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Alex Dunne: The Check is in the Mail
March 1999. Additional Alex Dunne columns are available in the Correspondence Chess Forum.

Robert Jacobs has learned the secret of perpetual youth in chess. Winning the first USCF Absolute Championship, tying for first in the 1972 Golden Knights, dominating the USCF rating list in the mid-Seventies, Robert M. Jacobs has just been awarded the title of International Correspondence Chess Master for his performance in the Second Anglo-Pacific Bureau Championship. A retired 70-plus aerospace executive living in St. Louis with his wife Irene, Robert devotes most of his energy to golf, travel, free-lance writing, and chess.

Jacobs was born in 1928 in Pittsburgh, Penn. By 1941 Robert had moved to Detroit and had discovered chess books. This lead to a deepening interest in the game, both OTB and postal. Robert was one of the first Life Masters in OTB play and now has become a member of an even more select group, an ICCM. He certainly deserves the accolades!


Robert's opponent in the following game is no piscatorial postal player. Dan Fleetwood's chess muscles are well known. Robert convincingly demonstrates how a queen can defeat two rooks.

SICILIAN DEFENSE [B20] W: Robert Jacobs (2415) B: Dan Fleetwood (2495) Second Anglo-Pacific Bureau Championship, 1998

1. e4 c5 2. g3 d5

The exclamation mark given this move in some opening texts has probably dissuaded thousands of chessplayers from investigating an interesting variation.

3. exd5 Qxd5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Bg2 Qe6+ 6. Kf1

Who has the edge here? White with his king misplaced on f1, or Black with his queen log-jamming on e6?

6. ... Nc6 7. h3 Bh5 8. d3 Qd7 9. Nbd2 Nf6 10. g4 Bg6 11. Nc4 Qc7 12. Bg5

White has completed the development of his minor pieces while Black is still at least two moves away from that goal.

12. ... Nd7 13. Nh4 0-0-0 14. Qe1 f6 15. Nxg6 hxg6 16. Be3 e5 17. Be4 g5 18. Kg2 Kb8 19. Qe2 Nb6 20. Nxb6 Qxb6 21. c3 Qc7

White's two bishops are an advantage in this position. The bishop on e4 dominates the kingside and fires a laser at the queenside. With the following pawn sacrifice, Jacobs opens up the queenside for both bishops.

22. b4! cxb4 23. Rhc1!

Black can't pocket the pawn; after 23. ... bxc3 24. Rxc3 Be7 25. Rac1 Rd6 26. Qc2 Rc8 27. Qa4!, Black is under too much pressure.

23. ... Qd7 24. Rab1 Be7 25. Qf3

Jacobs illustrates how much Black's position needs the light-squared bishop to protect his king. Our new ICCM demonstrates with geometrical precision that c6 or b7 must fall.

25. ... Rh6 26. cxb4 Rdh8 27. b5 Nd4 28. Bxd4 Qxd4

Black can't confuse the issue with 28. ... Rxh3 because 29. Bxa7+ Kxa7 30. b6+ Kb8 31. Rc7! Rxf3 32. Rxd7 Rfh3 33. Rc1! puts an end to his struggles.

29. Rc4 Qb6 30. Rbc1 Ba3 31. R1c2 Rd8 32. Rc7!

Black was prevented from opening the h-file by 31. ... Rxh3? 32. Qxh3 Rxh3 33. Rc8 mate, but now it is White who offers two rooks for the queen, after which the light squares will belong to White.

32. ... Qxc7 33. Rxc7 Kxc7 34. Bxb7 f5 35. Ba6 fxg4

Dan Fleetwood is wise in the ways of chess, too. Though his choice is ultimately futile, he turns to counterattack. If he dies, at least he dies fighting.

36. hxg4 Rdh8 37. Qb7+ Kd6 38. Qc6+ Ke7 39. Qc7+ Kf6 40. b6!

White clears the queenside so that the bishop on a3 becomes a target.

40. ... Rh2+ 41. Kf1 axb6 42. Qxb6+ Ke7 43. Bc4 Rf8 44. Qc7+ Kf6 45. Kg1 Rh6 46. Qb6+ Ke7 47. Qa7+, Black resigns.

Here is a limerick by chess e-historian Bill Wall.

Postal chess is here to stay And no reason why I shouldn't play. It is nice and slow I can use my ECO, It's the postage I can't afford to pay.

Dan Modes suggests that this battle could be labeled "He who queens last, laughs last." Settle down to enjoy a battle royal!

