The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"The Campbell Report" - September/October 2006

Dieren (6), 2006
Position after 97…Qa4+

White to move and lose

GM Alex Baburin commented on the above position in his excellent Chess Today speculating that Black must have won on time given White's material advantage. However, NiC editor Rene Olthof wrote in that White actually had over 2 minutes remaining while Black had a minute less. Unfortunately for White he moved 98.Qf4+ to force the exchange of Queens and obtain an easy win. Of course, this ignores the fact that White is in check, so Black was awarded two extra minutes based on White's illegal move. It got worse for White, though, when Nijboer pointed out that White had touched his Queen. After Tiviakov was given a chance to read the rule book about the touch-move rule he left the playing hall, which the Arbiter interpreted as a resignation.

Last Column

Don't forget … next issue will contain my last column after 18 years of writing "The Campbell Report." I welcome reader input for that last column. I'm hoping to review a bit of the past and would like to cover topics readers would find interesting. Contact information is at the top of this column.

To the US Open Championship

Exciting times! As I write this I'm preparing to leave in the morning, take the Amtrak train to Chicago, and make my way to the site of the US Open Chess Championship in Oak Brook, Illinois. My main reason for going is to attend the annual meeting of the Chess Journalists of America (CJA), of which I am the webmaster and long-time member. But, as long as I'm there, I'll take advantage of attending some other meetings, such as the USCF correspondence chess workshop, Publications, and MIS/Website.

This will be a great opportunity to finally meet many people in person. As a cc competitor each of us is accustomed to dealing with people, indeed, making friends, from a distance. Besides cc opponents I have many distant friends … teammates of the Four Wise Arbiters team, officers and committee members of the CJA, fellow volunteers in the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF), and so forth. There are also old OTB chess friends from the past who may show up. Hey, I might even meet a few of the readers of this column! As much as I love cc I also miss the excitement of a chess meeting and seeing people playing chess. Maybe I'll even get in a game or two myself, picking up and setting down pieces and punching the clock.

This year's US Open will feature a most interesting extra issue. The recent USCF election for board positions resulted in the controversial Sam Sloan winning a one-year term. The question is whether or not his election will be certified by the USCF delegates. Is there a legal ground for denying him his elected position? Is he really a sexual predator and convicted felon? Or is he just a colorful guy who is not a member of the insiders' club? His election certainly captures the attention of many people wondering how this could have happened. Have USCF members gotten so fed up with business as usual they thought there was nothing to lose by throwing a monkey wrench into the works? I'll be leaving before the delegates meeting but I may get some of the chatter about it.

Alex Dunne's Column

I previously reported that Chess Life has stopped carrying Alex Dunne's cc column "The Check is in the Mail". I just received the third issue of Chess Life since the editorial change and once again there is no noticeable correspondence chess content. It looks like cc fans will have to be happy with the occasional article with some cc relevance. However, it also seems that Dunne's column may continue to be available on-line. The August 2006 column has now been posted, though there is no certainty that future columns will continue. You can find a list of columns available at:


I'll try to find out more at the USCF cc workshop.

Main playing hall, US Open Chess Championship, Oak Brook, Illinois (all photos by J. Franklin. Campbell)

Report from the US Open

Thanks to Jim Warren for extending the deadline for my column to allow me to report on the meetings at the US Open. Here are a few of my observations.

USCF CC Committee Chairman Harold Stenzel & Director of Communications Joan DuBois

USCF Correspondence Chess Workshop. Conducting the meeting were Harold Stenzel (the Chairman of the USCC correspondence chess committee) and Joan DuBois (long time USCF cc contact and the person cc Director Alex Dunne reports to). Some other attendees were Jim & Helen Warren from APCT, Ruth Ann Fay (representing the ICCF-U.S. office), Mike Nolan (USCF programmer and database guru), Daniel Lucas (USCF publications director and editor of Chess Life), and a number of other interested parties, include me. Unfortunately, cc director Alex Dunne, who serves as TD for all USCF cc events, was not in attendance.

Jim Warren, Helen Warren and Ruth Ann Fay

Following are some interesting details about the USCF cc program.

Mike Nolan reported on the plans to incorporate cc events into the USCF web site. He described a 4-phase program.

  1. All events in the past moved from old database into the new database used by the web site. This phase is completed.
  2. Add data for on-going events so current crosstables can be displayed. There are currently approximately 1830 events in progress.
  3. Hopefully this will be finished within a few weeks after this meeting.
  4. Enter recent results to the new crosstables to bring them right up to date.
  5. Rate all new results using this updated database. It is estimated that this final step will be completed within the next 2-3 months.

