Archive for April 1st, 2014

War: what is it good for? Absolutely nothing…well according to Edward Starr, though I’d be curious to hear his take on why after 500 years of peace, all Switzerland ever invented was the cuckoo clock… but perhaps such comedic, undergraduate afterthoughts are best left for another time? How about the internet and its ensuing digital revolution: what is that good for? Absolutely nothing other than wasting a few hours everyday and winding up a few fellow chess players online? Not true. Although on-line chess certainly has its pitfalls. Personally, I avoid the main sites as the etiquette of many registered leaves a lot to be desired.

When chess was booming in the late 70’s and early 80’s, after the Fischer and Spassky match, correspondence chess was popular across the globe. Even the best literature of the day, such as Webb’s Chess for Tigers contains a highly useful chapter on it. But as the popularity of chess has waned since and sought electronic formats as well, correspondence chess has suffered accordingly, with only a few die hard fans propping it up these days. Our modern age offers a middle path though, chess by e-mail! If you click on the following link you can find the International E-mail Chess Club, of which I have been a member for about two years now. .

How it works is that you will be paired up with someone within 200 points of your rating. After that you correspond with your opponent and send each other a move within five days of the last. The website is for those who enjoy their chess. There are no annoying little kids, cheats, and people who become rude the second they start losing. There are no frills, its just solid chess for those who love their chess. The site is run efficiently, it is rare that a problem of any kind occurs.

However, I should point out that there are principal differences between chess by correspondence (electronic or otherwise) and over the board chess. I’m not a professional player by any means so I cannot talk at great length. The only advice I can give is to read Webb’s Chess for Tigers. The principle difference, I’ve noticed, is that there is no -real- time constraint as in over the board chess, so you should expect your poor moves to be punished, if you yourself do not use the time available to you. I’m constantly surprised by how consistent the play of my opponents is. Correspondence chess is great for tuning up your skills of analysis and many who play it regularly calculate well. One of the reasons for that is, I think, that you are working with a real board yourself rather than sitting staring at some snazzy interface: though as Webb mentions, an important caveat is when analyzing, its easy to set up the position wrongly if you have just spent days looking at sidelines…I think I’ve already lost 3 games through doing that because I was so caught up in my own analysis.

If you are uncertain of the importance of the digital revolution, then how about a short interview by Lucianio Floridi? An admirably self-confident man who I got to know for a short while whilst studying.


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