The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"The Campbell Report" - November/December 2006

B. Ivanovic - P. Popovic
Yugoslavia, 1973
White to move and win

White to move and win

GM Alex Baburin published this interesting position in his 25 August 2006 issue of Chess Today. I found it particularly interesting with its clever second move forcing the win. The solution is at the end of this column, but try to find the solution yourself first.

It's been quite a ride!

A lot of changes have occurred in the 18 years I've been writing this column. Email chess arrived, then server chess. As you find other places to play correspondence chess you'll find many choices. Both CCLA and USCF are investigating using the ICCF server. Personally, I play entirely in ICCF events now, mostly International but also occasional USA Championship events with USA-only players. I dabbled with email chess, dropping my rating about 100 points. I just never adjusted to email chess, but my personal belief is that email chess was a blip on the radar screen and other forms of electronic play will put it in the same category as FAX chess soon. The current electronic form of choice is server chess, where you simply log into a web site, view your games and make moves. ICCF has made rapid progress with its server, building in more and more administrative functions as it has developed. For instance, email and postal events are now administered via the server with crosstables maintained and displayed. In the near future TDs will probably also be able to upload games to the server that were played by email/post. This is a TD's dream, with server events displaying time used, current positions, and other game details. Time disputes are practically a thing of the past, something TDs find very pleasing.

My first column was in the Jan.-Feb. 1989 issue of APCT NB. That issue announced that judge GM Arthur Bisguier had awarded APCT Master Ed Frumkin's game with Wayne Rohricht with the Game of the Year award. Keith Hayward provided his columns "Draw Yah!" and "Book Review", Stephan Gerzadowicz "All the King's Horses", games editor Jon Voth "Games from APCT Play". Mostly my column was a roundup of recent OTB activities. Here is a short item I reported in that column.

Ayatollah Makes Important Chess Announcement!

The Ayatollah Khomeini has ruled that playing chess in Iran is now acceptable as long as no gambling is involved.

I also wrote about how computers were becoming essential tools for grandmasters. Following are a few items from my second column in March 1989.

GM Jan-Hein Donner Dead at 61

A Street Name "Euwe"

Rotterdam has named a street after former world champion and FIDE president Dr. Max Euwe; it was formally opened by his widow on October 4.

Chess Terms Defined

Cheapo: a phrase coined by U. S. Master Dr. Karl Burger; a move which threatens something so obvious that only an idiot would fall for it, and he does.

Ethics, Chess: undefined (we could find no examples of this).

Opponent: a slimy individual with an ugly face.

Resigns: a way of terminating a game, unknown to weak players.

When I created my personal web site years later I set up a page giving all the chess definitions published by Eliot Hearst at: http://correspondencechess.com/campbell/glosscom.htm

Another interesting item in the March 1989 column was this report:

"Deep Thought" Defeats Bent Larsen

The Software Toolworks Championship, held November 24-27 in Long Beach, California, result in a first place tie between GM Tony Miles and the computer Deep Thought with 6.5-1.5 scores. Other top competitors were Mikhail Tal, Bent Larsen, Walter Browne, Patrick Wolff, and Samuel Reshevsky. This was one of the best results ever scored by a computer. On the way to the top place tie Deep Thought was able to defeat GM Bent Larsen on the black side of an English in 43 moves. Deep Thought also beat IM Jeremy Silman and drew IM Vince McCambridge. It lost to Walter Browne.

In the May 1989 issue I published my viewpoints on Bad Manners in Correspondence Chess. This was an opportunity for me to start expressing my personal viewpoints. Later I expanded these ideas into the article "Good Correspondence Chess Etiquette" published in Tim Harding's first issue of Chess Mail published in August 1996 (unfortunately, this excellent International cc magazine recently ceased publication). The complete article is at my web site at http://correspondencechess.com/campbell/articles/art001.htm. One excerpt from the original.

The "Silent Withdraw" this is one of the most offensive actions an opponent can take, in my opinion, and unfortunately it's not that rare.

In the Chess Mail article I expressed this more strongly by referring to the silent withdrawer as "Silent withdrawal scum".

