Navigating the Giants: My Journey in the 13th ICCF Veterans’ World Cup

Navigating the Giants: My Journey in the 13th ICCF Veterans’ World Cup



The world of chess is vast and diverse, offering opportunities for players of all ages to challenge themselves and hone their skills. One such tournament that exemplifies this inclusivity is the ICCF Veterans’ World Cup (VWC). As a senior chess enthusiast, I had the privilege of participating in the 13th edition of this prestigious event, where I embarked on a remarkable journey that took me to the semi-finals, pitting me against titled players with significantly higher Elo ratings. In this blog post, I’ll share my experiences and insights from the 13th VWC, where I, as an untitled player, ventured into the realm of the chess elite.

The 13th ICCF Veterans’ World Cup: A Brief Overview

The ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation) Congress recognized the enduring popularity of the VWC among older chess players and decided to make it a biennial event. The 13th VWC was organized in collaboration with the Netherlands Federation for Correspondence Chess (NBC). This tournament is structured in three stages, allowing players from each group stage to progress to the semi-finals and, ultimately, the final. The number of promotions to the next stage depends on the total number of entries received, ensuring that the tournament remains competitive and engaging.

A Glimpse into the Tournament Format

The preliminary stage of the 13th ICCF Veterans’ World Cup commenced on September 1, 2021. The preliminary groups comprised either 11 players with 10 games or 13 players with 12 games. The time control was set at 10 moves in 40 days. Each stage of the tournament spanned approximately 18 months, with a fixed closing date established at the outset.

As an unrated player, I entered the tournament with a provisional rating, which was determined based on my initial games. In this stage, I found myself among a group of esteemed participants, each a formidable chess player in their own right. The cross table for this stage read as follows:

Country Name Title Elo
EST Dmitriev, Vladimir IM 2458
NED Versteeg, Anton   2039
USA Schroeer, Egbert   2168P (Provisional)
ESP Quevedo García, Vicente CCM 2389
ARG Colombo Berra, Fernando IM 2150
GER Mondry, Matthias CCM 2363
CFR Ilyasov, Anatoly Fedorovich IM 2389
AUT Tauscher, Karl CCM 2306
GER Junge, Wolfgang CCM 2368
ITA Pigozzi, Maurizio   2128
NOR Aannevik, Bjarne   1093

ICCF Veterans World Cup 13 pr 58 2021 result:

  Opponent (ELO) Result
Schroeer, Egbert (2168 Provisional) Aannevik, Bjarne (1093) 1-0
Schroeer, Egbert (2168 Provisional) Colombo Berra, Fernando (2150) ½-½
Schroeer, Egbert (2168 Provisional) Ilyasov, Anatoly Fedorovich (2389) ½-½
Schroeer, Egbert (2168 Provisional) Dmitriev, Vladimir (2458) ½-½
Schroeer, Egbert (2168 Provisional) Junge, Wolfgang (2368) ½-½
Schroeer, Egbert (2168 Provisional) Tauscher, Karl (2306) ½-½ *

Competing against opponents with vastly different Elo ratings was both a humbling and exhilarating experience. It required a deep understanding of chess strategy, tactics, and patience. Each move was a step further into uncharted territory, and I was determined to make my mark in this tournament.

In this stage, I secured a victory, held strong against formidable opponents with draws. Or in other words, I didn’t lost a game. These experiences served as the foundation for my journey through the 13th VWC, strengthening my resolve to face even greater challenges in the stages that lay ahead.

Inclusivity and Eligibility

One of the remarkable aspects of the VWC is its inclusivity. The tournament is open to all players aged 60 or above at the start date, which was September 1, 2021, for the 13th edition. This age-based eligibility criterion ensures that senior chess enthusiasts can continue to engage in competitive play, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among veterans of the game.

The Challenge of Playing Titled Opponents

As an untitled player, my journey in the 13th VWC was particularly intriguing. I found myself facing opponents with Elo ratings significantly higher than mine, often exceeding the 200-point mark. The prospect of competing against International Masters (IMs) and titled players was both daunting and exhilarating. It was a true test of my skills, and I relished the opportunity to learn and grow as a chess player.

Facing IM Colombo Berra: A Glimpse into the Battle

In the preliminary stage, I had the honor of facing International Master (IM) Dr. Fernando Colombo Berra - a cardiologist from Argentina, who boasted an impressive Elo rating of now 2319. This was a true test of my abilities as an untitled player.

The game ended in a draw. A brilliant game where I was able to leverage 6 best and 3 strong moves when according a later tactical analyses with an engine.

