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Alex Dunne: The Check is in the Mail
August 1998. Additional Alex Dunne columns are available in the Correspondence Chess Forum.

The 1998 USCF Correspondence Chess Team Championship is beginning. The 1992 USCF Team Championship was the first held by the USCF, and it was such a success the USCF will be holding it every other year. Players of all strengths participate in teams of four - divisions are based on average team ratings.

In the 1992 Team Championship, Division I, for the strongest teams, was won by Four on the Floor, a team consisting of Randall Pals, Marc Lonoff, Robert MacNeal, and Robert Forbis. Division II was won by Zechiel's Four, captained by David Zechiel, and backed up by Richard Glass, Joseph Harkins, and Darrin Schuster. Division III was won by Carson's Four, R. Lundberg, Phillip Carson, David Fulton, and Michael Mays, and finally, Division IV was won by Sievers Four, consisting of Thomas Sievers, Bradley Boyd, Alfred Spruill, and Roy Dahmen.

The 1994 championship saw Mousessian's Four take the Division I championship. Michael Wierczbicki, Bob Martinec, James Chessing, and John Mousessian made up the winning team. Returning victors in Division II were the California Four, known two years earlier as Zechiel's Four. Division III saw Restless Knights (Gerald Levitt, Stanley Klein, Alan Martin, and Ramon Nelson) score first. Finally, Division IV was won by Harpers Four, David Selvey, Joseph Wesp, Ernest Harper, and Joe Valari.

The 1996 team championships are still being contested with many active games. It is still too early to pick a winner, but you can have something to say about that by entering your team in the 1998 championships. I would like to see the team championships take their rightful place as an important American correspondence chess event.


John Mousessian's team finished first in the 1994 Team Championship. John, playing fourth board, made a plus score, helping his team to victory. Here is an example of John's play - clear, forceful, and scientific - a gem to have on any team's fourth board!

SICILIAN DEFENSE [B22] W: John Mousessian (2113) B: Thomas O'Conner (2206) USCF CC, 1993

1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6. Be2 e6 7. 0-0 Be7

ECO quotes 7. ... Nc6 8. Na3 cxd4 9. Nb5 Rc8 10. Nbxd4 Nxd4 11. Nxd4 Bxe2 12. Qxe2 Be7, with equlity, as in Buljovcic-Olafsson (Novi Sad 1976), but O'Conner's choice should be okay.

8. h3 Bh5 9. dxc5

White establishes a queenside majority by this exchange, but the endgame is a long way off. There is still a rich middlegame to be played.

9. ... Bxc5 10. b4

This handy move gains queenside space and mobilize the queenside pawns. The c-pawn is somewhat backward, but Mousessian knows that a well-timed c3-c4-c5 may be in the offing.

10. ... Be7?!

Karpov-Wilks (Internet simul, 1998), continued 10. ... Bb6 11. Qxd5 Nxd5 12. a3 Nc6 13. c4 with about equal chances.

11. Qa4+!?

White passes up the endgame for the initiative on the d-file.

11. ... Nbd7 12. Rd1 Qe4?

Black's queen is not as active as it appears on this square because it is a target. After 12. ... Qc6 13. Bb5 Qc7, White keeps his attack with 14. Bf4!? Qxf4 15. Bxd7+ Nxd7 16. Qxd7+ Kf8 17. Nbd2, but Black has some hopes to survive.

13. Be3 a6?

Black is lost after this.

14. Ng5! Qc6 15. Qxc6 bxc6 16. Bxh5 Nxh5 17. Nxf7!

The final blow. White wins a pawn and with his active pieces and Black's weak pawn structure, White can expect to win.

17. ... Kxf7 18. Rxd7 Nf6 19. Rb7 Rhb8 20. Rxb8 Rxb8 21. Nd2 c5

Eliminating one of his weak pawns, but the White c-pawn becomes passed.

22. Bxc5 Bxc5 23. bxc5 Rc8 24. Kf1

Avoiding the likely draw after 24. Nb3 Ne4 25. c4 Nxc5 26. Nxc5 Rxc5 27. Rc1 Ra5 28. Rc2 Ke7 29. Kf1 Kd6 30. Ke2 Kc5.

