The January Check is in the Mail
By Alex Dunne   
January 3, 2014

Selecting the winners of the 2013 Game of the Year Awards was particularly difficult this year because there were so many excellent candidates. 

For the winner of the $100 prize in the non-Master section five games stood out: Hensley-McCartney from January. Reaves-Miller and Funston-Hiber from February, Hoefdraad-Buhan from June and Ferguson-Hodina from October.  The winner (appended below) was Reaves-Miller for an excellent positional win.  Congratulations, Wade Reaves !  Contact Joan DuBois at USCF, Tennessee, for your prize. 

In the Master category there were also some excellent games.  Topping the list were Tseng-Vaughan, January, Wilson-Woodard. July, and Siefring-Bonatti, October.  The winner and 2013 Game of the Year and January 2014 Game of the Month,  Wilson-Woodard.  Congratulations  Daniel Woodard! (who should also contact Joan DuBois!)


Black's attack concentrates an amazing amount of energy on a1, b1, and a2.



1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6
In reviewing the database of this opening two things stand out -- First: at the top of the ratings there are great numbers of 1-0 and 1/2-1/2 results, and Second: The exception is if Black is played by Daniel Woodard when the results are many 0-1 scores.
After 3. c4 c6 4. d4 cxd6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bg5 we are in the Panov-Botvinnik attack of the Caro Kann
3...Bg4 4.f3
The challenge is on after this play.  The battle will be between development (Black) and material (White).  An alternative struggle was seen in Ellis-Woodard, 2011 Electronic Knights semifinal when White played the safer but less ambitious 4. Be2 Bxe2 5. Qxe2 Qxd5 6. Nf3 e6 7. Nc3 Qh5 8. Nb5 Na6 9. Bf4 Na6 10. Bf4 Qf5!
4...Bf5 5.Bb5+
An absolutely stunning game  was seen in Katrein-Woodard, 1999 Golden Knights semifinal with more sacrifices per square inch than you may have ever seen: 5. c4 e6 6. dxe6 Nc6 7. exf7+ Kxf7 8. Be3 Bb4+ 9. Nc3 Re8 10. Kf2 Rxe3 11. Kxe3 Bc2 12. Qd2 Ng4+ 13. Kf4 Bd6+ 14. Kxg4 Bf5+ 0-1
5...Nbd7 6.c4 e6
An alternative line is 6...a6  Tiviakov-Dias, Division 1 Final 2013: 7. Ba4 e6 8. dxe6 Bxe6 9. Nd2 Bb4 10. Qc2 Qe7 11. Ne2 000 12. 00 with a slight plus to White.
7.dxe6 Bxe6
Also tried here has been 7...fxe6.  Poulos-Vafiadis, Isthmnia Open 2012 continued 8. Ne2 c6 9. Ba4 Qa5+ 10. Nbc3 000 11. e6 e5 with a small edge to White.
The ambitious 8. c5 leads to equal chances after 8...c6 9. Bd3 b6 Kotsur-Eid, 12th Asian Cities Ch. 2000
8...Bf5 9.Be3 ?
This natural-looking  move is the cause of White's woes.  White has a better choice with  9. Nc3 Bc5 10. Qe2+ Kf8! 11. Be3 Qe7 12. Bf4 when 12...a6 was about even in Degerhammar-Corbat, ICCF 2007  Black has also tried 12...Re8 in Jobe-Perez, Swiss CC 2000 when, Pawn hungry, White played 13. Bxc7? and lost after 13...Bd6!
9...Bb4+ 10.Nc3
White can still apply some damage control here with 10. Bd2 but Black remains on top.
10...Qe7 11.Qe2 0-0
Black was also better after 11...000 12. Kf2 Rhe8 as in Olson-Henson, Winnepeg 1997
12.Bd4 Qd6 13.0-0-0
At last the King leaves the e-file where to avoid the pin after Re8, but there is a breeze sweeping over the White King from f5 to b1.
Another Black piece moves toward the King and the threat of ...a6 is of concern.  White now exchanges the dangerous Knight, but at the cost of removing the defender on c3.
14.g4 Bg6 15.Be5 Qb6 16.Na4 Qa5 17.Nxc5 Bxc5 18.h4
The a-Pawn is doomed: 18. a3 a6 19. Bc3 Qb6 20. Ba4 Be3+ 21. Bd2 Rfe8! 22. Bxe8 Rxe8 23.  Bxe3 Rxe3 24. Qd2 Rxa3! ends it all.
18...Qxa2 19.h5 Bb1! 20.Rh2

