The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"On the Square" Article

Among the cc tournaments available to USA players I've always found the United States Correspondence Chess Championship (USCCC) administered by the ICCF-U.S. office to be one of the most entertaining. I've never won a preliminary round and advanced to the finals, but even in the preliminaries the competition is quite stiff and you get the opportunity to compete against some of the finest players in the country. Add to this that the event leads to the official title of USA Champion and you have a great tournament.

I am currently competing in the 14th USCCC and, apparently, playing some of the best chess of my life (you can follow my progress at The Campbell Diary -- 14th USCCC (plus)). Following is my first win in the event. I invited my master opponent to provide annotations for this game for this article and he graciously complied. Thanks to Keith Rodriguez for his thoughtful notes. I also asked for some biographical information, which follows this article. Thanks again, Keith!

The concept of this article is to present the thinking of both participants. I wrote my notes to the game independent of my opponent and have combined them with his to provide dual annotations. Thus, the reader can compare the notes to see where the participants agree and disagree on their evaluations. This can be both revealing and entertaining, expecially if the participants draw different conclusions at certain points. The annotations are clearly identified by source. I hope you enjoy the game and the two sets of combined notes.

--- J. Franklin Campbell

Campbell - Rodriguez, 14th USCCC (Dual Annotations)
By J. Franklin Campbell & USCF Master Keith A. Rodriguez

White: J. Franklin Campbell (2071)
Black: Keith Rodriguez (2221)
ECO (A35) - NIC (EO 38.9.1)
14th US Correspondence Chess Championship - 1998
(ICCF US14P04)
[Campbell notes in black]
[Rodriguez notes in blue]

J. Franklin Campbell with logical concise play hands Keith Rodriguez his first loss in 16 ICCF games. Only after long analysis did I credit the novelty 9.Bd2 with an exclamation mark, since at first glance the move appears harmless. However, after a natural sequence of moves, 9 through 15, White's position is clearly superior. The play subsequent to move 15 may not have been the most precise but later analysis still doesn't indicate that Black could save the game.

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.e3 e5 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 e4 7.Ng5 Bb4 8.d5 Ne5

Campbell - Rodriguez
After 8. ... Ne5

I had intended to play 9.Qd4 at this point but didn't like the following: 9.Qd4 Qe7 10.Ngxe4 Nxc4.


(A quiet Novelty that lulls Black into a deep sleep from which he never awakes. Gelfand-Kasparov, Dos Hermanas 1996 continued, 9.Qb3 a5!N 10.Bd2 0-0 11.0-0-0 d6.)


(In retrospect a sharper way to handle the opening was 9... Qe7 10.Nce4 Ne4 11.Ne4 Bd2 12.Qd2 [12.Kd2! Qb4 13.Kc1 Nc4 14.Qd4] 12... f5! 13.d6 Qe6 14.Ng5 Nf3!=)

10.Ncxe4 Bxd2+

10...Nxe4 11.Nxe4 Qa5 12.Qc2 Bxd2+ 13.Nxd2 Ng4 14.Be2 Re8 15.Qd3±


Less inviting was: 11.Nxd2 Qe7 12.Be2 Nd3+ 13.Kf1 Nxb2 14.Qb3 Nd3 15.Bxd3 Qe5 16.Re1 Qxg5

11...Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Re8

12...Qe7 13.0-0-0 Nxc4 14.Bxc4 Qxe4 15.Bd3 Qxg2 16.Rdg1 Qf3 17.Bxh7+ Kxh7 18.Rxg7+ Kxg7 19.Rg1+ Kh7 20.Qd4 leads to mate.


Though the position is pretty even and the White King is a bit exposed, I liked the look of the position.

13...Nxc4 14.Bxc4 Rxe4

14...Qc7 15.Qc2 Qf4+ 16.Nd2 would allow White to retain the piece.


