The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"The Campbell Report" - Nov/Dec 2003

White to mate in 3

Humor in Chess

I saved the position above to share with my chess friends. It came in the 17 August 2003 issue of the email magazine Chessville Weekly and was taken from the ebook Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership by Edward Lasker.

I surprise my wife sometimes when she asks what I'm laughing at. In this case it was a chess problem with a solution so startling and surprising that I had to laugh out loud when I came up with the solution. Of course, not everyone will react with laughter, but I'm sure you'll find this problem of more than usual interest. Perhaps you will also see the humor. The solution is given at the end of this column.

The Rules Define the Ethics (Revisited)

Last time I published an opinion piece titled "The Rules Define the Ethics", where I stated that chess is a game completely defined by the rules of play, unlike life which is much more complex and has no well-defined rules. I concluded that if the rules allowed you to use a chess engine (note: APCT rules do NOT allow such use) then there was no ethical reason not to do so, only a matter of personal choice. This same argument holds for not allowing take-backs and taking full advantage of notation errors by your opponent. Not surprisingly, I got some mail on this topic from Stephan Gerzadowicz, who now lives in Crossville, TN. Following is his opinion on this subject.

Rules Do NOT Define Ethics -- by Stephan Gerzadowicz

I bet you KNEW you would hear from me. [Of course -- JFC]

I'm just going to keep quoting George Will until everybody gets it:

A society is disoriented when proper moral judgment is supplanted by a morally constricted legalism, the notion that whatever is legal -- whatever there is a right to do -- is morally unobjectionable. In sports, as in life generally, comportment should be controlled by a morality of aspiration more demanding than a mere morality of duty. A morality of aspiration should elevate people above merely complying with elementary rules.

March 15, 1982

Your mistake, I think, is to try to separate Chess from Life. Sure, Chess and Sports are defined by their rules, but we players are still moral beings! "Life" does not go on hold when we take up ball and bat, or Rook and Pawn. A second baseman can tag a base runner in a perfectly legal way -- that knocks out teeth. Legal, not ethical.

A chess example -- I was playing a fine old gentleman, struggling in a double rook ending. He (Black) sent Re3. It was a ridiculous move; I had a Pawn on f2. He had used DN all his life and still thought in it. He clearly meant R-K3. Re6 was a good and obvious move, one I expected. I acknowledged his move as Re6 and sent my reply. When he responded he said, "I was glad to see that I had sent Re6. I had mistakenly recorded Re3 on my score sheet." I made no comment and the game was drawn (I think).

Taking his Rook would have been legal. It would not have been ethical. We were playing a game. But I was (still) living my life.

Mr. G. went on to say, "May we agree to disagree and always be friends." Of course, I accept this view and consider Stephan a good friend, and I always respect his opinion. I must consider the possibility that I am mistaken in my opinion about chess being completely defined by the rules. Above, Stephan wrote, "Taking his Rook would have been legal. It would not have been ethical." The view I had stated in my previous column was that there was nothing unethical about capturing the Rook. However, I understand Stephan's approach very well. His preference was to continue the game with the bad notation being corrected. I think there is disagreement in the cc community about which is the correct viewpoint, and there are probably people who would find themselves somewhere in between.

"My friend Ralph Marconi wrote me, "Yes, it does boil down to individual beliefs and this mystical realm of unwritten rules." I have considered the so-called unwritten rules as a very bad thing, something that leads to people being unjustly labeled as unethical or as cheaters. Am I mistaken?

Ralph went on to say, "It would, however, be interesting to try to come up with a concrete, unequivocal example of something, within the narrow confines of the rules of a game, which is legal and yet at the same time unethical. I can't think of anything off hand. It would probably be quite difficult, if not (impossible), to find such a situation. Maybe this would be a good question to pose on the TCCMB for discussion."

I'm going to take his advice, but I'm going to my readers here instead of TCCMB (the on-line cc message board). Read on and see if you can offer something in answer to my challenge.

Challenge to the Readers

Based on the suggestion of Ralph Marconi stated above, here is my challenge to readers:

"Come up with a concrete, unequivocal example of something, within the narrow confines of the rules of chess, which is legal and yet at the same time unethical."

Give this challenge serious thought, present your example(s), and explain why you consider the legal situation you describe to be unethical. Try to be concise and very clear so I can publish your statement(s) in a future column with minimal editing. I consider this a serious issue which requires serious thought. Thank you in advance for your thoughtful replies. At my discretion, everything sent to me will be considered for publication.

No Castling for 30 Moves?

In a letter to Chess Today for 28 September 2003, GM Andras Adorjan suggested another approach to limiting draws.

