The November Check Is in the Mail

Andrew Leonard
Game of the Month
Andrew Leonard of Columbia, SC, who shared first place earlier this year in a Walter Muir tournament, earned an uncontested first place in this Swift Quad.
[pgn][Event "16SQ08"]
[Site "USCF"]
[Date "2016.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Leonard, Andrew"]
[Black "Leslie, Cameron"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C98"]
[WhiteElo "2190"]
[BlackElo "1998"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6
8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 Nc6 {This retreat does not
score well in recent US Chess correspondence games -- 1/2-5 1/2. The
alternatives 12..., cxd4 does better -- +6 -2 =7 in US Chess. 12...Bd7 has yet
to be tried in US correspondence, but is fairly popular OTB -- 12...Bd7 13.
Nf1 Nc4 14. b3 Nb6 15. Ne3 was So-Carlsen, Qatar 2015 with a slight edge to
White.} 13. d5 Nd8 {More flexible seems 13...Na5.} 14. c4 {Not as strong as 14.
a4 as in Lagrave-Lombaers, Gibraltar 2014, which continued 14...Rb8 15. axb5
axb5 16. b4 Bd7 17. Nf1 Ne8 18. Ne3 with an edge,} Bd7 {Martinez Duany-Borges
Mateos, Cuba 2016, continued 14...Nd7 15. Bd3 b4 drawn in 23.} 15. Nf1 Ne8 {
Black needed to put c4 under some pressure to gain play -- 15...Nb7 16. Ne3
Na5 was worth a try.} 16. Ne3 g6 17. b3 {With 17. a4 White shuts down any
Black counterplay on the queenside, allowing White to turn his attention to
Black's cramped kingside.} Ng7 18. cxb5 axb5 19. a4 Nb7 20. Bd2 f5 {Diagram #
Black mistakenly opens up his kingside to the better plaved White forces.
After 20....bxa4 21. bxa4 Na5 chances remain about even.} 21. axb5 f4 22. Nc4
Bxb5 23. Bd3 Bd7 {Black has to meet the threat of Nxe5.} 24. Re2 {White has
plans for dominating the a-file by this mysterious looking Rook lift.} Rfb8 25.
Bc3 Nd8 $2 {Black has major problems even after the superior 25...Ne8 26. Rea2
Rxa2 26. Rxa2 Nd7 28. Nfxe5! dxe5 29. Bxe5 Bd6 30. Nxd6 Nxd6 31. Nxf4 when
White is winning.} 26. Nfxe5 $1 {White has a winning attack after 26....dxe5
27. Bxe5 Qb7 28. Bxb8 Qxb8 29. Rxa8 Qxa8 30. d6 Bg5 31. Nb6 Qc6 32. Nxd7 Qxd7
33, Bc4+ Kh8 34. Qd6 Nge6 35. Ra2} dxe5 {1-0} 27. Bxe5 Qb7 28. Bxb8 Qxb8 29.
Rxa8 Qxa8 30. d6 Bg5 31. Nb6 Qc6 32. Nxd7 Qxd7 33. Bc4+ Kh8 34. Qd5 Nge6 35.
Ra2 1-0[/pgn]

