By Fm Alex Dunne

Edward Duliba has attained the title of CC (correspondence chess) grandmaster (GM). He will be awarded the title at the next International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) Congress in Leeds, England, becoming one of only nine Americans who have ever achieved this title. Here, then, is the recipe for gaining the international correspondence grandmaster (ICGM) title: First, experience.

Ed Duliba began playing correspondence chess during the Fischer boom (1973) shortly after he learned to play chess. In the 1974 Postal Rating List, the name Ed Duliba can be found at 1058 (approximately 1558 in today's ELO [rating system]). Experience is the first step. Over the years Ed gained that experience. He played in the Golden Knights, eventually winning the 1992 event and finished fourth in the 1994. Ed played and won in two Absolutes, tying for first in 1998 and winning the 2007 contest. He played in five U.S. correspondence championships (the 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, and 17th) winning the 15th. In the 1990's he turned to international play. He played fourth board on the 13th Olympiad team for the U.S. and first board for the 7th Pan American Team Championship (where he scored +9 =5) and in the 27th World Correspondence Chess Championship series he made the GM norm by scoring +5 =6 making the final GM norm with a game to spare.

That, my friends, is experience! What else is needed to become an ICGM? Here are Ed Duliba's thoughts on the subject: Ed believes the U.S. correspondence championship tournaments are about as difficult as ICCF world championship candidate tournaments. He writes that many U.S. players who are not active in international play should try it as they would be very competitive. International play is great for those whose careers cannot accommodate over-the-board (OTB) play.

Next, postal play has all but disappeared from the international scene. Today e-mail and webserver are the preferred methods. The longer analysis time has disappeared from CC (transition time) but some of it is still there. Use it! An openings database may be your most significant expenditure in terms of money and time, but it is necessary to survive in modern play.

Ed's strategy for current ICCF tournaments is almost purely anti-computer. (See sidebar.) His aim is to survive the opening with a reasonably equal position. In the middlegame, he just tries to maintain the equilibrium. It is in the endgame that he finds there are still ways for the older player to compete against the young wolves. The endgame is where he makes his greatest effort, because that is where many players slack off. Correspondence success at the top level means you have to be just as eager to continue to fight after five years as you were on the first day. He rarely agrees to an easy draw under 60 to 70 moves. Players that offer early draws are the ones you should never give a draw to. They will lose interest and beat themselves in 40 or so additional moves. Just don't be discouraged if the game is still equal after 100 moves. There is always the next 100!

His tournament strategy is to play as slowly as legally allowable in the opening and first half of the middlegame. Many games of the other competitors will finish quickly and players will sort their tournament positions out. When players find that they are not in competition, frequently their quality of play diminishes. That is why he saves his greatest effort for that point in a tournament. The players who started poorly no longer exert their best effort and points are easier to acquire from them.

Ed notes, "I really adore the automatic timekeeping of the new webserver play. It reduces the tedious record keeping previously needed." Like most of us, Ed also has lost many, many games due to simple recording errors on postcards. We are all human.

And here after all that work, is the game that shows the mettle of someone ready to grasp the GM title. It is not a flashy, combinative game, designed to gladden the heart of the awestruck spectator. No, this is a gritty, hard, difficult game against a formidable opponent, playing precise moves to hold the draw against a GM determined to win. Who is Arno Nickel? Only the CC GM who beat the computer program Hydra 2-1 in a training match before Hydra destroyed OTB GM Michael Adams 5%-%.

U.S. CC GM Title Holders

This list represents all the U.S. correspondence chess grandmasters and the year they were awarded the title.


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