I also reported that GM Aleksandar Matanovic of Yugoslavia was running for president of FIDE, that Zsofia Polgar had won a strong Swiss system tournament in Rome with 8.5/9 for a 2930 performance rating, that Kasparov and Karpov had tied for the USSR Championship but plans for a tie-break match ran into difficulties so they were declared co-champions, that 20-year-old GM Vassily Ivanchuk won Linares (Korchnoi withdrew when he discovered the Chief Arbiter was Viktor Baturinsky, who was a political prosecutor during the Stalin era). I also announced a privately published "Organizations & Publications" brochure was available from me. This publication got me into some trouble due to my unflattering description of the USCF involvement in American cc. I offered it for some years, continually updating it and allowing some state chess publications to print it in their magazines. One of these state magazine reprints was read by a Chess Life editor, who sent me one of the most hateful letters I've ever received.

I must say I was thrilled to be invited by Helen Warren to start writing a regular column. I think one of the suggested column titles was "Campbell's Corner" but there were other suggestions, some rather humorous. I opted for what I thought was a more dignified title.

Back then I prepared my columns on an Amiga dual floppy computer (no hard drive). I printed the column ready for paste up using my Epson 9-pin dot matrix printer on one long strip of paper, ready for cutting and pasting into the magazine. The early issues of APCT NB were a hodgepodge of different font faces and sizes based on what the writers provided. My dot-matrix printouts were not ideal for magazine production, so occasionally there were readability issues. When I upgraded to an IBM style PC my old files were not compatible so I no longer have them in machine readable form. That explains why my on-line columns only start in January 1994. One day I may go back and type in my old columns for completeness maybe not.

The September 1989 issue of APCT News Bulletin announced that APCT would soon be conducting Electro-Postal sections for players with a PC using USA Today Sports Center (formerly call LINC). I wasn't on-line at that time so didn't get a chance to try it. In my column I reported that Helen Warren said there were 25 APCT'ers at the US Open, Lev Alburt won the U. S. Open, Kasparov still topped the FIDE rating list (and won the 1988 Chess Oscar), Deep Thought won the World Computer Championship and that IM Erling Mortensen defeated GM Bent Larsen in a playoff match to take the Danish Championship.

The Christmas issue arrived and my column reported that the Horowitz Memorial tournament was being organized by the ICCF-U.S. office. The 9th USCCC preliminary round was almost finished. I also announced that Kasparov would be playing a match with Deep Thought.

I won't go issue by issue with additional highlights, but in 1990 I started publishing more correspondence chess news and less OTB. In the May 1990 issue I published my first attempt at chess cartooning.

I would like to explain the origins of my LunchBag Art cartoons. I was a stay-at-home Dad and I started drawing cartoons on my daughter's lunch bags every morning. It was quite a challenge coming up with ideas for humor, but once I started I couldn't stop. I did it for several years. Here is one of the only surviving cartoons from that era with a chess subject.

I found the following ad in the July 1990 issue.

As a stay-at-home parent I decided to try the fudge-making business to earn a little cash and test marketed my product in APCT NB. I made a few sales but soon gave up on this idea. My daughter's school friends sure got to try a lot of fudge, as I sent samples to school testing various recipes (starting with recipe "X", then "Y" and "Z", then I had to restart at "A" and finally stopped with recipe "F"). I still have a big reputation among my family and friends for my fudge, which I normally make only for holidays. Due to my diabetes I can't eat it myself any more. Here's the first cartoon I published using the title "LunchBag Art".

Here's my personal favorite from March 1991.

I still remember how difficult it was for me drawing those straight lines representing the window. I have included the header I used for my column at that time along with the headline for the first story of my column for that issue.

With the current trend towards email and server chess these old postal chess references seem dated, but I still think of them fondly. Using a pretty crude set of computer tools (not a proper word processor) I wrote my own text editor program interpreting a simple text editing language very similar to HTML to instruct the printer to use underline, modify font size, apply italics, etc. For the time my printer was really nice with some great programmable capabilities, and this allowed me to create perfectly usable copy for Jim and Helen Warren to use for paste up of APCT NB issues.

I often expounded in my columns my personal ideas about enjoying chess in many different ways, such as writing and cartooning. I also took the greatest pleasure in sending my opponents interesting chess cards. One of my projects was to program my printer to print a chess font, where each board square consisted of a 2x2 matrix of printer characters. I spent many, many hours designing the characters dot by dot. Here is a sample I used in my January 1991 column.

The text accompanying this diagram was, "Roger Peeples obtained this winning position in a game played on Board 1 in the current team championship [1989 Regional Team Championship]. Even though material is even, White's only connected pawn pair has a backward pawn, and Black has a protected passed pawn, Black resigned. This is an unusual and instructive pawn ending. Can you see why Black resigned (answer give later)?" I liked to include any chess item in my column that I found interesting, and there was always a lot interesting going on in the chess community, and the APCT chess community was one of the best and most interesting.