Color Weighted Error Value Moves (OK/Best/Strong)
White 0.02 (flawless) 18/1/—
Black 0.01 (flawless) 31/6/3
Result   1/2-1/2

Semi-Finals: A New Chapter

As the preliminary stage concluded, I had not only survived but thrived in a field of strong opponents. My performance earned me a place in the semi-finals of the 13th ICCF Veterans’ World Cup. There are 10 semi-final groups, and the winner of each semi-final group and any tied players after tie breaks are applied will qualify to play in the final. The best runners-up may qualify for the final depending on the results from all semi-final groups. No player may qualify for more than one place in the final. That said, do the math: I made it to the 150 top players in the Veterans’ World cup out of 649 from the preliminary round. The only player without a title and competing against those very experienced players. The section of the tournament is still running, but I like to share two games where I learned from.

A first draw - Ilyasov, Anatoly Fedorovich (2317)

And what a surprise, again I was paired against IM Ilyasov among others. A strong IM but I know he is playing risk adverse style and traditional lines. So, I managed getting a draw, which is a good result against an International Master. I played English Opening (A17) and his answer and defense strategy very classic.

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Later on he layed out a fantastic trap with 20… f4+

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A rather calm draw, but a fantastic game!

Weighted Error Value: White=0.00 (flawless) /Black=0.00 (flawless) OK: White=8 Black=10
Best: White=1 Black=5
Strong: White=2 Black=4

Enjoy the game replay!

Learning from Defeat: A Lesson against CCM Hannes Rolle in the Semi-Finals

While the preliminary stage was marked by success, the semi-finals started with moments of learning and growth as expected. In the semi-finals, I faced the formidable Correspondence Chess Master (CCM) Hannes Rolle, a strong opponent with his own chess prowess. Hannes played very fast and had a clear plan against my defense. I was very suprised and didn’t expect any good out of this. After I resgined I better understood why: like myself, Hannes switched to the Pirc defense and knew the line well. However, I made innacurate moves. 4….Lg7 instead of 4… c6 seams better; my line with 6. ..b5, aiming for b4 which would win was easily avoided by his line. 7. a3 should have been answered with 7.. Bg7. As you can see, those little things have a big impact in correspondence chess.

I congratulated him to find 35.Rxg6+; what a killer move! Sharp! And a demolition of my plan.

Quote from Hannes about my comment:

… in a normal over the board game I would never have played 35.Rxg6+, in correspondence chess you have time and opportunity to analyze… and then you find such killer moves.

I was amazed!

ICCF Rating

My boosted ICCF rating so far, after mandatory amount of games played and provisional rating removed:

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Games Won

22 games won

Tournaments Played

9 tournaments played

And I jumped over the 2000 ELO bar in ICCF rating.

In the Champions League 2021 tournament I achieved my first norm for the Correstpondence Chess Expert (CCE) title on 7/17/2022. I hope to achieve the second necessary norm soon, getting my first title ever at age 65.

Conclusion: Proving Adult Chess Improvement is Real

My journey through the 13th ICCF Veterans’ World Cup has been nothing short of remarkable. As a senior chess enthusiast, I ventured into this prestigious event as an untitled player, facing opponents with significantly higher ratings, including International Masters and titled players. What I’ve learned and experienced on this journey has solidified my belief that adult chess improvement is not only possible but also achievable.

Chess is a game of endless possibilities and opportunities for growth. It’s a sport where age is not a barrier, but rather a testament to the enduring passion and dedication of senior chess enthusiasts. My participation in this tournament, alongside formidable opponents, serves as evidence that age is no hindrance to progress and success in the world of chess.

The inclusivity of the ICCF Veterans’ World Cup, welcoming players aged 60 and above, fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among chess veterans. It’s a testament to the belief that chess is a lifelong pursuit, offering challenges and rewards at every stage of life.

As I faced titled opponents, analyzed complex positions, and learned from both victories and defeats, it became clear that adult chess improvement is a journey worth embarking on. The countless hours of study, the thrill of competition, and the joy of learning from each move are a testament to the enduring appeal of chess for players of all ages.

My boosted ICCF rating and my achieving my first norm to earn the Correspondence Chess Expert (CCE) title demonstrate that even in later stages of life, we can achieve remarkable milestones in the world of chess. It’s not about where you start but how far you are willing to go on this chess journey.

So, to all senior chess enthusiasts out there, I say this: Keep playing, keep learning, and keep improving. Your journey in the world of chess is far from over. Together, we prove that senior chess improvers are real, and the board is our canvas for lifelong creativity and growth.

Stay tuned for the next part of my journey as I continue to navigate the giants of the 13th ICCF Veterans’ World Cup and embark on new adventures in the 14th Veterans’ World Cup. Remember, in chess, we are united—Amici Sumus.

Amici Sumus

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