The Campbell Report - Postal Chess ... Something Special
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The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
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Postal Chess ... Something Special

As a chess columnist for a cc organization I receive a wide variety of communications from members. Usually these comments are interesting, informative and basically a real joy to read, and they are often thought-provoking as well. They form the basis for many of my columns and, for me, are an important part of chess journalism. On one occasion I received complaints about players in a certain area who were openly analyzing their APCT postal positions together. Under APCT rules this is strictly forbidden. I had heard theoretical speculation about such cheating by players in general before (not specifically members of any particular cc organization), either consulting other players or using a computer to analyze positions (also forbidden in most USA cc competitions), but I had never encountered an actual occurrence of such cheating before. Although I never confirmed the validity of the cheating accusations, this episode led me to some real contemplation concerning my personal philosophy about postal chess competition. This contemplation led to me writing the following emotional statement about the place of cc in my life. It first appeared at the end of my column "The Campbell Report" in the July-August 1995 issue of APCT News Bulletin. -- J. Franklin Campbell

Postal Chess ... Something Special
by J. Franklin Campbell

Postal chess requires a special sort of competitor to make it work properly. Unlike OTB chess, where opponents, spectators and tournament directors have the players constantly under observation, postal chess requires that the competitors play fairly following rules of conduct that are self policed. Some infractions (such as overstepping the time limit) can be dealt with by a tournament official. But many rules, such as the rule against analyzing postal positions with friends or using a computer to help determine a move, require a player to play according to the ďhonor system.Ē I play this game for the love of chess and competition. I love winning. I hate losing. But I am firmly committed to playing without bending the rules. My own pleasure in my accomplishments would be diminished if I resorted to illegal tactics to gain an advantage.

For me chess represents far more than just a game ... it is a way of life, and it inspires me daily. Those outside of the chess world canít appreciate the beauty and inspiration that is chess. Iíve written about many of the different ways to live the chess experience. When Iím living in the chess world Iím in a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring world where anything is possible. Poetry, mathematics, music, drama ... theyíre all there. Iím not willing to sacrifice the purity of that world to gain a few spurious victories. Thereís too much to lose. I really appreciate the opportunity to compete in a sport where fair play and good sportsmanship are the rule. What do you think ... have I missed something? Or do I live in a world of beauty and light? As Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch said, ďChess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.Ē I canít say it any better than that.


Copyright © 1995, 1998 by J. Franklin Campbell

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Email: franklin@voyager.net