John Collins

            Thomas Babcock   15C12   4-2

Swift Quad

              Andrew Leonard     16SQ08   5 ½-½

Trophy Quads

            Robert Ulrich    15Q07   6-0

Walter Muir

            Thomas Kirk    17W12   4 ½-1 ½

            Thomas Haggard   17W14  4 ½-1 ½

            Alex Strobehn        17W14  4 ½-1 ½

            Ronald Roberts      17W16  5-1

White finishes strongly in this Walter  Muir fight.
[pgn][Event "17W16"]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2017.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Roberts, Ronald"]
[Black "Segreto, Thomas"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D86"]
[WhiteElo "1311"]
[BlackElo "1351"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8.
Ne2 cxd4 9. cxd4 Nc6 10. Be3 O-O 11. O-O a6 12. Rb1 e6 13. e5 b5 14. Bb3 Ne7
15. Bg5 Qd7 16. Qd2 Bb7 17. Bf6 Nf5 18. Bc2 Qd5 19. f3 Qxa2 20. Rfd1 Qd5 21.
Bxf5 exf5 22. Nf4 Qc6 23. Nh5 gxh5 24. Qg5 1-0[/pgn]
IM Tom Williams
IM Tom Williams has won the first California State Championship (ICCF).  The double round robin tournament began in fall 2016 with six of the highest rated California residents invited, including two IM’s and two SIM’s.  There was only one decisive game in the tournament which Tom won.
[pgn][Event "1st Calif St Championship"]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2016.10.31"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Williams, Thomas"]
[Black "Ballow, John"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A45"]
[WhiteElo "2422"]
[BlackElo "2416"]
[Annotator "Williams,Thomas J"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2016.10.31"]
[EventType "corr"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV 17 IM Tom Williams has won the first California State Championship (ICCF)
. The double round robin tournament began in Fall 2016, with six of the
highest rated California residents invited, including two IMs and two SIMs.
There was only one decisive game in the tournament, which Tom annotates below.
Through correspondence chess, I have met several fascinating opponents, whom I
now consider friends. IM John Ballow is one of the most interesting. This is
the third time I have faced him. In the first two games I made difficult draws
with black.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 {Since engines are allowed in ICCF, it sometimes
makes sense to play openings that the engines don't understand very well. I
believe that is the case with the Trompowsky Attack. Plus, I saw that John was
struggling in a game started earlier in the year with this opening.} e6 {Right
away, John varies from his other game in this opening.} (2... c5 3. d5 Ne4 4.
Bf4 Qb6 5. Bc1 {Ha! The white dsB has now moved three times in the first five
moves, and is back to its home square! And yet, white has had good results
from here, so I would have been happy to follow this line if John played it
again.} g6 6. f3 Nd6 (6... Nf6 {Might be better.}) 7. e4 Bg7 8. Nc3 {De Carlos
Arregui went on to win this ICCF game as white against Ballow later in 2016.})
3. e4 h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6 5. c3 g6 {I think white now has a small advantage. While
black has the B pair, I have better space and the black K-side has weaknesses.
I adopt a strategy to focus on a K-side attack.} 6. e5 {My novelty, suggested
by my strategy, not an engine. Everyone else has played 6.Bd3 here.} (6. Bd3 d6
(6... Bg7 7. Ne2 d6 8. f4 {was drawn in 113 moves in Nakamura - Laznicka,
