Welsh Correspondence Chess Federation

Rydym yn Ffrindiau - Amici Sumus

Interview: CCM Glyn Sinnett (WLS)

 

Introducing

 

CCM Glyn Sinnett (WLS)

 

Glyn has  been The  Welsh Correspondence Chess Champion, he has also  played for Wales in many events over the years. He is one of the few  player to have won the Ward-Higgs and the Sinclair. Glyn`s success in over the board chess with his Nidums team, has been going on for decades. This Year he celebrates his 60th Birthday.

 

 

Briefly tell us about yourself?

After finishing school where I attended Neath Grammar School, Llangatwg Comp and Dwr y Felin Comp, I started working for British Coal in a Laboratory for 11 years and was transferred to British Coal Opencast where I was pn the staff for a further 10 years. I had to finish work at 38 years of age through ill health and been a carer for my sister ever since. I will be reaching another landmark this summer when I will be 60!

 

How did you get involved in Chess?

I started playing when I was 10 years of age - self taught. I also played for my local YMCA for a few years but never took it seriously until I went to sixth form when I was 16. I then played Neath for 4 years, Castell Nedd for 11 years and then Nidum for the past 28 seasons. This is my 43rd consecutive season in which I have captained my last 2 clubs for 39 years. Also run many things in that period in West Wales in which i did the rating site for 11 years and also 5 years for the WCU doing the Home Director. I have also been on many European Club Cups with Nidum - 14 in total and also three twin town events in the same period. I have also captained Wales in a non playing capacity in the European Team in 2009 in Serbia and also in 2010 and 2012 in the Olympiad in Khanty Mansiysk in Russia and in Istanbul. 

A full diary !! 

 

Glyn, Its been noted that you used to play proper postal chess ?

I started playing correspondence in 1982 at Castell Nedd when the club had a friendly vs Tito Velenje of Yugoslavia. It was a very slow event as only 9 moves were played on almost a year! I then started playing in the Welsh Championship for three years in the early 1990s in which I finished 3rd 2nd and then 1st. This is when correspondence chess was proper CC. No engines. 

I then played for Wales in the Olympiad and NATT tourneys in which I had mixed fortunes but my rating was a decent 2230. 

 

When and how did you get interested in Correspondence Chess?

I did stop playing CC in the early 2000s - but was tempted back by my club mate Ian Jones to play on the county scene. This however was when engines were rife but I have adjusted.

What do you like about Correspondence Chess?

OTB I usually stick to a handful of tried and tested openings and defences. However with CC I do try and vary all aspects of my game.

What are your Correspondence Chess Career Highlights?

I have achieved getting both my CCE and CCM titles in the past few years. It would be nice to step over the 2300 mark - perhaps its my goal.
 

What do you think an aspiring player should do to improve their game?

Over the board players must put the work in to improve. Every player hits a "wall" and to get past it need to put in solid work. 

In CC the same applies. But you need to be enjoying your game so that you can benefit. 

 

Do you have an overall strategy when you start a game or tournament?

No real strategy. Check out your opponents to what they normally play with white or black. It does get tougher as each player these days like to experiment. I do prefer to play in a team tournament however than in a tourney when you are alone - otb and cc. 

 

How do you select your moves, what is your general method?

Select your openings and defences to which you enjoy playing and also in which you think you can maximise your final score. At a certain point you will probably have three or four moves at one point where they will seem to be ok to play. This is when the hard work starts and you will have to go deep in your analysis to find out which variation gives you the best chance of a more positive result.

With so many draws in Correspondence Chess, what do you do to try and generate wins?

It depends on how many chances are you prepared to take. I did have one game about two years ago in which I had a very small plus. To generate any winning chances I had to imbalance the position with a two pieces for rook and pawn swap. This gave me the only chance of winning as the passed pawn on the queenside became strong and in the end won me the game vs a strong 2300 player. 

 

 So Glyn, what are your future aspirations in Correspondence Chess?

Reaching 2300 and perhaps having a go for some IM norms.

What are your favourite Openings and why?

OTB I always like to play both e4 and d4. My style I suppose suits d4 better. I have played the French for a number of years but in CC I do like to mix it with other players depending on past games and results.

If you could ask a Legendary player, alive or historical, one question about Chess, what would it be?

