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The July Check is in the Mail Print E-mail
By Alex Dunne   
July 9, 2011
semrlslide.jpgWorld Championship 24 Final

Marjan Semrl of Slovenia

The 24th World Correspondence Champion has been crowned.  Marjan Semrl's score of 11-5 can be equaled by Tansel Turgut but Semrl's better tiebreaks give him the crown.

The three players US readers should be familiar with: Tansel Turgut is a Turkish player who is a surgeon in Decatur, Illinois.  Jason Bokar is a US Grandmaster who earned his title in 2007.  Cesar Blanco Gramajo won the 2006 Electronic Knights Championship.

The race between kingside action versus queenside action always makes for exciting chess.  The Game of the Month follows the ICCF plan: to win tournaments you have to beat the guys at the bottom.     


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1
Semrl sidesteps the Bayonet Attack with 9. b4 perhaps in deference to Tiemann's record of playing both sides of the Bayonet back to 2002.
9...Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.Rc1
Semrl chooses a popular sideline rather than  13. a4 which scores the best percentage.
This, too, is a popular sideline.  The most common play here is 13...Ng6, but Tiemann's choice has been scoring well lately.  Black's plan is the standard in such KID positions: throw everything at the White King.
14.Nd3 Rh6 15.c5 a6
The move of choice lately has been 15...Qe8 here.  Krush-Dembo, 39th Olympiad 2010, continued 16. Nb5 Qh5 17. h4 Ng6 18. g4 fxg3 19. Bxg3 Nf4 20. Nxc7 with an edge to White though Black eventually won.
16.Qb3 Kh8 17.cxd6 cxd6 18.Rc2 Rg6 19.Rfc1 h5 20.Qa3 Rb8 21.Nb1 g4 22.Nd2 g3 23.hxg3 fxg3 24.Ba7 Ra8 25.Be3 Nf6 26.Nc4  
This game was another of those long trailed games where Black played the same line against another opponent to the same result.  Here Semrl varies with the more aggressive 26. Nc4.  In Munoz Moreno-Tiemann, 24 World Championship Final, White also won after 26. Ne1
If Black can't break through on the kingside, White will bteak through on the queenside, hence the sacrifice.
27.exd5 Nf5 28.Ne1 Bd7 29.Bd3 Qh4 30.Bxf5 Bxf5
30...Qh2+ leads nowhere.
31.Nxd6 Bf8 32.Nxf5 Qh2+ 33.Kf1 Bxa3 34.bxa3 1-0
Black's Queen is imprisoned on the kingside and White's d-Pawn has wings.  Black could fight on with 34...Rf8 but chances are very slim after 35. Rc8.

ERRATA:  In the June issue of "The Check" a pair of moves were excluded.  Here is the correct version of the game.




ICCF has inaugurated a new policy that is NOT part of USCF correspondence play.  That policy is "Use 40 days for next move".

Please note that for USCF play Rule 10 is the operative rule.  Rule 10 requires you to notify your opponent if you need to take longer than 10 days.  After 10 days official 30-days a year leave time is operative.


Trophy Quad
            Gary Gallagher   09Q11   5-1
            Laverne Gildner 08Q18  3 ½-2 ½
            Don Dostal         08Q18  3 ½-2 ½
            Lester Ferrell     09Q19  5 ½-½
            Joseph Korman  09Q21  5 ½-½

Swift Quad

            Justin Pickens  11W15  5 ½-½

John Collins

            Charles Carter   09C31   6-0
            Thomas Babcock 09C32  5 ½-½
            John Ellison        09C33    5-1

Walter Muir
            Errol Acosta     11W12               6-0

 Do Close Ratings Matter in Postal ?

It has been suggested that ratings don't matter as much in postal because of the correspondent's ability to consult books, take one's time, move pieces in analysis, etc.  In a unscientific study to see how valid that premise is, I decided to see how rated players finished in the 2008 John Collins tournaments.  In an ideal world, the highest rated player (of four) should always finish in first place, the second rated, second, etc.  Here is what I found.   At the tope level, Master/Expert, the #1 rated player finished first 36% of the time, the #2 rated also finished in first 36% of the time and the third rated 14%  and finally the bottom rated won the tournament 14 %.

At the A rated level the highest rated won 39 % of the time, 2nd: 27%, third a dismal 0 % and fourth 33 %.

   B-rated John Collins saw player #1 finishing     

   first 33% second 33% third rated won 22%  

   and the low man finished first 11 % of the


C-rated players saw the high rated finishing first 62%, second 25%, third 12 % and the low man winning the tournament 0 %.

Finally Class D saw the high rated man wining 10%, second rated 20% third rated 10% and the #4 man who was almost always unrated, winning 60% of the time. 

Excluding the bottom group it would appear to me that the ELO rating system holds up very well in postal play.

nasa.jpg Astronauts Greg Chamitoff and Greg Johnson

The USC and NASA fought another spacemen versus earthlings match with the earthlings adopting a new method of winning a chess game. 

Moves were voted on by the earthlings with the astronauts having to decide between the two players Greg Chamitoff and Greg Johnson.

The voting closed as the astronauts prepared to return to earth, when the earthlings voted to determine the outcome of the game.  Earth voted 59% in favor of a win for their home planet, thus assuring the victory.




Rubinstein.jpgLegend has it that the great Akiba Rubinstein (born 1882) learned the moves of the game when he was 18 and quickly worked his way from a Knight-odds player to Master and Grandmaster.  The legend is a neat one, but in the book The Life & Games of Akiva Rubinstein by Donaldson and Minev (who prefer the Akiva spelling) an early Rubinstein correspondence game is given, and if the date is correct, Rubinstein at 15 is playing like he is the odds giver.



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]

Chess booklet for sale:  2004 Golden Knights Championship  --  booklet of the 57th USCF CC Championship -- $10.00 postage  paid.  35 pages, 90+ games


The Canadian Postal strike continues through most of June.  During the strike, Canadian mail has not been delivered.  As of this date, 24 June, the Canadian government has not yet intervened, but plans to do so are in the works.  Canada also had to intervene in its last national postal strike in 1997.

Reflection time for postal games during the strike will not be in effect for USCF games with a Canadian opponent.

Quote:  "Usually I don't use engines in a positional game, as they have very little to offer for a strong correspondence player.  Instead, in sharp and tactical situations engines are mandatory as they speed up a lot of the analysis work.  Even then it is clear that you can't trust blindly to engines' opinions.  Perhaps this is a blessing for correspondence chess".  - Pertti Lehikoinen   20th World Champion.

Black plays upon White's long diagonal weakness and then on his back rank weakness to execute a neat tactical coup.


 Two-time Hames Award winner Harry Simon submits this game where Simon shows that an attack on the King can sometimes be as effective in the endgame as it can be in the middlegame.


White's Pawn sacrifice on Move six only brings fruit many moves and a few sacrifices later.  That is not unusual.  In the old days they sacrificed that Pawn on Move two.


White attacks and attacks and attacks his way all the way to a winning endgame.

BENONI  (by transposition) (A68)

The draw between the new World Champion and the 2006 USCF Electronic Knights Champion was no peaceful affair.  Both sides played for the full point.  The half-point probably came as either a disappointment or a relief to both men.


The Primary lesson of defense -- always defend with more than your opponent can attack with -- is illustrated in this resistible assault by White.