The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"The Campbell Report" - Nov/Dec 1998

New Internet Address for "The Campbell Report"

At the invitation of John Knudsen, famous for his Internet site dedicated to correspondence chess, I've moved my cc site to his host machine. This offers me more space for future expansion and will help me keep commercial intrusion to a minimum. We are hoping to work on some future projects together as well. My new address is http://correspondencechess.com [Note: I have moved an archived version of the site to: http://jfcampbell.us/campbell - JFC]

BDG World Ceases Publication

APCT member Tom Purser of Headland, Alabama is well known for his appreciation of the Blackmar Diemer Gambit. He has publicized the merits of this enterprising opening and provided a forum for its advocates for the last fifteen years through his excellent publication Blackmar-Diemer Gambit World. His last issue, serial number 80, contains his farewell message. Naming "advancing age and retreating health" as his primary reasons for discontinuing publication he has promised to continue his efforts in behalf of his favorite gambit (and his many like-minded friends) via his Internet web site.

I'm the proud owner of a complete run of his magazine. Though I never approached mastery of this complex gambit system, I did play some of my most memorable and notable games using the BDG. I would never have played these exciting games without the inspiration provided by Tom Purser. Thanks for a great 15 years, Tom, and best wishes for another 15 years of excellence with your Internet site! His Internet address is: http://geocities.com/~blackmar [5/2013: moved to http://bdgpages.blogspot.com/]

Stephan Gerzadowicz Moves to Princeton

Friends and admirers of APCT'er Stephan Gerzadowicz, who has written numerous books and articles on chess and is certainly familiar to most readers of American cc publications, will be interested in his recent move from Massachusetts to Princeton, New Jersey. He has a new job there as facilities manager and chess instructor for the Princeton Charter school. His chess duties include teaching chess to children grades 3-7, organizing chess events and after-school chess activities and accompanying the children to scholastic chess events. Former Gerzadowicz chess student (and current USA cc champ) Jon Edwards was instrumental in getting the school and Gerzadowicz together.

The Princeton Charter School is perhaps unique in the USA in its approach of making chess a required part of their curriculum. By hiring a true chess enthusiast and widely respected master of the game they have shown a real commitment to exposing children to a quality chess education. I wish the best to both Stephan Gerzadowicz and to the Princeton Charter School in this bold educational initiative.

ICCF Congress in Riga, Latvia

The annual ICCF Congress was held in Riga this year on September 20-24. The draft Minutes of the 1998 ICCF Congress has been posted on the Internet at http://www.iccf.com/minutes1998.html. A couple high-lights of particular interest to USA players and APCT members:

The silver Bertl von Massow Medal has been awarded to ICCF-U.S. Secretary Prof. Max Zavanelli for his ten years of service representing the USA. Congratulations, Max!

The following players were among those awarded the ICCF International Master title. Note past APCT News Bulletin columnist Ian Brooks and fellow APCT'ers Tony Albano and N. Eric Pedersen in the list (all top Masters in the APCT rating list).

  • Anthony (Tony) Albano (USA)
  • Dr. Ian S. Brooks (ENG)
  • J. E. Callaway (USA)
  • Wayne Conover (USA)
  • David J. Eisen (USA)
  • Robert M. Jacobs (USA)
  • Marc Lonoff (USA)
  • N. Eric Pedersen (USA)
  • C. Fred Tears (USA)

There was also a special tribute paid to the legendary competitor Walter Muir. To quote:

"The ICCF President, on behalf of the Presidium, proposed that Honorary Membership of ICCF should be accorded to Mr. Walter Muir (USA) and Mr. Jørgen Axel Nielsen (DEN) for their outstanding contributions to correspondence chess for many decades. These proposals were agreed unanimously and enthusiastically by the Congress."

ICCF Congress in Florida in the Year 2000

The ICCF plans its Congresses years in advance. The following excerpt from the Congress Minutes describes the plans for the next two annual events. The second paragraph concerning the Congress for the Year 2000 is of particular interest.

"It was confirmed that the 1999 meeting would be held in Thun, Switzerland from 18th-24th September 1999. The SFSV Delegate gave an informative presentation about the proposed arrangements and the ICCF President thanked him and his federation for the kind offer to host the next Congress.

