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. Today, CC in India has come a long way and is played exclusively on our own CC server.
After the demise of Mark Nelson, activities of CCAI diminished and in 1993 a new CC organization, AICCF was founded. The persons behind this effort were Dr. A.B.Surveyor, E.G.Meherhomji, M.B.Mulla and V.D.Pandit. Thanks to the efforts of V.D.Pandit, affiliation to ICCF took place in 1997. In 1996, AICCF’s first friendly international matches started against Scotland, Sweden, Poland and England. We thank Alan Borwell, Richard Beecham, Sture Olsson, Per Soderberg, Witold Bielecki, Ragnar Wickman, Med Samraoui and others who were in touch with us during this period to give AICCF an international profile. In 1998, 7 AICCF players made it to the ICCF Rating List.
Presently AICCF is run by: Dr. Ambar Chatterjee (President), ICCF-GM Dr. P.B.Dhanish (Vice-President), Dr. Alok Saxena (Secretary-cum-Treasurer and ICCF Delegate), Sailesh Chandra Akkaraju (who is also ICCF Zone-4 Director), Om Prakash and Gautam De.
The AICCF Championship is organized regularly and the past winners are Nagaradjane, A. G. (1998), Lhouvum, Kammang (1998), Anil Kumar, N. R. (2000, 2001), Somani, Sunil K. (2003), Dhanish, P.B. (2006, 2009, 2010), Kumar, Pavan Tumuluri (2011, 2012), Prakash, Om (2014), Sastry, KVS (2015), De, Gautam (2016).
The AICCF Bulletin has been published regularly since 1993. All the Bulletins are open to public reading at http://www.aiccf-chess.com/bulletins.php and a link to PGN files from the Games Section is provided. Printed copies are circulated to members.
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 are still an issue. Still, 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.
GM P.B.Dhanish has explained the difficulties an Indian player has to face to make a mark in ICCF in his article, Journey to GM,
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 AICCF server (www.aiccf-chess.com/server) became operational in 2009 and subsequently all games of the Indian federation, including the National Championship are played on this server. A similar server is being setup for Zone 4, completely free to participants.
Indians attending ICCF Congress
Upto 2000, to send a representative to an 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 AICCF, 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 traveler 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 will be attending 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 is taking 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 are active members of AICCF. GM Sasikiran's games in the Finland-India match featured as a promotion game on ICCF's front page.
Sailesh Chandra becomes ICCF Zone 4 Director
India’s visibility in the ICCF reached a new milestone in 2015 when, for the first time in ICCF history, an Indian was elected to the ICCF Executive Board. Sailesh Chandra Akkaraju became Director Zone 4: Africa/Asia. With the complete backing of the vibrant Indian Federation and Dr. Ambar Chatterjee as Deputy Director, a number of initiatives are planned for the Zone with the aim of popularizing CC and creating federations in nations that do not have a National CC Federation.
Offer to host ICCF Congress, 2017
India has offered to hold the ICCF Congress 2017 in Bangalore. With the experience of the Mumbai Congress in 2004 and active organizational help from AICCF members, we have selected the city of Bangalore which is home to the Zonal Director, Sailesh Chandra Akkaraju.