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The March Check is in the Mail Print E-mail
By Alex Dunne   
March 1, 2010
Ciaran O'Hare
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Ciaran O'Hare, 2008 Champion

Ciaran O'Hare of Oklahoma City has scored an undefeated 10-2 to win the 2008 Absolute Championship.  Ciaran, born in Ireland 51 years ago is a surgeon in Oklahoma.  With no time for weekend OTB tournaments, Ciaran took to correspondence chess and got serious about it seven years ago.  He notes that it has taken that time to appreciate how different a game it is than OTB.


Ciaran modestly attributes his win this year to a lot of luck, but let the reader decide after playing over this win against the always dangerous Joseph Shipman.


White: Joseph Shipman (2209)
Black: Ciaran O'Hare (2419)
2008 Absolute

1.e4 c5 2.d4
Shipman is one of the last of the Romantics, specializing in the Morra and other ultra-aggressive openings.
2...cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 a6 7.0-0 Nge7 8.Bg5 f6
This ugly-looking move is probably Black's best and is actually quite effective.  It breaks the pin and keeps e5 under control.
9.Be3 b5 10.Bb3 Bb7 11.Nd2
Just about everything has been tried here for White -- 11. a3, 11. Bc5, 11. Nh4, 11. Qe2, 11. Nd4 with consistently poor results, White, at best, fighting for a draw.
11...Na5 12.Bc2 Rc8 13.f4
Spain-Stewart, New Zealand CC 2006 saw 13. Rc1 Ng6 14. f4 Bc5 15. Bxc5 Rxc5 16. f5 with roughly even chances.
13...Qc7 14.Rc1 Ng6 15.f5
Plowing straight ahead, but Black's game is too sound for brute force to overtake.  
Black gets rid of White's best minor piece, securing e5 for himself, greater board mobility, and an extra Pawn.  
16.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 17.Kh1 Ne5 18.Nb3
After 18. Qh5+ Ke7 the Black King is safe in the center, but this seems a better bet for an attacking player to try.  In either case, Black is fine. This exchange allows Black to swap off his distant Knight.
18...Nxb3 19.Bxb3 Qb6 20.Qh5+ Ke7 21.Qh3 h5!
With this, the attack gradually slides over to Black. The idea is simple enough ...Ng4-f2+ White removes the Queen from danger, but then Black's Pawns advance looking for open lines.
22.Qg3 Rhg8 23.Rcd1 g5 24.Qe1 h4 25.h3 a5 26.a3 g4 27.fxe6 gxh3 28.gxh3 Rg3 29.exd7 Rh8
An odd-looking move in the midst of attacking the King.  The idea is to not allow an eventual Qxh4 attacking the f6 and h7 square with possible complications.
White cannot allow 30...Rxh3+ stripping the King of all his guards, but now Black pockets the exchange and continues his attack.  The conclusion is nice. Game Over.
30...Nf3+ 31.Rxf3 Rxf3 32.Bd5 b4 33.axb4 Kd8 34.b5 Qc7+ 35.e5 Rh5 36.b6 Qb8 37.Bxf3 Rxe5 0-1


clip_image007.jpgSpecial mention should be made of Wesley Brandhorst's second place finish.  Wesley has been a major force in Absolute tournaments since 1999, finishing first, second, or third in every Absolute since 2001 with the exception of last year when he slipped to a minus score.  Brandhorst came back with a passion this year, racing neck and neck with O'Hare until the final months of the tournament.   

The endgame has always been a Brandhorst specialty.  Here he shows technique in winning the exchange up endgame against Sandy Greene


Hugo Concha of St. Lucie, Flordia,  eked past pace-setter Walter Brower to finish in third place by winning his last two games.  Hugo, a successful lawyer, uses his chess skills everywhere.  "Chess is crucial in my everyday life, even when I am not in front of a chessboard."  

The following game is a story of two Rooks - a happy Black Rook that dominates the d-file and an unhappy White Rook that meanders purposelessly along the 4th rank.



SIM Keith Holzmueller 

clip_image011.jpgKeith Holzmueller has earned the title of Senior International Master and will be awarded the certificate at the ICCF Congress in Kemer, Turkey.

Keith gained three SIM and a GM norm on the way, scoring +15 =17 -1 against an average rating of 2418, and bringing home a first place in the 26th World Championship semifinals.   

Keith's surprise Pawn capture on Move 33 clarifies his winning exchange sacrifice.





Swift Quad
John Terrall      09SQ11    6-0

Walter Muir
Richard Melnick  09W22   5½-½

Trophy Quad
Patrick Schilling   08Q13   5-1
Joseph Daudish    08Q13   5-1

John Collins
Robyn Wilde         08C20   5 ½-½
Matthew Myers    07C50   5 ½-½

Palciauskas Tournament
David Middleton   08P09    5-1

Quote: Correspondence chess isn't what it used to be - Fritz Baumbach


Michael Spradlin 1959-2010

clip_image013.jpgMichael Spradlin, born 24 March 1959, died in an accident 2010.  Michael was a long time correspondence player from Houston, Texas.




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].
There is something distinctly unfair about this game.  On Move 20 apparently the sun is shining on the White position and all is well with the world.  On Move 25, rain, thunder, lightning, and destruction and resignation reign.



Keith won his John Collins section by

 6-0. Here is one example of how.



2006 Electronic Knights Champion Gillmore Hoefdraad shows some of the skills that brought him the title.



When White decides he doesn't want to fight, Black shows him his claws, sharp, red, and bloody.



White hunts a King but captures the Queen.



This is a full chess game - interesting opening, combinative middlegame, and a delicate endgame - well played by both!



See a pdf index of Alex Dunne's columns on the Correspondence Chess section of the website. Also log in to read Dunne's article in the latest Chess Life Magazine, All Chess Players Should Have a Hobby. 


March - Chess Life Online 2010

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