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Up Topic Correspondence Chess / Correspondence Chess / Does playing correspondence improve OTB play
- - By Regularuser (***) [gb] Date 2011-06-26 09:24
In the days before comps the concencus was that playing some correspondence was good training for OTB play.

Now that correspence is freestyle, i.e. human assisted computer play, does the same still hold true?

Has anyone got personal experience with good, neutral or even bad impacts of correspondence on OTB reuslts that might guide me?   I am willing to put the work into correspondence if it will help my OTB results.
Parent - By Eelco de Groot (***) Date 2011-06-26 20:33
I don't really have the time for correspondence chess myself. But I can't imagine that it would not be good training for over the board play, because correspondence chess forces you to really think about chess and chesspositions and many facets of that will return in your OTB games. You have to immerse yourself into the position, provided of course you don't just follow blindly what your seconds say.

This is "personal experience"' from about exactly one century ago but take Alexander Alekhine, as a young Russian officer I think he was at the time, he started with correspondence play too, and I believe he said it was a great help later on (citation needed, I think I have read that in a book with his best games). He was pretty good at it too. He maybe did not have the natural talent that Capablance had but he was a different kind of player, a bit like Kasparov as opposed to Karpov. And the work paid off for him. I don't see Karpov as a correspondence player either, at least not like Kasparov would have been suited to it. Karpov did not have the patience for it and neither did Capablanca. Nowadays of course the computers have a great deal of influence in the correspondence games, the influence is growing every day, but the same will be true for high level opening study for over the board play, if you want to do that. And if you want to get an edge in correspondence chess you will have to think about the possible weaknesses of the computer, and how best to use them. That will help you at least in opening preparation again, but also in endgames it is still interesting to think about what humans can do better than computers and what on the other hand you can learn from them. So maybe this is quite a good time to start with correspondence chess, when it still is not totally dominated by brute force searchers - I think "brute force" becomes more important again, when the time controls are very very long, say days per move as in correspondence chess- because chess is still too deep to be solved by that.

Parent - By parmetd (***) Date 2011-06-27 01:11
I only got into correspondence to help my otb game and for no other reason than this. If you apply this attitude to correspondence chess then I think you will see corr helps your otb play.

ie, you must choose your corr openings with the sole understanding that you will play these same types of positions otb. You should also not care at all about the results of your corr games as they are essentially practice for the real war (OTB). In this respect, I mean do not be afraid to try your crazy gambits if they are something you would truly play otb. It might be slightly dubious for corr but the countless hours you spend there will win you many miniatures OTB. And of course, corr helps your endgames as instead of reaching them with timetrouble left you often have months in corr.

I find I am as prepared as most high level masters are for openings as a direct result of corr.
- - By Moz (****) Date 2011-06-26 21:22
Personally, no. It's actually made me a worse OTB player. There are a couple of reasons for that. First and foremost is that I have a completely different opening repertoire in correspondence chess than I do OTB. In corr chess, I don't have to deal with or worry about my terrible memory so I can regularly play highly theoretical, extremely complex, razor sharp openings.  Over the board, I have to play openings that are easy to remember so all of the time I spend studying corr games is essentially wasted when I play OTB since I rarely play the same types of positions.

Second, in corr chess, I rarely spend much time on tactics so I'm rusty and more often than not I lose OTB games because I overlook tactical shots.

One area where I think corr chess has actually helped is in the endgame. That's where I do most of my critical thinking in corr chess and I've seen definite improvements in OTB endgame play based on the studying I've done for corr games.  Unfortunately, my tactics are so poor that I rarely can reach a good endgame OTB. 

With the exception of blitz which is a different beast altogether, computers have basically ruined OTB chess. I've spent so much time with engines that OTB has largely lost it's appeal. I can't shake the feeling that it's an inferior version of the game so derive little enjoyment from it anymore.
Parent - - By Uly (Gold) [mx] Date 2011-06-29 09:13

> With the exception of blitz which is a different beast altogether, computers have basically ruined OTB chess. I've spent so much time with engines that OTB has largely lost it's appeal. I can't shake the feeling that it's an inferior version of the game so derive little enjoyment from it anymore.

