All right. The chess bug has bitten you. You have heard many reports about the benefits of playing correspondence chess, how it will help you learn openings and how it will teach you in-depth analysis of middlegame positions. You have decided to join a club, but which one? This month I shall review the major correspondence organizations.

ASPCC (All Services Postal Chess Club): Haskell Sikes, ASPCC Director, 1805 S. Van Buren St., Amarillo, TX 79102-3058. A somewhat informal club, originally for servicemen, is now open to all. All games are rated and free. There is a magazine, King's Korner, and e-mail tournaments are offered. Dues are $12 a year.

APCT (American Postal Chess Tournaments): APCT, P.O. Box 305, Western Springs, IL 60558-0305. Arguably the strongest of the U.S. clubs, this organization is for more experienced postal players. Prize money is offered to winners of various tournaments. The house organ is the APCT News Bulletin and e-mail tournaments are offered. Dues are $20 a year.

CCLA (Correspondence Chess League of America): CCLA Business Office, P.O. Box 59625, Schaumburg, IL 60159-0625. The oldest postal club, this club sports a rich history and strong players. The Chess Correspondent is the oldest magazine devoted to American postal chess. E-mail tournaments are supported. Dues of $20 are prorated depending on what time of year a member joins.

ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation): Max Zavanelli, 1642 N. Volusia Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763. There are neither individual memberships or dues in this organization. ICCF/US allows individuals to compete at the international level and for the U.S. championship. In general, this organization is for strong and dedicated players via both mail and e-mail.

NOST (Knights of the Square Table): Tony Gardner, 1444 Meadowind Ct., Conyers, GA 30094-6258. The smallest of the major clubs, NOST specializes in regular chess and its variants (giveaway, Gothic chess, etc.). The NOST magazine Nostalgia comes out quarterly. There are no specialized e-mail tournaments. Dues are $20 a year.

USCF (United States Chess Federation): USCF, 3054 US Route 9W, New Windsor, NY 12553. The largest of the postal organizations, this is the organization for neophytes and Masters alike. Sponsoring both regular mail and e-mail tournaments, the dues are $40 a year for regular membership. There is a charge for tournaments. One drawback is the high percentage of dropouts.

Finally, offering e-mail tournaments only, and free to join and participate, are the following:

IECC: International E-mail Chess Club,

IECG: International E-mail Chess Group:

UECC: Universal E-mail Chess Club: www.lobocom/es/~ebailen/club.html

WCCF (World Correspondence Chess Federation) wccf.


John Mousessian has turned his eyes toward international play and is currently stalking the International Correspondence Chess Master title in the Henricksen Memorial. He shows his subtle skills in this game.

W: Soren Larsen (2303)
B: John Mousessian (2466)
Arne Henriksen Memorial, 2000

1. Nc3

Sometimes known as the Henriksen Opening, this is an appropriate choice for this tournament.

1. ... d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nxe4 e5 4. Bb5+ c6 5. Bc4 Nf6 6. Qe2

This seems too easy - Black equalizes now.

6. ... Nxe4+ 7. Qxe4 Bd6 8. Nf3 0-0 9. d3 Nd7 10. Bg5 Qb6 11. 0-0-0

White looks for major battles, but Black's attack comes first.

11. ... Nc5 12. Qe2 Qc7 13. d4 exd4 14. Nxd4 b5 15. Bd3 a5 16. Qf3 Nxd3+ 17. Rxd3 Ra6 18. h4 a4 19. Nf5 Bxf5 20. Qxf5 a3 21. b3 c5 22. Rd5

22. ... c4!

With this brilliant sacrifice, Black permanently ruptures White's king shield.

23. Rxb5 cxb3 24. Rxb3 Rc8 25. Rd1 g6 26. Qd3 Be5 27. Kb1 Rd6 28. Qe2 Re6 29. Rdd3 Bg7 30. Be3 Rc6 31. Qd1 Rxc2 32. Rd7 Qe5 33. Rd8+ Bf8 34. Qd4 Qe7!, White resigns.

At first sight, resignation looks premature, but White cannot organize an adequate defense of his king: 35. Rxc8 Rxc8 36. h5 Bg7 36. Qd5 Qf6 and White falls apart.

The Hames Award is presented to the most outstanding postal game published in this column during the last year, one for the best master game and one for the best non-master game. This year the nominees in the non-master division are Aliberti-Zuppa and Buhalo-Bulloch, both in July's column. The winner is David Bulloch. The nominees in the Master category are Betancurt-Kubach, March; Fleetwood-Johnson, October; and Craig Jones-Morrison, November. And the winner is Craig Jones. Congratulations, gentlemen!

