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Correspondence Chess

sity level of the game and presented a challenge to the ability of the World to maintain its cohesiveness. Fortunately, a number of team members stepped up to keep the peace and all was well. Once again, it was a non-computer move by the World Team that allowed it to win the Exchange in this position:

The World versus Gert Jan Timmerman “Dead to the World”

-+-+-+-+ +-+-+-mkp ntrp+r+p+

pz -+psNp+- P+-+nzP-+ +-+LzP-zP- -zP-+-+-zP +-tRR+-mK-

After 30. ... Na6 White played 31. b4! (echoes of 36. b4!

in the game against GM Nickel), a fasci- nating gambit in which the pawn can be taken three ways, and yet Black is des- tined to lose the Exchange. After 31. ... Nxb4 32. Bxe4 fxe4 33. Nd7 Rb7 34. Nc5, the World went on to win an interesting endgame. For those who have further interest in this game, Tryfon Gavriel (kingscrusher) has an excellent video analysis on YouTube at watch?v=kXRV8AdQKCw.

The World Team’s fourth game was a

rematch against GM Arno Nickel. This time, however, Nickel understood just how seriously he needed to take this game in order to win. Before the game, he wrote, “In my first game against the World Team I just tried to play interesting chess and expected the success might come sooner or later. Now I know, the World Team is excellently organized for deep analysis, especially when it comes to a battle of bits and bytes. Here we can say the World Team is a monster with 99 eyes: it will find everything hidden deep down in the ocean of variations. Time to change strategies! I will eagerly wait for the rematch and, with White, try to sur- prise the Chessgames World Team with a completely new approach.” If the World has an Achilles heel, it’s the

opening phase. Perhaps exploiting this vulnerability was the “new approach” that Nickel mentioned, and indeed, the World got off to a rough start in the opening of the rematch. The opening seems to be a consistent weakness because of the format of these games. This may be because com-

34 Chess Life — August 2011

puters are of little or no value in opening analysis. It may also be because many people sign up for the game, vote for their favorite opening moves, and then disap- pear when the opening doesn’t go as they wished. These circumstances conspire to make it very difficult for the World Team to sustain a coherent opening strategy. In the Arno Nickel rematch, one key human move came early. In this position:

Arno Nickel versus The World “World Peace”

r+-wqk+-tr +p+lvlpzpp p+nzppsn-+ +-+-+-+- -+-sNP+-+ +-sN-vLP+- PzPPwQ-+PzP +-mKR+L+R

After 10. Be3 The Chessgames World Team’s deci-

sion to mix things up with 10. ... h5!? was wise given that GM Nickel hoped to avoid complications so as to keep the draw in hand. By move 22 or so, however, many on the World Team thought that the game was already lost. Fortunately, the World played another “human move” that proved critical in eventually securing the draw. In this position:

Arno Nickel versus The World “World Peace”

-+r+-mk-+ +l+-+pzp- pwq-zppsn-tr +p+-+-wQ- -+-sNP+-zp +LzP-+P+P PzP-+R+P+ +K+R+-+-

After 23. Bb3 The Chessgames World Team offered to

trade queens with 23. ... Qc5! Nickel could not allow 24. Qxc5 dxc5 where the pawns would capture either a knight or a bishop. After the transition to an interesting queen, rook, and pawns ending, the World Team agreed to Nickel’s offer of a draw accom- panying his 42nd move. After the game, Nickel wrote “... I did not want to take any risks, because it would have been a very bad feeling to lose a second time to the

World Team. This situation may explain some of my moves—like h2-h3. ... I don't know if after that I really missed a win. You suddenly started to defend very accurately, and all my analysis ... led to either drawn or dubious positions.” The draw in the second game with GM

Nickel was a wake-up call for many on the Chessgames World Team, as it signaled that the World was not invincible, espe- cially to a strong CC grandmaster who was willing to take chances to win. This set the stage for the World’s fifth game, played against the 13th World Correspon- dence Champion, Mikhail Umansky. In 1995, Umansky won the World Corre- spondence Championship, then in 2004 he scored clear first (leading by two whole points) in the ICCF 50 Years World Cham- pion Jubilee, an invitational tournament that included all living former ICCF world champions. The World knew that it was in for an arduous battle. The World Team had the black pieces

against a man known as “one of the most creative players in the world, similar to Kasparov in CC,” according to GM Tansel Turgut, one of the leaders in the 24th World Correspondence Championship. Umansky’s creativity kept the team off balance as he played a number of non- engine moves, and the team did not keep pace. One member lamented, “we are doing less and less thinking on our own,” as they increasingly relied upon the com- puters to just keep the position level. This was perhaps exacerbated by the schedul- ing, in which the tail end of the Nickel rematch and the opening of the Umansky game overlapped. The World was happy to accept Umansky’s offer of a draw after his 36th move in this position:

Mikhail Umansky versus The World “It Takes All Kinds”

-+-+r+k+ +pvl-+-zp- -+p+-+Q+

pz -vL-wq-+p P+-+-tR-zP +-+-+-+- -zP-+PzP-+ +-+-+-mK-

Final position That happiness was short-lived. The

chess community was shocked and sad- dened by the news that Umansky had passed away in December, 2010. The World Team’s sixth and most recent

game was played against WGM Natalia Pogonina. Pogonina is not only among the top women playing chess today, she is

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