USCF CC Workshop, Director of Publications/CL Editor Daniel Lucas at left, USCF Programmer Mike Nolan standing

The plan is to make the same facilities currently available for OTB games also available for cc games. In a later meeting Mike Nolan said results from OTB tournaments are often rated by the time the player gets home from the tournament (depending on how rapidly the TD sends his report after the event finishes).

Joan DuBois passed along an estimate by Alex Dunne that approximately 2/3 of USCF games are still conducted by post, a number that surprised me a bit.

Chess Life editor Daniel Lucas responded to my questions about coverage of correspondence chess in the magazine. The Alex Dunne column "The Check is in the Mail" has been cancelled as part of his overall scheme to overhaul the structure of the magazine. It was considered "column heavy". The new design of Chess Life has far fewer regular columns, I believe considerably less than ½ of the former count. The emphasis will be on feature articles, and this extends to correspondence chess. His plan is to have a major cc article quarterly, but there won't be much "for the record" stuff like crosstables and games results. This will be left to the web site, which is considered a better place to provide this sort of information. Here are some future features we can expect in Chess Life:

  1. USCF Absolute Championship tournament update by Alex Dunne.
  2. US Championship update (not sure what this means).
  3. Susan Polgar article on openings, comparing those played in cc to those in OTB.

I asked about USCF events using chess servers, and there certainly is some interest. I understand it is possible that ICC (the Internet Chess Club) is a possible provider for server play. It appears that little is known about the ICCF server, but perhaps Alex Dunne would have provided better information on that. At a later time I did ask "ZEK" of ICC about their cc support, and he admitted it wasn't very strong at the moment but may be improved in the future. ICC does have a cc component but it needs to be improved.

I came away from this meeting with a more positive view of USCF cc than I had before. The work Mike Dolan is doing bringing cc events into parity with OTB events on the USCF computer was very impressive and speaks well to USCF support for correspondence chess.

USCF Web Site Workshop and Publications Workshop. I'll combine the information from both meetings here. Work continues on the new USCF web site. The old web site is still fully available with pages being reformatted for the new site. There are currently about 25,000 old web pages, but only about 6,000 need to be incorporated into the new site. It is said that in many cases old pages reflect a single chess position in a game so one game uses many pages. At any rate, many of the old web pages are now obsolete.

USCF programmer Mike Nolan, CJA webmaster/APCT columnist Franklin Campbell
& USCF web site editor Jennifer Shahade (left to right)

The new web site editor is Jennifer Shahade, well known for her success as a chess player. I came away with a very positive impression of Jennifer. She was posting daily reports on the US Open with photos and games in replay format. The look of the new web site is great and the content is excellent. Go to the web site http://www.uschess.org and click on the "Chess Life Online" link at the left to see her reports. On this CL Online page you can also click on links to see her personal BLOG or read GM Joel Benjamin's new on-line column "Ask GM Joel", which effectively replaces the old Larry Evans Q&A column previously in the magazine. Evans' column will not be brought back to the magazine, despite a couple hundred emails from readers, but another Evans' column on The Best Move will return.

CJA meeting (part 2) to hash out new bylaws. Left to right, CJA President Jerry Hanken,
CJA Secretary/Treasurer Randy Hough, CJA Webmaster J. Franklin Campbell,
CJA Bylaws Chairman Dr. Ira Lee Riddle, CJA member Arlen Walker

Chess Journalists (CJA) Annual Meeting. My main reason for going was to attend this meeting. I am webmaster of the CJA site and, if the new bylaws are accepted by the membership, I'll be an officer of this organization. CJA also announces the winners of the annual CJA Awards for the best journalism at this meeting. Everything went well, I got to meet a lot of people for the first time (including CJA President Jerry Hanken, Secretary/Treasurer Randy Hough and Bylaws committee chairman Dr. Ira Lee Riddle), the bylaws changes were discussed and a final version was accepted for voting by the membership, and the awards were announced. Here are a couple key winners:

  1. Chess Journalist of the Year … Peter Tamburro
  2. CC Magazine … CCLA's Chess Correspondent
  3. CC Web Site … The Campbell Report

President's Reception, USCF President Bill Goichberg and wife Brenda Goichberg

President's Reception. On Friday evening the USCF President Bill Goichberg provided a reception, which gave me an opportunity to put on my tie and meet some of the movers and shakers in USCF. I got a nice photo of Bill and his wife Brenda, met Harold Winston, a former President and a founding member of CJA in Atlantic city in 1972 (it was called Association of U. S. Chess Journalists at that time), and met new USCF Board Member Sam Sloan, who seemed quite a nice fellow to me at that time. I asked if he has some specific things he hoped to achieve in his one-year term and he said he did. It was certainly a pleasant evening and the various chess people I met were friendly and passionate about chess. Overall I was quite impressed and believe USCF supporters have every reason to be optimistic about the future of chess in the USA.