CARO-KANN DEFENSE [B12] W: Dan Modes (2069) B: John Dragonetti (2017) 1997 Golden Knights

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nc3 e6 5. g4 Bg6 6. Nge2 Bb4 7. h4 Be4 8. Rh3 h5 9. Ng3 c5 10. Bg5 Qb6 11. a3 hxg4 12. axb4 gxh3 13. dxc5 Qc7 14. Ngxe4 h2 15. Nd6+ Qxd6 16. exd6 h1=Q 17. Qe2 Kf8 18. Qb5 d4 19. d7 Nxd7 20. Qxd7 f6 21. Qxd4 fxg5 22. hxg5 Ne7 23. Qf4+ Kg8 24. 0-0-0 Qh4 25. Qe5 Qg4 26. Be2 Qf5 27. Qc7 Qxg5+ 28. f4 Qh4 29. Bc4 Kh7 30. Bxe6 b6 31. Ne4 Rhf8 32. Ng5+ Kh6 33. Nf7+ Kh7 34. Kb1 Qh5 35. Rd3 Ng6 36. Ng5+ Kh6 37. Rh3 Nh4 38. Nf3 Nxf3 39. Rxh5+ Kxh5 40. Bd5 Kg4 41. Bxa8 Rxa8 42. c6 Nd2+ 43. Kc1 Ne4 44. Qe5 Kf3 45. Qe6 Rh8 46. b3 Rh6 47. Qd7 Kxf4 48. c7 Nd6 49. Qxg7 Re6 50. Qf8+, Black resigns.

When the top-rated USCF player ever meets the current U.S. Champion on Board 1 in a match between two postal clubs vying for supremacy, blood will run on the board. This is war chess, where victory will come only after maximum efforts.

SICILIAN DEFENSE [B87] W: Jon Edwards (2420) B: John Penquite (2863) APCT-ASPCC Match 1998

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 b5 8. 0-0 Be7 9. Qf3 Qc7 10. Qg3 0-0 11. Re1 b4 12. Na4 Bd7 13. c3 Bxa4 14. Bxa4 bxc3 15. bxc3 Rc8 16. Bh6 Bf8 17. Re3 Nbd7 18. Rae1 Qa5 19. Bb3 Nh5 20. Qh3 gxh6 21. Nxe6 Ndf6 22. g4 Ng7 23. Nxf8 Rxf8 24. e5 dxe5 25. Rf3 Qd8 26. Qh4 Nfe8 27. Qxh6 Qd6 28. Qxd6 Nxd6 29. Rxe5 Ra7 30. Rd3 Re8 31. Red5 Re1+ 32. Kg2 Nde8 33. f3 Rae7 34. Kg3 R7e2 35. Rd1 Ne6 36. Bc4 Rxd1 37. Rxd1 Rc2 38. Bxa6 N8c7 39. Bb7 Nb5 40. f4 Nxc3 41. Ra1 Ne2+ 42. Kf3 N2xf4 43. a4 Rc3+ 44. Kf2 Nd3+ 45. Kg1 Rc7 46. Be4 Ndc5 47. Bg2 Ra7 48. a5 Nb3 49. Ra3 Nec5 50. Bd5 Rxa5 51. Rxb3 Nxb3 52. Bxb3 Rb5 53. Bc4 Rb2 54. h3 Kg7 55. Bd5 Kf6 56. h4 h6 57. Bc4 Rd2 58. Kh1 Rd4, White resigns.

Stephen Ham is currently playing the NOST membership in an interactive challenge game. The NOST members send their move to NOST. The move that receives the most votes is sent to Stephen, who then makes his move. In the first game of the series, Stephen defeats the NOST group handily. You can find the new game and NOST at

NIMZO-INDIAN DEFENSE [E37] W: Stephen Ham (2422) B: NOST players Internet Postal 1998

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 c5 8. dxc5 Nc6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Nf3 Bf5 11. b4 Ng3 12. Qb2 Nxh1 13. Qxg7 Rf8 14. Bh6 Qe7 15. Qxf8+ Qxf8 16. Bxf8 Kxf8 17. g3 Be4 18. Bg2 Nxf2 19. Kxf2 Re8 20. Rd1 a6 21. Bh3 Rd8 22. Nd4 Nxd4 23. Rxd4 Ke7 24. Ke3 Kf6 25. Kf4 Rg8 26. a4 Ke7 27. Bf5 Bxf5 28. Kxf5 h6 29. Rh4, Black resigns


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