Humor in Chess
I ran across two more chess positions that gave me a good laugh. The first was published in the on-line chess newsletter Chessville Volume 3 Issue 32 (August 8, 2004). I'll give a hint just below, so stop reading if you don't want to see it. The second diagram was given in the August 4, 2004 issue of Chess Today (CT-217). It is from the North Urals Cup tournament, Krasnoturinsk, 2004. Once again I had my wife shaking her head at my explanation of why I suddenly burst out in laughter, no doubt wondering if all chess players have such weird senses of humor.
The solutions are given at the end of this column. The little hint for the first diagrammed position is this … what must have been Black's last move? Now tell me the truth … do you see the humor in these games, or is my wife's speculation closer to the target?
Chess Journalist of America Awards
Each year the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) has a competition for the best in American chess journalism. In recent years the Cramer Committee has cooperated with the CJA in its quest to recognize the top journalists. The winners are traditionally announced at the US Open Championship during the annual CJA meeting.
This year there was a new category, the Lifetime Achievement Award. The description: "The honoree will have shown a lifetime record of achievement in chess journalism. The nomination should include a statement of why the person should be honored." Here is the statement I wrote, which I felt was inadequate to really describe her fantastic achievements in chess journalism over the years. Fortunately, the voters also knew her significance to our craft independently.
Helen Warren shares the honor of winning the first Lifetime Achievement Award granted by the CJA with Robert Byrne, a distinguished chess grandmaster and columnist for the New York Times and Chess Life. Congratulations to both of these worthy recipients of this prestigious award! The other nominees were Bob Dudley, A. J. Goldsby, Peter Kurzdorfer and Ira Lee Riddle.
Other CJA Winners in Correspondence Chess
Several other awards were announced of interest to cc enthusiasts. The Best Correspondence Chess Magazine award went to the CCLA publication The Chess Correspondent, Joseph Ganem editor. As one of the few categories which awarded an Honorable Mention, the APCT News Bulletin, editor Helen Warren, received this honor. Congratulations to both CCLA and APCT on these awards! Over the years these two magazines have contended for this award with first one winning and then the other. Surely this friendly competition has been good for our sport here in America.
Current CCLA President Volker Jeschonnek also received the award for Best Web-based Review for his review on my web site of the correspondence chess tournament book "First Anglo-Pacific Invitational Chess Championship" by IM Erik Osbun. He shared the award with NM Dan Heisman for his "Survivor: 64 Squares" review at the Chess Café.
I was particularly pleased to receive the award for Best Correspondence Chess Web Site for my site The Campbell Report. This, along with the ICCF 2003 award "Friend of ICCF" presented to the ICCF-U.S. web site (I am the webmaster), represents my most significant chess journalism honors. I am certainly thrilled. I celebrated with a Mexican lunch and a liverwurst sandwich for supper! I was also pleased to have the award for Best Historical Article presented to an article at my web site by chess historian Neil Brennen titled "The Champion of the North: James Jellett's Adventures in American Chess".
As with so many things there are some interesting side stories. I often refer to Neil Brennen as a chess historian since much of his work involves chess history and is a result of his careful research into our past. This designation "historian" and this particular article both have stories associated with them. In Neil's public postings on chess newsgroups he has found himself in "discussions" with various other chess people. Alas, finding common ground and consensus is not the norm on the newsgroups. In one reply Larry Parr applied the derisive term "The Historian" to Neil, and like the astronomy term "Big Bang Theory", the term originally used in a derisive fashion became the accepted term. My compliments to Neil "The Historian" Brennen. I just happily published his fifth article to appear on my cc web site.
The other story involves this particular article. GM Goran Tomic advised the other posters not to read this article, describing it as a "boring article." I have discovered that I disagree with many opinions of Mr. Tomic. It appears that not only I but also the CJA judges disagree with Mr. Tomic concerning this article. If you're interested you can check out Neil Brennen's articles at my web site in the "On the Square" articles page. You can check out Goran Tomic's column "Strike a light" at the Pakistan Chess Player web site. While you're there, check out the "200 Words" columns by Lev Khariton. I often find myself in disagreement with his ideas, but his writing is usually interesting and thought-provoking.