This is a toughie. I suppose I would like to ask Garry Kasparov why did he stop playing when he did? Surely playing the game he loved over going into politics makes more sense.

Do you have a Favourite Chess Book or DVD? If so what?

Queens Gambit Declined by Matthew Sadler.

Reason - it makes chess easier by answering questions in the book that you would probably ponder over.

 My Best Games by Victor Korchnoi. 

Another nice well written favourite book of mine.

 

Do you have a Favourite player? If so who?

Professionally - Magnus Carlsen - makes it seem so simple by playing sensible chess instead of going down lines which have been analysed to death.

Amateur - both my club mates who are IMs. Leighton Williams who suffers from cystic fibrosis - his game is superb. Without this dilapidating disease I'm sure he would have reached GM standard.

Richard Jones who now lives in Australia. Another wonderful player who changed his openings and defences on the advice of Leighton and got his title on the back of this.

 

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Brian Jones Celebration

Good Luck to Andrew Smith and Bob Hurn in the Brian Jones Celebration

#AndrewSmith #BobHurn #BrianJones #TournamentStart

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ICCF Lockdown Open

As over the board chess leagues around the world have closed their doors due to COVID-19 lockdown, correspondence chess continues.

In honour of all chess players who have succumbed to this terrible disease, ICCF announce a unique one-off event, the “ICCF Lockdown Open”. This is open to all chess players around the world, in particular we welcome players who are currently unable to play chess because of national lockdown.

Entry will be by Direct Entry or via the player’s member federation; the entry fee for direct entries will be €6.24 Euros. Registration will close on 20th June 2020. Multiple entries are allowed, however will be limited to the number of groups running in the first round, additional entries will be refunded if necessary.

You can enter the tournament here.

ICCF will donate 100% of the entry fees from this event to the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund for the World Health Organisation.

The time control will be Triple Block “650” with 75 days initial bank and 4 days increment for the first 50 moves; guaranteed time will be deployed after the first 50 moves.

The tournament will be split into two rounds:

Preliminary Round

Starting 30th June 2020.

Groups of 80-100 players using the Silli System. Each player will play twelve games against different opponents. Games will be rated and no title norms will be available.

Final

Starting June 2022

This will be a single group consisting each of the top ten players (taking into account tiebreaking rules) from each of the preliminary rounds, the final will also use the Silli system and consist of between 80 and 100 players depending on the size of the qualifying groups. Each player will play 12 games against different opponents. Games will be rated, and depending on the ratings of players, title norms may be available in the final.

Prizes

There will be no cash prizes as 100% of the entry fees will be donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund for the World Health Organisation, however additional prizes may be available depending on sponsorship arrangements. The winner and first two runners up of the final will be presented with medals and certificates.

Frank Geider, ICCF World Tournament Director

Jörg Kracht, ICCF Non-Title Tournament Commissioner

Austin Lockwood, Tournament Organiser

#LockdownOpen

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Good Luck

Good Luck to Andrew Smith and Peter Bevan in the Peggy Clarke Memorial

#AndrewSmith #PeggyClarke #Peterbevan #TournamentStart

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AB & NN - a perfect match?

I’ve been working on a number of articles/books/ideas of late. 

One which is close to fruition is guide to engine analysis, which will be published in written and video format for premium members. Any member wishing to get involved for the proofreading of this, please get in touch.

One question I repeatedly get asked is about the difference between the two engines types and their suitability for positions.

As a way of introduction, when we are selecting a move we are broadly examining three characteristics: Tactical, Positional and Strategic.

Tactical:  referring to a sequence of moves that limits the opponent's options and may result in tangible gain

Positional: referring to a sequence of moves, where the structure of the position is examined and improved (e.g. pawn structure and control of open files)

Strategic: referring to the development of a plan, which goes beyond individual moves or sequence of moves.

There is no absolute difference between the characteristics, they should be considered a continuum. In addition, finding a definitive definition is somewhat difficult!

If we attempt to overlay the main engines around at the moment, we find that most of the main Alpha-Beta engines (of which Stockfish is paramount) are excellent in the Tactical sense, weak1 in the positional sense and generally poor in the Strategic sense1

In addition, it is noticeable that some seemingly positional moves are the result of a deep tactical based search!

Many SF clones tend to be slightly stronger in the positional sense, although often as the expense of some tactical benefits.

