Robert (gurdonark) wrote,


When I was a teenager, postal chess proved a demanding task. I had to keep up with all those postcards. I had to make sure I mailed cards in time. It was an era of "repeat moves" and writing "sent", "received", and "days remaining" on every card. I played in my first tournament at age 15 or so, doing very poorly. I persevered, and did a bit better. I even played a fellow in New Orleans with whom I frequently corresponded, who served as a chess mentor to me. As I grew up in a very small town in Arkansas, a chess mentor was a rare and unlikely thing to have. His name was Alwyn but he went by Al. He was in the chemical industry. He died back in 2007. It had been years since I had corresponded with him. I wish I had stayed in better touch. I learned a little chess from Al, and a lot of keeping things in perspective. I believe in education, but in particular, in the education that comes from learning how to keep a good perspective on things.

Nowadays postal chess is a computerized webserver thing. The web interface keeps up with all the moves on a little GUI chess board. It's no longer a matter of keeping postage on hand and running out of postcards.One can still play that older, traditional way, but I do not miss all the cardboard. I have no long-playing-record nostalgia for pre-digital chess. Of course, it is illegal in US Chess Federation Postal Chess to use a chess computer for advice on moves, and that is how it should be. Like all postal chess, the rule are enforced via an honor system and the absence of large prizes. I find that most folks follow the rules, though sometimes an outlier seems to play with preternatural ability.

I am wrapping up my most recent tournament. I have played in three rated tournaments since 2010. I won the first one with a score of 5 1/2- 1/2. I did far less well in the second one, with a score of 2 1/2-3 1/2. In the current one, I am scoring less well. I have a score of 1-4 with one game remaining. The one game left is one in which, barring a horrible blunder, I will either win or draw. I am a pawn up in a rooks and opposite color bishop and pawns endgame. My read is that I will win, but the next ten moves will tell.

Most postal chess opponents are courteous folks, which is a contrast to on-line speed chess, where an immaturity can manifest itself in some users. I like having 30 days to make 10 moves, as it takes the pressure of the time control away. My rating hovers around 1600, which is above average but definitely more like a weekend player than like a chess master (a master is rated 2200).

During 2014, I want to play in more "live" chess tournaments. I only played in a few recently. Perhaps I'll play in one this month.

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