The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
Tutorial for using the ICCF Server -- Hints and Comments

<< Previous Page Tutorial Home Page Next Page >>

Following are a set of hints and suggestions for playing chess on the ICCF server, based partly on the TD letter I sent to the players in the first server event I directed. Hopefully you will find a few of these ideas useful in your competitive play on the server. -- Franklin Campbell

  1. Starter Password. When you first start play on the ICCF server you will be assigned a starter password. The first time you log in the server will recognize that you are using your starter password and will ask you to select a new password. Be sure to change your password ... if you use the same password as your starter password, the server will ask you to select a new password every time you log in till you change to a new one.
  2. Remember login. When you log in I recommend click the checkbox "Remember login" so you won't get logged out automatically and will be logged in automatically, even if you turn off your computer and turn it back on. If things suddenly stop working right, it may be because you didn't check this box and you got logged out. In this case try to log in again and be sure to check "Remember login" this time.
  3. Password. Be sure to "remember" your password. I remember it by writing it down in a safe place. If you clicked "Remember login" and your computer allows cookies, you may never have to remember your password, till you want to log in on a different computer or you switch to a different browser or for any number of unpredictable reasons.
  4. Cookies. If you can't stay logged in, it may be because your browser isn't set up to allow "cookies", the files on your harddrive the server saves information in. You may want to investigate how to set your browser to allow cookies to be saved on your computer.
  5. Check for announcements. When you go to the webserver, check for new announcements before going to your games. There may have been a failure by the server, or there may be a planned outage to allow for updating the software or hardware.
  6. Don't move by email. The server uses email messages as a convenience feature to alert players when their opponents move. However, all moves are actually made on the server (on the web page). Do not send your opponents moves by email, do not accept moves sent by email, do not propose draws by email. Do all these things on the server. Of course, you can send emails for other purposes, such as to the TD to claim a win. But all the playing functions should take place on the server.
  7. Explore the server web pages. Get familiar with the server by looking at all the menus, particularly on the game page. Some of the features are "hidden" in menues at the top of the page which you might not notice. See Game Page (Waiting) for a list of these menues.
  8. Don't report results. It is not necessary to report results or send scoresheets to the TD. All this is done automatically by the server.
  9. Don't send repeats. Sending repeats is now in the past and is not necessary with the server.
  10. Claim wins/draws. Normal wins and draws are recorded automatically. However, a player must claim a win in the case of an etl (exceeded time limit) by your opponent or no moves in over 40 days by an opponent, and a draw by repetition or 50-move rule also requires a player to make a claim to the TD. Since the server charges only 40 days for a move that takes 40 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, you'll have to wait till your opponent uses 41 days to make a claim based on the 40-day rule.
  11. Leave. Every player may take up to 30 days of leave per calendar year, independent of the start date. The server allows the player to set up her/his own leave. Apparently, leave is by event. If you want to take leave in three events, go to a game in each event and register your leave.You cannot make moves while on leave. When a player is on leave and it is her/his move, the game page will say "Leave" in the status column. When it is your move, it will say "Your move", whether or not your opponent is on leave.
    Note: you cannot remove leave for the current day. You can change your leave dates for future days, but not for today's date or days in the past. (25.06.2006)
  12. Customize your game list. On the Game list page experiment with the "Customize" feature. Click the customize button and try the different selections for columns to display on your game list. I found my ideal by listing everything except the event. According to your normal web page appearance, you may prefer fewer fields to keep the width of your list to a minimum.
  13. On the Game page (your move) you can only enter a move in one way, either by typing in your move or by using the mouse. If you can't drag and drop pieces on the chess board you probably don't have the "Drag and drop" set on the "Board" menu. Set this for one game and you set it for all games. You can only set "Drag and drop" on a game page where you are on the move.
  14. Be careful entering moves! The old errors of postal/email chess may seem to be in the past with no more illegal notations, no more getting games mixed up, etc., but there is plenty of room for error in server chess. It is designed to help you avoid making errors entering moves, but carelessness can still get you. When you enter a move on the Game page (your move) don't rush things. If you go "enter move, click on Submit, click on Commit, bing, bang" you are side-stepping the safety procedure and could get into trouble. Do the following:
    1. Enter your move.
    2. Click on "Submit".
    3. After the page redisplays pause ... check the diagram and the game score (new move shown in red) carefully. Be sure this is the move you intended to make.
    4. Only when you are sure the move was recorded properly, click on "Commit".
  15. Be careful when you Cancel a move. If you determine that you don't want to send a move after you have submitted it ... be careful! The "Cancel" button and the "Commit" button are very close together. Don't click "Commit" when you meant to click "Cancel"! (I say this from the best teacher ... experience!) Another safe approach is to just click on "Game list" and avoid clicking buttons altogether.
  16. Time counted in days. The server shows time remaining for both players. The player on the move will have time displayed in days, hours and minutes. However, when a move is made the time remaining is rounded UP ... you are not charged for a fraction of a day. E.g., if you have 23 days 2:25 remaining when you make your move, your time remaining will be adjusted to 24 days.
    Note: Once your displayed time goes negative the server will not allow you to move. You might assume if your time is displayed as "-0 days 12 hours" you could still make a move and your time would be adjusted to 0 days, but the server assumes you have overstepped the time limit as soon as you go negative. You might have grounds for filing an appeal if you notify your TD immediately (before your time goes to -1 days) and provide a move you wish to make. (25.06.2006)
  17. Time not counted till official start date. As soon as you receive an assignment, you may start making moves. Neither player will be charged any time till the official start date is reached. The crosstable may say, "Not yet started", but you may still make moves. Don't feel pressured to start immediately, though. It is completely your choice whether or not to start immediately or wait till after the official start date.
  18. Switch to "live" coverage. The TD may switch a tournament from "not live" to "live" at any time. Therefore, it is possible to plan an event for "live" coverage (with appropriate move delays) but to start it as "not live" to insure the games are past the early opening phase before "live" coverage begins. Normal "live" coverage will have a 3-move delay (people viewing the game will see the position 3 full moves in the past).
  19. Amici Sumus. As with all ICCF events, we play under the ICCF motto Amici Sumus (We are Friends). This doesn't mean we allow take-backs or let time limit infractions go unpunished. However, we do offer each other respect and friendship. The same goes for officials, who need all the Amici Sumus they can get.


© 2005 J. Franklin Campbell. All rights reserved.

<< Previous Page Tutorial Home Page Next Page >>
The Campbell Report Contact Webmaster