The Campbell Report
Hard Chess
with USCF Senior Master Mark Morss

April 2000
We'll to the Woods No More

We'll to the woods no more.
The laurels all are cut.
The bowers are bare of bay
That once the Muses wore.
The year draws in the day,
And soon will evening shut:
The laurels all are cut.
We'll to the woods no more.
Oh, we'll no more, no more
To the leafy woods away,
To the high wild woods of laurel
And the bowers of bay no more.

                    -- A.E. Housman

Hard Chess has come to its end.

This month's column was to have been given, after some introductory remarks by me, to Gary Good's treatment of the Goering Gambit and his comments on three of his games in the Goering Declined. As it is, Gary's interesting ideas on this subject must await publication in another venue. I am sure Franklin Campbell, my generous host, editor and respected chessfriend, will soon supply another outlet for them.

The reader may well imagine the very great effort that goes into producing anything like this column. He may also be aware of the advantages I've conceded to future competitors by exposing here so much of my thinking on theoretical matters. I obtained, in return for these sacrifices, the satisfaction of publicizing some of my chess ideas and my annotated games. Just as I enjoy having my poems put up where people interested in verse will read them, so I've enjoyed sharing here another aspect of my creativity. Preparing the column also gave me a pretext for annotating my own games, something that benefits a player. Most of all, I took pride in producing something entertaining, and maybe even useful, to my fellow-players. I was happy to receive the words of encouragement that came to me from many quarters within the correspondence chess community.

While the balance between the costs and benefits of doing Hard Chess has always been a close one, I had intended to continue at least until the end of this year, then evaluate how to proceed. But an unpleasant episode has tipped the scales against my continuing here. I recently made some controversial but, in my view, entirely legitimate remarks, the subject of which is of no relevance, on The Correspondence Chess Message Board. Since I had shared my words with a trusted and judicious chessfriend before publishing them, and been encouraged to proceed, I was all the more shocked when the response on the message board was a floodtide of angry criticism of me personally.

It is one thing to have one's ideas strongly criticized; one should expect it when engaging in debate in an open forum. It is quite another to be called "arrogant," "boorish," "anti-social," a "loudmouth," and, perhaps most wounding to anyone who publishes anything, an "exhibitionist." That these remarks have come from correspondence chess community members whom I formerly respected has been particularly discouraging to me.

After all this, I simply do not have the heart to continue with the difficult work of this column. The day is fine here in Ohio, and I have some tomatoes to plant. Good-bye.

Copyright © 2000 by Mark Morss

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