Russell Sherwood


Russell Sherwood  Sunday, August 11, 2019

In recent times the use of the term "Gaslighting" has increased significantly, mirrored in Film and TV. For those not familiar for the term a common definition is "manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.".

Now, In CC, I have never had players have me doubt my own sanity (although some of the characters I have both played and crossed path within an administrative capacity have brought me close!)

So from a CC perspective, a slightly different definition can apply "manipulate a player into doubting their own analysis". 

Few players can claim not to be guilty of this in its most mild form - offering a draw in an inferior position, especially when the higher-rated player.

In a more unpleasant form, we have all played those individuals who keep offering draws and get upset when you don't accept the draw.

A more much more modern tactic that the discerning player should be aware of can be seen when utilising ChessBase.. Imagine the following scenario. You are significantly ahead in a game. Your engine is showing move X as preferable to a decent depth. Chessbase shows a different move to a much greater depth with a good score. 

Now upon examination, this move is generally poor and turns your winning position to a draw. What the opponent has done is lay a trail to attempt to have the player doubt their own analysis. (In the example I reviewed it was clear it was the opponent due to the dates on the analysis).

So the moral of the story is whilst the analysis on Chessbase (and all crowd-sourced websites) can be valuable, always make sure (especially when it is "fresh") that someone is not trying to lead you down the garden path

Resource Folder

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, August 4, 2019

I often get asked about where to obtain some of the Engines I write to make life easier i have collated them into a folder in the link at the bottom of this article. I will update on occasion, so don't expect the absolute lastest version a day after its release!

Commercial Engines will not be in this folder.





CFish Extended




Honey Xpro

Komodo 10



Raubfisch -SL


Sugar NN



No warranty or guarantees - use at your own risk!





Russell Sherwood  Friday, April 12, 2019

"Success leaves clues......" - Brad Thor

A couple of years ago I produced a list of players with rapidly growing ratings - even a cursory examination can give clues and a close examination can give significant insights which can be used to aid advancement. Over the next couple of months, I will publish some in-depth reviews of specific players but for now, the list below identifies the "hot prospects". What is new that some are new to CC but others are established players who improved

