The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
Postal Chess ... Something Special &
Chess "Etiquette"

As a chess columnist for a cc organization I receive a wide variety of communications from members. Usually these comments are interesting, informative and basically a real joy to read, and they are often thought-provoking as well. They form the basis for many of my columns and, for me, are an important part of chess journalism. On one occasion I received complaints about players in a certain area who were openly analyzing their APCT postal positions together. Under APCT rules this is strictly forbidden. I had heard theoretical speculation about such cheating by players in general before (not specifically members of any particular cc organization), either consulting other players or using a computer to analyze positions (also forbidden in most USA cc competitions), but I had never encountered an actual occurrence of such cheating before. Although I never confirmed the validity of the cheating accusations, this episode led me to some real contemplation concerning my personal philosophy about postal chess competition. This contemplation led to me writing the following emotional statement about the place of cc in my life. It first appeared at the end of my column "The Campbell Report" in the July-August 1995 issue of APCT News Bulletin. -- J. Franklin Campbell

Postal Chess ... Something Special
by J. Franklin Campbell

Postal chess requires a special sort of competitor to make it work properly. Unlike OTB chess, where opponents, spectators and tournament directors have the players constantly under observation, postal chess requires that the competitors play fairly following rules of conduct that are self policed. Some infractions (such as overstepping the time limit) can be dealt with by a tournament official. But many rules, such as the rule against analyzing postal positions with friends or using a computer to help determine a move, require a player to play according to the "honor system." I play this game for the love of chess and competition. I love winning. I hate losing. But I am firmly committed to playing without bending the rules. My own pleasure in my accomplishments would be diminished if I resorted to illegal tactics to gain an advantage.

For me chess represents far more than just a game ... it is a way of life, and it inspires me daily. Those outside of the chess world can't appreciate the beauty and inspiration that is chess. I've written about many of the different ways to live the chess experience. When I'm living in the chess world I'm in a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring world where anything is possible. Poetry, mathematics, music, drama ... they're all there. I'm not willing to sacrifice the purity of that world to gain a few spurious victories. There's too much to lose. I really appreciate the opportunity to compete in a sport where fair play and good sportsmanship are the rule. What do you think ... have I missed something? Or do I live in a world of beauty and light? As Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch said, "Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy." I can't say it any better than that.

Copyright © 1995, 1998 by J. Franklin Campbell

Following is a delightful response to a serious discussion of chess etiquette in previous "The Campbell Report" columns in APCT News Bulletin. The following was first published in the March-April 1994 issue of APCT News Bulletin. -- J. Franklin Campbell

Chess "Etiquette"

[Following is the text of a ... letter received from APCT'er Richard Mangus. My wife had to come from another room to see what was "wrong" with me as I read the letter. Richard had me "rolling on the floor." Read his contribution to our discussion of chess etiquette and see what YOU think. -- J. Franklin Campbell]

There has been some discussion of chess eitquette in the bulletin lately. I thought I would offer a few do's and don'ts.

  1. In over-the board chess, if you are losing, refrain from loading your revolver before the end of the game (refrain from explaining the row of nicks on the barrel).

  2. When your opponent makes a bad move, don't sing out, "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer!" It may disturb other players.

  3. If your opponent is a psychiatrist, don't talk to your chess pieces.

  4. After the game, cheerfully return all captured men.

  5. Don't blow kisses across the board to your opponent.

    Sometimes a tournament is played one game a week, like the Charleston, WV Chess Club Championship. To make up missed games sometimes players play a game at one player's home. In this circumstance the following advice might be useful:

  6. When playing at your home, don't show your collection of serial murderer memorabilia to your opponent.

  7. When playing a make-up game at an opponent's home and their family is present, refrain from asking, "Which one of these kids is yours?"

In postal chess:

  1. In cases of a dispute over the position, don't glue pieces to a board and mail it to your opponent collect, COD (it's OK if you pay the postage yourself).

  2. Don't tell your opponent, "I know where you live." This won't work if they have a P. O. Box anyway.

  3. On the first move, never announce mate in 20 (unless they open 1. a3).

  4. Never sign up your opponent with a book club.

  5. Never send your opponent a copy of Reinfeld's "Invitation to Chess."

Ed McMan might say this is every rule you will ever need for chess manners ... wrong, checker-breath! I'm sure there are lots of other rules, some unfit for the pages of the APCT News Bulletin! ...

p.s. One more rule of etiquette for postal or OTB: never ask your opponent if you can include one of his games in your chess book you are preparing to be titled, "Impending Chess Disasters."

Copyright © 1994, 1998 by J. Franklin Campbell


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