W: John Buhalo (1844)
B: David Bulloch (1901)
USCF CC, 1999

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. Nf3 g6 5. cxb5 a6 6. Qc2 Qb6 7. e4 axb5 8. Nc3 b4 9. Na4 Rxa4 10. Qxa4 Nxe4 11. Qc2 f5 12. Be3 d6 13. Bd3 Bg7 14. 0-0 Nf6 15. Bc4 0-0 16. h3 Bb7 17. Rfd1 Na6 18. Rac1 Nc7 19. b3 Nfxd5 20. Ne1 Kh8 21. Nf3 Nxe3 22. fxe3 Bxf3 23. gxf3 f4 24. e4 Bd4+ 25. Kh2 Na6 26. Qe2 Nb8 27. Qg2 Nc6 28. Rc2 Ne5 29. Bd5 Rf6 30. h4 Qd8 31. Qh3 e6 32. Bc4 d5 33. exd5 Qa8 34. Be2 Qxd5 35. Qf1 Rf5 36. Kg2 Rh5 37. Bc4 Qc6 38. Qe2 Ng4 39. Rxd4 Ne3+ 40. Qxe3 fxe3 41. Re4 e5, White resigns.

W: Craig Jones (2292)
B: Jackson Morrison (2343)
12 USCCC, 2000

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 0-0 8. c3 d6 9. h3 Bb7 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a4 h6 13. Bc2 Qd7 14. b3 exd4 15. cxd4 Nb4 16. Bb1 g6 17. axb5 Qxb5 18. d5 c6 19. Bb2 Nh5 20. Nd4 Qc5 21. Ne6 fxe6 22. e5 cxd5 23. Qg4 Bg7 24. Bxg6 Rf8 25. Nf3 Nf4 26. Bd4 h5 27. Bxh5 Qc2 28. exd6 Nxh5 29. Bxg7 Nxg7 30. Rac1 Qxb3 31. Rc7 Rf7 32. Rxf7 Kxf7 33. Ng5+ Kg8 34. Nxe6 Qc3 35. Re3 Qa1+ 36. Kh2 Bc8 37. Rg3 Bxe6 38. Qxe6+ Kh7 39. Qg6+ Kg8 40. Rg4 Rf8 41. Qe6+ Rf7 42. d7 Nc6 43. Qxc6 Qe5+ 44. Rg3 Qb8 45. Qxd5 Qd8 46. Rd3, Black resigns.

W: Harold Stenzel (2014)
B: John Hillery (2165)
1998 Golden Knights

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Qf3 Rb8 9. Bd3 h6 10. Ne4 Nd5 11. Ng3 g6 12. 0-0 Bg7 13. Re1 0-0 14. Bf1 h5 15. Qd1 f5 16. d3 c5 17. Nd2 h4

The position at move 18 speaks volumes: White has an extra pawn, no weaknesses, and no space.

18. Ne2 Bb7 19. Nb3 Nxb3 20. axb3 Qb6 21. Bg5 h3 22. gxh3 Nc7 23. Bg2 Ne6 24. h4 Rf7 25. Qd2 Bxg2 26. Kxg2 Qc6+ 27. Kg1 Rb4 28. Ra4 Rxa4 29. bxa4 f4 30. Qa5 Qf3 31. Qa6 Nxg5 32. hxg5 Qh3 33. f3 Qxf3 34. Qxg6 Qe3+ 35. Kf1 Qh3+ 36. Kf2 f3 37. Nc3 Qg2+ 38. Ke3 f2, White resigns.

Black's king rook grows wings, flies to a distant part of the board, and, kamikaze style, destroys the White king's palace.

W: Jack Maxfield (2225)
B: David Carter (2260)
USCF Correspondence, 1999

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Be3 Qb6 6. Qd2 f6 7. Nf3 fxe5 8. dxe5 Bd7 9. Na3 Nh6 10. Bxh6 gxh6 11. 0-0-0 0-0-0 12. Qe3 Rg8 13. Rg1 Rg4 14. Bd3 Ra4 15. Bxh7 Qa6 16. Bb1 d4 17. Qd2 Rxa3 18. bxa3 c4 19. Be4 Qxa3+ 20. Kb1 dxc3 21. Qc1 Qa5 22. Bxc6 Bxc6 23. Rxd8+ Kxd8, White resigns.

Black plays in gunslinger fashion. After 32. Qxh3 Qb6 the target can't escape.

W: Tim Strauch (1900)
B: Thomas Feeney (2100)
Wisconsin Postal, 1998

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Be2 h6 9. Nf3 e4 10. Ne5 Bd6 11. f4 exf3 e.p. 12. Nxf3 0-0 13. d4 Qc7 14. 0-0 c5 15. Nc3 a6 16. Kh1 Bb7 17. Be3 Rad8 18. Bg1 Rfe8 19. Re1 Nc6 20. d5 Nb4 21. Bc4 Rxe1 22. Nxe1 Be5 23. Qf3 Bxc3 24. Qxc3 Nbxd5 25. Qb3 Nf4 26. Be3 Ng4 27. Bg1 Rd2 28. Bf1 Nf2+ 29. Bxf2 Rxf2 30. Kg1 c4 31. Qe3 Nh3+ White resigns.