper in his typewriter - and I'm including Botvinnik, Keres, Fischer, Alekhine - you name him, he's included. All those other guys have great analysis and wonderful insights into the game. So do you, but you have one great advantage over them; you relate the game to life, and you do so with wonderful humor. Well done! - Vic Contoski (3rd US Correspondence Chess Champion)

The book I received a few hours ago is, without a doubt, the most beautifully produced chess book I have ever seen (the cover itself is simply great!). I directed Mary that I wish it to be placed in my coffin, but while Mary agreed that it was a beautiful book, she did think that was a bit much! It will go in the bag to France and I know that I am going to greatly enjoy it …" - Richard S. Callaghan, Jr. (ICCF IM).

This isn't meant to be a book review, and I have no personal plans to include Stephan G's book in my coffin, but I wanted to mention just one of his many projects that has met with such universal approval. He has written extensively for chess journals, such as Chess International and The Chess Connection as well as other books. Those who have played and analyzed with him are most impressed with his skills and enthusiasm for the game. The children who benefited from his teaching and leadership at the Princeton Charter School are lucky indeed. To quote from the Town Topics newspaper in Princeton, NJ:

"No other school came close to doing as well," declared Mr. Gerzadowicz, who has been teaching chess at the Charter School for three years. "I was hired to teach chess in Princeton because of the game's demonstrated ability to improve academic performance and enhance intellectual development," he continued. "I am convinced chess does that and has done it here."

He added that his aim is to teach "logic and orderly, sequential thinking, sportsmanship and civilized behavior," not to focus on tournament success alone. "If this approach also helps kids win games, then that's a bonus."

"Passing myself off as a Chess Master"

Stephan Gerzadowicz reports another example of an attitude many of us have faced, namely considering correspondence chess as a poor relative of "real chess." For example, the Internet Chess Club had a policy of giving free memberships to International Masters … this doesn't include cc IM's, though, or at least it didn't use to. An OTB master in Dallas, who teaches chess for a fee, has objected to SG calling himself a Master. This is a form of chess prejudice that offends me. CC and OTB are two different forms of the same game, each with its unique attractions and demands. As SG put it, "Opinions on the strengths of OTB vs. CC Master vary. But MANY OTB Masters also play CC, and very few get as high as #10 in the country." This refers to his best ranking in the USCF rating list, where SG reached the top ten.

I've seen this attitude very clearly on occasion in Chess Life magazine, where CC is somehow relegated to something less than "real chess." USCF has declared this to be the "Year of the OTB Player" … I wonder, will next year be the "Year of the CC Player?" I'm not holding my breath. I was encouraged by the attendance of USCF Executive Director George De Feis at last year's ICCF Congress in Daytona Beach. He was most supportive during the meetings, but I haven't seen any positive changes at USCF concerning the support of correspondence chess in the USA yet.

Stephan Gerzadowicz had a telling comment about the situation with the Dallas OTB Master. He commented, "I have been approached for lessons. Agreed to them. Did not know then that the students had been going to the IM. They were shopping around. Four of them. After one lesson they all switched to me." I can't say that I'm at all surprised. Talent and enthusiasm for chess, as well as teaching skills, are not much affected by the form of chess most commonly practiced, in my opinion. If anything, I would think the cc competitor might have an edge in understanding and teaching chess.

ICCF Establishes "Silent Week" in Memory of the Victims of the Terrorist Attack

ICCF President Alan Borwell (SCO) announced that all play in ICCF events would be suspended for the week of September 13-19, 2001 as a mourning period for those lost in the tragic terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001. Here is the text of his announcement:

Dear friends,

The terrible and horrifying atrocity inflicted yesterday on the United States of America and many thousands of its citizens and international visitors, has had a traumatic impact on all civilized people and countries around the World.

… Our thoughts are with them and all CC friends of the USA - let us hope and pray that none of them have been killed or seriously injured.

As a mark of respect and mourning for those who have been killed, injured and bereaved, all games in ICCF tournaments should be suspended from tomorrow 13th September until 19th September, a period of 7 days special leave is granted.

It is recommended that no moves be transmitted during the period. All Tournament Offices should advise all TDs and ask them to advise all players by Email, wherever possible.