Turin ITA 2006}) 7. Ne2 e5 8. O-O Bg7 9. f4 {Black seems OK after either} exd4
(9... Qe7)) 6... Qe7 7. Bd3 d5 8. Nd2 c5 9. Ne2 Bg7 10. f4 {The top engines
all assess this as =. However, I think white has better chances. With the
exception of black's K-side fianchetto, the position is quite similar to a
French Steinitz, which is also difficult for engines to understand.} Nc6 11.
O-O b6 12. Nf3 Bb7 13. Rb1 a5 {It looks like John is trying to get space, or
possibly just discourage b2-b4. I thought this was a minor mistake, because of
the b5 hole it creates.} 14. h3 Rc8 15. Bb5 Qd7 {Black is kind of stuck. With
the exception of his Rs along the back-rank, his pieces have very little scope.
The position is much easier for white to play than black.} 16. Qd2 Qe7 17. g4
h5 {Again, gaining a bit of breathing room for the dsB and R. But opening the
h-file seems to favor white, since exchange of the Rs will leave black with
only his cramped pieces left.} 18. Kg2 hxg4 19. hxg4 Kd8 {Gives the c6N some
chance for mobility, and prepares to connect the Rs via ...Kc7.} 20. Ba4 $5 {
A difficult move to find. It's not the engines' top choice. They prefer Rh1
(also good) or even dxc5, which I think is dubious. Why let black open up his
position? The B remains surprisingly flexible and effective on a4, and white
now threatens to open the b-file in some lines.} Ra8 21. Rh1 Kc7 22. a3 Rxh1 {
I was surprised at this, and John even mentioned that he struggled with this
move vs another candidate. I expected ...Rad8 or ...c4. Either way, I thought
I now had a clear advantage.} (22... c4 {In retrospect, this looks like an
improvement, though white is still better.} 23. f5 gxf5 24. gxf5 exf5 25. Nf4)
23. Rxh1 Rh8 24. Rxh8 Bxh8 {Now a comparison of the minor pieces is completely
in my favor.} 25. f5 $1 {It looks dangerous to expand in front of my K, but
with black's cramped pieces and no Rs on the board, my K is in no danger.} gxf5
26. gxf5 exf5 27. Qh6 $5 {The engines liked 27.Qf4 better, but my move
embarrasses the h8B.} (27. Qf4 Ba6 28. Bxc6 Bxe2 29. Bxd5 cxd4 30. cxd4 Qd7 31.
Bxf7 Bg7 {While white is clearly better, black's B-pair survives}) 27... Bxe5 {
Virtually forced.} (27... Qd8 {Is worse. There's no way to save the h8B
without creating more serious weaknesses.} 28. Kf2 {First, eliminate the
possibility of Q checks from g8.} cxd4 29. cxd4 Na7 (29... Ne7 30. Ng5 Ng8 31.
Qh5) 30. Nf4 {Then just put on more pressure and eat Ps.} b5 31. Bc2 Nc8 32.
Qh7 Kb8 33. Qxf7 {Black's army is uncoordinated.}) 28. dxe5 Nxe5 29. Nxe5 f6 (
29... d4+ 30. Kf1 Qxe5 31. cxd4 cxd4 32. Qc1+ Kb8 33. Qf4) 30. Kf1 fxe5 {
Probably best. Rather than re-capture with his Q, John chooses to create a
seemingly formidable passed P wall.} 31. Ng3 {But the P wall is no match for a
coordinated Q and N, especially with black's exposed K, and my great lsB.} Qf7
(31... f4 32. Nf5 Qd8 33. Qg7+) (31... e4 32. Nxf5 Qe5 33. Qf8) 32. Qh8 Qe6 33.
Qg7+ Kc8 34. Ke1 f4 35. Bd1 $1 {I discovered this back around move 30, and
thought that it was killer. It surprised John, who agreed that it may be a
winner.} (35. Qf8+ {Probably also wins, but might allow a perpetual check.} Kc7
36. Qg7+ Kd8 37. Qxb7 fxg3 38. Qh7 g2 39. Qg7) 35... Kb8 36. Bg4 Qd6 37. Nf5
Qc7 {John now said that he thought I had a won game.} 38. Qf6 Ka7 39. Nd6 Qh7
40. Be2 Ba6 (40... Qh1+ 41. Bf1 Qh7 42. Qxe5 Bc6 43. Qxf4 d4 44. Kd2 dxc3+ 45.
