New International Correspondence Chess Magazine
Well-known chess author, chess journalist and postal chess authority Tim Harding of Ireland has launched a new international cc magazine aimed at the English-language cc enthusiast. See my review of this new outstanding magazine at the end of this column. Finally, a great English language alternative to the German language Fernschach!
Book Store Invites Chess Author to Autograph Books for Customers!
I don't think it's unusual for famous book authors to spend a few hours at book stores autographing their books for the customers. This is a good way to attract customers to the store and a good way for the author to attract attention to his/her book. But have you ever heard of a chess book author doing this? I received news of such an event recently at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Auburn, Massachusetts. Stephan Gerzadowicz, postal chess enthusiast, well-known chess journalist, chess book author and APCT member, was at the store to publicize his recently released book Journal of a Chess Original. The information I have on this bookstore visit came from a regular column "Chess" by Stephen Dann, carried in a local newspaper.
Stephan Gerzadowicz kindly lent me a few recent newspaper clippings showing that chess can indeed attract newspaper attention and get favorable reporting. His picture was on the front page of a recent newspaper with an accompanying article called "He's a master of the game." The Worcester Telegram carried a huge photo of Gerzadowicz on the front page of their Entertainment section with an article labeled "The Simple Life" (subtitled "Chess grand master isn't a pawn of materialism"). Of course, he isn't technically a GM (and I'm sure he didn't claim to be) but it was a great article describing his simple lifestyle and Henry David Thoreau-like philosophy.
Stephan Gerzadowicz wanted the readers of this column to know that local and regional newspapers can be attracted to run material related to chess. If you have something of interest to report to the local public, don't be reluctant to give the papers a call. You might find their response surprising. Of course, you might get more than you expect. I recall playing in the last round of the US Open when a Boston newspaper photographer decided my game would make a good picture. My female opponent was sitting there in her cowboy hat while I sat there with my full beard and captain's cap. He climbed up on a chair right next to us (while the clocks were ticking) and started firing away. My opponent was not amused! Me? ... I was disappointed when I couldn't find the photo in the next day's paper!
In a later note Stephan said, "9/7/96 signing went well. (Barnes & Noble) person said it was one of the best they have had. I will likely do 2 or 3 more, in MA & NH, before the end of the year." Way to go, Stephan!
Additional Comments From Gerzadowicz
I've extracted the following from a recent letter I received from Stephan Gerzadowicz (in our friendly debate on chess ethics). I found these comments particularly interesting:
"For 51 years I've been toddling, wandering, stumbling thru life in wide-eyed wonder. Such fun trying to figure it all out. To gain understanding. I say that is most important. Because all else flows from that. To Learn. To Grow. And we compete to test that, to see how we're doing. It feels good to win because it validates our studying, our learning, the person we have grown into.
"And we can't do it alone. We can practice alone, study alone, but we can't be sure we are learning well and true. And when we know this, W or L not important, but how we W or L - the nature of the contest. Does or not it indicate that we have understood? And how much (never 100%)? And where do we go from here? That is why we compete. And I am very sad to see people miss that (miss the point) by using Fritz ... ."
If you are interested in reading more of his philosophy and studying the games he's annotated that reflect this philosophy, why not pick up a copy of his most recent book, Journal of a Chess Original. If you have read any of his recent articles in such publications as The Chess Correspondent you've had a taste of his writing style. Few people would disagree that the title of his book is entirely appropriate.
Corrected Solution to the Internet Challenge
Thanks to Jack R. Clauser of Shiremanstown, PA for pointing out the error in my Internet Solution in the last column. He wrote (in humorous fashion): "Looks like your solution to the Internet Problem had a typo. 1. f3 e5 or e6 followed by (the additional moves given) mates. One could also use your solution as written if Black had given 'e-pawn odds.' Weird, isn't it. These problems are fun -- keep them coming." Thanks, Jack.
1. f3 e5 (or e6) 2. Kf2 Qf6 3. Kg3 Qxf3+ 4. Kh4 Be7++.
CONTEST! -- Charles Thomas Offers Challenge
I received the following from APCT'er Charles "Swifty" Thomas of Spanish Fort, AL. Read it carefully for his challenge to a contest which will produce a winner in my next column.