I fully agree as the same happened to me. It's like running compared to car driving, they're entirely different and I find driving to be much more fun. And if the goal is to get there, why do it the slow way?

Another very important aspect is that I never succeeded in OTB Chess, I always steadily improved but was in the same weak range, so that after becoming stronger I would just face stronger opposition but get the same results, not very rewarding.

Corr chess was entirely different, as, in OTB you have to stick to a mental analysis method that works for you, and just polish it and polish it. It is linear. While Corr Chess gives infinite freedom, I constantly find new ideas on how to use the engines (and well, new engines, though my opponents do as well), and it's just not about polishing, in a few months I may find myself analyzing my chess games in an entirely different way than I do today, that's why I have plenty of analysis methods and what I like is experimenting with new ones.

And I consider myself good, modesty aside, I have faced a lot of strong opponents and they know defeating me hasn't been easy, the next time they face me they might find I have considerably improved thanks to their defeat. The improvement is emergent and I love it.

I don't regret how OTB Chess was ruined for me in the least, and I see the distinction between only using the brain, and using the brain + the brains of computer programs, a bit arbitrary. But I understand how someone that likes OTB Chess should be forewarned: If Corr Chess is to your liking, you may find yourself quitting OTB Chess (and usually Corr chess is more demanding), your present self may not like that.

That said, Corr chess has definitively improved my strength OTB, though it's mainly about pattern recognition. One day I see a pattern in the board where engines struggle with, and I manage to understand what's the problem. The next day I see a similar pattern on the board and avoid the problem, or, if my opponent shows the pattern, I punish him for it (it works, because if engines have problems with the pattern, humans have worse problems, at least at my level).

I know it because I've been steadily improving despite playing OTB chess very infrequently, yet, when I play I do it beyond my level.
Parent - - By Christian Packi (****) [de] Date 2011-06-29 19:59
I can't agree with you that OTB chess is only polishing. On the contrary your biggest skill jumps will come from seeing a concept in a different more sophisticated way. I can give you two quick examples that come to mind.

I always thought an advanced outside pawn that is blocked by the opponents pawns will be weak in the endgame. This changed after I met someone who is way stronger than me, around 2300. While reviewing a game he mentioned this pawn will be dangerous in the endgame. Much to my surprise.

The other example is that I always thought a pawn structure like f2-g2-h3 in front of the king is always weakening and should be avoided. Then I read a comment of Larry Kaufman who mentioned that that's only the case if kings have castled on opposite sides.

This just goes to show how much there is to learn.
Parent - By Uly (Gold) [mx] Date 2011-06-30 00:25
I've never had such a skill jump, besides, well, when I started, e.g. I had such huge jumps when discovering that playing my rook pawns two steps to develop the Rook was bad, and that it was important to develop pieces and occupy the center directly or indirectly, etc.

I've improved about 500 elo points in the last 11 years but they all have been addition of small improvements, nothing big. It probably depends on the person, or big elo jumps start happening much later in the strength scale.
- - By Regularuser (***) [gb] Date 2011-06-27 07:30
Thanks for your replies.   The point about endgames was particularly interesting.

I think I will give it a try.   What is the best place to get started?
Parent - - By TheHug (Bronze) [us] Date 2011-06-27 10:21
It depends on the kind of time you want to invested with corr chess. There are sites with much longer time controls than others. The longest tournaments are probably going to ICCF at 50 days per 10 moves you will get very lengthy games that could take months to play out. But the up side is you will able to take your time and study it plus you won't have to worry about making moves to quickly. You can also go to sites like FICGS or LSS that have quickly style tournaments like 30days+1day per move increment. You will have more games to play usually and they are both very friendly sites. In the end the chose is yours. I think there are others who can give you good feedback on each of there sites.
Parent - - By Regularuser (***) [gb] Date 2011-06-29 16:17
A belated thank you.   I am in the process of signing up to FICGS.
Parent - By TheHug (Bronze) [us] Date 2011-06-29 16:19
I don't think you could make a wrong choice. Good luck in your games.
Up Topic Correspondence Chess / Correspondence Chess / Does playing correspondence improve OTB play

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