- The Washington Times - Friday, August 6, 2004

Correspondence chess is a subculture within a subculture. Although a few world-class masters have been avid postal players, including the late Estonian great Paul Keres, the over-the-board and chess-by-mail types tend to live in parallel universes.

Many of the best correspondence players stick exclusively to the mail game, and some of their greatest efforts go largely unappreciated by the greater chess world.

That’s a pity, as some of the game’s most glorious battles have been fought via the mail pouch and, more recently, the e-mail program. Having a day or two to contemplate each move, paradoxically, can make players take risks they would never try in tournament play.

The scores from today’s two games come from FM Alex Dunne’s “Check Is in the Mail” columns in Chess Life, with our own annotations. Dunne’s monthly column is one of the few outlets offering correspondence gems to a wider readership.

The first game, played by Soviet masters Anatoly Rubezov and Georgy Borisenko between 1960 and 1963, actually has attracted a fair amount of notice, winning inclusion in several anthologies of chess brilliancies. Black displays fantastic ingenuity here, reviving his attack again and again with a minimum of material.

Early play in this Sicilian follows conventional tracks, even up through the well-known Black exchange sacrifice on move 13. Things flare up on 14. gxf6 (bxc3 Nxe4) Rxe3!? 15. Qxe3 (fxe7?! Rxf3 16. exd8=Q Rxf1+ 17. Rxf1 Rxd8 wins a pawn for Black) Bxf6 16. Rad1 Nxb3 17. axb3 a6 18. e5?.

White gets the open d-file, but Black gets the long diagonal on the brave 18…dxe5! 19. Nxe6 Qc8 20. Nxf8 Qc6!, forgetting about the knight to go after the king. Safer now appears to be 21. Rd2! (Qg3? Bh4!) Bh4 22. Rf3 exf4 23. Qxf4 Qxf3 24. Qxf3 Bxf3 25. Nd7.

But that would have deprived us of the fantastic tableau after 21. Kf2?! Qg2+ 22. Ke1 Bh4+ 23. Rf2 Bf3!, when the pinned White rook is the very picture of helplessness.

White appears to reach a safe port after 24. Rd8 Qg1+ (Bxd8?? 25. Rxg2) 25. Kd2 Qd1+ 26. Kc3 Qxd8 27. Rxf3 (see diagram), when White’s material edge tells on the pedestrian 27…Qxf8? 28. fxe5 Qc8+ 29. Kd2 b5 30. Qf4 Qd7+ 31. Kc1 Bd8 32. Rd3.

But Borisenko is just getting started: 27…e4!! 28. Rh3 (Qxe4 Bf6+ 29. Kc4 b5+ 30. Kc5 [Kb4 Qd6+ 31. Ka5 Bd8 mate] Be7+ 31. Kc6 Qc8+ 32. Kb6 [Kd5 Qc5 mate] Bc5+ 33. Ka5 Qc7+ 34. Kxa6 Qb6 mate) Bf6+ (forcing the king to walk the plank) 29. Kc4 Qc7+ 30. Kd5 Qb7+ 31. Kd6 Kxf8, finally collecting the knight.

Rubezov decides to grab the h-pawn, but that just leaves him open to one final tactic after 34…Qc6+ 35. Kf5 Qc8+! 36. Kxe4 (Kg6 Qg4 is mate, as the rook blocks the escape to h7) Qxc2+ 37. Kd5 Qxh7. Facing a hopeless ending, White resigned.

Equally entertaining is today’s second offering, taken from the 2004 USA Postal championships, now under way. The good-sport loser, Northern Virginia expert David Long, told Dunne it was “about as much fun as anyone can have in a game and still lose.”

We can’t possibly do justice to all this game’s bizarre twists and turns without cutting into the horoscopes column below , so let’s just say that White does show the true heart of a King’s Gambiteer by subjecting his own monarch to all kinds of indignities in pursuit of his attack.

Despite the Black queen’s murderous kingside raid, by 16. cxb7 Rab8 17. Nxf3 Nxc4 18. Kxc4!? (Qxc4 Qxf3+ 19. Kc2 Rxb7 20. Qd3 is slightly more rational, but White has no interest in tedious defensive ideas) Qxf3 19. Qxa7, material is dead equal. White rushes his queenside pawns up the board, and Black does the same with his central passers.