bxc3 Qd7 46. Bd3) 41. Bxa6 Kxa6 42. Qxe5 {On 9/24/2017 John resigned,
graciously saying, "Congratulations Tom! A well played game!!"} 1-0[/pgn]
California Championship 2016
"The technique of good correspondence chess lies in playing good moves." -Graham Mitchell
[pgn][Event "15Q07"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Clardy, William"]
[Black "Ulrich, Robert"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D32"]
[WhiteElo "1595"]
[BlackElo "1500"]
[PlyCount "106"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. Nf3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e5 6. Nf3 d4 7. Ne4 Nc6
8. a3 Bf5 9. Ng3 Bg6 10. e4 h5 11. Bd3 h4 12. Ne2 Qd7 13. h3 f5 14. exf5 Bxf5
15. Qc2 g6 16. b4 Bd6 17. Bg5 Qe6 18. Be4 Nge7 19. Bxh4 O-O-O 20. O-O Bxh3 21.
Ng5 Qg4 22. Nxh3 Rxh4 23. Ng3 Rdh8 24. Bf3 Qd7 25. Qd2 Kb8 26. Rfd1 {Diagram #}
Rxh3 27. gxh3 Qxh3 28. Qg5 Qh2+ 29. Kf1 Rf8 30. Ke2 Qh7 31. Ne4 Nf5 32. Rh1 Qf7
33. Rh3 Qxc4+ 34. Kd2 Nfe7 35. Nxd6 Qc3+ 36. Ke2 d3+ 37. Kf1 Qxa1+ 38. Kg2 Qxa3
39. Rh4 d2 40. Bd1 Qc1 41. Rh1 Nd5 42. b5 Nf4+ 43. Kg3 Qc3+ 44. f3 Nd8 45. Qe7
Nfe6 46. Ne4 Qe3 47. Qd6+ Ka8 48. Nxd2 Qf4+ 49. Kf2 Nf7 50. Qd3 Rd8 51. Qc4
Qxd2+ 52. Kg3 Nf4 53. Rg1 Nh5+ 0-1[/pgn]
Michael Polonski
Michael Polonski, born November 19, 1926 in Kiev, Ukraine, died October 11, 2017, aged 90.  Michael was a professional boxer in Germany, a pro soccer player in Belgium and Canada, and a player coach for the Montreal Ukrainians.  He was also a member of the USCF from 1970 to 2017.
[pgn][Event "13N05"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.08.15"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Polonski, Michael"]
[Black "Kirichansky, Vladimir"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C53"]
[WhiteElo "1747"]
[BlackElo "1294"]
[PlyCount "97"]
[EventDate "2013.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 h6 4. c3 Bc5 5. Nxe5 Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe5 7. Be2
d6 8. Rf1 Qh4+ 9. Kg1 Bg4 10. d4 Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Ng4 12. h3 N4f6 13. e5 Qe4 14.
Qb5+ Nd7 15. exd6 cxd6 16. Qb3 Ngf6 17. Bf4 Qc6 18. Re1+ Kf8 19. Nd2 d5 20.
Qb4+ Kg8 21. Re7 Re8 22. Rae1 Kh7 23. Qb3 Rhf8 24. Qc2+ g6 25. h4 Kg7 26. Nf3
Rxe7 27. Rxe7 Re8 28. Rxe8 Nxe8 29. Qd2 h5 30. Qe2 Qe6 31. Qxe6 fxe6 32. Kf2
Kf6 33. Ke3 Ng7 34. g3 Nb6 35. Be5+ Kf7 36. Bxg7 Kxg7 37. b3 Kf6 38. Kf4 Nc8
39. Ne5 Nd6 40. g4 hxg4 41. Nxg4+ Kf7 42. Ke5 Ne4 43. c4 Nc3 44. cxd5 exd5 45.
a4 a6 46. Ne3 Kg7 47. Nxd5 Ne2 48. Nf4 Nc1 49. b4 1-0[/pgn]
Sometimes games end on a single, surprise, strong move – and here is a case in point.  White’s last move wins an exchange.
[pgn][Event "16WM28 "]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2016.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Kirk, Thomas"]
[Black "Anderson, Clarence"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A96"]
[WhiteElo "1878"]
[BlackElo "1820"]
[PlyCount "43"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. d4 f5 2. g3 e6 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 Ne4 8.
Qc2 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Nc6 10. e4 e5 11. exf5 Bxf5 12. Qe2 Bf6 13. Be3 Qe8 14. dxe5
dxe5 15. Nd2 e4 16. Bc5 Bxc3 17. Bxf8 Bxa1 18. Rxa1 Qxf8 19. Nxe4 Re8 20. c5
Bg6 21. Qc4+ Qf7 {Diagram #} 22. Nf6+ 1-0[/pgn]
In order to save the c-Pawn on Move 24, the King is lost.  That is just not a very good bargain.
[pgn][Event "17W14"]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2017.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Haggard, Thomas"]