Campbell - Rodriguez
After 15. Bd3

(A series of natural moves has left White in an enviable position. It may not be Alekhine's Gun, but the configuration of R-Q-B being led by an intrepid pawn is impressive.)


I doubt that this move is worse than alternatives, but I was glad for the play I got on the e-file with this Rook elsewhere. 15...Re8 16.Rhe1 d6 17.Rxe8+ Qxe8 18.Re1 Qf8 and the Black Bishop gets developed.

(I would like to blame Rh4 for Black's woes but the position is already critical. 15... Re8 may be better than the text, but Black is extremely passive and White dictates play.)

16.g3 Rh6 17.d6

I couldn't resist this move. It places a thorn in Black's position and becomes a critical problem for Black later. It also potentially creates a base at e7 for a White Rook. Black still easily develops his Bishop after ...b6.


This aggressive move surprised me. I suddenly felt that I must take care not to allow a strong attack against my King.

(Smoke and mirrors are less effective in correspondence play than OTB.)


18.Bxb5 Bb7 19.Rhe1 Bf3 20.Be2 Rc8+ 21.Kb1 Be4+ did not look very inviting.

18...Bb7 19.Re7

Campbell - Rodriguez
After 19. Re7

Again, a move I couldn't resist. If Black doesn't take immediate action against this Rook it could decide the game.


Another aggressive move by Black. He hits the f-pawn with the Queen and the h-pawn with the Rook. If White isn't careful Black could develop a powerful attack. However, Black also leaves the d7-pawn unguarded. 19...Rxh2 20.Bxb5 Rc8+ 21.Kb1 Qb6 22.Bxd7+-; 19...a6 20.Bf5 Rc8+ 21.Kb1 Bc6+/=; 19...Re6 20.Re1 Rxe1+ 21.Qxe1 Rc8+ 22.Kb1 a6 23.Qd1 g6 24.Qb3 Qf8 25.Rxd7±

(What else? 19... Rc1 20.Kb1 Bc6 21.Rde1+/=)

20.Kb1 Rxh2

20...Rf8 21.Qf4 Rxh2 22.Rxd7 Bc8 (22...Rxf2? 23.Rxb7!+- Rxb2+ 24.Kxb2 Qxb7 25.Bxh7+ Kxh7 26.Qh4+ Kg8 27.d7 Qg2+ 28.Kb1) 23.Re7 Rxf2 24.Qh4 g6 (24...Bf5 25.Bxf5 Rxf5 26.d7+-) 25.d7 Bb7 26.Re8+-; 20...Rxd6 21.Bxh7+ Kf8 22.Rxf7+ Kxf7 23.Qxd6 Qxd6 24.Rxd6 Ke7 25.Rd2 Rh8 26.Bf5 Rxh2 27.Rxd7+ Kf6 28.Rxb7 Kxf5 and White has several attractive alternatives.

21.Qe2 Rf8

(The other alternative was 21... g6 22.Rd7 Bd5 23.Qe5 Qf2?! [23... Be6 24.Re7 Rh5 25.Qe4 Rf8 {25& Rd8 fails to 26.Re6} 26.Re6! fe6 27.Qe6 Kg7 28.g4! Rf6 29.Qe4 Rc5 30.d7!+- Apparently true, all roads lead to Rome.] 24.Re7 Rh5 25.Re8 Re8 26.Qe8 Kg7 27.d7+-)


I had been strongly considering 22.Re8 here but the following line looks pretty drawish. 22.Re8 g6 23.Rxf8+ Kxf8 24.Qe5 Kg8 25.Qe8+ Kg7 26.Qe5+ Kg8


22...Rxf2 23.Rxb7

Campbell - Rodriguez
After 22. ... Bd5


23.Bxh7+? Rxh7 24.Rxd5 Qc6 loses.


