In the spirit of correspondence chess, we recently conducted an email
correspondence interview with Savage, who is U.S. life master and also holds the
FIDE master title from the World Chess Federation for over-the-board chess. He
is a former two-time Maryland State champion, chess teacher, author and
How long have you been playing chess? How did you learn?
Savage reminds employees that there is an NIH Chess Club that meets on
Wednesday evenings in 2nd-floor cafeteria of Building 10.
I learned to play chess at age 10 during an extended stay in the
hospital. My 5th grade teacher brought me a pocket set and
beginner book. I have been playing in tournaments since age 14
When is the ¾ final of the 19th World Correspondence Chess
Championship? And if you win that, what next?
The ¾ final is slated to start in the spring of 1998. Top three or four places (out
of 15-17 players) qualify for the 19th world championship final (there will be four
or five ¾ finals). The 19th world championship final would probably start around
the year 2003.
Is it fun to play a chess game spread out over 1-3 years? Do you play a
bunch of games "simultaneously?"
A tournament such as the ¾ final requires one to play 15-16 games
simultaneously. Most correspondence players play in many different events at
once, so may often have 30 or more games going at one time. Most players who
enjoy correspondence chess find it fun, since games contain fewer mistakes and
can approach the ideal of "perfect play." Social correspondence with one's
opponents, often in foreign countries, is also enjoyable. At the level of the world
¾ final and final, the games involve an enormous investment of time and thus
there is a large element of "work" as well.
How do you choose opponents?
Most correspondence events are round robin, all-play-all affairs. In the world
championship cycle, players must qualify from preliminary tournaments.
Can email be used instead of surface mail?
Recently, email has been allowed instead of surface mail for transmitting moves in
international correspondence tournaments. But both players must have Internet
access, which isn't frequently the case yet, especially for Eastern Europeans.
How can you be sure that your opponent isn't getting advice from other
chess players about how to counter your moves?
Help from other players and from chess-playing computers is usually forbidden,
but obviously, enforcement is impossible. Among the stronger correspondence
players, computer help is not worth the trouble.
How did you qualify to be a U.S. life master, and a FIDE master?
To be a life master (a U.S. over-the-board title, not correspondence), one must
play 300 games at the level of master. FIDE master (an international
over-the-board title) is earned in a similar way. (U.S. ratings and FIDE ratings are
similar but separate.)
In what years were you Maryland State champion?
1988 and 1990.
Please expand briefly on your work as teacher, author and journalist.
I have taught chess for over 20 years in schools, chess clubs, adult education
centers, and privately. I have authored two books on chess, both now out of print.
As a chess journalist, I have edited chess magazines, been a columnist and written
chess book reviews for several publications.
How long have you worked at NLM, and what is your title?
I have worked at NLM for 9 years and am a technical information specialist in the
medical subject headings (MeSH) section.