"I'd like to see a refreshingly new closing word or phrase on my postal chess cards. 'Regards' (used by most of us, I suppose) is polite, but seems a bit neutral and cool. Most of the others (e.g., Cheers, Best Wishes, Sincerely, etc.) are too formal or (after you've just been mated) inappropriate. I'll bet your readers could help me find something with charm, grace, dignity and, maybe, some humor.
"How about a contest to select the ne plus ultra of complimentary closings for chess players? If you'll make some simple rules about deadlines, number of entries per reader (perhaps unlimited!) and so on, I'll provide the prize (a Chess Informant 35 Larry Evans gave me for asking the best question in the April Chess Life.) You would be the sole judge of the winner. Wadda you think?"
Well, anyone who attaches their personal card reading "Charles 'Swifty' Thomas / The Dixie Demon / Advocatus Diaboli / Corporeal Reanimation / (I'll Call You ... Maybe)" fairly demands attention. I accept this challenge and will gladly perform the judging duties. I will select the entry that best catches my imagination (without apology) and publish it along with any other entries that I like in the Jan-Feb 1997 edition of this column. I advise you to get your entries to me well before the end of November to be eligible for the prize. Any stragglers that grab my attention will still be published in a later column.
More On Draw Offers
Chess journalist and book author Tim Sawyer sent me the following comments on offering draws:
"How do I propose a draw? Simply, 'I offer a draw.' Anything else is potentially confusing. Double draw offers are fine, too, as are 'if draw then resign.' Taimanov reportedly made such an offer to Fischer in the 1970 Candidates Match which Bobby won 6-0. A higher rated opponent recently made such an offer to me; I accepted the 1.5 points.
"It happened again. A player rated 400 points below me offered me a draw in a materially even position where he probably did not see much going on. I refused the offer by making ONE move and he resigned instantly in the face of a mating attack. That has happened to me before in APCT.
"When there is a large rating difference (200+ points), the higher rated player is probably not playing for a draw, even if the game looks boring. The lower rated player should respect a higher rated player and not offer a draw unless the lower rated player has a significant advantage. If there is ANY play in the position, the lower rated player should not offer a draw unless he has: a material advantage, or a strong attack, or the higher rated player is having serious health or time problems. It is legal for a lower rated play to offer a draw, but it is disrespectful. I certainly respect anyone rated 200+ above me. Except for a few 'joke' offers, I have followed this philosophy for more than hundreds of games as the lower rated player."
Thanks for your comments, Tim. I believe there may be some disagreement with your opinion about offering draws being disrespectful but I suspect some others feel as you. Personally, I've pretty much settled on "I propose a draw" as being the clearest terminology without suggesting I'm doing my opponent a favor. As in other fields, some of the tiniest details in postal chess offer some of the most interesting and complex questions.
From A Past and Future APCT Member
From Walter J. Lewis of Vacaville, CA:
"I started play with APCT back in 1973 or 1974. Due to personal problems I dropped out of postal chess about ten years ago. I wrote Helen recently and she sent me a few copies of the NB. The NB was always an award-winning effort even back in the early 70's when I first got a copy and joined APCT. I haven't seen one issue of the NB in ten years, and I must admit that I just can't believe how good it is today.
"I remember only ten years ago APCT had only one player rated over 2200. When I saw the names and ratings in the new NB I was in shock! The names are very familiar to anyone who has played postal chess for any length of time. Clearly, Helen and Jim's efforts have drawn some of the finest players in the U.S.! Maybe I should say strongest as APCT has always had the finest regardless of their ratings.
"Another thing I noticed about the NB, it has always generated a great deal of excitement in me and I have to be careful not to enter too many sections. The new NB is even more enticing! The one thing that really struck a chord of sadness in me was when I didn't see George Fawbush in the ratings. He was the first master I ever beat and it did a world of good for my confidence as a chess player. He was a very special chess player in my eyes and he'll always be in my thoughts."
Comments from Poland
APCT'er Brent Riggs, currently residing in Warsaw, Poland, sends these thought-provoking comments that show that some of the topics raised in our computers in cc discussion apply just as well in other situations where there is a question of "seeking help." Thanks for the discussion, Brent.
