CCLA Email FAQ

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CCLA Email Play FAQ

Do I have to play at blitz speed? Some of my opponents respond almost immediately and send me email if I don't answer right away.

Never let an impatient opponent goad you into sending an ill-considered move. Remind your opponent everyone is entitled to 40 days to play 10 moves, an average of 4 days per move "thinking time." If that fails, file a complaint (be sure to attach the offending correspondence to your email) with the CCLA Tournament Director. Email games are completed more quickly than postal games anyway, because all the downtime of cards in the mails has been eliminated, not to mention "lost" cards. There's no reason to hurry your move and ruin a game.


Do I need to be a computer expert to play chess by email?

If you have access to an email account (many are free) then you can send and receive moves via email. The experience is richer if you have a computer, browser, printer and an ISP account to access the World Wide Web, but that's not required to exchange plain text messages. One of the strongest players in CCLA sends/receives email through his electronic typewriter - he doesn't even own a PC!


I recently sent a move but my email was returned with some kind of computer error message and a note indicating "undelivered mail." Now what?

There are many reasons why email is not delivered; most are beyond your control but there are a few things you can do. The first is to double check that you typed the correct email address, then send it again; this will resolve the majority of such problems. Most email clients have an address book feature - use it! Once you have the correct email addresses for all your opponents stored there, the auto-fill feature will complete the address after you type the first few letters. This will avoid the frustration of "undelivered mail" due to typos. It's also possible your opponent has changed his ISP and/or email address without notifying you. Unfortunately, this occurs more often than it should. Check with the CCLA Tournament Director to be sure you have the current address.

Next, if you're not technically inclined, call your ISP to determine if the problem is your ISP's server, or your opponent's. If neither server has an outage, then have your PC checked out, particularly if you are experiencing a lot of errors. If you're in time trouble you may want to mail a copy of your transmission/copy of the error message to the CCLA Tournament Director, with a note that you're addressing the problem. See Rules of Play, Rule 15. Also see the explanation in (4) below.


What if my computer breaks down?

A player has 30 days to re-establish email capability or be withdrawn from his event(s.) See Rules of Play, Rule 15. Most local libraries offer internet connection to card holders, so you may be able to log into your email account and receive/send moves. On the library computer, go to your ISP's website, email section, and log on using your account name and password. This is an excellent way to keep your games in progress while you're waiting on the repair shop, or a vendor to ship your new machine.


What if my ISP's server is down?

If the server is down and you can't send and/or receive email, it's usually a short-term problem. ISP's are in a highly competitive market and they won't keep their customers with frequent and/or lengthy periods of down time. All ISP's experience service disruptions from time to time and are usually back up and running in a few hours. Your email was date/time stamped when you tried to send it, so eventually it will get through with the correct information. If this becomes a frequent problem you may want to consider changing to another ISP.


I can't always check my email every day. What is the "received date" for an opponent's move?

In theory the delivery of email is almost instantaneous. The date you receive an opponent's move is the date it was delivered to your server. See Rules of Play, Rule 11. If your travel schedule is heavy you may want to consider one of the many technologies to remotely access your email.


What is the "sent" date for sending my move? What if it's delayed due to server problems?

Email composed in today's email client software is automatically date/time stamped. This is the assumption made in Rules of Play, Rule 10


How do I prove what move was sent if there's a dispute? In postal play, an opponent has to produce my original, unaltered move card to uphold his claim.

Before sending you can (and should) save a copy of your email to your a:\ or c:\ drive (Win 9x users can set their software to save all the documents in the "sent" folder. Take care here as it is also possible to configure the program to automatically delete all files from the "sent" folder.) You absolutely need a record of your email move transmissions; see Rules of Play, Rule 30.


Do I need one of those specialized chess browsers that reads PGN format?

You don't need one to play chess by email but you should certainly consider it. PGN (Portable Game Notation) is a standardized format for storing algebraic gamescores in databases (cd rom, the internet, etc.) for later viewing. It is "portable" because it is ascii-text based and can be utilized by a number of platforms. The interface is called a viewer and looks like a mini tv-screen with control buttons. Besides the algebraic moves, successive positions are displayed with a 2-D board and pieces that move automatically. Chess players can review games movie-style with the autoplay feature, or play through the game one move at a time. Because a pgn-file also contains headers, you can select games by opening, player, tournament, year, result, etc. for study. Here is a sample game in pgn notation:

[Event "Match #3624"]
[Site "CCLA"]
[Date "1971"]
[White "Taylor, David C."]
[Black "Honn, Jerry"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2065"]
[BlackElo "2024"]
[ECO "B22"]
[Round ""]

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bc4 Qc7 6. Qe2 Nb6 7. Bd3 e6 8. Nf3 d6 9. Nxd4 Bd7 10. Bf4 Bc6 11. Na3 a6 12. exd6 Bxd6 13. Bxd6 Qxd6 14. Nf5 Qf4 15. Nxg7+ Kf8 16. Nh5 Qh6 17. Qe5 Rg8 18. Nf6 Rxg2 19. Nxh7+ Ke8 20. Nf6+ Ke7 21. Qc5+ Kxf6 22. Qxb6 Nd7 23. Qd4+ Ke7 24. Qb4+ Kd8 25. Nc4 Qf4 26. Rf1 Rxh2 27. Na5 Qxb4 28. Nxc6+ bxc6 29. cxb4 Ne5 30. Ke2 Rb8 31. Bxa6 Rxb4 32. b3 Re4+ 33. Kd2 Rf4 34. Ke3 Rf3+ 35. Ke2 Rh4 36. Rad1+ Kc7 37. Bd3 Rhf4 38. Rd2 Ng4 39. Ke1 e5 40. Bc2 e4 41. Rg1 Nxf2 0-1


My opponent is using some kind of software to manage his email games. It sends me moves in standard pgn format, which is fine, but it also prints what is supposed to be a diagram but looks more like a chicken wire fence with small and capital letters plastered on it. How do I comply with CCLA Rule 6, which requires me to verify the piece moved to the square indicated by the written move?

If your computer has trouble displaying graphics, Java applets or scripts on web pages, or you have these features disabled in your browser settings, then graphic output from any program may be problematic. Webtv, which is not a computer at all, does not correctly display internet graphics either. Software that runs on a PC will not work on a Mac, and vice-versa. The new discount e-machines running Linux instead of Windows may have graphics issues, too (like Unix, Linux is case-sensitive.) Although the "diagram" may not exhibit the two-toned squares and figurine chess symbols we are used to seeing, you should be able to locate the square in question, using its algebraic coordinates, and determine if the correct piece or pawn has ended up on that square. Requesting your opponent turn off the diagram-sending feature is also reasonable.


What can I do if I suspect my opponent is using a chess computer for his moves?

To discuss various chess software products and their suitability for correspondence chess, as well as the ethics involved, would require a book. If we look at database engines and pgn readers as the modern equivalent of a home chess library, particularly for research of openings, the difference is merely one of efficiency. Other programs, however, are chess-playing or move-generating programs and these are illegal in CCLA play. To complicate matters, the lines are blurred by many of today's programs, which contain huge databases to guide their opening play but are also capable of independent analysis and move selection for every position during a game. The temptation to use these programs beyond the "book opening" is great.

The unethical use of computer-generated moves is difficult to detect and impossible to prove. Since 1982, give or take a year, correspondence ratings, titles, prizes and "best game" awards have been highly suspect. Each of us, then, must continue to find enjoyment and challenge in our chess games, server, email or postal, or else abandon the correspondence format altogether.


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