Russell Sherwood

Stockfish 10 Contempt

Russell Sherwood  Saturday, December 29, 2018

I've covered contempt before with regard to Chess Engines. In most simple terms contempt is used by Chess Engines to enable the achievement of better scores in Engine vs Engine competition. 

General opinion for CC has been that contempt settings should be set to zero to get a more "accurate" assessment of the position, however, there are different views on this. The latest Stockfish release, Stockfish 10 has had its contempt setting raised.

The studious CC player is encouraged to try a number of settings in their analysis and make up their own mind!

Pick your battlefield! IM Norms

Russell Sherwood  Thursday, December 27, 2018

In preparation for the WCCF AGM I started some preparation, which due to pressures of work I was unable to complete, I will release this in a few articles over coming weeks.

A friend always tells me he has a plan with regard to Norms and ratings. An area I examined was that of where IM Norms are generated. This data was gathered from all of the Titles awarded in the last few years - so is not a full data set but a data set of those who have been successful in there quest to achieve the ICCF-IM Title.

By Category

Row Labels Count of 1 Min  
1 1 2251 CCM-A
2 3 2276
3 7 2301 MN-B
4 11 2326
5 8 2351 MN-A
6 10 2376
7 8 2401 SIM-B
8 18 2426 SIM-A
9 6 2451 GM-B
10 3 2476 GM-A
11 1 2501  
Grand Total 76    

Here I added the approximate rating bands of the new Title Tournaments. What does this tell us? Draw your own conclusions but few Norms are achieved below Cat 3 Tournaments, so these should be avoided if the Norm is your primary objective. The New Master Norm-A event looks to be a happy hunting ground for the IM Norm

When the type of event is examined some interesting results appear

Row Labels Count of Open
Inv 12
CL 11
Zonal Ch 7
Zonal TC 7
Master Norm 5
Open 5
GM Norm 4
Oly P 3
Memorial 3
Inter Z 2
Oly F 2
Inter TC 2
Grand Total 76

The majority of IM Norms do not appear in open entry events! This was a big driver for the new Norm events!

So looking at this the aim, to make your path slightly easier is to get to a rating of 2380+ to be able to enter Master Norm A events (or higher), or ensure you are on your National Federation's radar (and in good standing!) when Team selection time comes around.

Next Time we look at these SIM Norms



SICALM - December

Russell Sherwood  Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Following on a rather quiet period in November (related to working pretty much seven days a week!), the last few weeks have thrown up a number of interesting finds. In addition to this, I have been rebuilding my Projects actions list but more on that in another article!


Next Chess Move

A very interesting site which allows access to an online processor or for a price a high spec machine. This in itself is interesting but what is more so is that a copy of LCZero is available to be queried. This combined with a high spec machine throws up some interesting opportunities.


Chess Tricks

A new(ish) piece of Software. The main benefit obtained by utilising this is in finding Trick moves. These are hard to find moves which require a specific response from your opponent.



This is a side project of LCZero to create an Endgame database. This is not as exact as a Tablebase but extends up to a higher number of pieces and can add significantly in this region.


MZ Chess Forum  (

I have mentioned this forum in the past but in my opinion, it is the best online reference point, with great resources available.


Deep Position Analysis

This is an interesting development project which will develop, well read the description.


That’s enough for now! See you again in Jan 2019!

Rule Changes from 1/1/19

Russell Sherwood  Monday, December 17, 2018

A number of rules changes come into play on 1/1/19 within ICCF.

The most relevant of these, from a player perspective, are:

1) Chess 960 World Cup winner no longer receives a WCCC entry

2) The ICCF World Cup frequency is moved from 2 years to 4 years.

3) The Previous Norm and Master Norm events are replaced by a new series of Norm Events

4) ICCF will produce CCE and CCM medals, distributed to National Delegates at Conference if requested in advance.