Komodo (in AB mode) tends to be slightly stronger positionally and slightly weaker tactically and , on occasion , give the impression of playing strategic moves (in the same way that an exhaustive tactical search throws up positional moves, a deeper search with Komodo can throw up moves that appear strategic in nature)

LC0 tends to play good positional moves and many that are almost strategic nature, although much depends on the network in use and the training regime used (which is another article). It is slightly weaker in terms of tactical play (on typical home hardware) Komodo MCTS shows many of LC0’s characteristics but as its evaluation is still “human”, not quite as well.

An aspiring CC player can utilise this to their advantage. Having recently upgraded to fairly high-end hardware I have been observing SF and Neutral Net engines working in tandem. I have tended to observe (assuming I put 3 MPV on the AB engine) four situations:

  1. Both Engines choose the same moves (although not necessarily the same lines)
  2. The AB Engine (Stockfish) finds a good (tactical) move very quickly and the NN engine significantly longer (typically the move starts towards the bottom of the evaluation and slowly improves its evaluation)
  3. The NN finds a good move , which SF either (a) tends to find after only a very deep search or only after it is “shown” the line.
  4. Both suggest a very different set of moves.

 

If we examine these situations, A happens about 75% of the time, B and C about 10% each and D around 5%. Utilising B and C and checking between the two engines can generate a number of winning “moves”.  D is perhaps the most interesting as this is the area where strategic planning comes into play and is the margin that the highest rated players reside in!

(Note the practical application of this will be covered in the Engine Analysis guide mentioned earlier.

What type of positions do these four scenarios tend to crop up in? We will cover that next time!

 

(1)It is worth noting that “weak” in this sense tends to be mean about 2400 elo!

#Analysis #Engines

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70th ICCF Jubilee Events

ICCF have announced a number of Platinum Jubilee events here

More details will be given as we move nearer this date

#Iccf70th

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6th British Webserver Team Tournament

is underway...

1st Division https://www.iccf.com/event?id=85258

2nd Division https://www.iccf.com/event?id=85259

3rd Division https://www.iccf.com/event?id=85263

4A Division https://www.iccf.com/event?id=85265

4B Division https://www.iccf.com/event?id=85266

Division 1 is slightly stronger (+20 elo on average) than in the 5th BWSTT and has only one player does not have an ICCF Title!

Some reorganisation and promotions where required due to retiring teams and promotions and placement of new teams to match this. Thank-you in addition to those player who got involved at the last moment to balance the event.

 

 

#6Bwstt

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Interview: SIM Gareth Yeo

 

Introduction

What correspondence chess player has never heard of Gareth Yeo ?

Gareth does not need an introduction.

Gareth is Wales first  SIM and Wales highest ever rated correspondence player.

In Wales we just call him Gareth.

 

Briefly tell us about yourself?

I turn 40 this summer, which is wonderfully illustrated by my grey hair and baldness. I am married to Alison and have two young children Willow and Felix who I hope one day will be interested in the game. Outside of the chess world, I've been a Civil Servant for almost 20 years and enjoy a bit of Texas Hold'em Poker when I want to let my non-existent hair down. 

How did you get involved in Chess?

My father started playing with me when I was 10. He wasn't very good, but still, the game interested me enough to start playing with my school friends during lunch breaks. It wasn't until I went to University and found myself with plenty of time on my hands did I start really taking an interest. Trying to outsmart players from all over the world in blitz/bullet games became a bit of an obsession. I then decided to join my local club back home who were bottom of the league in the lowest division, and I still managed to lose every game to my fellow members. I'd go back to Uni., try and figure out where I went wrong and then try again at my club until one by one I beat them all. It was around that time that the Kramnik-Kasparov World Championship was held. I surprised myself by being able to predict 80-85% of the moves despite being a very low rated player. I guess, in a way, it gave me the false self-confidence I needed push on and beat others. 

When and how did you get interested in Correspondence Chess?

My first experience of Correspondence Chess was on an American site called ChessManiac.com, which looks to still be live now. I joined in order to refine my opening repertoire for Over The Board games, in the belief that if it held up in CC it would hold up in OTB. Once I got the top spot on the site I'd lost interest and decided to go back to playing in clubs. 

What do you like about Correspondence Chess?

