Check Is In The Mail: May 2021

Greetings! I wanted to start this month’s article off by telling everyone about an exciting new opportunity for anyone even remotely interested in correspondence chess!

As many of you know or at least suspect, participation in correspondence chess has been shrinking for several years. That’s one of the things the Correspondence Chess Working Group (CCWG) has recently strived to address. One initiative this led to is the creation of a first-of-its-kind US Chess rated correspondence pyramid tournament on It starts on June 1st, 2021 and is open to players of all ages and skill levels. California chess coach and correspondence chess master Chris Torres will be running this tournament.

This event is a pilot program that will be used to gauge the viability and interest in having US Chess rated correspondence tournaments run by US Chess affiliates instead of solely through the US Chess Correspondence Chess Director. The hope of course is that events like this will draw increased participants into US Chess rated correspondence chess (also called Daily Chess on some websites) and US Chess as a whole. Increased participants in correspondence chess would hopefully spur more participants in Golden Knights (and other events) and enable us all to see a wider variety of opponents – and not be subjected to that feeling of “Aw man, I’ve got to play Michael Buss again?!” quite so often. [I know many of you know what I’m talking about…]

For those who might be unfamiliar, the pyramid tournament Chris will be running is an ongoing event similar to a “ladder event” that many folks will recognize from chess clubs, band experience, etc. The key difference between a pyramid tournament and a ladder event is that in the pyramid tourney the standings are grouped into “tiers”. For example, maybe tier/level 11 would be the players in places 56-66 in the rankings. Instead of just being able to challenge the person directly ahead of them in the rankings, a person might be able to challenge anyone above them in their tier and maybe a certain X number of tiers above them. That way a person doesn’t have to get stuck playing the same person over and over necessarily to advance.

Chris is running this new tournament through his affiliate, Daily Chess Musings, on the website. As alluded to earlier, this is the first affiliate-organized US Chess rated correspondence chess tournament.

For more details please check out the following links for the press release ( and the main tournament page (

A few final notes. Participants will have to remain members of US Chess and create a account. There is a small one-time entry fee to participate with a very small $5 annual renewal fee for every additional year one wants to participate. Please take a moment to check out the site and consider participating!

And now, on to the games!

In our first game, a battle between correspondence chess newcomers, Joydeep Bhattacharyya takes out Gerald MacDonald from the white side of Closed Sicilian. Out of a sideline of this opening, a slugfest begins to develop as Joydeep starts a kingside pawn that, after the pseudo-sacrifice of a pawn at move 23, culminates in a fine and instructive mating attack.

Note - this is also a game from our new/ICCF version of the Victor Palciauskas events, a worthwhile example of the exciting play that can be found there to those willing to throw their hat in the ring.

[pgn] [Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas ICCF"] [Round "21VP01"] [Date "2021.03.21"] [White "Bhattacharyya, Joydeep (Unr.)"] [Black "MacDonald, Gerald (Unr.)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.g3 b5 4.Bg2 e6 5.f4 Nc6 6.d3 d6 7.Nf3 Be7 8.O-O Nf6 9.h3 O-O 10.g4 Qb6 11.g5 Nd7 12.Ne2 c4+ 13.d4 e5 14.Be3 exf4 15.Nxf4 Nce5 16.Nd5 Nxf3+ 17.Rxf3 Qd8 18.Rg3 Bb7 19.e5 Bxd5 20.Bxd5 Rb8 21.Qh5 dxe5 22.Rf1 Qe8 23.g6 hxg6 24.Qxg6 Bf6 25.Rxf6 Nxf6 26.Qxg7# 1-0 [/pgn]
Game 2 features a game between two veteran stars of postal chess, Charles Jacobs and Keith Rodriguez, in the US Chess 2020 Absolute Championship. In this hard-fought draw, the players do battle until both are almost out of pieces.
[pgn] [Event "2020 Absolute Championship"] [Date "2020.03.01"] [Round "20A01"] [White "Jacobs Jr., Charles (2228)"] [Black "Rodriguez, Keith A. (2351)"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 c5 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.exd4 a6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Ne5 Bd7 8.Nxc6 Bxc6 9.Be2 e6 10.O-O Be7 11.Re1 O-O 12.Bd3 b5 13.a3 Qb6 14.Re3 g6 15.Ne2 Rfe8 16.Rh3 Nd7 17.Qd2 a5 18.Be5 Bf8 19.Qf4 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Ra7 21.g4 b4 22.a4 d4 23.b3 Qc5 24.Nxd4 Ba8 25.Nb5 Rd7 26.Re3 Qd5 27.Be4 Qd2 28.Bxa8 Rxa8 29.Rf3 Rc8 30.Qxd2 Rxd2 31.c4 bxc3 32.Nxc3 Rd4 33.h3 Bb4 34.Nd1 Rc5 35.Nb2 Rxe5 36.Rd3 Red5 37.Rad1 Rxd3 38.Rxd3 Rxd3 39.Nxd3 Bc3 40.g5 h6 41.h4 f5 42.f4 hxg5 43.hxg5 Kf8 44.Kf1 Ke7 45.Kg2 Kd6 46.Kg3 Kd5 47.Kf3 Bd4 48.Ne1 e5 49.fxe5 Bxe5 50.Ng2 Ke6 51.Ke3 Bg3 52.Kf3 Bd6 53.Nh4 Kf7 54.Ng2 Ke6 55.Nh4 Kf7 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Game 3 comes from the opening round of the 2019 Golden Knights tournament. Here, Vernon Young reaches 4.5 points and the semi-final round, by using the White side of a French Defense to score an upset draw against veteran master James Ellis.