A decision concerning the ICCF Congress, due to be held in Rimini, Italy, from 22nd to 29th September, will be taken this weekend, when the impact on travel etc. can be assessed in the aftermath of this tragedy. I will make an Announcement about it, probably on Sunday 16th September, on http://www.iccf.com/.

With feelings of deepest sympathy for all those who suffered,

Yours respectfully,
Alan P. Borwell,
ICCF President

Per Söderberg (SVE) made the following interesting statement:

A rather interesting thing about the ICCF mourning period. In today's - 20 Sept - biggest Swedish Newspaper (Dagens Nyheter) there was a note about the ICCF "silent week".

Fortunately, it was possible for the ICCF Congress to take place instead of being cancelled. I understand that an appropriate moment of silence was held at the beginning of the meeting in memory of those who were affected by the attack, as well as in memory of chess friends lost during the previous year.

Gert Jan Timmerman New World Champion

Gert Jan Timmerman (NLD) has won the 15th Correspondence Chess Championship by scoring 12/16 points and clinching first place. He was the only non-champion participating in the grand Tournament of Champions pitting the eight living world champions plus Timmerman against each other in an email round robin event. Timmerman had been invited based on his position on top of the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) rating list. The semi-annual rating list has just been released by ICCF and shows Timmerman still on top with a rating of 2734. Now this tournament can boast participation by the nine living world champions!

Congratulations to Mr. Timmerman on achieving the world title and becoming the 15th World Champion! The tournament between the nine world champions will be covered "live" with game moves updated monthly (but the last three moves not shown). However, coverage has not yet begun at the ICCF site since some games are still following the same lines. When the games have all diverged, coverage will begin.

Annual ICCF Congress in Italy

Each year the ICCF has a Congress of about a week to allow correspondence chess players and organizers to meet and discuss topics of importance to the game. Last year this took place in Daytona Beach, Florida, allowing me to finally meet many chess friends in person for the first time. Professor Max Zavanelli, the ICCF-U.S. Secretary, was host for that Congress, ably organized by the amazing Ruth Ann Fay. That was a fabulous opportunity for me and many other USA cc enthusiasts, and I shall never forget the people and events of that Congress.

This year the Congress took place in Rimini, Italy, and was organized by the Italian cc organization Associazione Scacchistica Italiana Giocatori per Corrispondenza (ASIGC). This was particularly appropriate because both ASIGC and ICCF were celebrating their Jubilee this year (both organizations have existed for 50 years). Congratulations to both organizations for serving the cc community for 50 years! Renato Incelli of Italy was presented an honorary ICCF membership by ICCF President Alan Borwell (SCO) in recognition of his excellent service to chess over the years.

The reports of actions taken during this year's Congress are just starting to filter out. The most significant change was the resignation of ICCF Webmaster Søren Peschardt (DEN), who has served in that position for three years. It's been my pleasure to work with Søren on occasions and I have found him to be a dedicated and talented individual. Thanks to Søren for his years of service in that particular position and for his steady improvements to the ICCF web site. His job will be assumed by professional web designer Evelin Radostics of Austria. I look forward to seeing the new features that will probably occur under her leadership. There is a lot of talent within our chess community, and it is always a pleasure to see what these talented individuals can achieve.

Hopefully I'll have more on the Congress in my next column. If you're on-line you can check the temporary Congress web site I set up at: http://correspondencechess.com/congress/

The Congress web site not only has the latest reports by ICCF Marketing Director Pedro Hegoburu (ARG) but also has links to much other interesting material, some photos, and the reports from the previous two Congresses.

Eight Games on One Card!

One of my chessfriends Wim H. van Vugt from The Netherlands sent me the following description of playing eight games with the same opponent and sending the moves to all eight games on a single postcard. Remarkable! … but it isn't easy.

At present I have a player with which I play 8 games at the same time in different tournaments. To save money we play all games on one card (yes, we play old-fashioned snail mail). I can tell you that it feels very unpleasant if you play more than 4 games, whether for mixing up games or even forgetting a move in one of the games. All these things have already occurred between us. Since all games have different time usages, it is quite a lot of work to do an accurate administration every time I send my moves.

After he overstepped the first time limit, which was acknowledged by the tournament director, he stopped noting his own time used. I could have punished him with 5 days on every move, but I didn't. I consider it as his loss of rights to contest any of my time-indications at all, if ever there should be a conflict. Next, when my opponent is in time-trouble in one of his games, I prefer to speed him up and even make an alert for him.

