Russell Sherwood

Evans Gambit

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 22, 2020

A few people have enquired as to who the William Davies Evans was and why we are running a tournament named after him.

William Davies Evans is known in Chess circles through the Evans Gambit, seen after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4. 

A regular favourite amongst club player’s and still an occasional choice with elite players (as a surprise weapon) in over the board chess, how does it fare in modern correspondence chess?

Looking at the stats:

  • Chessbase online database 57%
  • Megabase 2020 56%
  • Engine only games show White with a sub 50% score.
  • The line is almost unplayed in recent elite level CC – 1 game drawn in recent times.

A rather unclear position! Older engines show the position as significantly favourable for black, yet more modern engines show a close to zero evaluation.

Looking at wider ICCF games (results 2015 onwards and not having both players above 2500) we see a 52% score, with relatively low draw percentage.

So an area worth examination for the ambitious CC player possibly?! 




Evans Gambit

Wales - Sweden Update #2

This article is available to federation members only; please log in to view the content.

Friendlies Round Up

Russell Sherwood  Saturday, February 29, 2020

Excluding the Swedish match we have commenced 33 Friendly matches to date.

29 of these have been completed. Our results have been interesting......I utilise two methods to score matches. The first of these is the simple board score and in the regard we have:

Won 9

Drawn 3

Lost 17

Not too encouraging, although when ratings are taken into account the situation is somewhat different. Here I use an expected score based upon the average rating difference in each game. On this basis our results have been :

Won 17

Draw 0

Lost 12

What is even more interesting is that 6 of these losses were in our first 8 games, giving us a 15-0-6 since mid 2014. 

Why is this? Much has been down to the WCCF attitude to Friendly matches - that they are a training and development event. Almost all of our senior players "earned their spurs" in Friendly events.

So our current 4 events


Wales - Italy 25-55

Here we gave away 120 rating points on average, so the result was always likely to a formality. Congratulations to the 6 players who recorded wins!

Wales - Germany 15.5-25.5

Many games still to play but we suffered on the lower boards here

Wales - USA 11.5-12.5

A close match! The bottom boards have set up the team well, can the Top boards bring it home?

Wales - Czech Republic 6-11

Closer than it seems with a number of "postmen" on the middle boards!










FriendliesTournament Results

Euro Team Cup - Part 1

Russell Sherwood  Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Euro Team Cup has commenced! This new event is intended to extend on the familiar friendly format and provide something akin to a Davis cup format for CC.

The initial round has generated a number of interesting match-ups:

Russia - France

The Russian Team have an edge (2413 v 2371) average rating with French only matching on the Top 5 Boards.


Prediction: Russia 23 - France 17

Italy - Ukraine

The Italians have the edge here (2434-2371 average rating), again with Ukraine only matching on the Top 5 Boards

Prediction:  Italy 22.5 - Ukraine 17.5

Spain- Poland

Evenly matched in terms of rating (2326 v 2303), however this looks to be a little misleading when individual match ups where Spain appear to have the edge.

Prediction: Spain 22- Poland 18

Netherlands - Romania

The Romanians appear have an edge both in terms of average rating but this becomes much more complex on lower boards.

Prediction : Romania 22 - Netherlands 18


Next time a review of the Germany - Norway - Slovenia match and the Big one, Wales - Sweden!




Does Size Matter?

Russell Sherwood  Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Upon reading the good news on John Clardige picking up his SIM Title I started to ponder the number of "major" (IM, SIM, and GM) titles Welsh players have secured in recent years. Furthermore from this I the started to look at how we compare to other Federations.....

So since 2014 we have secured 7 major titles, which puts us joint 20th on the list - interestingly almost all of the Federations above us had many more players. So at this point looked at the number of major titles earned as a % of the number of players that Federation have on the current rating list.  At this point things start to get very interesing.....

If we utilise the scatter chart we can see that the average is 5.4% - that is to say that for every 100 players on the rating list 5.4 titles are achieved. For viewing ease I have removed all Federations with less than 25 players.

So.......of the Big 4 Germay and Russia are significantly above the mean, USA and England significantly below - this deviation means that a Russian player is over 7 times more likely than an English one to gain a major title!

Of the next  of  Medium sized Federations, only France is above the mean.......

Moving into the smaller grouping we see a large number of smaller Federatons well above the mean, with Belarus being the "champions" at 18%!