I am continuing my project at the ICCF-U.S. web site to document the USCCC series of tournaments. The United States Correspondence Chess Championship events determine the USA cc champions. APCT and the other ICCF affiliates in the USA seed one player each into each final, along with preliminary round qualifiers and past champions. Unfortunately, many of the results and games of past events are not available. The preliminary round of the 1st USCCC started in 1972. Since then new events have started at roughly two-year intervals. These championships are 2-round events.
My project has been to create accurate crosstables of all the events and an archive of games with as many games as possible from these events. The current status of this project can be seen at the ICCF-U.S. web site http://www.iccfus.com. N. Eric Pedersen and Chris Ferrante have volunteered to convert written records respectively of the games of the 15th USCCC prelims and the 6th USCCC prelims into PGN format for the games archive (many thanks!). I have personally entered over 800 games of the 14th USCCC prelims and can report this is a big job!
Appeal for USCCC Information (Particularly from the 5th USCCC)
I need help with this USCCC documentation project. Many of the early crosstables are incomplete, particular the 5th USCCC prelims, where I have NO crosstable information. If you have old assignment sheets, other start papers or any personal records of the players, results and game scores from these important events, please send them to me. Send photocopies or email scans of documents to me. Anything you can tell me about the 5th USCCC prelim round would be appreciated. The first four USCCC's were reported in The Chess Correspondent (though these records aren't complete). Starting with the 6th USCCC there were reports published in Chess International, The Chess Connection and News Releases of ICCF-U.S. The 5th USCCC slipped into the crack between these publications and seemingly disappeared into a black hole. All I have are a few games sent by one competitor. You can find these games at the ICCF-U.S. Games Archive. My hopes are that readers will be able to provide much of the missing information. If you have any information at all, you can be pretty confident that if you don't send it to me, then no one else will, so please help if you can.
Input from "The Last Chess-player"
I received the following note from APCT'er Ken Chaney of Houston, Texas. I don't know why, but he signs himself as "The Last Chess-player".
Thanks for your comments, Ken! Your situation does seem opposite from the norm. Perhaps others are in a similar situation. I'd be happy to hear from other players about this subject.
ICCF Server Tournament
Since my last column I have begun play in the Chess Mail server tournament, the first rated event to be played on the ICCF chess web server. It is a fascinating experience, especially for someone not familiar with server play. There are some free web servers available for Internet play, but I've never been too attracted to "unofficial" play, preferring APCT and ICCF rated competition. However, this is ICCF rated competition. ICCF is new to the server business and is experiencing the usual startup problems with down time and minor glitches. In fact, this tournament is being run to shake down the server and discover any bugs or inconvenient features. They have already moved to a dedicated server. Often one server (computer) supports multiple web sites, but if there is significant Internet traffic on different sites they can interfere with each other, causing delays. The participants in this tournament have committed themselves to providing reports on problems and suggestions for improvements. I know that several improvements have already been made. Eventually the server will be made available to the affiliates of ICCF. I am hoping to see USCCC events on the server soon. Hopefully APCT play on the server will become possible, but I have no information about this possibility.
For those unfamiliar with server play it has some big advantages over play by email. After logging into the web site you find a list of your current games, click on the one of interest, and then can view the current status of that game, including time remaining for both players. If it is your move, you can enter your move using a mouse and submit it. Your opponent is (optionally) notified by email. He can then log into the web site and see your new move along with the current position and past moves made. It relieves the players of keeping track of information like time used. I find the main attraction is that you need not record this information on transmissions to your opponent. You just entered your move, click Submit, and your responsibility ends. The focus is squarely on making chess moves with all the recording of the details left to the computer.
I was particularly interested for another reason. As part of the original ICCF commission charged with designing the chess server I was curious to see how closely the current design fits my original design. I created two functional models (web page designs without any programming to make them active). To my knowledge these functional models were not actually used, but it is interesting to compare my ideas to the ones implemented. I know what you are thinking … how could anyone possibly have ignored my wonderful ideas?! I sometimes wonder the same thing. (ha, ha).
