Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ted Bullockus and Alekhine APCT

Dr. Ted Bullockus has been one of the better known correspondence chess players over the past 40 years. The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) awarded him the title International Arbiter in 1982. His peak ICCF rating was around 2300. We were teammates on the USA 10th Olympiade Chess Team 1982-84. I was on Board 4 and Bullockus on Board 6. Alex Dunne of USCF Chess Life fame played Board 5.

Bullockus told me he had hundreds of pages of notes on the Alekhine Defence based on his years of play and analysis. He also played the Alapin-Diemer variation of the French Defence (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Be3!?). My book on the Alapin French was published in 1995 by Thinkers' Press (Bob Long & his Chessco company).

Unfortunately for Ted, this happened just before Ken Smith of Chess Digest was planning to publish a Bullockus book on the same gambit. When my book came out, Ken Smith decided there was not enough market for two books on this gambit. Smith pulled the plug on the Bullockus project. Very sad. I am sure Ted's book would have been excellent.

Our game was an Alekhine Defence which began 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 (The main line in Anatoly Karpov style. Two other common variations are the Exchange Variation 4.exd6 and the Four Pawns Attack with 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4.) 4...Bg4 (In the 1972 Spassky-Fischer match, Bobby played 4...Bg4 in one game and 4...g6 in another. Nowadays 4...dxe4 is more common. Another thematic line is 4...Nc6 which I sometimes reach via the Queen's Knight Defence after 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 d6.)

Sawyer-Bullockus continued 5.Be2 c6 (Flohr Variation; Fischer played 5...e6.) 6.0-0 Bxf3 7.Bxf3 dxe5 8.dxe5 e6 (The basic starting point for this line. I made it the main line of the whole opening in my Alekhine Defense Playbook as Game 10 [Chapter 10]. There are many White set-ups from this point. The key question: Is the pawn on e5 strong or weak?)

I swap queens and play for better piece co-ordination. 9.c4 Nb6 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Bd2!? (This idea came from the Caro-Kann Defence where the bishop starts on d2 and goes to c3 or a5.) 11...b6 (A weakness. In my Alekhine Defense Playbook I give 12...Kc8 13.Bc3 g5!? 14.Nd2 Ng6 15.Rfe1 Bg7 with equal chances.)

This game I think was annotated by the former Georgia State Chess Champion Thomas Morris for the APCT News Bulletin. Alas I no longer have a copy of that article.

Bullockus had a tremendous impact on me. Shortly after this game I began playing the Alekhine Defence as Black. While I remain a universal openings player, the Alekhine is one of my most common choices. One of the best and worst qualities of this opening is that White usually leaves the known book fairly quickly. Creativity and tactics matter!

Sawyer (1900) - Dr. Bullockus (1800), corr APCT Q-36, 1978 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 c6 6.0-0 Bxf3 7.Bxf3 dxe5 8.dxe5 e6 9.c4 Ne7 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Bd2 Nd7 12.Ba5+ b6 [12...Kc8 13.Bc3 g5!? 14.Nd2 Ng6 15.Rfe1 Bg7=] 13.Bc3 Kc7 14.b4?! Rd8 [14...g5!=/+] 15.a4 Ng6 16.Re1 Nh4 17.Be4 g5 18.Nd2 Bg7 19.Nf3 Nxf3+ 20.Bxf3 h5 21.a5 g4 22.axb6+ axb6 23.Ra7+ Kb8 24.Rea1 Nxe5 25.c5 bxc5 26.bxc5 Kc8 27.Ra8+ [27.Be2!+-] 27...Kd7 28.R1a7+ Ke8 29.Bxe5 gxf3 30.Bxg7 1-0 Black resigns 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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  1. You flatter me, Rev Tim, by mentioning me. Remind me in about 6 months and I will hunt down that APCT NB and send you that article, it was likely when I was doing games editor as well. I'm in the process of returning home to Decatur, GA and I now work as a public health physician at CDC. I avidly follow world chess, but haven't played a rated game since 2000, and I don't miss the stress. I still have all my NBs from when I was a member, but they are all in storage someplace. I wish HW found a successor for her organization. Chess------, Thomas

  2. Great to hear from you! Helen ran APCT well. If I had quit in 2000, I would still be rated over 2000! I told the USCF I would rejoin if they would raise my floor to 1900 since I am over age 60. I had $1000 I would spend on chess this year, but now I will keep it in my pocket. Also, last time I played in a tournament I got shingles - stress, as you point out. I feel better just playing blitz on ICC.


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