I believe that there is more harvest in all other games together by this than cashing in one easy point, relaxing the pressure for all the other games. The longer the time-trouble can last, the more chance there will be for a mistake. These could become a manifold, a kind of snowball effect. I think it is a good example of the chess proverb "The threat is worse than its execution." Of which I can add: "and the longer it lasts, the stronger the effect."

An interesting approach, Wim! Thank you for your very interesting observations and description of your approach to chess competition.

I would recommend to all players to carefully record all required information on every postcard or email. It is not wise to give your opponent such an advantage, should a problem occur. Of course, I would certainly not recommend conducting eight games on a single postcard!

Kasparov's Ego Prevents Championship Attempt

It was a shock to the OTB chess world when Champion Garry Kasparov lost his title in a match with challenger Vladimir Kramnik. Kasparov clearly believes the title should be his, and he has demonstrated through his incredible tournament successes this last year that he is still the top player. His rating also keeps him firmly in possession of the number one spot on the list. However, this has never been the criterion for the title of world champion. This title has traditionally been decided by a one-on-one match pitting the world champion vs. a worthy challenger. The fact is that Kramnik defeated Kasparov in the championship match and is therefore the champion (ignoring, for the moment, FIDE's establishment of a new and very different event for the world championship).

The organization that conducted the Kasparov-Kramnik match (Brain Games) has recently announced a challengers' event to determine the next challenger for Kramnik. Kasparov has announced publicly that he won't participate in such a lowly event, pronouncing himself the only proper challenger and calling for an immediate rematch. Here's a quote from Kasparov's interview published on his web site on September 28, 2001 where he makes his feelings clear:

In his recent interview with ChessBase, Kramnik's main second, Bareev, said: "We were lucky." (By the way, it is interesting to compare this confession with Bareev's proud interview that he granted last year in November.) Now it is quite understandable why Kramnik's number one task is not to play a rematch. Ever. It doesn't matter with whom and for what kind of money he will play the new match - whether his opponent be Leko, Topalov, or anyone else. The task is not to play it with me. He realizes that maybe this kind of thing won't happen twice. He has chances of winning the match, but he also has chances of losing it. I have a hunch that Kramnik estimates his chances at less than 50%, and so he doesn't want to run any risks now. You see, you cannot hit upon the "Berlin Wall" twice. And what if he'll have to play principled openings?

I believe that Kramnik's duty to the world of chess and himself is to prove that the outcome of the London match was not accidental. Kramnik is still chess player number two, and the world of chess is eager to know whether the London match's result is legitimate. But most likely Kramnik inwardly shares Bareev's point of view, so it follows that his aim is not to play the match with me. Here any method would do: pretending to attach no significance to my tournament victories, giving no importance to the loss of the game in Astana... Although Kramnik knows perfectly well that the rematch could draw a lot of money (a great deal more than any other competition with his participation), he is not interested in this event: the risk is much too high.

Here are three excerpts from an interview of Kramnik, which took place on October 1, 2001, where he addresses these issues:

The current situation in the chess world is quite chaotic: I am a traditional person and so I support the idea that the World Championship cycle should be played for in a tournament between the world best players. To clarify this situation I think that the Brain games Candidates event to take place in Dortmund in 2002 will be very positive. The winner of this tournament will play against me for the WC Title. I think it is time already to establish a fair system, which gives opportunities to the best players and receives approval from the chess world and general public. In this sense a revenge match now with Kasparov would only damage this process."

I was never aware that I should win not just one but two matches against the same opponent to be the World Champion!

Well, to me it was quite a surprising decision. I remember Kasparov claimed after his defeat that he wanted Brain games to organize something so he could have a fair chance to play and try to get back the WC title. Now, when he is offered such opportunity, he refuses to play. The qualification system chosen for this candidate's tournament is very sensible and allows the strongest player to prove his superiority over the rest. In fact Kasparov is not able to give a clear and logical explanation for his attitude, which tries to exclude from the WC cycle some of the very best chess players in the world. This attack to Brain games and Dortmund organizers looks a very poor excuse and the reason may lie behind could be the aim to damage the long tradition of WC cycles. I understand that it would be very disappointing for the big chess audience and especially for his fans if he voluntary avoids the battle for the WC title but you cannot force someone to play if he doesn't want to!

copyright © 2001 by J. Franklin Campbell

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