Phil Morgan

Games and Ratings

Russell Sherwood  Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Start List for the Sweden- Wales alerts me to a newly revised ratings list. Congratulations to two Welsh players who have made rapid ascents up the ratings. Josh Robinson has reached the 2300 landmark from 119 games. Michael Bowley has achieved his 2299 rating from just 33 games. My own rating is rising stealthily towards the 2200 barrier, despite not yet having shaken off my habit of “bombing” the odd game.

The full list of games and ratings can be seen on the Member's List on our website.

1 Can you name the 3 Welsh players listed who have played more than a 1,000 games?

2 Can  you name the 4  players listed who have played more than 500 games ?


One family is nearing the landmark of 3,500 games. This feat is unlikely to be emulated. How many of us will go on to join the 500 or 1,000 Club?

Winning the Exchange

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 20, 2022


Winning a Rook for a minor piece can set one on a path to victory in  chess games. In correspondence games, against the best defensive play, this seems true less often. In 3 recent cc games, despite being the exchange up, I have had to settle for the draw. In the latest of these, as White, I have King on g4, a pawn on g5 and Rook on b3. Black to move has King on g8, Bishop on e7 and pawn on g6. My material and space advantages count for nothing. Black has an accurate, saving resource.

I usually play my engine’s top choice move. In a current game, in which I am the exchange up, I have decided against this. The top line was forcing, but led to exchanging off Queens and a pair of rooks. Playing down this line appeared to lead to a Rook v Bishop ending with minimal winning chances. I played a waiting move, which kept pieces on the board. This has worked out pleasantly for me. The pieces on the board are asserting their power. 

I’ve learnt that if I am the exchange up, hastening to an ending may not be the smartest of plans. In future, too, I might even be less likely to jump at a chance to win the exchange. I’ve just viewed an Alpha-Zero v Stockfish 8 game in which Alpha-Zero passes on an offer of winning an exchange. It had deeper, winning plans.


Secret Weapon No. 1. A22 English, Bremen, Smyslov System.

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Beware of Dark Horses

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 20, 2022

You don’t need to have previous experience to be competitive in correspondence chess. 

Players new to correspondence are often given an 1800P, Provisional Rating. They may quickly show they are capable of playing at a higher level , as current competitors in the WCCF New Year tournament. This can even be demonstrated in team events. In Division 2 of the recently started County Correspondence event, Surrey B are the weakest team based on ratings. Their team has an average rating of 1850. In fact, 7 of the team play off Provisional ratings of 1800. They field only one rated player, with a rating of, 2196. Tellingly, this player appears on Board 7. Their Board 1 appears well set to hold his 2427 SIM Nottinghamshire opponent. They appear to be a team of serious intent.

I used to feel daunted when playing a 2350+ titled opponent. Now I’m almost starting to feel some sympathy for them. To defend their ratings, they need to keep delivering wins against developing players who can access the same range of rapidly improving forms of engine supports. This seems a tall order. These supports are narrowing the gaps between correspondence players and enabling new players to much more quickly progress their level of play.   

Phil Morgan

Welsh Correspondence Chess FederationBritish Correspondence Chess AssociationClergy Correspondence Chess ClubSchemingMind Internet Correspondence Chess ClubSocial Correspondence Chess AssociationNational Correspondence Chess ClubWelsh Chess UnionInternational Correspondence Chess Association