24. ... Rxc5 25. c4 Nd7 26. Rc1 Re5 27. Nb3, Black resigns.

Rather than face the advance of the c-pawn. White is a heavy favorite to win, but there are technical difficulties after 27. ... Kf6 28. Re1 Rh5 29. Ke2.

• The 1997 Absolute Correspondence Chess Championship has started with 13 of the strongest USCF postal players fighting it out for post card supremacy.

With an average rating of 2403, this year's Absolute is not quite as strong as it has been in recent years, but the top part of the field is as mean as ever. Former Absolute champions Ron Lifson (2482), Steve Barbre (2447), and Dan Fleetwood (2425) occupy three of the top four positions by rating. David Burris (2442) must hope it is his turn for the title this year. Rounding out the 2400-rated players are Peter Michelman (2407), Robert Forbis (2404), and Frederick Rhine (2402).

The tail-enders are mostly unknown to me, but take a look at player #13 and note how much he has improved since the 1994 USCF Team Championship: Tom Ward (2395), William Lapham (2388), Paul Thompson (2388), Hugo Concha (2385), Mark Morss (2350), and John Mousessian (2335). These 13 chess warriors will be battling it out for a prize fund donated by Max Zavanelli.

• XIII World Champion Mikhail Umansky demonstrates brilliant technique in storming Black's king fortress. Two pawn sacrifices and an exchange sac leave the Black king helpless. An impressive victory from the pages of Chess Mail.

KING'S INDIAN DEFENSE [E82] W: Mikhail Umansky B: E. Balendo 13th USSR CC Championship, 1977-78

1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 Nf6 4. e4 d6 5. f3 0-0 6. Be3 b6 7. Bd3 a6 8. Nge2 c5 9. d5 e6 10. 0-0 exd5 11. cxd5 Nbd7 12. b3 b5 13. Rc1 Re8 14. Qd2 Ne5 15. Bb1 b4 16. Nd1 Bd7 17. Nb2 Bb5 18. Nc4 Bxc4 19. bxc4 Qa5 20. Bg5 Qa4 21. f4 Ned7 22. Ng3 h6 23. Bxf6 Nxf6 24. Rce1 Nd7 25. e5 dxe5 26. f5 g5 27. f6 Nxf6 28. h4 Nh7 29. Rxf7 Kxf7 30. Bxh7 Bf8 31. Qf2+ Kg7 32. Qf5 Kh8 33. Qf7 Bg7 34. Nh5 Rg8 35. Be4, Black resigns.

• Each year since 1985 this column has awarded the best correspondence games published with the Hames Beauty Prize. I am pleased to see another organization setting up such prizes for outstanding games. Here is the APCT Game of the Year, as selected by Larry Evans and published in the March-April APCT News Bulletin.

SICILIAN DEFENSE [B33] W: Jim Marfia (2019) B: G. Henderson (2112) APCT 1997

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bxb5 axb5 12. Nxb5 Ra4 13. Nbc7+ Kd7 14. 0-0 Qg5 15. c4 Rxc4 16. b4 Rg8 17. g3 Bh6 18. Nb5 Rd4 19. Qa4 Bb7 20. Nxd4 exd4 21. Qb5 Rb8 22. f4 Qd8 23. exf5 Bg7 24. Rac1 d3 25. Rfd1 Bd4+ 26. Kg2 Ba8 27. Qa4 Qe8 28. Re1 d2 29. Rxe8 dxc1=Q 30. Rxb8 Qc4 31. Rxa8 Qxd5+ 32. Kh3 Qxf5+ 33. Kg2 Qe4+ 34. Kh3 Qe6+ 35. Kg2 Qe2+ 36. Kh3 Qf1+ 37. Kg4 h5+ 38. Kxh5 Qh3+ 39. Kg5 Ke6 40. Re8+ Ne7 41. Qb3+ d5, White resigns.

• Readers with information, games, or other items of interest to postal players are invited to write me at the address given at the top of the column.

• What happens when a world class OTB grandmaster tries his hand at correspondence chess? Chess Mail reports on Peter Leko (2670) trying his hand at the ICCF E-mail Team Championship Preliminaries. Leko holds down first board for Hungary, but he has not found the correspondence world an easy touch. At the half-way point, Leko stands at plus-one with three draws, one of the draws being against the U.S.' strong e-mailer Conrad Goodman. Here is Leko's victory.

