It’s a Great Time to Play Correspondence Chess in the United States

The United States is truly becoming one of the greatest countries in the world of correspondence chess. Our Olympiad team has made the world finals in every Correspondence Chess Olympiad from the thirteenth to the eighteenth in 2012. Since the year 2000, the ICCF has awarded 80 international titles to correspondence chess players living in the United States. Our country is perhaps the only nation to have two ICCF affiliates. One of these affiliates is the Correspondence Chess League of America which has been running rated correspondence chess tournaments since 1897. The other affiliate is the United States Chess Federation which operates its competitions under the guidance of the correspondence director Alex Dunne.

The U.S.C.F. recently opened its own online correspondence chess server and now offers correspondence chess by mail, email and chess server. Alex Dunne does an outstanding of creating playing opportunities that fit the needs of all levels of chess players. Alex also masterfully covers all of the events in his monthly column humorously titled the “Check is in The Mail.” The June 2012 edition of Chess Life magazine even featured correspondence chess master Abe Wilson on its cover.  The USCF is making it very clear that it supports correspondence chess and is doing everything possible for its players.

I strongly encourage those thinking of trying their hand at correspondence chess to consider joining the USCF’s Golden Knights Championship. The Golden Knights is the United States’ Open Correspondence Chess Championship and is a great way for over the board players to get their feet wet in a large pool of strong correspondence players. Below is a game from the finals of the 2006 Golden Knights Chess Championship. I hope it inspires some of my readers to give USCF correspondence chess a try.

For ease of reading, copy the text below and paste it into your favorite chess program.

[Event “2006 Golden Knights Finals”]

[Site “correspondence”]

[Date “2011.01.??”]

[Organization “USCF”]

[White “Torres, Chris F.”]

[Black “Walker, Barry Wood”]

[Result “1-0”]

[WhiteElo “2315”]

[BlackElo “2232”]

[ECO “B01”]

[Opening “Scandinavian”]

[Variation “2…Qxd5, Main Line, 8.Qe2”]

[PlyCount “51”]

1. e4 d5 {Barry Walker chooses the Scandinavian Defense.} 2. exd5 Qxd5 {The other choice for black here is to not capture the pawn but develop the knight to f6 instead.} 3. Nc3 {Develop with threats.} Qa5 {The overwhelming favorite choice among strong players. On a5, the queen will remain active and pin the c3 knight if white chooses to play d4.} 4. d4 {I have access to over 29,000 games where white decided to control the center with this move.} Nf6 {Black has two pieces developed. White has a pawn in the center and one pinned piece in the game.} 5. Nf3 {Once again, I adhere to classical principles and develop a piece.} c6 {Often times, the Scandinavian player ends up with a Caro–Kann (1 e4 c6) pawn structure (pawns on c6 and e6).} 6. Bc4 {Now I have three pieces developed and a pawn in the center.} Bf5 {Black is keeping up on development.} 7. Bd2 {The most logical move. Now my knight is no longer pinned and I have a discovered attack on my opponent’s queen.} e6 {Now black really does have a Caro–Kann style structure.} 8. Ne4 {Supposedly, this is just an alternative to Nd5 with the same basic ideas. However, I use this to start an attack I have been waiting to try in a high-level game.} Qd8 {This is black’s second favorite choice behind Qc7.} 9. Ng3 {The main line here is Nxf6+. White can reach that position by playing 8 Nd5 as well. I have discovered some new attacking resources for white following 9 Ng3.} Bg6 {If black plays Bg4 then white should play c3.} 10. h4 {White wins 74% of the time with this aggressive move.} h6 {This creates the escape square of h7 for the bishop but creates a small weakness for white to attack.} 11. Ne5 {White wins 94% of the time he plays this move.} Bh7 {This is forced.} (11. .. Be7 12. Nxg6 fxg6 13. Qe2 Qd6 14. O-O-O Nbd7 15. Bxe6 {and black is in serious trouble.}) 12. Qe2 Qc7 (12. .. Be7 13. Nxf7 Kxf7 14. Qxe6+ Ke8 15. Nf5 Qd7 16. Nxg7+ {Objectively speaking black is doing all right. However, white is having all the fun.}) 13. Bf4 {This is a new move. Before this game 13 0-0-0 was played twice with one win and one draw. 13 Bf4 is an improvement.} Nd5 {This or Qe7 are the best choices for black.} 14. Nh5 {This is strong tobasco.. The bishop on f4 is now defended which means that my knight on e5 is no longer pinned. Also, now the Ne5 can move and reveal an attack on my opponent’s queen. The knight on h4 is threatening two checks and adds to the complexity of black’s problems.} Nxf4 {The obvious choice to render white’s attack impotent. The only problem is that it doesn’t.} 15. Nxf4 Bd6 {Now black is starting to look ok.} 16. Nxf7 {Bam! Looks can be deceiving.} Qxf7 (16. .. Kxf7 17. Nxe6 Qe7 18. Rh3 {and black is in hot water.}) 17. Nxe6 Qf6 {Qe7 is an improvement. White would castle queenside and still be in the driver’s seat.} 18. Rh3 Nd7 {Black could have tried the exciting 13 … b5.} 19. Rf3 Qxh4 20. O-O-O {The white king is perfectly safe. The black king… not so much.} Nb6 21. Bb3 {Allowing my opponent to trade pieces would weaken my attack.} Qe7 {This defensive manoeuvre takes away my discovered check.} 22. Re1 {But sets up other ideas.} Kd7 {This move nearly saved black’s game.} 23. Rf7 {A good chess player must analyze all checks, captures and threats. Without forcing myself to do this I would have missed this killer tactical combination.} Qxf7 {Pretty much forced.} 24. Nc5+ {The purpose of 23 Rf7 is revealed.} Bxc5 25. Bxf7 Bd6 26. Qg4+ {Barry Walker has had enough and resigned here. Hats off to my friend for a hard-fought game} *

Published by chessmusings

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California. Chris Torres served as the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy from 2005-2020 and currently is recognized as a correspondence chess master with the United States Chess Federation. Since 1998 Chris Torres has taught 6 individual national champions as well as led multiple school teams to win national championship titles. In addition, Chris Torres has directed and taught at 10 different schools which have been California State Champions at chess. In 2011 and 2012, several former and current students of Chris Torres have been selected to represent the United States at the World Youth Chess Championships. Mr. Torres’ hobbies include playing classical guitar and getting his students to appear on the national top 100 chess rating lists.

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