Biographical details of Julian Corfield, British Correspondence Champion:
My father taught me, along with my elder brother, to play chess when I was about ten years old. Once he had taught us the moves, he announced that he intended to buy a chess book. Reputedly, I responded to this by saying; “Why buy us a book? We know how to play.”
It wasn’t until I was about 17 that I started to play regularly, with the result that I lacked the experience of my contemporaries who had started at an earlier age. As a consequence, I was never very successful at over-the-board chess. Aged about 30, I discovered correspondence play and immediately realised that this was a form of the game that suited me.
The highlights of my career are participating in the British Correspondence Championships in 2009-2010 and again in 2010-2011. In the former, I won seven games out of the 14 but lost one, and became joint champion. In the latter, I only won four but was outright champion.
Having studied our game conscientiously for half a century, I now have only three weaknesses remaining. The first is that I never can remember what to do in the openings. Whilst this was fatal at otb play, it isn’t a problem with correspondence games, as books and now databases can be consulted. My second weakness is an inability to calculate variations in the middle-game. However, computers have solved that one for me. My final weakness is in the endgame but my other two weaknesses mean that my games rarely reach an ending.
J Corfield-IJ Mason
British Correspondence Championship, 2010/11. Semi-Slav, Anti-Meran D46
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 Nc3 c6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 Bd6 7 Bd3 0–0 8 0–0 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b5 10 Be2 I had this position against Eldridge in the same competition and play continued 10 Bd3 Bb7 11 a3 a6 12 b4 a5 13 Rb1 axb4 14 axb4 Qe7 15 Bd2 Bxb4. I was relieved to draw after 13 more uneventful moves.
10…Bb7 11 Rd1 Qc7 12 Bd2 a6 13 b4
All book upto here. I couldn’t see any opening advantage for White.
13…e5 14 Rac1 Rfe8 15 h3 h6 16 a4
With this move we left my opening books. In retrospect, I may have done better to play 16 a3, because my b-pawn now lacks support.
16…e4 17 Nh4 Bxb4 18 Nxb5 axb5 19 Bxb4 Rxa4
Not even 20 moves played, and I’m a pawn down. This doesn’t augur well.
20 Qb3 Qb6 21 Nf5 Re6 22 Ne7+
At the time, this seemed a good idea: I soon changed my mind.
22…Kh7 23 f4 exf3 24 Bxf3 g6
Now, as well as being a pawn down, my knight has no retreat. Although his king has plenty of defenders, in desperation, I thought that I would try to attack his one weak point, f7.
25 Rf1 Kg7 26 Rf2 h5
This is directed against Bg4, which is a threat once I’ve doubled rooks on the f-file.
27 Qb2 Qa6
It was only very gradually that I began to realise how difficult Black’s position is. His queen is on a lengthy journey to e8 in order to attack my knight; meanwhile his R (a4) and B (b7) are contributing very little and can’t easily help his king.
28 Rcf1 Qa7 29 Bxh5 gxh5
A crucial alternative is 29…Rxb4 but now 30 Qxb4 gxh5 31 Nf5+ Kh7 (31…Kh8 32 d5 cxd5 33 Nd4!±) 32 d5 cxd5 33 Nd4!±
30 Bc5 Qb8 31 e4 Qe8 32 Nf5+ Kg8 33 Nh6+ Kg7
Here my opponent kindly offered me a draw, revealing that he, too, realised that the tide was turning 33…Kh7 34 Qc1 Nxc5 (34…Bc8 35 e5 Nxc5 36 Rxf6 Rxf6 37 Rxf6+-; 34…Nxe4 35 Rxf7+ Kh8 36 Qe3 as in the game; 34…Rc4 35 Qg5 Rxc5 36 dxc5 Qf8 37 Nf5 Bc8 38 Nd6 b4 39 Qf5+ Kg8 40 Rf3 and White’s attack prevails) 35 Rxf6 Rxf6 36 Rxf6 Nxe4 37 Nf5 and White has a won game.
34 Qc1 Nxe4 35 Rxf7+
35…Kh8 36 Qe3 Ba8
The fact that this is Black’s best move shows that he is in serious trouble. However, there are many variations in which the bishop on b7 is vulnerable to capture by my rook.
It took me some time to find this move; the entry of this rook into the attack is decisive.
37…Ndf6 38 Rf8+ Qxf8 39 Bxf8 c5
He sacrifices a pawn to activate his bishop and there are a few lines when my g2 square is weak.
This is not the only move to win but in the endgame I like to retain as many pawns as possible. My new c-pawn is worth a piece, in the sense that it will soon require him to sacrifice a piece to prevent it queening.
40…Nd5 41 Qc1 Nxf4 42 Qxf4 Rg6 43 Qe5+ Nf6 44 Be7 Ra6 45 Nf7+ Kg7 46 Ng5 b4 47 Bd6 Bd5 48 Qe7+ Kh6 49 Nf3 Rxd6
49…Bxf3 offers no hope after 50 Bf4+ Rg5 51 Bxg5+ Kxg5 52 Qe3+ Kg6 53 Qd3+ Be4 54 Qxa6.
Here my opponent resigned. Although there is still some work to be done after 50…Bxf3 51 Qe3+ Kg7 52 Qxf3, the result is not in doubt.
With thanks to Julian and, of course, Kenny.