* The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
*
"The Campbell Report" - July/August 2004

New USA Grandmaster John Timm

Congratulations to John C. Timm (USA) on earning his second GM norm, thus qualifying for the correspondence chess GM title, which he will officially receive at the ICCF Congress in Mumbai, India in Oct-Nov 2004. For more information about John Timm and a player profile, visit the ICCF-U.S. web site at http://www.iccfus.com.

ICCF Server Test Tournament

ICCF has been working on plans for establishing a chess web server for several years. I myself worked on the server commission for a while and supplied my input on how it should be designed. The current server design has been kept secret, though, so I don't know any more than anyone else about what the server will be like. Finally the server is ready for the first test tournament, and am I excited about playing in this first event, sponsored by Chess Mail magazine. Subscribers to Chess Mail get the first preference so, as a long-time subscriber (from issue number one) I should be one of the first people to try out the server. There is no entry fee, but all participants will be asked to participate in a survey about the server and its features. I have strong opinions about the features that should be available, but after actually playing a tournament (six games) I may alter my views. Anyway, it sounds like fun. The tournament starts July 15, 2004. I should be able to give you some preliminary opinions about it in the near future.

The server will provide a way to play that seems far superior to email chess, in my opinion. The server will keep track of the game score, the time used, allow entry of moves by use of the mouse (no need for requiring any particular chess notation), and make administration of the game by the TD much easier. If well done, this could be a real boon to correspondence chess players. Eventually, ICCF plans to make this server available to national federations for use with their tournaments, so in the near future we may see ICCF-U.S. conducting USCCC's on the server. Who knows we may see a future APCT championship event on the server! Only time will tell.

Leko Gets White

GM Peter Leko (HUN) will be playing a fourteen game match for the OTB Classical World Championship with current champion GM Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) in Brissago, Switzerland between September 25th and October 18th. I've heard of all sorts of methods for choosing colors for the first game choosing between two hands holding different colored pawns, flipping a coin, spinning a roulette wheel but the organizers of this match came up with an interesting alternative. At the press conference officially announcing the match, the players participated in a 2-minute blitz game. A square (f5) was selected without the players knowing which one, and the first player to move a piece to the square would get White in the first game of the world championship match. When Leko played 17. Nf5 he earned the right to play White in game 1.

Chess Quotes

On 24 May 2004 Chess Today magazine reported that super model Carmen Kass was elected president of the Estonian Chess Union. She will work on finding money for chess in Estonia. Her goal is to bring the Chess Olympiad to Estonia in 2008.

It is also reported that in Tallinn, Estonia that it's illegal to have sex while playing chess. I wonder what prompted the passage of that law?

This brings to mind a new trend I've noticed on the Internet reports on "chess babes." Women's events are attracting greater interest, and photo reports are becoming common, especially on the ChessBase web site. One report dated May 23, 2004 was labeled, "Bikini chess championship in Ukraine" it was actually the women's chess championship of the Ukraine, but there were lots of photos of the participants in swim suits. It causes me to consider the future. What next? will Chess Life have an annual Swimsuit Issue like some of the sports magazines?

More "Filler"

APCT'er Steve Weeks of Rome, Georgia responded to my opening lament in my last column labeled "Another Deadline Approaches" with the following letter:

"As a retired journalist, I propose a minor change in your opening May-June observation: Sometimes writing a column is easier than at other times, whatever the medium.

"The never-ending quest for material leads to unaccustomed places - such as "The Game Player's Book of Complete Trivia," from which the following quiz is taken verbatim. (In my opinion, any APCT'er who struggles with the questions should be severely penalized.) [for brevity, I'll just list a few of the questions -- JFC] With how many pieces does each chess player begin? Which piece moves in an L-shape? What are Ranks? What is meant by "x" in chess notation?

"To make matters worse, the August publication even provides the answers

"Sure, the answers are no-brainers for APCT'ers. But, filler is filler. Right? Actually, combining two entries from Fred Worth's "The Complete Unabridged Trivia Encyclopedia" yields a more challenging, albeit less relevant, question. It's as follows: What's the name of the cat used in advertising by the railroad for which John Henry worked? (The answer, of course, is "Chessie," John Henry having toiled for the Chesapeake and Ohio.)

