The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"The Campbell Report" - January/February 2002

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Thank You Jon Voth!

The passing of an era … that's what I thought last issue when I read that Jon Voth was no longer editing the "Games from APCT Play" column. I've been a columnist for well over a decade, but Jon has written the Games column for much longer, dating back to the earliest issues I have of the APCT News Bulletin. My magazines are still packed from my recent move so I can't look up details, but I believe Jon has been a leader in APCT for a very long time, both by being at the top of the rating list and by his service to APCT. I particularly remember working with him on the First National Team Championship (1991-1994), where APCT won the National Championship of correspondence chess (we still hold the title). Jon helped put together a strong team and then led us as Team Captain throughout the competition.

Thank you for everything, Jon, and best wishes for success in your future chess endeavors!

Chess Mail Reaches 50

Congratulations to ICCF-IM Tim Harding of Ireland on publishing his 50th issue of the outstanding magazine Chess Mail! I still remember my excitement when I heard that Harding was preparing to launch a new international cc magazine in English. The famous Fernschach magazine was only available in German, which limited its usefulness to readers in this country (including me). The first sample issue was a great success and it has been published on schedule since then. The last issue of the year 8/2001 is the 50th issue, and the magazine has continued to improve with time. It was my privilege to have my articles published in the first two issues, and it is my current pleasure to have been a continuous subscriber for the life of the magazine. I highly recommend this outstanding publication.

Harding has promised an article by new CC World Champion Gert Timmerman in the first issue of 2002 and an article by the remarkable 12th cc world champion Grigory Sanakoev early in the year. A one-year subscription (8 issues) costs $46. You can subscribe in the USA by sending a check made out to ICCF-U.S. to:

Max Zavanelli
US Secretary ICCF
1642 N. Volusia Ave. Suite 102
Orange City, FL. 32763

R.I.P. Chess Friends

Two well-known chess personalities have died recently.

John W. "Jack" Collins (1912-2001)

He reached the finals of the first ICCF World Championship and was the first postal chess editor of Chess Review magazine. He also edited the 9th Edition of Modern Chess Openings and wrote a column for Chess Life magazine for many years. He is probably best known for his work with young chess talents, such as the Byrne brothers and Bobby Fischer. He wrote about his experiences and training techniques in his books Profile of a Prodigy and My Seven Chess Prodigies.

GM Anthony John Miles (1955-2001)

He became Britain's first ever Grandmaster 25 years ago and started the boom in English chess that has led to them becoming one of the leading chess nations. He won the World Junior Championship and, in February 1976, he qualified for the GM title, winning the £5000 prize offered by Jim Slater to the first English player to qualify for the GM title over the board.

Chess Service or Chess Competition

I would encourage those who have enjoyed cc competition and the organizational efforts of others to consider some form of service themselves. Even small efforts can make a difference. I have done a number of things myself and found them quite rewarding, such as writing this column, being webmaster for APCT, Chess Journalists of America, ICCF-U.S. and my personal web site The Campbell Report. Writing articles, editing the APCT team newsletter during the First National Team Championship, being an ICCF Tournament Director and other organizational and journalistic jobs have provided a lot of personal satisfaction and allowed me to associate with many interesting and quality people. I try to be careful, though, to leave time for actual chess competition. It doesn't make sense to me to eliminate cc competition, the thing that led to all the other activities. Playing chess is at the heart of it all. Without play I would likely lose my motivation.

Participating in the organizational and journalistic areas of chess doesn't mean lowering your expectation in competition. Though my achievements in competition are limited, most of the top officials in the ICCF are highly ranked players. An excellent example is Dr. Fritz Baumbach of Germany. He has served as General Secretary of the ICCF, President of the German CC Federation BdF, and ICCF delegate for Germany. He also won the 11th World CC Championship! Clearly, chess service does not preclude great competitive success in correspondence chess. He also earned a doctorate degree and has displayed a wonderful sense of humor. He generated much laughter at the 2001 ICCF Congress in Rimini, Italy by showing up at the awards ceremony with a large backpack to carry off all the medals for German players (they always win a lot of medals for new cc titles).

