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

Over-the-board chess is the favorite of mortals, correspondence chess is the favorite of the gods. - Eduard Dyckhoff

Here Comes Olita!

Over-the-board chess has had its Vera Menchik and now recognizes Judit Polgar as a woman who can hold her own with any male opponent. The correspondence world also has its female superstars. First there was Mrs. J. W. Gilbert who once announced mate in 35 against a top class (male) opponent, then there was Luba Kristol, two time Women's World Correspondence Champion, and now Olita Rause has staked her claim.

The November 1998 issue of Chess Mail shows that Olita Rause, with a rating of 2622, clearly stands near the top of the ICCF ratings list. This Latvian lady finished a clear first in the VI World Cup Final with an undefeated 13-3. The World Cup is the postal equivalent of the World Open. Anyone can enter, and after some qualifying rounds a winner eventually emerges who is arguably the best open player in the world.

Olita also finished an undefeated second in the 45th European Championship with 11 out of 14. In qualifying rounds she scored 14-0 and 13 1/2-1/2. Ms. Rausis, already a FIDE women's grandmaster, has never played in a ladies-only correspondence tournament.

She is married to OTB Grandmaster Igors Rausis. They have two daughters, ages 11 and 9. She works as an editor translating foreign literature into Latvian while studying for her masters' degree in philology. Besides the challenge of raising her family, Olita notes that there is one ambition left to her - "The (real) World Championship!" So look out, men. Here comes Olita!


Olita makes it look oh so easy, but the tactics are backed up with some sharp positional play. When the end comes, it is more mercy than murder.

QUEEN PAWN GAME [D06] H. Berglof (2440) Olita Rause (2662) World Cup, 1996

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Bf5

This might take an OTB player out of book, but a postal player could locate Owen-Burn (Horton, 1887). Rause's choice is growing in popularity after an absence of almost 100 years from active play.

3. c4 e6

Owen-Burn continued 3. ... c6 4. Qb3.

4. Qb3 Nc6

Is this a tacit offer of a draw? - 5. Qxb7 Nb4 6. Ne5 Rb8 7. Qxa7 Ra8 8. Qb7 Rb8 - or did Olita have something up her sleeve?

5. Bd2 Rb8 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. Bg5 Na5 9. Qa4+

More conservative is 9. Qd1 c6 10. e3 Qb6 11. Qc1 Ne4 12. Bf4 which was equal in Borges-Perez (Matanzas, 1997).

9. ... c6 10. Bxf6 gxf6

Black has compensation for her pawn structure. The ugly f-pawns control e6 and e5. The two bishops are active, Black dominates the c4 square, and watch that rook on b8!

11. e3 b5! 12. Qd1 Nc4 13. Qc1 Qa5!

The start of a brilliant maneuver to establish her dominance on the queenside.

14. Be2 Qb4! 15. Nh4 Bg6 16. b3?!

Best is 16. Nxg6 hxg6 17. b3 when Black has a clear edge, but White can play on for awhile.

16. ... Qa5 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. bxc4?

White's game is weak, but this is the losing move. Best is 18. 0-0. Now White's game collapses suddenly.

18. ... Ba3 19. Qd2 bxc4 20. e4 Rb2 21. Qe3 Rc2, White resigns.

For many years I believed the if-move was unique to postal chess. Recently, while looking through some old Chess Life magazines, I discovered I was wrong. A game McGrath-Aronson (Subotica, 1967), arrived at the following position:


Here McGrath reached out and played 11. Bxa6. And then she played 11. ... Nxa6. And then she played 12. Qe2 and 12. ... Nb8 and 13. f4. Black, the United States' Eva Aronson, called the tournament director. As it turned out, McGrath was a correspondence player playing in her first OTB tournament and was simply playing out an if-move series to save time.

Chuck Pickett charges into his opponent, a Swedish detective inspector, but it is Pickett who solves the case, announcing mate in six starting with 23. Rg1+.

RUY LOPEZ [C64] Chuck Pickett (2351) Allan Jonasson (2345) U.S. vs. Sweden, 1999

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 4. c3 Nge7 5. 0-0 Bb6 6. d4 exd4 7. cxd4 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Re1+ Be6 10. Bg5 Qd6 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Ne4 Qb4 13. Bxc6+ bxc6 14. Qc1 0-0 15. a3 Qb3 16. Bxh6 gxh6 17. Qxh6 Qxb2 18. Rab1 Qa2 19. g4 f6 20. g5 Rf7 21. gxf6 Bf5 22. Kh1 Bh7 23. Rg1+ Kh8 24. Ne5 Nxf6 25. Nxf6 Qd5+ 26. Nxd5 Raf8 27. Nf6 Rxf6 28. Qg7 mate.

A new idea in the Morra Gambit catches a famous opponent. Gambiteers take note! White's 11th move is a suggestion of John Nunn's.

SICILIAN DEFENSE [B21] Warrick Walker Eric Schiller Thematic CC 1999

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 e6 5. Nf3 Bc5 6. Bc4 d6 7. 0-0 a6 8. a3 Ne7 9. b4 Ba7 10. Bf4 e5 11. Ng5 exf4 12. Nxf7 Qc7 13. Rc1 0-0 14. Ng5+ Qxc4 15. Nd5 Qxf1+ 16. Kxf1 Nbc6 17. Nxe7+ Nxe7 18. Rc7 f3 19. Rxe7 fxg2+ 20. Kxg2 Rxf2+ 21. Kg3, Black resigns.

In this conservative age prisoners sometimes are thought of as being pampered. The anonymous prisoner in this game is only one of many who have fashioned chess sets out of rolled up bread crumbs to make a chess set. Charitable readers who have materials to give to prisoners can contact James Schroeder, 2921 S.E. Alder #3, Portland, OR 97214.

White defeats his opponent handily in the following game, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

KING'S GAMBIT [C37] James Schroeder Convict Correspondence, 1998

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. d4 g4 5. Bc4 gxf3 6. Qxf3 d5 7. Bxd5 Nf6 8. Nc3 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 c6 10. Nxf4 Qxd4 11. Be3 Qb4+ 12. c3 Qc4 13. Rf1 Bd6 14. Nd5 Be6 15. Nf6+ Kd8 16. Rd1 Kc7 17. Rxd6 Kxd6 18. Qf4+ Ke7 19. Qc7+ Nd7 20. Bg5 h6 21. Nxd7+ hxg5 22. Ne5+ Kf8 23. Nxc4 Bxc4 24. Qe5, Black resigns.


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