Article provided by: Rudolf Ševecek, Josef Mrkvicka
The first written report of a game played by correspondence between two players in the Czech territory dates back to 1870-71, but the official date is the year 1886, when Karel Traxler published invitations through the chess column in the “Tábor” magazine for the first CC tournament. The games started on December 15, 1886 and the final results were known in early February 1888. There was no direct contact between the nine participants, but moves were sent to the Tournament Director and he distributed them to the players.
Karel Traxler became famous, not only as the Great Father of Czech CC players, but also as author of the clever Traxler Counter-attack in the Two Knights Defense: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5!? (see the game Estrin – Ježek).
Until 1918, Czech territory was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. By the end of October 1918 an independent state of Czechs and Slovaks was founded with the name Czechoslovakia. Since then, many CC tournaments were organised by newspapers and chess magazines and many Czechoslovak players took part in foreign tournaments. In 1949, a CC Section of the Czechoslovak Chess Federation was established and their members took over all national and international CC activities.
After political changes in 1989, an independent Czechoslovak CC Federation was founded. And finally on January 1, 1993 – when Czechoslovakia was divided into two states – two associations, the Czech and the Slovak, became legal successors of all previous CC organisations.
Many excellent results by Czechoslovak correspondence chess players can be reported but we shall mention only the most remarkable.
In the pre-war time 1919-1938 one of the worlds’ strongest players was Frantisek Batík (1887-1985). After the war he entered the World Championship Final II and was the only player to defeat the winner Ragozin (see game Batík – Ragozin).
A great success was achieved by Jaroslav Hýbl and Karel Husák in the World Championship Final V (1965-1968) when they placed second and third behind Hans Berliner of the USA. A similar success was repeated by Jozef Franzen (now from Slovakia) who was runner-up in World Championship Final XII (1984-1990). Then, after a longer interruption, Miloš Kratochvíl placed third in the World Championship XX (2004-2011).
Other Czech players who qualified for World Championship Finals were Valt Borsony and Jaroslav Ježek (Final II), Jaroslav Hýbl and Rudolf Ševecek (Final VI), Jindrich Zapletal and Zdenek Necesaný (Final VII), Josef Nun (Final VIII), Rudolf Ševecek (Final XVI), Libor Danek (Final XVII), Václav Lexa (Final XIX), David Vrkoc and Lubomír Machýcek (Final XXII), Pavel Svácek and Ladislav Žlebcík (Final XXIII). For the forthcoming Final XXVIII to be started in 2012, Czech players Zdenek Straka and Petr Boukal qualified recently.
Czechoslovak players twice gained the title of European Champion. The Second European Championship (1964-1967) was won by Jindrich Zapletal, and the Thirty-Seventh Championship (1991-1994) was won by Libor Danek. Other players who played in the European Championship Finals were Jirí Moucka (Sixty-Fourth Final) and Lubomír Machýcek (Sixty-Sixth Final).
The Czechoslovak teams were very successful in CC Olympiads. They were placed second in the First Olympiad (1949-1952) and were winners in the Second Olympiad (1952-1955). The players were Paroulek, Hukel, Kausek, Borsony, Olexa, and Skrovina, with Karel Prucha as Team Captain. Another first place was obtained in the Fifth Olympiad (1965-1968), which the Czechoslovak team (Šnajdr, Smrcka, Urbanec, Hýbl, Weiner, Nun, and Stanislav Folgar as Team Captain) won ahead of the USSR and West Germany. In the Sixth Olympiad (1968-1972) the Czechoslovak team was second and gained silver medals (won by the Soviet Union).
Another success came 30 years later in the Eleventh Olympiad (1992-1999) when the Czechoslovak Team consisting of four Czech players (Zapletal, Trapl, Mráz, Ševecek, also team captain) and two Slovak players (Lanc, Prívara) shared the first place with the German team gaining the same number of game-points but having more match points. However, both teams were awarded Gold Medals according to the ICCF motto “Amici Sumus”. A second place for the Czech team – behind Germany – then followed in the Thirteenth Olympiad (2004-2009): Chytilek, Mráz, Kratochvíl, Trapl, Nývlt, Svácek (also team captain) were part of this successful team. The Czech teams also participated in the Final of Fourteenth Olympiad played by email, and in the currently played Final of Sixteenth Olympiad.