I joined the ICCF in 2014 out of curiosity more than anything. A few posts on the Welsh Chess Union site were advertising the WCCF and I failed to see the point as IMHO it was engine vs. engine matches so what would I get out of it? I still hold that belief as if you don't use an engine you won't do well on the site, but once you've accepted that then you can enjoy teaming up with your engine against another team. I enjoy punishing those who do not look at positions long enough or play poor openings, not suited to this type of play. For me, it's about proving, almost scientifically, which openings hold up and which ones fail. It's this testing/analysis which has kept me going. 

What are your Correspondence Chess Career Highlights?
 Probably becoming the first Senior International Master in Wales and holding the number 1 spot on the rating list. If we don't count the provisional ratings given to players decades ago then I might well be the highest rated Welshman we've had too.

 

What do you think an aspiring player should do to improve their game?

 I have no idea what I do that others don't in all honesty. We all have access to the same databases and software, so I guess it must come down to decision making. I'd like to know why some experienced players with much better hardware than myself struggle to get over a certain rating range. It feels like they can draw with anyone, but not spot flaws/mistakes and exploit them to turn those draws into wins. I coach a guy in America, which is just me sharing how I play. He's flying up the ratings but without knowing how others play I can't suggest what they should do differently. 

Do you have an overall strategy when you start a game or tournament?

 I have the same strategy for every game, whether it's a tournament or other. I look up my opponent's games, decide if I think they play any dubious openings, which I might like to exploit or check if they play stale/drawish lines against certain lines and actively avoid them where I can. The aim is simple, keep it as imbalanced as possible, try to win and hope my opponent has the same objective. If they are risk-averse and want a draw from move 1 I'll tend to offer it early on as, yes, I might outplay them in the endgame, but I'd rather spend what time I have left on this earth looking at interesting positions. 

How do you select your moves, what is your general method?

 The opening is generally me looking for ideas in recently played games by opponents of a certain standard, which I hope to jump on the back of before it becomes common theory. Once that's over it's over to the engine really. I point it in the right direction if I think it's going astray, other than that I trust it to do its work. 

With so many draws in Correspondence Chess, what do you do to try and generate wins?

 Unfortunately, you need two to tango. As I mentioned above, If I can see somebody plays say a Berlin against 1.e4 and the KID against 1.d4 they'll get 1.d4 every time. But, if they play a French against 1.e4 and the Slav/Nimzo-Indian against 1.d4, they'll be getting 1.e4 from me. If my opponent plays, shall we say 'conservatively' against every opening then I tend to just give out a heavy sigh and distract myself with other games until the draw is agreed.

 What are your future aspirations in Correspondence Chess?

 It would be nice to get the Grand Master title however this is unlikely as I'm facing highly tuned players and machines at the level I currently play. The GMs I see on the rating tables tend to have got their titles in the pre-engine era. It's almost impossible now unless you're lucky enough to be in a norm tournament where several players default.

What are your favourite Openings and why?

 For CC I don't really have favourite openings. I have ones I like to play against and like to avoid as previously stated, but I don't like being a one-trick pony with a narrow repertoire so I'll play something different in every game if it means it will be more interesting. With databases and engines, you can play pretty much any opening without understanding too much about the theory/history behind the moves, but I'm sure it helps to know a bit for the middle games. 

For OTB, I've played 1.d4 all my life. I have a line against pretty much every reply that I really enjoy. For black I've been enjoying various Sicilians over the past decade and I've just finished reading The Modernized Delayed Benoni by Ivan Ivanisevic, which I've now adopted as my main reply to 1.d4. The type of openings I enjoy is when I have a large pawn centre, I'm not a hyper-modern player at all, which might lead you to ask why the Benoni then? The way I play it normally leads to an e5 and f5 pawn push so it's a KID without having to learn the millions of KID lines out there.

If you could ask a Legendary player, alive or historical, one question about Chess, what would it be?

There's no one question I can think of that I'd ask. Id certainly liked to have been trained by a legend, or anyone decent for that matter. 

Do you have a Favourite Chess Book or DVD? If so what?

 I'm not a big reader of chess books. The book that helped me go from a terrible 1400 rated player to a slightly less terrible 2000 rated player was 'The Amateur's Mind' by Jeremy Silman. It's a pretty old book now but the principles and concepts stayed with me.

