CCE Paul Keevil (WLS)

Sherwood, Russell  Sunday, April 22, 2018

Introduction (Russell Sherwood)

I first became aware of Paul on the LSS server, one of the handful of Welsh players playing there. Paul had a fairly decent set of results and I was happy to see him start to play on ICCF. Paul is a dedicated player who is a man after my own heart in terms of playing and improving his own approach to CC. He will break the 2300 barrier on the next rating list and I am sure will continue to climb and break into the Welsh Team!

Briefly Tell us about Yourself?

Paul Keevil. Personal Injury Fee Earner for a firm of Solicitors in Haydock near Wigan where he lives. Paul is also a Professional Photographer who photographs Premier League and Champions League Football. He is a regular photographer at Liverpool, Everton, Man Utd and Man City and his images regularly are seen in both National and International Newspapers.

Married to Tracy

Live Grade 2284 although hoping to get above 2300 on the April list

How did you get involved in Chess?

I was taught by my dad when I was 3 years old and then by my uncle. I joined Cardiff Chess Club when I was 12 and captained the successful Cardiff High School Chess team to many successes.

When and how did you get interested in Correspondence Chess?

I stopped playing OTB chess due to work commitments when I lived in Cardiff, but I always played online. After I moved to Wigan I briefly attended the Bolton Chess Club - A club that produced GMs Nigel Short and David Norwood - but other commitments proved too much.

It was at that point that I joined the LSS Server and won a few tournaments whilst playing online. However, I felt there was something lacking and joined the ICCF last year.

I have really enjoyed the ICCF and, in addition to the guidance provided to me by Austin and Russell, I have seen my rating increase by nearly 100 points in the last year.

What do you like about Correspondence Chess?

There are those who suggest that correspondence chess is just another name for cheating.

I strongly disagree


Having really got involved over the last year I have come to realise that being a good correspondence player is more than just letting an engine play your game. It is much deeper than that.

You have to know about the engines. What are there strengths and weaknesses? And more importantly are they recommending the best moves?

I presently play with 4 engines and, on each move, these engines provide me with what I call “Candidate Moves”.

An interesting concept here is that these candidate moves can suggest an advantage of:

  • 0.27
  • 0.19
  • 0.24
  • 0.23

So the question is which one is the best?

This may appear an unusual question as 0.27 is clearly better than the rest. However, consideration also needs to be given to the opponents style of play and results in certain positions. Particularly those in the opening.

These candidate moves I assess. Analyse quite deeply and make my choice.

It is more than letting the computer play for you. It is about making sure you have the right reference database. It is about making sure you have the right strength opening tree. It is about preparation. 

What are your Correspondence Chess Career Highlights?

There are many. My first norm at the Esko Nuutilainen Memorial was special and to achieve my second (and possibly the full title) at my home event WCCF 5th Invitational was special.

In the WCCF 5th, I also had the pleasure of playing Pete Bevan.

I have known of Pete for a long time. If memory serves me correct the first time I played against him was for Cardiff High School –v- Bishop Vaughan. I may be incorrect but that sticks in my mind.

Anyway, whilst playing on the South Wales circuit Pete was always a person of good humour and well liked.

I played well and won but, and the result was a nice step towards what I hope will be my title, but the highlight was the way in which the game was played.

What do you think an aspiring player should do to improve their game?

In simple read the articles of Russell Sherwood.

For me the online suggestions, suggested by Russell, are the reason why I am nearly at 2300 and have achieve the norms that I have.

I first met Russell on the LSS Server and instantly became intrigued by his preparation which appeared to be over and above anyone else I had played.

Russell then moved to the ICCF a few years ago and I moved last year.

Realistically I am probably two years behind him but I am hopeful of catching him up at some point. 

Do you have an overall strategy when you start a game or Tournament?

Yes. Two – in this order

  1. To achieve a “norm”
  2. To improve my rating

In respect to the second point – that is only possible through continually improving your preparation.

How do you select your moves, what is your general method?

My process is as follows:

  1. I have four engines
  2. These engines give me 3 or 4 Candidate Moves – sometimes I will add my own moves
  3. I analyse these moves and make a decision as to which I consider the most appropriate for the game and the opponent I am playing.

With so many draws in Correspondence Chess, What do you try to do to generate wins?

Again this is preparation.

In my opinion, you have to have a good Opening Tree. From a database of some 30 million games, I have put together an opening tree that lists only games played by players 2200+ -v- 2200+

There is no point including games that are 2300-v-1600 because the results in the database will often be skewed – no offence intended here to aspiring players.

This opening book helped me get to around 2300, however, I do feel that it may not be sufficient to give me that vital edge to take me towards 2400.

What are your future aspirations in Correspondence Chess?

In Order:

  1. To achieve the title of CCE
  2. To achieve the title of CCM
  3. To obtain at least one IM norm
  4. To beat Russell Sherwood at least once haha!
  5. To someday be Welsh Correspondence Chess Champion

What are your favourite Openings and why?

When I played OTB I regularly used to play the Catalan.

At the same time, Charles Summers (Cardiff Chess Club) was reviving the Blackmar Diemer Gambit and with some success.

Also, an old friend from school, Mansel Davies, used to play the Evans Gambit.

Each of these is fun, however, and this is solely my opinion, to achieve a certain level you have to concentrate less on what openings you like but more on looking at your opponent's weaknesses and picking openings that expose those weaknesses.

If you could ask a legendary player, alive or historical, once question about Chess, what would it be?

Anatoly Karpov was my hero.

When “Tolya” was growing up he once replied, “If you do not believe you can win there is no point taking part”.

I have used these words throughout my life as a chess player and also in the professional world.

Sometimes it has caused me problems. But it has done me more good than bad.

In 1986 I had the good fortune to go to both Moscow and Voroshilovgrad (Now Luhansk) which is Cardiff’s twin city. I was fortunate to visit the famous Moscow Chess Club and, whilst in Voroshilovgrad, I was lucky enough to meet and play against GM Gennady Kuzmin at their Palace of Sport. Gennady ultimately became a trainer to Ruslan Ponomariov when he became the youngest World Champion in history.

Russian chess has changed since the collapse of communism. 

So to Anatoly Karpov I would ask the following question:

“You were supported quite substantially by the Soviet Government. Whilst it was nice to have that backing and support – do you believe that you would have been equally as successful were you having your career now?”

Do you have a Favourite Chess Book or DVD? If so what?


I hate reading.

Use the internet. That’s what its there for!

Do you have a Favourite player? If so who?

All-time favourite player has to be Anatoly Karpov.

But I agree with Ian Jones that Leighton Williams was a class act

Updated Sunday, April 22, 2018 by Russell Sherwood

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