When Nancy Sinatra sang the song "You Only Live Twice" undoubtedly she did not have in mind correspondence chessplayers. Most correspondence players live one life and that is it. Tim Harding, editor of the outstanding international postal chess magazine Chess Mail (40 Euros a year, a subscription can be started at www.chessmail.com) reports of the sad and unusual case of International Chess Master Nicholas Preo.

Born in Kurgan, Russia, Nicholas Preobrajensky migrated to the United States in 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. In 1949 he began playing postal chess, shortened his name, and won the 1951 and 1952 CCLA Grand National Championship. Graduating to international play, Preo won top board for his play on Board 6 of the V Olympiad and was awarded the title of ICCM - the first U.S. player to receive an international correspondence title.

He continued to play top-level international chess. Then, almost unannounced, he died in 1988. But Nicholas' correspondence career did not end then. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Nicholas Preo continued to play chess from 1988 until his second death in 2002. Some sleuthing by Tim Harding unearthed the strange fact that his son, also named Nicholas Preo apparently took over his father's games and continued to play under the family name until his own death at 72 in 2002.


The Game of the Month witnesses Nick the first playing a strong Czechoslovakian IM.

It is a good example of Nick's tactical acuity, which was razor sharp even into his 80s.

W: Nicholas Preo (2400)
B: Josef Nun (2420)
V Olympiad 1968

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. c3 f5 6. exf5 Bxf5 7. d4

This line has been replaced in recent years with 7. 0-0, which seems to offer White a slight plus.

7. ... e4 8. Ng5 d5 9. f3 e3

Modern theory suggests 9. ... h6 as leading to a slight plus for Black.

10. f4 Bd6 11. Qh5+ g6 12. Qf3 Nh6

ECO grants White the advantage after 12. ... Qf6 13. Qxe3+ Nge7 14. 0-0.

13. Qxe3+ Kd7 14. 0-0 Ng4 15. Qh3 Qf6

White's advantage is not so much the extra pawn but the strong point e5. Therefore, Preo retreats in order to advance.

16. Nf3! h5?!

Black can't try 16. ... Ne3 17. Ne5+ Bxe5 18. fxe5 Nxf1 19. g4 Bxg4 20. Qxg4+ Qf5 21. Qxf5+ gxf5 22. Kxf1 with a winning game for White. Instead, Black might try 16. ... Kc8 to hide his king, but White stands better.

17. Ne5+ Bxe5 18. fxe5 Qe6 19. Qf3 Raf8 20. Nd2 b5 21. Nb3!

A move with an awkward appearance but with an elegant conclusion in mind: the dark squares will prove too much for Black.

21. ... Ncxe5?!

Black seeks refuge in tactics, but he might have done better with 21. ... Kc8. Now he enters into the teeth of Preo's combination.

22. dxe5 Qb6+ 23. Nd4 Be4

Just taking the bishop is hopeless - 23. ... bxa4 24. Qxd5+ Kc8 25. e6 Bd3 26. Rxf8+ Rxf8 27. Bg5 with a winning game.

24. Qxf8 Rxf8 25. Rxf8 c5 26. e6+ Ke7 27. Rb8!, Black resigns.

After 27. ... Qd6 28. Bg5+ Nf6 29. Rf1 cxd4 30. Bxf6+ Kxe6 31. Re8+ Kf7 32. Rxe4! White will end up with too much material.

The 17th ICCF World Championship Final is underway. Here are the participants and their nationalities: Anders Eriksson (Sweden), Libor Danek (Czech Republic), Thomas Raupp (Germany), Wolfgang Rohde (Germany), Sergey Korolev (Russia), Ivar Bern (Norway), Norbert Galinnis (Germany), Wolfgang Zugrav (Austria), Gerhard Muller (Germany), Sergey Khlusevich (Russia), Borislav Vukcevic (Yugoslavia), Alexandr Voyna (Ukraine), Werner Stern (Germany), Asko Linna (Finland), Joachim Neumann (Germany), Gabor Glatt (Hungary), Michel Lecroq (France).

The Four Knights National Chess Association is a USCF affiliate postal chess club organized for Texas prisoners. Established in 1988, interested readers should contact Edward Esparza #704087, 12071 FM 3522, Abilene, TX 79601.

Black handles the opening fairly well, but after he falters in the middle game, the birds circling his king are vultures.

W: Peter Evans (2336)
B: Richard Desch (1978)
U.S. Correspondence 2001

1. f4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 g6 4. b3 Bg7 5. Bb2 0-0 6. c4 Nc6 7. Be2 d6 8. 0-0 Qc7 9. Nc3 a6 10. d4 cxd4 11. exd4 e6 12. Rc1 b6 13. Qe1 Ne7 14. h3 Bb7 15. Bd3 Nh5 16. Ne2 Bxf3 17. Rxf3 Qb7 18. Qf2 Rad8 19. g4 Nf6 20. Ng3 d5 21. Re1 Ne8 22. f5 exf5 23. gxf5 Bf6 24. fxg6 fxg6 25. Re6 Bg7 26. Rxf8+ Bxf8 27. Ba3 b5 28. Bxe7 Bxe7 29. Bxg6 hxg6 30. Rxg6+ Ng7 31. Nf5 Bf8 32. Nh6+ Kh7 33. Qc2 Kh8 34. Nf7+, Black resigns.

Mark Dean (Aberdeen, N.C.) who has a postal rating of 1537 enjoys the "in your face" chess that this game illustrates.

W: Joseph Byrnes (1512)
B: Mark Dean (1537)
Hans Berliner Pentad 2001

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c6 4. Nc3 d5 5. h3 Nf6 6. e5 Ne4 7. Nxe4 dxe4 8. Ng5 c5 9. Bc4 0-0 10. c3 cxd4 11. cxd4 Nc6 12. Be3 Qa5+ 13. Kf1 h6 14. Nxe4 Rd8 15. f4 b5 16. Bb3 Nxd4 17. Bxd4 Qb4 18. Qf3 Rxd4 19. Nf6+ Bxf6 20. Qxa8 Rxf4+ 21. Kg1 Qd4+ 22. Kh2 Bxe5 23. Qxc8+ Kg7 24. Rhg1 Rf1+ 25. Kh1 Qxg1 mate.

In thematic tournaments the opening moves are predetermined for the participants. In this USCF Thematic the first non-compulsory move was 4. ... Nc6. Later Black was compelled to make many more moves by White's aggressive play.

W: Ian Moore (1846)
B: William Siegfried (1998)
USCF Thematic 2001

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bf4 d6 7. Bc4 Nf6 8. 0-0 Be7 9. Re1 0-0 10. Rc1 a6 11. a3 b5 12. Ba2 Ra7 13. Nxb5 axb5 14. Rxc6 Bb7 15. Nd4 Qa8 16. Rb6 e5 17. Nf5 Bd8 18. Bg5 Nxe4 19. Bxd8 Rxd8 20. f3 Nf6 21. Rxd6 Bd5 22. Rxd8+ Qxd8 23. Bxd5 Nxd5 24. Rxe5 Rd7 25. Rxd5 Rxd5 26. Qxd5, Black resigns.