Do you have a Favourite player? If so who?

During the 2000s it was Levon Aronian as he was the only real Super GM who favoured 1.d4. So I'd be looking at his games for inspiration. Sadly, for me anyway, he's moved away from it in recent years, which has seen my interest move to a fantastic young Russian player in Daniil Dubov. I really enjoy his tactics and hope he breaks through to the 2700 club one day. Another player who's games inspire me is the Ukrainian GM Illya Nyzhnyk.

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Wales -England Friendly match

We are looking to arrange a small friendly match for unrated and those rated below 1800.  2 games per player. If you are interested get in touch with Andrew Smith by the 1st of May.

#FriendlyMatch #Wales-Eng

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Wales - Cuba Friendly

Good Luck to the team in the Wales - Cuba 2020 Friendly

#FriendlyMatch #Wales-Cuba

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Woah, we're half way there (almost!)

The Latest forecast is Wales 23- Sweden 17 in the Euro Team Cup!  A victory here should lead to a juicy tie with one of the highest rated federations!

 

(The photo - I did have hair like that in the 80's - a joke you will only get if you are in the know!)

#Euroteamcup #Wales-Sweden

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Interview: SIM John Rhodes (ENG)

Introduction

John has been a stalwart of the British CC scene for many years and is well known to many of us through his column (mentioned below) in the Chess Improver (Although I didn't know until now we shared a teacher!).  In addition to that John will be familiar to many through the many teams he is involved in!

 

Briefly Tell us about Yourself?

I am married with two grown-up daughters. I am now retired after a long career in international banking and a short career in the driver training industry.

My wife and I were beekeepers, and I am involved in training beekeepers in microscopy, which is checking for bee diseases and looking at their anatomy.

 

How did you get involved in Chess?

More or less taught myself from a young age and played in the senior school team. After leaving school at sixteen I did not play until after I got married in my mid-twenties, when I saw an article about the Hitchin Congress in the local newspaper in about 1976. The organiser, the late Glynne Jones, happened to travel on the same train as myself to London every day and we usually played chess on the way down….or rather I would concentrate on the board all the way while he read his paper and made the occasional move and he would always beat me. I joined Stevenage Chess Club and was Secretary for two years. In the late seventies I organised two simuls, one with IM Mike Basman at the Pin Green Club and another with Soviet GM Alexander Kotov at Stevenage. We took Kotov out to dinner and I remember him saying how Fischer used to stare at his opponents to put them off. I drove him to his friend’s house in North London afterwards and, this being before satnavs, had to ask him to map read on the way, which he kindly did!

 

When and how did you get interested in Correspondence Chess?

In the late seventies we moved to Bedfordshire and I was working later at my job in London, so was unable to get home in time to play in OTB chess matches. I did try the Barbican Chess Club, which was close to where I worked, but preferred to get home earlier to see my family. I was asked by a senior Stevenage club member if I had ever thought of correspondence chess, so I started to play for Hertfordshire, even though I now lived in Bedfordshire.

I also had many lessons from GM Nigel Davies by telephone and then email analysing my finished CC games and now write a blog on his Chess Improver site about CC in the UK.

 

What do you like about Correspondence Chess?

 

You do not have to leave your house to play, you can move the pieces about, you can use databases, you have plenty of time for moves, and you can, in most cases, use program assistance. Of course, when I started CC you had to use the postal system, then email which improved things, then the server which is wonderful.

 

What are your Correspondence Chess Career Highlights?
 

I started near the bottom of the Hertfordshire Chess Association Correspondence Team and slowly, over the years, worked my way up to the top board. I took over running the five teams last year and have now given other players the chance for the top board.

Probably my best tournament result was around 2005/7 winning the ICCF Olympiad 16 Preliminaries Section 2 Board 3, a Category 5 postal event, with 7.5 / 9 where I over scored by a point for an SIM norm.

 

What do you think an aspiring player should do to improve their game?

 

Try to play openings that suit your style of play. Beware of using opening databases without checking the variation yourself. Try to learn by your losses.

 

Do you have an overall strategy when you start a game or tournament?

 

I used to look up my opponent’s games, but not as much nowadays, as most players have databases and vary their openings.

 

 

How do you select your moves, what is your general method?

