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Correspondence chess

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Postcard for international correspondence chess
Card used by the US Chess Federation
Correspondence chess is chess played by various forms of long-distance correspon
dence, usually through a correspondence chess server, through email or by the po
stal system; less common methods which have been employed include fax and homing
pigeon. It is in contrast to over-the-board (OTB) chess, where the players sit
at a chessboard at the same time (or perhaps play at the same time remotely).
Correspondence chess allows people or clubs who are geographically distant to pl
ay one another without meeting in person. These distant relationships are just o
ne of the many distinct appeals of correspondence chess.[1] The length of a game
played by correspondence can vary depending on the method used to transmit the
moves: a game played via server or by email might last no more than a few days,
weeks, or months, but a game played by post between players in different countri
es might last several years.
Contents [hide]
1 Structure of correspondence chess
2 Computer assistance
3 Regulatory bodies of correspondence chess
4 Types of correspondence chess
4.1 Server-based correspondence chess
4.2 Mobile correspondence chess
4.3 Email-based correspondence chess
4.4 Postal (traditional mail) correspondence chess
5 Over-the-board players who also play correspondence chess
6 See also
7 References
8 Further reading
9 External links
Structure of correspondence chess[edit]
Correspondence chess differs from over-the-board (OTB) play in several respects.
While players in OTB chess generally play one at a time (an exception being a s
imultaneous exhibition), correspondence players often have several games going a
t once. Tournament games are played concurrently, and some players may have more
than one hundred games continuing at the same time.
Time limits in correspondence play are usually between 30 and 60 days for every
10 moves (plus transmission time in postal chess). This time allows for far deep
er calculation, meaning that blunders can be less frequent. Certain forms of ass
istance, including books, chess databases and sometimes chess programs, are ofte
n allowed. Books and databases are almost universally acceptable, but organizati
ons vary as to whether chess engine use is permitted.
Computer assistance[edit]
The new phenomenon of computer assistance has altered the essence of corresponde
nce chess and in addition to profound chess knowledge and analytical discipline,
the ability to interpret and guide computer analysis has become important. Give
n that even players with poor chess knowledge can use the strongest computer pro
grams to analyse their games, the gap between the beginner and master player has
narrowed in recent years. However, the influence of computer assistance remains
controversial in both official and casual play, and consensus on the issue of w
hether to allow computer aid is still lacking.
Regulatory bodies of correspondence chess[edit]

Correspondence chess tournaments are usually played under the auspices of an off
icial regulatory body, most importantly International Correspondence Chess Feder
ation (ICCF), which is affiliated with FIDE, the international chess organizatio
n. However, the ICCF, which organizes postal and email events, is not the only o
rganization involved in correspondence chess. There are numerous national and re
gional bodies for postal chess, as well as a number of organisations devoted to
organize email play for free such as the International Email Chess Group (IECG),
the Free Internet Correspondence Games Server (FICGS), that also runs a world c
hampionship cycle, and International E-mail Chess Club (IECC). However, groups o
ther than the ICCF are not sanctioned by FIDE.
The ICCF awards the titles International Master, Senior International Master and
International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster
these are equivalent to similar
titles awarded by FIDE for over-the-board chess. The ICCF also runs the World Co
rrespondence Chess Championships. Because these events can last a long time, the
y may overlap: for instance, in February 2005 Joop van Oosterom was declared win
ner of the eighteenth Championship (which began in June 2003), though the winner
of the seventeenth Championship (which began in March 2002) had not yet been de
Up until 2004, ICCF correspondence chess was played only via email and postal ma
il. For playing by these two forms of transmission, the ICCF developed their own
game notation, known as the ICCF numeric notation, especially for the purpose o
f ICCF correspondence chess.
In recent years, the use of increasingly powerful chess programs have brought fo
rth new challenges for organizations like the ICCF and the U.S. Chess Federation
, necessitating sometimes controversial decisions on the admissibility of such p
rograms in official correspondence play.[2]
Moreover, the emergence of the Internet has brought new opportunities for corres
pondence chess, not all of which are organized by official bodies. Casual corres
pondence chess includes correspondence play initiated through correspondence che
ss servers and games played between individuals who meet and play on their own.
Casual correspondence play does not lead to official ratings, though some chess
servers will calculate ratings for the players based on results on that server.
Types of correspondence chess[edit]
There are three main types of correspondence chess, with server based correspond
ence chess becoming the most popular form in the world today, with major corresp
ondence servers becoming as large and popular as the online blitz chess servers.
Server-based correspondence chess[edit]
Correspondence chess servers are usually database-driven and carry with them a w
eb-based interface for submitting moves to the database. But they do create the
possibility of facilitating any method of transmission, as long as the transmitt
ed moves are audited within the server's database.
Server fees vary. Most casual servers use a yearly charging model, whereby playe
rs can play as many tournaments or games as they want all year round. Some serve
rs offer basic membership for free, with more services available for a fee. Also
more casual servers allow the use of nicknames, and have a real-time rating sys
tem which often adjusts a player's rating after each rated game. Casual servers
also tend to have a wide range of facilities, such as online games databases, so
cial and chess improvement forums, teams, and player homepages. More traditional
ly based correspondence chess servers often charge per tournament and still forc
e the use of real names, which some claim raises privacy implications[who?].
The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) closely cooperates with
the world chess organization FIDE. All ICCF titles, championships and ratings a

