Inside the Electronic Knights Tournament 2021

Inside the Electronic Knights Tournament 2021

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Introduction

First things first: I made it -and I never expected it- I reached the finals of the Electronic Knights Tournament 2021. In my previous blog on October 27th, I highlighted my last game in the semi-final section 21Ns03 against Herb Wolfe, which brought me to a USCF ELO rating of 2054.

Does anyone still doubt that playing chess keeps you young? Does anyone still doubt a senior chess player is not able to improve?

Today, I’d like to give an overview of this tournament so far and also document opponents and games against them. Additionally -based on your feedback- I added more context to the different rating systems (USCF vs ICCF).

The Electronic Knights Tournament Format

In correspondence chess, the Electronic Knights Tournament by the US Chess Federation (USCF) is a well-known and highly-ranked tournament hosting a unique blend of tradition and experienced players.

Comprising three rounds—Preliminaries, Semi-finals, and Finals—the tournament brings together seven players in each round, each assigned six games alternating between White and Black. The rulebook dictates that only those who amass four and a half (4½) or more points in a section will progress to the next round. However, without such high scorers, those with a commendable four (4) points secure a ticket to the subsequent stage.

The Semi-final and Final rounds, shrouded in anticipation, remain unpaired until the completion of the preceding round, heightening the suspense for both participants and spectators alike. The selection of players for these crucial rounds involves sorting based on points scored in the previous round, player ratings, and section considerations.

It is a cumbersome format to play via email, but compared to the history of correspondence chess, it is much better when you play with pen and paper. Starting with 2024, the Electronic Knights will move to the ICCF server. No rules change! All USCF tournaments don’t allow any engine consultation.

But back to the tournament format. When the dust settles and the qualified players emerge, a sorting algorithm comes into play. A twist unfolds if the number of qualified players doesn’t align with a multiple of 7. Players who scored four (4) or fewer points in the previous round yet remain unqualified are strategically added to the bottom of the list, ensuring a seamless transition to the next multiple of 7.

This blog will give you an overview of my road to the finals, from the preliminary round to the Semi-finals, specifically in Group USCF 21ENs03, where I navigated through the challenges and clinched 5 points. I spent time annotating most of the games and published them for replay. You can explore the nuances, triumphs, losses, and strategic intricacies that define the Electronic Knights Tournament.

For me, the Electronic Knights Tournament 2021 was not just a competition; it’s a testament to what a senior chess player can achieve.

USCF Rating

The USCF rating system constantly notes every game you play in their federation. The federation is also the one that controls and calculates your rating increase and decrease.

Unlike the international ELO rating, the national ELO rating is your chess rating to measure your level following the national federation rules.

The national rating system is similar to the international one but is not valid worldwide. That is why the FM, IM, and GM titles are awarded only by FIDE.

The rating will include you in one of the groups of players nationwide. The system is based on the national rating you have and is like this:

  • Senior Master 2400 points and up
  • National Master 2200–2399 rating points
  • Expert 2000–2199 rating points
  • Class A 1800–1999 rating points
  • Class B 1600–1799 rating points
  • Class C 1400–1599 rating points

The USCF (United States Chess Federation) rating and the Elo rating are both systems used to calculate the relative skill levels of players in games like chess. Here are some key differences:

  • The USCF uses a modification of the Elo system, where the K factor varies, and it gives bonus points for superior performance in a tournament.
  • USCF ratings are generally 50 to 100 points higher than the FIDE equivalents.
  • In turn, USCF ratings are typically 100 points higher than ratings given by FIDE, which uses the Elo system.

Experts are extremely good at chess. This is as good as you can get without being a professional chess player.

Sources:

  1. Chess rating system - Wikipedia
  2. RATINGS ELO or USCF? - Chess Forums - Chess.com.
  3. ELO converter: Chess.com, FIDE and Lichess conversion

To make it more complicated, there is a difference between the ICCF correspondence chess rating and the USCF correspondence chess rating, given the fact that the rules are different.