 

In the opening I choose a theoretical variation that is either popular or that I like and try to steer into a middle game that suits my style. That rarely works of course.

 

In the middle game I will look at some candidate moves and see what various programs think. Some opening variations can go well into the middle game, so you often need to look as far as the endgame to choose the right one.

 

In the endgame you have to be aware that 7-piece endgame tablebases exist and that you can claim a result based on 6-piece endgame tablebases. This means that endgames are never played out as far as they used to be.

 

With so many draws in Correspondence Chess, what do you do to try and generate wins?

 

With the widespread use of computer chess programs, which many top players use, draws are inevitable as players make less mistakes. If you analyse over-the-board chess games with a program, even from world class players, you will often see mistakes by both sides. Programs can still miss a deep win and you should always try to find one yourself.

 

What are your future aspirations in Correspondence Chess?

 

I am now doing more on the administration side, becoming the EFCC General Secretary this year.

 

What are your favourite Openings and why?

 

I have a passion for unusual openings, although in tournaments I normally play standard ones as it is safer when most players have good databases. I rarely play over-the-board chess nowadays, but unusual openings could be useful in gaining time on your clock.

 

If you could ask a legendary player, alive or historical, one question about Chess, what would it be?

 

I would like to have asked Bobby Fischer why he preferred 1e4 to 1d4.

 

Do you have a Favourite Chess Book or DVD? If so what?

 

I have far too many chess books, so a favourite is difficult to choose! A book I am quite fond of is ‘Chess Traps and Stratagems’ by Rev. E.E. Cunningham, one of my first books. A DVD I enjoy is ‘Game Over – Kasparov and the Machine’, I also like the two ‘Master Game’ DVDs.

 

Do you have a Favourite player? If so who?

 

Yes, Paul Morphy. He beat a certain John Rhodes in a Blindfold Simul in Birmingham in 1858. I have to say that it was not me that he played!

 

 

#Interview #JohnRhodes

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CCE Norm and Title for Sean Denton

Congratulations to Sean Denton in picking up his 2nd CCE Norm and hence the Title in ICCF World Cup 22 Semifinal 8

#CceTitle #SeanDenton

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WCCF 8th Invitational

WCCF 9 is finished. Congratulations to Jesus Yanez Garcia (Mex) on winning the event on 9.5/12

A great learning experience for the Welsh players involved.

#Wccf8

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CCM Norm and Title for Nick Bishop

Congratulations to Nick Bishop on picking up his 2nd CCM Norm in Champions League 2019 C6 Board 1

 

#CcmTitle #Nickbishop

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Tournament Starts

Good Luck to:

Paul Scott in WS/MN/B/19  (Cat 3)

Paul Scott in III TORNEO PABLO ATARS IM 2020 GRUPO 3E

Russell Sherwood in III TORNEO PABLO ATARS IM 2020 GRUPO 2C

Alex Bullen in European Server Championship Open Round 357

#TournamentStarts

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German Bundeslegia

An interesting article

You will need your translator!

 

https://www.bild.de/sport/2020/sport/keine-corona-pause-beim-fernschach-laeuft-die-bundesliga-weiter-69602282.bild.html

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Interview: CCM Dennis M Doren (USA)

Introduction 

The majority of CC players are probably not aware of Dennis Doren but will be aware of his fruits of his labours, as ICCF Rules Commissioner (along with those others with the Rules commission), a significant shift within ICCF rules towards clarity, allowing for fair and consistent application.  

 

Briefly Tell us about Yourself?

I'm 66 years old, married to a wonderful woman, with one daughter, her husband, and a 2-year-old grandson.  I was a forensic psychologist during my career, but am pleased to say I am now retired.  Chess is now my main fun activity (including organizational work for the ICCF and the ICCF-US), besides travelling with my wife, and spending time with our grandson.  

 

How did you get involved in Chess?

Someone in my family taught me, after I saw them playing the game.  Who exactly it was who taught me is debated in my family, as each of my brothers and my father claimed he was the one.  I don't remember, as I was only 4 at the time.  I did not get interested in tournament chess until I was 13 or 14, when the older brother of a friend of mine started teaching me what the game was really about, told me he went to tournaments, and invited me to join him.

 

When and how did you get interested in Correspondence Chess?

