Check Is In The Mail: July 2021


I hope everyone is having a great summer and enjoying “getting back to normal”…or whatever passes for normal these days. I don’t have any significant topics to talk about this month, but I do have a few items (in addition to some great games!) that I hope you find interesting.

I found this anonymous quote recently that I think many of us can identify with… "A bad day of chess is better than any good day at work."

Tell me that doesn’t ring true on the first day back at work after a vacation!

Our first game features newcomer, at least to rated correspondence chess, James Clawson versus Steven Johnson. In his first US Chess rated correspondence tourney, Clawson won Victor Palciauskas section 21VP03 with a 5½-½ score! In the below game, Clawson defeats Johnson from the Black side of a Queen’s Pawn Game, generating an overwhelming mating attack in the process.

Check out the spectacular finish!! (It made me want to throw out a few gold coins…!)

[pgn][Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas ICCF (21VP03)"] [White "Johnson, Steven"] [Black "Clawson, James"] [Result "0-1"] 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 e6 4.e3 Bb4 5.Bd3 O-O 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.O-O a6 8.Re1 b6 9.h3 Bb7 10.a3 Bd6 11.Ne5 Ne7 12.Qf3 Ng6 13.Nxg6 fxg6 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Nd1 Nh5 16.Qg4 e5 17.Nc3 Qf6 18.f3 Rae8 19.Rad1 Bc8 20.dxe5 Rxe5 21.Qd4 c5 22.Qa4 b5 23.Qb3 Qh4 24.Nxd5 Be6 25.Be4 Rxe4 26.fxe4 Qf2+ 27.Kh1 Kh8 28.Rg1 Ng3+ 29.Kh2 Rf3 30.Qd3 Nf1+ 31.Rdxf1 Rxh3# 0-1[/pgn]

Has anyone out there ever heard of a chess variant called Pocket Knight Chess? I stumbled across this a few days ago in Anne Sunnucks’ The Encyclopaedia of Chess. Apparently, Pocket Knight Chess is a chess variant where each player literally has an extra knight in their pocket that they can play at any point in the game, when it’s their turn, by placing the knight on ANY vacant square instead of moving a piece…

Thought you’d heard of everything? This was a new one for me. Hopefully some of you find it interesting as well. If any of you have played this variant before, please let me know – especially if you have a game score you can share. It might be interesting to try that as an informal postal game sometime…

I already published a game last month from John Walton’s victory in Victor Palciauskas Tournament 19V01 but, in looking through the games, I thought some of you would be interested in this one also. John sacs a pawn early on the White side of a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, but regains it shortly thereafter while maintaining the initiative. Both sides get saddled with isolated pawns. Black undertakes an operation to rid himself of his backward c-pawn with 21…c5, but errs a few moves later allowing White to fork his rook and bishop. Normally this wouldn’t be the end of the world, but the king’s recapture of the lost bishop moves it to a square where White can advance 26. b5! clearing b4 for his own bishop to threaten to skewer Black’s king and other rook. Black having to avoid that fate allows White to set up a devilish mating net in the center of the board and force resignation. A great lesson (for me at least!) of pushing your opponent closer and closer to the edge of the cliff until…

[pgn][Event "2019 Victor Palciauskas Tournament (19V01)"] [White "Walton, John (2218)"] [Black "Leach, Charlie (2119)"] [Result "1-0"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 e5 4. Nf3 exd4 5. Bxc4 Nc6 6. 0-0 Be6 7. Bxe6 fxe6 8. Qb3 Qd7 9. Qxb7 Rb8 10. Qa6 Nf6 11. Nbd2 Bd6 12. a3! 0-0 13. b4! e5 14. Ne1!{+-} Ne7 15. f3 Ng6 16. Nc4 Qf7 17. Na5 Rb6 18. Qc4 Nd7 19. Qxf7+ Kxf7 20. Nd3 Ke6 21. Bd2{+-} c5 22. Rfc1 cxb4 23. axb4 Nb8? 24. Nc4 Rb7 25. Nxd6 Kxd6 26. b5! Rxb5 27. Rxa7 Rg8 28. Bb4+ Ke6 29. g3 Rb6 30. Rcc7 1-0[/pgn]
Our third game comes to us from 2021 Electronic Knights preliminary 21EN05 where Patrick Ryan is currently 4-0. In this game 1780-rated Ed Krickel puts forth a valiant effort against Ryan who’s currently 21st on the US Chess Top 100 Correspondence Players rating list.

White leads with a Closed Sicilian and closes the center in the early middlegame, limiting tactics but blocking in his remaining bishop. Ryan, as Black, seemed to wait coiled like a snake for a chance to strike. After slowly taking the initiative on moves 25-27, Black finds that chance. After 31. Be2 Black uncorks a tactical finesse to steal White’s d-pawn. After 36…Nxd4 a second pawn will soon fall, likely enabling Black’s passed pawn to carry the day.

