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The July Check is in the Mail Print E-mail
By Alex Dunne   
July 2, 2010

John Menke has added one more Golden Knights Championship to his resume.

John's record in Golden Knights play is one for the record books.  Second place in 1997.  A repeat second in 1998.  First in 1999.  Second in 2000.  First in 2001.  Then to show postcards aren't his only weapon, John won the first Electronic Knights championship, the 2004 event.  And now he is back to claim first place in the 2003 Golden Knights.

Yes, John did announce his retirement  from  the Knights in 2008, but the 2003 Golden Knights started long before his retirement did. 

Ivar Bern summed it up succinctly - In what other sport do you have to wait two years to break out the champagne?  John finished his last game of the 2003 Championship on May 6, 2008.  The wait was worth it - no one could surpass his weighted totals and so once again, John Menke is at the top of the mountain.


John's opponent in this game is the very strong Gary Adams.  Gary normally chooses his openings very carefully, but in this game he enters a forcing line of the French Defense, and soon finds himself on a very slippery slope to defeat.  French players need to take heed!


1.e4 e6 2.Nc3
An offer to switch into a Sicilian after 2...c5 which Adams declines.
2...d5 3.d4 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 Black has four good choices here, all of which lead to about the same chance of success (about 44%, average for Black) -- 4...Qc7, the safest, 7...cxd4, 7...Kf8 and the most challenging 7...00
8.Bd3 Nbc6
This natural developing play may be suspect.  For now 8...f5, the most common reply, may also be the best, holding White to a 55% edge.
This is the most successful of White's tries.  There is nothing subtle about White's strategy -- the Black King is the target.  White scores about 63% from this position. That would generally constitute a dark cloud over Black's choice of 7...00 but there may be an escape clause a bit later. 
9...Ng6 10.Nf3 Qc7
This or the next move may be the last chance for an improvement.  The little played 10...Nce7 has scored a few wins for Black, though White still has a decided edge.  Kamsky played against it in Kamsky-Umezinwa, Chicago 1989, though White looks better after 11. 00.  Shulman held it back one move 10...Qc7 11. Be3 Nce7 12. h4 Nf5 to draw in Kamsky-Shulman, World Open 2005.
11.Be3 c4 12.Bxg6
The players now enter a forcing variation where Black has little chance of survival.  White's attack is just too strong.  
12...fxg6 13.Qg4 Bd7
The two main choices are 13...Qf7 scoring 38 % and 13...Bd7  scoring 33%. After 13...Qf7 14. Ng5 White stands well in Stewart-Tremblay, 2006 Express Tournament  published in this column for May 2008.
14.h4 Rf5 15.h5
White scores 71% with this Pawn thrust.
15...gxh5 16.Rxh5 Raf8
Two choices here -- 16...Rxh5 scoring a paltry 33% and the text scoring an even worse 11%
There are seven games in my postal database with 17. Rh3 -- White winning every one of them.
A new try -- 17...Be8 just fails
18.Kd2 Be8 19.Rh6
White has other ways to win -- 19. Ng5 works, too.
Failing is 19...Bg6 20. Rxg6! hxg6 21. Qxg6 R8f7 22. Qxe6 Nd8 23. Qd6.
20.Rxe6 Bh5 21.Qh3 Nc8 22.g4 Bxg4 23.Qxg4 Rxf3 24.Rh1
 White's threats of Rf6 and Rh6 are too strong. 1-0


            John Menke                42.85
            Laurence Bonsack      40.10
            Thomas Connelly       39.60
            James Rhodes              39.50
            Chuck Cullum               39.00
            Abe Wilson                 39.00
            Danny Horwitz 38.95
            Donald Schultheis       36.75
            Bleys  Rose                  36.25
            Humberto Cruz 36.15
            Richard Barber 36.15
            Thomas Kusnierz          35.60
            Donald Schultheis         35.60
            Barry Endsley             35.05
            Arthur Steinman            32.20
            Corky Schakel             31.30
            John Bang                    30.10
            Derek Grimmell          30.10
            Donald Schultheis       29.55
            Jiri Kovats                    29.35
            Harold Boege               28.35
            Bruce Reynolds            26.65
            Gary Adams                 26.15
            Michael Calogridis      26.05
            William Jempty 25.65
            Roy Tate                      24.85
            Robert Hampton         23.90
            Chuck Ventimiglia         21.65
            Robert Boles                20.55
            A. J. Zeppa                  20.00
            Stephen Jacobs            16.65
            James Fisher                 16.00
            Clark Hayward 16.00
            Art Marthinsen 14.40
            William Jempty 13.80

16th Olympiad Final Starts

The final round of the 16 Olympiad has started.  This will be the last Olympiad played by post.  Email and server play have replaced postal as the international method of communication for correspondence chess. 

The US team consists of two Grandmasters - Alik Zilberberg and Edward Duliba - and two Senior  International Masters -- Keith Holzmueller and Jerry Weisskohl.

The average rating of the US team is 2542.  They will be competing against teams (listed by ratings) from Czech Republic (2619); Germany (2572); Brazil (2565);France (2554);  Israel (2548); Poland (2514); Sweden (2495); Italy (2482); Ukraine (2477); Finland (2457); Slovakia (2448); and England (2382).

