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CCLA Server Chess

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About Server Play

What is server-based correspondence chess?

Server-based correspondence chess is similar to postal chess; however, instead of exchanging moves by postcard, moves and friendly correspondence (optional) are exchanged via the internet. A player logs in from his / her personal computer to a central computer, "ICCF's chess server." Once logged-in, a player moves chess pieces with the computer mouse on a 2D chessboard (the chess gui,) located on his computer screen, and "sends" the moves to his opponent via this same gui interface. The server notifies the opponent by e-mail that a move was made. When it is your turn, you are notified by e-mail that it is your turn. Moves transmit back and forth between players until the game is finished.

The server accurately maintains the current position throughout the game. It also stores the complete game score, reflection time used by each player, each player's vacation time and notifies the TD if there are time violations by either player. Should a player be slow to move, the server sends the slow player a "repeat." When the game ends, the server sends the TD the result for tabulation and rating calculations. The tedious, error-prone bookkeeping associated with correspondence chess is gone in server play. A player only needs to sign-up to play and enjoy server chess games!

CCLA's server chess events are played on the ICCF webserver. Why did CCLA choose the ICCF server to play our server tournaments?

CCLA is a U.S.-based ICCF national affiliate. The ICCF web server is well-designed and stable. As an ICCF affiliate it makes sense for CCLA to base its server tournaments there.

Who is eligible for CCLA server tournaments?

Any CCLA member with internet access and email capability is eligible and encouraged to participate in CCLA's server events. A description of all our tournament offerings may be found on this web page, in the Chess Correspondent magazine and in our free email newsletter.

How does one sign-up for a CCLA server tournament?

There are three ways to sign up for a CCLA server tournament: 1) you may sign up using PayPal on CCLA's web page; 2) you may print the entry form from our webpage and mail it to CCLA with a check; or 3) you may e-mail the CCLA office if you have a credit balance and ask that the entry fee be deducted from your account. If this is your first CCLA server tournament and do not have an ICCF ID, please let us know. We will register you and obtain an ICCF ID for you. If you already have an ICCF ID, please include your ICCF ID number with your entry and then take a moment to make sure your e-mail address is up-to-date on the configuration page (tournament start sheets and communication from the TD are sent to this address.) You do not want to miss these messages!

What if I have an ICCF ID# but don’t remember my ID number or my password?

If you know your ICCF ID#, go to the ICCF site. In the Log-In area (lower left column) you'll see two clickable options: "Forgot password" and "New Player." Click "Forgot pass word" and follow the instructions.

If you don't remember your ICCF ID#, it's easily located: click on "ICCF ratings" on the main menu, type your last name in the search box and click "FIND". A page will list all registered ICCF players with your last name and their ICCF ID#'s.

If this is my very first CCLA server tournament, what happens next?

You will then receive two e-mails. The first e-mail will include registration details. You will need to login on the ICCF site (see instructions below) and change your login password. We recommend that you use a password that is easy for you to remember and not obvious to others. After everyone is registered and the section is full, you will be sent a tournament start sheet with tournament details. The sheet will show the official start date. You may begin play before the start date; moves sent prior to the start date are "free time". Note: players who wait until the start date to send/ receive moves are not charged any 10/40 days.

What does an e-mail with registration details look like?


  • From:
  • To: John Doe
  • Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 7:08 AM
  • Subject: ICCF: Your starter password
  • You are registered in the ICCF database as Doe, John.
  • Your starter password for ICCF is "7jdegppz"
  • Please go to ICCF web site within the next 14 days and log in with your ICCF ID# (Your personal six digit ID number is here) and your starter password. All passwords are case sensitive. After logging in the first time you will have to change your password. Go to ICCF Help, or else refer to online help, available from the site's navigation menu.

What if I don't receive ICCF's email registration containing my id# and temporary password?

ICCF cannot guarantee delivery of email. Although such problems are infrequent, they can occur. The TD, TO or other ICCF official who registers you for server play will know almost immediately if the initial registration email does not go through; his or her screen will show the message "resend confirmation email," and a "resend" button appears on the form. After a retry or two, the registrar will attempt to contact you, your TD or your team captain, as appropriate; you may also contact the ICCF Helpdesk at anytime. If your email address is correct and working for everything except the email from, then you might try contacting your ISP, or simply obtain a new email address from a different ISP provider. Hint: Google (gmail,) Yahoo mail and Microsoft (Hotmail, MSN or Outlook) are used by 58% of the U.S.A.'s active server players; they are free and do not block's email.

Caution: A non-delivery email problem won't resolve itself. If you can't receive your id# and temporary password, you cannot log on to the ICCF server. A non-functioning email address also means the server will not allow a TO/TD to start an event in which you are included, until your email problem has been resolved and registration completed. Be proactive!

