Russell Sherwood

Performance Stats in WCCF Friendlies

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, June 12, 2022

A while ago, I posed a few questions on performance stats. Below is the full table

There are many interesting ideas that can be drawn from this , which I will cover another day but the one I would draw most players attention to is the Level - this is an related to the number of games played - Can you reach the next level?

Friendly matches are useful for players:

  1. They are part of the selection criteria used for Invitational and Team selection
  2. Generally, opponents will be closely rated, so rating points tend not to be at risk
  3. The win rate in Friendly matches is slightly higher than in other formats, so it can be a way to climb the ratings tree (There are quite a few reasons for this but I tend to think that (a) Players often dont give the games the attention they deserve and (b) More players who are transitioning on the rating ladder take part in Friendly matches.

As special shout out to....

Unbeaten players with Active games

John Claridge

Jon Coles

Paul Scott

Gareth Jones

Michael Bowley

Peter Grayson

Gerald Jenkins 

Tom Gunn


Is there such a thing as a Friendly match?

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, May 22, 2022

Recently I have been preparing quite a bit of data with regard to friendly matches, and it has thrown up a lot of interesting and unexpected statistics. So in advance of that article, here is a quiz....all questions are in reference to completed friendly games since 2010

  1. It will come as no surprise that I top the list for friendly appearances but who are No 3 and 4 on the list? (and they don't have the surname Sherwood!)
  2. Which players have more than 20 wins in friendly matches?
  3. Which 6 players have rating performance of more than 2400 (according to Chessbase)?
  4. Which 5 players (having completed 10 games or more) have scored more than 80%?
  5. Which 5 players (having completed 10 games or more) have score more than 70%, as black?
  6. Which 9 players (having completed 10 games ore more) are undefeated?
  7. How many players have played for Wales in Friendly matches?


CorrespondenceChessFriendlymatchesWCCF 7

WCCF Players Rating Progression 2010-2022

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hi All,

I've been playing with data...enjoy!


Revised Link



Don't suffer in silence

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 20, 2022

Most ICCF players are nice and respectful almost all the time but on occasion comments can be made in game commentary which whilst made either deliberately or accidentally can be found offensive.

If you have this situation, there is no need to suffer in silence. You are able to report inappropriate comments on the game screen under “Game” for individual games, or via your team captain for team events.

This complaint will go to the Tournament Director, who will review the complaint and can (a) Set the game to silent mode and (b) Issue a warning to your opponent. 

Should this not resolve the situation, other avenues are available, but these are rarely required.


Installing Engines

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 20, 2022

Every so often I get emails asking how to install engines in Chessbase, especially from those wishing to update from the engines that came with it.

Bob Hurn kindly mentioned this article, which covers most of the required activities.

It is a little old now - we are on Chessbase 16, but the method is, more or less the same, in Chessbase and Fritz

Getting the most out of ChessBase 15: a step-by-step guide #6 – UCI Engines | ChessBase


and now for something completely different....

Russell Sherwood  Saturday, March 19, 2022

I read an interesting comment on Facebook today about the allocation of black and white pieces. 

It was a lovely change to see a return to an “argument” about correspondence chess, rather than other matters!

The issue itself is not how many games the players were getting, but distribution of opposition ratings. In some cases, players were getting almost all the lowest rated opposition as white, in others as black.

The method used in most ICCF Tournament set up is random allocation, which by its very nature means that most players will get a reasonable distribution, whilst a few will get more extreme allocations such as above. That is the nature of randomness.

The alternative is to allocate the draw based on the order that the players are on the table [Here, table refers simply to the order that the organizer has loaded the players into the event creator]. This can be either random or by some organized method, the most common being rating.

If we order by rating, games could be allocated to give a slight edge by rating. This could be to higher rated players or lower rated players.

Whilst this approach can seem better, it has a basic structural problem – it is unfair to one group of players, whilst the random approach simply serves up the luck of the draw, which is fair to all.

It is an interesting question but one where, fundamentally, any approach different to randomness, gives an unfair advantage/disadvantage to players.


ICCF KO Tournament Strategy and Tactics

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 6, 2022

The ICCF KO Tournament is almost upon us. This is something a little different and a different approach will be required to succeed in the event.

Looking at the detail – the first round will be made of:

  • Groups of 11
  • Each group to have the same average rating
  • A score of >50% required to advance
  • The relative performance in the first round will determine the group for the 2nd (In simple terms a list of percentage performance will be created, the Top 13 players make up the first group, the 14-26 players the second and so on.

Pondering this for a while determines that our strategy and tactics in the event should determine our approach.

The first and most obvious objective is to score more than 50%, but beyond this there are two paths. Do we want to succeed in the event or meet other objectives? By other objectives, I can detail out possible desired outcomes:

  • The desire to boost our rating
  • The desire to target Title Norms

The average rating (as it is for all these kinds of events), for the first round, will be around 2150. 