23...Ra8 24.Qxb6 axb6 25.Bxh7+ Rxh7 26.Rxd5 b4 27.Rc7 Rh1+ 28.Kc2 Rd8 29.d7 Kf8 30.Kb3 Ke7 31.Kxb4 Ke6 32.Rd2 Rh5 33.Rc8 Ke7 (33...Rxd7? 34.Re8+ wins a Rook.) 34.Rc6 Rxd7 35.Rxd7+ Kxd7 36.Rxb6; 23...Qc6 24.Qe7 Qb6 (24...Be6 25.Rd8 and White mates.) 25.Rc1 Bc6 26.Rc7 Qxf2 27.Bc2 Be8 28.d7+-

24.fxe3 Bf3 25.Rf1 Be2

25...Bg4 26.Rxa7 Rd2 27.Bxb5 Rxd6 28.a4 Re6 29.Bc4+-

26.Bxe2 Rxe2 27.Re7 Rd2

27...f6 28.d7 Rd2 29.Kc1 Rd6 30.Rd1+-


Campbell - Rodriguez
After 28. d7

White now threatens Kc1 followed by Rd1.

28...Rd6 29.Rf4 1-0

Black Resigns due to the threat of 30.Rd4.

29...Rb6 30.Re8 Rb8 [30...Rd6 31.Rd4] 31.Rfe4

Keith Rodriguez first learned the game of chess as an 11-year old in Huntington, NY. His real interest and first tournament experience occurred as a direct result of the Bobby Fischer boom in 1972. Keith is now a Life USCF member and holds the title of Local Director. After obtaining a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Keith began working with the Grumman Corporation in 1980 where he twice captured the Grumman Chess Championship, in 1983 and again in 1990. Later as Grumman Chess Club President he applied his organizational skills to promote the game within the company and community. During his reign as President, Grumman membership was at its all-time high and the club established itself as a local powerhouse, winning several Long Island Industrial Chess League (LIICL) Championships, and two New York State Team Championship titles. He forged a team camaraderie and spirit that still exists today as company team members travel from as far as California, Louisiana, and Florida to compete annually in the US Amateur Team - East Championship in New Jersey (a streak that is unbroken since 1985).

In January 1984 he became a co-founder of the LIICL, an organization that is still going strong 15 years later. Keith is a co-author of the LIICL Constitution and was the first Editor and founder of its newsletter, The League Leader. He organized several simuls for the LIICL which included GM’s Max Dlugy, Joel Benjamin, and Michael Rohde. At times Keith has studied under the tutelage of GM Edmar Mednis and IM Rashid Zaitdinov but admits that it is not always evident by his play.

Since transferring to Florida in 1991, with his wife Patty and daughter Erin, Keith began playing Correspondence Chess seriously, finding that over-the-board competition there was not so readily available. To date his best achievement was a 2nd place finish in a section of the 13th USCC, going undefeated despite being the lowest rated player in the tournament. An avid reader, Keith has a chess library in excess of 300 books, but his two favorites are My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer and Napier, The Forgotten Chessmaster by John Hilbert.

Keith has obtained several minor milestones in chess, including making the cover of Chess Life in May 1991. (He is sitting in the middle of the ballroom, looking at the camera in a picture taken at the US Amateur Team Championship.) Keith and his fellow teammates can also be spotted in cameo appearances in the USCF’s video tapes, Play Chess I! and Play Chess II. He also has had two games published in Chess Life, one earned a brilliancy prize in a Sicilian Dragon thematic tournament - unfortunately he was on the losing end. The second game was another losing effort, against Master Nathan Resika, which was published in the June 1998 issue. Wryly, he admits that his greatest triumph was a first place finish in the Grumman Fantasy Championship, a special computer simulated 12 round Swiss-System tournament with 72 Grumman players based on their life performance histories. Keith tied for first but lost the playoff game!

Copyright © 1998 by J. Franklin Campbell

Note: this feedback feature has been disabled.
If you have any comments on this review, please send them for posting on the Readers' Comments page. Send your remarks to: E-mail Your Views!

Home On the Square Menu Previous Article Next Article
Webmaster: J. Franklin Campbell
Contact Webmaster