ICCF Server Tutorial
ICCF Tutorial is
a guide to using the
ICCF Chess Webserver.
Since I posted this tutorial
it has been by far the most popular feature at my web site
The Campbell Report
with approximately 1500 people visiting already. Why did I
create this tutorial, and why is it
popular? Here is a description of what the tutorial is and
how it came into existence.
Why was the tutorial
Some of the readers may not be familiar
with the ICCF server. It is a fantastic way
to play correspondence chess. When you play cc via the ICCF
server you simply
go to the webserver web site, log in with your ICCF ID# and
password, and you can
check all your server games with a few clicks of the mouse.
The server tells you which
games are waiting for moves, keeps track of the time used,
crosstables for the events, registers wins/losses/draws
immediately (no need to report to the TD), and does all your
bookkeeping. You don't need to send your opponent an email
(no writing required), you don't need to be concerned with
notation errors, you won't mistakenly make a move in one
game meant to be made in another, etc., etc. There are all
sorts of attractions to playing on the server. Personally, I
believe in the very near future
that email chess will practically disappear as people with
Internet connections will
use the webserver instead of using the much more cumbersome
I have been active working with the ICCF-U.S. office. First
I started keeping crosstables
of USA events at my personal web site. Then I was appointed
webmaster for the
web site and
later as the archivist for the USA and NAPZ events. Due to
for the server and my work for the USA office I started
getting emails from the USA players, sometimes referred to
me by the ICCF-U.S. office, asking questions about the ICCF
I responded to these emails, one by one. After a while I set
up some screen shots of the webserver pages to illustrate
what the players could expect to see if they signed up for
server events. You can see my first efforts at
This reference was a
precursor to the tutorial and proved useful in my
descriptions to the players about
what they could expect to see if they signed up for a
As the webmaster for the
ICCF Champions League
I was quite disappointed by
the limited number of players who opted to play in a server
section. I believe this
was due to lack of knowledge ... players didn't know what
the server was and preferred
to play with a familiar form of the game. I also believe
many players didn't have
confidence in their ability to quickly adjust to this new
form of chess competition.
Lack of understanding and lack of confidence in an unknown
method of cc competition
meant that many players would miss out on the opportunity to
play on the server.
Clearly there was a need for an educational tool to
encourage players to try the server.
I hoped the tutuorial would help popularize the server and
to move to this remarkable ICCF facility.
I have also been a big advocate of "live"
coverage of cc games on the Internet.
By "live" I mean that the positions of on-going games would
be displayed on
web pages. In practice this usually requires some
restrictions, such as a delay of a
few moves from the actual current positions. The issue of
"live" coverage can best
be covered by a separate article, but because I wished to
encourage it I decided it
was important to explain how it works with the server. Most
people would find
it confusing, perhaps even impossible to understand, without
a detailed explanation.
Just how can you view a game "live" at the server? This
information was an essential
ingredient for the tutorial and provided some of the
Many people with good knowledge of how to
use the server also have good knowledge
of using computers in general. In my computer programming career I have
how easy it can be for the "experts" to not understand the
needs of those less familiar
with computers. I worked for over a year on the help desk
for a Ford Motor Company
web site with a large variety of users, and this was a good
learning experience for me.
I learned the importance of clear instructions to the users.
Step by step instructions
can help the novice user to gain understanding and
experience using a new computer tool.
I felt there was a real need for such "step by step instructions" for the
new ICCF chess webserver. I knew enough about the official
plans for the development of the ICCF server to believe
there was no intention to create a tool like this. So ... I
decided to do the job myself!
What is the tutorial?
Hopefully the tutorial fulfills the
objectives listed above by publicizing the
ICCF server and educating users on how to use it. My
approach was to provide
"screen shots" of all important functions. I.e., each
feature is explained in words with
a picture of the feature on the server web page to
illustrate the feature very clearly.
For example, in explaining how to move a piece on the board
(on the chess diagram
displayed on the web page) I show the following snapshot of
a portion of the screen showing the board, the piece being
moved, and the cursor operated by the computer's mouse:
In the following illustration I wanted to
show how to obtain a complete listing of the
moves in a game showing each move's "timestamp" (date/time
the move was made).