Good skill, guys !

Chess.com Invitational Tournament

Chess.com has started a titled players correspondence tournament with a field of mainly OTB players testing their skills at CC play.  Six GM's (including Julio Becerra and Alex Lenderman) nine IM's one WIM (Ruth Haring) 18 FM's 12 NM's and 2 Experts. 

The first round has four players playing a  round robin with the winner of the section advancing to the second round.  Computer engines are forbidden.  Readers can find out more about chess.com and watch the games by going to http://www.chess.com/about.html


Walter Muir

09W32    William Ebaugh     4 ½-1 ½
09W29    Inoel Cardenas       3 ½-2 ½
09W29    Joseph Hawkins    3 ½-2 ½
10W15    Gregory Thompson  6-0

John Collins

08C08     John Davis           5-1
09C06     Michael Kessler   5-1
09C07     Doug Ray           5 ½-½
09C18     Alex Ramirez       6-0


Express Tournament

09ET05  Harold Brown   5-1
09ET05  Wes Holland       5-1
09ET05  Oswaldo Olivo 5-1


LEARN CHESS BY MAIL !  Lessons given by mail, telephone, ICC - many different ways.  I specialize in players rated 800-2100 who would like to improve their game.  Contact me for information.  Alex Dunne, 324 West Lockhart St., Sayre, PA 18840 or [email protected]

Quote: I like to look at correspondence games. They are an oft-neglected bonanza of new or rare continuations in the opening and fine tactical shots too!-- IM Nikolay Minev

The 26th World Championship Final began this June, being played on the ICCF webserver.  There are no Americans in the final, but Grandmaster Cesar Blanco will be one of the title aspirants.  Cesar was living in Texas but moved back to Guatemala when he won the 2006 Electronic Knights Championship.  Cesar's rating of 2531 puts him in the middle of this category 13 event. 

Want to have some fun and learn about endgame play at the same time?  Play over this game of Cesar's from the 2006 Electronic Knights Finals!



Knights need center squares.  Deprive a Knight of center squares and you starve him.  Deprive two Knights of center squares and you lose endgames like this.



This is why correspondence players are allowed to consult books. 


This is the famous Tarrasch Trap starting with 8. Bxc6 in the Ruy Lopez that was first played in Tarrasch-Marco, German Congress 1892.  But it didn't stop there.  In my databases I have found 14 examples up to and including 17. Be7 in OTB play with many Experts and Masters on the losing side - Green (2265) - Gibbons (2200), Auckland 2000; Popovic (2363) - Jesenski (2361) Yugoslavia 2002 among others, but only one other example in correspondence chess. 

All right, Arthur - knowledge is power!

From the 2003 Golden Knights: Third place Thomas Connelly meets second place Laurence Bonsack for a first class struggle.


Check out an archive of Alex Dunne's postal chess columns here and also read his article from the July 2010 Chess Life Magazine on the 2008 USCF Absolute Championship.


July - Chess Life Online 2010

The Chess Party Begins in Irvine Irina Krush Victory Rap The Odds at the DenkerPan-Am Youth Squad Heads to BrazilNew FIDE Titles for AmericansBullyproof Chess Arbiter Update: From the World School to Online TrainingUS Chess School Comes to Dallas US Women's and Juniors Closing Gallery Datta Wins Record Smashing U.S. Junior OpenThe Denker Turns 25 in Irvine, California The US Senior Open Returns to Boca Raton Berkeley International Returns in 2011Chess Boy Scouts Merit Badge Announced in Saint Louis Tatev Abrahamyan Wins 2010 US Women's Fighting Spirit Award Sevillano Triumphs in Agoura HillsA Perfect Storm Leads IM Sam Shankland to US Junior titleNietman and Walters Elected to USCF Executive Board Krush crowned; three-way tie atop Junior leaderboardMitkov Takes 2010 Chicago Class Krush and Zatonskih Tied in Women; Zhao Creeps Closer to Robson in JuniorsA Chess Mom on the US Junior Closed Zatonskih Maintains Lead; Robson Pulls Away in JuniorsYang and Liou Share Cadet TitleZatonskih Still Leads at the US Women's; Zhao FaltersLiou Leads the 2010 Cadet ChampionshipZatonskih and Zhao bring their A-GameKislik and Naroditsky Earn IM Norms in HungaryAdelberg and Ostrovskiy Take An Early Lead In CadetZhao Leads Junior Closed, Zatonskih and Krush WinUS Cadet Championship OpensHarper Leads Juniors; Favorites Break Streak at the Women'sDaniel Naroditsky Earns IM Norm in Hungary Stage Set for Epic Showdown at U.S. Women's ChampionshipFighting Chess in round 1 of US Womens and US Juniors Pairings Set for 2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed ChampsChess Talk with Yasser Seirawan The Scoop on the World Open A Parent's Perspective on Chess Camps July Grand Prix Update Vik(c)tors Top the World OpenNakamura to Comment on Opening Weekend of US Junior and US Women's The Origins of National Chess Day Laznicka Pulls Away at the World Open GMs Battle as World Open Merge Approaches Hilton on Arriving in Valley Forge The July Check is in the Mail The US Chess Scoop on Valley Forge: Part I