More on the World Champion's Crusade
I have been reporting on the criticisms put forward by World Champion GM Tunc Hamarat of Austria. He believes the world championship events organized by ICCF are becoming easier, making the task of winning the world championship less difficult. Recently he has documented the low ratings of the competitors in a recent world championship semi-final. I can't provide any insights on the merits of his criticisms, but I do agree that the world championship is a very important function by ICCF, and any potential damage to this great event (or rather, series of events) should be taken seriously.
The nomenclature used by ICCF is rather unconventional. People qualify to the semi-final events by winning Master class tournaments. These winners of the semi-final events then advance to the 3/4-finals. The Final follows these events. Of course, this is a simplified explanation since there are other ways to qualify. However, the insertion of a 3/4-finals (recently renamed the Candidate's) between the semi-final and the final is unusual. I can only guess this is an historical artifact made necessary by increases in the number of competitors.
Recently, WC Hamarat has reported he is planning to attend the ICCF Congress in India (more on this below) to further explain his concerns. This is good news indeed, since Congress is where important decisions are made concerning ICCF activities. I hope to report further on this important subject in a future column. My experience is that the opinions of world champions carry a lot of weight.
ICCF Congress in Mumbai, India
ICCF has an annual Congress to conduct business. The members of ICCF are national federations from all over the world. For instance, the USA is a member via the ICCF-U.S. office, with Max Zavanelli as delegate. APCT, CCLA and USCF are all represented by the ICCF-U.S. office. As a democratic organization, all important decisions are made (or confirmed) by the national delegates, one vote per country. They elect an executive board to deal with the day-to-day business of the organization. ICCF is to correspondence chess what FIDE is to OTB.
This year the Congress is in Mumbai, India (formerly known as Calcutta). I dearly wish I could attend this Congress, partly because two of my passions are the food of India (chicken vindaloo is a particular favorite) and the coins of British India (I am working on expanding my web site devoted to these coins). However, like many I cannot afford to travel so far. I expect attendance will be down a bit this year.
The dates of the Congress are October 30 - November 5 so I won't have any information on what has happened there till my January 2005 column. It's sure to be a most interesting meeting with a lot of discussion about the new ICCF server. It's the first ICCF meeting on the subcontinent. The All India Correspondence Chess Federation (AICCF) has set up a web site devoted to the Congress at http://www.geocities.com/iccf2004/ Hopefully, the new ICCF President Josef Mrkvicka of The Czech Republic will have recovered fully from his recent illness.
ICCF Champions League
There are only a few games remaining in the initial qualifying round of ICCF's giant team tournament the Champions League. Teams have been sorted out into four leagues A, B, C, D and will start playing a relegation type of competition where an excellent performance moves the team to a higher league next season and a bad performance knocks a team down one league. My team "Team CC.COM" finished a little under 50% and would be in League "D", but the team folded when two of the four members decided not to play. Ralph Marconi and I were invited to join a similar team named "Four Brave Englishmen" and will be playing with IM Duncan Chambers and Team Captain Alan Rawlings of England. Of course, the team name has become inappropriate so we'll be known as "Four Wise Arbiters", based on the fact that all four of us will be International Arbiters in ICCF. The other three are already IA's. I'll be picking up my title at the India Congress (wish I could pick it up in person, but Max Zavanelli will be accepting it along with other International titles for USA people).
The Champions League was a great team competition in its first qualifying season with 242 teams of 968 players. This season more players are expected. We will be working towards qualifying for League "C" in the following season, unless we are able to enter the "Fast Track" system, which will allow 44 teams to compete for a possible position in League "B" next season. I'll be very much involved as the webmaster for the CL web site. The web site can be viewed at http://tables.iccf.com/email/ChLeague/2004
Solutions to Problems
Diagram 1: Of course, the key to solving this problem is determining Black's last move. The only piece that could have made a move is the pawn on f5. The only possible move was 1. … f7-f5. This leads to the following solution: 2.exf6 gxf6+ 3.Kh6 and mates next move.
Diagram 2: 1. Qb8+ Rc8 2. Qd6+ Bxd6 3. Rd7 mate
copyright © 2004 by J. Franklin Campbell
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