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

This year marks 10 years since Max Zavanelli assumed the position of ICCF/US Secretary. The position of Secretary is extremely influential in U.S. correspondence chess affairs. To understand the transformation of U.S. International chess under Max Zavanelli, let's take a look how things were 10 years ago and contrast that with how things are now.

ICCF/US was run by Bob Karch, a true chess enthusiast, but finances for ICCF were in chaos. Dues hadn't been paid, the U.S. was unwanted in international play, some U.S. players had gained a reputation for being more than rude to their opponents. Debt was overwhelming the organization. The U.S. had an almost perfect record in international play we hadn't won a match in many years. The dropout rate in international play had reached epidemic heights. Dissatisfaction with the ICCF/US had led to near rebellion.

This was when Max the Axe took over the reins from Bob Karch. And so began a new era in international correspondence play for the U.S. Two U.S. players were permanently banned from ICCF/US play. U.S. players began to realize that Max meant business when he said he would clean up U.S. correspondence play. A strict no-drop-out policy was instituted. Silent withdrawals would not be tolerated. Instead, players so doing would be banned from ICCF/US play. A policy of selecting players by rating to represent the U.S. on its teams was instituted. Some players griped about the new strict policies, but most players saw that the result of these policies was an improvement in the climate of U.S. international correspondence chess.

Results began to march in. The U.S. began to actually win matches with other countries. The U.S. team qualified for the Olympic Final for the first time in decades. Max received the title of International Arbiter. Under Max's encouragement, the first USPCF Team Championship was organized between CCLA, USCF, TCC, NOST, and the winner, APCT. Even with the financial collapse of TCC, the tournament continued to its end.

There were other rough spots, such as financial setbacks to the ICCF/US (to the extent of $12,000 to $15,000 a year). Political in-fighting and betrayals cost time, money, and reputations. Max accepted a professorial chair at Stetson University and those duties caused some neglect of his ICCF role.

To solve that neglect, Max brought in Bob Meinert in 1993 to assist with office work and administrative problems. The number of titled U.S. players has mushroomed. When Max took over ICCF/US, there were two U.S. correspondence grandmasters and eight international masters. Now those numbers stand at four and 34 and two international woman correspondence masters. Remarkably, there have been no disputes involving U.S. players in ICCF for a period of four years.

And now Max contemplates leaving the ICCF/US post. His goals and assigned missions have been accomplished. ICCF/US has never been as healthy, and Max believes it is time for a new secretary to build upon his successes. A qualified candidate should be well regarded by his fellow players. He should be financially stable or independent and able to endure the financial losses and expenses of the office. He should be a friend and supporter of small countries and protect their rights, but also be willing to stand up and be counted when it matters. The candidate should act with diplomacy and respect to other cultures, but not be afraid to disagree. He must be able to attend every ICCF meeting to protect the interests of U.S. players.

Finally, it would help if he were a strong player, not in awe of the top players who will sometimes try to bend the rules to satisfy themselves at the expense of others.

Anyone who fits the qualifications listed above is welcome to submit a resume. You will have a tough act to follow.

 

GAME OF THE MONTH

To avoid the specter of a conflict of interest, Max had to give up postal chess, a loss that he still feels today. How well does Max play? Here is an example of his feared attacking style.

 

SICILIAN DEFENSE [B50]

W: Max Zavanelli (2330)

B: P. Schuetze (2170)

VI North American Invitational, 1990

 

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Be2 g6 5. 0-0 Bg7 6. Re1 0-0 7. e5

This line is little explored. ECO gives only 7. Bf1 Nc6 8. h3 e5 with equality, as in Torre-Andersson (Buenos Aires, 1972).

7. ... dxe5 8. Nxe5 Qc7 9. d4 cxd4 10. cxd4 Rd8 11. Nc3 Qb6?! 12. Be3!

If there are such things as typical Max Zavanelli moves, this has to be one of them. Max answers Black's erratic queen move with an "in-your-face" pawn sacrifice to speed up his development. Black, who already has a bad game, chooses to steal the b-pawn, hoping that if he does not get mated, he can queen the extra pawn thirty moves later.

12. Qxb2 13. Nb5 Nd5

Black has to block the a2-g8 diagonal, since 13. ... Na6 14. Bc4! Be6 15. Rb1 wins for White.

14. Rb1 Qxa2 15. Bc4 Qa5 16. Nxf7! Kxf7 17. Qf3+ Bf6 18. Bxd5+ Kg7

After 18. ... e6 19. Bg5, the defense folds.

19. Bf4 Na6 20. Rxe7+!

Another great shot. Max demonstrates his theory of investment: a pawn (on b2) invested at the right moment brings about its own interest, and finally a bold stroke at the maturity of the loan leads to a killing in the market. Here Max shows he is no materialistic banker but a poet at the chessboard.

20. ... Bxe7 21. Be5+ Kh6 22. Qf7 Rg8

There is no defense except resignation. The try 22. ... Rxd5 is handled by 23. Qg7+ Kg5 24. h4+! Kf5 25. Qf7+ Bf6 26. Qxf6+ Ke4 27. Qf3 mate.

