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Monday, September 7, 2015

Postal Chess in 1916

     One of the forerunners of the Correspondence Chess League of America was the New York League, aka Correspondence Chess League of New York, headed up by Stanley Chadwick. In 1915 tournament director Charles Rand began, in addition to instituting a rating system, an event called the Leadership Tournament which, even to this day, is a popular CCLA event. 
     The tournament was divided into three sections. The highest, the A section, consisted of players who had won or finished second in one of the twelve previous NYL championships, those who had qualified for more than one final round plus known strong players who had not competed in three tournaments. The event began in April, 1016 and Chadwick won it on tiebreaks over Allen Pearsall and another player named Dr. Wales. Peasrall met an untimely death on the evening of New Year's Day in 1948 when he was in involved in a traffic accident while returning home after spending the evening at the San Diego Chess Club. 
     In their individual game Chadwick defeated Pearsall in a nice little game using the Urusov Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4). Even today the Urusov is highly controversial. One IM claimed it's playable but hardly more than that and if Black knows what he is doing, it's not easy for white to get equality. The catch is: if black knows what he is doing. That might be the case at the IM level, but at the club level it's not likely. It's a highly tactical opening, so the better tactician is most likely going to be the winner. 
     It really that bad of an opening? I don't know, but I have played it six times on Lechenicher SchachServer where engines are allowed and scored three wins and three draws, so I'm a fan of the gambit.  For more information on this gambit visit Michael Goeller's excellent site HERE.

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