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Alex Dunne
September 1999. Additional Alex Dunne columns are available in the Correspondence Chess Forum.

Congratulations!," the letter begins, "... as the ICCF Secretary for the United States, it is my duty and honor to officially congratulate you ...." Yes, we will have a new International Correspondence Chess Master this month. Doug Eckert will receive his title for his outstanding play in the Pappier Memorial B tournament.

Doug Eckert (Memphis, TN) is 34 years old, married, with three children. Doug's name might be familiar to many OTB players - he was the 1983 and 1984 U.S. Junior Open Champion and four times champion of Missouri. Doug has some strong views on postal play. In international play he automatically assumes his opponent is using a computer or database. Sometimes this allows Doug to win games right from the start by identifying a weakness in his opponent's repertoire.

Doug has a postal library consisting of the entire New in Chess series, most of the Informants, and ECO. Doug has some specialized opening books, but he prefers quality authors such as Nunn, Seirawan, and Gallagher to quantity. His other books are classics such as Alekhine's Best Games or Zurich 1953 and chess books he simply enjoys.

Doug also believes e-mail is a wonderful innovation that should increase the popularity of the game. He believes, however, that 10 e-mail games are the equivalent of 50 regular mail games. Taking on too many e-mail games at one time is likely to lead to a drop in the quality of play due to game overload. Here is an example of Doug's quality play:


There were about 20 games in Doug's database where Alexander Czerwonski played 5. b3. Doug was fairly sure, then, of what to expect. That foresight and some deep study led to a nice win.

W: Alexander Czerwonski (2395)
B: Doug Eckert (2323)
Pappier Memorial B 1998

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 d5 6. Bg2 c5 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. Bb2 Rc8 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Bh3?!

Eckert-Contoski (8th USCCC) continued 11. dxc5 d4!? 12. Nb1 bxc5 when Black had good play and went on to win. Black's 11. ... d4 is a Contoski innovation.

11. ... Rb8 12. dxc5 d4 13. Nb1

White loses a piece after 13. Na4? b5 14. Qd3 Bc8!.

13. ... bxc5 14. a3

White can't play 14. Nbd2 because of 14. ... c4!. Unable to develop in normal fashion, White's game is inferior.

14. ... 0-0 15. Ra2 Qd5 16. Nbd2 Na5 17. Bg2 Qe6

Avoiding 18. Nxd4 and eyeing the e-pawn.

18. Ng5 Qe5 19. Nge4?

Eckert notes that this is the losing move, suggesting 19. Ngf3 Qxe2 20. Qxe2 Bxe2 21. Re1 d3 22. Bf1 Nxb3 23. Bxe2 dxe2 24. Rxe2 with chances to draw.

19. ... Nxe4 20. Bxe4 Nxb3 21. Bxh7+ Kxh7, White resigns.

White faces a hopeless task after 22. Nxb3 Qxe2 23. Qxe2 Bxe2 24. Re1 Rxb3 25. Rxe2 Bf6 and the two passed pawns will score.

I have just had the joy of reading what I consider to be the best biographical correspondence book ever written. World Champion at the Third Attempt by Grigory Sanakoev is a book rich in postal lore, advice, brilliant games (wins and losses), and brilliant annotations. You will learn much about life at the top of the heap and chess "amateur" Grigory Sanakoev, the XII World Correspondence Chess Champion. I recommend this book to all postal players.

Richard Laurie, the author of Knight of the Id, a play based on the death of Alexander Alekhine, describing his library of over 300 volumes, notes his two prized possessions: a rebound fifth edition of Philidor (London 1817), and Frank Marshall's personal copy of the 1924 NY tournament book by Alekhine.

Great players frequently make it look easy. In the following game Italian ICCM Porreca makes a TN, sacrifices an Exchange for the attack, sacs a piece to open up the White king, keeps his own king safe, but has to resign faced with Sanakoev's iron defense.

W: ICCM Grigory Sanakoev
B: ICCM Giorgio Porreca
VIII World Championship Semifinals 1975

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. Bd2 Ne7 6. dxc5 Nec6 7. Qg4 0-0 8. Bh6 g6 9. Bxf8 Qxf8 10. Nge2 Qxc5 11. 0-0-0 Nxe5 12. Qg3 Nc4 13. Nf4 Nxb2 14. Kxb2 Ba3+ 15. Ka1 d4 16. Nb5 Bb4 17. c3 Ba5 18. cxd4 Qf8 19. h4 a6 20. h5 Qg7 21. Nd6 Bd7 22. h6 Qf8 23. Ne4 Ba4 24. Bc4 Nc6 25. Bb3, Black resigns.

James Johnson (State College, Pennsylvania) writes that in over 40 years of playing chess, this is the first game he has played without a single piece or pawn leaving the board. It is death by strangulation.

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c5 4. 0-0 Nc6 5. d3 e5 6. e4 d4 7. Nbd2 Be7 8. a4 0-0 9. h3 h6 10. Nc4 Nd7 11. Nh2 Kh7 12. f4 f6 13. f5 Qe8 14. Bf3 Rh8 15. Bh5 Qf8 16. a5 Ndb8 17. c3 Nd8 18. Bg6+ Kg8 19. Qb3 Nf7 20. g4 Nc6 21. Nf3 Rb8 22. Bd2 Bd7 23. Be1 Qd8 24. Nd6, Black resigns.

The 10th U.S. Correspondence Champion Jon Edwards has a web site worth checking out. For an in-depth analysis of the following game try

W: James Johnson (2013)
B: Russell Andrade (1974)
1996 Golden Knights

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 d6 6. Be3 Rb8 7. Qd2 b5 8. f4 b4 9. Nd1 Qb6 10. Nf3 f5 11. 0-0 Nh6 12. h3 0-0 13. Nh4 a5 14. g4 Nd4 15. exf5 gxf5 16. g5 Nf7 17. c3 Nb5 18. Rc1 Nh8 19. Bf2 Bb7 20. Ne3 Bxg2 21. Nhxg2 Ng6 22. h4 e5 23. Nd5 Qb7 24. c4 Nc7 25. Nxc7 Qxc7 26. Bg3 Rbe8 27. Rce1 Qc6 28. h5 exf4 29. Nxf4 Rxe1 30. Bxe1 Nxf4 31. Rxf4 Qe8 32. Rh4 Bxb2 33. Bf2 Bc3 34. Qd1 a4 35. d4 cxd4 36. Rxd4 Bxd4 37. Qxd4 Qxh5 38. Qd5+ Qf7, White resigns.


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The US Chess Federation is the official sanctioning body for tournament chess in the United States, and for US participation in international chess events. It has over 80,000 members. In addition to rating tournaments, the USCF supports and promotes chess activities in scholastics and correspondence chess. The USCF publishes two national magazines, CHESS LIFE and SCHOOLMATES (for children).

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