Correspondence chess has long been the one form of our game that prisoners could participate in on nearly equal terms with the rest of us. "Nearly equal," for prisoners frequently have minimal access to books and up-to-date opening analysis.

At least they are honest prisoners, for few of them have access to computers and fewer yet to chess analysis programs. What prisoners achieve in the realm of postal play is by their own merits, and a few of them have made a lasting impression. Few are allowed to have actual chess sets, for the bishops can be dangerous weapons. Many make chess sets out of rolled up paper (spit wads to high schoolers). Some simply remember the positions, keeping track of the moves in an extended blindfold game.

Frequent moves and cell sweeps where prisoners lose their records are not unknown. Some prisons forbid correspondence chess, as there are laws against prisoners using "secret codes" aka chess notation. The one advantage prisoners seem to have over the outside world is time ... lots and lots of time.

This month "The Check Is in the Mail" spotlights Joseph Schwing, the undisputed winner of the 1991 Golden Knights. Presently incarcerated in Maryland, Schwing shows his attacking style in achieving a perfect 18-0 score to put him ahead of second place J. Van Eaton and third place M. McArthur.


Black overextends his position when he plays for an attack by disrupting the White king's defense. What he forgets is that you must be able to attack a weakness or it is no weakness.

W: Joseph Schwing (2428)
B: R. Murphy-Newman (2075)
1991 Golden Knights

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qxd4 d5 6. exd6 e.p. Nxd6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. Qf4 g6 9. Be3

More modern is 9. Bd2 Bg7 10. 0-0-0 Be6 11. Bd3 with equality (ECO3)

9. ... Bg7 10. 0-0-0 Bxc3?!

A double edged move - Black weakens the White pawn structure (maybe with the aim of attacking White's king), but his king dare not stay in the center, so the weakness of his own kingside soon becomes more important.

11. bxc3 a6?

A dangerous waste of time. Black had to try his lot with 11. ... 0-0 12. h4 Be6 and keep his fingers crossed.

12. Bc4 Qe7?

The last error. White's troops march across the board now. A better try is 12. ... 0-0 when White's advantage after 13. Bc5 is clear but not decisive.

13. Bc5 0-0 14. Rhe1 Qd8 15. Ng5 Be6

Much the same is 15. ... Bf5 16. g4 Be6.

16. Bxd6 cxd6 17. Rxd6 Qb8

Black saves postage by this choice. He could play on in a losing position with 17. ... Qxd6 18. Qxd6 Bxc4.

18. Qh4 h5 19. Rexe6 fxe6 20. Bxe6+ Kg7 21. Rd7+ Kf6 22. Bh3, Black resigns.

This silent retreat leaves Black without any defense to the mating attack.


Bryce Avery in his book Correspondence Chess In America notes that the inventor of the "repeat card" - sending a second card with your move to your opponent when you have not heard from him in some time - was C. F. Bauder, some time around 1920.

In the March 2001 column, the game van Kempen-Camaratta (1st e-mail World Championship) is of theoretical importance in the Scotch Opening. Black's 25th move was given incorrectly and should read 25. ... a6. If you play the Scotch, I recommend you make the change for your own records.

Here is the game in entirety.

W: Heinz-Erich van Kemkpen (2550)
B: Frank Camaratta (2480)
First e-mail Championship

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. c4 Ba6 9. b3 0-0-0 10. Bb2 f6 11. g3 fxe5 12. Bg2 Nf6 13. 0-0 e4 14. Nd2 d5 15. b4 h5 16. a4 Qe6 17. b5 Bb7 18. Nb3 c5 19. Na5 d4 20. f3 e3 21. Nxb7 Kxb7 22. f4+ Kc8 23. Qf3 c6 24. f5 Qd6 25. b6 a6 26. Rfd1 Ng4 27. Ra3 Kb7 28. Bc1 Re8 29. h3 Ne5 30. Qe2 Qh6 31. a5 g5 32. Bxe3 dxe3 33. Rxe3 Bg7 34. Re4 Qf6 35. Rf1 g4 36. h4 Rd8 37. Kh1 Rd4 38. Re1 Rxe4, White resigns.