5) ICCF data holding and handling to be modified  to comply with GPDR

6) ICCF link with FIDE Law of Chess, replaced with ICCF Laws of Chess.

7) Postal time controls extended

8) New controls introduced to combat ETL: 

9) TD's can record leave for players

10) Viewing rules amended to allow teammates to view games.

IF you want to know more, consult the rules after 1/1/19!

Back in the Engine Room

Russell Sherwood  Thursday, December 13, 2018

It’s been an interesting couple of months in terms of engine development. Probably the two biggest news items are Stockfish 10’s release and the advance of LCZero.


Recently SF10 was released, with a significant ELO gain over SF9. One thing to watch for CC players is that the contempt value has changed and the setting of this should be considered prior to use.


LCZero has been gaining strength in self-play recently but it remains to be seen if this will pass through into useful improvements. The significant news of recent days is that another AlphaZero paper has been released with a significant amount of actionable information. This is being put into practice by the Alpha Zero team at the moment. Unless you have suitable hardware LCZero remains interesting rather than competitive for CC players but this situation requires keeping close attention on.


Development of a CC-specific variation of Sugar has commenced. This is a very interesting project and one which could prove significant benefits.


Players’ favourite Raubfisch continues to develop incremental improvements coming on a regular basis.


Sting, whilst not a frontline engine, continues to develop and is of use in cracking difficult positions.


Komodo has released a new version of the MCTS equipped version with around a 100 elo gain being observed, coming close to the standard Komodo version.


CFish and CiFish continue to keep pace with new development versions of Stockfish, however, AsmFish has fallen significantly behind the pace. A spin-off version AsmFishCP has been developed. This has a number of Stockfish improvements implemented but is still significantly behind the pace.

Finally, for now, SHashChess has been updated. Whilst still only "interesting" in terms of output, it is still a useful addition to any stable.


New Title Tournaments

Russell Sherwood  Wednesday, December 12, 2018

On January 1st the biggest shake-up in ICCF tournaments for a number of years is taking place with the Introduction of the New Title Tournaments.

Historically ICCF offered two "open entry" events - the Master Norm for players over 2300 and the Grandmaster Norm for players rated over 2400. These tournaments served well for a number of years but an increasing frustration was seen in recent years driven by a number of issues:

  • The introduction of the CCE and CCM Titles, which whilst some federations took a lead to organise their own qualifying events, were not available for open entry.
  • Modifications made to the GM Norm tournament to facilitate the obtaining of SIM Norms had the negative effect of making GM Norms much harder to obtain.

Following an in-depth analysis of the situation, a proposal was presented at the Llandudno Congress which was accepted and comes into operation on Jan 1st.

So what has changed? First, instead of 2 Tournaments, there are now 10 events, 2 each focused on GM, SIM, IM, CCM and CCE Titles.

The first thing to notice is that the entry requirements for the GM events are higher than before. A GM Norm is possible in the SIM-A and possible SIM-B event but these will be much more difficult to obtain, the same being true for each subsequent lower tier.

So what is the benefit of this? For each Tier, we have a much narrower rating, which for the 'A' events means that, typically, the event is a Category higher and hence requiring a slightly lower score (generally one less win) for the Title Norm. This will still be difficult to achieve but this reorganisation should make the obtaining of titles slightly easier. 

Another benefit, which may not be immediately apparent is that events in which "elo leeching"  is not really possible in these events!


So have a look and make your choice! If you want any advice on these events, please get in touch.