How do I login?

There are two simple steps:

  1. Go to the ICCF web site. The LOGIN area is at the lower left column.

  2. You must input your six digit ICCF ID number (not your name) and your password. The first time you login you will use the starter password that you were sent. You will be prompted immediately to change that password to a permanent password of your own choosing. After changing the password, you will login with your ICCF ID number and new password. Note: the "Remember login" (checkbox) feature will not work if you've disabled cookies in your browser, and you'll have to enter your ID# and password each time you log on.

Once I'm logged in, how do I find my games?

Once the tournament is started, you will receive a tournament start list by e-mail. The list has all the information you normally receive from CCLA — player names, player ratings, and tournament rules. The names on that list will appear in your "Games List." After logging on, the Games List appears in the left margin about half way down the menu. It's under the heading "Playing." It's very clearly labeled "Games List." Click "Games List" and all your games are listed.

What happens after I see my games listed?

A list of all your active games appears. The list includes by default "Status" (whose move is it), your "Time Left", "Opponent's name," "Opponent's time left" and "Event" (section number). You may customize the list to include other information by clicking the "Customize" button. If the Status says "Waiting," it is your opponents move, just wait. If it says "Your turn," your clock is running until you move.

The start sheet I received and the event crosstable both list this tournament as "Unrated." I thought this was a CCLA-rated event. Why does it say unrated?

The event is CCLA rated. It is ICCF "Unrated." Please keep in mind that CCLA leases server space from ICCF. The documents and cross tables generated by the server are thus specific to ICCF tournaments. We cannot modify them. The word "Unrated" in the start sheets and the crosstable only means the tournament is not rated by ICCF. Similarly, any ratings listed in the cross table are ICCF ratings. Rest assured, pairings are made using CCLA ratings and the games will be rated by CCLA. Results and ratings are published monthly on our web sites, quarterly in The Chess Correspondent magazine.

How do I make a move?

Click "Your turn" for one of the games where it is your turn. A chess board appears. There are also two message boxes. One box shows any message your opponent included with his/her move. The second box is available for you to type a message to your opponent. Use your mouse to make a move. Click the piece you want to move, continue to hold the click button and drag the piece to a square where you want to move it. Drop the piece by releasing the mouse click button. Type your message (if you have one) in the message box and click "Submit." Look at the board position to make sure you moved where you intended. If the move and position are correct, then

Color photograph of pawns on a chess board

click "Confirm." This officially posts your move. VERY IMPORTANT: your move is not sent until you click "Confirm" and your clock continues to run, so do not forget to do this. Caution: Once you have clicked "Confirm," you cannot take your move back.

How do I know it is my turn to make a move?

The official way is to logon to the server, look at your game list and see which games have "Your turn" listed in the status column. Another way, which is very convenient, is to choose to receive an e-mail notification whenever your opponent makes a move. This notification in turned ON by default. You can also receive e-mail notifications when you make a move. That option is turned OFF by default. It is strongly recommended you keep the notification that your opponent has moved turned ON. That's a great way to keep track that it is your move. You can turn notifications OFF/ON by clicking "Personal settings." That option appears in the left margin about halfway down your initial login screen.

Note: a move notice contains a clickable link to that game on the server. If you have selected "Remember my ID and Password" and have cookies enabled in your browser, clicking the link will take you directly to your game, bypassing the log on screen - very convenient!

What if I stop receiving mail from the ICCF server?

Some internet providers still use out-of-date methods for identifying e-mail "spam." Since the ICCF server sends large volumes of mail every day, these providers occasionally identify the ICCF server incorrectly as a "spam" generator. Should your provider make this mistake and block e-mail from the server, we strongly recommend you sign-up for one of the modern webmail services that specialize in handling e-mail. Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo are some examples of reliable e-mail services. These services work reliably with the ICCF server and are free! Note: many players use a different email service / email address exclusively for their server chess activities. It is not necessary for you to give-up your personal email account(s) to play server chess.

How do I change my e-mail address on ICCF's server?

When you signed-up to play on the ICCF server, you registered with an e-mail address. This address is the one to which tournament start sheets and move notifications are sent. If this address is not current, you may miss the beginning of a new tournament. Lost time will not be compensated due to non-received e-mail, from either an out-of-date e-mail address or spam- blocked mail. Login to the ICCF server to change your address. Click "ICCF ratings," type in your last name and, when the list of players appears, click on your ICCF ID#. You will be taken to a page showing all your personal information. Make sure the "Contacts" selection is visible. Your e-mail address is located on the first line. Change it to whatever address you want start sheets and move notifications sent. Click "CHANGE EMAIL ADDRESS" before you leave the page.

How do I offer a draw?

