New Tournament Starting

How time flies! This morning I received my new pairings for the Veterans World Cup 10 tournament. I entered this because I played in the VWC 9 and found it a good event and the start date was later in the year and I planned to make it my first event with a new process. It was quite a surprise to receive the pairings today but it is the right time, I just hadn’t realised how fast the year was passing by.

I have 10 new pairings with players rated between 1720 and 2437, a good mix of playing strengths and nationalities with representation from Croatia, Switzerland, USA, Germany, England, Romania, Latvia, Russia, Poland, Sweden and Austria.

Thinking of my target it is important for me to score well in these games, draws will be costly against the aim of securing the 2300 rating which is the key marker for getting into those tournaments offering IM norms.

Is it time to have a strategy for starting new tournaments? previously I have tried researching opponents in order to plan the lines I would play, often that just confused me so I have usually stuck to playing what I wanted to play rather than aiming to unsettle my opponent. Time for a change perhaps?

Quick Look at June 2016

I have downloaded the latest ICCF Server database of games ending in June 2016, the database contains 4,374 games played on their server by players of all standard. The database can be used without further work for research though I have found in the past that it pays to check for errors in matters such as tournament dates and player names. The issue of player names is a legacy from the days of postal and email play whereas todays games are mainly played on the web-server which automatically ensures the names of players is consistent.

Anyway, let’s take a quick dive into the database and see what we have. Of the 4,374 games we have a White win rate of 27.5%, Black win rate of 17.4% and a draw rate of 55.1%. That seems a little depressing but I suspect there is not much difference with a top level tournament these days. Interestingly there was a fairly even split of games starting in 2016 & 2017 but not so long ago it would have been unusual to find correspondence games ending within the first 6 months of play.

The most popular lines were:

  • 1.e4 played in 2,283 games,
  • 1. d4 played in 1,538 games,
  • 1. c4 played in 238 games,
  • Sicilian Defence 1,012 games,
  • Ruy Lopez/Spanish Defence 375 games,
  • Tarrasch Defence 343 games.

Quite interesting than 1.d4 scored better 56.1%) than 1. e4 which managed 54.7%. However, e4 scored 28% wins whilst d4 scored 27% wins whilst e4 suffered a slightly higher loss rate than d4. All very interesting but perhaps the best way forward is to decide on a rating cut-off and analyse the results of opening choices for perhaps +2500 elo players?

If you have access to ICCF then you can find the games archive at



Joop van Oosterom Memorial

Joop van Oosterom was the Correspondence Chess World Champion in 2005 and 2008. He sadly passed away in October 2016 and amongst his many achievements he leaves behind a remarkable chess legacy. In addition to winning two world chess champion titles, he also founded the famous Melody Amber chess tournaments where the worlds top grandmasters compete in rapid and blindfold chess tournaments. Previous winners include Grandmasters Magnus Carlsen, Vassily Ivanchuk, Viswanathan Anand, Alexei Shirov and Veselin Topalov.

Joop vanOosteromWe can expect tough fighting chess from the players due to the players themselves and in respect of van Oosteroom, but also because the Dutch Federation have added an innovative win bonus to the games! The prize fund for this tournament is 100 euros for every player plus 300 euro for every win. Additionally, 1st place wins 1200 euro, 2nd place 600 euro and 3rd place 300 euro alongside trophies awarded by the organisers.

In memory of van Oosteroom, the Dutch CC Federation have organised this Category 16 tournament featuring 9 players that include the top-6 rated ICCF players. Competing are,

  • GM Matthias Kribben (Germany),
  • GM Arno Nickel (Germany),
  • GM Roman Chytilek (Czechoslovakia),
  • GM Aleksandr Surenovich Dronov (Russia),
  • GM David Lafarga Santorromán (Spain),
  • GM Richard V.M. Hall (England),
  • GM David A. van der Hoeven (Holland),
  • GM Ron A. H. Langeveld (Holland),
  • GM Marjan Šemrl (Slovenia)

The tournament may be followed at

Thirty Eight is Better

I looked at my list of ongoing games on the ICCF webserver and to my surprise I saw that the list was actually looking quite manageable with not a single game waiting for me to move. A further look showed that the game total was now just 38 games in-play, this is much better when compared to a few months ago when the number was around 85.

I had to take a couple of quick draws due to passive positions on both sides but this does not worry me too much as both games were against higher rated players who had the white pieces, hence a draw is a  decent result.

A New Database from Germany

I have purchased a new database of correspondence chess games, this is part of my plan for assisting my research in my aim of improving my results. The database contains 1.13 million correspondence games with I am told some 8,000 annotated by top players.

The database features games from the tournaments of various cc organisations such as ICCF, LSS, BDF, REMOTESCHACH, FREECHESS and DESC. I will need to go through the games and discover how many of these I already have but even with those it may be that the new games are annotated. A quick look at the database shows me that it has over 500 of my own games whilst my own file shows just over 800 games, so this new file is a little incomplete but then it never said it contained every game ever played.

Having a good database of correspondence games is I think a vital tool if you are to be successful in the game, it helps you prepare for opponents, learn their style and what they may play against you.

I will write more on this new database at another time, today I am out at a Country Fair so am pushed for time. If you would like to obtain this database then send me a message for details of how it may be purchased for 15 Euros.