Playing on ICCF

ICCF (see their website) is an official international correspondence-chess organization. Its role can be compared to the role FIDE fulfills for over the board chess - ICCF organizes the official world championship, grants official titles and publishes official rating lists.

It is possible to play ICCF games using the SchemingMind interface.

1. How does it work

SchemingMind is just an alternative interface to the same ICCF games server. In particular, once you configure SchemingMind to access your ICCF account:

you see exactly the same games (and positions) whether you use SchemingMind ICCF games page, or standard ICCF WebChess server,

you are free to make moves using any of those interfaces, at your wish (you can even make odd moves from SchemingMind and even moves from ICCF WebChess if you like so),

even while playing from SchemingMind, you still get ICCF email notifications.

Let me repeat: SchemingMind just displays your normal ICCF games and lets you make moves in them. Your ICCF opponents won't even know that you are playing from SchemingMind. And SchemingMind does not even save those games.

Technically: SchemingMind just works as Xfcc client to the ICCF WebChess. Playing on ICCF from SchemingMind is just like playing on SchemingMind from the mobile interface.

Normal SchemingMind games are not ICCF rated (in general ICCF shows no interest in rating any games except those played on their server).


2. Creating ICCF account

Unless you already have your ICCF account, you must create one using ICCF webserver. They do not have any kind of registration screen, instead you receive identifier and password while joining your first tournament.

Most ICCF tournaments require entry fee, to learn the system you may consider playing freely available unrated 2-game match. To start it, visit the ICCF webserver, pick New events from the menu, locate Free unrated 2-game matches in the table and click Enter. You will be guided through the registration.

Note that ICCF uses your real name to track your games and rating, one can not play anonymously there.


3. Configuring SchemingMind to access your ICCF account

To access ICCF server from SchemingMind do the following:

enter your ICCF ID (obtained as above) on the My identity screen,

  • enter also your real name there (unless you already did it)

You are free to decide whether to show those data to other players, or not, necessary checkboxes are on the same screen. If you uncheck both, your data will be registered by the system, but won't be shown to other SchemingMind players.

It is possible to find the player name once one knows the ICCF ID. Therefore if you prefer to stay anonymous on SchemingMind, keep both real name and ICCF ID private. Also note, that your ICCF opponents will know your true name, but will not know your SchemingMind nickname.

After submitting those data, wait a day or two for those being confirmed by the site administrator. You may check whether they were verified by looking at the same screen, once confirmed, the corresponding fields are greyed out and the text confirmed is shown below them.

Then visit the ICCF games screen (My Games/My ICCF games). While doing it for the first time, you will be prompted for your ICCF password. It is the same password you use to login directly to ICCF WebChess. Enter it and submit the form. You will see your ICCF games list.

Entering your password means a trust, do it only if you trust SchemingMind administrator. Unfortunately the underlying protocol requires knowledge of this password.

The password will be saved by the system, so you won't need to reenter it (unless you change it on the ICCF WebChess).

Would you want to remove the password, there is a link which does that on the bottom of My ICCF games screen.


4. Playing ICCF games

Your ICCF games are shown on the dedicated ICCF games screen (My Games/My ICCF games). The screen is very similar to your normal games list, and works in the same way.

When you click some game, you get it displayed on usual board screen. You get the same pieces, the same buttons, the same analysis board etc. There are only two minor differences:

  • it is not possible to add a comment without making a move,
  • old messages are not displayed (if opponent attached some comment to his last move, you see this comment, but later on those comments are forgotten).

This is directly caused by the way ICCF WebChess works (players who play directly on their server also have no way to access old messages).


5. Entering ICCF tournaments

It is not possible to enter ICCF tournament directly from SchemingMind. Visit ICCF WebChess, login there, review Nev events list, pick the event you want to play, click Enter and perform the registration.

You may be offered a choice whether to register by direct entry, or by national federation. The former means immediate registration with payment issued using credit card. The latter means messaging your national federation delegate who will contact you by email to arrange the payment details (bank transfers are frequently used). The price is roughly the same whichever method you use. In some cases (depending on your nationality and whether you played ICCF tournaments in the past) you may be forced to register via national federation (this is mostly political issue, national federations keep some part of registration fee).

English and Welsh players (by birth or residence), who are also full members of SchemingMind, are already members of the British Federation for Correspondence Chess (BFCC) because SchemingMind is a member organisation of BFCC. Please contact Austin for details of how to register for ICCF events through BFCC.

Once the games are created, you will see them.

Note: for the obvious reasons SchemingMind handles only the tournaments denoted as played on 'Webserver'. If you enter postal or email tournament, you are still expected to use postcards or email messages to play them.


6. ICCF tournaments cost

Most ICCF tournaments require entry fee. The fee vary but is typically about $20 for entry level tournaments.

Entry to single ICCF tournament (6 games) costs about as much as yearly full membership on SchemingMind (unlimited games and tournaments).

If you would like to test ICCF without paying, there are two options:

  • free unrated 2-game matches (those are available almost always, at the moment it is allowed to play one such match a year)

WebChess Open tournaments (organised irregularly) are freely available for people who never played rated ICCF game, see for example 3rd WebChess Open announcement


7. Schemingmind interface limitations

SchemingMind may be only used to play the games. To enter the tournaments, contact tournament director, view crosstables, check rating lists, change password etc you must still use ICCF WebChess.

In particular you must visit ICCF WebChess to claim the timeout win and to book the holiday (which is unrelated to SchemingMind vacation and generally booked separately for every tournament you play in).

You may happen to be asked for your ICCF password while visiting your ICCF games screen. If you did not change the password, most likely reason is that ICCF WebChess is down or overloaded. Just wait a few minutes and retry.


8. Additional remarks

Using computer assistance during play is legal (and standard) while playing ICCF tournaments. You are free to decide how to play, but in most cases you may expect your opponents to use such a help.


ICCF uses its own time controls (usually slower than those used on SchemingMind) and the time is tracked by their server. SchemingMind just shows the current clock state according to the data loaded from ICCF server.

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