This  rapidly leads to Why?  A few ideas....

1) The higher scoring Federations tend to be more focused on International rather than National events.

2) Access to suitable events - it is worth noting that only South Africa (which was a suprise) falls above the mean of Federations outside of the Eurozone

3) Player Development programmes - ranging from formal training camps to more informal methods such as event promotion,

4) Teamworking methods - methods utilised by some, seen as against the rules by others, until the recent clarification.

Here ends my examination of this data but for me shows vindication of the methods the WCCF have used over the lasy few year but also give me some homework to dig deeper in the secret sauce of the 11 Federations above us on this list!





Major TitlesSize does not matter

Blast from the Past

Russell Sherwood  Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Italian Federation produce a very attractive annual yearbook.  In this years edition we have a few nice photos of some of our players




Russell Sherwood  Sunday, August 11, 2019

In recent times the use of the term "Gaslighting" has increased significantly, mirrored in Film and TV. For those not familiar for the term a common definition is "manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.".

Now, In CC, I have never had players have me doubt my own sanity (although some of the characters I have both played and crossed path within an administrative capacity have brought me close!)

So from a CC perspective, a slightly different definition can apply "manipulate a player into doubting their own analysis". 

Few players can claim not to be guilty of this in its most mild form - offering a draw in an inferior position, especially when the higher-rated player.

In a more unpleasant form, we have all played those individuals who keep offering draws and get upset when you don't accept the draw.

A more much more modern tactic that the discerning player should be aware of can be seen when utilising ChessBase.. Imagine the following scenario. You are significantly ahead in a game. Your engine is showing move X as preferable to a decent depth. Chessbase shows a different move to a much greater depth with a good score. 

Now upon examination, this move is generally poor and turns your winning position to a draw. What the opponent has done is lay a trail to attempt to have the player doubt their own analysis. (In the example I reviewed it was clear it was the opponent due to the dates on the analysis).

So the moral of the story is whilst the analysis on Chessbase (and all crowd-sourced websites) can be valuable, always make sure (especially when it is "fresh") that someone is not trying to lead you down the garden path

Resource Folder

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, August 4, 2019

I often get asked about where to obtain some of the Engines I write to make life easier i have collated them into a folder in the link at the bottom of this article. I will update on occasion, so don't expect the absolute lastest version a day after its release!

Commercial Engines will not be in this folder.





CFish Extended




Honey Xpro

Komodo 10



Raubfisch -SL


Sugar NN



No warranty or guarantees - use at your own risk!





Russell Sherwood  Friday, April 12, 2019

"Success leaves clues......" - Brad Thor

A couple of years ago I produced a list of players with rapidly growing ratings - even a cursory examination can give clues and a close examination can give significant insights which can be used to aid advancement. Over the next couple of months, I will publish some in-depth reviews of specific players but for now, the list below identifies the "hot prospects". What is new that some are new to CC but others are established players who improved