  Low High Mid Cat Games
GM-A 2485   2485 10+ 15
GM-B 2455 2484 2469.5 9-10 13
SIM-A 2420 2454 2437 7-8 15
SIM-B 2380 2419 2399.5 6-7 13
IM-A 2350 2379 2364.5 5 13
IM-B 2300 2349 2324.5 3-4 13
CCM-A 2250 2299 2274.5 1=2 15
CCM-B 2200 2249 2224.5 K-L 17
CCE-A 2125 2199 2162 H-I 15
CCE-B 2050 2124 2087 E-G 15

2019/1 Rating List Review

Russell Sherwood  Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The 2019/1 Rating list has thrown up some interesting of the most interesting is a comparison to 5 years ago

2019/1   2014/1
4 2400+ 0
10 2300-2399 2
11 2200-2200 3
4 2100-2199 4
4 2000-2099 2
33   11

Back to the 2019 List

Top Gainers

810256   Jones, Phillip 42 1926 1857 69
810222   Smith, Andrew 118 2175 2128 47
810220   Davies, Jonathan 26 1727 1688 39
810251   Soar, Timothy 28 1744 1711 33
810212 CCE Sherwood, Alexander 352 2337 2308 29
212421   Robinson, Nicola 20 1699 1672 27
810257   Burrows, David 36 1675 1655 20
810259   Denton, Sean 45 2145 2126 19
810180   Nettles, Paul Eric 56 2216 2198 18
810139 CCM Adams, Mark 167 2361 2348 13
810198   Thomas, Dennis 24 1595 1582 13
810199   Dahlgren, Paul P. 37 1480 1467 13
810163 CCM Keevil, Paul 128 2329 2318 11
810156   Ricketts, Martin 44 1828 1817 11
810195   Bevan, Peter M. 97 2148 2138 10


Biggest Sliders

810181   Hallwood, Reg 22 1470 1544 -74
810075   Wakeham, Marc R. 467 2051 2121 -70
810102   Guy, David T. 234 1580 1639 -59
810255   Morgans, Justin 41 1982 2027 -45
810254   Jones, Steve 39 1400 1439 -39
810202 LGM Sherwood, Helen 645 2337 2372 -35
810133   May, Adam J. 40 1845 1872 -27
810165   Bailey, S. 118 2104 2127 -23
810217   Richards, Michael 231 1322 1344 -22
810192   Baron, Margaret 184 1826 1846 -20
810176   Chugg, Malcolm 122 1301 1318 -17
810161 CCM Sherwood, Russell 761 2336 2348 -12
810177   Wilding, Arthur 60 1499 1511 -12


(Personally, Helen and I are happy to see almost the back of our "Annus Horribilis" and commencing a Dunlop manoeuvre!


Congratulations to Adam Davies on breaking the 2300 barrier  and Eric Nettles the 2200 barrier



Time Machine

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, October 14, 2018

Occasionally in a game, we can have the problem of an opponent wishing to delay the outcome,  In more recent times the laws of CC were changed to introduce the "Code of Conduct". What constitutes a valid COC claim is quite complicated and the player is advised to review the ICCF Rules on the matter

A tool I knocked up at the time is a timeline visualiser - this is a simple excel sheet which can simplify the determination of one of the key parts of COC.

1) Copy your timeline into the sheet

2) Copy/ delete the  formulas

3) Add any vacation into the sheet

4) Review the timeline - some basic methods used people to delay results become very obvious on these charts.




WCCF Template

Russell Sherwood  Thursday, October 11, 2018

WCCF Powerpoint Template


29th ICCF World Championship

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, September 30, 2018

This event finished recently

Much has been made of the draw% but I wondered what other conclusions could be drawn?

9 Wins for White, 123 Draws and 4 Wins for Black

  Games Game% White Perf%
B90 24 18% 55% Sicilian Najdorf
D43 12 9% 55% Semi-Slav
C65 8 6% 42.50% Spanish- Berlin
C89 7 5% 50% Spanish-Marshall
E97 6 4% 58% King's Indian
B97 5 4% 50% Sicilian Najdorf -PP
E54 5 4% 50% Nimzo-Indian
E15 4 3% 50% Queen's Indian


This is slightly surprising, especially the King's Indian and Spanish Marshall and the much lower level of Spanish Berlin than expected.

There are plenty of other interesting nuggets that can be extracted but that is your job!:



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