I currently have 4 ICCF webserver games going and 15 postal games going. I won’t take on any more new webserver games and instead I’ll focus on maintaining between 10 to 18 postal games. This translates to a couple of postcards a week which is perfect for me.
I’m still learning how best to keep track of all my postal correspondence games, my filing system is working quite well but I do like the historical ‘Postal Chess Recorder Album’ approach too. As I mentioned in an earlier post I did buy some albums from Skakhuset but they’re a bit ordinary and don’t have algebraic notation which would be useful for me. So I have decided to make my own recorder album – see image above.
I googled how to bind a book and found this http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-bind-your-own-Hardback-Book/step1/Stack-your-paper-neatly-in-at-least-4-piles-of-8-s/ which was fairly easy to understand. I then made an image file which included lines indicating printing, scoring and cutting. I sent this off to a laser cutting place and received 12 ‘pages’ which had the board, with slots, on the right hand side and slots on the left hand side into which a scoresheet could be fitted. I have since glued them onto a backing strip and I’m ready for step 8 on the tutorial. I’ll add to this soon.
I have now finished the booklet. I bought an old thin leather jacket from a charity shop and made the cover and glued the innards (the folio) into place. I’ve inserted my 12 ICCF postal games into the board slots along with the move record sheet. It’s pretty good – a bit rough and I think I can make some improvements but on the whole I’m pretty happy with it.
I’m doing what I said I wouldn’t be doing and that is playing too many correspondence games.
I have fourteen postal games going and this looked set to be a bureaucratic nightmare if I didn’t sort out a system. Already I have misinterpreted a couple of postcards, played incorrect moves and only later discovered that I didn’t know where I was. Fortunately the moves I made weren’t blunders and at such an early point in the game they still work as openings, albeit not the openings I was trying for.
So I have set up a system. I have bought black and white A5 folders for each game corresponding to the colour I’m playing. On the spine of the folders I have a label with the event, my opponents name and the game number. Inside in the front section I have the correspondence, then a divider, a scoresheet, then a pad of paper for my analysis. I have cut up two cardboard chess logbooks (with the plastic pieces) and glued one game page to the back of each folder that I can fold out next to the pad. This allows me to look at the position while I analyse – I’ll also have my chess set with me to move pieces around.
When I saw the documentary ‘How to Win at Chess’ I was drawn to the paraphernalia that the correspondence chess players were surrounded by. I have an image of one man by a window with his chess board and a booklet in which he moved card pieces to record the position of his ongoing games. He had a notepad nearby to note the sequence of the moves and small envelopes ready to contain his moves were at the top of his desk. His opponent, in another house, perhaps in another town, had small plastic chess sets that he could record his games with. I was drawn to the equipment they used because it seemed serious, it imbued their chess decisions with rigour and I liked that.
Since starting my postal games I have also become aware of how confusing postal chess can be. Numbers on cards with varying postmarks don’t lend themselves to easy visualisation. I have therefore been googling to find out what is available so that I can play without loosing track of what’s going on.
The first visual solution, used by one of the players in the documentary, is a booklet with loose fitting flat pieces that are placed in slots. These seem to have almost disappeared. There was one, called a ‘Post-a-Log’ that resembled a Filofax that had pages with chess diagrams onto which sticky pieces were placed. Older sets were made of leather as was a new, glamourous, version (with only one game) made by Hermes. My favourite version of these was designed by Marcel Duchamp who was a very fine chess player in addition to being an important artist. Eventually I found a place in Denmark that sold a cardboard spiral bound set called ‘Rajah’. I have bought their 12 game version of this from this shop: http://www.skakhuset.com/products.asp?id=122
My alternative approach, and one I may yet consider, is to buy mini travelling chess sets. Again I have been looking through sites like eBay and Etsy and there are some fine old sets that aren’t overly expensive. The attraction for me with this approach is that each set would be different and therefore have it’s own personality. I could look at them and associate each with a game, a person and their background (given that a game could take more than a year).
I don’t claim that having equipment will improve my game in itself but the associations I make with the equipment should create a seriousness that I need. Plus I like the stuff.