I had the privilege of playing Chris Merli with my Dutch Defence in postal chess 23 years ago. Christopher Merli is a biology teacher who became a notable chess coach with many successes. As a player Chris is a tournament Expert sometimes rated in the 2100s. Here are interesting quotes taken from one University of Illinois article.
“Chess is a game of pure strategy,” Merli explains. “There is no luck and no bad bounces. In chess, it comes down to if you or your opponent plays better.”
“I played sports when I was younger,” he says, “but I was always told I was not big enough for the team. No one ever said that when I sat in front of the board in a chess game.”
“Chess trains you to realize the importance of thinking, planning, and patience,” he says. “It also teaches the value of persistence. The best players are not necessarily the greatest minds or have the deepest knowledge. The truly great players are those that treat every move as critical, and battle with themselves as much as their opponent to find the best move in every position.”
Good stuff. His comment on size reminds me of World Champion Anatoly Karpov and Olympic ice skater Scott Hamilton. In the trendy Leningrad Dutch 7...Qe8 Malaniuk variation below, we both had chances but in the end agreed to a draw. I do not know what our ratings were at the time, nor which section this 1989 USCF Golden Knights Postal Chess tournament game came from. By this 1991 round game we were probably out of the running for any prize money. I was rated over 2200 in 1990, and his current postal rating is 1927. I am guessing our ratings were close to each other at that time.
Merli - Sawyer, corr USCF 1991 begins 1.c4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.d4 d6 7.Nc3 Qe8 8.Re1 Qf7 9.b3 Ne4 10.Bb2 Nc6 [10...Nd7 11.e3 Ndf6 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Nd2 Nf6 14.Qe2 c6=] 11.Rf1 Nxc3 12.Bxc3 h6 13.Qc2 Bd7 14.Rad1 Rae8 15.d5 Nd8 16.Nd4 [Sharper play would follow after 16.Bxg7 Qxg7 17.c5 f4 18.Nd4+/-] 16...a6 17.e4 f4 18.e5 Bxe5 19.Be4 Kg7 20.b4 g5 [20...Qf6=/+] 21.c5 Qh5 22.Nf5+ Kg8 [Black could have won material with 22...Rxf5! 23.Bxf5 Bxf5 24.Bxe5+ (24.Qxf5 Bxc3-+) 24...Kg6-+] 23.Bxe5 dxe5 24.d6 exd6+/- 1/2-1/2
You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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