Correspondence Chess
Via E-mail

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What is correspondence chess?

Some people believe that correspondence chess is the "ideal chess". Due to the time available to study the position without the pressure of the clock ticking away as in OTB (over the board) it is perhaps easier to select the best move to play in the position. It is also quite acceptable to consult opening manuals, databases etc. in the pursuit of perfection. E-mail is a great way to play correspondence chess. There are no long waits between moves as your postcard travels across the earth to its destination. Your email is normally delivered immediately. Hence email games progress more quickly than correspondence games relying on regular mail.



1. Improve analytical skills - There is plenty of time to reflect on the possible moves available in the particular position without the pressure of the clock ticking away. It is also permissible to set up the position on a board and to move the pieces around while trying to determine the best move which is, of course not allowed in OTB play. Some people who want to improve their OTB skills analyse the position as if it were a live game and then check it by moving the pieces before finally sending their response.

2. Able to fit chess playing into a busy schedule - As long as you stay within acceptable time limits you can think about your move at any time of day or night wherever you may be.

3. Make friends with people from all over the world - As well as including your move with your message it is also acceptable to include some chat too.


1. It can take a long time to complete a game - It is not unknown for a game to take a year or more to complete. However, games played via e-mail are generally completed more quickly than correspondence games played by regular mail.

Different types of games

It is very common to play two games at the same time with each opponent, one as white and one as black and most correspondence chess organisations organise different types of games. For example:

a) Skittle games - played just for fun and are unrated.

b) Casual games - rated games but not part of a tournament.

c) Thematic Tournaments - a game is started from a given position e.g. a variation of the Sicilian.

d) Team Tournaments - here a group of players get together to play other teams. However, moves are still made independently, without consultation with team mates.

Record Keeping

Accurate record keeping is very important in correspondence chess as a simple error could lose the game. There are two aspects to record:

1) The position on the board - As soon as you post your move you have to stand by it, even if you have made a typing error. This is considered the touch-move rule. A chess recording program such as those listed below helps to eliminate these errors to a certain extent.

2) Reflection time you and your opponent take - This is the amount of time taken to think about the next move. A time limit of about 10 moves in 30 days is common.

Cheating in Correspondence Chess

Correspondence chess is based on trust but inevitably there have been cases of cheating, just as there has been in OTB play (such as agreeing to draw the game etc.) , or while playing chess on the internet (using computers).

In correspondence play it is considered cheating to:

1. Ask for advice about the position from a stronger player.

2. Use a chess computer to generate or check moves.

Where to play This is the best place to play web based email chess.

IECG (International Email Chess Group): membership is free

The International Email Chess Club [IECC]: membership is free

ICC (Internet Chess Club): Live games are mainly played here but they have recently introduced a correspondence game feature.

Helpful Software

Chess Recording Programs


The Chess Recorder



Database Programs

ChessBase: This is a superb database program which allows you to search for openings and positions. Try out the CB Light Demo.

Clubmate: This is a cheaper alternative to ChessBase and does the job very well.

Correspondence Game by Alexander Alekhine

Alekhine (World Champion from 1927 - 1935 and 1937 - 1946) began his career playing correspondence chess and believed that postal and OTB complemented one another. He was also influential in the founding of the International Correspondence Chess Federation.

[Event "Correspondence 1905-1906"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Giese"]
[Black "Alekhine"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 d5 4.Bxd5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 g5 6.Nc3 Ne7 7.d4 Bg7 8.Nf3 Qh5 9.h4 h6 10.e5 Nbc6 11.Kg1 g4 12.Ne1 Bf5 13.Bxc6+ Nxc6 14.Ne2 Be4 15.Bxf4 Qf5 16.Qd2 0-0-0 17.Ng3 Qh7 18.Qe2 Nxd4 19.Qc4 Bc6 20.c3 Ne6 21.Qf1 h5 22.Bg5 Bxe5 23.Bxd8 Bxg3 24.Bf6 Qe4 25.Nd3 Nf4 26.Rh3 Qe3+ 27.Nf2 Nxh3+ 28.gxh3 Bh2+ 29.Kxh2 Qf4+ 0-1 {as mate follows: 30. Kg1 Qg3+ 31. Qg2 Qxg2#}

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Final Position


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