If we want to do well in the event, then a strategy in the first round is to score above 50% but not massively so. This should lead to a weaker 2nd group, which whilst probably a lower Category Norm should be easier to score higher in.

In we want to gain the highest ELO benefit, then our aim should be to score as highly in the first round as possible, which should give us access to a group with a much higher rating than ours in the second round.

If Titles Norms are our aim, probably the best option is to aim for a “middling” score in the first round – which should get us a slightly easier Category group in the 2nd round.

Agree/Disagree? Either way, have a good think about your strategy for this event!



Developing an Opening Book – Part #2 Database Objectives

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Create your own Workflow - Part #3

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, February 20, 2022

We left off last time with the V6 Workflow and now look to enhance sections.



1. Get move to be played

2. Consult Opening Materials

3. Consult our Notes

4. Play through last few moves

5. Analyze Opponents Move

            5.1 Move as expected

            5.2 Move not as expected

6. Pivotal/Transitional Move?

7. Analyze move

            7.1 Opening

                   7.1.1 Analyze move with Engine

            7.2 Early Middle game

                   7.2.1 Analyze move with Engine

            7.3 Late Middle game

                   7.3.1 Analyze move with Engine

            7.4 Endgame

                    7.4.1 Analyze move with Engine

8. Blunder Check

9. Make Move

10. Update our Notes


Looking at “ Get move to be played”: Here we need to consider what game to be reviewed. There are a number of approaches utilized by players but the main ones are:

  1. My Time Remaining
  2. My Opponents Time Remaining
  3. How long my clock has been running
  4. How many moves have been played (Is the game still in Opening theory)
  5. Moves to Time control
  6. Psychological factors
  7. A combination of above.

There is no right or wrong answer on this, but most players use a combination of these. Psychological factors may need a little explanation, but this includes the slow playing “insta-move players” or visa-versa.  What matters here is being clear on your approach and sticking to it – even if it is a combination of approaches!

Consulting Opening Moves is interesting in practice we can separate this stage into:

2.1 High Level Opening Texts

2.2 Opening Books

2.3 Opponents Opening Preferences & Methods

2.4 Specific Opening Preparation


High Level texts are chess books/videos and similar materials covering the opening you are playing/planning to play. Two issues are vital to consider here:

  • That many opening treatises are totally unsuitable to the challenge of Correspondence Chess. As a rule, play through the lines suggested and see if the engines suggest different moves. If they do consider why the author did not consider this.
  • The texts considered need to be fairly modern, otherwise lines suggested can have wholly incorrect assessments.

Opening Books: This will be covered in more depth in the Opening Books series but consideration needs to be made on the book or books you utilise.


Opponents Opening Preferences & Methods

This section is about understanding your opponent. This is done through many questions. A few examples:

  • Does your opponent always play the same moves?
  • Do these meet the current trend? 
  • Do they tend to play the current trend? 
  • Do they play mainline or off-beat openings? 
  • Do they follow the Statistics, Book Line or the Engine’s evaluation?
  • Do they seek/accept early draws? 
  • Do they seek for 0.0 Evals or seek for active equality? 

From this, the player may attempt to predict an opponents move and utilize conditional moves. The more discerning player will utilize this approach to make decisions to move the game towards positions their opponent’s dislike and which make your strategy easier to apply and theirs harder.

Specific Opening Preparation

Here we are looking at Opening lines and ideas we have prepared, for which our opponent may not be familiar. This is a massive topic in itself but out aim here is to move our opponent onto unfamiliar territory, where little or no games have been played and the engine may lose its way. 

From examination of these steps – if we are in the opening phase we, we will now be far better informed in our choice of opening move.

Now our V7 Workflow becomes:


  1. Get move to be played
  2. Time Management Strategy
  3. Consult Opening Materials
    1. 2.1 High Level Opening Texts
    2. 2.2 Opening Books
    3. 2.3 Opponents Opening Preferences & Methods
    4. 2.4 Specific Opening Preparation
  4. Consult our Notes
  5. Play through last few moves
  6. Analyze Opponents Move
    1. 5.1 Move as expected
    2. 5.2 Move not as expected
    3. Pivotal/Transitional Move?
  7. Analyze move
  8. 7.1 Opening
    1. 7.1.1 Analyze move with Engine
  9. 7.2 Early Middle game
    1. 7.2.1 Analyze move with Engine
  10. 7.3 Late Middle game
    1. 7.3.1 Analyze move with Engine
  11. 7.4 Endgame
    1. 7.4.1 Analyze move with Engine
  12. Blunder Check
  13. Make Move
  14. Update our Notes


Till the next time!


Tip of the Week #25

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, February 13, 2022

Two musings this week

Firstly - if you are a Stockfish (or variant) user, make sure you update. The last few weeks have seen many major improvements - each adding a few elo at a time!

Secondly - If you want to use Stockfish to help develop your play, it is well worth taking a look at Overview | ChessCoach (  

This is Stockfish but  with explanations in English language rather than centipawns.


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