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Feb 10

Journey into Correspondence Chess

Given I have been inactive in over-the-board (OTB) chess for a while now, I thought I would take up some extra chess apart from my usual online blitz. This extra training comes in the form of correspondence chess, a topic which I have previously written on and given a positive review about. I thought I would walk my talk and actually give CC a go.

There are several correspondence chess organisations to consider. My original intention was to join the most ‘official’ organisation which is the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF). The ICCF is directly affiliated with FIDE, the official organisation for OTB chess. However, I came to realise that I am rather strapped for cash – ICCF tournaments cost money, both in the yearly national organisation fee and a separate entry fee for every tournament commenced. I will need to earn some money first before I can join.

For the moment, I decided to go with a free alternative called Lechenicher SchachServer (LSS). The International Email Chess Group (IECG) is a long-running correspondence chess server which virtually transferred all of its business to LSS after it shut down in December 2010. LSS is programmed by one of the original founders of IECG and IECG also transferred its rating system over to LSS. IECG previously offered titles such as grandmaster, senior master and international master, although I am not sure how LSS is going to organise its titles. Unlike some other popular correspondence chess websites, LSS (and ICCF, as a side note) allows the use of chess engines to aid in analysis. This is fair enough because a non-computer rule is practically impossible to police anyway.

I have commenced my first tournament on LSS, playing in a double round robin server tournament in a field of 7 players with average rating 2061. The time limit is 40 days/10 moves and I am currently playing 6 games simultaneously.

Ideally, playing this tournament will help my OTB chess (that is, when I choose to return to it). I am planning to use a combination of human intuition along with engine assistance to hopefully play some high quality games.

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