ICCF and the future of correspondence chess beyond 2025
by Eric Ruch, ICCF President
What will be the future of ICCF and more generally the future of Correspondence Chess (CC) in the next decade? How will we play CC in 2025? Will there still be CC players in 2025? Is the computer aided correspondence chess leading to the death of this way of playing chess?
During the last decade most of the vision of Nol van ‘t Riet has become reality and his description of CC in 2010 mostly corresponds to our daily experience using the webserver. Communication, computer and internet technology are present in our daily life and no development in any kind of human activity can ignore it. Surely the methods of communication will be different in 2025, and they will be more intuitive for human persons. No more computer knowledge will be required and the players will be able to send moves everywhere they are, using vocal control and the board on the vision goggles using 3D holographic head up display. By moving your eyes you scroll through your games, move the pieces and send your move. The newly introduced neural control interface allows you to even do the same just using your brain! Instant communication will allow you to chat with your opponent using the instant translation interface that makes that all your opponents are speaking your mother language.
Many players have now switched to the non-computer assisted tournaments. ICCF offers nowadays two kinds of those tournaments: the traditional chess tournaments and the advance chess tournaments. If you select the traditional chess tournaments, you can still play chess as in the beginning of the 21st century: an 8×8 boards on which the traditional pieces are still moving according to the standard rules. But the newly introduced expert system “ICCF Big Brother 3.1” constantly watches all your moves, compare them with the most probable moves you would play in this position. Big Brother is able to predict your moves based on your player profile and the huge database containing all your games. And of course, it is able to prove if your moves have been assisted by Fritz 45, the latest and the most powerful chess engine released in 2025. A new generation of players is now playing advanced chess, and the first Advanced Correspondence Chess World Champion has just been crowed. Back in 2011, ICCF had introduces Chess960 the closest known ancestor to Advanced Chess. Whereas in Chess960 the men are randomly distributed along the first row, Advances Chess has generalized the random nature of the board and the pieces. At the start of the tournament, the players receive not only the pairings, as in any other tournaments, but also the configuration of the board (2D, 3D, square, round, hexagonal, 8×8 to 20×20, the pieces, their initial position and how they move, the specific laws of the game,…). There are only a few things that are the same as in standard chess: each player has a king and the mate is the end of the game. All this is randomly generated by ICCF Big Brother at the start of the tournament.
Advanced chess was recognized by ICCF during the Virtual General Assembly held in 2023. No need to have “physical” meeting nowadays. The neural interface that everyone has at home, allows you to enter instantaneously a virtual meeting where your avatar will discuss with the Delegates and the ICCF officials. It is amazing how “real” these virtual meeting can be, and those who remember the former congresses with all the Delegates and Officials seating in the conference room, will see almost no difference.
I am sure that some of these predictions will be available for playing CC in 2025, some others not, and many more, that we cannot even imagine in our dreams, will be part of our daily life during the next decade.
Looking back 10 years ago, ICCF was about to introduce the webserver and was gradually switching from postal to emails tournaments. Nowadays the server is the most common way to play CC, emails tournaments have vanished in the cyberspace while postal tournaments still enjoy popularity amongst the players of our federations.
ICCF has now one unified World championship cycle, with Preliminary, Semi Final and Candidates sections starting every year at fixed date. The new regulations of the WC cycle introduced in 2009 have solved the problems of the too many finals, sometimes two in a single year, resulting in a devaluation of the World Championship title. This has now been corrected and a final will now be started every other year in order to have a reigning World Champion for about two years. The WC final can accommodate both server and postal players in the same tournament.
Most of the current tournaments will still be played in 2025: the promotion tournaments leading to the World Championship cycle described above, the Olympiads, the World Cups, the thematic tournaments, the Chess960 and the advance version I have predicted, the Champions League…. The National Federation are using for their national tournaments and of course everything is automatically displayed in the player’s native language!
The development of the server will be a continuous effort to maintain ICCF at the lead and provide to our players to best of the current technology.
Maybe the way the correspondence chess will be played in 2025 will be totally different from what I have described but I am sure about one think: chess will still be played by correspondence in a way or in another using the latest technology, and ICCF will be there as the worldwide organization for high level correspondence chess!