Book Review – The Absolute Correspondence Championship of the USCF

The Absolute Correspondence Championship of the United States Chess Federation, 1976-2010. Alex Dunne. McFarland & Company. Softback. 348 Pages. 248 Diagrams.

Held on an annual basis, The Absolute Correspondence Championship of the United States is the premier invitational tournament of United States Chess Federation. The top available correspondence players are invited to submit their bids to participate. Between 7 and 14 have been selected over the years but the usual number is 13. The inaugural competition in 1976 had a $25 entry fee with a $280 ‘winner takes all’ first prize.

Alex Dunne became the third ‘Absolute’ Tournament Director in 2005. With the help of Robert Rizzo he has attempted to obtain as many games as possible played in these events. This publication includes 311 of them.

Details of the tournaments are arranged in chronological order with each chapter following the same pattern:-

  • Tournament cross table.
  • Player information.
  • Tournament statistics.
  • Biographical facts concerning the winner(s).
  • Game(s) of the winner(s).
  • Other important games from the tournament.

Most of the game notes are provided by the author but those by the players receive appropriate acknowledgement.

This publication suffers from a variety of faults, the most significant being its structure. An experienced editor would almost certainly have spotted this and taken appropriate action. Instead of scattering biographical facts over several chapters, these should have been allocated a separate section/appendix to provide compact, non-repetitive histories of the participants. There are several factual errors and omissions. For example, Michael Spiegel is listed twice in the statistics section with different figures while Stanley Fink does not appear in the statistics section. Some photographs, especially of the winners, would have improved the overall appearance of the book. The games themselves partially redeem the above shortcomings.

Review by David Mills

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