Correspondence Chess

Report by Phil Morgan

Nottinghamshire last fielded Correspondence teams in 2013-14. I would like to raise a team for next season. The competition usually starts in October, and will involve playing a minimum of 2 games on the internet.

Five of the A team who played in 2013-14 are willing to play again. At least 3 others are need to make up the team.

I’ve sounded out a few individuals who I thought might be interested but met a wall of reluctance based on “ What’s the point of correspondence chess? “ In the words of John Tassi, who will play if we get a team, “ The trouble with playing correspondence chess is my computer better than yours.“

I’ll attempt to give my answer. Correspondence chess is not chess. Players have always been able to consult other games and theory. Correspondence play is built on Chess Research. Now this can be exercised on -line. The ECF tried to stem the use of computers by agreeing to the use of computers for reference, but not for analysis of a position. There was no way of enforcing this distinction and the BCCF came to the adult conclusion that the use of computers in correspondence play is allowed.

How you use computers is a personal choice. Allow your computer to play the game for you, and I would agree there is no point. I played correspondence chess in 2013-14 with computer support. I disregarded Fritz in the opening. I preferred to use reference books and to play the opening lines I use over the board.. As the game advanced out of theory, I did seek the engine view. Often there’s a choice of lines. Ultimately the player decides which to play. I regard Fritz as my second! I wouldn’t send a move without checking whether it’s a losing blunder, and I’d expect my opponent to do the same. Eliminate the one-move blunders that occur in OTB play moves the game to a higher standard. It offers you the chance to play down the best lines of games from your opening repertoire.

I view correspondence chess as a rehearsal for chess. I learned more about 2 of my opening lines from correspondence games than I have done from playing 50 blitz games. I enjoy the opportunity for deep preparation and research. So even if you’re sceptical, give it a try. You might find you enjoy it too.

You’re not eligible to play if you play correspondence for another county. A spin-off of playing is that you are given access to the ICCF server, and can view top-level correspondence games.

If you‘re interested in playing let me know.