USCF President Bill Goichberg (left) and CJA Webmaster/APCT Columnist J. Franklin Campbell

Kramnik-Topalov Match

Will we finally get the much talked about unification match for the OTB World Championship? Since the Kasparov-Short break from FIDE for their world championship match there has been a schism … who is world champion, the winner of the match played in the traditional series of matches or the events set up by FIDE? Many considered the big knockout tournaments a joke, as far as the world championship is concerned. Since Vladimir Kramnik defeated Kasparov and defended successfully against Peter Leko he has been considered the legitimate world champion by many people, but since the emergence of Veselin Topalov as the dominating winner of the 8-player FIDE world championship tournament in San Luis, Argentina in October 2005 many top players have changed their opinions. So now two players are considered world champions ... the "Classical" World Champion Kramnik and the "FIDE" World Champion Topalov.

As the announced date for the match between Kramnik and Topalov approaches there is every indication that this match will actually take place. FIDE doesn't have a very good track record so many people doubted it would happen. The FIDE web site isn't very encouraging, since the only mention of the upcoming match is a link to the original announcement of the match in April 2006. This 12-game match is scheduled to be played in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia. The announced dates are September 21, 2006 through October 13, 2006.

With the recent poor results of Kramnik and his drift downward in the rating list it appears that people had pretty much written off Kramnik as a possible winner. There is already a second world championship match arranged between Topalov and the young Teimour Radjabov. The following press release gives the details.

(Sofia, May 15, 2006) The manager of the World Champion Veselin Topalov - Silvio Danailov and the Minister of Sport of Azerbaijan Azad Rahimov agreed yesterday on a match for the world title to be held between Topalov and the Azerbaijanian Teimour Radjabov (ELO 2720). All conditions of the World Champion have been accepted and the two sides have signed a memorandum.

The match will probably take place in April 2007 in Baku. The award fund will be $ 1,5 million, of which $ 1 million will be for Topalov. According to the rules of FIDE every chess player with ELO over 2700 can challenge the World Champion in a match for the title. Radjabov, currently number 13 in the FIDE ranking will be the next challenger for it if Topalov defends it in the match against Kramnik in September this year in the capital of Kalmykia - Elista.

However, it is now known that Kramnik had a serious medical condition that required rest, and now he is making a comeback. His performance at the super-strong Dortmund tournament, where he took first place on tie-break over Peter Svidler, seems to show that he has regained his former strength and will be a formidable opponent. Kramnik played five draws and then sprinted to take first with two wins. The first was over tail ender Baadur Jobava, who was playing in his first super tournament. He must have been shell shocked with the way Kramnik forced the issue, which may explain his fast resignation. Then Kramnik beat the former leader Peter Leko in a game reminiscent of his demolition of Leko in the final World Championship match game. Leko is starting to develop a reputation for fading at the end of big events. One of the Chess.FM analysts even claimed Leko was "too skinny", meaning he didn't have the physical stamina to stay the course and weakened at the end of events.

Here is the quick win by Kramnik over Jobava

Jobava,Baadur (2651) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2743)
Sparkassen Chess-Meeting Dortmund (6), 05.08.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb7 5.a3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Bd2 Nf6 8.Qc2 c5 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.b4 Be7 11.e4 Nc6 12.Bf4 0-0 13.Rd1 Qc8 14.e5 Nxb4! 15.axb4 Ne4 0-1

Black is clearly better, but people were surprised by the quick surrender by Jobava. I can only assume his nerves gave out.

Chess and Baseball

I was watching my local big league baseball team the Detroit Tigers on TV and, as sometimes happen at times like this, chess came up. First one of the players was interviewed and they talked about his chess skill (chess is still widely recognized as a mark of intellectual achievement). Then one of those tense situations occurred in the game. Men on first and second base, one out, a 3-2 full count on the batter, and the critical question was whether or not the Detroit coach would send the base runners going on the pitch. The runners did indeed take off on the pitch and the announcer noted that the Minnesota third baseman covered third base, so the defensive plan was to try to throw the runner out at third on a strikeout (the batter actually fouled the ball off). This prompted the announcer to say, "Baseball is a beautiful game!" Just like chess, baseball has a lot of strategy. He went on to call baseball "Chess on grass, or rather chess on Astroturf." Not being a fan of artificial grass he couldn't miss the opportunity to bring it up.

