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

"A chess player must love correspondence chess the way he loves his child." - Grigory Sanakoev, XII World Correspondence Chess Champion

N. Eric Pedersen Earns ICCM

N. Eric Pedersen has earned the title of International Correspondence Chess Master, and he has done it the hard way - by playing against the best everywhere and anywhere. Eric doesn't know when he started to play chess, but he does know why: since he couldn't beat his grandfather at checkers, Eric purchased a chess set with his allowance to play against his grandfather and began a long love affair with the game.

Eric has made his mark in many important tournaments. He has played in five Golden Knights, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1974, and 1975. He always made it to the finals and finished a clear fourth in 1979. In 1976 he was invited to play in the first USCF Absolute Championship, and later he played in the 1977, 1980, and 1981 Absolutes.

In 1972 Eric joined CCLA and played in five United States Correspondence Chess Championships, playing in the finals of the fourth and seventh. Eric also won the 1974 Master Class Championship of CCLA.

In 1977 he joined APCT where he played in the first APCT King tournament (similar to USCF's Absolute) where he finished tied for third. Being a member of USCF, APCT, and CCLA, Eric wonders when there will be another National Team Championship (where, incidentally, Eric scored 4-2 on Board 9).

In 1975 Eric began playing international correspondence. He has won two ICCF 15-man Master tournaments and tied for first in a third. He has twice represented the United States on Board 2 in the ICCF Olympiads. It is here, in international competition, that Eric has earned his title. He keeps about 85 games going, a comfortable load for him. Although he is a big fan of electronic mail, he prefers correspondence chess in the traditional way - with picture postcards, colorful stamps, and handwritten notes. He thinks it is more fun that way.

Eric's advice to those who would like to attain the International Master title: avoid clerical errors and choose an opening system that you are comfortable with. Understand the underlying principles thoroughly. Avoid the latest fashion. Think for yourself.


The King's Gambit hasn't had a high reputation since Fischer's "refutation" was printed nearly 40 years ago. This doesn't stop a man who thinks for himself, however.

KING'S GAMBIT ACCEPTED [C38] N. Eric Pedersen (2330) Domingo Taiana (2335) ICCF Master Tournament 1993

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 d6 4. Bc4 h6

The last two moves begin Fischer's analysis, a move order designed to infuriate the classicists and strengthen Black's defense.

5. d4 g5 6. 0-0 Bg7 7. c3 Nc6 8. g3 g4 9. Nh4 f3

This is the modern way of playing the King's Gambit - White has sacrificed a pawn for the better center, development, and some strong squares on the kingside, f4 and f5. In some cases White will sacrifice on f3 for play on the f-file as in a Muzio Gambit.

10. Qb3 Qe7

ECO gives 10. ... Qd7 11. Nd2 Na5 12. Qc2 Nxc4 13. Nxc4 Ne7 14. Ne3 Qc6 with advantage to Black as in Kaplan-Karpov (Stockholm, 1969).

11. Bf4 Nf6 12. Nd2 Nh5 13. Be3 a6 14. Rae1 Nd8

With the lineup of king, queen, and rook on the e-file, Black would be better off castling if it weren't for 15. Ng6. Now white lightning rolls through the center as Black fights to keep the e-file closed.

15. Nf5! Qf6 16. Nxg7+ Nxg7 17. e5! dxe5 18. dxe5 Qe7

Nor can Black find safety with 18. ... Qc6 19. Bd5 Qb5 20. Ne4 Qxb3? because of 21. Nf6+ Ke7 22. Bc5 mate. The e-file has been kept closed, but the f6-square is fatally weak.

19. Ne4 b5 20. Nf6+ Kf8 21. Nd5 Qd7 22. Qa3+, Black resigns.

Not all draws are of the grandmaster variety. Every once in a while a draw like the following game is played, a board-wide struggle that only ends when material is almost totally exhausted. Here two of our top players get to show off their imaginations.

SICILIAN DEFENSE [B66] Lloyd Rawley (2413) Ken Jones (2409) 1995 Absolute Championship

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. 0-0-0 h6 9. Bf4 Bd7 10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. f3 d5 12. Qe1 Bb4 13. a3 Ba5 14. exd5 Nxd5 15. b4 Nxf4 16. Rxd8+ Bxd8 17. Ne4 0-0 18. g3 Nd5 19. Bd3 b5 20. Rf1 a5 21. c3 axb4 22. axb4 Bb6 23. Nc5 Bxc5 24. bxc5 Ra3 25. Qe4 g6 26. Rf2 Rc8 27. Qd4 Nxc3 28. Rc2 b4 29. Kd2 Nd5 30. f4 Rc7 31. Ke1 Rd7 32. Rd2 Rc3 33. Qe5 Rc1+ 34. Kf2 Rh1 35. h4 Nc7 36. Ke3 Rg1 37. Be4 Re1+ 38. Re2 Rxe2+ 39. Kxe2 f6 40. Bxc6 fxe5 41. Bxd7 exf4 42. gxf4 Kf7 43. Kd3 Kf6 44. Bc6 Kf5 45. Be4+ Kg4 46. Kc4 Kxh4 47. Kxb4 Kg4 48. Ka5 g5 49. Kb6 Ne8 50. fxg5 hxg5 51. Bg6 Nf6 52. c6 Kf4 53. Kc5 Nd5 54. Kd6 g4 55. Kxe6 Nc7+ 56. Kd7 g3 57. Be4 Kxe4 58. Kxc7 g2, draw.

David Rudofsky (Mt. Kisco, NY) knows he has to beat lesser rated players. Opposite side castling is the most efficient method in this gamelet.

QUEEN PAWN OPENING [D02] John Cragg (1887) David Rudofsky (2310) 1998 Golden Knights

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 c6 3. Nbd2 Bf5 4. Nh4 Bg4 5. Nhf3 Nd7 6. e4 dxe4 7. Nxe4 Ngf6 8. Ng3 e6 9. h3 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 Qc7 11. Bd3 Bd6 12. 0-0 0-0-0 13. c4 c5 14. Be3 cxd4 15. Bxd4 Bc5 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Be2 f5 18. Rfd1 Rdg8 19. Nf1 Rg6 20. Ne3 f4 21. Ng4 f5 22. Nh2 Rhg8 23. Bf1 Rg3 24. Qh5 Qc6, White resigns.

Facing a seemingly impossible defensive task, White finds a fiendish defensive resource on Move 19 that turns the attack topsy-turvy.

TWO KNIGHT'S DEFENSE [C57] Wilkes-Barre Variation Tadeusz Szafranski (2411) Daniel Dudzik (2071) Thematic Tournament 1998

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7. Ke3 Qe7 8. c3 Nd4 9. Kxe4 Qh4+ 10. Ke3 Qf4+ 11. Kd3 d5 12. Bxd5 Bf5+ 13. Kc4 b5+ 14. Kc5 Qh4 15. Nxe5 0-0-0 16. c4 Rxd5+ 17. cxd5 Rd8 18. Nc3 Nc6 19. Qg4 Bxg4 20. Nxc6 Bf3 21. d3 Bxg2 22. Nxd8 Bxh1 23. Nc6 a6 24. Be3 Qxh2 25. Rf1 Kb7 26. Rf2 Qg3 27. Kd4 Bxd5 28. Na5+ Kb6 29. Nxd5+ Kxa5 30. Rc2 Qh4+ 31. Kc5 b4 32. b3 Qd8 33. a3 Qd6+ 34. Kd4, Black resigns.


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