Playing 20. Bxf6 just removes another valuable defensive piece for a Knight that is not in the attack.  The game could continue 20. Bxf6 gxf6 21.  Ba4 Qa1 22. Bc2 Ba2+ 23. Kd2 Qxb2 24. Ke2 Rfe8 25. Be4 Qc3+ 26. Qd2 Rxe4+ 27. fxe4 Qg3+ 28. Kf1 Bxc4+ and mate follows.
The King is confined.
21.c5 Rad8 22.Bc4 Qa1!
Black now threatens mate by ...Bd3.  This threat forces a weakening of the fragile King's defenses.
23.b3 Ba3+ 24.Kd2 Bb2!
There is no defense by 25. Bxb2 Qxb2+ 26. Ke1 Rfe8.
25.Bxc7 Bc3+ 26.Ke3 Rde8+ 27.Kf4
There is no relief with 27. Kf2 Rxe2+ 28.  Nxe2 Qb2 29. Rxb1 Qxb1 30. Nxc3 Qc2+ 31. Ne2 Nxd5! 32. Bd6 Re8.
27...Rxe2 28.Rxe2 Qa3 29.Bd6
Worse is 29. Rxb1 Qxc5 30. d6 b5 31. Bxb5 Qxb5.
29...Ba2 30.Bxf8 Kxf8 31.c6
There is no relief with 31. Re3 Bxb3!  32. Rxc3 Qb4 33. Rb1 Nxd5+
31...Qd6+  0-1

The mop up is 32. Ke3 b5 33. Rxa2 bxc4 34. bxc4 Qe5+ 35. Kd3 Qd4+ 36. Kc2 Qxc4 37. Ne2 Qxe2+ 38. Kxc3 Qxd1.

Quote: I play correspondence chess because I am a perfectionist - Tunc Hamarat

Winner of the non-Master Best Game Award
Wade Reaves




With fewer and fewer people using the mail, Canada is planning on doing away with most door-to-door deliveries within the next five years.  There is a planned raise in postal rates to $1 for a letter. In urban centers mail will be sent and picked up at central locations. Email has become the dominant form of communication. Even in the US, the pony express retired its horses.  As Canada goes, will the US  follow ?


In USCF CC play Bussom stands undefeated  playing the White side of the Two Knights Defense with 4. Ng5.  In this book, listed on Amazon and eBay, there are 202 pages dedicated to the analysis of the Two Knights Defense with emphasis on 4. Ng5 backed up with lots of international correspondence games.

I did not review the contents of this book as I believe that if you do not play that opening (I am a Ruy Lopez fan) you probably should not review a book on that opening.

But if you are a Two Knights fan, you should probably look into this book to sharpen your play.




Walter Muir
                David Wright  13W35   6-0
                Errol Acosta    13W35   6-0
                Jonathan Allen 13W16  5 ½-½\ 
                Wade Reaves    13W04     4-2
                Thomas Hooper  13W41  5-1
                Michael Giordano 13W36  6-0
                Joseph :Luna          13W30    6-0

John Collins
                Jack Shaw            11C19  4 ½-1½

Swift Quad
                Ralph Vecchio     13SQ12   5-1
                Vincent Sereni  13SQ13   6-0


If you are rated 2200+ and would like to play in the 2014 Absolute Championship, now is the time to send in your bid.  There is no entry fee and the 13 top-rated players will be accepted for the 2014 event. 

Seldom has a Pawn ever been so powerful - after eating a Knight, it captures another Pawn threatening to win two Rooks and a Queen.




William J. Morris of Saegertown, PA born on August 30, 1948, died on November 24, 2013.  William was a CC Master. 

Sharp, aggressive play cements this draw against a strong opponent.



Do you have an unusual correspondence chess artifact ?  A CC game played under strange circumstances ?  A unique experience playing CC ?  I'd like to hear from you for a future issue of "The Check Is in the Mail". 

LEARN CHESS BY MAIL !  Lessons given 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


is now available at McFarland Publishers and Amazon for $45.00 and also Kindle at $16.49

NEW!  2006 Electronic Knights Championship ebook.  190 games some annotated, all the crosstables, bios of the top three, list of all the finalists, ChessBase format, .pgn notation  and Microsoft .pdf format.   $4.00 postage paid for the disk, $2.00 sent to you via email. Hard copy $10 postage included.

An exciting draw is worth more than twenty dull wins.



Some games have an outstanding motif or moment --  this one has two.



The final position is worth a diagram



Happy New Year to all !