Time Limits in Email Chess
With FIDE moving towards faster time limits and the Grandmasters and many other chess enthusiasts preferring the "classical" limits, the subject of proper time limits is a popular discussion topic now. I believe the subject is timely for cc, also. Specifically, the email time limit adopted by ICCF of 6 days per move (60 days/10 moves, actually) is my concern at the moment.
The reason for going to 6 days per move (on average) is that email transmission is so fast that it can feel like playing blitz. You mail a move and within hours you may have a reply. I had this experience in the Scottish SCCA Bulletin 21st Anniversary Tournament, where 11 of my 14 games were conducted by email. Often I had 10-11 games in my in-box waiting for my reply. If I had to reply to every opponent in 3 days I would have been in trouble. 10-11 postal games would have moved quite a bit slower, allowing me to play at a more leisurely speed. The extra 3 days per move didn't in practice give me more thinking time, rather it gave me back some of the time normally used for transmission of moves in postal chess.
A side effect of this extra time has become evident recently in discussions on The Correspondence Chess Message Board. The subject of discussion was how some opponents really slow down when they get bad or lost positions. If you've played 30 moves and only used two days per move (and many players move faster than this), then you would have saved up 120 days unused time. You have 60 more days to use for the next ten moves, so you can stretch your next ten moves out over a period of six months!
I believe there should be a limit on the number of days you can save or "bank". Some have proposed a system where the first three days don't count (number of days could be different than three). This still gives you the six days, but you can never save more than three days per move. This seems like a reasonable system to me, but it isn't very popular. One problem may be the possible confusion among the players. It would be very easy to forget or to miscalculate. Another possibility is to use a special chess server instead of email. This server could record your move and, at the appropriate time (say three of four days later), it could either email it to your opponent or send an email notification that your move was available at the server. This would simulate the postal time delay and avoid the excessive amount of time that players can save up for the future.
As a chess competitor raised on postal chess I am use to being able to play several tournaments at once. With 30-35 games going I would have a steady stream of moves arriving in my mailbox, which I always enjoyed. I would also have a variety of events. Playing email at 3 days per move I could play at the same rate if I had roughly 12 games going, which is one or two tournaments. Perhaps some players would be happy with this, but it feels like a big limitation to me. There are a lot of interesting tournaments out there. I'd rather be playing each game at a slower pace than cut down on the number of games. This is a matter of taste, though, and some may feel differently. There's no question that being able to play more games gives you a lot more flexibility, though. That once-in-a-lifetime tournament that suddenly becomes available can more easily be fitted into your schedule, where in the faster email you may find adding another 12 games impossible.
4th NAPZ Championship
The 4th North American/Pacific Zone Championship is now underway. Former APCT Champion Jon Edwards is one of the 15 participants. Following is the lineup.
Wow, what an incredibly strong field! I've played a couple of these guys and they impressed me. Play got underway May 15, 2002
ICCF Jubilee World Champs - First Result
The ICCF 50 years World Champions Jubilee Tournament, sponsored by the Max Euwe Association of Monaco, has been going for some time now. The nine living cc world champions are playing an email tournament and producing some real fighting chess. You can follow the games "live" at the ICCF web site (positions updated once a month with an additional 3-move delay). The first result is now in. The 13th cc champion Mikhail Umansky of Russia has defeated the 11th cc champion Grigory Sanakoev of Russia. Following is the score of that game.
Sanakoev (RUS),G (2597) - Umansky (RUS),M (2633)
Hopefully I can report more results soon, as many of the games appear to be at the critical stage. Congratulations to GM Umansky for being the first to break the ice. I'll continue to keep readers updated on this amazing tournament. I think it says a lot that all nine of these top competitors agreed to play in this event, even those (such as American Hans Berliner) who haven't been playing actively for years.
Women Definitely CAN Play Chess
Since I began playing chess years ago up to the current time, a popular topic for discussion and debate was how well women can play chess and explanations for the lack of women in the top ranks. I won't attempt to tackle this dangerous topic at the moment, but I can give an excellent example of a successful woman competitor. Of course, most chess players know about the spectacular success of the Polgar sisters, with Judit Polgar cracking the top ten in OTB chess. We have an even more impressive example in the cc world.
Mrs. Olita Rause (Latvia) has been going up the rating list. She is currently at number four in the ICCF rating list. She also recently claimed first place in a very strong tournament, the Capa X Anniversary GM Tournament. Some of her opponents in this event (each opponent played two games with the others) were Roberto Alvarez (ARG), Juan Sebastian Morgado (ARG), Hans-Marcus Elwert (GER) and Grigory Sanakoev (RUS). She was the only undefeated competitor with five wins and five draws, to finish 1.5 points ahead of second. Here is the decisive game, the last game finished in the event against the second-place player.
Olita Rause (2637)
You can find a report on this tournament and all the games at the Chess Mail web site.
GM Ulf Andersson Top Rated
The latest ICCF rating shows GM Ulf Andersson (SVE) at the top. He has been at the top earlier, but he just completed 30 games in ICCF play and established his "fixed rating." He takes over the top position from Gert Jan Timmerman (NLD), who won the most recent world championship. Andersson is one of those unique players with a GM title in both OTB and correspondence chess. Here is a list of the current top ten:
1. Ulf Andersson (SVE) 2741
More Chess on Ice
Last time I mentioned the sport of curling as being referred to as "Chess on Ice" and mentioned some similarities of between chess and curling. I ran across another discussion of rules of different sports that brought another similarity to my attention.
In chess you get a losing position and you resign. How common is this is other sports? How many times have you seen a game get completely out of control but continue to drag on, inning after inning, minute and minute. In basketball they sometimes refer to this period as "garbage time," since there is nothing to gain as a team so the players must find other motivations, such as showing off or improving personal statistics.