23. Qxg8 Qd8 24. Qg7+ Kg5 25. h4+, Black resigns.

White announced mate in five.

 

 The IECG World Championship is underway. I will supply news of this event as it progresses, but readers who want immediate satisfaction may try http://www.eics.com/iecg.

 Michael Downey has won the First Latvian Gambit World Championship Michael, I would like to hear from you about this championship! I hope Michael and other readers with games, questions, or items of interest to postal players will contact me at the address given on page 30.

 Please note a correction to the crosstable published in the July issue. The eleventh place finisher in the 1994 Absolute Championship was Kenneth Jones, not Stephen Jones. Apologies to the Jones boys.

 Congratulations to Paul Thompson who has won first place in the 1996 (12th) CCLA Championship with an undefeated 9-1 score. Paul will finish at least a point and a half ahead of the second place finisher.

 G. Robert Arnold has won the 1989 Grand National, and Erik Osbun has won the 1990 (58th) Grand National. Congratulations, Robert and Erik!

 Two websites worth investigating for postal players are Ralph Marconi's homepage at http://www.angelfire.com/vt/rmarconichesspage. Results of some important ICCF tournaments can be found at Ralph's site. Also Steve Ham is playing an interactive correspondence game. The game is played in real time. Readers choose a move (with or without annotations) and send the move by e-mail. The move with the most votes is played. If you want to contribute moves and share in the analysis, join in there or at the NOST site, http://cc.northcoast.com/~nost/interact.htm. There is also an analysis contest worth investigating.

 From TCCMB (The Correspondence Chess Message Board) here are some Signs You're Playing Too Much Online Chess:

  •  You have a 2 million game database all of your own games.

  •  You think e-mail is for correspondence chess.

  •  Your mother learned to play chess just so you would answer her e-mail.

  •  You bought your son a new computer just to teach him to play chess.

  •  You keep praying your chess computer is better than your opponents'.

  •  You can't play on a regular chess board without grabbing your mouse.

 

 In the eternal battle between knight and bishop, sometimes the knights have their day.

 

MODERN BENONI DEFENSE [A70]

W: Paul Thompson (2423)

B: Stephen Wolff (2271)

1996 CCLA Championship

 

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 d6 8. 0-0 e5 9. Ng5 0-0 10. f4 exd4 11. cxd4 cxd4 12. exd4 h6 13. Nf3 d5 14. c5 Bg4 15. Qa4 Bxf3 16. Rxf3 Re8 17. Bb2 Qd7 18. Rff1 Re7 19. Rad1 Rae8 20. Qa3 Ng4 21. Rf3 Ne3 22. Re1 Nf5 23. Rxe7 Rxe7 24. Qa4 Re1+ 25. Bf1 Qe8 26. Bc3 Nfxd4 27. Bxe1 Nxf3+ 28. gxf3 Qxe1 29. Kg2 Qd2+ 30. Kg3 Qe3 31. Qb3 Qg1+ 32. Bg2 Nd4 33. Qd3 Qe1+ 34. Kh3 Ne2 35. Qf5 g6, White resigns.

 

 Paul Thompson shows his championship style in this razor sharp win over the redoubtable Stephen Wolff. When Black errs on Move 19, Thompson shows him the executioner's blade.

 

ALBIN COUNTER GAMBIT [D08]

W: Lou Gee (1697)

B: Don Cotten (2025)

CCLA Team Match, 1998

 

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. e4 Bg7 8. h3 0-0 9. Bd3 b5 10. Nxb5 Re8 11. 0-0 Nxe4 12. Re1 a6 13. Na3 Nf6 14. Rxe8+ Nxe8 15. Bg5 Bf6 16. Qd2 Ra7 17. Nc4 Bxg5 18. Nxg5 Re7 19. Qf4 Nd7 20. Nxd6 Ne5 21. Nxc8 Qxc8 22. Bf1 Qb7 23. Rd1 Qxb2 24. d6 Rd7 25. Re1 f6 26. Bc4+ Kh8 27. Be6 Nd3 28. Qe3 Nxe1 29. Bxd7 Nxd6 30. Qe7 Nf3+ 31. Nxf3, Black resigns.

 

 Don Cotten not only plays the Albin Counter Gambit, he plays it well. The extrication of his invading minor pieces from a tight situation resembles a bishop and knight contortionist act.

 

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. e4 Nc6 5. f4 f6 6. exf6 Nxf6 7. e5 Ng4 8. Nf3 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Ne3 10. Qb3 Na5 11. Qd3 Bf5 12. Qe2 Nc2+ 13. Kd1 Nxa1 14. Bxb4 Nc6 15. Bc5 Bxb1 16. Qd2 Bxa2 17. b4 Bb3+ 18. Kc1 Ba4 19. Qa2 Nb3+ 20. Kb1 Nxc5 21. bxc5 Bd1 22. Qa3 Bxf3, White resigns.

 

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