Check is in the Mail: Join the Electronic Knights!

correspondence chess


Greetings! Last month’s column received a request from reader Jim Morrison for tournament games such as the Electronic Knights, and so this month’s column is dedicated to games from the 2022 Electronic Knights tournament, with gratitude to Jim for reading.

The Electronic Knights tournament is a large Round Robin tournament in which contestants are paired up in groups of seven, and they play one game each against every other player in the group (three as White and three as Black). The tournament consists of three stages: the preliminaries, the semi-finals and the finals. Those players who score 4½/6 or more points in a section will advance to the next round. The competition is fierce, and getting past the first round isn’t easy. All play is via email. More information about the Electronic Knights can be found on the list of Correspondence Chess Events Offered by US Chess | US

Our first game, Chirillo – Civan, shows John Chirillo tearing apart the Dutch Stonewall quickly and effectively. Ethan Civan is no weak player, so this game had to be an eye-opener! Black either sacrificed a pawn or hung one, but in either case White made the most of it, bringing home the point in only 23 moves.



I am not a fan of “system” openings, even though, I am also no fan of memorizing a “gajillion” book moves for each opening I choose to play. I find system openings (like the London System or the Colle Opening) to be a kind of “shortcut” to opening theory, and shortcuts can be unreliable or even dangerous. Systematic approaches take the thinking out of your moves, and you need to be able to explain each move you make. Of course, Magnus Carlsen makes me look a fool in writing these words, as he has beaten some of the world’s best with the London System, and so I should just sit in the corner with my mouth shut. But first I want to show you all a merciless takedown of the London System in our second game, McGroarty – Hilburn.



Our third game is one of my own. I have played in several sections of the Electronic Knights tournament, starting eight or nine years ago, and while I have played some good games, I rarely get close to the top. Last year I was able to win my section with a perfect 6/6, and so I am going to be playing in the semi-finals later this year. In the preliminaries, Anthony Gold tested my mettle in the Carlsbad structure, but his attempts to mix things up backfired. In the end, White’s pieces that weren’t pinned were too far away to help.



The preliminary rounds often find players who try to avoid opening theory, and those players are not to be taken lightly! Our fourth game, Miller – Hilburn, has White refusing a standard French Defense. Instead, both players are left to their own resources on move two! Both players struggled through the opening and into the middlegame, each overlooking small ways to make their positions stronger, with the position remaining close to equality until move 21. White’s 21st move permits a continuation that results in a significant endgame advantage for Black, but Black misses the chance, and the game peters out to a draw.



In Hilburn – Strobehn, Jerry Hilburn plays a form of the Scotch Gambit that I am unfamiliar with, and for which there are no games in my database. The fight was fairly level throughout, but Black first captured the d-file for his rooks, and then used the file to double his rooks on the second rank. White’s first move after that drops a piece.


Patrick Walsh, the winner of our sixth game, has forced me to turn over my king more than once. In this game, John Finnegan is his prey, and White’s knights run roughshod over Black’s bishops. In the end it is the White pawns that are the biggest threat.



In our final game, Finnegan – Hutson, Black plays for the Grunfeld Defense while White develops his kingside knight first. The simple pawn exchange in the center works better for White since Black is denied the knight exchange on c3. The advantage changes hands during the middlegame, but after the queens come off the board Black makes his final mistake, and he gives up the ship ten moves later.



I intend to make the Electronic Knights games a regular part of the column, and I would like to include games from the Golden Knights (correspondence) tournaments as well. However, I cannot get the scores of those games unless they are sent to me. So, I invite you all to send me your games (, analyzed or not, in pgn format or typed into an email, to be included in future columns. I also invite readers to suggest column ideas.

Stay safe, and good skill in your games!


“In Passing”

Paul O. Flueckiger of Navasota, Texas passed away on December 2, 2022.  He had a 1618 CC rating.

William H. Hutchinson of Palmer, Alaska passed away on February 13, 2023. He had a 1478 CC rating.

Craig W. Ellyson of Morehead City, NC passed away on April 16, 2023. He had a 1589 CC rating.

Recent Event Winners

Walter Muir E-Quad

22W22, Kevin Buswell 5½-½

23W03 Michael McCaffery 5-1

Victor Palciauskas

22VP12, Josh Pruett 6-0

John W. Collins Memorial

22C04 Craig Faber 6-0



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