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rather keep them to myself! That said, many more openings have practical chances in OTB chess due to the greater number of variables, such as the clock, fatigue, preparation, tournament posi- tion, and the psychological element of surprise. But psychology plays very little role in correspondence chess. Instead, objectively superior chess is the sole driver for better results in correspondence chess. So the primary focus is upon finding cor- rect/best play.


I am sure you have heard this many times: there are a number of writers who opine that correspondence chess is dead or dying. What is your opinion on this? It’s sad to admit this, but I think this is correct for top-level correspondence chess. After all, proverbial best play in chess results in a draw. And since correspon- dence chess is played at a higher level than OTB chess, then it approaches the theoretical best play scenario and thus results in more draws. Nonetheless, wins are still possible there, although they’re less common than in top-level OTB tournaments.


In the same vein, CC has a poor reputation among OTB players. Many masters look down on CC masters and even CC grand- masters. What is your reply to them? I think their originally negative attitudes are changing for the better presently. After all, top OTB chess players now pre- pare their openings with computer assistance and study opponent’s games


Numbers One To Eleven It has been over forty years since the United States gained


its first international correspondence chess grandmaster. Hans Berliner achieved that title in 1968. After winning three Golden Knights championships (1955, 1956, 1959) with per- fect 18-0 scores, he went on to win the Fifth World Championship by the largest margin ever, ceding only four draws along the way. It took 15 more years before another grandmaster came our way. Victor Palciauskas earned that title in 1983. Victor tied for first in the Second North Ameri- can Correspondence Chess Championship with an outstanding 12½-1½ score. Victor then moved on to win the Tenth World Championship, cementing the title in 1984. Alik Zilberberg became our third grandmaster eleven years after Victor in 1994. Alik finished second in the Eighth USSR Postal Cham- pionship and in 1979 emigrated to the United States. The home-grown grandmasters were ushered in with the


arrival of Joseph DeMauro in 1997. Joe finished second in the Horowitz Invitational and played first board for the U.S. team that qualified for the 13th Olympiad finals. The year 2004 brought in two U.S. grandmasters, Robin Smith, whose book Modern Chess Analysis was a ground-breaking study of the use of chess engines in international correspondence chess


38 Chess Life — August 2011


play, and John Timm, who tied for first in the 1986 Golden Knights and earned his grandmaster title in the XIX World Championships and the Veinger Memorial. In 2007 Jason Bokar earned his title playing first board for the U.S. in the 17th Olympiad, a shared first place in the Cecil Purdy Jubilee Tournament B, and at the time of this writing stands, unde- feated, in third place in the 24th World Championship. Daniel Fleetwood brought the title home in 2008. Daniel won the 1993 Absolute Championship and earned a grandmaster (GM) norm as third board in the 14th Olympiad and first board in the 15th. In 2009 the title was awarded to Edward Duliba who has been a dominant force in recent domestic play as well as in the international arena. Domestically Duliba has com- pleted the Grand Slam of U.S. correspondence chess play—first place in the USCF Absolute, the Golden Knights, and the ICCF/U.S. United States Championship. Number 10, GM Jon Ostriker, came in 2010. Jon scored above the GM norm in both the 23rd World Championship Candidates and the 23rd World Championship final where he finished with an undefeated +4 and a tie for third place. And now into this pantheon of distinguished American grandmasters comes #11—GM Stephen Ham.


uschess.org


with them as well. So, they are becoming more like us. But in the late ’90s I received many negative comments from OTB play- ers. Today, many OTB GMs seek out correspondence chess games and players for input. I won’t mention any names, but I’ve had some positive experiences sharing ideas and analysis with GMs. And it was well publicized that GM Topalov had a correspondence chess player on his team of seconds in his match with GM Anand.


Do you have a favorite Ham game you could share with us? And also—do you have a favorite game by another CC player? Are there any CC players whose play you admire? I do have a favorite game. It is one I anno- tated for the public in Chess Today e-zine. It’s Ham-Weber, 28th World Championship 2008-9. It’s a typical Ham game whereby small advantages are accumulated until the victory is resolved on the endgame. Here is that game, with my notes.


Exchange Gruenfeld (D85) Stephen Ham (2535) Jean Weber (2600) 28th World Championship, 2008


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8. Rb1 0-0 9. Be2 b6 10. 0-0 Bb7 11. Qd3 e6 12. Bg5 Qc7 13. Qe3 Nd7 14. e5 Rae8 15. Bb5 Bc6 16. a4


Ham keeps the tension, improving on Bennborn-Weber, 28th World Champi-


onship 16. Bxc6 Qxc6 17. Bh6 Bxh6 18. Qxh6 f6 drawn in 37.


16. ... Bxb5?! This exchange transforming White’s


potentially weak a-pawn into one that dominates Black’s a- and b-pawns has to be suspect. Two other choices here have been 16. ... a6 17. Bxa6 Bxa4 leading to typically quick draws Wojtaszek-Chep- arinov, Budva 2009 and the more ambitious 16. ... Qb7 as in Saute-Kermer, Veterans World Cup 2008.


17. axb5 f6 18. Bf4 cxd4 19. cxd4 fxe5 20. Bxe5 After 20. dxe5, it is White’s bishop that


is bad with increased drawing chances to Black.


20. ... Nxe5 21. dxe5 This is the position White was aiming


for after 16. ... Bxb5. Black’s queenside play is minimal and White's e5-pawn is strong and cramps Black’s kingside. Black also has to worry about the possi- bility of White’s doubling rooks on the a-file so the rooks will soon come off.


21. ... Rd8 22. Rbc1 Qe7 23. Qe2 Rd5 24. Rfd1 Rfd8 25. h4 Rxd1+ 26. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 27. Qxd1 h6


If Black seeks activity, a long-winded


possibility is 27. ... Qc5 28. Qd8+ Bf8 29. Qe8 Qc1+ 30. Kh2 Qf4+ 31. Kh3 Qf5+ 32. Kg3 h5 33. Qc6 Qg4+ 34. Kh2 Qf4+ 35. Kg1 Qf5 36. Ng5 Qxe5 37. Qd7 Qg7 38. Qxe6+ Kh8 39. Qe8 Kg8 40. Kh2 Qf6


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