A smooth, instructive win by Pat Ryan but also a superlative effort by Ed Krickel in making Pat really work for the W.

[pgn][Event "2021 Electronic Knights (21EN05)"] [White "Krickel, Edward (1780)"] [Black "Ryan, Patrick (2326)"] [Result "0-1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Qc2 Qc7 5. Be2 g6 6. d3 Bg7 7. 0-0 0-0 8. h3 b6 9. Bf4 e5 10. Bh2 Bb7 11. Na3 Nc6 12. Rfe1 a6 13. Nc4 b5 14. Ne3 Nd8 15. a4 Ne6 16. Nd2 Nf4 17. Bf3 Rfe8 18. Bg3 Bc6 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. Ng4 Nd7 21. d4 Rab8 22. d5 Bb7 23. axb5 axb5 24. c4 Bc8 25. Rb1 bxc4 26. Nxc4 Ba6 27. Nd2 h5 28. Nh2 Rb4 29. b3 Nb6 30. Rbc1 Qb8 31. Be2 Bxe2 32. Rxe2 Nxd5 33. Nhf3 Ne7 34. Qd3 Nc6 35. R2e1 Bd4 36. Nxd4 Nxd4 0-1[/pgn]

“Some sacrifices are sound; the rest are mine.” - GM and former World Champion Mikhail Tal

When taking over writing The Check Is In The Mail, I promised myself I wouldn’t be “that guy” that published way too many of his own games, especially his victories. If I did publish one, it would (hopefully) only be if it was: really good, had some interesting or instructive features, or there was some other extenuating circumstance. This one fits the bill since: I lost (again!), someone else recommended including it as it moved Michael Buss to 5-0 in our Golden Knights section and clinched his spot in the semi-final round, and Mike graciously provided me some notes on where I strayed and what I might have done instead to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the crosstable. In my (potentially) never-ending quest to play well enough to score against Mr. Buss, I trotted out the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez - an effort to avoid whatever labyrinth Mike might drag me into in a more traditional Ruy line. Mike noted that we were still pretty much equal at move 23. I had been holding my own to this point, but 24. Bg5 was the start of my undoing. I didn’t want to ‘play for a draw’ as that often backfires, thinking that if I keep playing for a win (as long as I don’t mess up) I might be able to move into a position where I can force a draw. In doing so, I committed an age-old mistake. I could see the “cons” involved in 24. Bg5 as it lets Black rid himself of his bad bishop. And I couldn’t clearly see the “pros”. Bg5 “looked” like it should be good, but my gut feeling was telling me it wasn’t. And in the absence of finding something better, I started to see something that wasn’t there and talked myself into believing it was the best move. Unfortunately for me, in addition to helping Mike get rid of a weakness, it also allowed him to push into my kingside. And, he found some ways I didn’t see to defend his kingside and blunt my initiative there. In trying to maintain the thread of the position, and not lose whatever shred of initiative I had left (I know what been on the defensive against Mike is like!), I start to drift away from my uncertain plan and eventually blunder with 30. Ng2?

But the key here isn’t the blunder. The key is Mike playing resolute and creative defense against a lesser-rated player and forcing him to make the very best move every single time – and then taking advantage every time I didn’t!

[pgn][Event "2020 Golden Knights (20N07)"] [White "Cox, Larry (2100)"] [Black "Buss, Michael (2464)"] [Result "0-1"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. 0-0 Bg4 6.h3 h5 7.d3 Qf6 8. Be3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 Qxf3 10.gxf3 Bd6 11. Nd2 Ne7 12. Rfb1 c5 13. Kf1 f5 14.exf5 Nxf5 15. Ke2 0-0 16.c3 b6 17. Rg1 Kh7 18. Ne4 Be7 19. Rg2 g6 20. Rag1 Nh4 21. Rg3 Rab8 {I’ve caused most of my key pieces to be tied up in my perceived initiative on the kingside, so I’m not wanting to move anything that would let the pressure off there.} .22.b3 a5 23.a4 Kg7 24. Bg5 Bxg5 {Mike notes that 24. Ra1 would have held equality here.} 25. Rxg5 Kh6 26. Nd2 Rbe8 27. Nc4 Re6 28. R5g3 Rf5 29. Ne3 Rf4 {30. Nc4 here, as I’d originally considered, might have held here Mike confirmed.} 30. Ng2 Nf5 31. Nxf4 exf4+ 32. Kd2 fxg3 33.fxg3 g5 34.g4 Ne7 35.gxh5 Kxh5 36. Rg4 Ng6 37.d4 cxd4 38.cxd4 Rf6 39. Ke3 Nh4 0-1 [/pgn]
For our final game this month I wanted to showcase the following effort from Christopher Ward and Egbert Schroeer in the 2021 Electronic Knights section 21EN09. It started on May 17th and was finished by May 26th, veritable “speed chess” by correspondence standards!

