How to Get International Experience at Correspondence Chess

This article is aimed at someone who has been playing correspondence chess for, perhaps, a number of years, but who just plays for a local county or district team in their own country. They may well be a strong over-the-board (OTB) player, but one thing they may not have experienced is playing for their country in an international team.

Well, the ICCF organise International Friendly Matches with teams of between 10 to 50 players, where you would play a webserver or postal game with each colour against an opponent of roughly a similar grading. If you do not have an ICCF grade you will get a provisional grade until you have played enough games to get a fixed grade. You would start on a lower board and can work your way up as you get more experience and a higher grade. You can play in as many matches as you want and in Britain there are no entry fees and no stamps to buy. This is a very good way to introduce yourself to international play without having to face a tournament with a dozen or more games, which can be very daunting for anyone not used to it. You may think how can a chess match be ‘friendly’, well that refers to the spirit in which you play, rather than the moves themselves!  I have ‘met’ some very interesting players over the years from many different countries. When you make your move on the webserver you get a box where you can enter a personal message if you so wish. Time limits are generous on the webserver and if you move within 24 hours of your opponent’s move you do not lose any time. On the webserver all the time is recorded automatically, so there are no disputes about postmarks or lost moves. The games can be faster moving than postal chess games, but you can take your time if you want to.

How do you join up? In Britain you should contact the BFCC at in other countries you should contact your national correspondence chess association or have a look at the ICCF website at

So, as you can see, it is a good way to get started. You will soon get an ICCF grade, which will probably be higher than your OTB grade equivalent. You can then even try for a title in a tournament with norms. You will ‘meet’ new players from around the world. Your confidence will improve and, hopefully, your enjoyment of chess!

John Rhodes