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The February Check is in the Mail Print E-mail
By Alex Dunne   
February 12, 2012
Sawaski2.jpgSawaski wins 2007 Electronic Knights

James Sawaski of Michigan has won the 2007 Electronic Knights Championship.  James works as a Corrections Educator in a prison and as an Adjunct Instructor for Bay Mills Community College. 

James learned to play at age 7 and climbed up to, in his words, a scrappy Class A player OTB.  Because of his isolated geographic location, his chess regimen is 95% study and 5% playing.  That 95% seems to have paid off, however.

Chess, he notes, is his one true passion, but he has other interests. James is a chess novelist having written a couple novels and short stories with a chess theme. 

James Sawaski - 2007 EN Champion


James Sawaski            40.25
Harry Ingersol             40.20
Barry Endsley             37.90
Steven Van Enk          35.60
Gary Walters               34.50
Gordon Magat             33.55
Stephen McGregor      32.25
Sal Celauro                  30.70
Thomas O'Donnell     25.70
Barry Endsley             23.25
Gillmore Hoefdraad    22.20
Gary Walters                20.10
Timothy Harris  15.40
Franklin Taylor 13.90


1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.d4
Normally I would play g3 here, but this is the Electronic Knights Finals -- wins are a must.  All of my databases have this as the most active with some winning percentages in the 60% + area.  That was the choice.
5...Nxc3 6.bxc3 g6 7.e4
Again, I decide not to play around with my normal g3 positional stuff. My opponent has chosen an open type of game and I decided to oblige him.  There is risk, but again you have to take chances in a finals section like this.
7...Bg7 8.Rb1
Another active move -- and again, the database research has proven like a good poker play, there is a good percentage of success with this line for White.
8...cxd4 9.Bb5+
This move is not listed with the resources I have.  However, it did jump out at me as an extra developing move.  White has one chance to check the King and develop a piece at the same time.  This type of position calls for rapid development for White, look how the doorway to 00 is open as well.   The grip on the center is firm.  This looks like an e4 type of game now instead of an English.  9. cxd4 is the standard book line.
I think 9...Nc6 is better.  Black was probably worried about Bxc6 and the fear of an isolated c-Pawn might have also been concerning. 9...Nc6 10. cxd4 00 11. Bxc6 bxc6 but there is really nothing for Black to be afraid of -- he can use that isolated Pawn to chip away at the center.
10.cxd4 0-0 11.0-0 Nf6 12.Re1 Bg4 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Qxf3
White maintains rapid development.  If you count the pieces White has developed, it is seven.  Black has three pieces developed and if you count the Queen's open posting -- then it is four.  The offer of a Pawn sacrifice is suffice in this position.
14...Qxd4 15. e5 Ne8 16. Ba3 and White's development will far overwhelm Black.
The Bishop has to come home.  It is possible to move it to d3 or e2, but then the d-Pawn becomes more vulnerable because part of the offer of the sacrifice was to get the Rooks rolling and harass the Queen.  So, Bf1 keeps those threats intact.
I can't understand my opponent's logic.  This move does nothing to improve his position.  15...b5 would have been fine.  All I can think of is that he meant b5 and ended up with b6.  An error in notation, maybe ?  b6 does nothing for Black.
16.e5 Nd5 17.Bc4 Nc7 18.d5 b5 19.Bb3 Qd7 20.Ba3
20. Bg5 might have been better, only because White won't have to deal with a future ...a5 and have Bishops be harassed.
20...a5 21.d6
White must keep up the pressure to win.
21...exd6 22.Bxd6 Rfd8  23.a4
This is clearly a correspondence chess move.  Up to this point, including 9. Bb5+, everything has been pretty typical.  Yet, I must admit, my intuition was screaming -- "Do not allow ...b4 -- Do not allow ...b4!"  In an OTB game I probably would listen to this warning, but here after some careful study -- I welcome ...b4.
It's just natural reflex to deeply root a beautiful passed Pawn.  Yet, the beauty here is an illusion.  The lesson to learn is that intuition can't always be trusted.  In correspondence, everything must be examined, no matter how silly or strong it may seem.
Black's Queen is now overworked and in a little bit of danger.
24...Ne6 25.Bxb4
And White not only wins a Pawn, but the protected passed Pawn!
25...Qa7 26.Bd6 Rac8 27.h4
White is up a solid Pawn, but his position still calls for attack.  Now comes the classic Pawn storm idea.
27..h5 28.g4 hxg4 29.Qxg4 Qd7 30.Re3 1-0
The Rook lift spells doom for Black and my opponent didn't hang around for the fireworks.  This was my favorite game of the tournament, although 15...b6 I believe was a pretty flagrant error on my opponent's part.  The move 9. Bb5+ and 23 a4 I thought were important moves that helped me win this game and White played an active initiative opening and never released the pressure.  A very enjoyable game for White to play.

