Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I'm not sure how long I've been playing email chess. The first games for which I have a record began in November 2000: I can remember beginning a tournament some months before, but I was obliged to withdraw due to serious illness and never completed any games, so presumably no records exist of the moves I played. Anyway, I have played quite a lot of tournaments in the eight years since records do begin. And finally, last month, I managed to do what I had never done before. I won a tournament outright.
I have shared first place a couple of times - including, as I recall, one IECC tournament in which all the games were draws apart from one player who defaulted, giving all the remaining players joint first place on a score of +1. But this is the first time I have actually achieved sole, undisputed first place. I think I would probably retire on the spot, were it not for the fact that, as is normal in correspondence play, I am already playing in another tournament and have been doing so for some months.
I am most unlikely to win that tournament, or indeed to remain unbeaten in it, which is a shame since my current unbeaten run in correspondence play now stands at eighteen games. The last of them, which won me the IECG tournament CB-2007-0-00172 - how those letters and numbers will resound through history, a bit like AVRO 1938 - took almost exactly a year to play. A short time indeed by the old standards of international postal play - but in these modern times with instant communication, a pretty long struggle, and substantially the longest that any game I've played has lasted.
My opponent, the Russian Oleg Tkachenko, resigned last week: my penultimate game finished early in December, at which time I was awaiting a reply from Russia to my move 39. Resignation came 29 moves and nearly seven months later.
The diagram shows the position after Black's 53...Rg7. White is two pawns up but cannot protect the g-pawn. And although he can win the h-pawn, it is not at all clear that by doing so he can win the game. What manoeuvre did he find - one that the computer does not - which did lead to a win?
The answer is in the game, which is given below.
(And with that, I am off - well, I'm off tomorrow - to Benasque. Here is a video from last year's tournament.)