This post outlines the origins of CC and presents what we know of the first games played by correspondence before actual records exist.
The quotes in this post are from the book “Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland, 1824-1987” by the renowned historian Tim Harding giving the page number.
The first instance of CC being played comes from the 17th century. Travel accounts in Europe written in 1673 talk about merchants playing CC.
“Venetian and Croatian merchants, although at a great distance apart, play chess by correspondence, and […] for every single move a letter must be written, and each party be at considerable expense before they are finished playing” P. 7.
In the 18th century there are records that “the idea of a correspondence game […] was not unfamiliar to chess enthusiasts in 1706” P.8. based on a manuscript that calls for such a match between Paris and London.
The 19th century brings us the first recorded game in 1804 from military personnel “when Friedrich Wilhelm von Mauvillon, stationed in Breda in the Netherlands, played against a brother officer in The Hague” P. 7. There exists also a “fragment of the start of a postal game in 1822 between two Bamberg citizens” P. 7.
In 1824 the famous Edinburgh versus London match started. “The five game match between these clubs is probably the only correspondence chess event about which almost every player is aware” P.7., after an earlier match planned between Paris and London was abandoned.
After these games the history of CC is well documented. These first instances show us that correspondence chess was enabled by the development of technologies and practices linked to commerce or communication that were available and enabled playing with remote opponents such as the merchant and military examples suggest.