I played only OTB tournaments until I was in graduate school.  At that point, however, I could no longer afford to spend an entire weekend at an OTB tournament due to the pressure of my school studies.  Chess had been a love of mine for about decade by then, so I did not want to give it up.  I decided to try CC because it allowed better control over when I gave time to the game.   

 

What do you like about Correspondence Chess?

I find interest in what I consider the 3 types of chess:  blitz (speed), regular OTB, and CC.  Each has its unique characteristics that make chess enjoyable.  CC in particular allows a player to work on really "solving the puzzle" of the game - to figure out subtle details of the game that would otherwise escape most of us even in OTB play.  I both learn about the game, and feel like I have a chance to play "beautifully" in CC, whereas that is never even a goal, no less a reality in speed or OTB chess.  

 

What are your Correspondence Chess Career Highlights?

(1) When I obtained what was then called a master's rating (2200) within the US Chess Federation CC, which at the time allowed me to start playing internationally.

(2) The first time I won against an ICCF IM.

(3) Serving as the tournament organizer for some category 12 and 13 events.

(4) Serving as the writer of a quarterly newsletter dedicated to friendly match news within the ICCF-US.

(5) Serving as the ICCF Rules Commissioner, in particular reorganizing and clarifying the ICCF rules and procedures.

(6) Developing the ICCF adjudication system involving about 80 GMs and SIMs.

 

What do you think an aspiring player should do to improve their game?

Spend time.  I found that as I improved in my play and I played higher rated players, it took me longer and longer to decide on my moves.  And as I took more time to decide on my moves, the better I played.  Most of the time I lost a game, I could trace it to having moved quickly once too often.  Second to that, building a library related to one's openings and a resource for endings can be very useful; though the ICCF archive database and an endgame tablebase can serve well in those regards without spending any money.. 

 

Do you have an overall strategy when you start a game or Tournament?

I used to, but can's say I do any more.  I used to stick to a very small set of openings and defences, with the rationale that I would understand those lines better than my opponents.  That worked for a while, but not once I reached a certain level of opponent.  I am now far more likely to mix things up a bit, becoming less predictable for my opponents, but simultaneously requiring more study on my part.

.

How do you select your moves, what is your general method?

The answer depends on the stage of the game.  Opening moves are selected as members of chosen lines, either as common lines or something more obscure.  Endgame moves are selected based on the requirements of winning versus drawing (or avoidance of losing) possibilities.  The selection of middlegame moves is the most interesting.  I generally start a couple of engines analysing a position, but while waiting study the position for the principles involved, for determining where pieces should be headed, for avoiding creating weaknesses in my position while creating weaknesses in my opponent's position, etc.  Later, I compare the lines the engines suggest with my own ideas to see if they mesh.   I also see if the engines offer any idea I completely missed.  Resolving any such differences is the heart of top play, at least at my level.   

 

With so many draws in Correspondence Chess, What do you try to do to generate wins?

I look for the unexpected idea.  Sometimes this occurs early in an opening line, but more often there is something in the middlegame where the engines all suggest a certain move or set of moves, but there is another idea that offers better outcomes in the long run despite showing a relative weakness in the short run.  These are often the type of moves my opponents miss, quite specifically because the engines don't suggest them.  The other place I look for wins is in very late middlegames, as the games approach the endgame.  I am regularly surprised how poorly the chess engines will play some late middlegames.

 

What are your future aspirations in Correspondence Chess?

I have hoped to earn the IM title since 1991.  Maybe soon...  

 

What are your favourite Openings and why?

As mentioned above, I used to have a small list that I would gladly tell you, as the ICCF archive database would tell you anyway.  Nowadays, I don't believe I have an answer to this question.

 

If you could ask a legendary player, alive or historical, once question about Chess, what would it be?.

I would ask Wolfgang Uhlmann why he kept castling (king side) in the black side of the French Defence (FD) when it regularly cost him games.  That may be an esoteric question to your readers, but since I played the FD as black from my teenage years until a couple of years ago, and studied how the "greats" played it, I never came to understand why one of the best FD players of all time kept making what, in my humble opinion, the same losing move.

 

Do you have a Favourite Chess Book or DVD? If so what?

My favourite chess book is whatever is teaching me what I need to know at the moment.   Chess books, except for the most basic, all get dated over time.  My favourite when first playing OTB was one of the earliest editions of Modern Chess Openings, but I find such an approach to openings too general to be valuable for me at this point in my chess career.

