Questions about the ICCF database

1.) How many of the games are computer-assisted?
2.) What’s considered a “high” correspondence rating? From the top players are around the 2500-2600 range and it seems the same for ICCF
3.) If all the high rated people playing an opening variation are making draws, does that mean the opening is objectively a draw? I am trying to find a way to make the Fritz work and it seems like the people rated above 2000 on ICCF can always draw with black.

  1. All of them at high levels. I have run into people who aren’t using computers. They get crushed mercilessly.
  2. Probably 2200+. Hard to win games in corr, and so it’s hard to build your rating.
  3. Objectively drawn is not the same thing as drawn in practical play. Humans are not engines. I’ve had games in corr where my opponent has had to find long strings of only moves to survive, but the engine makes the path crystal clear.

I will briefly add to John’s accurate comments below.

  1. The top and most serious correspondence players in the world are playing at ICCF not I would not compare these organizations.
  2. I have an ICCF IM title and am rated 2292. Any player rated 2200+ choosing the correct openings should not lose against any other player irrespective of rating.
  3. Some of the players play the same openings over and over and just draw. Some of us push the envelope with riskier openings and that leads to occasional losses. But, yes, all the mainstream openings are objectively draws. However, some openings like say the French Defense as Black, are hard to defend even in correspondence chess.
  4. If you are looking at the database for opening ideas for OTB play, make sure you really like the position and can play it before trying it OTB. Many of the sequences in these games are simply impossible for humans to play OTB.
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