Category Archives: V.Strong/Master (1950 plus)

My Ode to Odette

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is a French woman who is named Odette. At the time that I am writing this, Odette is in dead last place with five losses, no wins and no draws. Although she is alive (as far as I know) her chances of getting more than a couple of wins or draws is dead. Thus, the ode.

In 1967 American Country singer Bobbie Gentry wrote and recorded a hit song entitled Ode to Billie Joe. In 1976 the song was made into a movie. What is still not clear to me is if the song and the movie are based upon a true story or if this all came from the imaginations of some talented writers.

The description from the  movie on  YouTube is as follows, “A seventeen-year-old boy is seduced into a homosexual act. His guilt over the incident drives him to commit suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge, leaving his girlfriend behind.”

If you want to know more about this story then you can click on the following links:

Odette played some moves in this chess game that are about as bad as jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Fortunately, she is alive to play more chess games. Because this chess game is rather short, my analysis below is more about what was not played than what was.

Mike Serovey


Drawing This Correspondence Chess Game Was No Hassell

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is from England and his last name is Hassell. As some of my readers may have noticed, I like to play with words and the names of my opponents!

Originally, I wanted to trade down into a King and pawn endgame or to use my remaining Bishop to go after my opponent’s pawns that were on dark squares. However, when he offered a draw on move number 27 I accepted the offer because I realized that there just was not enough play left in the position to justify my spending my time and energy on trying to win that rather closed endgame.

This cc game is one of three draws that I have in this section.

Mike Serovey


An American Defeats Henry the Eighth

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is not really Henry VIII of England. However, his name is Henry and he is from Finland. Also, while playing chess with this Henry I kept thinking of an old song from 1965 by Herman’s Hermits called “I’m Henry Vlll I Am”. You can watch and listen to a YouTube video featuring this song here:

I started this correspondence chess game with the Réti Opening and the game transposed into the English Opening, and then something that resembled the Botvinnik System. This Henry decided to play an unusual line against me. Although he was using a combination of chess engines during this chess game, he went against what the engines recommended and played an unsound sacrifice. That was the main reason that he lost this cc game.

This is my second win in this section. After one win and one draw I moved into fourth place out of thirteen in this section. With two wins, three draws and three losses I am still in fourth place at the time that I am writing this.

Mike Serovey


Amateur Versus Master: Game Fifteen

This chess game was played in Tampa, Florida, USA back in 2013. The US Chess Federation (USCF) awarded the title of Life Master to my opponent, Corey Acor, some time prior to this chess game being played. This is one of three rated chess games that I played against Corey and I lost all three of those rated chess games. I believe that this one was my quickest loss to him.

I made a couple of second-best moves early on in this chess game and then blundered outright on move number 12. Things for White went downhill quickly from there. All three of my losses to Corey were due to blunders like the ones that I played in this chess game.

Mike Serovey


Recognising the patterns : Challenge # 9

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. Black to move.

David Bronstein against Paul Keres 1950

Q: What is white threatening? Find the best defend for Black.

Hint: All you need to do is, bring your queen into the defence.


The best move for Black is to play 29…Rfd8 as White can’t play 30. Qh6. We will discuss it deeply later on but let’s first check what was happened in the game.

30. axb3 Qb4

31. bxc4

Rf4 works too.


32. Rf4!

Not 32. Qh6 because Rg8 followed by 33…g5 defends. Mate can’t be avoided now.


If 32… Rg8, then Rh4 wins (Yusupov)

33. Qh6 Black resigned

The pawn on f6 and queen are threatening mate on g7 which is known as Lolli’s mate. When the defender tries to save mate (usually by placing Rg8) that opens the door for other beautiful combinations for attacker:
– Sacrifice on h7 followed by mate along h file
– Bringing knight on g5/e5 attack on h7 or f7 or both

So what is the general optimal way to save against Lolli’s mate?

It could be vary case to case but if you can bring queen into defence it saves because of
– You can exchange attacker’s main attacking piece Queen and still can defend f7-g7-h7

Now let’s check, how black was able to defend this game using above general observation.

Here is the improvement.


That brings the queen into the defence in time.
Not 29…Rfc8 because it allows Bd7 with tempo – 30. Bd7 Rfb8 31. Qh6 Rg8 32. Rf4 and now g5 won’t work because of 33. Bf5 and White wins.

Now If 30. Qh6 then Rg8 followed by g5 saves the game. Or if 30. Rf4 then Qd8 joins the defence.
And the game is on!

It is wise to learn how defend against the usual attacking pattern.

Ashvin Chauhan


I Had a Tiger by the Tail

In this article I am posting two correspondence chess games against the same opponent. He uses the handle TIGER68 on Stan’s Net Chess. His first name is Angelo and he is from Richmond, Virginia.

My record at Stan’s Net Chess is 68-12-6.

In the first correspondence chess game, I won quickly because my opponent blundered in the opening.

In this second game, I missed some strong moves early in this correspondence chess game and lost my opening advantage. I eventually was able to capitalize on an endgame error by my opponent and thus regain my advantage and win.

I am still playing the third round of this match and that game may end in a draw. I need to outscore my opponent by four wins in order to win this match and move onto the next round of this tournament. In the previous rounds, I won every match in four games save one. That one match took five games to win because I lost a game in it.