[Black "Segreto, Thomas"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "1371"]
[BlackElo "1382"]
[PlyCount "49"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 g6 3. e3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bd3 O-O 6. Nbd2 e6 7. c3 Nbd7
8. h4 Re8 9. Ne5 Nxe5 10. dxe5 Nd7 11. g4 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 Bxe5 13. f4 Bg7 14. g5
e5 15. e4 dxe4 16. Bxe4 exf4 17. Qf3 Bf5 18. O-O-O Bxe4 19. Nxe4 Qc8 20. Qxf4
Kf8 21. Nf6 Bxf6 22. Qxf6 Re6 23. Qf4 b6 24. Rhf1 Re7 25. Qf6 1-0[/pgn]
When White misses the speculative sacrifice of 21.  Ng5 !?, the game slowly evolves into a draw.
[pgn][Event "17W14"]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2017.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Strobehn, Alex"]
[Black "Haggard, Thomas"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B50"]
[WhiteElo "1327"]
[BlackElo "1371"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. e4 d6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 c5 4. d3 e5 5. Be2 Nc6 6. O-O g6 7. h3 d5 8.
exd5 Nxd5 9. Bd2 Bg7 10. Nh2 Nf4 11. Bg4 O-O 12. Bxc8 Rxc8 13. Bxf4 exf4 14.
Rb1 h5 15. Ne4 b6 16. a3 f5 17. Nd2 Kf7 18. Nhf3 h4 19. Re1 Rh8 20. Nc4 b5 {
Diagram #} 21. Nce5+ Nxe5 22. Nxe5+ Bxe5 23. Rxe5 Qf6 24. Qe2 Rhe8 25. Re1 Rxe5
26. Qxe5 Qxe5 27. Rxe5 Kf6 28. Re2 a5 29. Kf1 Kf7 30. b3 Re8 31. Rxe8 Kxe8 32.
Ke2 g5 33. f3 Ke7 34. c3 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
The following games are from the ICCF California Championship.  They may be “just” draws but they represent some hard silicon fighting. With the two Bishops and a protected passed center Pawn on d5, White looks like an easy winner, but Black has something to say about that.
[pgn][Event "USA/CA/C1 (USA)"]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2016.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Biedermann, Thomas"]
[Black "Proof, Michael C"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B92"]
[WhiteElo "2409"]
[BlackElo "2431"]
[PlyCount "52"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7
8. Be3 Be6 9. Qd3 O-O 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. exd5 Nc5 13. Nxc5 dxc5 14.
c4 e4 15. Qc2 Bd6 16. Rae1 Qd7 {Diagram #} 17. Bd1 Ng4 18. Bxg4 Qxg4 19. h3 Qf5
20. f4 Rfe8 21. Qf2 b6 22. g4 Qd7 23. f5 Be5 24. b3 b5 25. Re2 bxc4 26. bxc4
Qa4 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
At the end of this game (after the likely 28…. Nf6) the balanced position of all the pieces is remarkable.
[pgn][Event "USA/CA/C1 (USA)"]
[Site "ICCF"]
[Date "2016.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Biedermann, Kyle"]
[Black "Biedermann, Thomas"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C96"]
[WhiteElo "2328"]
[BlackElo "2409"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2005.04.21"]{NOV} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O
8. h3 d6 9. c3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Nd7 12. a4 Bb7 13. d5 Qc7 14. Qe2 Rfc8 15.
Nfd2 b4 16. Qf3 Rcb8 17. b3 Bg5 18. Nf1 Bxc1 19. Rxc1 Qd8 20. Nbd2 Bc8 21. Bd3
bxc3 22. Rxc3 Nf6 23. Kh2 Rb4 24. Ne3 Rab8 25. Rb1 Ne8 26. Qh5 Qe7 27. Qe2 R4b6
28. Qf1 {Diagram #} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Next month is the annual miniature column.  If you have an interesting game of 20 moves or under, send it to for possible publication.

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