21265 ARG Souto, Esteban 40 2406
30069 AUS Barnett, Clive 234 2386
780057 AUS Champion, Chris 181 2378
86235 AUT Komaromi, Gabor 37 2482
10803 AUT Steinbacher, Thomas 36 2394
40558 BEL Van Assche, Jeroen 47 2429
40593 BEL Verhaeren, Gertjan 125 2375
70166 BRA Amorim, Gladstone Sabóia 94 2458
71494 BRA Caron, Sérgio Valladares 300 2436
50588 BUL Kurtenkova, Anka 37 2450
50616 BUL Todorov, Dimitar 100 2429
50637 BUL Zhekov, Zhivko 144 2382
90742 CAN MacTilstra, Ian 228 2410
120101 COL Bernal Varela, Nelson 279 2407
120051 COL Angulo, Ariolfo 129 2388
900195 CRO Piacun, Eduard 183 2418
900185 CRO Juras, Zvonko 227 2391
900213 CRO Grbac, Boris 58 2375
690425 CUB Santana Peñate, Guillermo 280 2515
690557 CUB Pérez López, Alberto 812 2441
690564 CUB Rodríguez Fraga, Yoandy 190 2439
690587 CUB Fernández Martínez, Juan Carlos 83 2403
690345 CUB Pérez Pérez, Armando Alexis 252 2394
690507 CUB Vertíz Gutiérrez, Pedro 247 2387
690537 CUB Pérez Rodríguez, Rubén 70 2387
690606 CUB Powers Roibal, Frank 38 2387
131239 CZE Cvak, Rudolf 1971 2461
131230 CZE Jarabinský, Martin 449 2406
151013 DEN Jensen, Tommy 54 2403
212704 ENG Rallabandi, Praveen Kumar 243 2472
212651 ENG James, Angus 135 2393
161524 ESP Moreto Quintana, Alex 197 2452
930244 FIN Purga, Oleg 44 2485
460511 FIN Sopanen, Pekka 98 2413
460697 FIN Huuskonen, Matti 572 2390
180532 FRA Thirion, Patrick 88 2439
86758 GER Lembeck, Karl-Heinz 32 2464
86059 GER Büßing, Olaf 254 2449
85013 GER Philipps, Ralf 56 2443
85545 GER Lobner, Winfried 71 2410
86041 GER Schmidt, Jörg (* 1954) 58 2399
86776 GER Winter, Leopold 36 2388
80895 GER Ochs, Manfred 38 2384
87984 GER Krüger, Wolfgang 37 2376
873015 INA Margana, Adhy 109 2434
873066 INA Sitorus, Yosua 402 2431
280286 IND Sastry, KVS 42 2443
280895 IND Hegde, Ranjeet 40 2409
280465 IND Dutta, Amit 40 2397
300220 ISL Guðmundsson, Elvar 58 2485
270112 ISR Elyoseph, Harel 257 2437
249243 ITA Emanuelli Simoncini, Renato 106 2438
240644 ITA Cimmino, Pietro 137 2425
241718 ITA Rombaldoni, Denis 44 2405
241809 ITA De Blasio, Alessandro 40 2399
241366 ITA Gatterer, Florian 72 2375
370255 NED Compagnie, Luc G. 191 2409
371343 NED Werten, Tony 58 2391
370677 NED Stuart, Antoon J. 389 2390
410065 PAK Idrees, Muhammad 55 2383
421664 POL Gorzkiewicz, Łukasz 74 2435
421665 POL Tomczak, Jacek 69 2405
421483 POL Duszyński, Jerzy 89 2389
421012 POL Maliszewski, Grzegorz 200 2380
429154 POL Tritt, Maciej 753 2380
390096 POR Salvador Marques, João Luís 91 2443
390667 POR Vasconcellos, Renato 80 2418
440417 ROU Duţu, Florin 125 2503
440425 ROU Ciucurel, Sorin-Marius 409 2418
440797 ROU Pepene, Ionut 32 2411
440814 ROU Stanila, Elena 120 2407
440626 ROU Bucsa, Ioan 787 2398
142898 RUS Kornev, Aleksey Nikolaevich 39 2535
142554 RUS Matveeva, Maria Aleksandrovna 58 2497
142169 RUS Rybin, Anton Sergeevich 34 2494
142955 RUS Parkaev, Andrey Vitalievich 41 2493
142338 RUS Artemyev, Dmitry Aleksandrovich 40 2485
142370 RUS Mikhailov, Stepan Fedorovich 36 2482
142235 RUS Chesakov, Leonid Anatolievich 47 2478
142220 RUS Bukarin, Mikhail Yurievich 59 2469
142798 RUS Varkentin, Wilgelm Wilgelmovich 271 2423
142792 RUS Barkov, Kirill Gennadievich 226 2421
142983 RUS Agaltsov, Igor Pavel 56 2417
142481 RUS Malin, Denis Sergeevich 282 2415
142597 RUS Filin, Evgeny Konstantinovich 137 2410
142230 RUS Mannanov, Rinat Rafikovich 76 2402
142021 RUS Dvoinikov, Andrey Nikolaevich 34 2401
620426 SCO Cumming, David R. 1514 2408
480333 SLO Coklin, Marko 86 2453
480335 SLO Praznik, Niko 171 2451
480320 SLO Pokrivač, Izidor 45 2407
100095 SUI Issler, Christian 114 2567
100506 SUI Schmid, Pablo 84 2524
950477 SVK Jakubčin, Miloš 102 2407
451268 SWE Berg, Emanuel 45 2534
450459 SWE Eriksson, Anders 91 2519
450619 SWE Lagerborg, Krister 70 2415
451520 SWE Bergmanolson, Michael 123 2385
490203 TUR Pekin, Tolgay 516 2404
941004 UKR Mashchenko, Vladimir 53 2477
941222 UKR Kagansky, Mikhail 30 2435
941140 UKR Khanas, Valeriy 290 2387
941048 UKR Aveskulov, Valeriy 44 2377
516299 USA Stein, Kurt W. 57 2528
516375 USA Kulick, Neil 176 2455
514877 USA Biedermann, Kyle 383 2433
514001 USA Smith, Brian D. 32 2399
511517 USA Divanbaigyzand, Mehran 92 2397
515808 USA Muljadi, Paul 159 2397
970017 UZB Yunusov, Adkham 68 2446
810209 WLS Yeo, Gareth 284 2454
810243 WLS Evans, Craig 151 2394

New Directions

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 31, 2019

This I write this feeling probably the best I have done for around a month – it's quite a strange virus that removes almost all energy and motivation and gives mild flu symptoms which last for weeks. Even more so when it affects more than one person! I can tell you its not fun when is coincides with a surge at work as well!