Meiners wins 10W27

Meiners, Edwin









Gotay, Alfredo P.









Patterson, Steven









Luscomb, David









Meiners225.jpgEdwin Meiners of Mesa, Arizona, scored an undefeated 5 ½-½  to win his Master/Expert 2010 Walter Muir section.
In the following game Meiners establishes dominance by first harassing the Queen and then the King. 


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

Best Games Prize award

In the Master category - the finalists are Siddiqi-Fass, March issue and Kinney-Calogridis, Aug.  The winner: Michael Calogridis


In the non-Master category the nominees are Soricelli-Mahon, January and Iglesias-Cardenas, April.  The winner is Gerard Soricelli.


Quote: Correspondence chess is easier for older players -- Steven Lopez

King hunts are always exciting.  This game is no exception.



Swift Quad
            Dennis Martin   11SQ04   5-1
            Alan Wilson        11SQ08  5 ½-½
            David Long      11SQ11   6-0

            William Baumer  09P06   6-0

John Collins
            Thomas Chromczak 10C26  6-0
            Ryan Richardson     10C15  5-1

Trophy Quad
            Louis Biasotti   10Q14  5 ½-½
            Mike Donnelly 10Q03  5-1
            Joseph Cahill   10Q03   5-1


Louis B. Owen  born Feb 18, 1944, died January 1, 2012

Louis Owen was a Michigan history teacher who made chess history. Louis finished tied for third in the 1989 and 1991 Absolute tournament and tied for first in the 1992 Absolute Championship.  He played sixth board for the USA in the 12th Olympiad and won the gold medal for his performance on ninth board at the Third North Atlantic Team Tournament. 

Louis was also an avid fly fisherman and enjoyed rural life along the Pilgrim River

Here is a sample of Owen's strength as he lands the very strong N. Darrell LeGore, hook, line and coachman.


Saul Silverman Jan. 19, 1944 - October 10, 2011.

Saul of Rego Park, New York, played in the Golden Knights and John Collins tournaments.

Norman Cotter submits this game where he plays the part of the steam roller, slowly flattening Black's position,


Mark Stephenson notes that the following game is a fairly extreme example of the principle, "When material up, trade pieces not Pawns".


An interesting game capped by a two-Pawn sacrifice in the endgame to produce an unbreakable pin and the win.


Boymel makes the mating attack on the Black King look inevitable.


If attacking the opponent's King is fun, then this game is hilarious.


For more by Alex Dunne see a pdf index of Check is in the Mail columns.

November - Chess Life Online 2012

A Parent’s Reflections: Prelude to the K-12 Khachiyan Wins American Open The Scoop on the National Chess Congress World #1 Magnus Carlsen visits the Bay Area Urgent Info for USCF Directors & FIDE Events Results are In From Thanksgiving Weekend Philly & Seattle Fight for US Chess League Championship Women's World Champs Final: Stefanova vs. Ushenina Dancing Around Chess at the Philadelphia Art Museum Chirila Wins UTD Invitational Sevillano Wins First East Bay OpenMedals in Maribor: A Coach's Perspective Check Out the New USCFSales.com Four Medals for USA: Troff & Sevian Earn GoldWorld Women's Champs Down to Eight US Chess League Quarterfinals: Highlights on the Board Elena Donaldson Akhmilovskaya, 1957-2012Chess Federation President Meets Vladimir PoznerGM Ramirez on Maribor: Clutch Preparation Irina Krush on Winning Streak at Women's World ChampsUpdated USCF Scholastic Regulations Sevian Leads in Slovenia as Team USA Marches on Krush & Zatonskih Advance in Women's World Champs Kaidanov & Vojinovic Top King's Island Open USCF Accepting SuperNationals Bookstore Bids US Chess League: Playoff Time! USCF Invitational Requirements Updated GM Ramirez on the World Youth: Arriving in Maribor Before the Storm: NYC Rapid Chess Challenge The Post on Lessons from Brooklyn Castle World Youth Begins in Slovenia Sevillano Takes Clear First in Auburn Open USCF Dues Promo: Buy Two Years of Premium, Get Third Free Hundreds face off in Pleasanton for G/30 and G/60 ChampsBrooklyn in Da House: Ashley Plays Blitz [VIDEO] Pairings Set for Women's World Champs International Game Day at Denton Library Notice to Premium Members: November Chess Life