Give correspondence chess a try, the Check is in the mail!

Give correspondence chess a try, the Check is in the mail!



Since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down tournaments, school clubs and other places to play chess, students have turned to online apps to compete with other players from all over the world. They may not realize that another kind of long-distance chess, correspondence chess, has been played as far back as the 13th century. In those long-ago games, between noblemen at kings’ courts, the moves were delivered by traveling troubadours.

In 1824 the London Chess Club challenged the Edinburgh Chess Club to a match. It became the first team match played by mail correspondence. The match lasted from 1824 to 1828 as this was before rail transport and the invention of the telegraph. The Edinburgh Chess Club played their favorite chess line, the Scotch Opening (1.e4, e5 2.Nf3, Nc6 3.d4), and won the match.

The Westminster Chess Club in London challenged the Paris Chess Club in 1834 and France met the English club’s 1.e4 with the then novel 1…e6, the French Defense. England started a second match with Paris in 1843 and played what became known as the English Opening, using it to open six of their games. It didn’t help as Paris won the match.

As more chess clubs started to challenge other clubs, they came up with their own openings, the very same openings we use today, and spread them throughout the world. The Netherlands gave us the Dutch defense, Denmark the Danish Gambit. Scandinavia, also gave us the Scandinavian Defense. From Sicily, we got the Sicilian Defense which is very popular with players. Not to be left out Spain gave us the Catalan Opening.

Correspondence chess matches can take years to play one game. Most players play multiple games. I know one chess player who had 20 games going at once. Once a player receives a card in the mail, he has up to 3 days to send his move. With the coming of the computer, correspondence chess has changed. Players send moves but still have 2 or 3 days to send a move back.

Correspondence chess is less demanding than over the board and players don’t have the fatigue that may happen at a tournament. It’s a great way to meet and share ideas with players in other countries. I enjoyed correspondence chess so I could collect chess stamps. I have stamps from Malta, Romania, Chad, Somalia, Kenya, Israel and most of the European countries. They are beautiful stamps.

This is a great time to give correspondence chess a try. With tournaments and clubs shut down it’s a great way to sharpen your skills and maybe learn some new openings with players from all over the world. And you might collect some awesome stamps, just by filling out a card and dropping it in the mail.

Special thanks to The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks, An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess by Edward R. Brace and Sonja Laird


Correspondence chess game 2020-2021

  • White: Coach larry
  • Black: JW

(Opening: Blackmare-Diemer Gambit)

1.e4, c6 2.d4, d5 3.Nc3, dxe4 4.f3, exf3 5.Nxf3, Bg4 6.Bc4, e6 7.00, Ne7 8.Qd3, Bf5 9.Qe3, Nd710. Ng5, Nd5 11.Nxd5, cxd5 12.Bxd5, Nf6 13.Bxb7, Nd5 14.Bc6+, Ke7 15.Qa3+, Qd6 16.Qxd6+, Kxd6 17.Nxa8 and Black resigns.


Why learn chess? Simple: It’s a great mental workout that helps children perform well in the classroom. Chess is a logical game where kids have to plan ahead and adjust to new situations. But most of all, it’s fun! Larry Ball (Coach Larry) teaches students of all ages at the Steinitz Chess Academy in Beaverton. For more information, email Larry at