Young plays well to eliminate his isolated d-pawn, leaving Ellis with an isolated, but passed, d-pawn of his own. After White loses a pawn at move 25, he battles to hold the position despite the ongoing liquidation of forces. Young regains the pawn roughly 20 moves later and, in a complicated queen and minor pieces endgame with apparent chances for both sides, the combatants agree to peacefully coexist.

[pgn] [Event "2019 Golden Knights"] [Round "19N05"] [Date "2019.02.22"] [White "Young, Vernon (1753)"] [Black "Ellis, James R. (2328)"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 c5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6 9. exf6 Nxf6 10. O-O Bd6 11. Nf3 Qc7 12. h3 O-O 13. Be3 Bd7 14. Rc1 Be8 15. Qb3 Qd7 16. a3 Bh5 17. Nd2 a6 18. Ng3 Bf7 19. Qd1 e5 20. Bf5 Be6 21. Bxe6+ Qxe6 22. dxe5 Bxe5 23. Bc5 Rfe8 24. Re1 Qf7 25. Nf5 Bxb2 26. Rxe8+ Nxe8 27. Rb1 Qxf5 28. Rxb2 b5 29. Nf3 Rc8 30. Be3 Nf6 31. Rc2 h6 32. Nd4 Nxd4 33. Rxc8+ Qxc8 34. Qxd4 Qc4 35. Qa7 Qc6 36. Qb8+ Kh7 37. Qf4 Qe6 38. Bd4 Qe1+ 39. Kh2 Qe4 40. Qd2 Ne8 41. Qb2 Qd3 42. Be5 a5 43. f4 Kg6 44. Qf2 Nf6 45. Qb6 Qc4 46. Qxa5 d4 47. Bxf6 gxf6 48. g4 Qe2+ 49. Kg3 h5 50. gxh5+ Kxh5 51. Qb6 Qe3+ 52. Kg2 Qd2+ 53. Kg3 Qc3+ 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Our last game this month comes to us from the pen of Douglas Stewart, who won this key game against Clarence Anderson to win the Walter Muir e-quad 20W12. Douglas also graciously provided annotations, embedded in the game score, for this game. Enjoy!
[pgn] [Event "2020 Walter Muir E-Quad"] [Round "20W12"] [Date "2020.05.15"] [White "Stewart, Douglas (1760)"] [Black "Anderson, Clarence (1743)"] [Result "1-0"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. a7 {lesser explored, but as good as immediate e4} Rxa7 8. e4 O-O 9. Nf3 e6 10. Be2 (10. dxe6 fxe6 11. Bd3 d5 {seems more fun for Black}) 10... exd5 11. exd5 d6 12. O-O Ba6 {in this position it'd be better to use the bishop to attack d5 from b7} ({ more typical is} 12... Na6 13. Nb5 Rd7 14. Bc4 Bb7 15. Bg5 {and Black needs to play pretty actively}) 13. Re1 Bxe2 14. Rxe2 {not a lot of compensation at this point} Nbd7 15. Bf4 {my novelty - this and h3 should be pretty interchangeable against best play} (15. Nb5 Ra6 16. Bf4 Qb8 17. a4 $14 { 0-1 (51) Ruecker,B (2274) -Wittmann,M (2073) Bayern 2019}) 15... Qb8 $6 (15... Nb6 {here or the next move}) 16. h3 Qb6 $6 17. a4 {the right time} Nh5 (17... Rfa8 {is obvious and best}) 18. Bh2 Bxc3 19. bxc3 Rfa8 20. Nd2 Ra6 21. Nc4 Qc7 22. Rea2 Nhf6 23. Qd3 {was a struggle trying to figure out the best way to convert my advantage} (23. a5 {is best here or the next move}) 23... Ne8 (23... Qb7 24. Ra3 $1 Qxd5 25. Qxd5 Nxd5 26. a5 {is winning}) 24. g4 Nb6 25. Nxb6 Qxb6 26. c4 Qa7 27. Kg2 Ra5 {the rook has no future here} (27... Qd7 {immediately looks better}) 28. Bf4 Qd7 29. Qd1 (29. Re2 $1 Rxa4 30. Rae1 R4a7 31. Qg3 Rc7 32. Bh6 {is winning}) 29... f5 30. f3 fxg4 31. hxg4 Qf7 (31... h5 32. Qd3 Qf7 33. Bd2 R5a7 34. a5 $18) 32. Bg3 R5a7 33. Re2 Re7 34. Raa2 Rxe2+ 35. Rxe2 Qd7 36. Qe1 Rd8 ({or} 36... Ng7 37. Re7 Qxa4 38. Qc3 Ne8 39. Qe3 Ng7 40. Be5 $3 { freeing an escape square for the White king}) 37. Bh4 Ra8 38. Re7 Qc8 39. Qe3 Ng7 40. Bf6 Ne8 41. Qh6 {Black resigned} 1-0 [/pgn]

Thirty-Month Limit and Adjudications

All sections that started prior to July 1, 2018 have been closed out and any games still open in those sections declared drawn per our thirty-month rule. At the end of this month (May), all sections that started prior to August 1, 2018 will be closed out. If you still have an active game going in such an event, you have until the end of the month to request a claim of a win or draw by following the adjudication instructions in the rules. If neither player submits a claim, the games will be declared drawn.

Recent Event Winners

18C07 Scott Sensiba, 5-1
19C11, Cory Bloch, 5.5-0.5

20W12 Douglas Stewart, 4-2
21W20 Gregory Hall, 4.5-1.5

19V01 John Walton, 5-1

Oh, last but certainly not least, last month I mentioned Tim Corkum winning the 2018 Electronic Knights championship. I have the results from the Finals section and plan to include those in next month’s article.

See you then!