Just above this diagram I reported that APCT'er Paul Shannon "has been elected President of the Southern California Chess Federation." APCT'ers have always been deeply involved in USA chess.

Readers were always a big part of my columns, and frequently I got a lot of input from APCT'ers. Craig Collister responded to my call for cartoons with a picture of a fellow wearing a Mexican hat with a certain expression on his face labeled "Wry-Lopez", a very nice addition to my May 1992 column. Ben Miramontes submitted a wonderful cartoon for my November 1992 column of a fellow sitting at the chess board explaining to his wife, "First he seized the initiative, then he took a piece, now he's taken my last hope of counterplay away. All I have left is my dignity so I offered a draw." Ha, ha, really good stuff! This sort of thing made writing this column so much fun. Jud Vedder wrote this for my January 1993 column: "After reading the Nov-Dec APCT News Bulletin in which you said contributions are welcome I drew these cartoons. The ideas were bouncing around in my head and I finally found a reason to put them on paper." His cartoon showed a terrified pawn labeled, "The Gambit Pawn" and a very relieved pawn labeled, "Gambit Declined". Man, there is a lot of talent contained in the APCT family!

The May-June 1994 issue was a milestone. On the front of the magazine was a picture of the huge trophy received by the APCT office for the National Team Championship (NTC-1). In the only team competition ever organized among the leading USA cc organizations (APCT, CCLA, USCF, TCC and NOST), APCT had won convincingly. Helen Warren organized the team, Jon Voth was Team Captain, and I edited ten issues of the quarterly APCT team newsletter (financed by APCT). Helen did a fabulous job of organizing the team (the other orgs were not so good at this job). Many players were members of several of the competing orgs, so this gave us a big advantage. TCC (The Chess Connection) also had a great team, but when the TCC owner disappeared without a word and TCC ceased to be an organization the team was left floundering and wasn't competitive. CCLA finished second well ahead of third place USCF, the least organized of the teams. There was a lot of bad blood in that competition. Some described the APCT team as a "Win at any cost" team. The only explanation I could ever get from one of the officials that made this unfounded charge was, "I've seen your newsletter." As the editor and publisher of the newsletter I took this personally, but in later years we became good friends. One thing cannot be denied APCT won the only National Team Championship of correspondence chess. For a complete description of this event with all the games see:


The May-June 1994 issue also was the first to carry my column in a new format, the one used in the current issue. APCT had a new computer and I had a PC with Microsoft Word. I started sending my columns in this new and improved format, making life easier for both me and the Warrens. Having all these columns in this format enabled me to later convert them to web pages, allowing me to archive all my columns on-line starting with that issue. This issue also contained one of my earliest exchanges with Stephan Gerzadowicz. We had a friendly but intense debate on issues like taking back moves and cc ethics. Though we may have come away from our debates unconvinced of the other's viewpoints, I certainly learned a lot from these exchanges, and hopefully the readers found much to think about. This was also shortly after I moved to Michigan and Chris Caligari sent me his "Murphy's law #9 of postal chess: If your opponent moves house - it's always to a longer address!" That certainly matched my move. Chris also contributed a humorous cartoon caption and sent additional "laws" of postal chess:

The day after buying a year's supply of cards the USPS raises rates and you still have to lick stamps for a year.

Your opponent's late card will always arrive the day after you mail your repeat.

Here are a few contributions to my series on rules of chess etiquette sent by Richard Mangus, first for OTB then for CC.

If your opponent is a psychiatrist, don't talk to your chess pieces.

Don't blow kisses across the board to your opponent.

Don't tell your opponent, "I know where you live." This won't work if they have a P. O. Box anyway.

Never sign up your opponent with a book club.

Of course, I've heard from many, many APCT'ers over the years and they've made valuable contributions to my column. Many thanks to everyone who wrote me I love you all. I'm sorry I can't name everyone here who has contributed.

In July 1995 I had an almost unique experience. I wanted to add a little something at the end of my column to make it long enough, so I decided to express my feelings about the game. The title of my essay was, "Postal Chess Something Special" and I actually found tears coming to my eyes as I wrote. CC isn't just a game or competitive activity, it is an inspirational activity. Imagine that tears. Here is an excerpt:

For me chess represents far more than just a game it is a way of life, and it inspires me daily. Those outside of the chess world can't appreciate the beauty and inspiration that is chess. When I'm living in the chess world I'm in a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring world where anything is possible. Poetry, mathematics, music, drama they're all there. Siegbert Tarrasch said, "Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy." I can't say it any better than that.