re recognised by FIDE.
Mobile correspondence chess[edit]
With the advent of smart-phones such as Apple's iPhone, Blackberry and Android b
ased devices correspondence chess has seen a recent rise in popularity as applic
ations on these devices. Usually the devices use Wifi, GPRS, 3G and sometimes SM
S technology to submit their moves to a central server.
Email-based correspondence chess[edit]
There are organizations devoted to organizing play by email, such as the Interna
tional E-mail Chess Club (IECC).[3]
Email play has gradually declined in popularity due to issues such as email viru
ses, opponents' claims of not receiving moves, and similar impediments to the po
int email play has arguably been superseded by server-based correspondence chess
, where usually the interface to a chess server is a web-based interface.
Postal (traditional mail) correspondence chess[edit]
There are national and regional organizations for postal chess which use traditi
onal "snail mail" for transmitting moves between players. The ICCF and affiliate
d local and national federations often organize postal events. Other examples of
groups offering postal play include the Correspondence Chess League of America
(CCLA) and the United States Chess Federation (USCF). However, groups other than
the ICCF and affiliates are not sanctioned by FIDE.
Traditional postal chess organizations such as the International Correspondence
Chess Association, the Correspondence Chess League of America (CCLA), and the Un
ited States Chess Federation (USCF) have added email and/or server-based options
to their correspondence play.[4]
One of the older documented postal correspondence chess games is a game played i
n 1804 by lieutenant-colonel F.W. von Mauvillon of the Dutch army in The Hague w
ith one of his officers in Breda.[5],[6]
Postal correspondence chess has arguably been superseded by email-based correspo
ndence chess, where play per game is cheaper each move usually delivered free and
instantaneously by email. But there are still devotees.
Over-the-board players who also play correspondence chess[edit]
Although nowadays the strongest correspondence players are specialists, a number
of notable players in over-the-board (OTB) chess have in the past played postal
games during their chess career.
World OTB Champion
OTB Grandmaster OTB International Master
World Correspondence Champion Olga Rubtsova Alberic O'Kelly de Galway; Viach
eslav Ragozin Hans Berliner; Yakov Estrin; C.J.S. Purdy; Mikhail Umansky; Ivar
Bern Gert Jan Timmerman
Correspondence Grandmaster
Ulf Andersson; Igor Bondarevsky; Aivars
Gipslis; Curt Hansen; Jonny Hector; Janis Klovans; Olita Rause; Lothar Schmid; D
uncan Suttles Janos Balogh; Olaf Barda; Jean Hebert; Jonathan Penrose; Richard
Polaczek; Nikolai Papenin; Roman Chytilek; Bela Toth Martin Kreuzer; Peter He
rtel; Auvo Kujala
Correspondence International Master
Alexander Tolush
Paul Keres, an Estonian sometimes regarded as the strongest player never to beco
me world champion, played many games of correspondence chess. OTB world champion
s Alexander Alekhine and Max Euwe also played. Ulf Andersson also achieved very
high ratings in both ICCF and FIDE, remaining in the FIDE top 100 until June 200
2 and consistently ranked second on ICCF. Andrei Sokolov is another OTB GM who h
as recently taken up email chess. World Correspondence Champion Hans Berliner is

also an OTB International Master.

See also[edit]
ICCF national member federations
International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster
World Correspondence Chess Championship
Internet chess servers
Jump up ^ Craig Sadler, "Facts, Games and World Champions of Correspondence Ches
s," Schemingmind.com
Jump up ^ Correspondencechess.com.
Jump up ^ Chess-iecc.com
Jump up ^ Older ICCF Playing Rules Email - Individual and Team tournament games
(01.01.05-31.12.08 -Older ICCF Playing Rules WEBSERVER - (01.01.05-31.12.08) Cor
respondence Chess[dead link] Alex Dunne, "The Check is in the Mail," column, Che
ss Life (March 2007), online at (p. 5)
Jump up ^ Biography
Jump up ^ Louis P. Sloos: Gewapend met kennis. 500 jaar militaire boekcultuur in
Nederland. Dissertation Leiden University, 2012, p. 406, note 99
Further reading[edit]
Dunne, Alex (1991), The Complete Guide to Correspondence Chess, Thinker's Press,
ISBN 0-938650-52-1
Russell, Hannon W. (1980), Correspondence Chess, Thinker's Press
External links[edit]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Correspondence chess players.
IECC International E-mail Chess Club
ICCF International Correspondence Chess Federation
FICGS Free Internet Correspondence Games Server
IECG International Email Chess Group
CCLA Correspondence Chess League of America
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