White walks a tightrope on 25. a6 e2 26. Qc5 Qd3?! (Black appears to overlook a good simplifying line with 26…Rxb7+! 27. axb7 Qxb7+ 28. Kc4 [Kc2 Qe4+ 29. Kb3 Rb8+ 30. Ka2 Ra8+ 31. Kb3 Rxa1] Qe4+ 29. Kb5 Rb8+ 30. Ka6 Qa8+ 31. Qa7 Rb6+ 32. Ka5 Qxa7 mate) 27. Qc4 Qd1+ Ka2, and may have had good drawing chances after 33…Rxe1? (Qe3!) 34. a7 Qd1+, when the retreat with 35. Ka3! seems to leave Reyes with nothing better than 35…Rg1 36. Qe4+ Rg6 37. axb8=Q e1=Q 38. Qxe1 Qxe1 39. Qxc7 Qc1+ 40. Kb3 Qb1+ and a perpetual check.

Instead, Long’s king charges forward and even two White queens prove insufficient on 37. a8=Q Qb3!! 38. Ra4 (Qaxb7 Qxa2+ 39. Kb5 Ra1! 40. Qxc7 e1=Q) Rg1 39. Qe5 Qxa4+! 40. Kxa4 Ra1+ 41. Kb3 Rxa8 42. Qxe2 Ra5 43. Qe4 Rab5, and Black’s coordinated rooks and extra pawns finally decide the contest.

In the final position, the rooks can escort the h-pawn down the board, while Reyes’ king hides behind the f- and g-pawns; White resigned.

USSR Correspondence Championship, 1960

Rubezov Borisenko

1. e4 c5 20. Nxf8 Qc6

2. Nf3 Nc6 21. Kf2 Qg2+

3. d4 cxd4 22. Ke1 Bh4+

4. Nxd4 Nf6 23. Rf2 Bf3

5. Nc3 d6 24. Rd8 Qg1+

6. Bc4 e6 25. Kd2 Qd1+

7. 0-0 Be7 26. Kc3 Qxd8

8. Be3 0-0 27. Rxf3 e4

9. Bb3 Na5 28. Rh3 Bf6+

10. f4 b6 29. Kc4 Qc7+

11. g4 Bb7 30. Kd5 Qb7+

12. Qf3 Rc8 31. Kd6 Kxf8

13. g5 Rxc3 32. Rxh7 Be7+

14. gxf6 Rxe3 33. Ke5 f6+

15. Qxe3 Bxf6 34. Ke6 Qc6+

16. Rad1 Nxb3 35. Kf5 Qc8+

17. axb3 a6 36. Kxe4 Qxc2+

18. e5 dxe5 37. Kd5 Qxh7

19. Nxe6 Qc8 White resigns

USA Postal Tournament, 2004

Long Reyes

1. e4 e5 26. Qc5 Qd3

2. f4 exf4 27. Qc4 Qd1+

3. Bc4 Qh4+ 28. Ka2 h5

4. Kf1 d6 29. Qc6 Kh7

5. d4 Nc6 30. b4 Qc2+

6. Nf3 Qg4 31. Ka3 Rd1

7. c3 Nf6 32. Ra2 Qc1+

8. Nbd2 Be7 33. Ka4 Rxe1

9. Kf2 Qg6 34. a7 Qd1+

10. Re1 Ng4+ 35. Ka5 Rxb7

11. Ke2 Ne3 36. Qe4+ g6

12. Qa4 Qxg2+ 37. a8=Q Qb3

13. Kd3 Bg4 38. Ra4 Rg1

14. d5 Bxf3 39. Qe5 Qxa4+

15. dxc6 0-0 40. Kxa4 Ra1+

16. cxb7 Rab8 41. Kb3 Rxa8

17. Nxf3 Nxc4 42. Qxe2 Ra5

18. Kxc4 Qxf3 43. Qe4 Rab5

19. Qxa7 Bh4 44. Kc2 c5

20. Bd2 Rfd8 45. bxc5 Rc7

21. Kb3 d5 46. Qxf4 Rbxc5

22. a4 Bxe1 47. Qf6 Rxc3+

23. Bxe1 dxe4 48. Kd2 Rc2+

24. a5 e3 49. Kd3 Rxh2

25. a6 e2 White resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]washington- times.com.

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