Author Archives: JohnR

British CC Championships Update

As always with correspondence chess tournaments it is hard to predict the winner, as some players have more games still in progress than others. One thing I do know for certain is that in the British Championship 2016-18 it will not be me! I finished all my games with 6.5 / 14 (+1 =11 -2). There are still 14 games in play with the current ‘leader’, IM Anthony Balshaw, with 8 points (+3 =10 -0) and 1 game in play. Other possible contenders are Brian Thompson, IM Bill Lumley, and CCM Ian Jones all with 7 points and 2 in play. The reigning British Champion, Mark Eldridge, is also well in contention with 6.5 and 3 in play. It is also possible for other players who have up to 5 remaining games in play to catch up. Hopefully, my next report will give us more idea of the winner. You can view the tournament cross table at ICCF.com.  Meanwhile, here is my final game against IM Clive Murden: –

John Rhodes

Updates on British and English Correspondence Chess Championships

The British Correspondence Chess Championship Final has now been running since 1st October 2016. As with all correspondence tournaments it is not always easy to gauge the winner until most of the games have finished, as some players like to play slower than others. With 88 games finished and 17 still in play, the player with the most points is IM Tony Balshaw from Wales with 7.5 / 12 (+3 =9 -0), next is Brian Thompson from England with 7 / 12 (+3 =8 -1) and IM Bill Lumley from England with 7 / 12 (+2 =10 -0). I have finished my tournament with a rather disappointing score of 6.5 / 14 (+1 =11 -2). My last game, where I thought I had a good position, ended in yet another draw! You can view the crosstable here.

The 1st English Correspondence Chess Championship Final started on 31st March 2017 and, so far, 13 games have finished as draws with 92 games ongoing. No player really wants to be the first loser in a tournament, so often the decisive games take longer. The player with the most points is David Evans with 3 / 6, then SIM Alan Rawlings with 2.5 / 5 and myself with 2 / 4. These results only reflect the faster moving players and it could change completely by the end! You can view the crosstable here.

Meanwhile, here is my final British Championship game: –

John Rhodes

British Correspondence Championships 2016-18 Update

The British Correspondence Championship 2016-18 now has 77 finished games out of the 105 which started. It is still too soon to have a clear leader, as some players have finished all or most of their games while others have hardly started!  The players with the most points, so far, are Welsh IM Tony Balshaw with 7.5 / 12 and English SIM Alan Rawlings with 7 / 14. My own performance has been disappointing with 5.5 / 12 which includes two losses and a win by default.

The standard of play has been very high and, with correspondence chess, if you make a weaker move in the opening you can often never recover. Of course, the majority of players use databases, either their own or a commercial ‘off the shelf’ one. Here is my game against Tony Balshaw where I played an inferior move which almost certainly cost me the game. Well played Tony! With Black to play in the diagram, before you read the moves, what move would you play here?


John Rhodes

1st English Correspondence Chess Championship

The 1st English Correspondence Chess Championship (ECCC) starts on 1st April 2017. It will be a bi-annual event and, as the name suggests, will only contain players registered under the England flag. There will be a Championship Final with between 11 and 15 competitors, two Semi-Finals with between 9 and 13 competitors and some preliminary sections with, if possible, between 7 and 11 competitors. The organiser is SIM Ian M. Pheby.

For the first ECCC the Championship Committee has asigned competitors to each section based on their ICCF rating to which a bonus of points is added, I.E. GM 75 points; SIM 50 points; IM 25 points; CCM 15 points; CCE 5 points. One game is played against each of the other competitors in your section on the ICCF webserver. The competition will run for about 21 months with a time limit of 40 days for 10 moves. Unfinished games will be adjudicated.

The Championship winner will receive an engraved trophy and £150, the runner up £75 and third place £25. There are further prizes and opportunities for all sections. Details can be found here: –efcchess.org.uk/eccc.html

Even though I already had plenty of games in progress I could not ignore this important new event in the calendar and have duly entered! I am lucky enough to have been included in the Championship section with the following top English players, ten of which I have played before: – GM John G. Brookes (2467), CCM John Brasier (2423), SIM Jerry E.C. Asquith (2410), Ken J. Owen (2403), IM Bill F. Lumley (2388), CCE Stan J. Grayland (2383), CCE Mark Eldridge (2382), Peter Catt (2377), Trevor Carr (2375), SIM Alan J.C. Rawlings (2367), David Evans (2352), LIM Dawn L. Williamson (2348), SIM Ian M. Pheby (2312).

The Championship Final cross table can be viewed here: –www.iccf.com/event?id=65892

Games can only be viewed when finished and when at least 10 have been finished. Anyway, here is a game I played against one of my ECCC opponents who I played in the British Championship 2016-18 and who happens to be the British Champion for 2015.

John Rhodes

4th British Webserver Tournament – Division 1

The 4th British Webserver Tournament Division 1 recently started on 1st January 2017 with seven teams of four players. You may remember that each team consists of two British players and two international players. The winner of the first event were ‘Pawn Stars’ who narrowly beat ‘ICCF Warriors’, however, ‘ICCF Warriors’ went on to beat ‘Pawn Stars’ by the smallest of margins in the second event and also beat them in the third event. Over the four events, my team, ‘Pawn Stars’ has remained with the same players, although our board order changes depending on starting grade! This year we are the highest rated team with an average grade of 2408, against 2343 for ‘ICCF Warriors’, 2334 for ‘SchemingMind A’, 2297 for ‘SchemingMind B’, 2287 for ‘BCCA Kings’, 2249 for ‘BCCA Knights and 2177 for ‘Social CCA A’.

