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



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Kibitzer's Corner
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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.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
Apr-12-17  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.
Apr-12-17  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.

Sep-04-18  ughaibu: Penguincw and Domdaniel: Surely black never sends the move "1.[any] Nf6" before white sends whatever their intended first move is, or, of course(!), after. Mind you, it saves postage time by one letter, but only if it arrives before white posts their first move.

Interesting idea. Has anyone been known to do this? I guess one could ask the tournament director to advise all one's opponents, when sending the tournament schedule or other general information, to include this move. However, my suspicion is that the director would reply "on yer bike".

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: < ughaibu: Penguincw and Domdaniel: Surely black never sends the move "1.[any] Nf6" >

Haha true. It would be a bit strange for black to send the first postage.

But in general, I'd only do that with "conditional" moves. (ex. After sending 1...g6, write "If 2.d4, then 2...Bg7".)


I wonder how correspondence games are played. Like, do you have to have a designated chessboard with the current position, or do you write it down somewhere (the FEN), or set it up each time, or...

This game looks like it's part of some league. How does one organize that?


< OhioChessFan: I think it was really bad form by White, and definitely unsporting. > (and also <sfm>, < mjmorri> and <scutigera>)

It's entirely possible that a conversation between these 2 went like this:

White: Wanna play a correspondence game?
Black: No.
White: Please.
Black: No.
White: Please.
Black: Fine.

(plays this game, with both sides aware of this trap)

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