The USCF (United States Chess Federation) Correspondence Chess rating and the ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation) rating are systems used to calculate the relative skill levels of players in correspondence chess. Here are some key differences:

  • USCF Correspondence Chess Rating: The USCF uses a specific formula for calculating ratings. For established rated players, the new rating (Rn) is determined by taking the old rating (Ro), adding or subtracting 4 percent of the difference in ratings between opponents (.04 (ED)), and adding or subtracting 16 points. For players rated 2100-2399, the formula Rn = Ro + .03 (ED) +/- 12 is used. For players rated 2400 and above, the formula Rn = Ro + .02 (ED) +/- 8 is used.

  • ICCF Rating: The ICCF has recently adopted a new system for calculating ratings and title norms. This system is designed to reflect the winning chances in modern correspondence chess, where powerful engines have significantly increased the number of draws seen at the higher levels of the game. The details of the system can be seen in the original proposal to Congress.

Please note the actual difference can vary based on several factors, such as the player’s skill level, the number of games played,

and the player pool. It’s also worth noting that there are ICCF events rated US Chess CC rated but are not ICCF rated. To achieve an ICCF title similar to the FIDE title, you must achieve so-called “norms.” Example: I achieved a norm for CCE (correspondence chess expert) and need a second norm tournament to achieve the two-norm threshold, which gives me the title. Title Norms are valid only in ICCF International Title events with at least eight games.

Sources:

  1. Correspondence Chess Rating System/Player History Lookup
  2. The United States Chess Federation - CC Ratings Explanation
  3. Implementation of the New ICCF Rating and Title Norms System
  4. Correspondence Chess Events Offered by US Chess
  5. The United States Chess Federation - Correspondence Chess
  6. Play US Chess Rated Correspondence Chess on ICCF
  7. ICCF Ratings - International Correspondence Chess Federation
  8. How to achieve an ICCF Title - International Correspondence Chess

My Opponents So Far

Back from rating theory to the Electronic Knights 2021 tournament.

From preliminaries to semi-finals, I keep track of my opponents, who they are, what they represent, and their contribution to the chess community. Unfortunately, I lost some of the preliminary games. I thought all games were somewhere in a USCF database, but they are not. When I started to play this format, all games had to be sent to the tournament director, and additionally, you could send games to the “Check is in the Mail” monthly newsletter. Due to some changes, this is gone. But with Electronic Knights moving to the ICCF server, like the friendly matches or the Victor Palciauskas tournament, those gems will still be there in the future.

Anyway, a complete list of games to replay is in the replay section of the blog website and can be found as a link in this blog post. And at the end is a link to all of my opponents with -if possible- a short bio.

Annotated Games for Replay

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN09 - Opponent: Dangler, Bradley - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN09 - Opponent: Houck, Austin - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN09 - Opponent: Lomnicki, Slawo - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN09 - Opponent: Ward, Christopher - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN15 - Opponent: Bashur, Michael - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN15 - Opponent: Cox, Hank - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN15 - Opponent: Reifurth, Lawrence M - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN15 - Opponent: Tingen, Timothy - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN15 - Opponent: Whelan, Hugh - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Prelim - Section: 21EN15 - Opponent: Wolfe, Herb - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs03 - Opponent: Krickel, Edward - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs03 - Opponent: Wolfe, Herb - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs03 - Opponent: Anderson, Clarence - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs03 - Opponent: Nohr, Mathew - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs04 - Opponent: Krickel, Edward - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs04 - Opponent: Buss, Michael - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs04 - Opponent: Corkum, Tim - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs04 - Opponent: Mahoney, Michael - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs04 - Opponent: Skipper, Robert Boyd - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2021 Semi-Final - Section: 21ENs04 - Opponent: Stewart, Douglas - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2024 Prelim - Section: 24EN02 - Opponent: Finnegan, John - Link

  • Electronic Knights 2024 Prelim - Section: 24EN02 - Opponent: Young III, William C. - Link

  • Opponents Preliminary Round and Semi-Final - Section: Opponents Preliminary Round and Semi-Final - Opponent: My Opponents.md - Link

Explore the intricacies of each game and witness the strategic maneuvers that defined the Electronic Knights Tournament 2021. Dive into the replay section for a closer look at the challenges, triumphs, and unique strategies employed throughout the competition.

Amici Sumus

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post. Feel free to share your favorite chess strategy or ask any questions you may have.

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