The ‘Pawn Stars’ team consists of Board 1 SIM Gino Figlio 2457 from Peru, 2 SIM John Rhodes 2396 from England, 3 SIM Michael Millstone 2400 from the USA and 4 Austin Lockwood (Captain) 2381 from Wales. The ‘ICCF Warriors’ team consists of Board 1 SIM Olli Ylonen 2451 from Finland, 2 LGM Toni Halliwell 2315 from England, 3 LGM Natalia Litvinenko 2294 from Kazakhstan and SIM Ian Pheby 2312 from England.

The tournament can be viewed from the ICCF website at www.iccf.com/event?id=63895

This year the teams seem fairly evenly matched, so I expect the result to be very close with, very likely, a new winner. It is too early to show any games, as at least ten need to be finished, but I can show you one of my wins from the last tournament against my old adversary A.N. Other! Here I have a long endgame with queen and three pawns against rook, knight and five pawns.

John Rhodes

Two Wins Against The Winawer

I do not have too many wins these days in correspondence chess, so my two wins against the French Defence in 2016 for my Hertfordshire County team in England were very welcome.

The first game was played in the BCCL Championship Division against a member of the Mensa Team. My opponent is an experienced French Defence player, so I was really pleased with the result. In fairness to my opponent, we did draw our second game.

My other game, which has recently finished, was in the Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championship, Division 1, Ward-Higgs. My different opponent is also a strong over-the-board player for Surrey, England. Again, in fairness to my opponent, he did win our second game, although not a French Defence!

John Rhodes

British CC Championship 2016/8

The British Correspondence Chess Championship 2016/8 was underway on 1st October 2016 on the ICCF Server. There are fifteen players, including two SIMs, three IMs and one CCE. This is the first time I have played in a British Championship and this year is the first time that title qualifications are available. The three highest rated players are Clive Murden (2435), Scotland, Tony Balshaw (2432), Wales, myself (2403), England. The average grade is 2354. Three games have already been drawn, including one of mine. As the players and public can only view the games once ten have been finished, I am not able to show you any here yet. In a bid to reduce the number of drawn games, we are essentially restricted to one offer per player per game. The continued growth of computer tablebases means that endgames are rarely played out with six pieces or less on the board as claims can be made. You can view the championship here: – www.iccf.com/event?id=61304

The winner of last year’s British Championship was Mark Eldridge with 9/15 and here is one of his four wins: –

John Rhodes

Finish of English Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championships Division Two

Last season my Hertfordshire team were relegated from Division One, the Ward-Higgs Trophy, to Division Two, the Sinclair Trophy in the English Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championships. I am very pleased to announce that we are nearing the end of this season’s play and now stand second, with a score of 10.5 / 15 to West Wales ‘A’ team 13 /15. The Surrey ‘B’ team have a score of 10.5 / 16 but our team will win on board count whatever happens in the final game. So we will finish in the top two and should be promoted back to Division One!

Our non-playing captain, Dr Graham Williams, has done a great job inspiring our team and our final push to grab second spot from Surrey ‘B’ was well worth the effort. It just shows that you should never give up in chess! The organizer of the event was Neil Limbert who worked extremely hard throughout.

I scored 1.5  / 2 on top board and here is my win with White in an interesting Scandinavian Defence: –

John Rhodes

England v Croatia Server Match in Close Finish

With the reigning ICCF World Champion, GM Ing Leonardo Ljubicic, on Board 1 for Croatia it looks like a close finish for the England v Croatia Match on the ICCF Server. The current score is England 22.5 and Croatia 20.5 with 3 games still to finish, 2 of which are on Board 1.

It is not for me to comment on unfinished games, but England can still afford to lose one game if they draw two, which would win the match. The World Champion is playing England’s IM Edgar Flacker on Board 1. I managed to draw both my games for England against Zdravko Tesic on Board 4. You can view finished and unfinished games here https://www.iccf.com/event?id=51755

Here is my symmetrical English game as Black.

Here is a short game by Neil Limbert for England on Board 8 taking advantage of his opponent’s early blunder.

John Rhodes

Adrian Hollis – Classics Don and Correspondence Chess Grandmaster

Adrian Hollis was one of Britain’s leading chess players both at correspondence and over-the-board chess in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. There were many good obituaries in the newspapers when he died a few years ago and I am not intending to match any here, just to show how good he was at chess. I will say that his father served as Director-General of MI5 from 1956 to 1965 and that Adrian’s distinguished academic career at Oxford University focused mainly on Hellanistic and Roman poetry in which he was a world renowned expert.

He played for Oxford University Chess Club in four Varsity matches between 1959 and 1962, being on top board in 1961 and 1962. He played in some British Chess Championships (over-the-board) in the 1960s and was 7th equal in 1961. He was British Correspondence Chess Champion in 1966 (jointly), 1967 and 1971. He represented Great Britain in the famous Potter Memorial Correspondence Chess Tournament of 1973 and was awarded the Grandmaster Title for first place in 1976 with a score of 9 / 12. During the 1980’s he advised Victor Korchnoi on certain openings of which he was considered an expert. He was a regular member of the British Olympiad Team.

Here is a game from the Potter Memorial Tournament against Dr Fritz Bambach who later became World Champion. Remember that this game was played before chess computer programs were widely available. Ken Messere, another participant, wrote an excellent book about the tournament from which this game and notes were taken. The book is still available from the BFCC website for only £5.00 plus postage if overseas (bfcc-online.org.uk).

John Rhodes