Student wins over $15,000

Karen Ngowe recently brought a CNN.COM article to my attention about a student Matthew Traldi who scored a perfect 1600 score on his SAT college entrance exam. The part that got our attention was the final paragraph:

And he figures he has won about $15,000 over the years in chess matches. He has used the money to buy recording equipment to convert his bedroom into a music studio.

That's pretty good money for playing chess. When I won the Kansas State Championship tournament back in the late 60's first place prize money was $30. How times change.

Computers Back in the News

To tell the truth, I'm sick to the teeth of discussions of computer use in correspondence chess. It will continue to be reported here, of course, but I don't plan any lengthy coverage and I certainly don't request more input on opinions about computer use. I good percentage of the mail I've received recently has concerned this topic. Helen Warren made a strong statement in the last bulletin about using computers to generate moves in APCT events. I will only repeat my philosophy:

  1. There is nothing inherently wrong with using computers.
  2. I would personally take no pride in just conveying the moves made by my computer (acting as a "postman").
  3. If the rules forbid use of computers, then using one is cheating. A competitor can find organizations that allow the legal use of computers. To play in an event that specifically forbids the use of computers, and then to use one, is simply an attempt to gain an unfair advantage. That really sucks (to use the technical terminology)!

It turns out that the use of computers to generate moves is not unique to correspondence chess. Tournaments played by Internet are becoming more common, and the use of computers is not allowed. Some software for participating in these tournaments check for a chess engine being active, but the players can get around this by using a separate computer to generate moves. In the 2001-2002 FIDE Knockout World Championship there were eight slots out of 128 in the men's event that were filled by Internet qualifiers. A committee headed by previous FIDE champion GM Alexander Khalifman (plus Manuel Weeks, Gary Bekker, IM Alexey Mitenkov, and IM Alexander Alpert) examined the games of the qualifiers and forfeited several players: Rafal Furdzik, Jose Escribano, Ted Brown and Santiago Velasco.

Rafal Furdzik of the USA has been hotly disputing the claim of computer aid with many postings on the Internet. Here are two quotes from his articles:

"FIDE did not provide any proof of their decision at first, but asked me to prove my innocence. They damaged my credentials, good name and reputation without any conclusive evidence! They did not present any clear criteria by which they select and judged the games. They disqualified me after the tournament was over. I demand public apology from FIDE for their accusations."


"Please join us to fight this scandal in the name of justice! We need a help of good lawyers and grandmaster's opinions. I'm looking forward for a lawsuit against FIDE. The charges are but not limited to: defamation, slander, privacy rights. Please help me in this, that could be you in this situation. We are building a coalition here to fight this injustice."

GM Khalifman and his committee provided detailed analysis of the games they deemed to be computer aided and I cannot myself speak to the correctness of their conclusions. However, the fact that the final resulting qualification spot was taken by Nugzar Zeliakov, the director of the Grandmaster Chess School, creates the appearance of conflict of interest. I attempted to verify the exact relationship of Khalifman and Zeliakov to the Grandmaster School by checking their web site. Khalifman founded the Grandmaster Chess School but I could only find Zeliakov's name mentioned as the "Chessplayer of the Week."

Boxing Champion's Trainer Hides Chess Set

According to Steve Keating's article at Yahoo news, boxing champion Lennox Lewis likes to play chess. His trainer, though, doesn't approve. "`I honestly don't like him playing chess. When we get close to (a) fight I try to hide it. I mean I see him sitting there for 10 minutes thinking four moves ahead before he makes one and he actually does the same thing in the ring. He (Lewis) thinks to much," says his trainer Emmanuel Steward.

My New Email CC Methodology

Dr. Hollis Boren, my old teammate from the APCT Regional Team Championship days with the Dixie team, recently asked me how I handled email cc competitions. Some people highly recommend a software program called ECTool to keep records and generate email messages. So many people recommend this product that I must conclude that it is excellent. However, I don't have this software and am reluctant to add to my current collection. I have the excellent ChessBase program and have built my personal methodology around it. I am not too experience in email events, but since I adopted this system I haven't made a single recording-related mistake (some of my moves have been mistakes, of course).

Hollis suggested that I share my system so here is my original message to him outlining the details:


I also use ChessBase to record and analyze all my games. However, I also maintain a binder with score sheets and a complete handwritten record, just like in 'olden times.' I also use a word processing program for printing out my postcards in those games where I'm still using post.

