As you are already aware, SchemingMind is a correspondence chess club & server,
where you can indulge in a relaxed game of correspondence chess against another
On this page you'll find a more detailed version of what you read when you first
visited our website. You can read the whole page, or jump to any part using one
of the links below:
We do realise that getting used to a new service takes some time and a little effort.
In order to ease this process, we prepared some documents that might be helpful
to you. You may find that the best method for you is just to look around and figure
out how everything works for yourself. Nevertheless, we invite you to read at least
this page. As opposed to our help pages, this one doesn't explain how to use our
server, but rather it provides a description of some of the possibilities you will
have as a member. We find that a lot of our members, even those that have been playing
at SchemingMind for some time, are unaware of some excellent functionalities of
the server. That's why we prepared this overview. Should you choose to register
your trial account (you can do it here),
you will have access to the help files explaining in detail how to use the options
The idea of correspondence chess is very old. In the pre-Internet era, moves were
mailed by post and a game between distant opponents could go on for years. Nowadays
using an Internet server significantly speeds up the games, as moves are transmitted
instantly. Nevertheless, the thinking time alone can still add up to months. The
games (as always in competitive chess, be it over-the-board or correspondence) are
timed, i.e. players have to move fast enough not to overstep their time limit, or
else they lose the game. SchemingMind uses Fischer Clocks, the most popular type
of chess clock: a player is allotted a certain amount of time at the beginning of
the game, and a small bonus (called the increment) is added to their clock
after each move. Theoretically speaking then, you can have more time on your clock
at the end of the game than you had at the beginning, but this is unlikely: why
rush when you have days to move?
There are four clock settings available to choose from; both the initial time and
the increment given after each move differ between them, so you can choose one that
you feel most comfortable with. The standard pace is 30 days per player for the
entire game, with an increment of one day. At first, you're most likely to feel
this is a lot, but you will discover for yourself that it's not necessarily the
case. First of all, while you can just log in and make your move instantly every
time you receive a move by one of your opponents, most players prefer to set up
a board (or use our built-in on-screen analysis board) and analyse the position
for some time. If that happens to be your preference too, you'll need to have some
free time in order to do it. Your daily activities may not give you the luxury of
having such a possibility every day. Secondly, chess is a game and thus the pleasure
factor plays an important role. You may not be in a right frame of mind to play,
you may not feel like it, you may want to take a walk instead. The relaxed time
controls give you enough flexibility to take a week or two off and not lose your
games due to a time-out. And if you plan not to play for several weeks, you can
take up to four weeks of holidays: your games will be paused for the time.
If you still believe 30 days is too much, no problem: you can play a fast
game of 10 days with 1 day increment, or even a blitz game, where you will
have only five days to complete your moves, with 12 hours bonus per move.
If you are a busy person, or simply feel more comfortable the more time you have,
there is a leisure clock available: you get a standard 30 days at the beginning,
but the increment is three days instead of just one. Additionally, in friendly (non-tournament)
games it is possible for a player whose opponent overstepped the time to allow them
to continue the game instead of claiming a win on time. (If you are an ICCF player,
you're likely to feel that even the leisure time control is a bit faster than the
standard ICCF 10 moves in 50 days.)
In order to start a game, you need to challenge another player to a match,
but that's not the only way. Apart from issuing an individual challenge, you can
participate in tournaments. Currently there are two types of normal tournaments
available: double round-robin and knock-out, and two special types: constantly running
pyramid tournaments and the annual drop-out tournaments. All tournaments but the
drop-out can be played using all four time controls settings.
In a double round-robin tournament, you play every opponent twice: once
witch each colour. As opposed to over-the-board chess, in correspondence chess tournaments
all games are played simultaneously, so if you join a six-player double round-robin
tournament, you'll start 10 new games. Games are scored as one point for a win and
half a point for a draw. When all the games are finished, the player who scored
the most points is declared the winner of the tournament. If you want, you can participate
in class tournaments. Those are regular round-robin tournaments, divided
into rating groups, but the winner is allowed to play in a stronger tournament next
In a knock-out tournament, you have one opponent and play two games (again,
once with each colour) against them. The winner of such two-game match (in case
of a 1-1 tie, the winner of the so-called Primary Game) advances to the next round
and plays another player who won their match in the previous round. The loser of
a two-game match leaves the tournament. When only two players remain, a final two-game
match is played, the winner of which wins the whole tournament.
If you enjoy playing a particular variation, or wish to study one, you can join
a thematic tournament. All games will start from a particular position,
e.g. in a Queen's Gambit thematic tournament all games will begin with the moves
1.d4 d5 2.c4. Double round-robin and knock-out tournaments may have rating requirements,
restricting who can join the tournament to players of a certain rating range. They
can be started by any member at any time, so if there currently is no running tournament
to your liking, you can start one and set up all parameters (type, number of players,
time controls, rating requirements, theme) yourself.
A pyramid tournament is a constantly running competition. When you join
one, you are placed at the first level of the pyramid and can challenge players
at the same level, or one level above you, to a game. You'll be playing with the
white pieces in this game and if you win, you'll advance to the next level. The
goal is to reach the top of the pyramid and defend this spot for as long as you
can, by winning or drawing against players from the next-to-top level who challenge
A drop-out tournament is an annual event which serves as the Club Championship.
It is a more relaxed form of a knock-out tournament, as one loss doesn't eliminate
you from the competition. Games are scored negatively: three points for a loss,
one point for a draw and no points for a win. After each round, players who have
accumulated six points are eliminated from the tournament. The last player to remain
in the draw wins the event.
The Club has an internal rating list, using the Glicko rating system.