 

Do you have a Favourite player? If so who?

Awonder Liang.  He is a 16-year old FIDE Grandmaster from Madison Wisconsin, USA where I lived until very recently.  He is a very pleasant young man who also broke many records for being the youngest to achieve various chess related things, like beating an IM, beating a GM, earning the IM title, earning the GM title (at age 14!), etc.  He is the current US Junior Champion, and this for the 3rd year in a row despite the fact that US Junior covers anyone under age 20.  With multiple games against each, he also has a positive score against the top 3 USA FIDE players (Caruana, Nakamura, & So).  Back when he was 9 years old, I used to meet with him both to study the game and play blitz; that is, until I was no longer even a sparring partner of worth.  I now find it very exciting to follow his progress.  I would not be surprised if some day he becomes the USA Champion, and even World Champion.   

#Interview

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Two players wanted for WDE

Due to withdrawals, 2 spaces now exist in the William Evans Cup. If you wish to take up these spaces (and are already not taking part) please get in touch today.

In all positions players have not made the first move

 

#Wde

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Wales - Cuba Friendly Match

We are organizing a small friendly match with our Cuban Friends. We hope to field 20 boards and due to the small numbers involved we they will be paired as closely as possible on rating. Time control is to be confirmed . 

Note this event is for Welsh flagged players only.

If you are interested please get in touch by 18th of April 2020 

 

Andrew Smith WCCF Friendly Match Coordinator

#FriendlyMatch

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States and Regions 2019 Division Two Completed

Following last week's announcement about the completion of the States and Regions First Division, we can now announce that the Second Division has now also completed.

https://www.iccf.com/event?id=79693

Congratulations to the Italian team Quattro Torri Lazio for finishing in first place; along with the second placed team The Cubans East Rookies they now qualify for promotion to the first division of the next championship.

Following feedback from players, the States and Regions now runs on a two year schedule, with a more generous time control.  The next season will commence in 2021. Teams looking for a new tournament to enter may consider the British Webserver Team Tournament, which is still recruiting.

#StatesAndRegions

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States and Regions 2019 Division One Completed

Congratulations to Tirol, from Austria, for winning the 2019 States and Regions Correspondence Chess Championship.  This is the premier international team event organised by WCCF for states, regions, counties, districts, etc. from anywhere in the world.

In joint second place were Menorca Talaiòtics from Spain and Pawn Sacrifice Bremen from Germany.

https://www.iccf.com/event?id=79694

Division One produced four IM norms, twelve CCM norms, and five CCE norms.  Congratulations to these players for their successes.

Tirol will receive a free entry to the 2021 tournament.

#StatesAndRegions

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Game on!

The William Davies Evans Correspondence Cup is underway  https://www.iccf.com/event?id=84815

Additional details can be found at https://www.welshccf.org.uk/article/807

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William Davies Evans Correspondence Cup

Welcome to the WDECC!

The tournament has been paired using the Silli system and pairing are totally random.

Th event will be playing “Engine Free” on a honour basis. I have had a number of questions of what is allowed and what is not. In practice we are looking to playing this in the style of a Correspondence event from the early 90’s  so:

 

AllowedNot Allowed
Your own brainpowerChess Engines or any move generating method
Paper BooksMove checking software (e.g. Aquarium’s blunder check mode)
Instructional Videos, DVD;s, etcElectronic Opening Books
 Electronic Databases
 No other players “consulting”
 Sharing or discussing active games before they are completed.
  

 

If you are unsure, ask.

General thoughts:

  • Take your time – playing moves instantly tends not to give good results in CC
  • CC tends to be a game of analysis – so look at the position as per analyzing a postmortem. (You are of course free to play “Touch move”)
  • Decide you will play on a physical board or “on screen”.
  • Have fun!

If you have any questions get in touch.

(And for anyone reading this after the start date, No I cannot add players or change pairings

Russell Sherwood,

p.s. Should you decide this event is not for you , get in touch, do not go “silent”. This is both disrespectful to the other players and organizers.

 

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Last Call for Entries to the William Evans

Anyone wishing to enter should be in touch by 5pm Sunday 29th March - the event will be set up in the eventing

#Evans #LastCall

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