When making a move there is a check box you may click called "Offer draw." Click that before you click "Submit." When you click "Confirm," the draw offer is sent along with your move.

How do I resign?

When you are ready to resign, click the "Resign" check box, then click "Submit" and then "Confirm." You can add a thank you for the game and congratulations in the message box.

How do I submit results to the TD?

You don't have to. The server sends results automatically to the TD as soon as you, or your opponent resigns, or the game ends in a draw. The tournament crosstable is also automatically updated.

How can I find the tournament results table?

There are two ways. One way is to open a game from your game list and click "Event" in the title bar. A drop-down menu appears. Click "Show cross table" and results for the whole section appear in cross table form. The second way is to go to the CCLA web page and click on "Current Sections" in the left navigation menu. That click will show you the links to all active cross tables. Links which exhibit a * are completed sections (all games finished.) Checking cross tables is a great way to see how well you and your opponents are scoring in a specific tournament section.

Do I need to send date received, date sent, and reflection time used with my moves?

No, the server keeps track of all those details. You just play chess and enjoy the games!

What do I do if my opponent goes "silent" (stops making moves?)

CCLA server time rules are 40 days/10 moves with unused time carried forward. The maximum allowable time for one move is 40 days. The ICCF server is set up so that if you do not hear from your opponent for 14 days, he or she is automatically sent a reminder notification by the server. You do nothing at this point, but wait. If after 28 days, there is still no response, your opponent receives a second notice. After 35 days, your opponent receives his/her final warning. After 40 days with no move, or if all your opponent's time is used up, the TD is sent notification by the server that there is a time violation. The TD will investigate the situation and forfeit your opponent, as appropriate.

The time violation notice you receive will instruct you to file a claim for a forfeit win; whether this can be safely ignored depends upon how the TO set-up the section's rules. If your opponent has exceeded the time limit, either file the claim, or check with your TD if you have doubts about how to proceed. Fortunately, aggravating situations like this do not occur very often in CCLA tournaments.

How do I take a leave or vacation?

Open one of your games. Click "Event" in the title bar. A drop-down menu appears. Choose "Take Leave." You may type in your leave dates or use the calendar to click the start and end leave dates. The dates are inputted for you when using the calendar. Finalize your leave plans for that entire section now by clicking "Take Leave." You must repeat this process for every section you are playing. The server automatically lists you as "on leave" in your opponents Games List. You may choose different leave times for each section. Your opponent will be notified of your leave in his "Games List." This is sufficient notification to your opponents that you are on leave. You are shown how many leave days you have left for each section during this process. The server will not let you exceed the number of leave days allowed. You may also check your opponent's leave status from this same menu.

May I send a conditional move (if / then move)?

Yes, if the option was turned on by the Tournament Secretary when he created the section. Although the alleged purpose of "if" moves is to save time, server games move along rapidly and very little time is actually saved. A conditional does eliminate one move cycle, i.e., the need for you to login, make the move and log off. This can be convenient since you don’t have to set-up the position and analyze again.

Some players reply same day, using "0" chargeable days. How do I deal with such a fast pace?

Besides using conditional (so-called "if" moves) moves, some opponents will be "fast" players, moving quickly and using little if any of their own 10/40 alottment. You will know you have played into an "if" move sequence when your opponent's reply appears almost immediately after you click "Confirm" on your last move. Some players have reported feeling intimidated by such rapid replies, or psychological pressure to respond quickly. We suggest answering your opponents' moves on a rotation schedule that works for you. Resist the impulse to send an immediate reply; making moves without adequate thinking time is the surest way to ruin a promising position.

Are stalemates and default draws automatically recognized by the server?

Only stalemates are recognized. The server will automatically record a stalemate as a draw and the result will be posted in the cross table. An official claim must be made to obtain credit for other kinds of draws. These include threefold repetition of position, insufficient mating material and 50 consecutive moves without a pawn move or piece capture. To claim a draw, open the game, click "Game" in the title bar and a drop-down menu will appear. Choose "Claim draw." Your e-mail program will open. Send the claim for draw to your TD, who will handle the claim as quickly as possible.

I also participate in ICCF tournaments on the ICCF server. Some ICCF tournaments double a player's reflection time for each reflection day exceeding 20 days. Are reflection days doubled in CCLA tournaments too?

No, the time limit for CCLA server tournaments is 40 days to make 10 moves. Unused time is carried forward and may be used later in the game. There is a limit of 40 days used for a single move. There is no doubling of reflection time in CCLA events.

Is there an official set of CCLA Server Tournament Rules?

Yes, CCLA's server rules are posted on our web page under the "Server Rules" section.

Where can I get detailed help?

Please email your questions directly to CCLA's Server T.D.  for a personal reply.