"I enjoy hearing different comments about CC play. ... I play postal chess for enjoyment and to help my over all play. I can watch my computer play anytime. I can watch superstars play and enjoy doing so. I enjoy PLAYING much more, though! I want to see how well I can do. I want to improve my play. I don't want people helping me, nor do I want a computer to help me. I play for wins in every game. I despise losing. But if I have to enlist help in order to win then to me I really didn't win.
"Now here is something interesting to think about. I play 50-75 postal games at a time. I play various openings in those games. By some people's criteria of the rules, I could not play my computer, or OTB tournaments, until I finished my CC games, because we would be playing the same openings in quite a few of the games.
"Let's go a step further: Let's say I'm playing at the local chess club, I'm just starting a CC tournament, I know some of my opponents from previous sections, I know what they will probably play: Am I entitled to ask the local master for his ideas on this particular opening? The game hasn't started. This is clearly NOT a violation. But what if it's the 3rd move of the section? 2nd? 6th? 10th? Middle game? End game? My question is: Do CC players have to stop all studying or playing of OTB games because someone might end up helping them? No, I think the 'spirit' of the rules is: seeking help in a particular game. Asking specific questions about a specific game.
"Am I in violation for setting my Chessmaster program to play me in 5 minute King's Indian games? Knowing good and well that I have ten KI games going on at any one time? Am I in violation for playing at the club King's Indian games? How about playing 7 King's Indian games CC in 4 different sections starting at different times? That is, one section is snail mail, the other section is E-mail. I wait for my better e-mail opponent to respond by e-mail before I answer my snail mail opponent! Is that 'legal'?
"What if you know a particular end game will most likely happen in a particular game. The game is on move #3. You know from previous experience that a particular ending is most likely to result. Are you allowed to practice this ending with a computer? A master? A fish? If the answer is no, then you have effectively stopped all correspondence play with 'rules.'
"In my opinion, I don't think it's wrong to practice openings, middle games or even endings even if they are comparative to games in progress. However, if I turned on my computer to search out a particular move with the intent of having the computer, chess master, or whoever help me with a particular game, that would be in violation of the rules.
"To rule otherwise would stifle all study and put an end to correspondence play for me. That was not the 'intent' of the rule. The intent of the rule (banning of help) was for each player to play their OWN games.
"This is interesting stuff. I really don't think I've violated any rules. If I have I'll gladly suffer whatever penalty I deserve. But again, I think the intent of the rules was to make sure each player plays his own game. As with all rules, rules only help honest people remain honest! Cheats will cheat no matter how many rules you have."
Thanks for your insightful comments, Brent. I certainly don't think you have cheated. You've raised interesting and challenging questions about the very concepts of rules in chess.
New International CC Magazine
Tim Harding of Ireland has launched a new magazine dedicated to correspondence chess. Named Chess Mail it is aimed at the serious correspondence chess competitor and will be published 11 times a year. Subscriptions may be ordered for 29 Irish Pounds (payable by Visa or Mastercard) or by a bank draft for $46 US made out to Chess Mail Ltd. The address is Chess Mail Ltd., 26 Coolamber Park, Dublin 16, Ireland.
Harding's purpose is to provide the sort of coverage currently available to German-language readers in Fernschach magazine. However, it won't be a clone of that magazine. His first pilot issue contains articles and tournament reports from quite a few different countries, including an article on cc chess etiquette by this columnist and a games article by former CCLA Games Editor Roy DeVault on games from the CCLA Championship. Besides the English language countries there will be coverage from other countries where English is in use, such as the Scandinavian countries.
The pilot issue consists of 64 pages printed on good quality paper in the A5 paper size (about 8x6 inches, the same size as Fernschach). The entire world of correspondence chess will be reflected in the coverage, including postal, email and fax. Harding has set up a web page and will provide some of the magazine material there (e.g., my article is now available on his web page). The pilot issue covers material about or from the following countries: USA, Sweden, Qatar, Iceland, Holland, Israel, Ireland, Wales, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Also included are ICCF results, crosstables from ICCF and various other tournaments, analysis columns, international and national chess news plus probably the best coverage offered so far on email and chess on the Internet. Reviews of software and Internet services are promised, in addition to book reviews.