"Writing my book BLACK IS still OK!, I went through a large number of my own games. And I have found a pearl. You see, there were times when agreeing a draw before move 30 was not allowed, at least without the blessing of the arbiter. They skipped this rule later -- it probably did not work. But I got an idea from the game enclosed: what if castling is forbidden before move 30? And to complete let's combine this novelty with the old try: no draw before 30 too!?"

What an interesting idea. This strikes me as less of a way to avoid draws than as a way to minimize the value of published theory. Advocates of Fischer Random chess (or Chess960, as some call it) present this as a big advantage of FR Chess. This simple rule change would have a similar effect with only a minimal rule change. No more Ruy Lopez, no more most current standard openings. GM Adorjan expects his new book to come out late this year, except he says he just can't stop writing. "Maybe somewhat later, around 2100" he adds.

If you are on-line, you should have a subscription to this interesting publication, which comes to you daily. To subscribe to Chess Today visit http://www.chesstoday.net. Be sure to mention that I recommended it to you (so I can get an extra month added to my subscription!). I'll be glad to send you a few recent issues to check out this excellent publication of GM Alex Baburin. Just visit my web site (http://JFCampbell.US) to find my email address.

Small Goals in Chess

Chess has many attractions. I love discovered checks, pins and pretty mates. I love tricky King & Pawn endgames. Many of the prettier ways to end a game occur mostly OTB for me, since cc opponents play better defense than OTB opponents. In my first couple years of playing chess I often played opponents that were in a word weak. Sometimes I resorted to secondary goals in a game, since simple winning was just too easy. For instance, when an opponent was getting crushed but wouldn't resign, sometimes I would set a goal of winning by mating with a pawn, sometimes a particular pawn. Even with heavy material advantage this wasn't always so easy. This approach certainly added some spice to an otherwise easy (and boring) game.

There was one particularly pretty type of mate that always eluded me. Sac'ing material to hem in the King and then delivering mate with the Knight, a smothered mate, always appealed to me as being particularly pretty. However, no matter how weak the opponent, when I checked the King at f7 with my Knight my opponent would always give up the exchange to avoid moving their king to g8 facing discovered check. One big thing working against me was that frequently their Queen was still on d8, so they gave up the exchange to avoid losing their Queen (possibly missing the smothered mate I would have forced instead). It may be silly, but here it is. I played this little beauty on-line on the Internet Chess Club. After playing chess for almost 40 years I finally got my smothered mate. What fun!

Campbell vs. Amateur
Internet Chess Club, 1998
2 minutes each plus 12 second increment
1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 d6 5.Nxc3 Nf6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe2 Be6 9.Bxe6 fxe6 10.Ng5 Qc8 11.Qc4 Nd5 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Qxd5+ Kh8 14.Nf7+
{great no Queen on d8!} Kg8 15.Nh6+ Kh8 16.Qg8+ Rxg8 17.Nf7#

So, do you have some special objective you've tried to reach in the game of chess? Have you always wanted to mate with a Knight or with a discovered check? Is your secret desire to mate by castling or by capturing a pawn en passant?

I remember seeing a game by one of the famous players where he forced White to move his King up the board to the 8th rank and then had the opportunity to deliver mate by castling. Instead, he simply moved his King up one square giving discovered mate with the Rook. Still pretty, certainly. He was asked after the game why he didn't deliver mate by castling, and he said the King move was more efficient. Sure, it was more efficient. However, I always thought mating by castling would have been more fun. That's what I would have done.

A quick on-line search using Google turned up the game I recalled (though it did show I remembered the colors wrong). One source actually changed the last move to 18. O-O-O to actually deliver mate by castling. This is a good demonstration that information found on the Internet isn't always reliable. Here's that amazing game (played off-hand):

Ed Lasker - Sir G.A. Thomas
London, 1912
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 e6 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Bd3 b6 9.Ne5 Bb7 10.Qh5 Qe7 11.Qxh7+ Kxh7 12.Nxf6+ Kh6 13.Neg4+ Kg5 14.h4+ Kf4 15.g3+ Kf3 16.Be2+ Kg2 17.Rh2+ Kg1 18.Kd2#

More Quotes

From the movie, "Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise"

Gilbert: "I think I'm the only guy in the world who could break his leg playing chess."

Louis: "Don't fool yourself. That was a very tricky move!"

From a book review of Red Letters. The reviewer is GM Nigel Short, in his Sunday chess column in The Daily Telegraph in September 2003:

Another very good book I might mention, although perhaps not in the above category [Kasparov's book My Great Predecessors], is Red Letters by Harding and Grodzensky (Chess Mail, 15.99) - a thorough account of the Correspondence Chess Championships of the Soviet Union. It is the product of several years of archival research and comes complete with a CD-ROM containing over 4,500 games. This deeply arcane subject, featuring many obscure or little-known participants, is brought to life in this lovingly compiled work.