David Eisen defeats the strong Canadian IM by a process of relentless simplification, and every exchange prepares for the queening of the extra pawn.

W: Michael Edelstein (2385)
B: David Eisen (2460)
4th North American Team Tournament, 1998

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. 0-0 Bg7 5. c3 Nf6 6. d4 cxd4 7. cxd4 Nxe4 8. d5 Nd6 9. Na3 a6 10. Be2 Ne5 11. Nxe5 Bxe5 12. Re1 Bf6 13. Nc4 Nxc4 14. Bxc4 0-0 15. Bh6 Re8 16. Qd2 d6 17. Rac1 Bd7 18. Bd3 Rc8 19. Be3 Rxc1 20. Rxc1 Qb8 21. h3 Rc8 22. Bg5 Rxc1+ 23. Qxc1 Bxg5 24. Qxg5 Qe8 25. Qe3 Bb5 26. Bxb5 Qxb5 27. Qxe7 Qxd5 28. b3 Kg7 29. g3 b6 30. Qc7 Qc5 31. Qb7 a5 32. Qe4 Qe5 33. Qc6 Qd4 34. Kg2 d5 35. Qd6 Qe4+ 36. Kg1 d4 37. Qxb6 d3 38. Qxa5 Qe2, White resigns.

When Black wastes too much time with his king's knight, White demonstrates why tactics and 1. e4 are so often found together.

W: Bruce Altshuler (2200)
B: James Bruce (2014)
15th USCCC

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qc7 7. Nf3 Bd7 8. a4 Nc6 9. Be2 Nge7 10. 0-0 Nf5 11. Re1 Qb6 12. Bd3 Nfe7 13. Ng5 cxd4 14. Qf3 Nxe5 15. Rxe5 f6 16. Ba3 Ng6 17. Rxd5 exd5 18. Bxg6+ hxg6 19. Re1+ Kd8 20. Nf7+ Kc7 21. Qf4+ Kc8 22. Nxh8, Black resigns

David Burris (1944-2001) was the 1995 Absolute Postal Chess Champion for the USCF, director of the Knoxville Chess Club's Outreach program, chess book collector, and one-time editor of the Atlantic Chess News. A master-level player, David played chess: OTB, postal, and electronic. He was known as Fianchetto on the ICC. David knew how to play our game.

W: R. Johnson (2154)
B: David Burris (2236)
National Team Championship

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bg5 e6 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Qd3 h6 6. Bh4 Be7 7. g4 b6 8. h3 Bb7 9. Bg2 Ne4 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. Nd2 Nxd2 12. Qxd2 0-0-0 13. a4 Qg5 14. f4 Qh4+ 15. Kf1 h5 16. g5 f6 17. g6 Nf8 18. Kg1 Nxg6 19. Rf1 e5 20. e3 c6 21. Qd3 e4 22. Qe2 Qg3 23. Rf2 Nh4 24. Nd1 g5 25. fxg5 fxg5 26. b4 Rdf8 27. c3 Rf3, White resigns.

Important Notice

Correspondence Chess Acknowledgement Postcards

In an effort to cut costs, as of Jan. 1, 2001 we have discontinued the service of sending a postcard after each game result is rated to both players. You will continue to receive notification of your CC rating on your magazine label, tournament pairing sheets, and the semi-annual and annual CC rating lists.

The current CC rating list is available by request but only if the request includes a self-addressed, stamped long letter envelope. We also post the list on our website under the Correspondence Chess category.

Please do not call or e-mail asking for acknowledgement of game results and your rating. With thousands of active CC players, the task of answering such requests would make processing game results/ tournament entries/ time complaints impossible.

We will also post files on our website in the Correspondence Chess area, showing what games were rated for a specific period of time in an effort to give the players assurance that their results were received and rated. We appreciate your patience and understanding of this change.