"An offer to host the Millennium Congress in the United States of America had been received and this was accepted unanimously and with enthusiasm by Congress. The 2000 Congress would take place in Florida from 16th - 22nd September, and delegates and officials were asked to complete a questionnaire giving their preference concerning the hotel/location for the Congress."

Max Zavanelli Continues as ICCF-U.S. Secretary

As mentioned above, Professor Max Zavanelli has been ICCF-U.S. Secretary for ten years, and he has a long list of accomplishments to his credit. Alex Dunne devoted his September 1998 Chess Life column "Check is in the Mail" to the ICCF-U.S. Secretary. The column contained comments that indicated he was considering retiring. However, a check with the ICCF-U.S. office confirms that this is not the current plan and that Zavanelli has no immediate plan to retire. Max's assistant Bob Meinert stated flatly, "Max is not going to retire."

I would like to offer my thanks to Max Zavanelli for his major contribution to USA correspondence chess. I would also like to express my appreciation for the excellent work of Bob Meinert, who has performed a great service to the USA cc community through his work at the ICCF-U.S. office.

"Opponents Who Don't Resign" Revisited

In theJuly-August 1997 issue the subject of opponents who don't resign a lost game was raised by a contribution by cc IM Allan Savage. There were some interesting responses in the following issue. I recently received the following from APCT'er Dan Dorak of Wisconsin:

"Hello, I finally mustered the courage to respond to an old article of yours in the APCT News Bulletin. It had to do with 'Why don't people resign when they know they're lost?' A lot of points were brought up: It would save a lot of postage if they did.; Do they really think I am going to make a mistake at this stage of the game?; etc.

"I noticed that most of these arguments came from the higher rated player. Being a lower rated player, I want to improve. Unfortunately, it will come at the cost of additional postage for the upper rated player.

"For example, I played a game where by the late middlegame/early endgame I knew I was lost. However, I played on because I didn't know how I was going to lose (if that makes sense). In other words, even though I knew the position was lost, I did not know the technique required to defeat me.

"Once I saw how he was going to do it, I resigned. He was still upset because I 'should' have resigned 6-10 moves earlier. Feel free to edit this or use it or destroy it as you will. I had just wanted to respond to that article for so long."

Thanks for your input, Dan, on this interesting and somewhat controversial subject. I'm always open to further discussions of such topics, even when last addressed some time ago.

Post-A-Log Creator Dies

According to Alex Dunne in the March 1998 issue of Chess Life, the inventor of the wonderful postal chess accessory the Post-A-Log Joe Viggiano died on May 21, 1997. Though I have no personal knowledge of this gentleman, I felt strangely touched by this announcement. Joe Viggiano touched me through his ingenious invention, which I've used religiously for many years. Even in this age of computer databases and other computer record-keeping aids for the cc competitor (and I'm a dedicated computer freak) I still maintain a current Post-A-Log diagram for every game I'm playing. Before mailing every postal chess card I compare the printed diagram with my Post-A-Log position to insure accuracy (yes, I print a current diagram on every postcard). This is an essential part of my precise postal chess methodology, which has evolved over the years and helps me play mostly error-free (not counting regular chess errors, of course).

APCT has been selling the Post-A-Log albums and extra pages for many years, and I keep replacing old pages with new ones, as the old boards and pieces get ragged from constant use. I was naturally concerned that this invaluable postal chess aid may no longer be available. However, a message to APCT provided good news. To quote Jim Warren: "Joe Viggiano did die a while back but his son is continuing the business so they are still available." So many great products of the past are no longer available. I'm thankful that we haven't lost those wonderful Post-A-Logs. I strongly recommend this great product.

"The Dixie Demon" Adjusts His Pieces

Charles G. Thomas of Spanish Fort, Alabama is an APCT member with the colorful nickname of "The Dixie Demon." He recently submitted the following remarks:

"Re. your j'adoube piece in the latest APCT Bulletin: The printed diagrams we all use to study chess games invariably show the Knights in profile facing left. When playing over the board, many players may feel more comfortable EQUUS SINISTER and try to adjust the pieces that way. What do you think?"

