History of ICCF

ICCF is the International Correspondence Chess Federation. ICCF was founded in 1951 as a new appearance of the ICCA (International Correspondence Chess Association), which was founded in 1945, as successor of the IFSB (Internationaler Fernschachbund), founded in 1928.

Correspondence chess is a type of the world-wide well-known game of chess, which has been played between towns, chess clubs and/or individuals, by using:

  • traditional postal transmissions
  • modern ways of transmission using a dedicated webserver


Some sources say that correspondence chess was already played in the 12th century. Most chess historians doubt whether this is true. In the 19th century chess clubs and magazines started to organize more regular tournaments, national as well as international tournaments.

Finally in 1928 the first international league (IFSB) was founded. Aljechin, Keres and Euwe have been well-known enthusiastic correspondence chess players during some periods of their chess career.

ICCF, the present successor of the IFSB, is a federation of national member organizations. At this moment there are world-wide over 58 national member federations.

Most of them are playing several games simultaneously. Some of them are even playing more than 100 games at the same time. Most strong players think that 15 server games at the same time is the upper limit.

In the past postal chess was the most common appearance of ICCF. From 1951 until now 27 finals of the World Championship have been organized. Up till now 26 World Championships have been finished. The current World Champion is Ron Langeveld  (NED).

All his predecessors were also well-known chess personalities: Cecil Purdy (AUS),Vyacheslav V. Ragozin (USSR), Albert O’Kelly de Galway (BEL), Vladimir P. Zagorovski(USSR), Hans Berliner (USA), Horst Rittner (GDR), Yakov R. Estrin (USSR), Jorn Sloth(DEN), Tonu Õim(USSR), Vytas Victor Palciauskas (USA), Fritz Baumbach (GDR), Grigory K. Sanakoev (RUS), Mikhail M. Umansky (RUS), Tonu Õim (EST), Gert Jan Timmerman(NED), Tunc Hamarat (AUT), Ivar Bern (NOR), Joop Van Oosteroom (NED), Christophe Léotard (FRA), Pertti Lehikoinen (FIN), Joop Van Oosteroom (NED), Alesandr N. Dronov  (RUS), Ulrich Stephan (GER), Marjan Semrl  (SLO), Fabio Finocchiano (ITA). 

Even the ladies are not forgotten and from 1968 until now 8 finals of Ladies World Championships have been organised. The current ICCF World Champion is Olga Sukharova(RUS) who succeeded to Olga Rubtsova (USSR), Lora Yakovleva (USSR), Luba Kristol(ISL), Lyudmila Belavenets (USSR), Luba Kristol (ISL) and  Alessandra Riegler (ITA).  

Besides the individual World Championship, ICCF is organizing the CC Olympiad.  Each team is represented with 6 boards (men) and 4 boards (ladies). The first edition started in 1949, and until now 18 CC Olympiads have been organised. The first winner was Hungary followed successively by Czechoslovakia , USSR (1958), USSR (1964), Czechoslovakia, USSR (1972), USSR (1976), USSR (1982), Great Britain, USSR, Czechoslovakia and Germany(1955-1999, the title was tied on a “amici sumus” decision) , Germany (2004), Germany (2007), and Norway (2009).

ICCF is closely co-operating with the leading world chess organization FIDE. All ICCF titles, championships and ratings are recognised by FIDE.

In most sports you only can play regularly on an international basis when you are a national top-player. One of the charms of correspondence chess (whether you are playing by server or by post) is that you can play at an international level, even when you are starting to play this kind of a game for the first time.

ICCF organizes all kind of tournaments: individual and team championships, title norm tournaments and promotion tournaments (from Open Class until Master Class). Both in postal and in webserver versions.

Almost the same kind of tournaments also exists within the 4 zones into which ICCF is divided: Europe, Latin America, North America/Pacific and Africa/Asia. 

(Updated by Eric Ruch, ICCF President )


ICCF published the ICCF Diamond Web Book as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations:


The ICCF Anthem was Composed by Dimitry Lybin from Belarus and can be downloaded from here.

last updated Monday, December 31, 2012

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