Most of the ICCF National Delegates know Eric Ruch very well and have met him during the last 20 years, but for those who do not know Eric, let's start some brief bio data:
Eric has started his correspondence chess activities thirty years ago, in 1984 playing in various promotional tournaments organized in France by the magazine Europe Echecs while he was student in Paris and became member of AJEC in 1989.

In this pre computer time, it took him almost a decade to progress from the 4th and last division to the French Correspondence Chess championship title that he has won in 1998. In parallel, he played in a few international tournaments and obtained the IM title in Rimini in 2001 and the SIM title in Seixal in 2002. He is also International Arbiter since 2006 and organized many events (invitational tournaments, team tournaments such as Mare Nostrum II & III, NATT VI , Copa Latina World I & II…)

Opening Master is proud chess database sponsor of International Chess Correspondence Federation and we asked Eric few personal questions. Enjoy the reading and as always give us a feedback. 

1. Tell us about your story, how you came to ICCF? Why did you make the move from the classical chess (FIDE) to correspondence chess?

I was playing chess as a teenager stating in 1972 (I was 11 years old and of friend of mine was following the Fischer - Spassky match) and from that time I have never strop playing. As many players of my generation I am a kid of Bobby! In 1983, when reading Europe Echecs, I saw that they were organizing some postal events. I made a try and never stopped since then. In 1887 I became member of AJEC, strated in the lowest class 'Open events', won all my tournaments till the my first French CC final in 1995. I lost twice (Chrsitophe Leotard the future CC world champion became French champion in 1995, 96 and 97) and I won the title in 98. Then I turned to international CC became IM in 2001 and SIM in 2002.

2. What is the vision 2025 for ICCF?

In 2012 I have published my vision of the CC and ICCF in 2025 for the ICCF Diamond book. I have attached it and you can publish it if you think it is interesting. 

3. Some FIDE players "complain" that correspondence chess is all about stronger engine and stronger CPU/hardware and software, there is very little human left. How do you fight this message?

My opinion is that, as in many other human activity, Human+ Computer is stronger than Human. However, computer have a cost that not everybody can afford, and this is the real issue in my opinion. 

4. How many tournaments are currently run the ICCF server?

I play only one tournament at a time, starting a new one, when I have a few games left form the previous one. I do not have time to seriously play more than that.  I am always fascinated by players able to play 50-100 games simultaneously! 

5. How is/was pandemic age for ICCF, have you experienced the increase in online presence of the players?

Yes the number of players and entries have increased last year that was a record of activity for ICCF. Wome players will leave CC when the pandemic will be over but some will continue to enjoy playing serious CC chess on a server.

6. ICCF will celebrate this year 70th anniversary and its predecessorIFSB (Internationaler Fernschachbund) almost 100 years, any special events planned for the members?

Yes we have a number of Jubilee tournaments to celbrate the 70 years of ICCF Many players are enjoying the opens and their a lot of prizes to win!
Eric govor

7. How difficult is to get GM title in ICCF these days? How many GMs doyou award per year approx?

We award 3-5 GM titles per year. Yes it is difficult (I know it very well, I have 3 GM norms and struggling for getting the title for about 15 years!) but climing the Everest is not that easy! In the 80s-90s the average award of GMs was about the same. There was an increase in the early 2000 but in my opinion that was due to the clash of generation between those using computer and those using only their brain. That resulted in an increase of wins and norms.  Nowadays everyone needs to use a computer and we are back to the 80-90s. 

8. Can FIDE player be good at correspondence chess and vice versa, can strong correspondence chess player become a good FIDE? (I don't like tocompare these two, sometimes people ask us)

I think so. FIDE players use also computer to prepare their tournaments and they are strong CC players if they are interested. to play in CC. 
To become a strong OTB players, you have to be a professional player which ois not the case of the CC players. We are all amateurs and that makes a great difference. 

9. What are you going to do next weekend?

Busy weekend as usual. A couple of hours to work for ICCF and of course play oa few moves on the server! You may know that I am also collecting antiquarian chess books (I have about 3000-4000 books, magazines, newspaper that date back before 1900) and I will collect a parcell at the post office with a few new acquisition. And beside that a tennis this afternoon and some work to do on the garden! 

Amici Sumus

Alexander Horvath

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