Check Is In The Mail: January 2023

"… And the rest is a matter of technique!"

As a young player I hated seeing these words in a game annotation, for two reasons. For one, it meant we were headed to an ending, and I was not a fan of endings. Second, I didn’t understand many of the moves that followed those words, so I wasn’t having any fun. Those were the days for me when tactics and sacrifices were everything, and if I made it to the ending, it was because I didn’t try hard enough in the middle game! Endings weren’t exciting for me.

That feeling lasted until I got beat in an ending I should have won, and finally realized that my aversion to endings was costing me points. When I looked closer at the games of my favorite players of the time (Fischer, Tal and Alekhine) I found a large number of endgame wins that I had previously ignored. Further study of those games showed me that endgame skills separate the world-class GMs from the run-of-the-mill GMs. Alekhine once said that a player needed to beat him three times; once in the opening, again in the middlegame, and yet again the ending. To me that meant that if I don’t develop my endgame skills, I am likely to lose half-points (or even full points!) when facing stronger players. So, I buckled down to work on my endings, and when I did, I found a whole new world of chess. One thing that really surprised me was that working on my endings caused my middlegame to be stronger. Originally, I thought it was because I was better at spotting good endings while still in the middlegame, but what I also found was that I was better at coordinating my pieces in the middlegame after learning how to coordinate them in the endgame.

This month’s games all went into the endgame and were decided there. Sometimes the results are as expected — technique wins — while other times the winner is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake, as Savielly Tartakower once famously joked. However they may end up, all of the games have lessons to offer. So have fun!


“The amount of points that can be gained (and saved) by correct endgame play is enormous, yet often underestimated by youngsters and amateurs.” - Edmar Mednis


In the game McCaffery – Acosta, what starts as a Closed Catalan slowly devolves after Black captures on c4. Once his pieces are in place, White chooses the right time to break in the center, and in the ensuing tussle Black drops a knight. Michael McCaffery shows solid technique in bringing home the win. A good example of making a material advantage count!



In Bougher – Dudley, James Bougher takes on the higher-rated Michael Dudley’s Grünfeld Defense with a temporary pawn sacrifice, resulting in a bishop and two rook ending with opposing pawn majorities. One small slip by Black is enough to allow White to plant a rook on the seventh rank, followed shortly by obtaining a passed pawn. Some shaky technique on White’s part allows for a few opportunities for counterplay, which however Black fails to take advantage of. In the end (pun intended!), White is victorious, having passed pawns on both rook files. I expect to hear more from James Bougher!



The game Glover – Buswell, the former uses the Exchange variation of the Caro Kann, which used to be considered an unambitious line until Bobby Fischer used it do defeat Tigran Petrosian in the match USSR v. The World back in 1970. Both players held their own for the first 15 moves, but then Black let up on the queenside pressure long enough for White to steal the initiative. White attempted to overrun the kingside but exposed his own king in the process. The ensuing fight ended with the parties roughly equal, until White offered to trade queens. That decision cost him a pawn and left him struggling to survive. The resulting rook-and-pawn endgame gave Buswell no trouble.



Our last game, Jacobs – Irons, uses the Carlsbad variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, one of my favorite structures to play (from either side!). I am proud of this game because I normally prefer to play against an isolated d-pawn rather than with one, but in this game, I not only played successfully with the isolani, but I did so against an uncompromising player. I managed to obtain active piece play and even a pawn attack against White’s king, without risking too much in the process. While not an exciting game, it showed me that I am capable of playing positions I used to fear. That is a pretty good feeling.



If you have a game you are particularly proud of (or confused by!), please send it in, with or without analysis, to Click here to show email address. It might show up in a future column!

All the best in 2023,


News From the Front Office


In Passing….

Scott W. Sensiba of Marble Hill, Missouri passed away on November 9, 2022: Scott W. Sensiba Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information (

He was a prolific correspondence chess player having played or was playing in 73 US Chess CC events since 2004.

Golden Knights and Electronic Knights Championships

The 81st Annual Golden Knights Championship 2023 (postal) and 20th Annual Electronic Knights 2023 (email) commenced play on January 1. More information can be found @

Recent Event Winners

John W. Collins Memorial Quad
20C14, Curtis Ain, 6-0

20C15, Allen Woollen, 4.5-1.5

20C17, Tim McGill, 5.5-0.5

21C15, Ron Hall & Allen Woollen, 5-1

Trophy Quads
20T04, Michael Labac, 4.5-1.5

Walter Muir E-Quad
22W17, David Will, 6-0