You can find the whole essay at the end of my column on-line at: http://correspondencechess.com/campbell/apctcol/c9507.htm

One of my favorite examples of enjoying chess in different ways was provided by John D. Tregidga. He wrote for my May 1996 column, "As a fan of postal and Over The Board Chess, I have noticed that my love of the art of chess has started expressing itself in my work. I am a residential Architect by profession. Recently a speculative home design I created was completed, and I thought I would share this unique game board with your readers. The enclosed photograph shows a second story game room, infloor, 48" square glass block relight 'chess board.' I personally like all kinds of chess boards, but the larger the better. This is my first board I have custom designed into a house plan I created for someone else." The photograph showed the spectacular floor design incorporating the glass block chess board. Fantastic! You can see the photo in my on-line version of the column at: http://correspondencechess.com/campbell/apctcol/c9605.htm

A number of well known cc personalities have famous signoffs to messages (e.g., "Sine Cera" by Kristo Miettinen). My Nov-Dec 1996 column offered a contest. APCT'er Charles "Swifty" Thomas wrote, "How about a contest to select the ne plus ultra of complimentary closings for chess players?" He offered a book prize and the contest was on! I announced the winner in the following column as Rick Callaghan's "On the Square". There were several other good suggestions, including the psychological "Love", "Chessly Yours" and "Your Fellow Chess Nut". After I read a number of submissions to my daughter she came up with this: "Die you scum-sucking freak!" She seems to have caught the spirit! I honored this prize-winning selection by naming my on-line collection of chess articles "On the Square."

One of my favorite reader-participation features was a survey of stronger cc players of the books that they attributed their success to. Following up on a suggestion from APCT'er Walter J. Lewis I wrote to a number of strong cc players and got a great response. Starting in the May 1997 issue I reported a large number of contributions describing the books that helped these players get to where they were. That was great stuff and one of the highlights of my 18 years of APCT columns.

I need to wrap up this stroll through my chess column history, so I'll just quote a few more of my favorite items.

Sept. 1996: TV evangelist and conservative politician Pat Robertson said, "[T]he key in terms of mental [ability] is chess. There's never been a woman Grand Master chess player. [O]nce you get one, then I'll buy some of the feminism " No word if he ever embraced feminism, but I have my guess.

Sept. 1997: Stan Evans responded with another reason not to resign with, "I have played on in lost positions until move 30 or thereabouts to avoid being on the losing side of the dreaded miniature"

Nov. 1997: an interesting quote from a review of the book Kasparov versus Deep Blue by Monty Newborn. John McCarthy of Stanford University wrote in his review in Science magazine, "In 1965 the Russian mathematician Alexander Kronrod said, 'Chess is the Drosophila of artificial intelligence.' However, computer chess has developed as genetics might have if the geneticists had concentrated their efforts starting in 1910 on breeding racing Drosophila. We would have some science, but mainly we would have very fast fruit flies."

July 1998: Jay McKeen reported this. While playing in a chess tournament with a church group meeting in an adjacent room he heard the preacher saying the following. "You don't have Tiiiiime, to take from Gawd! I say, you don't have Tiiiiime, to take from Gawd! I see those people playing chess next door I say You don't have Tiiiiime, to play chess! You don't have Tiiiiime, to play games. God's Kingdom is upon us, You don't have Tiiiiime, to play chess when the Lord calls you!" McKeen added, "We Sunday Quad chess players became the subject of the church sermon!"

March 1999: an Australian student responded to the question "Why are we in here learning chess?" with this: "Because at some time, later in life, you will need chess. At some stage in your life, God willing, you will be too old to kick the footy, but not old enough to just curl up and die. Some time in your life you will be ill, or bed-ridden, but will still be able, and wanting, to exercise your mind. "

Goodbye, my friends

Time to say goodbye it's been fun and I've really enjoyed my relationship with APCT. Thanks to Helen Warren for making this column possible, thanks to Jim Warren for all his help in translating my input into printed form, and thanks to all the APCT'ers who contributed in so many ways. Thanks to Jim and Helen Warren for making APCT the greatest chess organization in the history of the USA. Hasn't it been great?

Solution to problems

Top of column: the game continued 1.h6+ Kh8 2.Be6! 1-0 Very nice!

Roger Peeple's winning endgame position: 1. Kd7 2.b6 Kc8 3.bxa7 and the doubled pawn prevents the King from approaching, a very nice picture, or 2. axb6 3.a7

copyright © 2006 by J. Franklin Campbell

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