  • What was the code radio name for headquarters, run by Lieutenant Hanley? (Check Mate King 2)
  • What was the code name of the patrol, headed by Sergeant Saunders? (White Rook)

"Another volume offers other no-brainers, but those can be saved for another time. For now, I'll simply note that the enclosed obituary is from the Jan. 30 edition of "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution." Please forgive my tardiness in passing it along.

"Finally, a question regarding the demise of the USCF catalog: Are Post-a-Logs and refills still available? I'll need some soon to expand my APCT endeavors.

"p.s.: your musings on chess fiction are deeply appreciated. Again, more comment as time allows "

Thanks very much for your input to this column. I always appreciate hearing from readers, especially if they provide more material for this column!

The obituary was for Bob Tumperi, who as a Rotary Club member observed their motto "Service Above Self." As part of his volunteer activity he worked to make chess available to students, believing it would help improve their grades and teach valuable lessons for life.

It has been pointed out to me that I was wrong about the USCF catalog being lost. Though USCF itself is no longer selling books and chess supplies, they have appointed a subcontractor to do this work for them. The June 2004 issue of Chess Life has a large catalog created by subcontractor Hanon Russell and his staff bound in and lists, among other things, the Post-a-Log album and refills (see page c15 of the catalog). I have always preferred purchasing my Post-a-Log supplies from APCT. Check this magazine for an advertisement.

Funny Games

In the past I've mentioned outbursts of laughter while playing over chess games (much to my wife's amusement). It happened again recently while entering some games from the 14th USCCC Preliminary (part of my project to archive as much USA championship material as I can before it is lost to our chess history). No, the players didn't play weird moves, but sometimes chess can be funny, just as it can be tragic or exciting. Here are the games perhaps you can judge the "humor content":

Game 1 [B04]
US14P10 ICCF, 10.07.1998

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 Nc6?? 6.Bb3?? Nb6

I have had the same thing happen in my games. One player plays a move out of sequence in the opening, his opponent doesn't notice, and the game transposes back into a standard line. In this case one player left a piece en prise and his opponent didn't notice till later. I recall a game where my opponent got a move out of sequence, or perhaps he confused two different lines of the opening, and he left a piece en prise. I didn't catch it at first, though. No, first I poured over my opening references and did database searches to try to find another example of this opening move. It looked so normal. I couldn't believe I couldn't find a single game with this move. In the end I gave up looking and just started to analyze the position on my own. It only took a few moments to discover my opponent's mistake and I won a very short game. However, it wasn't my intinct to analyze the opening position on my own I looked for guidance in references first. I won the game, but I sure spent a lot of time spinning my wheels first.

A second game also caused an outburst of laughter, and the laugh was strictly on me. I'll give the entire score, but the moves that gave me trouble started at Black's 4th move. I thought, oh no, another screwed up game score! Entering games using hand-written score sheets often presents problems when players don't record the moves correctly. I try to keep on the lookout for obvious mistakes. Part of the "charm" of entering games is trying to work out the actual moves based on the evidence of the game score and the reality of the chess position. Black's move 4e6 obviously left a piece hanging. Not only that, but he left the piece there for another move, then White played the ridiculous 6.Kf2 move! Obviously a mistake. Of course, after taking a closer look what became obvious was that Black was being clever, since taking the piece would result in an immediate checkmate, reminiscent of the Fool's Mate. You can guess who felt like a fool in this case. But it gave me a good laugh (if you can't laugh at yourself then you're in trouble) and a little more material for this column.

