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 https://www.iccf.com/message?message=454