How often do we hear expressions like "it's a chess game", "chess on grass", or in the case of curling "chess on ice"? Chess has a unique reputation that even sleazy chess politics can't destroy.

World Champion Announces Lifestyle Change

Under the title "Changing my life" ICCF 16th World Champion Tunc Hamarat of Austria made the following announcement on the TCCMB message board on July 3, 2006:

I am changing now my life due to the plan I made years ago. Leaving my work after getting so much money that I can survive the future. Having time for jazz clubs, for visits to many places in the world, to stay where I want, to play what I want, to do what I want. Also to begin with my book about my CC life. I will have the time for me now, maybe short maybe long. No more physics, no more telecommunication, no more people which I didn't choose, no more to stay somewhere which I don't want. I share this decision with you for the first time! Best wishes TUNC

Best wishes to my friend Tunc on his new adventure. It sounds like great fun, and I sure look forward to his book.

RIP Gardner Johnson

I've been receiving crosstable updates and game scores for the ICCF-U.S. archive of forfeit losses by long-time cc competitor Gardner R. Johnson, Jr. Most of the positions were better for him, so obviously something was wrong. He often played in two prelim groups of the same USCCC. He was obviously an enthusiastic postal player and also quite strong. I just read the following report in Alex Dunne's on-line USCF column "The Check is in the Mail" for August 2006 (as noted last time, his print column in Chess Life has been discontinued).

Gardner Johnson died 23 May 2006. Gardner was a Master who was playing in his first Absolute. He had a fierce drive to win for a gentle man, sometimes playing out hopeless positions to mate on the off chance his opponent would let him get away. …

From a reader

Hello Mr. Campbell,

I would first like to say that I have very much enjoyed reading your column "The Campbell Report" in the APCT News Bulletin. It was always what I turned to first.

I see that you have mentioned webservers recently in your columns and would agree that this seems to be where the game is headed. I wanted to let you, and hopefully the readers of the APCT-NB, know about the server where I currently play. It is www.playchess.de, which is not the Playchess site associated with Chessbase, but a site run by a German webmaster. The nice thing about this server is that unlike many of the other server sites out there, this site allows you to get full membership privileges immediately when you sign up. Many other sites limit what you have access to in terms of game moves, opponent history, etc. This site allows you access to all of that. The only limitation is the number of games you can play, but that is the same for all new members, whether they sign up and play or if they are evaluating the trial membership. This free trial lasts for 30 days, at which time you can sign up or have only guest access to the site.

The nice thing about this site is that it is not very expensive. Unlike the ICCF webserver, you don't pay for each tournament. Instead, you pay for a length of time, and you play as many tournaments/games as you would like (maximum number of ongoing simultaneous games is 40). An annual membership is 31Euros, so I think about $40US. In 6 months I have played 40 games, and I am one of the slowest players at the site.

At this site, there are multiple tournament formats, like 5 player, 7 player, and 9 player tournaments, single and double round robin. The time is a Fischer method which starts with 5 or 10 days, and getting an additional 1 or 2 days with each move. The 5d+1d is called a rabbit tournament and the 10d+2d is a tortoise tournament. Also, players have the choice of selecting tournaments that have a 30 day cut-off, so that players cannot accumulate more than 30 days. Players are separated by class and there are always C, B, A, Expert and Master class tournaments open. The interesting thing here is that you don't have to wait until you get to that rating level to enter a tournament. If you enter a B class tournament and win it, then even if your rating has not reached A level, you next enter an A tournament. If you win that tournament, you will be playing in an Expert tournament next, etc. Conversely, if you are the bottom point getter in a tournament, your next tournament will be at the next lower level. You can also challenge friends to private games.

Another interesting feature is that there are Human Leagues and Advanced leagues. The Human league prohibits the use of computer generated move selection, while the Advanced league is for human/computer collaboration. As far as I can tell, there is little cheating in the Human league, at least none that I have experienced.

That's the information that I have about webserver chess. Good luck to you.

Glenn Gistis

Thanks for the info, Glenn. This sounds like an interesting alternative for unrated competition. I love the ICCF server, but there are times when I might want to sign up quickly for some unrated, fun chess.

copyright © 2006 by J. Franklin Campbell

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