I showed the "get PGN" checkbox with a checkmark and showed
the mouse cursor
on the "slider" at the right. Since many users probably
aren't aware of the terminology
"slider" and don't know how to use it, I show the placement
of the cursor and supply
text explaining its use (the text from the tutorial is shown
below the illustration).
"Only a limited number of moves can be
shown in this format without scrolling,
but you can use your mouse to move the "slider" up and
down at the right.
Just left click on the slider, hold down the mouse
button, and slide it up and down
to display all the moves. Following each move is the
"timestamp" showing the date/time the move was made.
This is "server time", not your local time.
The format is year.month.day
hour:minute. It should be noted that this page
displays the amount of time you and your opponent have
It does not display how much time has been used per
move. It is easy
to avoid overstepping the time limit with this
information, but it is not obvious
when you or your opponent is nearing the 40 days used
for a move.
If you overstep the 40 days for one move limit without
you'll be forfeited as soon as your opponent makes a
claim (unless there
are very unusual circumstances). The time of the player
overstepping the time
limit or the 40 days/move limit are apparently shown in
red, alerting the players
after the fact about the overstep. When your opponent's
time turns red you'll have to request a win from the TD
... the result is not automatically registered by the
For some people, particularly experienced
computer users or people who have used
other chess servers, my explanations may seem overly
detailed or too wordy. However,
I decided I preferred to provide too much detail as opposed
to possibly too little detail.
Those who don't need the detail can skip over it (and
possible don't really need the tutorial anyway). If I left
out the detail some users probably wouldn't find the
information they needed.
Of course, it is possible that I have
overlooked some important features or left
out some important details. I have already added a number of
and description, and I will continue to update the tutorial
as I become aware of
missing or incomplete descriptions. The server will
undoubtedly change in the future
as new features are added and old features are refined. It's
clear that work will continue
on the server for some time making it more useful,
user-friendly and attractive.
ICCF is committed to the server. It is the future of ICCF.
Already features are being
added to do things like document email/postal events and
include calculation of the
rating lists. The server will become the primary tool for
administrators to handle
all sorts of ICCF tasks. These features will certainly be
documented in the on-line help
files but will not be part of this tutorial. The tutorial is
aimed at regular users of the
server for playing their games, not at tournament directors
or other administrators. However,
if this tutorial proves successful, perhaps a tutorial for
administrators may be in the future.
So if you have questions about the ICCF
server, are curious about how it works,
or just have one specific question, I invite you to drop by
and take a look.
The material is currently divided into seven sections listed
on the main tutorial page,
so you should be able to locate what you are looking for.
The final page has a lot of miscenaneous information.
Eventually, the server will have material in different
languages, not just in English. First there will be
translations of the on-line help files,
then the server pages themselves will probably be provided
in different languages.
Till that happens non-English speakers will be able to read
(or descriptions inspired by) this tutorial in German,
Czech and French. Hopefully the tutorials will help people
all over the world to
learn more about the ICCF server and to enjoy correspondence
chess via the server.
It's a great way to play chess and is a tremendous step
forward by ICCF.
If you haven't tried the server yet, I suggest you sign up
for a tournament
as soon as possible. Take my word for it ... you'll love
competing this way.
Personally, I found the switch from postal to email very
difficult. My results
suffered and my rating plunged. I just never felt
comfortable with email chess.
However, I instantly took to server chess and have started
to improve my results.
Your results may vary, but I strongly suggest giving it a
try. You can review the
tutorial to get a flavor of the server. If you have
questions about server play, hopefully
they will be answered in the tutorial. The tutorial reflects
my enthusiam for the server.
Here are links to all the current versions
of the ICCF Server Tutorial
with the name of the person who translated or used the
English version as a model:
In English - J. Franklin Campbell: Tutorial
for using the ICCF Server
In Nederlands (Dutch) - Marc Smet: Handleiding
In Czech - Josef Mrkvička: Pruvodce
u×ÝvßnÝm webserveru ICCF
En espa˝ol (Spanish) - Ra˙l Polo Molina: Traducido
el Tutorial del Webserver
auf Deutsch (German) - Uwe Bekemann: Benutzungshilfe
fŘr den ICCF-Webserver
En franšais (French) - Marc Smet & Charles Moeykens: Manuel
d'emploi pour le serveur ICCF