Many excellent results were achieved by Czechoslovak teams in Ladies Olympiads. In the First Olympiad (1974-1979) they were placed third; in the Second Olympiad (1980-1986) they obtained the same number of points as the Soviet Union but won silver medals. They were again second in the Third Olympiad (1986-1992) and finally in the Fourth Olympiad (1992-1997) the Czech team (Eva Možná, Mariola Babulová, Hana Kubíková and Vlasta Horácková, with Vladimír Houdek as Team Captain) managed to beat the Russian team and gained golden medals. In the next Fifth Olympiad, the Czech team (Eva Možná, Hana Kubíková, Mariola Babulová, Vlasta Nejezchlebová, with Josef Mrkvicka as Team Captain) finished third and obtained bronze medals.
The greatest success of a Czech lady player in the individual Ladies World Championships was achieved in the Ladies World Championship, Final 8 (2007-2010), as Marie Bažantová finished second behind Olga Sukhareva from Russia. Furthermore, in the Ladies World Championship, Final 5 (1993-1998), two Czech players also achieved outstanding results. Eva Možná finished third, followed by Vlasta Nejezchlebová on fourth place.
Other individual tournament achievements
As at 31.10.2011, Czech Republic has (some of them inactive):
12 CC Grandmasters
24 CC Senior International Masters
27 CC International Masters
5 CC Lady Grandmasters
9 CC Lady International Masters
In the beginning of the 21st century, the Czech Grandmaster Roman Chytilek became one of the world top leading players, currently rated 2687 and occupying 5th place on the ICCF Rating List as at 01.10.2011. He has already achieved 6 Grandmaster norms and finished on the top in every tournament he has ever played.
So far, his greatest achievement has been the win in the strongest ever one-round robin tournament – Herrmann Heemsoth Memorial (2008-2010), played by e-mail, Category 16, 17 players, out of them 16 strong Grandmasters and 4 World Champions! (see game Chytilek – Umansky from this tournament).
His other achievements:
Carlos Maximo Portela Memorial A (Category 10) – 2nd place
Itzhak Veinger Memorial Section A (Category 13) – 1st place
František Batík Memorial (Category 14) – 2nd place
ICCF Olympiad 13 Final Board 1 (Category 13) – shared 1st place, worse on S-B evaluation
Simon Webb Memorial (Category 15) – 2nd place
Czechs in the ICCF top positions
The Czech representatives also left their significant track in the leading ICCF structures. After a long-year top level activity of Bohuslav Lukáš who was the ICCF General Secretary from 1956 till 1983 (!), and after a longer interruption until the end of nineties, Josef Mrkvicka participated as a delegation member in his first ICCF Congress 1999 in Thun, Switzerland and started there his quick race up to the ICCF top position. Just at the Congress in Thun, he was charged to organize the ICCF World Cup XII, and at the next ICCF Congress 2000 in Daytona Beach, USA, he was appointed to the newly created position of the ICCF Title Tournaments Commissioner.
His quick, but unfortunately too short career reached the top at the ICCF Congress 2003 in Ostrava, where – after a withdrawal of Alan Borwell – he was elected unanimously for the ICCF President.
Unfortunately, because of health, work and family problems, he was forced to resign as ICCF President at the end of 2004. However, after some years of interruption, he came back to his voluntary work for ICCF. He continued as the Central Tournament Leader of the ICCF World Cup XII, later on as the Central Tournament Leader of the 1st ICCF Veterans World Cup, and in the year 2007, he unsuccessfully ran for a position of the ICCF General Secretary. Two years later, he was elected for the ICCF Auditor, and since 2010, as the Czech CCA Delegate Petr Buchnícek withdrew, he took over this position in the Czech CCA and ICCF.
Czech Bertl von Massow Medals Holders
The following Czech players and officers were awarded with Bertl von Massow Gold and Silver medals for their 15 or 10 years’ meritorious service for ICCF:
Bertl von Massow Gold Medal
Bohuslav Lukáš 1984
Vladimír Houdek 1993
Jaromír Canibal 2009
Karel Glaser 2011
Zdenek Nývlt 2011
Bertl von Massow Silver Medal
Josef Mrkvicka 2009
Petr Buchnícek (*1974) Czech CCA Delegate 2005-2010
Dr. Jaromír Canibal (*1947) Czech CCA Delegate 1995-2004
Dr. Roman Chytilek (*1976) Czech leading Grandmaster
Josef Mrkvicka (*1951) ICCF President 2003-2004 ICCF Title Tournaments Commissioner 2001-2003 ICCF Auditor since 2009 Czech CCA Delegate since 2010