Mike Serovey


Sometimes, An Extra Pawn is Not Enough to Win

This is a recently completed correspondence chess game that was played on the ICCF server. My opponent in this correspondence chess game is an American who lives in Hong Kong with his Japanese wife. Despite my sharp play in the opening and middle game, my extra pawn was not enough to win in the endgame because it was doubled. It seems that the only way that I can beat Barney is to chose a different opening variation the next time that I get White against him.

My draw in this cc game has me temporarily tied for first place. I am also tied for first place in another section on the ICCF server. In both sections, someone who is still playing can knock me out of first place on tie breaks or by outscoring me. I will have to wait and see how things turn out for me in both sections.

I get frustrated when I go into an endgame up material and then I can’t force a win and I have to hope for another blunder by my opponent. The higher rated players seldom make the kinds of endgame blunders that I need to win. Even the weaker players know not to give up the opposition in King and pawn endgames. So, it is going to take some time for me to get my ICCF rating over 2100 points!

Mike Serovey


Recognising The Patterns: Challenge # 3

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern – Lasker to move:

Lasker against Fortuijn in 1908

White is the exchange and a pawn up and should win. But is it a good idea to offer the exchange back by playing Ra4?

Hint: You just need to open a file in order to access Black’s monarch.

Answer: The pattern is Anastasia’s mate and Black can’t win exchange because of a checkmate threat.

In the game Lasker played:

28. Ra4 Nc5? 29. Ne7+

Now Black is forced to give up Queen and still mate can’t be avoided, but the move now played allows a quick finish:

29… Kh8??

The game ended after 2 more moves.

30. Qxh7!!

Opening up h file.

30…Kxh7 31. Rh4#

The next example has been taken from “The Art of checkmate” – Renaud & Kahn:

Lasker – N.N.

Question: Black is in serious trouble. Is it wise to castle here?

Answer: Of course not as after castling White gets a devastating attack based on Anastasia’s checkmate pattern.

Here are the rest of the moves:
9… 0-0 10. Nxe7+ Kh8 11. Qh5

The threat is to play Qxh7 followed by Rh5#.


11…h6 won’t help much after 12.d3 when the c1 bishop wants to take on h6.

12. Qh6 d6

This is suicide.

13. Rh5!

Checkmate can’t be avoided.

13…gxh5 14. Qf6#

Milan Vidmar against Max Euwe in 1929

Question: White to move. Black has created the devastating threat of Qf4, how cn you meet this?

Hint: This is a similar pattern in horizontal form! And Black’s Rook on c2 is undefended.

Answer: White can with Re8+.

34. Re8+ Bf8??

Allows checkmate, but if 34… Kh7 then 35. Qd3+ picks up the rook.

35. Rxf8!! Kxf8? 36. Nf5+ 1-0

Euwe resigned here because if 36… Kg8 then 37. Qf8+!! followed by Rd8 is mate.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 1

The more you improve your pattern bank, the better you become at chess. Whether it is in the opening, middle game or endgame we usually tend to play what we know! And the deeper your knowledge of different patterns, the more beautifully you are likely to play. It could be any tactical or attacking pattern or a simple endgame pattern.

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly:

Nimzowitsch against Alekhine in 1912
It’s Black to move, White’s last move was 15. 0-0-0!

Hint: Alekhine senses the danger of taking the free pawn. Now try to find the solution yourself before looking at the answer.

Answer:This typical pattern is Boden’s mate. Alekhine played Bd6, carefully avoided White’s plans and eventually managed to win the game. But that’s another story.

Now let’s have a look what happens if Black becomes greedy and take the pawn on d4:

16. exd4 Nxd4

Taking on c6 is no good for White now, for example 16. Bxc6 dxc3 17. Bb5 and Black gets the initiative with 17…Ba3!.

17. Rxd4



This allows White’s queen and two bishops to launch a decisive matting attack against Black’s king.

18. Qxe6+ Rd7

Forced. If 18… Nd7 then the finish is quite beautiful: 19. Qc6+!! Followed by mate on a6, the pattern known as Boden’s mate.

19. Bxd7 Kd8

19… Nxd7 is not possible because of Qe8#

20. Bc7+

This wins the queen on the next move and the game.

A beautiful example of how knowing the patterns helps!

Ashvin Chauhan


Good Luck Chuck Leached This Chess Game from Me

My opponent in this chess game is Charlie K. Leach. He signed every card and letter that he sent to me during our two correspondence chess games with “Good Luck! Chuck”, so I started calling him “Good Luck Chuck” after the movie that starred Jessica Alba. He didn’t get joke at first, but he did after I explained it to him.

Charlie has a brother named Jeff who has the same birthday as I do, but he is five years older than I am.

Charlie played an odd variation as White against the Sicilian Defense and he moved one of his bishops three times in the opening. However, I got too fancy for my own good and I blundered on move number 14. The move before was a bad idea for Black. From move number 15 on I was losing.

I was down a Knight and I was hoping for a draw if I could get all of the White pawns off the board without losing any more of my material. I failed to do that and I resigned on move number 50.

This event was a trophy quad that I won and this chess game was my only loss. I finished this section with three wins, one loss, and two draws giving me a final score of 4 – 2. I finished a full point ahead of the second place finisher.


Photograph of my correspondence chess trophy

Photograph of my correspondence chess trophy

Mike Serovey