The game starts out as a London Opening. Schroeer, as Black, starts to turn the tide with 6….c5 and 7….Qb6 leading to a shift in the opening favoring Black. Black then uses his 7-9th moves to divert White’s queen and bishop battery from the b1-h7 diagonal and throw White’s development into disarray. He later sacs a pawn with 16…e5. Shortly afterward, it appears White misjudges and with 18.Nxe4 allows Black to protect his advanced passed pawn. Ward starts to block the position with pawns but, after Black regains his pawn on move 21, Schroeer craftily pries open the position and goes up a pawn of his own.

After that Black skillfully liquidated into a won endgame, finishing things off by almost completely paralyzing White by the 34th move.

Check this one out – well worth a look. Personally, I was very impressed by the clarity of Egbert’s path to “winning this won game”. And, thanks to Mr. Ward for sending it in.

[pgn][Event "2021 Electronic Knights (21EN09)"] [White "Ward, Christopher (1549)"] [Black "Schroeer, Egbert (Unr.)"] [Result "0-1"] 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.Nf3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.h3 O-O 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Qb6 8.Qc2 c4 9.Be2 Bf5 10.Qc1 Nbd7 11.g4 Bd3 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.Bxe5 Ne4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Bxd3 cxd3 16.Nd2 e5 17.dxe5 f5 18.Nxe4 dxe4 19.g5 Rad8 20.Qd2 Qe6 21.f4 exf3 22.O-O Qd5 23.Qh2 Rfe8 24.Rad1 Qxa2 25.Rxf3 Qa4 26.Rd2 Qe4 27.Kf2 Rxe5 28.Qf4 a5 29.Qxe4 fxe4 30.Rf4 Rf8 31.Rxf8 Kxf8 32.Kg3 Rf5 33.Kg4 a4 34.Rd1 b5 35.h4 Rf2 0-1[/pgn]
Next month – more games! As always, if you have questions, suggestions, or games to contribute, please feel free to email me at

See you then!


Notes from the Office:

Recent Event Winners

18C10, Claude Corbett, 5-1

20W15, Robert Heisler, 4.5-1.5
20W17, Mark Herrmann, 4-2
21W15, Edward Schweikert, 4.5-1.5
21W16, Steven Johnson, 5.5-0.5
21W19, John Sandora, 6-0

20SQ10, Joe Beauvais, 6-0
21SQ01, Nicholas Threloff, 5.5-0.5

21VP03, James Clawson, 5.5-0.5

2014 Golden Knights Finals Update

Here are the current standings in the 2014 Golden Knights Finals. 14Nf01 is complete and 14Nf02 still has some games in play.

Name Prelim Score Semi Score Final Score Total
Michael Buss 14N04 5.5 14Ns01 5 14Nf01 5 39.00
Thomas Connelly 14N09 5 14Ns02 4.5 14Nf01 4.5 35.15
Gregory Cross 14N07 6 14Ns01 5 14Nf01 4 35.00
Michael Buss 14N17 6 14Ns04 6 14Nf02 3.5 34.95
James Ellis 14N15 6 14Ns02 4.5 14Nf01 4 33.90
Michael Calogridis 14N11 4.5 14Ns05 5 14Nf02 3.5 31.25
Gary Adams 14N20 6 14Ns06 5 14Nf02 2.5 28.25
Edward Addis 14N11 5 14Ns04 5 14Nf01 2 25.00
Robert Miehm 14N09 5 14Ns03 5.5 14Nf01 1.5 23.85
Abe Wilson 14N19 6 14Ns06 5 14Nf02 1.5 23.75
Edward Addis 14N16 6 14Ns05 4 14Nf02 1.5 21.55
Richard McLaughlin 14N03 5.5 14Ns03 4 14Nf02 1.5 21.05
Rafael Camacho 14N03 5.5 14Ns02 4.5 14Nf01 0 15.40
Thomas Connelly         14Nf02 2 9.00

2014 Golden Knights Final 14Nf02

  Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
1 Michael Buss (2422)   D W D   W D 3.5
2 Gary Adams (2387) D   D     W D 2.5
3 Thomas Connelly (2386) L D   D D   D 2.0
4 Richard McLaughlin (2206) D   D     L D 1.5
5 Abe Wilson (2229)     D     D D 1.5
6 Edward Addis (2173) L L   W D   L 1.5
7 Michael Calogridis (2248) D D D D D W   3.5