Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland, 1824–1987


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About the Book

Exploring a bygone aspect of intellectual sport, this book details the history of British and Irish correspondence chess from the first formal match between Edinburgh and London in 1824 well into the 1980s, the most successful period in British correspondence chess. It traces the development of postal chess, including the growth of regional and national chess associations after World War I; the dawn of game-changing technologies such as the telegraph, the telephone, radio, and fax machines; the earliest transatlantic matches between the U.S. and the U.K.; the founding of the International Correspondence Chess Association in 1945; and the breaking of the Soviet monopoly on the world team championship in 1982 (the final act of the joint Great Britain team before Scotland and Wales obtained separate membership in the International Correspondence Chess Federation). Appendices list tournament champions; I.C.C.F. title holders; known club matches; and interesting excerpts from rules and other documents. Extensive notes, bibliography and indexes.

About the Author(s)

Tim Harding played for Ireland at the 1984 FIDE chess olympiad in Thessaloniki. He is a FIDE Candidate Master and a Senior International Master of correspondence chess. A well-known writer on many aspects of chess, Tim is a former editor of Chess Mail magazine and for almost 20 years he contributed monthly articles in “The Kibitzer” series at He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Bibliographic Details

Tim Harding
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 439
Bibliographic Info: 53 photos, tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4553-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments      1

Abbreviations      6

Annotation Symbols      6

1. Capital Letters: Edinburgh versus London, 1824–1828      7

2. Heyday of the Inter-Club Matches      28

3. Penny Post and Private Matches      50

4. Moves Over the Wires: Chess Adopts Technology      64

5. The Earliest Postal Tournaments, 1853 to 1870      78

6. Changing Times: The 1870s and 1880s      95

7. “A Battle at Long Range”: The United Kingdom versus the United States, 1877–1881      114

8. The Growth of Tournaments, 1870 to 1897      127

9. Scottish Correspondence Chess to 1918      161

10. Irish and Welsh Correspondence Chess to 1918      177

11. The English Scene, 1890 to 1918      195

12. From One War to the Next, 1918 to 1939      222

13. Correspondence Chess During World War II      246

14. International Revival, 1946 to 1951      261

15. Domestic Competitions, 1946 to 1970      273

16. Crisis and Resolution: Britain and the International

Correspondence Chess Federation, 1951 to 1971      294

17. The Home Front: The 1970s and 1980s      308

18. Growth and Success, 1972 to 1982      330

19. Becoming World Champions      343

Appendix I. Matches Between Clubs      355

Appendix II. Lists of Champions      365

Appendix III. Excerpts from Rules and Other Documents      375

Appendix IV. British and Irish Holders of I.C.C.F. Titles      386

Chapter Notes      389

Select Bibliography      409

Index of Images      413

Index of Opponents      413

Index of Openings by Name      415

Index of Openings by ECO Code      415

General Index      416

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Book of the Year—English Chess Federation
“the book is a real work of art, the author found the right measure in description, in the selection of the most notable chess events and inclusion of the most attractive or most important correspondence games…splendid…warmly recommend”—Quarterly for Chess History; “this mammoth work is exhaustively researched and traces the history of British and Irish chess from it beginning right up until the Internet age. Highly recommended”—IM John Donaldson (; “excellent tome…heartily recommended”—British Chess Magazine; “very well written…fascinating…highly recommended”—Manchester Chess Federation; “excellent…valuable”—Chess Life; “recommend…this is more than a book, it is a historical gem…Do yourself a big favor and buy it…clearly written with much effort”—; “excellent…worth every penny…strongly recommend”—British Correspondence Chess Association; “a richly enjoyable book…a must-keep”—Iain Mackintosh, Scottish Correspondence Chess Association.