A new rating list is published every
month. After you finish your first game, you'll get a rating depending on the rating
of your opponent and of course the result of the game. At first, your rating changes
will be very big, but when you finish several games, your rating will be more reliable
and will not change much after games.
The rating system serves two purposes. The main one is to provide you with information
on your own level of skill as compared to other players, so that you'll be able
to choose opponents suitable for you. You may want to only play people of a similar
rating in order for the games to be very competitive, or you may find that you benefit
from the experience of playing higher rated players. Whatever your preference, your
rating will serve you as a very good measuring tool.
Secondly, good players can be awarded a title of Master or Senior Master. Those
titles are our internal affair only and are not recognised outside the club, but
many players find it fun to compete for them and view obtaining a title at a rewarding
experience, confirming one's chess skills progress.
Our members have exclusive access to the Game Explorer. It's an excellent chess
theory tool aimed at beginners and advanced players alike, which explains in detail
the ideas behind popular opening variations. It also allows you to move pieces on
a virtual chess board and find out what games have used that move sequence. It is
developed by an active correspondence chess tournament player, International Master
of Correspondence Chess Hansjürgen Baum of Germany.
The aim of the Game Explorer is to provide members not only with theoretical variations
and their assessment, but also, and more importantly, with insight to ideas behind
them. That's why it's generally viewed as an invaluable learning tool by our members.
Not only regular chess
At SchemingMind, apart from normal chess, you can play some chess-like games called
Chess Variants. The most important
and popular one is Chess960, also called Fischer Random Chess, developed by the
late Bobby Fischer, the eleventh World Chess Champion and one of the greatest chess
players in history. He thought of this game because he felt that chess was more
and more about learning theory and less about creativity. In Chess960, everything
works like in normal chess, except that the starting position is different: instead
of fixed starting squares, the pieces are randomly placed at the first rank before
each game, according to some rules aimed at making the game as chess-like as possible:
the King is always between the Rooks, and the Bishops are always at squares of a
different colour. There are 960 possible starting positions in this game (hence
the name), including the standard chess starting position. Opening theory is practically
non-existent, so the players are forced to think for themselves since move-one!
However, Fischer Random Chess is not the only chess variant available. In fact,
there are over 40 chess-like games available to our members. While they're nowhere
near as popular as regular chess and Chess960, they have some devoted fans and most
of all, can provide a lot of enjoyment.
Plus, you can discover what chess was like in historical times, thanks to the availability
of variants like Shatranj (the medieval predecessor of chess) or Makruk (Thai chess).
Teams and leagues
As a member of the club, you can participate in teams that compete in our internal
leagues. Team competition can be quite different than individual play, as it provides
an additional aspect of the game: socialising. Many team players don't limit themselves
to playing for the team, they also participate in discussions with their team-mates
held at a discussion board each team has. In no case is limiting those discussions
to chess expected or encouraged, and in fact many players start new friendships
with other club members thanks to the spirit and social possibilities of team play.
Some teams are purely social. Members have the priviledge of creating a new team
for whatever purpose suits them.
Speaking of socialising, there is one more great difference between over-the-board
and correspondence play: talking. While talking to your opponent during a real-time
chess game is widely considered rude at the very least, and in formal games can
result in a forfeit, correspondence chess is the exact opposite of that. It is a
very common and nice practice to exchange messages with your opponent, and in fact
some go as far as to consider the game secondary to this wonderful social occasion.
When you play a game at SchemingMind, you can attach to any move you like a message
to your opponent. While you have no obligation to talk to your opponent at all if
you don't wish to, it is widely accepted that a courtesy of saying something like
"Hello, nice to meet you. Have a nice game!" and thanking for the game after it's
finished is an integral part of the spirit of correspondence chess.
If you like meeting new people, you'll like the Forums: a big discussion board open
to all members of the Club, divided into thematic parts where you can discuss any
chess and non-chess topic you want. The Forums also serve as an important support
tool; our established members tend to be very friendly towards new players and willing
to explain and help with any problem they might experience.
Representing the club in official events
SchemingMind is an officially recognised correspondence chess club. We are a member
of the British Federation for Correspondence Chess, which in turn is a member of
the ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation), the governing body of
correspondence chess worldwide. While the Club is British, we welcome members from
all countries of the world.
Being a recognised correspondence chess club means participating in various club
matches and international events. Every member of the club, regardless of their
skill level and nationality, is warmly welcome to compete for SchemingMind in the
official events. We play friendly matches against other correspondence chess clubs
and against national federations. Several SchemingMind teams participate in the
ICCF Champions League, which is the world team championship of correspondence chess.
Each year several such events are being started, and if you feel like playing, nothing
could be simpler: just say so when the time comes and you'll be included in the
Other methods of accessing SchemingMind
The primary method of playing at SchemingMind is through the web browser. Every
major web browser should work flawlessly. However, that's not the only way.
SchemingMind has a built-in support of the XFCC protocol. That means you can access
your games with correspondence chess functions of your chess database program, like
Scid or ChessBase. (By the way, if you are an ICCF player, this also means you can
access your ICCF games from SchemingMind, without the need to go to the ICCF Webchess
You can even play from your phone when on the road!
You can sign up for your free trial account of 50 games by clicking
here. It has full functionality, apart from creating teams
and tournaments. You are in no way obliged to sign up for a full membership after
your trial period.
If you want to read even more, here are some useful links:
- here you can read why
exactly a full account is not free, how much it costs and where the money goes,
- here you can read some Frequently Asked Questions
and answers to them,
- here is our complete
knowledgebase, built by our members, the SchemingMind Wiki.