I should point out that most of the games, from what was the strongest of chess nations, are of the blissful pre-computer era. In this day and age, alas, correspondence chess is destined for extinction. [my emphasis - JFC].

Is he trying to tell me something?

One of the chess duties I perform as a service to chess players in ICCF-U.S. events is to post on-line crosstables with up-to-date results. The tournament directors send me results and games as they finish. However, I have sometimes wondered if people actually look at these crosstables that I spend so much time updating. During one late-night session I was feeling a little whimsical, so I decorated one crosstable page with emoticons (little faces that express something) with smiles, rolling eyes, cracking whips and other emotions. I had lizards crawling up the screen, fairies flitting about, and other characters walking and jumping around (I love moving GIF's). Of course, I got no responses from people. I finally posted a message on the correspondence chess message board TCCMB where I mentioned this page. One response I got was from the tournament director for the event SIM Jason Bokar. In his message board reply he said,

"Of course I noticed Franklin :-) But sometimes one shouldn't comment on these things :-)) (I was thinking... why did he do that to MY section? Is he trying to tell me something?? :-)"

You know, chess players can have a lot of fun. I really enjoy the company of my chess friends. I removed the graphics from the crosstable page, but what may I be inspired to do on that next late-night session when I start wondering if it is all worth the effort?

15th US Championship Final

ICCF-U.S. has announced the start of the 15th USCCC to determine the USA cc champion. This event consists of 15 players, 10 of whom qualified from the preliminary sections, two previous qualifiers who had postponed their qualifications till later, and one nominee from each of the three ICCF-U.S. affiliated organizations APCT, CCLA and USCF.

There are some familiar names in the competition. The APCT nominee is our current Rook Champion Mike Foust. Popular Chess Life columnist Alex Dunne is also playing.

The highest rated player is Senior IM Edward Duliba (2573). The start date is 1 October 2003 with International Arbiter Allen Wright directing. I'll be maintaining the on-line crosstable at http://correspondencechess.com/campbell/us15/usccc15f.htm

The entire lineup in ICCF rating order:

  1. SIM Edward Duliba 2573
  2. Kenneth M. Reinhart 2458
  3. IM John Mousessian 2443
  4. IM Keith A. Rodriguez 2440
  5. David J. Novak 2439 *
  6. E. H. Fisher 2420
  7. IM Corky Schakel 2402
  8. Robert P. Chalker 2393
  9. Kurt H. Ehrgott 2377 *
  10. Michael S. Foust 2362 #
  11. Alex Dunne 2306
  12. John G. Dowling 2292
  13. Peter Michael Link 2275
  14. J. Barry Noble 2258
  15. Thomas W. Halfpap 2240
    * - USCF rating
    # - APCT rating

CC GM Plays On-line Match vs. Computers

CC GM Arno Nickel (2585) of Germany is playing a tournament against six top computer engines to test his skills under standard international tournament conditions vs. the computers. He'll have White in three games and Black in the other three. He is allowed to use chess software in his analysis.

Reimund Lutzenberger, the owner of the ChessFriend.Com chess server where the match is being played, announced that the following six chess engines will be facing GM Nickel: Fritz 8, Junior 8, Shredder 7.04, Hiarcs 9, Chess Tiger 15 and The King 3.23. According to the match rules the engines play with nicknames until the end of the match. So GM Nickel doesn't know which engine is playing which board during the match.

The games are being played using regular cc rules and time limits, and they can be followed "live" on-line at http://www.chessfriend.com/, where the games will be updated each Friday with annotations by GM Nickel. This sounds like a great experiment and I'll be following the games with interest. Can a cc GM be beaten by a player acting as a "postman" for his computer engine? Or will a top cc player still prevail? Stay tuned.

CC Tandem Match

A fascinating match has recently started where each side is played by two players. I've heard of this being done in OTB events, but never in correspondence chess. The teammates are not allowed to consult each other on any move in the game but must play independently. The game is being displayed "live" on the Internet at SIM Jason Bokar's web site. It can be viewed at: http://webpages.charter.net/jasonbokar/www/TandemHTML/tandem.htm

To quote from the web page:

CC Tandem Chess Teams: Grayling Hill (2346) and Jason Bokar (2509) Ave. Rating = 2428 vs. Dave Taylor (2528) and Ken Reinhart (2458) Ave. Rating = 2493 Referee: Steve Ryan. Rules: Alternating moves from each player on the team. No consultation on the opening and no consultation during the game. Time limit is 10/30.