Interesting question, oh devilish one. Personally, I prefer to have my Knights facing towards the middle. If I'm analyzing a correspondence game there is no problem, since I need not satisfy anyone besides myself. I've often seen players adjust the Knights facing the opponent. Everyone seems to have a preference. The only problem occurs when there is disagreement "at the board." I've only heard of the battles that ensue when players feel strongly (and differently) about this apparently trivial detail. It sounds like a tournament director's nightmare to have opposing players constantly "adjusting" the pieces to suit themselves.

Of course, when we are analyzing our cc games sitting at a computer (using a chess database program) this is all mute. In general, the chess diagrams take on the appearance of a printed diagram and the Knights cannot be adjusted to our taste. Perhaps the software writers should be aware of a possible important option for future upgrades!

E-mail Proposals by APCT Member

Lyle Cherner of Arizona sent in these suggestions and comments pertaining to playing correspondence chess by e-mail:

"Your article is the first item I open my APCT NB to every other month. I love it! As many of your readers already know I am a big proponent of e-mail becoming the mode of choice for transmitting moves for correspondence chess. After reading Joe Fernandez' and Glen Shields' comments in the September-October NB I must add my comments.

"I returned to APCT less than three years ago and have completed over 300 correspondence games through APCT in this time. I received the APCT life achievement award. I am currently playing around 75 snail and 75 e-mail games. These 75 games will be my last snail games I will play. I am in agreement with Glen. I will no longer enter any snail sections. I realize I am giving up my chance to become APCT champion. However, I again implore Helen and Jim [Warren] to add an e-mail championship to their e-mail tournament menu. APCT was the first American based organization to offer e-mail sections. However both NOST and CCLA have overtaken APCT by having more and better e-mail sections. CCLA is now offering an e-mail championship.

"I do understand that many players are fearful of the pace of e-mail play, but Joe's suggestion of an increased time limit should ease these fears. ICCF uses 10/40, and I see nothing wrong with an even longer time limit, if this will encourage more e-mail players. APCT now has only a handful of players entering e-mail sections. I feel they need a net site that will encourage a more and varied e-mail base. International opponents are fine for e-mail. Through other groups I am playing opponents from throughout the world. It would be nice to play these opponents through APCT!"

You've made some interesting observations and recommendations, Lyle. I forwarded your ideas to APCT and received the following from Jim Warren:

"Thanks for forwarding the Cherner note. At Glen Shield's and his urging we are going to start an e-mail championship, which will be announced in the Nov/Dec issue, and earlier than that to our e-mail players via e-mail. Helen and I are working on the details now. It will be a two-round event (at least to begin with, as there's not enough e-mail players yet to support three rounds) and we plan to hold it open until about May 1 or so."

Thanks for the info, Jim. I suggest those interested in such an event check the first few pages of this issue for any official details on this event and continue to watch for possible future announcements. APCT is a quality organization and, under the guidance of Jim and Helen Warren, I would expect to see a solid growth in areas of legitimate value to the cc enthusiast.

Book Recommendation Doubted

Former APCT Columnist Ian Brooks has highly recommended the book "Chess for Tigers" by ICCF GM Simon Webb. I own the second edition of this book and also recommend it to serious cc competitors. However, I recently received the following differing view from Walter Lewis of Soledad, CA. He wrote:

"I would like to comment on a book recommended by Ian Brooks, 'Chess for Tigers.' I would normally not say anything but, due to his high praise, I threw away $14.20 on one of the worst books on chess I've ever seen.

"Rather than pit my personal opinion vs. his, allow me to quote directly from the book. 'Many players aim merely to play the best moves, objectively speaking. They never succeed, of course, but that doesn't stop them trying. But chess is not a science - it's a game, a struggle between two mortals who make mistakes, deceive themselves and each other, get tired, allow themselves to be distracted, and altogether have no hope of attaining perfection at the chess-board. If you want to become a tiger, you must forget about playing the best moves and concentrate on winning.'

"Chess for tigers is written by a correspondence Grandmaster who devotes only 8 pages to cc and recommends you buy a strong computer to check your analysis and for suggesting ideas. This must refer to the part, 'You must forget about playing the best moves and concentrate on winning.'

