Correspondence chess – chess made available to everyone!

Correspondence chess used to be played via regular mail

You’re dying to fire up that playing site, but you know that you have to leave for work in 5 minutes…or you know your kids might burst the door open at any moment, wanting you to play with them or look at their latest doings…or you have to do the housework you’ve put on hold for hours…

Well, say hello to my friend Game, Correspondence Game!

 

Let’s have a look at possibilities offered by online correspondence chess! I will also ask for a few minutes of your time to explain the concept of “time control”, just to make sure we’re on the same page 🙂

What is online correspondence chess, exactly?

Before describing where to play correspondence games and so forth, let’s have a look at what it actually is. The handy thing about a correspondence game, is the fact that it allows anyone to play at any time! No “I can’t play now, because I’m running with my friend in 15 minutes”, or “We’re going out for our anniversary dinner” will stop you this time!

“Correspondence” is sort of the opposite of “live” when you talk about chess terminology. A live game – whether it’s “live live” or “live online” – will happen here and now. You pretty much have to stay at the table all the time, otherwise you’ll lose on exactly that – time!

This brings us to…

What is a time control?

You see, in chess every game will be played with a certain time control. The most common ones for live games (and from here you should know that when I say “live”, I mean live online, not sitting at a physical board) would be 1+0, 3+2, 5+0 and 10+5. “What in the world does that mean?!” Well, it looks more complicated than it is:

  • 1+0 means you start your clocks with 1 minute each, and you get no additional time per move. In other words: You have 1 minute to finish your game.
  • 3+2 means you start off with 3 minutes each, and for every move you do, you get an additional 2 seconds added to your clock.
  • 5+0 means you get 5 minutes to finish the game. Nothing added.
  • 10+5 means you start off with 10 minutes, and get an additional 5 seconds per move.

In the live games, you should probably stay by your screen from start to finish, otherwise you might just lose on time.

Free tip of the day: Don’t start a live game if you really need to pee!

A correspondence time control looks quite different, though. Here you can go to the bathroom. You can read the newspaper while you’re on it. You can have a shower when you’re done. You can eat dinner, go to the movies, take your loved one for a night time walk…you can even sleep! Why? Let’s put it like this: The most popular time control in correspondence chess is

3 days/move!

Per move! That’s why this type of game can suit anybody’s schedule!

Doesn’t 3 days/move get boring?

First off, I might add that the time control doesn’t have to be 3 days/move, but that’s the most used option. It can be either 1, 2 or 5 as well, and some people even enjoy the option of 14 days/move! Your choice! 🙂

You can definitely argue that this sounds incredibly boring, especially if you’re somewhat of an action junkie. This is where you need to know yourself, and if you don’t like this type of game, then you just don’t start it.

But many people do enjoy this – myself for one – and the freedom it gives you. You can look at the position – either on your PC or on your phone – and decide that “man, this is a tricky position! I can’t make my decision before I have to leave for soccer practice”, and you simply don’t!

Leave the position be for now, and look at it later.

Cheating

To an outsider, this might strike you as a big problem in correspondence chess. And it could be, if it wasn’t for one factor:

Most chess players – or should I say people in general – are honest people! 

Two things come to mind:

  1. People don’t want to win that way, that’s not why they play chess. They want to have fun and enjoy it, and show that their brain played better than your brain in that particular game!
  2. The software used to host these games is so good these days, that cheaters will be revealed to the public and banned from that site. And most people don’t like to be banned from places…

Especially if you suspect your opponent cheated (got help from a computer/chess program), you can just drop the site you’re playing on a message, and they will analyse your game and decide whether it’s likely or unlikely that a certain player played this way. I’ve had this happen to me once, and they banned the player after a thorough look at the game.

Hence: Close to no cheating in these games!

What do YOU prefer?

If you ask me, you should at least give correspondence chess a try, and then decide whether you like it or not. Personally, I like correspondence and live just the same. I always have a few correspondence games going which I can look at whenever I have a minute or two, and then I can sit down and enjoy the live games whenver I have half an hour or so at my disposal.

I hear you if you’re adamant that correspondence is not for you, but I refuse to accept that opinion until you’ve tried it. You might come back and say “I told you so”, but I still think you have to try it first.

My daughter hated broccoli. Hated it! Until she tried it…     

 

When you have tried it, let me know what you think below! Any other comment or suggestions are of course welcome as well. And if you’d like to, I’m always up for a game! 🙂

 

Until next time,

Joachim

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2 thoughts on “Correspondence chess – chess made available to everyone!”

  1. Huh, never knew such a thing like that existed in chess. I always lose when I leave when I play a game like on lichess.com or something. But that’s kinda neat, I might have to try it out sometime…

    1. Hello Jose,

      Glad to hear you found this post helpful! I’m sure you’re not alone, and especially if you haven’t played chess for a long time, it’s not a given that a thing like correspondance chess exists.

      Like I say in my post, I really urge you to try it out! It’s a very relaxing approach to the game as well, allowing you to set your own pace throughout the game.

      Hope you try it – and like it! And I’d love to hear your thoughts about it afterwards 🙂

      Regards,
      Joachim

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