Friday, June 19, 2009

Incredible pullout shakes world championship

(pp. 31, Times Colonist newspaper, January 11, 1981.)
chess: Incredible pullout shakes world championship
by Ray Kerr

One of the most exciting events of the North American chess season would have to be the annual National Telephone Chess League competition.

The matches which concluded in late 1980 were interesting for Canada as well because the Seattle entry had several Canadian players, such as Vancouver's grandmaster Duncan Suttles, provincial champion Bruce Harper and former B.C. champion Bobby Zuk.

With world junior champion Yasser Seirawan of Seattle leading the way, the team did a tremendous job in the preliminaries and finished second in its eight-team group, just behind Philadelphia.

In the other division, Washington finished first with Westfield, N.J. in second place.

Those four teams then met in the playoffs, and Washington really creamed our Seattle team 4 1/2-1 1/2, while Westfield upset Philadelphia by 3 1/2-2 1/2.

The stage was thus set for the final, and and what a dandy it turned out to be.

Actually, it was an all-draw match except for the fifth board, where Washington's Charles Odendahl defeated Jack Shapiro, a veteran New Yorker playing for Westfield.

Washington thus took the 1980 championship by the slimmest of margins, while Philadelphia and Seattle fought to a 3-3 tie in the consoldation final but Philadelphia took third because of its superior seasonal record.

Still, Seattle's fourth-place finish wasn't bad considering the league had 16 teams to start with.

Our Game of the Week is from the competition with John Fedorowicz of Westfield defeating Ken Rowley of Phoenix in an excellent game.

As for the telephone league matches, the teams play in their own clubs or other locations.

A telephone line is opened between the two locations through the match.

Runners are assigned by each team to transmit moves to the telephone operator and recieve moves from the other team.

Players use the normal chess clock with two dials. Only the player's own dial must be controlled.

Because of the necessary transmission delays, the opponent's time cannot be kept accurately but this can be ascertained from time to time by telephone inquiries.

Anyway, the telephone league idea, which dates back a number of years, has certainly proved to be an interesting one and no one can call it an experiment anymore.

Now if we could only see a few more teams with Canadian players on them, it would be even more interesting for us on the northern side of the border.

Incidentally, in the world championship semi-finals, Soviet defector Victor Korchnoi led West German grandmaster Robert Huebner 4 1/2-3 1/2 after eight games of their 16-game match. Korchnoi won the seventh and eighth games.

And then came the shocker on Friday: Huebner resigned the match and Korchnoi now meets Soviet Union's Anatoly Karpov for the world championship sometime this summer.


Huebner blamed it all on bad nerves but Korchnoi felt it was a poor excuse. I hope to have more on it in the future.

And as far as I know, it's the first time something like this has happened in a world championship final.

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