The Campbell Report

The following article was published in the March 1996 issue of floridaCHESS magazine.
Charles Pote wrote the article "The Best State & Postal Chess magazines" and invited me to contribute the postal chess portion.
floridaCHESS is published by the Florida Chess Association.

I would like to point out several changes that have occurred in the cc magazine situation for USA readers since this article was written. Chess Mail is now available and would undoubtedly be number one on my list today. It is an absolutely superb publication. Fernschach is now available in an English language version. I haven't seen a copy yet but would suspect that it is also a very good publication. My opinion of the writings of IWCCM Dr. Christine Rosenfield hasn't changed, but the last two issues of Michigan Chess didn't carry her column ... I hope this is a temporary situation. I don't know whether or not the WCCF organization still exists. April 1998

Top Ten U.S.A. Postal Chess "Magazines"

By J. Franklin Campbell

The decision of how to rank the various postal chess publications depends on your viewpoint. Do you want a magazine that reports your postal chess club news? Do you want to see annotated games by postal chess GM's? Do you want a variety of articles and columns covering various aspects of both postal and over the board (OTB) chess? Do you want to read about microwave ovens? Check out my list below and make your own decisions.

1. APCT News Bulletin
2. The Chess Correspondent
3. Fernschach
4. King's Korner
5. NOSTalgia
6. Transcendental Chess
7. Chess Life
8. ICCF News Releases
9. WCCF Correspondence Chess Quarterly
10. Michigan Chess

APCT News Bulletin - This bimonthly publication tops my list as combining the best mix of qualities. Editor Helen Warren combines several pages of club news with a good variety of articles and regular columns on various chess topics. The rating list is attractively presented with all active members listed (along with State of residence) and an Active Top Thirty list. It's well printed on good paper and has an attractive appearance. This is my pick as the best overall postal chess publication in the USA.

The Chess Correspondent - Published bimonthly by the CCLA (Correspondence Chess League of America), the editor is Joseph Ganem. I like the letters to the editor feature. It also does a good job reporting on club news, though I don't care for the partial rating lists. The centerpiece of the magazine is the Readers' Games column, but there are usually just a few additional articles. The total content is normally much smaller than the APCT magazine with a lower overall impression. One nice extra is the occasional coverage of ICCF news, such as USCCC standings and material from the ICCF News Releases. The focus is very much on club news, and here they do a good job.

Fernschach - This excellent little magazine is actually published in Germany and it contains coverage of ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation) postal chess. It contains a lot of postal chess games in FAN, many played by the best players in the world. There are also a few photos and thumbnail sketches of some of the world renowned players. It covers ICCF news with game results, crosstables of finished events, etc. For the international postal chess player this is the magazine to get. The problem? ... it is mostly written in German! There is often some material in English, as well. This is a well-produced monthly magazine (available through the ICCF-U.S. office) and presents the highest level of postal chess available.

King's Korner - This bimonthly is the official publication of the All Service Postal Chess Club (ASPCC) and will primarily appeal to members. This is a smaller organization formed to serve the needs of members of the armed services (who have difficulties with some of the other clubs' rigid time controls). This magazine is oriented to club news and does a good job in that area. KK editor Jerry Hopfer is currently working to improve the overall quality of the magazine. You don't have to be a member of the armed services to join this friendly band of postal chess enthusiasts.

NOSTalgia - The Knights of the Square Table (NOST) is an interesting and congenial group whose members appeared to be joined by their common love of chess, chess variants and other games. It's the only U. S. postal organization that has a well-attended annual convention where members bring their families for a week of fellowship and fun. This friendly feeling clearly comes through when reading their bimonthly magazine. It's a mix of friendly banter, chess and other games along with the usual reporting of club activities. If this sounds attractive to you, don't subscribe ... join the organization. If you don't care for this style then stick to the magazines above. I suspect that many NOST members play in other "more serious" clubs and read their magazines but that they feel most at home with NOST.

Transcendental Chess - This is a truly eclectic magazine, published eight times a year by TC club director and editor Maxwell Lawrence. I find it strangely appealing, with many letters to the editor (TC Forum) and articles on strange topics (for a chess publication). Some recent topics battery technology, keyboard designs and the microwave oven. I find the chess problems and "Divertissement" puzzlers (usually non-chess logic or math problems) quite interesting and challenging. The magazine covers club news well. The chess played in this club is Transcendental Chess, where the back-row pieces are arranged in a random order. With the usual chess openings out the window you are on your own from move one. And, the magazine is weird and strangely magnetic.

Chess Life - Why the low ranking for the official publication of the USCF? To be honest, they don't offer much to the serious postal chess player. It only made this list because of the Alex Dunne column "Check Is In The Mail." The column is good and well worth reading. But Chess Life pretty much ignores its postal members and postal news. The annual postal chess rating list only contains players active in the last year. It may have a lot to offer the OTB players, but it doesn't even try to service the many USCF postal chess competitors, except through that one column.

ICCF News Releases - This erratically issued publication is available from the ICCF-U.S. Secretary Max Zavanelli and contains a lot of interesting news for ICCF players (mixed in with some personal opinions). There's no chess articles, columns, letters, etc. here. This is strictly news and opinion. All active ICCF players and postal chess journalists should receive this publication.

WCCF Correspondence Chess Quarterly - This is mostly a collection of games played within the WCCF (World Correspondence Chess Federation) with a little WCCF news, a rating list and order form for entering WCCF tournaments. It's currently a set of pages stapled together copied from a dot-matrix original, so the print quality is not very good.

Michigan Chess - Well, this isn't really a postal chess publication, any more than Chess Life. But who wants a "Top Nine" list? This bi-monthly state publication carries a regular column in every issue that I never miss, "Postal Chess" by IWCCM Dr. Christine Rosenfield. Since this is one of my favorite columns in a state magazine Michigan Chess grabs the final spot in my list. Also check out Chess Horizons for the column "Correspondence" by FM Allan Savage. Other state magazines, such as Texas Knights, also have postal articles occasionally.

copyright © 1998 by J. Franklin Campbell

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