24 March 2021

A World Correspondence Champion's Games

The subject of last week's post, Three Time World Correspondence Champion (March 2021), was ICCF GM Aleksandr Dronov. Wanting to know more about GM Dronov's games, I downloaded the PGN file from his ICCF player page (see the 'Three Time WCC' post for a link) and started to analyze it.

Although the ICCF page promises '149 games completed' (three more than last week), I received 150 games. Dronov is currently playing the 'World Championship 31 Final' and the crosstable for the event indicates that three of his games, all draws, have been added since a week ago.

Of the 150 games, there was a preponderance of games where Dronov was Black. It turned out that two of the earliest events had him as Black in nearly all of his games. These games in the PGN file were only stubs -- no moves available -- a bookkeeping convention I've also used to build crosstables. Going a little deeper, I counted 34 such games without moves.

The following chart gives an overview of Dronov's opening repertioire. Of course, it doesn't pretend to be complete. He has also opened 1.Nf3 and 1.c4 in a few games. Where he plays several different moves in a position, his most frequent choice is shown first. It's also worth noting that 1.d4 as his first move was more frequent in older games, while 1.e4 was more frequent in newer games.

What more can I say about this chart? Not much. These are all popular lines and the moves shown here are all well known. The same chart would apply to many of today's titled correspondence players. The choice of move depends not only on a player's experience (i.e. repertoire), but also on the opponent's repertoire, previous experience against the opponent, the objective against a specific opponent, and up-to-date engine analysis.

Two games were mentioned in the AJEC interview, already referenced in the 'Three Time WCC' post. Both games were from the WC22 Final, the event that gave Dronov his first World Champion title. The first game mentioned was a controversial decision on an adjudication:-

Q: Several strong players (Langeveld, Hamarat and Timm) are convinced that the [win] which you have been granted in the arbitration against Rune Holmberg is completely fanciful and that you wouldn't you have won this game against one of them.

Dronov answered with a few specific points and summarized,

A: The arbitrator (just like me), had no doubts about the outcome of this game and that is why he awarded me the win.

The second game mentioned was the last to finish in the tournament, and allowed Dronov to tie for first place, thereby winning on tiebreak:-

Q: What was your most difficult part in this world championship? • A: The last, decisive game against Buecker was the most difficult and the most interesting.

Both of those games are worth a deeper look. Since the purpose of this blog is not to analyze games, I'll leave that exercise for another place.

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