Article provided by: Dr. A. Chatterjee
The second oldest CC Match in the world was played in India: the Hyderabad-Madras CC Match of 1828-1829. In 1871, a Telegraph match was played between the Bombay and Calcutta Chess Clubs. In 1848, two CC organizations were started: the Indian Chess Association later renamed the Bharat Mail Chess Association and the Vellore Chess Club. In 1951 the two were merged to form the Correspondence Chess Association of India (CCAI) affiliated to ICCF. Mark W. Nelson rendered yeoman service to the cause of CC in India as Secretary of CCAI since its inception up to the time of his untimely death. In the period 1960-1980, post cards would travel across major cities in 2 days and to smaller cities and villages in 4 days. Many players participated in ICCF events, even though international post-cards were expensive. In 1993, All India Correspondence Chess Federation (AICCF) was founded and became affiliated to ICCF in 1997. From July 2021 the federation is called All India Web Chess Federation (AIWCF). AIWCF as its own CC server located at http://www.aiwcf.org/server.
Friendly International Matches took place against Scotland, Sweden, Poland and England during 1997-1998 and 7 AICCF players made it to the ICCF Rating List. Recent times, 2010-2021 have seen 26 Friendly International Matches against Cuba, Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, USA, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Ukraine, Wales, Finland, Norway, Spain, Romania, Hong Kong and Netherlands.
Anil Kumar, N.R. became India’s first CC IM in 2000 and SIM in 2001. Santhosh, Matthew Paul became India’s second IM in 2002 and earned a GM norm. Dhanish, P.B. became IM in 2011, SIM in 2012 and GM in 2014. Sasikiran, Krishnan (a super GM in OTB chess) became IM in 2015 and SIM in 2016. Kumar, Pavan Tumuluri (2020) and Prakash, Om became IM in 2020. Bisht, Mamta became LIM in 2018. The rating list 2021/4 includes 10 CCE and 7 CCM titles from India.
AIWCF is managed by: Dr. Ambar Chatterjee (President), Sailesh Chandra (Secretary-cum-Treasurer), Dr. Alok Saxena (ICCF Coordinator), Anil Anand (Bulletin Editor), Anuj Gupta, K.Prabhanandan, Om Prakash, Gautam De and T.Pavan Kumar.
The AIWCF Championship is organized regularly and the past winners are A.G.Nagaradjane (1998), K.Lhouvum (1998), N.R.Anil Kumar (2000, 2001), Sunil K. Somani (2003), Dhanish, P.B. (2006, 2009, 2010), Kumar, Pavan Tumuluri (2011, 2012), Prakash, Om (2014, 2019), Sastry, KVS (2015), De, Gautam (2016, 2020), Trivedi, Kalapi (2017), Kapoor Lalit (2018).
Quarterly Bulletins have been published regularly since 1993. All the Bulletins are open to public reading at http://www.aiwcf.org/bulletins.php both as a web version and PDF.
Playing in ICCF
While India was doing well in the domestic sector, it was very hard to make a mark in the international scene. Upto 2000, computers were expensive and the best computers were not even available in India. With ICCF permitting the use of engines, our players were no match at the top level. In the post-card era, high postal rates were an issue and in the server era, tournament fees have been an issue. However in recent times and with the 50% discount applied to developing nations, participation and titles in ICCF has seen a big increase.
Contribution to ICCF Server
India’s own CC Server
India is one of the few member federations of ICCF who run their own CC server. The server software is written and maintained by Dr. Ambar Chatterjee. The AIWCF server (www.aiwcf.org/server) became operational in 2009 and subsequently all games of the Indian federation, including the National Championship are played on this server. A free CC server called Africa-Asia-World (AAW) was started in 2016 open to players from all over the world at www.aa-webchess.com where players can play unlimited CC games free of cost in order to practice for ICCF games. To date 10,349 games have been completed on the AIWCF server and about 1,000 games have been played on AAW Server.
Indians attending ICCF Congress
Until 2000, sending a representative to the ICCF Congress was just a dream. Touring abroad was only for the rich and famous. Then in 2001, Alan Borwell responded positively to our suggestion for ICCF to sponsor one delegate from a developing country to attend Congress. Accordingly H.J.Samtani, (then President of the Indian federation, now deceased) attended the Rimini Congress. Following this, AICCF Champion N.R. Anil Kumar persuaded the Kerala Government to provide support for attending the Congresses at Seixal (2002) and Ostrava (2003). Dr. Ambar Chatterjee, a frequent traveller to Europe for work purposes, was able to attend the 2006 Congress in Dresden. With the liberalization of India’s economy, foreign travel is no longer out of reach. Dr. Ambar Chatterjee attended the Congresses at Sydney (2014), Cardiff (2015) and Bremen (2016).
ICCF Congress in Mumbai
In 2004, ICCF was looking for an exotic destination to host Congress. Med Samraoui and Josef Mrkvicka persuaded us to take on this huge responsibility. During my work visits in Julich, Germany there were meetings with Med and Joseph. On 31st October 2004, India hosted the ICCF Congress (http://congress.iccf.com/Mumbai_2004/2004_congress.htm), a dream come true for CC lovers in India. In those days, financial support from ICCF to host Congress was limited. However, we secured sponsorship from industry, raised money from brochure advertisements and hosted the Congress at Hotel Retreat, Madh Islands, Mumbai – an exotic seaside resort in the northern suburbs of the bustling city of Mumbai. Highlights included exclusive dance shows during the opening ceremony and closing banquet, excellent 5-star hotel luxuries, an organized post-congress tour of the Indian Golden Triangle of Jaipur-Agra-New Delhi with train travel (elephant rides in Jaipur, Taj Mahal in Agra included). ICCF delegates overcame their fears about tropical disease, unhygienic conditions, terrorism, rough weather, heat and dust and going by reports they must have enjoyed the trip.
Indian FIDE GMs take to CC
A big input took place to Indian CC. For years, the big names in OTB chess shunned CC. But from 2014, many prominent FIDE GMs and IMs such as Krishnan Sasikiran, R.B.Ramesh, Arghyadip Das, S.P.Sethuraman, Deep Sengupta, Sandipan Chanda, Abhijeet Gupta, Koneru Humpy are active members of AICCF. GM Sasikiran's games in the Finland-India match featured as a promotion game on ICCF's front page.