Forms of communication?

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MJMcCready
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Forms of communication?

Post by MJMcCready » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:20 am

What forms of communication have been used to play chess over the years? Nowadays its just algebraic notation but there must have been more creative attempts in the past. For example correspondence chess, were pigeon carriers ever used? Morse code has probably been used for games during war periods I would imagine. What about smoke signals -probably quite hard. Semaphore? Yodelling? Just curious how creative chess players have become in bygone days.

Paul Habershon
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by Paul Habershon » Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:29 am

MJMcCready wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:20 am
What forms of communication have been used to play chess over the years? Nowadays its just algebraic notation but there must have been more creative attempts in the past. For example correspondence chess, were pigeon carriers ever used? Morse code has probably been used for games during war periods I would imagine. What about smoke signals -probably quite hard. Semaphore? Yodelling? Just curious how creative chess players have become in bygone days.
Window envelopes. I started playing postal chess in the early 1960s when it was customary to use a folding score sheet with space for each player's name and address to be displayed in a window envelope. You simply added your move, perhaps followed by a conditional continuation in pencil. The score sheet usually became disgustingly grimy and tatty as the game progressed. However, my main gripe was the incredible meanness of some players in providing a fresh envelope. The same envelope could go to and fro, collecting multiple stamps and postmarks. This was actually against GPO regulations. The postmark was crucial for the time control which was calculated on the difference between date of receipt and date of posting. Of course a player could always lie about date of receipt in order to gain time. I must confess to using sometimes the same envelope if possible but putting a gummed label across previous postmarks and stamps. However, extreme thrift was often the watch word. I much preferred the international tournaments when special postcards were used with four-digit notation. As far as I remember a1 was 11 and h8 was 88 so an opening P-K4 would be 5254 and Black's symmetrical reply would be 5755. I am sure I benefited greatly from BH Wood's Junior Postal Chess Club.

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MJMcCready
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by MJMcCready » Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:06 am

Nice one Paul. Grimy envelopes and tatty score sheets gone all black. That could be a form of gamesmanship, a subtle attempt to demotivate opponents and lure them into the realms of sub-optimal moves, or perhaps an attempt to depersonalize the entire experience by causing your opponent to see you as a filthy bugger rather than a gentleman. Crafty tactics there. There must have been times when the scoresheet became so grubby you pushed too hard to end the game and made mistakes. Interesting.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by Joey Stewart » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:24 am

I know chess players and their money are rarely parted but still, an 80 move correspondence game would rack up a substantial bill in stamps and letter costs so it is understandable that some players would take steps to mitigate that expense.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

Paul Habershon
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by Paul Habershon » Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:27 am

Joey Stewart wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:24 am
I know chess players and their money are rarely parted but still, an 80 move correspondence game would rack up a substantial bill in stamps and letter costs so it is understandable that some players would take steps to mitigate that expense.
Yes, Joey, but spread over 9 months or so. Also adjudication would kick in at around 40-50 moves on average. As always, a much cheaper hobby than most. I'm not sure how postal costs have fared compared with earnings

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:20 pm

Paul Habershon wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:27 am
I'm not sure how postal costs have fared compared with earnings
I seem to recall when first and second class postage was originally introduced that second class was 4 old pennies and first class 5. That could be compared to the price of a pint in a pub which was perhaps around two shillings, 24 old pennies. So an exchange rate of 5 or 6 stamps to the pint.

I gather current stamp prices are 65p and 76p, so perhaps around the same ratio for non-Wetherspoon prices.

Geoff Chandler
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by Geoff Chandler » Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:13 pm

Hi Guys,

I played a lots of postal chess 60's and 70's and do remember we used the same stamp over and over again till it got caught.
The trick was to put the new stamp on top of the old stamp, this appeared to fool the machine that it already been franked.

Recall a letter in CHESS saying someone had managed 30 trips on the same stamp before it got franked.

May have been the same letter that mentioned the durability of the stiff cardboard scoresheet saying
his dog had buried it (obviously a joke) it was washed with a flood and still perfectly readable.

Then of course the postal chess results and league tables in old Chess magazines.

Image

The Dragons, The Mushrooms, The Kingfishers.....The Poachers! Magical names.

I 12-13 when I first saw these league tables and the only person in my neighborhood/school who had any interest in chess.
I I use to think it would be great thinking up a team name and going around each others houses to look at the games.

Yes you saw it here first, Other teenagers in the 60's were making up their never to be formed pop group names
and designing their first never to be recorded L.P. covers. Me? I was thinking up names for a postal chess team!

(Best name for a team I ever saw came from a bunch of kids at Livingstone playing in an OTB primary school event.
'The Knights of Thunder' Brilliant. Years later I spotted a race horse called 'Night of Thunder,' I backed it and won!.)

NickFaulks
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:38 pm

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:13 pm
The Dragons, The Mushrooms, The Kingfishers.....The Poachers! Magical names.
What year was this? I'm interested in Mushrooms.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by David Robertson » Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:39 pm

Paul Habershon wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:29 am
my main gripe was the incredible meanness of some players in providing a fresh envelope. The same envelope could go to and fro, collecting multiple stamps and postmarks
Ah, yes. I remember this well. Multiple postmarks, and the envelope falling to pieces. Times change though. Today you'd be applauded, at least by some. Recycling, innit

Geoff Chandler
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by Geoff Chandler » Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:48 pm

Hi Nick,

That league table was from an August 1967 CHESS where we find Raymond Keene predicting a bright future
for Jan Timman also describing him as a rather strange youth with shoulder length hair and a picturesque style.

It also where we find me thinking for a few seconds the Hartston's brothers (William and ..er...Brian..)
played chess on board one for England in the Junior Tournament at the Hague (England won)

Round 1, Board one Hartston (B) - P.Milbers (1-0)
Round 2, Board one Hartston (W) - W.Mikenda (½)
Round 3, Board one Harston (B) - Tumman (0-1)
Round 4, Board one Hartston (W) - Fihl-Jensen (1-0)

Then I realised the 'W' and 'B' stoof for White and Black. Doh!

(W) Hartston's win v Fihl-Jensen


Alex McFarlane
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by Alex McFarlane » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:36 pm

I thought it was obvious. He played the even rounds as William and the odd ones as Bill.

Really Geoff, I thought you would have worked that one out.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by JustinHorton » Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:43 pm

Paul Habershon wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:29 am
However, my main gripe was the incredible meanness of some players in providing a fresh envelope. T
God yes
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

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John Clarke
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by John Clarke » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:49 pm

Leonard Barden once referred to this "postal player's economy technique" in a talk on the BBC's Chess radio programme.

I remember the adverts for window envelopes in B H Wood's Chess magazine, round about the time of Geoff's league table. "Really tough!" they shrieked. Whoever drafted the copy was obviously well aware of the practice.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

David Williams
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by David Williams » Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:52 am

I certainly never sent the same envelope back and forth. Send your most decrepit envelopes to the opponent who always returns a new one. Seemed eminently sensible at the time.

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MJMcCready
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Re: Forms of communication?

Post by MJMcCready » Sat Aug 15, 2020 2:28 am

Joey Stewart wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:24 am
I know chess players and their money are rarely parted but still, an 80 move correspondence game would rack up a substantial bill in stamps and letter costs so it is understandable that some players would take steps to mitigate that expense.
Well that's true and I'm only guessing but there must be a government benefit you can go on if that's the case. Everyone else is on the take, so I don't so why chess players shouldn't be.

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