21265 ARG Souto, Esteban 40 2406
30069 AUS Barnett, Clive 234 2386
780057 AUS Champion, Chris 181 2378
86235 AUT Komaromi, Gabor 37 2482
10803 AUT Steinbacher, Thomas 36 2394
40558 BEL Van Assche, Jeroen 47 2429
40593 BEL Verhaeren, Gertjan 125 2375
70166 BRA Amorim, Gladstone Sabóia 94 2458
71494 BRA Caron, Sérgio Valladares 300 2436
50588 BUL Kurtenkova, Anka 37 2450
50616 BUL Todorov, Dimitar 100 2429
50637 BUL Zhekov, Zhivko 144 2382
90742 CAN MacTilstra, Ian 228 2410
120101 COL Bernal Varela, Nelson 279 2407
120051 COL Angulo, Ariolfo 129 2388
900195 CRO Piacun, Eduard 183 2418
900185 CRO Juras, Zvonko 227 2391
900213 CRO Grbac, Boris 58 2375
690425 CUB Santana Peñate, Guillermo 280 2515
690557 CUB Pérez López, Alberto 812 2441
690564 CUB Rodríguez Fraga, Yoandy 190 2439
690587 CUB Fernández Martínez, Juan Carlos 83 2403
690345 CUB Pérez Pérez, Armando Alexis 252 2394
690507 CUB Vertíz Gutiérrez, Pedro 247 2387
690537 CUB Pérez Rodríguez, Rubén 70 2387
690606 CUB Powers Roibal, Frank 38 2387
131239 CZE Cvak, Rudolf 1971 2461
131230 CZE Jarabinský, Martin 449 2406
151013 DEN Jensen, Tommy 54 2403
212704 ENG Rallabandi, Praveen Kumar 243 2472
212651 ENG James, Angus 135 2393
161524 ESP Moreto Quintana, Alex 197 2452
930244 FIN Purga, Oleg 44 2485
460511 FIN Sopanen, Pekka 98 2413
460697 FIN Huuskonen, Matti 572 2390
180532 FRA Thirion, Patrick 88 2439
86758 GER Lembeck, Karl-Heinz 32 2464
86059 GER Büßing, Olaf 254 2449
85013 GER Philipps, Ralf 56 2443
85545 GER Lobner, Winfried 71 2410
86041 GER Schmidt, Jörg (* 1954) 58 2399
86776 GER Winter, Leopold 36 2388
80895 GER Ochs, Manfred 38 2384
87984 GER Krüger, Wolfgang 37 2376
873015 INA Margana, Adhy 109 2434
873066 INA Sitorus, Yosua 402 2431
280286 IND Sastry, KVS 42 2443
280895 IND Hegde, Ranjeet 40 2409
280465 IND Dutta, Amit 40 2397
300220 ISL Guðmundsson, Elvar 58 2485
270112 ISR Elyoseph, Harel 257 2437
249243 ITA Emanuelli Simoncini, Renato 106 2438
240644 ITA Cimmino, Pietro 137 2425
241718 ITA Rombaldoni, Denis 44 2405
241809 ITA De Blasio, Alessandro 40 2399
241366 ITA Gatterer, Florian 72 2375
370255 NED Compagnie, Luc G. 191 2409
371343 NED Werten, Tony 58 2391
370677 NED Stuart, Antoon J. 389 2390
410065 PAK Idrees, Muhammad 55 2383
421664 POL Gorzkiewicz, Łukasz 74 2435
421665 POL Tomczak, Jacek 69 2405
421483 POL Duszyński, Jerzy 89 2389
421012 POL Maliszewski, Grzegorz 200 2380
429154 POL Tritt, Maciej 753 2380
390096 POR Salvador Marques, João Luís 91 2443
390667 POR Vasconcellos, Renato 80 2418
440417 ROU Duţu, Florin 125 2503
440425 ROU Ciucurel, Sorin-Marius 409 2418
440797 ROU Pepene, Ionut 32 2411
440814 ROU Stanila, Elena 120 2407
440626 ROU Bucsa, Ioan 787 2398
142898 RUS Kornev, Aleksey Nikolaevich 39 2535
142554 RUS Matveeva, Maria Aleksandrovna 58 2497
142169 RUS Rybin, Anton Sergeevich 34 2494
142955 RUS Parkaev, Andrey Vitalievich 41 2493
142338 RUS Artemyev, Dmitry Aleksandrovich 40 2485
142370 RUS Mikhailov, Stepan Fedorovich 36 2482
142235 RUS Chesakov, Leonid Anatolievich 47 2478
142220 RUS Bukarin, Mikhail Yurievich 59 2469
142798 RUS Varkentin, Wilgelm Wilgelmovich 271 2423
142792 RUS Barkov, Kirill Gennadievich 226 2421
142983 RUS Agaltsov, Igor Pavel 56 2417
142481 RUS Malin, Denis Sergeevich 282 2415
142597 RUS Filin, Evgeny Konstantinovich 137 2410
142230 RUS Mannanov, Rinat Rafikovich 76 2402
142021 RUS Dvoinikov, Andrey Nikolaevich 34 2401
620426 SCO Cumming, David R. 1514 2408
480333 SLO Coklin, Marko 86 2453
480335 SLO Praznik, Niko 171 2451
480320 SLO Pokrivač, Izidor 45 2407
100095 SUI Issler, Christian 114 2567
100506 SUI Schmid, Pablo 84 2524
950477 SVK Jakubčin, Miloš 102 2407
451268 SWE Berg, Emanuel 45 2534
450459 SWE Eriksson, Anders 91 2519
450619 SWE Lagerborg, Krister 70 2415
451520 SWE Bergmanolson, Michael 123 2385
490203 TUR Pekin, Tolgay 516 2404
941004 UKR Mashchenko, Vladimir 53 2477
941222 UKR Kagansky, Mikhail 30 2435
941140 UKR Khanas, Valeriy 290 2387
941048 UKR Aveskulov, Valeriy 44 2377
516299 USA Stein, Kurt W. 57 2528
516375 USA Kulick, Neil 176 2455
514877 USA Biedermann, Kyle 383 2433
514001 USA Smith, Brian D. 32 2399
511517 USA Divanbaigyzand, Mehran 92 2397
515808 USA Muljadi, Paul 159 2397
970017 UZB Yunusov, Adkham 68 2446
810209 WLS Yeo, Gareth 284 2454
810243 WLS Evans, Craig 151 2394