RUY LOPEZ [C78] W: Otto Vodep (2325) B: GM Peter Leko ICCF E-mail Team Championship, 1998

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Bc5 6. Nxe5 Nxe5 7. d4 b5 8. Bb3 Bxd4 9. Qxd4 d6 10. f4 Nc6 11. Qd3 Bb7 12. Bd2 0-0 13. Re1 Re8 14. a3 Ne7 15. Nc3 c5 16. Ba2 c4 17. Qg3 d5 18. exd5 Nfxd5 19. Qf2 Nxc3 20. Bxc3 Nd5 21. Rxe8+ Qxe8 22. Re1 Qc6 23. Bd2 Nf6 24. Ba5 Ne4 25. Qf3 Re8 26. Re2 Qd7 27. c3 Nc5 28. Qf1 Nd3, White resigns.

• When two titans clash, even innocent bystanders are in mortal danger. Here the top two rated players in the 1997 Absolute duke it out in the 1994 Absolute. The winner is the one who survives the longest.

KING'S INDIAN DEFENSE [E87] W: Steve Barbre (2419) B: Ron Lifson (2448) 1994 Absolute Championship

1. c4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. d4 d6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. f3 0-0 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Nh5 8. Qd2 f5 9. 0-0-0 Nd7 10. Bd3 Nc5 11. Bc2 a6 12. exf5 gxf5 13. g4 fxg4 14. b4 Nd7 15. fxg4 Nf4 16. Nge2 Bh6 17. Rdf1 Nxe2+ 18. Nxe2 Bxe3 19. Qxe3 Qh4 20. Ng3 Nf6 21. h3 Bd7 22. Rf3 e4 23. Rf4 Qg5 24. Rhf1 Rae8 25. Nh5 h6 26. h4 Nxg4 27. hxg5 Nxe3 28. Nf6+ Rxf6 29. gxf6 Re5 30. Rg1+ Rg5 31. Rh1 h5 32. Bxe4 Kf7 33. Bf3 Bg4 34. Re1 Nf5 35. Rg1 Nh6 36. Be4 Re5 37. Bd3 Re3 38. Kd2 Re5 39. a4 Re8 40. Kc3 Re5 41. Kd4 b6 42. c5 a5 43. bxa5 bxa5 44. c6 Bf5 45. Rg7+ Kxf6 46. Rxc7 Kg5 47. Rf3 h4 48. Rg7+ Kf6 49. Rd7 Kg5 50. Rxd6, Black resigns.

• Among the pleasures of surfing the web are the surprises. Correspondence chess is well represented. There is a web page ( ) dedicated just to this game and its analysis} [For more correspondence chess pages, see the Correspondence Chess Forum on this site, or check our Links Page.]

CARO-KANN DEFENSE [B13] W: Guido Wendland B: Achim Engelhart German Youth CC Cup Tournament, 1986-88

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 Qa5 7. Bxf6 exf6 8. a3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Be7 10. Ne2 0-0 11. 0-0 Bf5 12. Re1 Bd6 13. Bd3 Bxd3 14. Qxd3 Qh5 15. Ng3 Bxg3 16. hxg3 Rad8 17. Re4 f5 18. Rh4 Qg5 19. Rd1 Rfe8 20. Qf3 Nxd4 21. Qxb7 Ne2+ 22. Kh2 Rxd1 23. Nxd1 f4 24. Qf3 fxg3+ 25. fxg3 Qc5 26. Nf2 h6 27. b4 Qc1 28. Nh3 Re3 29. Qa8+ Kh7 30. Qxa7 Rxg3 31. Qf2 Qc7 32. Nf4 g5 33. Nd5 Rf3+ 34. Nxc7 Rxf2 35. Rh3 g4 36. Re3 f5 37. Nd5 h5 38. Nc3 Nf4 39. Kg3 Rf1 40. Re8 Ng6 41. Kh2 h4 42. Ne4 fxe4 43. Rxe4 Nf4 44. g3 Rf2+, White withdraws.


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