Some people strongly recommend software for recording moves. Like you I just use ChessBase, supplementing my hand written score sheets. Here is my process when playing by email.

  1. Move arrives. It sits in my inbox till I'm ready to deal with it.
  2. I record the move(s) and date/time used information by hand on my scoresheet.
  3. I make the move in ChessBase. I move my comment in ChessBase to the new move to indicate the last move made. (I use the comment "Last Move."). By using this method of indicating the last "real" move in the game, I can save my analysis in the game without confusing the issue about which is the made moves vs. which is my analysis.
  4. Then I mark the message to indicate I've recorded the move (using Eudora email program I can set the color of the message listing to green to indicate this is a move).
  5. I then move the message to a special mailbox for tournament moves.
  6. At any time I can check my special tournament inbox to see moves received. The unanswered moves are not flagged as "Replied to" by Eudora.
  7. I analyze the game in ChessBase and decide on a move. Then I move the comment "Last Move." to my new move and save the new version of the game. (I usually use CNTL-R to save the game in ChessBase).
  8. I record my new move by hand on my scoresheet in the tournament binder along with time-used and date information.
  9. I go to the received email for this game and click "Reply". I copy the entire game template from the previous email into my new email giving a complete record of the game (I'll copy the template I use below ... this is from an ICCF tournament and it is the recommended way to record a game in email).
  10. I update the game template with my new move and date/time used information.
  11. After double-checking that the email move agrees with my hand-written record, I mail the message to my opponent.
  12. My email program marks my opponent's email message as "Replied to" so I know this move is dealt with. If your email program doesn't do this you could move replied-to messages to another mailbox.
  13. I go to my OUT box and copy the message I just sent my opponent into a special tournament MOVE SENT mailbox, so I can easily find what I sent my opponent, in case a question should come up or I just want verification that I sent my reply.

So far the only errors I've made using this system is to occasionally leave my opponent's original message in my inbox without going to step 2. above. I get so much email that if I don't process the new move fairly soon it can get lost in the mass of messages. When I do step 2. I always do steps 3,4,5 also, without exception. Some people don't like the hard-written part of my process but I prefer it. Occasionally I thumb through the score sheets checking for games where I'm on the move or where my opponent's move is overdue. In some cases this indicates a record-keeping problem on my part, in some cases it means it's time for a repeat to be sent.

I hope you find this useful. You probably won't want to copy my process, but you may find useful ideas.


It's important to have an established system for dealing with your moves, and I've found that my old postal chess system just didn't work with email. Establishing, and then carefully following, such a system will allow you to play error-free chess (not counting the occasional chess blunder, of course). You may find useful ideas in my system, or you may prefer to use ECTool, another software program, or to create your own very different system. The important thing is to have a comprehensive system and then to follow it religiously. Repetition will reduce the possibilities of future mistakes. Even after it is well drilled into your routine, though, remain alert, check and double check. It is quite discouraging to lose a game due to a recording error.

Attorney Uses Chess in Advertising

The James Bliss Law Offices in Lansing, Michigan has been advertising a lot recently using a TV ad featuring chess. This firm handles cases involving personal liability lawsuits. It shows a hand moving chess pieces around on a board in an aggressive manner, in the end with a piece knocking the opponent's King over. This is used to illustrate that this firm is "Tough, Experienced and Knowledgeable." We chess players still have a good public image, at least in some areas.

Fischer Supports Terrorists Attacks!

In recent years the legendary former world champion Bobby Fischer has had reported sightings in Hungary and Japan, as working with top GM Peter Leko, and for his anti-Semitic statements in a series of radio interviews. Now the News Telegraph of London has reported (in an article written by David Bamber and Chris Hastings) on another radio interview of Bobby Fischer on Radio Bombo in Baguio City, The Philippines.

The station manager Mr. Mercado said: "Bobby rang me up while he was watching the events in New York live on television. He felt so strongly about what he was watching, he wanted to say the American government had it coming to them." The article went on to quote Fischer as saying:

"This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all. I was happy and could not believe what was happening. All the crimes the US has committed in the world. This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the US.

"I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it is coming back at the US."

The former pride and joy of American chess players has become our chief embarrassment and sorrow.

copyright © 2002 by J. Franklin Campbell

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