New Directions

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 31, 2019

This I write this feeling probably the best I have done for around a month – it's quite a strange virus that removes almost all energy and motivation and gives mild flu symptoms which last for weeks. Even more so when it affects more than one person! I can tell you its not fun when is coincides with a surge at work as well!

 Still, time to crack on and clear all the backlog!

Anyway back to Correspondence Chess. The last few months have generated quite a few interesting developments with regard to CC and Engines. These developments are, I believe, quite positive as well as having the potential to be quite disruptive to use Marketing speak.

I believe most people will have heard of Alpha-Zero and the advances this has delivered. This is covered in the excellent book “Game Changer” (In an in-depth review from a CC perspective will follow in April – let me clear the backlog first!).

Whilst AZ is very interesting and as I will cover next month, gives a number of insights very useful to the CC player, it is in itself not going to have a direct impact on CC for a number of years, it at all – why: because until the software and hardware become readily available it will not be within the realms of the ordinary CC player.

So discounting AZ, what is changing that is going to disrupt CC? If we consider a year or two ago the situation was, in a nut-shell a choice of Stockfish, Houdini or Komodo, with Stockfish the choice of the majority and the main difference between players being a combination of Hardware, Engine-wrangling skills and Chess knowledge, pessimistically probably in that order.

However, the situation has changed over the last year…..

  • LCZero: The development of the AZ inspired open-source engine and crowd-powered Networks has been truly amazing, with LCZero now being on par with Stockfish in typical engine tests.
  • Komodo MCTS: Whilst not as strong as Stockish, the Komodo teams efforts to bring an effective Monte-Carlo Tree Search to an AB engine have generated an excellent tool for the CC player.
  • Monte Carlo Tree Search: For many years the AB engine has ruled the roost (and still does in very rapid time controls) but the use of MCTS has flourished in the last year giving a previously unseen level of variety in move possibilities
  • New Engines such as Ethereal
  • Stockfish derivatives: A number of developments have taken place over the last year which are of interest to the CC player. Examples of this are:
    • The excellent Raubfisch , which continues to tweak its results upwards
    • Stockfish Cluster – an attempt to allow the running on massive hardware
    • ShashChess – A very interesting offshoot which adapts itself based on the type of position.
    • Sugar MCTS – a powerful implementation utilising a version of MCTS but also including a learning function.
    • Thothfish – a very new kid on the block but bringing two new very interesting features of a “Magic Tactic Solver” and more interestingly a way to manipulate analysis to swap or not swap certain pieces.


  • 7 Piece TB: These are now coming available for download. In reality, I don’t see anyone downloading the full set, due to speed and memory limitations but the downloading of specific ones can aid enormously.

Putting this together (and other advances I have not mentioned) we are now seeing a situation develop where there is more than “one horse in town” in the form of Stockfish, where these different approaches all have very similar performance in traditional testing (The flaws in this for CC I will cover another day!) but often give different suggestions in the same position.

The outcome of this is two-fold: Human input will become more important, the decision to take path A instead of path B, C or D and that this will lead to a reduction of the draw rate or rather more hard-fought draws at a minimum!

So a positive picture for CC? I believe so.

Anyway back to the backlog clearance, then onto launching EARG, writing the Engine and Introduction to CC Guidebooks!

Welsh Correspondence Chess FederationBritish Correspondence Chess AssociationSchemingMind Internet Correspondence Chess ClubSocial Correspondence Chess AssociationNational Correspondence Chess ClubWelsh Chess UnionInternational Correspondence Chess Association