The players are well known strong competitors. Grayling Hill, the owner of the famous CC.COM web domain, is running unopposed for ICCF Finance Director. His teammate is IM Dr. Jason Bokar, who received his IM title last year and will receive his Senior IM (SIM) title at this year's ICCF Congress (which will have taken place by the time you read this). The team playing black is Dave Taylor, the 7th USA Champion, and Ken Reinhart, a participant (and second highest rated player) in the current 15th USA Championship final. This is sure to be a very interesting event. The moves so far: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bf4 c6 7.e3 Be7 8.Bd3

Another Computer Match / Kasparov Emerges

Many members of the chess community have watched in amazement and despair as the OTB World Championship matches have floundered. FIDE seems to be unable to organize the most fundamental of all matches those for the world championship. Personally, I think the huge prize funds cause many of the problems. In the OTB world, my favorite events were the candidates tournaments and world championship and candidates matches. The world waited for each game report, anxious to see who would pick up that valuable point. We don't see much of that excitement now.

The Ponomariov vs. Kasparov match may be off, but now the past world champion Garry Kasparov has started playing again. On September 23, 2003 he played a fast time limit match vs. 2003 European Champion Zurab Azmaiparashvili. They played two Rapid games (25' +10") which ended with Kasparov winning 2-0. Then they played four Blitz games (5' + 3") and Kasparov won 3.5-0.5. It was a complete smash! Kasparov appears to be in good form, perhaps due to his preparation for the Ponomariov match.

Kasparov will be staying on in Greece to take part in the European Clubs Cup 2003 in Crete. He will be playing for the Russian club Ladia-Kazan (other players include Sergei Rublevsky (2672), Ilia Smirin (2656), Viktor Bologan (2650) and Alisa Galliamova (2502)). It's nice to see the top-rated OTB player active again. His last play had been in the Linares tournament in February.

There is also another Kasparov vs. computer match scheduled to take place in New York City. The four games will take place on Nov. 11, 13, 16, 18, with the first move of Game 3 (the Sunday game) scheduled to be made by Miss New York City 2003, Katie Horn. The computer engine will be X3D Fritz, and the game will be played on a 3-D computer-generated board, which can be viewed using special 3-D glasses. The manufacturer of the 3-D equipment X3D Technologies is sponsoring the match, and all four games are scheduled to be shown on ESPN! More information on the match can be found on the company web site http://www.X3D.com. The announcers will be ESPN sports anchor Jeremy Schapp, GM Yasser Seirawan, and writer Paul Hoffman. There will also be guest commentators each day.

ICCF Congress

Each year the International Correspondence Chess Federation has their annual congress, a meeting which takes place in a different country each year. This year, in addition to the regular discussions about tournament rules, awarding of titles, discussion of the various commissions and general keeping in touch with one another, elections will take place for officers for the next four years.

There will be a big changing of the guard this year. President Alan Borwell has withdrawn his name from the election. Only one office is now competitive, with all other elective offices being uncontested. Here are the new officers, only waiting to be confirmed by the national delegates:

President: Josef Mrkvicka, Czech Republic

Deputy President & Development Director: Sergey Grodzensky (Russia) vs. Max Zavanelli (USA)

Membership & Services Director: Pedro Hegoburu (Argentina)

Finance Director: Grayling Hill (USA)

World Tournaments Director: Jan-Christoffer Lers (Germany)

Thus, if Max Zavanelli wins the election, two of the five members of the ICCF Executive board will be Americans, probably the first time that has happened.

Congress takes place in Ostrava, Czech Republic October 11-18, 2003. I'll try to get the election news out on the ICCF-U.S. web site as soon as possible. The election takes place on Sunday, October 12. Normally the new officers take their positions on January 1, but since the current President is retiring effectively the day of the elections, perhaps all the officers will take charge on that day.

I'm looking forward to the Congress reports this year. Congress will be discussing some interesting topics, such as the creation of an ICCF Chess Server, the duties of tournament directors, new requirements for the International Arbiter title, other Internet issues, marketing plans for ICCF, awarding of titles.

Here are the USA players and the titles that have been applied for:

International Master (IM)

  • William Boucher
  • Wesley T. Brandhorst
  • Michael Millstone
  • Keith Rodriguez
  • Corky Schakel
  • James Skeels
  • Robin Smith
  • Hisham M. Sunna
  • Jerry Weisskohl

Senior International Master (SIM)

  • Dr. Jason Bokar
  • Jon Edwards
  • John Knudsen
  • Jerry Weisskohl
  • Max Zavanelli

Humor in Chess (the solution)

Solution of the chess puzzle at the top of this column:
1.g8=N b5 2.Ne7 Kxb4 3.Nc6#

Free counters provided by Andale.

copyright © 2003 by J. Franklin Campbell

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