Feldman,E - Schakel,C (2275) [A03]
US14P10 ICCF, 10.07.1998

1.f4 d5 2.b3 Bg4 3.h3 Bh5 4.g4 e6 5.Nf3 Be7 6.Kf2 Bg6 7.Bb2 Bf6 8.Qc1 Bxb2 9.Qxb2 Nf6 10.e3 0-0 11.d4 Ne4+ 12.Kg2 Nd7 13.h4 Ndf6 14.Ne5 Nd6 15.Nc3 Be4+ 16.Nxe4 Nfxe4 17.h5 f6 18.Nf3 Rc8 19.Bd3 c5 20.c3 Qd7 21.Bxe4 Nxe4 22.Nd2 cxd4 23.cxd4 e5 24.f5 exd4 25.exd4 Qd6 26.Nxe4 dxe4 27.Rhf1 e3 28.Rac1 Rxc1 29.Qxc1 Qxd4 30.Qc4+ Qxc4 31.bxc4 Rc8 32.Rf4 e2 33.Kf2 Re8 34.Ke1 b6 35.Rd4 h6 36.a4 a5 37.Rf4 Kh7 38.Rd4 Re3 39.Rf4 Ra3 40.c5 bxc5 41.Kxe2 Rb3 42.Rc4 Rb4 43.Rxc5 Rxa4 44.Kf3 Ra1 45.Rc8 Ra3+ draw

I wonder do any of you ever get strange reactions from your spouses or friends when you suddenly start laughing while studying a chess game? I am personally a big believer in the humor that can be found in chess. I do, however, believe it is not polite to laugh at an opponent's move during a game. It is also risky!

A Vote for Lasker's Manual

Just before my deadline I received this from APCT'er Michael Flynn of Swanton, Ohio:

"Even though I am a woodpusher, I am with you in saying that Lasker's Manual of Chess was the single most important book for me. I think it is the best elementary book on chess ever written. If a player who had limited time and energy wanted to learn chess from a single book, Lasker's Manual would be my recommendation. Everybody has to make a buck, so people will continue to grind out chess books. But I'm not sure the new books are any better than the old. Lasker, who was also a mathematician and a philosopher, might say his Manual is based on eternal chess principles, so that it is as true today as when he wrote it.

"I bought Lasker's Manual of Chess when I was a freshman in high school. I'm 58 years old now. Both the book and I are still holding together which one of us will come unglued first is still unclear.

"If a hypothetical chess player had just enough time and energy for just one more book, I might recommend Alekhine's My Best Games of Chess. It is the best collection ever of a single player's games. It is better than Bobby Fischer's My Sixty Memorable Games, even though that sounds heretical. Alekhine loved chess. He spent countless hours studying chess, which is reflected in his games and his annotations.

"I read an article in the New York Times after Gary Kasparov became world champion. He was asked who he admired most as a chess player. He replied that he admired the games of Alexander Alekhine most of all and secondly Bobby Fischer, his great erudition and his clear cut, accurate combinations. Lasker said that Alekhine had the soul of a poet. Alekhine never completely lost the romanticism that was in his early games. He also played a lot of chess by mail when he was young in Russia.

"These are two of my favorite chess books. If you publish this in your column and any of my fellow APCT members disagree with me, that is fine, because I don't claim to know everything."

Thanks for sharing your views, Michael. I recall the summer after I first started playing chess. I was playing a match with a friend, and I wasn't doing well. I took a trip to Minnesota for a couple weeks, and I took Lasker's Manual of Chess with me. After studying the book during my trip I returned home and won my match. Not only did I learn some basics from the book, but I was inspired by Lasker's zeal for the game. There are many fine chess books, both old and new. But Lasker's book will always remain my favorite.

The June 2004 Chess Life just arrived and I found a pertinent item in GM Larry Evans' column "Evans on Chess". He was asked by the managing editor of Bookmarks Magazine to list three best (or favorite) chess books. His list of favorites was Lasker's Manual of Chess, My 60 Memorable Games and Basic Chess Endings by Reuben Fine. BCE was my first favorite book and remains one of my favorites. It seems as though many people think along the same lines!

Current World Champion Threatens to Quit (Part 2)

Last time I reported that the new cc world champion GM Tunc Hamarat of Austria (I mistakenly said Switzerland last time) has threatened to quit playing in ICCF events based on two factors:

  1. It has become easier to win the world championship due to the reduction in size of the playing fields. He thought ICCF should return to the old size.
  2. The sponsor of the email championship dictated some of the conditions of play, bypassing regular ICCF rules. He thought this was not appropriate and that ICCF should not make exceptions to the normal conduct of events based on sponsorship.

