The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"On the Square" Article

Steve Ryan, a frequent contributor to The Correspondence Chess Message Board, is a proponent of fair play in correspondence chess. In response to some discussion on the possibility of opponents illegally using computers for analysis he wrote the following article emphasizing what he feels is an important concept in cc. If you wish to contact Steve directly by e-mail his address is: ryansc@granite.mb.ca.

Why CC Must Operate On The Honour System
By Steve Ryan

Picture yourself sitting before your chess board, about to work on your CC games for the evening, perhaps after a hard day at work, or in the midst of myriad personal problems, or just feeling down in the dumps. You reach for an opponent’s newly arrived postcard or open your e-mail knowing that for a few hours, at least, you can obliterate the world and concentrate on your games. As it turns out, the validity of Murphy’s Law gets proven again; your opponent has made a totally unforeseen move and now you have a “lost” game. The hoped-for tranquillity of the evening evaporates. Annoyance and frustration move in. Recriminations and questions start; Why didn’t I see that move? What’s wrong with me? Why do I play this stupid game? Etc. If the frustration level rises high enough the rationalisations may begin. You convince yourself that you deserve a “break”. Maybe I could consult with the guys down at my chess club. Perhaps I’ll put the position up on my chess engine for a minute - nobody will know.

Yes, I have to agree. In all likelihood nobody will know. We, as CC players, have far more opportunity for unethical, or downright dishonest, behaviour than do our OTB cousins. We also have nobody watching us. I believe CC occupies a unique niche due to this fact.

We can cheat by altering the arrival date of a postal move; by consulting with chess friends; by using a chess engine on a computer or by doing anything the rules do not permit. The various CC clubs use various rules to govern conduct of play, reflection time, research materials, computer use etc most of which I consider unenforceable. These rules may also have considerable inconsistency from club to club. The basic inability of these clubs to enforce their rules should not preclude the CCCA or IECC or ICCF from establishing them in the first place. How else will you earn an honest win and avoid a chess “forgery?” Must we have the “chess police” and a video camera watching us?

Enter the honour system. Of course, I have no way of knowing that my postcard arrived Monday instead of Friday as my opponent said. Has he used a computer when the playing rules forbid them? Who knows for sure? I will take my opponent’s word for it, however, if he says the card arrived on Monday or that he did not use a computer. I will take my opponent's word that he does nothing illegal. I must. I have both no way and no wish to prove otherwise. All CC players wanting their pastime to grow and prosper will observe the rules of their club. I much prefer a system where we don’t need it to begin with, but in the absence of enforcement the honour system must prevail or anarchy and CC’s decline will instead.

If you would like to contribute your own comments on this topic send them to:
Contact Webmaster

Copyright © 1999 by Steve Ryan

Home On the Square Menu Previous Article Next Article
Webmaster: J. Franklin Campbell
Contact Webmaster