Jon Edwards wins the 32nd World Correspondence Championship

by Albert Silver
11/20/2022 – It has been nearly 40 years since an American last emerged victorious in the World Correspondence Chess Championship, but GM Jon Edwards has succeeded by winning the 32nd edition. While not a little remarkable, Jon Edwards holds another lesser known title: owner of the largest chess stamp collection in the world.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package ChessBase 17 - Mega package

ChessBase is a personal, stand-alone chess database that has become the standard throughout the world. Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it.

More...

In 1968, computer scientist and chess master Hans Berliner won the 5th World Correspondence Chess Championship with the extraordinary score of 14.0 out of 16. His lead of three points over the second place finishers was the largest in history. 16 years later Lithuanian-born American Vytas Palciauskas became the second American to win the title in 1984 in the 10th edition of the World Championship. Now, nearly 40 years later, Jon Edwards has become the third American to win the title.

Much has changed since the days of Berliner, with computers now the dominant aspect of gameplay and analysis, but also with draw rates going through the roof as perfection is much more common than not at the top levels. By perfection, you must understand it as games in which the play is so skillful on both ends that draws are the overwhelming norm.

Unless a player loses on time or other such clerical issues, flawless draws, despite the typical back and forth of these fearless and technical struggles, are the usual result. 

The New York Times generously celebrated the win by Jon Edwards, and justifiably, but the reality is that the draw rate is so high, it came more down to technical issues to decide it than pure skill. 

That said, a win is a win, and Jon played his very best, and deserves all the laurels that go with his win. For example, he entered it as a SIM (Senior International Master), but emerged a GM as a result of his victory. It isn't the first time a non-Grandmaster emerges victorious, since one must remember that with games and events taking as long a they do (this World Championship took over two years), obtaining norms is a lengthy process, let alone winning titles outright.

The collector

I had the pleasure of meeting Jon in New York during the over-the-board World Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin. Friendly and approachable, he told me about his other passion: collecting. He explained that he actually had the largest chess stamp collection in the world. "Greater than Karpov?" I queried. Karpov's collection was well-known, and this was the first time I had heard about Jon's.

Jon Edward in his office, the starting point to show off his collection

He explained that while both he and Anatoly might have similar sized collections in terms of pure stamps, isolated and in sheets, his included another aspect of this hobby and passion: envelopes in which the stamps had actually been used and postmarked. It was with this that his pulled clearly ahead, and it did not stop there.

While not a chess book collector per se, he had an interesting assortment of antiques and modern books. Greco anyone?

I was fascinated and delighted when he extended an invitation to visit his home, and above all be given a private tour.

The raw stamp collection is made up of endless ring binders such as the one above

There are many lovely ones, painted in meticulous detail, such as this stamp from Mali celebrating the chess olympiad in Nice, France


Even Niger got caught up in the 1972 World Championship fever

Djibouti? Yes, Jon explained that in such an impoverished destination, the government issues commemorative stamps quite regularly and makes sure collectors learn of it so they can buy them.

This sheet of stamps is extraordinary. Not only are all the stamps usable, but the sheer detail upon a closer look is fascinating.

The sheer detail is fantastic

This  envelope from Cuba celebrates the 30th anniversary of Capablanca's World Championship title

This is one of the many memorabilia from the 1972 match between Spassky and Fischer. Jon had so many, such as tickets to the second game, which of course never took place. Every day a new postcard would come out with a new caricature.

Here is another crowning Fischer

He even had a full berth of comics with a chess theme on the cover. Star Wars, Casper the Ghost, Mutants, and so many more.

Jon Edward enjoying the fruits of his labor

Links

 


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.
Discussion and Feedback Submit your feedback to the editors


Discuss

Rules for reader comments

 
 

Not registered yet? Register

arzi arzi 11/22/2022 07:33
I also played correspondence chess in 1990s and the chess engines / chess computers (Fritz, Rebel, Chessmaster, Mephisto) were used as a blunder check, nothing more.
hansj hansj 11/21/2022 07:13
I found great pleasure in correspondence chess way back. But that golden age has been lost to computers, never to return.
Fourteen draws and two wins to a world championship!
arzi arzi 11/21/2022 06:09
Maybe we should call that Advanced World Correspondence Championship?
Michael Jones Michael Jones 11/20/2022 10:46
I appreciate the enjoyment of correspondence chess in itself (I've played it), but I struggle to understand the point of a world championship in which the use of engines is the norm. Kramnik and Anand played "Advanced Chess" in 2002 when the strength of the top human players was roughly equal to the strength of the top engines, so the human still had something to contribute to the partnership of the two, but those days are long gone. Such a competition today is just one engine against another - where's the fun in that?
ranger64 ranger64 11/20/2022 05:05
That stamp identified as from Nigeria is actually from NIGER, which is a different country.
1