Smoke (2448) - Goodman (2595) -- 1996

I met Conrad in an online correspondence chess tournament on AOL. At the time I was unrated (not yet having faced enough quality rated opponents), and his rating was 2595 (I found out later that Conrad Goodman is one of the top correspondence chess players in the world). The tournament was set up in a round robin format, assuring that the leading players would face each other in the later rounds. Fortunately, I had won all my games in the first four rounds giving me a total of eight points (1 point for a win -- 1/2 point for a draw). Conrad had one loss and one draw after four rounds, so all I needed from our two games was a 1/2 point (a draw) to win the tournament. Yep, that was all I needed...I have never played a better chess player.

In our first game (with me as white) he played conservatively, and totally wiped me out using (of all things) superior pawn strategy...give Conrad a pawn advantage and he'll win nearly every time. In the second game (with me as black) I managed to open up play by using a strategy that I had been testing in several other games that were going on simultaneously with my tournament games. As black, my intent was to fianchetto both my bishops and use a flanking pawn attack on the queenside.

My strength has always been open-board tactical (as demonstrated in these and my USCF Golden Knights games), and I managed to bring my game to bear. I should have won that second game (just from a material standpoint alone), but Conrad demonstrated why he is rated near 2600. I was so geared to attack and destroy, that I completely forgot about draws...He lured me into it and made a brilliant move that I had not considered at all...

Lest you think that I am just some dummy who doesn't know his way around the chessboard, my rating when I 'retired' was 2448, and just recently (Dec 2002) in the world junior chess championships in Goa, India the Phillipine champion was lured into a draw in similar circumstances.

After the AOL tournament, Conrad and I played a series of games (He even wanted me to play on his international team, but by then I had the 'writing bug' -- That's a whole other story.), and I have never been so seriously challenged at chess. The following games reflect our play...before I met Conrad I never thought a draw could be exciting *smile*