Thoughts on Postal Chess and Modern CC

This post discusses postal chess as precursor to modern CC. Up to the turn of the century postal was still the main way of playing CC.

With the advent of email and servers CC has become digital although postal chess is still played. What can we learn from this type of chess?

First is how dramatic the use of digital transmission has changed the game. Before, clerical errors were a key issue to address in postal games.

Receiving the moves and having to postmark your response along all game details implied errors would take place and games were slower.

In this process issues like analyzing the wrong move took place. This can still happen in modern CC but having transmission automated reduces it.

The postal player needed to devote a lot of time to managing the games themselves. Now we have more time and play has become faster.

But aside from the transmission changes, the actual work of analyzing is still the same. Also the longterm nature of CC play is essential to it.

Now we use all sorts of computer assistance but still the need to analyze and devote time to explore next moves options is there all the time.

The slow and long duration nature of CC is still a key feature of play. Even if other chess is now online as blitz or rapid, correspondence is unique.

In CC as postal or today, taking a long time for the games is clearly a defining feature of play. We still spend hours analyzing single moves.

This calls for linking more our current CC with our roots in postal. We need to build on the shoulders of giants in postal as heritors of this type of chess.

We should learn more from the CC past games and championships. More reflection on our unique tradition should be publicly discussed.

One key lesson is that postal players had a strong community build on news around national leagues, clubs and players personal networks.

Today in my view CC is lacking a community of that sort and more use of social media could strengthen our game just as other chess is doing.

During postal times newsletters and other information was essential as part of the community. With databases as information this has disappeared.

We should strive to build a community beyond our games. This will only reinforce our own playing and serve as a way to learn.

Nicolas Ronderos

Nicolas Ronderos is an American ICCF Player. He is also a Good Companion Fellow at the US Chess Problem Society. He lives in Paris and tweets about CC as @CorrChess

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