In chess we are relieved of this "garbage time" since the loser simply acknowledges the loss and resigns. Occasionally, games have a "mercy rule" allowing the game to end if the score gets out of hand. Curling follows the chess model. When a lead is recognized as insurmountable, then the game can end with a "resignation."
Are there any other competitions that may end in resignation? Are chess and curling unique in the world of sports?
U. S. Championship Entries Still Open
As an APCT competitor you are eligible to play in the 2-round U. S. Championship, if your rating is at least 2000. USCF and CCLA members may also compete. If you win your preliminary group you advance to the final.
The postal event is played using the ICCF postal rules, but you may play by email by mutual agreement with your opponent. The email championship must be played only by email, though.
For the 16th Postal USCCC entries close July 15, 2002 with a start date of
U. S. Women's Star Donna Kremen Dies
Many APCT'ers will recognize the name of Donna Kremen. Her husband Raymond Kremen notified the ICCF-U.S. office recently that she died on May 19th, 2002. She gained much renown as a successful correspondence chess competitor, partly due to her two wins against Cuba's Nery Maceiras Moya, Cuban's Ladies Champion 96/98, in a friendly match between the USA and Cuba. She also played 2nd board on our women's Olympiad Team.
I've written about Donna Kremen before (at least four times). You can review these stories at my web site in the archive of my APCT columns (or in your old collection of APCT News Bulletins) under the titles "Whole Family Plays Postal Chess" (September 1996), "APCT'ers on Chess Olympiad Team" (May 1997) and "Ping Pong Diplomacy with Cuba" (May 1998). This final report concerned the historic friendly match between Cuba and the USA arranged by ICCF-U.S. Secretary Max Zavanelli and the Cuban delegate at an ICCF Congress. Hopefully chess can continue to help create greater friendship between the different peoples of the earth. Donna did her part in this friendly match, and she scored some impressive wins along the way.
Our condolences to her husband and fellow APCT'er Ray Kremen.
Meeting of Chess Friends
For many of us, meeting chess opponents is a very rare occurrence. I've only met a handful of cc opponents over my 30+ years of competition, but each time it was a real thrill. The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) has sent out invitations to their annual Congress. I had the pleasure of attending the Congress in 2000, which was held in Daytona Beach, Florida, and I can say it was a great week of meeting cc friends, other chess organizers and journalists, discussing the sport we all love and general comradeship between people with a strong common interest. It was so much fun spending the afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center with North America/Pacific Zone Director Ralph Marconi and Chess Mail publisher Tim Harding.
I also got to meet the two American world champions Dr. Hans Berliner (5th World Champion) and Dr. Victor Palciauskas (10th World Champion) as well as two other past world champions. I also got to meet many famous USA chess personalities, people I've worked with for years by correspondence. Examples: ICCF-U.S. Secretary Max Zavanelli, his wife Ruth Ann Fay, who does incredible work for US chess through the ICCF-U.S. office and her many contributions to the NAPZ. Then there are the famous and long-serving tournament directors Allen Wright and Maurice Carter. I could go on and on. The point is that when you get the opportunity I recommend taking the chance to get to know your chess friends in person. It's a wonderful experience.
If you plan to attend a U. S. Open I recommend that you contact Jim and Helen Warren at APCT. Sometimes they arrange for an informal APCT meeting where you could meet some of your fellow APCT'ers. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
ICCF President Alan Borwell and ICCF General Secretary Alan Rawlings have recently announced the 2002 ICCF Congress. To quote from the official invitation,
"It is with great pleasure that we invite you to attend this year's ICCF Congress, to be held in the Seixal Municipality of Portugal (just South of Lisbon) in the Quinta da Valenciana, Fernao Ferro, from 5th to 12th October 2002, organized by C.N.X.C, the Portuguese CC Federation."
The Congress will start with a meeting of the ICCF Presidium, the top officers of ICCF, which includes APCT's Ralph Marconi of Canada. Ralph has been encouraging me to consider attending. Can I take off a week of work and spend the money on a ticket to Portugal and the other attendant expenses? My first reaction is no. However, this sort of meeting is a magical thing. What could be better than spending a week with fellow cc enthusiasts working for the improvement of our art/sport/science? How much is it worth to enjoy the fellowship of the followers of Caissa and to renew old friendships and make new ones? Of course, this is rather theoretical, and the harsh realities of life often dictate not following our heart's desires. If you should wish to follow your heart and your pocketbook allows, consider attending this rather special meeting of cc people. You can find out more at the ICCF web site, or contact ICCF-U.S. Secretary Max Zavanelli at the address shown above in the discussion of the new US Championship tournaments. You don't have to be an ICCF official to attend most of the functions.
In team competitions you often find some most amusing team names. For instance, the winner of the best team name prize at the U. S. Amateur Team East competition (a USCF OTB competition) was, "Enron's 401K Plan -- No perpetual check." Here are some of the East teams that caught my fancy:
Enron's 401K Plan -- No perpetual check
Here are some team names from the West. If you look carefully you'll notice a bit of a trend:
Enron Shredders and the Lords of the Kings
The ICCF Champions League will be underway by the time you read this. I'll be playing on Team CC.COM with fellow APCT'ers John Knudsen, Ralph Marconi and (team captain) Grayling Hill. Ours is a rather plebian name compared to many. With well over 200 teams world-wide this is a most impressive competition, and with this number of teams you can expect that the Champions League will have its share of "interesting" names. Here are a few of the better ones:
The Trojan Knights
copyright © 2002 by J. Franklin Campbell
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