July 2019 ECF grades

The new July 2019 ECF grading list has been published. Follow the link for the new grades (link is also to be found in the list of links at the top of the page).


Hertfordshire County Correspondence Chess

To see how the county team are getting on in Division 1 of the Counties and Districts Correspondence Chess Championship visit https://www.iccf.com/event?id=76232 where you can see results, examine finished games, and see games that are still in play.

HCA AGM 6th July 2019

Welwyn Hatfield Chess Forum was represented by four members at the AGM of the Hertfordshire Chess Association, held at the Salisbury Arms in Hertford on 6th July 2019. Andrew Smith, David White, Kidge Elder and Ross Brennan made sure that WHCF was well-represented at the meeting. Actually, the WHCF representative made up around a quarter of all those attending the meeting. Several Hertfordshire chess clubs had no representation at all.

Results for 2018/19 season

The 1st team finished 6th in Division 2 and will remain in that division next season.
The 2nd team finished 7th in Division 3 and are relegated to Division 4.
CHAMPIONS: The 3rd team finished 1st in Division 6 and are promoted to Division 5.
The 4th team finished 7th in Divisions 7 and will remain in that division next season.
CHAMPIONS: The U120 team finished 1st in the U120 league.
Our team in the U140 cup was knocked out in the 1st round.
Our team in the U120 cup were the losing finalists.
Our Hertford & District team finished 2nd in the North Division.


The AGM will be held on 10th September 2019 at the Haldens Residents' Association.

Correspondence chess

Many chess-players think that correspondence chess has died out in recent years. This is quite a reasonable point of view, since you would think that if chess-players can consult databases and strong chess-playing programs (known simply as 'engines') there is little that a human being can add. However, correspondence chess is still thriving, and you can see what it looks like by going to the International Correspondence Chess Federation website (iccf.com). Hertfordshire runs a number of teams in competitions hosted at the ICCF chess server.

So correspondence chess has not died out, but it has largely migrated online, and players are allowed to make use of databases and engines. At the very highest levels, it is probably the highest quality of chess being played on the planet - when GM-strength human beings use the very best databases and engines, they can play chess to a level that not even the best humans or engines can reach playing on their own. A very high percentage of high-level correspondence games are drawn. It is widely acknowledged that 'chess is a draw', so that very good players using excellent technology find it very difficult to beat each others. Victories usually occur where one of the (human) players notices a very deep positional idea that the other (human) player has not seen. The idea is sufficiently deep that its effects are beyond the horizon of the engines the players are using. Of course, victories in high-level correspondence chess only rarely occur because of blunders. One might say they never occur because of 'normal' blunders, since the engine will always avoid such blunders. They do sometimes occur because of move-entry blunders, where the human player simply enters the wrong move at the ICCF server. It does happen.

It remains to be seen what will happen with the advent of Monte Carlo Simulation engines based around ideas from AlphaZero. Just how much will the human player be able to add to the mix when the engines become even stronger?

4NCL Round 7

  Welwyn Hatfield were placed 16th out of 68 teams in Div 6 of the 4NCL Online season 2.