"My opinion is, this book reads like a 'Dick and Jane.' To call a 120-page pamphlet a book is a stretch. I would suggest that players wishing to improve spend their money on the books Mr. Brooks claims to have not read, My System, Pawn Power, Chess Fundamentals, and great player game collections (see p. 86 APCT News Bulletin May/June 1997).

"The names will tell a story, 'Chess for Tigers' for the title, 'How to Catch Rabbits' and 'How to Trap Heffalumps' are two chapter titles. Sound familiar? I don't know what Simon Webb has against Dr. Seuss, but this tiger is no cat in the hat."

Of course, different people will find different books of value, and the purpose for studying a particular book is also an important consideration. Walter Lewis may be right that this book does not meet his expectations, but surely Ian Brooks must have had good reasons for naming this book as particularly significant in his rise up the chess ladder. I asked Ian if he could respond to the above points and he kindly provided the following remarks. I believe you'll find the following most interesting and thought-provoking. No one can question Ian's successful application of the lessons he has learned considering his recent success in gaining the ICCF International Master title.

"Thank you for inviting me to respond to the criticism of 'Chess for Tigers.' Instead of rebutting each of his complaints directly, permit me to reiterate my position.

"The question that was asked in your May-June 97 column was 'Which are the Top Five Books that took APCT Experts/Masters from the lower classes to where they are today.' In my case there is no doubt that Chess for Tigers was the single most influential book on my rise to the IM title and I have never hesitated to recommend it to others. It is not a book that will overtly deepen your knowledge of chess ... it has no pretense to be. What it does, like no other, is help you discover which knowledge you need to add and how to get the best results from what you already know. There is much more to tournament chess than playing the best move in every position which, as Webb correctly states, is impossible.

"Imagine a common situation where you are considering two lines, one which leads to a slightly advantageous ending that will need delicate handling and long range maneuvering, the other which will lead to a wildly complicated position with a slightly bigger advantage. Which move do you choose? You may say the one which gives the slightly bigger advantage, but I, and the book, would argue that you don't have enough information to make that decision yet. What is the tournament position, can I take the riskier line or do I need to keep the draw in hand? Does my opponent play well in endings or complicated positions? How do I play those types of positions? These are all questions that Chess for Tigers will help you learn to ask and answer. There are chapters on how to analyze your opponents, how to analyze your own game, how to improve your opening repertoire, how to play won positions, lost positions and drawn positions and how to play against players who are much stronger or weaker than you.

"Of course, you need to work hard and increase your understanding of chess as well as the practical side of the game. If I were stranded on a desert island, there would be no games to play, no practical decisions to make and I would not take Chess for Tigers, I would take books to deepen my understanding. However, not being on a desert island, I am always being confronted by practical issues, and the knowledge of the competitive side of the game I have learned from Chess for Tigers is indispensable."

Calculation of Time Used (with vacations)

In an ICCF game (played in the current USA Championship preliminary round of the 14th USCCC) I had this question arise in a game where my opponent took a vacation. The game is being played with the 30 days for 10 moves time limit. His vacation was August 15-23. He received my move on August 14 and replied on August 24. I figured one day used before his vacation and one day after for a total of 2 days. My opponent disagreed figuring that August 14-24 was a ten day period minus the nine days of his vacation. It's true, August 15-23 is nine days, not eight. Another example would be a one day vacation. If he took only the one day of August 15 then my calculation would yield 10 days (the same as if he had no vacation). This didn't seem quite right, so maybe he had a point?

I took the question to the Tournament Director and International Arbiter Maurice Carter, who agreed with my opponent. His reasoning was that the nine vacation days were "non-days" as far as the calculation was concerned. Receiving my card on August 14 and replying on August 24 was like receiving it on one day and replying on the following day ... one day used! This was certainly an instance of the obvious solution (mine) not being the correct solution. I see no reason not to apply the same logic to any 30/10 game, including APCT games. I wonder how many times I've made this calculation error in my 35 years of cc?

copyright © 1998 by J. Franklin Campbell

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