I should say the GM Hamarat did not characterize his statements as a threat, but rather he said that it was a simple fact that he would not compete unless these things were changed. It was my interpretation that his public statements amounted to a threat a threat I found totally inappropriate. Immediately after the APCT News Bulletin was published with my last column I got a response from the ICCF Deputy President & Development Director Max Zavanelli (USA) and ICCF President Josef Mrkvicka (Czech Republic) responding to Tunc Hamarat's statements. Though the responses were lengthy and detailed, I will attempt to summarize the most pertinent items below. For the complete, unedited responses in a popup window Click Here.

1) Reduction in size of final from 17 to 13 players:

"Hamarat played in the postal correspondence version. The target for these championships was always 15 players. Often we would have late qualifiers or some previous champion deciding he wanted to participate at the last minute. Since we could not have an even number of players (unfair number of white and black games for some), we had to have 17, not 16. Many participants complained this was too many games!

"From the very beginning for the first email Championship, it was decided there would be 13 players. The email pace was too extreme and the strongest players did not want 15 games. All semi final qualifications were in effect. We also did not know how many sections we would have." -- Max Zavanelli

2) Restriction of field

"It is nice to have a prestigious sponsor like New In Chess as compared to having no sponsor before. This sponsor imposed no special requirements on us! So here again is a non-issue! The format was decided by ICCF, not New In Chess!

"I have a copy of the agreement with New In Chess and there are no restrictions whatsoever on qualifications or format.

"In the event ICCF did not manage to convince these players to play in Final 19, the open places would have been filled with other 3rd placed players from the same cycle. If still after this there were any open places, THEN (and only then) would 'other' qualifiers be invited to participate. Of course, in this last case, we would have had to follow our custom, and that is to accept players as per the aging of their qualification (therefore, I guess Berliner or Hovde would have been the first accepted players, had they expressed a desire to participate after all qualifiers from the NIC cycle had been invited and any open spot were still available)." -- Max Zavanelli

- - - - - - - - -

"ICCF kept perfectly to the interchangeability of qualifications in the 3/4-Final stage of this tournament. This can be proved by the 'Table of Qualifications' valid at the start of the 3/4-Final sections. Moreover, I attach my old Excel file which contains all qualifications which were used for this 3/4-Final tournaments (column 'Tournament'). Everybody can see that ALL valid 3/4-Final qualifications were allowed to be used, including GM norms, ratings over 2600 (Hamarat!), postal semifinals, etc. Consequently, arguments like that the participation was only limited to those who participated in the Semifinal stage are completely out of touch [note: I'm not sure that Hamarat made this claim, but I incorrectly listed this as a restriction in the May-June column -- JFC]. In fact, the qualifiers from the 1st ECWC Semifinal were in considerable minority (only 26 players out of 79!) The special promotional arrangements were adopted for the Final only (otherwise, we would have ended up with a 18 players email Final), but NO 3rd placed player lost his qualification for the future Finals " -- Josef Mrkvicka

I'm sorry I can't include more of the remarks by Max Zavanelli and Josef Mrkvicka, but space considerations dictate that I be concise. In my view, these gentlemen have very clearly explained the smaller size of the final. It seems very sensible to me. Perhaps the world champion has a small point in the second item. However, it also seems quite sensible to me that some special considerations would be established for certain events. It is stated that New in Chess did not dictate this one restriction, but rather ICCF itself determined to give first priority for the finals to people who played in the 3/4-finals of this event. Max Zavanelli did point out that if spots were still open after the qualified 3/4-final players were invited, then non-participants qualified from other events would have been invited. For those not familiar with the ICCF World Championship cycle, the semi-final is followed by the 3/4-final (now renamed the Candidates') followed by the final. There are clearly stated criteria for qualifying for each of these rounds of play. Further information about the path to the world championship can be found at the ICCF-U.S. web site http://www.iccfus.com.


copyright © 2004 by J. Franklin Campbell

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