 Still, time to crack on and clear all the backlog!

Anyway back to Correspondence Chess. The last few months have generated quite a few interesting developments with regard to CC and Engines. These developments are, I believe, quite positive as well as having the potential to be quite disruptive to use Marketing speak.

I believe most people will have heard of Alpha-Zero and the advances this has delivered. This is covered in the excellent book “Game Changer” (In an in-depth review from a CC perspective will follow in April – let me clear the backlog first!).

Whilst AZ is very interesting and as I will cover next month, gives a number of insights very useful to the CC player, it is in itself not going to have a direct impact on CC for a number of years, it at all – why: because until the software and hardware become readily available it will not be within the realms of the ordinary CC player.

So discounting AZ, what is changing that is going to disrupt CC? If we consider a year or two ago the situation was, in a nut-shell a choice of Stockfish, Houdini or Komodo, with Stockfish the choice of the majority and the main difference between players being a combination of Hardware, Engine-wrangling skills and Chess knowledge, pessimistically probably in that order.

However, the situation has changed over the last year…..

  • LCZero: The development of the AZ inspired open-source engine and crowd-powered Networks has been truly amazing, with LCZero now being on par with Stockfish in typical engine tests.
  • Komodo MCTS: Whilst not as strong as Stockish, the Komodo teams efforts to bring an effective Monte-Carlo Tree Search to an AB engine have generated an excellent tool for the CC player.
  • Monte Carlo Tree Search: For many years the AB engine has ruled the roost (and still does in very rapid time controls) but the use of MCTS has flourished in the last year giving a previously unseen level of variety in move possibilities
  • New Engines such as Ethereal
  • Stockfish derivatives: A number of developments have taken place over the last year which are of interest to the CC player. Examples of this are:
    • The excellent Raubfisch , which continues to tweak its results upwards
    • Stockfish Cluster – an attempt to allow the running on massive hardware
    • ShashChess – A very interesting offshoot which adapts itself based on the type of position.
    • Sugar MCTS – a powerful implementation utilising a version of MCTS but also including a learning function.
    • Thothfish – a very new kid on the block but bringing two new very interesting features of a “Magic Tactic Solver” and more interestingly a way to manipulate analysis to swap or not swap certain pieces.


  • 7 Piece TB: These are now coming available for download. In reality, I don’t see anyone downloading the full set, due to speed and memory limitations but the downloading of specific ones can aid enormously.

Putting this together (and other advances I have not mentioned) we are now seeing a situation develop where there is more than “one horse in town” in the form of Stockfish, where these different approaches all have very similar performance in traditional testing (The flaws in this for CC I will cover another day!) but often give different suggestions in the same position.

The outcome of this is two-fold: Human input will become more important, the decision to take path A instead of path B, C or D and that this will lead to a reduction of the draw rate or rather more hard-fought draws at a minimum!

So a positive picture for CC? I believe so.

Anyway back to the backlog clearance, then onto launching EARG, writing the Engine and Introduction to CC Guidebooks!


Is it NORMal?

Russell Sherwood  Monday, March 18, 2019

With the latest Norm being achieved today, it was interesting to note that the WCCF series of Invitational events has now generated 62 Title Norms.

Not bad for one of the youngest members of the ICCF Family!


Provisional Rating List

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 3, 2019

Provisional List for 2019/2 - Very positive signs with only 4 falling ratings of players rated above 2000.

