ON CHESS

More on snail-mail chess games


Published: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 10:12 p.m.
Last week, I started talking about correspondence chess, the variant of the game that uses "snail mail" to communicate moves between the two players.
One can only wonder what place this method of play has in today's closely connected world. Why wait for weeks for moves to come in the mail when you can use e-mail, fax or phone to get them right away?
Not to mention the Internet, which can be used for live play that feels almost like a normal game.
The answer is that indeed many correspondence chess players have shifted toward other forms of communication. But they still shy away from the instantaneous ones.
For instance, even when e-mail is used, considerable time can lapse between when the players send their moves. Why? Because this is what correspondence chess is all about!
You see, correspondence chess is not about performing under the pressure of the clock ticking and everything this brings with it. No, correspondence chess is really all about analysis and striving for perfection.
The extended time between moves means players can analyze the positions at great length, which theoretically should preclude any major mistakes.
And while in regular games all calculations have to be done in one's head, in correspondence chess all variations can be played out over on the board.
After all, the opponent is too far away to see any secrets.
Obviously for someone so used to regular chess such as myself, all of this does not sound very attractive.
But at the same time, I can remember plenty of instances where positions of incredible interest arose in games, and I would have loved to spend a lot more time deciding my next move, but, of course, the clock did not allow me to.
Then, of course, there is the beauty factor. To those who truly appreciate it, chess is a beautiful game and there is plenty of satisfaction to be drawn from lengthy analyses of difficult positions.
Understanding every detail and calculating every possibility are luxuries a player cannot afford during a regular game.
Which is why no matter how much faster our communication methods become, there will always be a place for the more "laid back" correspondence chess.
You can reach Gabriel Schwartzmann via e-mail at gasch@fdt.net, or c/o The Gainesville Sun, P.O. Box 147147, Gainesville 32614-7147.

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