Chess

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An Aspect of chess that is never given due respect is the practice of playing games by correspondence. The thrill of hearing a card drop onto your mat with a reply to your move of a month before, the agony of fruitlessly defending a lost rook and pawn endgame for 18 months of your life: these are joys denied to anyone who restricts his play to the hurly-burly of four-hour tournament games. Here is a game from the sixth USSR postal championship. It began in 1960 and ended in 1963.

White: M Gorenstein

Black: Y Estrin

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.e4 Bd7 8.Qd1

Just the sort of wild opening that appeals to postal players, with their childish de-light in making long calculations. White's 12th move explains why he retreated his queen all the way instead of stopping at c2.

8...b5 9.e5 h6 10.Bh4 g5 11.Nxg5 Nd5! 12.Qh5

White threatens Qxf7 mate, the black h-pawn is pinned, and 12...Qe7 is strongly met by 13.Ne4. But Black has plans.

12...hxg5! 13.Qxh8+ Bf8 14.Bg3 Nxd4 15.0-0-0 c5 16.Ne4

For his rook, Black has acquired a knight, a pawn and excellent central activity. Now the white knight wants to join in the game with a check on d6. Well let it!

16...Qa5! 17.Nd6+ Ke7 18.Qg8

The threats of Qxg5+ and Qxf7+ appear powerful, but Black has calculated everything with precision.

18...Qxa2! 19.Qxg5+ (see diagram)

19.Qxf7+ Kd8 20.Qxf8+ Kc7 21.Qxa8 is met by 21...Qa1+ 22.Kd2 Qxb2+ 23.Ke1 Qc3+ 24.Rd2 Qc1+ 25.Rd1 Nc2+ 26.Ke2 Nc3+ 27.Kf3 Qxd1+.

19...f6 20.exf6+ Kd8! 21.f7+ Kc7 22.Nxc4+ Kb7 23.Na3

White's attack runs out of steam. Now Black's checks will soon be in the post.

23...Qa1+ 24.Nb1 Nb4 25.Kd2

25...Nb3 mate was threatened.

25...Qxb2+ 26.Ke1 Nbc2+ 27.Kd2 c4!

Opening the way for Bb4+.

28.Rc1 Ne3+! White resigned

29.Ke1 Bb4+ or 29.Kxe3 Qxc1+ are simply not worth the postage.

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