ICCF Rank Title Name Games 2019/1 Gend 2019/2 +-
210855 1 IM Balshaw, Anthony 493 2471 M 2472 1
810209 2 CCM Yeo, Gareth 268 2444 M 2454 10
810160 3 IM Claridge, John B. 296 2417 M 2417 0
211672 4 IM Lockwood, Austin 217 2395 M 2402 7
810243 5 CCM Evans, Craig 134 2382 M 2394 12
810183 6 CCM Jones, Ian 273 2386 M 2389 3
810161 7 CCM Sherwood, Russell 761 2336 M 2373 37
810139 8 CCM Adams, Mark 167 2361 M 2371 10
810202 9 LGM Sherwood, Helen 645 2337 F 2341 4
810212 10 CCE Sherwood, Alexander 352 2337 M 2339 2
810179 11   Varley, Peter 23 2338 M 2338 0
810163 12 CCM Keevil, Paul 128 2329 M 2335 6
810182 13 CCE Dean, Philip 88 2332 M 2334 2
810208 14 CCE Davies, Adam 94 2307 M 2308 1
810233 15 CCE Scott, Paul 234 2287 M 2299 12
810137 16   Thornton, John D. 25 2293 M 2293 0
810175 17   Williams, John L. 44 2281 M 2281 0
810211 18 CCE Cannon, Dale 88 2274 M 2274 0
810057 19 CCE Sinnett, Glyn 185 2247 M 2258 11
810221 20 CCE Gibbons, Andrew 70 2251 M 2252 1
810184 21   Yüce, Aytaç 115 2233 M 2233 0
810152 22   Clough, Fred 177 2207 M 2219 12
810180 23   Nettles, Paul Eric 56 2216 M 2218 2
810174 24   Bishop, William 6 0 M 2208  
810247 25   Hatchett, Paul 45 2298 M 2184 -114
810222 26   Smith, Andrew 118 2175 M 2167 -8
810259 27   Denton, Sean 45 2145 M 2166 21
810195 28   Bevan, Peter M. 97 2148 M 2142 -6
810165 29   Bailey, S. 118 2104 M 2115 11
810061 30   Griffiths, Martyn J. 108 2092 M 2092 0
810075 31   Wakeham, Marc R. 467 2051 M 2064 13
219118 32   Robertshaw, Andrew M. 239 2036 M 2036 0
810248 33   Hurn, Robert 20 2005 M 2003 -2

Some light reading

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, March 3, 2019

I often get asked about how Engines "Think"

The linked article below gives an interesting, beginner level introduction, which should save me some time!

Unfortunately, it is in Russian but Chrome's translate function does an excellent job!



Old School

Russell Sherwood  Thursday, February 28, 2019

It's been interesting, starting to play in the Bill Flew memorial for three reasons

First of all, the use of the Silli pairing system has led to a very different pool of opposition to that normally encountered, which I believe has gone down well with players.

Secondly, ta rather more loose style is being played, due somewhat to the games being unrated, necessary for us to make the event Engine free

Finally and in many ways, the most interesting has been to see the different approaches - some are playing this like OTB, whereas others appear to be utilising old-school CC methods. For my own preparation, I looked over some of my older Tim Harding texts, which whilst obsolete for modern CC, are a treasure trove for this kind of event!

In addition to this, from wider discussions, it does appear that there is some appetite for events that are a little.......different, be it the pairing system or time control. If you have anything you would like to see tried out get in touch!

Counties & Districts 2018

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Conditional Weapon

Russell Sherwood  Saturday, January 12, 2019

The advent of the TriBi time control system has removed some old tactics utilised by some players (Dead Man’s Defence for example) but has provided some new avenues. One of these is the use of the conditional move as a tactical weapon.


In a traditional event, if a player got into time trouble, all they had to do was get through to the next time control (typically less than 10 moves) and then normality could be resumed. However with TriBi, once in time trouble, there is no way to get out of it. Some players have seen an opportunity to now try and push their opponent into a special kind of time trouble: The Deficit. What is this? In simple terms One player has significantly more time on the clock than another, hoping this can lead to a time crunch for the other player.


For example, if one player has 120 days on the clock against 100 days of their opponent this is not an issue but if this winds down and becomes 15 days against 3 then problems can exist for the 2nd player. There are some protections within the ICCF rules with regard to active play however the best approach is not to get into this situation.


A tactic which I have seen being utilised is the used of conditional moves. If we assume it takes T1 time to make a move (an incorrect assumption but bear with me) and it takes T2 time to make a conditional move.  We can assume that T2 will be a lot shorter than T1, in some cases it is only the length of time to enter the move onto the server. If a player makes conditional moves and their opponent “accepts” a significant proportion of them, then it is fairly simple to see that the first player will build up a comfortable time buffer fairly quickly, unless the 2nd player’s move selection time is significantly shorter than the firsts!


So in practice, this means conditional moves should be considered when the opponent's response is “obvious” or your response to their most likely move is “obvious”, to build up a time buffer, so you are never on the receiving end of this tactic.


It is worth adding that a number of players have been observed letting their clocks run quite a while in opening positions, probably not realised the event is TriBI, make sure this, not you!


Till the next time! 

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