Harding plans to establish a network of chess journalists from all over the world to provide material for his magazine. He is an established chess author and a strong cc competitor. I recently favorably reviewed his new book Winning at Correspondence Chess in my column. He also wrote the excellent The Games of the World Correspondence Chess Championships I-X in addition to many other chess books. Harding will probably personally write quite a bit of the magazine himself. This magazine promises to fill a void in the chess literature for English speakers. I know of nothing similar in print anywhere. I strongly recommend this wonderful new magazine. For subscribers before the end of the year Harding is offering a bonus. Ask for the free diskette containing all the games of the first ten world cc championships. No magazine covers club news better than the APCT News Bulletin. Add this second magazine to your subscription list and you'll have the rest of the world covered. I want to personally thank Tim Harding for producing this fantastic new magazine, which I believe is a real service to the correspondence chess community. If you have Internet capability you can check out some sample articles on Harding's web page at http://users.homenet.ie/~tharding/
APCT'er Meets Many Foreign Opponents
William B. Stone of Chicago, IL followed up on a story reported last time by reporting that he has met five of his foreign opponents! To quote his letter in part:
"You might be interested in some personal experience which supports a point raised in your Sept.-Oct. column: in ICCF play I've had interesting correspondence with many (although a minority) of my overseas opponents and have met five.
"In my first ICCF section (Class II) way back in 1961 I played a Czech. On a trip to Europe with my wife and then young children we met his family, toured castles and went camping in the mountains near the Polish border, where we went to hunt, unsuccessfully, the wild boar. We talked French, while the kids communicated in gestures and the Esperanto of soccer. We returned to Czechoslovakia some years later and subsequently my wife and I met him and his wife in Athens. He died recently, but we are still in touch with his widow. Over the years, Josef and his family came to seem almost like part of ours.
"I've been in touch with an English opponent from Class I almost as long, since 1963. We've had an enjoyable visit with him and his wife in England some four times over the years. John and I are still playing friendly chess -- at the rate of a move about every three months.
"I go back nearly as far with a Finnish opponent from Master Class play. We stayed with him and his family in Helsinki a couple of times ...
"More recently I became friendly with another English player in a Master Class section. We've met him in England a couple of times; he was an excellent host and guide and he's stayed with us once in Chicago. ...
"Finally, from my most recent Master Class section, I became friends with a German who visited us here and later returned with his wife (they have a son working in the States). ...
"You will recall the motto of the ICCF: "Amici Sumus." Certainly proved true for me, in a number of cases."
Thanks for sharing this with us, Bill. You have certainly taken the ICCF motto "We Are Friends" literally and made some good friends via postal chess. Chess has many attractions and rewards. You have enjoyed one of the greatest of these rewards.
Reader Comments on CM866
APCT'er Don Dostal of Omaha, NE sent the following comments on the continuing match between Keith Hayward and Jon Edwards, which readers have been able to follow in this magazine:
"I want to tell Keith Hayward that he is still a high echelon player and that he should be glad to draw Jon Edwards. Edwards has defeated many a top-notch player. No shame in losing to him. He is the champion of our organization, after all.
"Also, Keith Hayward has inspired me to play 1. f4 as White and I have won two games with it in postal contests in two attempts with it. Thanks, Keith! Don't despair, Keith, you have given us a gift, you've given us all ... THE BIRD!"
I hope Keith Hayward doesn't mind me printing this letter instead of passing it along to him personally. That last sentence had me rolling on the floor and I wanted to share it with my readers. Thanks for your comments, Don.
Which Music Goes Best With Chess?
Stephen F. Collins of Royersford, PA sent the following:
"Here are some suggestions for 'what music goes best with specific openings.'"
Giuoco Piano - William Tell Overture
Philidor's Defense - Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette (Alfred Hitchcock Theme)
Three Knight's Opening - Light Cavalry Overture
Modern Defense - Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Budapest Gambit - any of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies (take your pick)
Dutch Defense - what else but The Flying Dutchman Overture?
OTB GM Makes First Norm Towards CC Title
GM Ulf Andersson of Sweden was reported by Inside Chess as having taken a big step towards dual GM titles by scoring his first Correspondence Chess GM Norm in a special Norwegian event to celebrate "50 Years of the Norwegian Correspondence Chess Federation." Congratulations to both GM Andersson and to the Norwegian CC Federation!
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