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In english the name is written Correspondence chess

Correspondence chess


Correspondence chess is chess played by various forms of long-distance correspondence, usually through a correspondence chess server, through e-mail or by the postal 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 play one another without meeting in person. 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 e-mail might last no more than a few weeks or months, but a game played by post between players in different countries might last several years.

Correspondence chess differs from over-the-board play in several respects. While in OTB chess only one game is played at a time (the exception being in a simultaneous exhibition), in correspondence chess several games are usually played at once. All games in a tournament are played concurrently, and some players may have more than a hundred games continuing at the same time.

The time limits in correspondence play are usually between 30 and 60 days for every 10 moves. This allows for far deeper calculation, meaning that blunders are very rare. The use of any kind of assistance, including books, chess databases and chess programs, is often allowed, though many hobby players voluntarily do without them.

The new phenomenon of computer assistance has altered the essence of correspondence chess and in addition to profound chess knowledge and analytical discipline, the ability to interpret and guide computer analysis has become important. Given that a player with a computer can use the strongest programs to analyze his/her games, the gap between the beginner and master player has narrowed in recent years since a beginner can partially compensate for his poor chess knowledge with long computer analysis. However the influence of computer assistance is controversial in both official and casual play, and consensus on the issue of whether to allow computer aid is still lacking.

Also at stake is human supremacy over computer chess programs; some argue that a chess program - if left alone - is no match for a top-level correspondence player. An interesting parallel match between correspondence chess grandmaster Arno Nickel and six computer programs on the Chessfriend server ended +1=3-2. GM Nickel also played a two-game match against Hydra, currently the strongest chess machine, winning 2-0. In the rematch, the first game was drawn. The second game has been postponed because of the parties' schedules and server problems.

There are three main types of correspondence chess, with Server based correspondence chess becoming the most popular form in the world today, with major correspondence servers becoming as large and popular as the online blitz chess servers.

Correspondence Chess servers are usually database-driven and carry with them a web-based interface for submitting moves to the database. But they do create the possibility of facilitating any method of transmission, as long as the transmitted moves are audited within the Server's database.

It is not really appropriate to distinguish between levels of 'officialdom' in correspondence chess servers because of the use of chess Engines. Making such judgements about 'officaldom' makes a mockery of the widely respected Fide titles which are arguably the only credible titles worth acquiring in the modern world of powerful computers and powerful chess engines. Because even a 'postman' who just delivers moves from a modern engine would be able to reach a very high rating if they were dedicated enough and with enough powerful hardware and resources. Indeed there have been some casual servers who have explicitly banned players because of engine-usage and this has become another differentiating factor of the various servers - how engine users are detected and tackled.

It is however more appropriate to distinguish between how the server's rating systems work - the level of credibility and soundness, and also proneness to practical factors such as potential player abuse (where chess engines form a major part of potential abuse). Many casual servers for example do not rate games when less than 10 half moves have been completed. Most casual servers make use of an Elo based rating system, but some others use a more exotic Glicko system. Some casual servers only provide rated games to 'full members' and not 'guest members' thus helping reduce potential rating abuses from players setting up multiple accounts, etc.

There are organisations devoted to organising e-mail play. But Email play is gradually declining in popularity due to issues such as Email viruses, the possibility of opponents claimining they have not received moves, etc. There are also sometimes genuine delivery failures, which make Email based correspondence chess less popular and audited than server based chess.

There are organisations who use traditional 'snail-mail' to facilitate moves between players. This form of correspondence chess was arguably superceeded by Email-based correspondence chess which offers much cheaper play per game - each move usually delivered free by Email and also instantenously. But Email-based chess itself has arguably been superceeded by Server based correspondence chess where usually the interface to a Chess server is a web-based interface.

But it should be noted that Correspondence Chess Servers can potentially have any interface to submit moves to it - they are like a virtual 'bank', and the method of transmission is less important, as long as the move transactions are audted into the 'bank'. For example, if Carrier Pigeons carried moves to a place where their moves were scanned in, those moves could be entered into the correspondence chess server.

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. Paul Keres, an Estonian sometimes regarded as the strongest player never to become world champion, played many games of correspondence chess, apparently because he had difficulty finding players in his native country anywhere near strong enough to give him a decent game. Alexander Alekhine and Max Euwe also played. The modern GM Ulf Andersson also achieved very high ratings in both ICCF and Fide, remaining in the FIDE Top 100 unto June 2002 and consistently ranked second on ICCF. The two times British champion George Botterill is now a high rated correspondence chess player.

Also, there has been a recent trend of strong OTB players choosing to play in correspondence chess, either in part or whole. Many players who were in the world-class area in their younger years find that they do not have the time nor inclination due to family or careers to compete in OTB chess but still enjoy playing chess. Ulf Andersson of Sweden is the most notable of these, due to his high OTB rating to have joined the ranks of correspondence chess after an illustrious career in the world-class OTB arena.

ICCF World Champions

Dates given are the period in which the final of the championship took place.


1. Cecil John Seddon Purdy (1950-53)
2. Viacheslav Ragozin (1956-59)
3. Alberic O'Kelly de Galway (1959-62)
4. Vladimir Zagorovsky (1962-65)
5. Hans Berliner (1965-68)
6. Horst Rittner (1968-71)
7. Yakov Estrin (1972-76)
8. Jørn Sloth (1975-80)
9. Tonu Oim (1977-83)
10. Victor Palciauskas (1978-84)
11. Friedrich Baumbach (1983-89)
12. Grigory Sanakoev (1984-91)
13. Mikhail Umansky (1989-98)
14. Tonu Oim (1994-2000)
15. Gert Jan Timmerman (1996-2002)
16. Tunc Hamarat (1999-2004)
17. Ivar Bern (2002-)
18. Joop van Oosterom (2003-)
19. Christophe Léotard (2006-)


1. Olga Rubtsova (1968-72)
2. Lora Jakovleva (1972-77)
3. Ljuba Kristol (1978-84)
4. Liudmila Belavenets (1984-92)
5. Ljuba Kristol (1993-98)

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File last modified on 2016-5-11
Contributor : devassal thibault

See also this article on Wikipedia : Correspondence chess

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Correspondence chess

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Play the strongest international correspondence chess players !

Szczepanski, Zbigniew     (POL)        [member # 6495]

Correspondence chess : 2487       GM

Ranked  #  32   in the rating list.

Rating history :   2489 2487 2487 2487 2487 2487 2487


Age : 66 years old Location : Sosnowiec (Poland) Title ICCF : GM Rating ICCF : 2443

Zbigniew Szczepanski

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