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James Franklin Campbell vs Alan Ehrlich
"As If!" (game of the day Apr-12-2017)
ICCF US10P10 (1990), ?
Modern Defense: Queen Pawn Fianchetto (A40)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Old friend Tony Albano won a game thus in his student days.

How well I recall coming back from a tournament and having Tony relate the tale of his hapless opponent's conditional sequence which brought him to grief, as Black was caught out here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Yes! First of all, to understand the game, one has to know that it is a correspondence game. Some people may not recognize the ICCF monicker in the game header.

Secondly, non-corres players may not know that in order to save time and postage corres players sometimes include conditional moves.

These are normally along the lines of <"34.Rg5xg7+. IF 34...Kxg7 then 35.Qh4-g5+"> (Note that top-class corres players might use Uedemann code to communicate).

Sometimes they go right out on a limb and use the word "ANY". This means that one player is reckless as to what his opponent plays.

Eg: "1.e4 c6 [ANY] 2...d5."
Black saves $0.02 postage and hurries the game along.

In J Campbell vs A Ehrlich, 1990 Mr Ehrlich, evidently a dyed-in-the-wool Modern Defence exponent, received his opponent's first move. "1.e2-e4".

(In Uedemann code this is <"1st row - Sl.1, k. to end. 2nd row - Sl.1, * p.2, k.2. Rep. from * finishing k.1.">)

Now black drops his nickel-saving bombshell. He writes back. "1...g6. 2. [ANY] ...Bf8-g7."

He was expecting, of course, a standard move such as 2.d2-d4.

When he opened the next letter he found that he had save himself nearly a buck and a half.

A funny episode. It shows why intelligent people and correspondence chess are soon far apart.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: I've also heard of this happening on the other side of the board:

1.e4 b6 [2.Any, 2...Bb7]
2.Ba6 Bb7

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: 1...Nf6 against 1.any (1...d5 also works). Of course, it's better if white doesn't play 1.e4, but it's still playable.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Penguincw> That's different, no? 1...Nf6 actually is playable against any White 1st move, as long as Black is willing to play Alekhine's or an Indian System. A few other first Black moves also can be played against anything: 1...e6 (which I used to play regardless of White's 1st), 1...d6, 1...g6, 1...d5, 1...c6, 1...b6, 1...Nc6, and maybe a couple more like 1...c5 and 1...a6. The real problem only arises with a conditional on the 2nd move, as here, when Black may be asking for trouble.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Mr Ehrlich's Tragic Bullet.>
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: One of the shortest games ever...and it was a correspondence game. THAT is post-modernism.
Apr-12-17  Doniez: The "if" move made a grin appear on my face but had not the same effect for Black player, "if" I understand the way he intended his smart move
Apr-12-17  green ink: A similar correspondence chess failure from the 80's: 1. d4 f5 [2. ANY e6] 2. Bg5 e6 3. Bxd8 1-0
Apr-12-17  Ratt Boy: This would be a great April 1 GOTD Game.
Apr-12-17  sfm: I'd rather lose 10 games than having a proven record of being unsportsmanlike by taking a win this way. There's no excuse in 'the heat of the moment', this is a correspondence games. James Franklin Campbell, cheap fellow.

Chess is to be won on the board. Usage of technicalities elsewhere is to be avoided.

Apr-12-17  clement41: <offramp> in your may 29, 14 kibitz you stated that black was mailed 1 e2-e4. But it was 1 d2-d4 and that makes a world of difference because 2 Bh6 is impossible after 1 e4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  catlover: <offramp> Thanks for your 2014 explanation of correspondence chess. Without that background information, this game doesn't make much sense.
Premium Chessgames Member
  mjmorri: <sfm> Why is it unsportsmanlike? Black should have been more careful or entirely avoided the IF move scenario.

I remember playing on-line with an opponent who always instantly replied 3.Bb5 to my 2...Nc6 initialing a Roy Lopez. I became annoyed with this, and one game played 2...a6 and sure enough his Bishop instantly appeared on b5, and I snapped it off. We continued playing many more games, but he never again played "Blindly".

Premium Chessgames Member
  scutigera: <sfm>: I'm with <MJMorri>; it may be unchivalrous, but it's hardly unsportsmanlike and really quite a good joke and valuable lesson. Perhaps the best way to reconcile sportsmanship and humor would have been "2 h6 Bg7 3 Bxa7, and, if Black resigns, then 1 e4, and if then '1 .. g6, 2 any except Ba6 because I've learned my lesson, 2 .. Bg7', then..." followed by some normal move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gottschalk: I can not add important games to the database, but this "pearl" is part of it. Arrgh!
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I think it was really bad form by White, and definitely unsporting.
Apr-12-17  Howard: Alex Dunne mentioned this "game" in a column of his many, many years ago. I'm assuming it's the same game as is here---unless, someone else made the same careless "if" move!

Incidentally, I agree that it's hardly "unsporting" to take advantage of someone's slip-of-the-pen. If someone sends such an "if" move, he's takin' his chances. If he gets burned as a result, that's just part of the risk of sending such an "if" move.

Geez, I can still remember several cases in my correspondence play where I lost a game because I had the wrong position set up on my board, or something of that nature. That's just part of the bargain of correspondence chess, as I see it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <offramp> Post modernism indeed. I think that this is carrying the idea of a "Modern Defense" a bit too far.
Apr-12-17  sachman19: That is ridiculous!!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Funny, amusing, almost hysterical for its numb-skullness

But totally out of place as a "GOTD"


Apr-17-17  syracrophy: Apparently, this "petite" trick may be as old as correspondence chess itself:

<Item #8963. Correspondence chess trick (C.N. 8942)>

Premium Chessgames Member
Guess-the-Move Final Score:
Campbell v Ehrlich 1990.
Your score: 65 (par = 47) <Par is now 48>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: I used to send conditional moves when I was playing "snail-mail" CC, in order to:

a) speed up the game and b) save money on postage.

Since I started playing on the ICCF webserver, I have never offered a conditional move in any of my games.

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