Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

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Andrew Zigmond
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Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:46 pm

There is currently a proposal for the Yorkshire League to adopt an incremental time control from next season rather than a quickplay finish, although this might just be in the first division initially. The consultation has begun and it is fair to say that reactions have been mixed.

Obviously the final decision is an internal matter that will be settled by a vote at the AGM. However a lot of the objections have arisen from the question of what happens when a game oversteps the four hour mark. I have pointed out that if we adopt 90 minutes plus 30 seconds (for the record the current control is 42 in 1 hr 45 with 15 mins quickplay) the game needs go past sixty moves to give a four hour session. That said I understand the concern from teams who have to vacate their premises by a certain time. A strong objection has come from a club colleague (a hugely experienced player) who has pointed out that at least one game in each match normally goes down to the wire, often with the match depending on the result - he says it would make him disinclined to play in a match on the far side of the county.

The reason for this post is that Yorkshire are hardly entering unchartered territory. What are the experiences of other leagues? Did these problems ultimately arise and if so what was done to mitigate them? Did many players stop playing as a result of incremental time controls?
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:47 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:46 pm
The reason for this post is that Yorkshire are hardly entering unchartered territory. What are the experiences of other leagues? Did these problems ultimately arise and if so what was done to mitigate them? Did many players stop playing as a result of incremental time controls?
Many leagues (and tournaments) went for 10 or 15 second increments. Those who point out that 30 second increments can lead to games seriously overrunning a four hour session are quite correct. Perhaps not at every tournament, but it wasn't uncommon for the scheduling of the e2e4 Congresses (10am to 2pm and 2:30pm/3:00 pm to 6:30pm/7:00 pm) to be disrupted by late running games. After all, what do expect if you invite Keith to play?

Ian Thompson
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Ian Thompson » Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:43 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:46 pm
However a lot of the objections have arisen from the question of what happens when a game oversteps the four hour mark. I have pointed out that if we adopt 90 minutes plus 30 seconds (for the record the current control is 42 in 1 hr 45 with 15 mins quickplay) the game needs go past sixty moves to give a four hour session.
Only allowing for 60 moves before the desired total playing time is reached is not enough. The number of games reaching this point will be far too high. I'd suggest allowing for at least 100 moves, e.g. 90 minutes + 15 seconds increment permits 120 moves in 4 hours, so you might expect 1 or 2 games a season to still be unfinished after 4 hours.

What should you do about those 1 or 2 games? If you're lucky they'll happen at a venue where play can continue for more than 4 hours. If you're unlucky then say they will be adjudicated. That may not be desirable, but rejecting increments that will benefit hundreds of games a season is not sensible when the disadvantages only affect 1 or 2 games. You could also allow Guidelines III.5 claims after, say, 100 moves (or after at least 3 hours 50 minutes of play) to deal with a player who has a winning position, but lacks the ability to do so, to lessen the chance of them getting an undeserved win on adjudication.

Reg Clucas
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Reg Clucas » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:43 am

The Leagues in which I play allow the home team to decide whether or not increments will be used. As far as I know, no potential visiting player has refused to visit a club which uses increments.

Of course 30 seconds is ideal if possible, but as Roger says, 10 or 15 seconds is adequate. In most cases it allows for the game to finish. And for the odd case when it doesn't, what is the worst that can happen? Maybe the captains just agree a draw, or adjudication. That may spoil the game for one (or both) of the players, but the alternative of a quick play finish spoils games all the time - most occasions go unnoticed because players just accept that they have to lose the game purely because they haven't moved as quickly as their opponent.

Angus French
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Angus French » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:49 pm

With a thirty second increment, players are required to keep score. With a lesser increment they're not.
Laws of Chess wrote:8.4 If a player has less than five minutes left on his clock at some stage in a period and does not have additional time of 30 seconds or more added with each move, then for the remainder of the period he is not obliged to meet the requirements of Article 8.1.1. [to record moves]
If you wished to retain a thirty-second increment (my preference as it gives time for thinking as well as recording moves) then you might like to consider reducing the start time to, say, 75 minutes. That would allow for a minimum of 90 moves in four hours.

Am I right in thinking Yorkshire league matches are played on weekend afternoons? If yes, is there such a problem playing for longer than four hours?

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:49 pm

I'd recommend using G/110 + 10' or something like that. You'll rarely have a game that goes on beyond 4 hours 15 in my experience with this time limit. If the worst case scenario is 4 hours 30 once in a blue moon, I'm sure you can live with that?

David Williams
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by David Williams » Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:49 pm

There was an attempt to introduce it on Merseyside in Div 1 several years back, optional if both teams agreed, to be played on all boards.

A couple of teams didn't have digital clocks, and were also unwilling to play it in away games because they would be unfamiliar with it, and therefore at a disadvantage. Other teams put it to a vote, but at least one with a 6-2 vote in favour decided to stick to the status quo. The two were very much against, the six ambivalent. So few matches were played with increments.

The following season, in an attempt to allow all those that favoured it to do so, it was altered so that individual games could be played with increments if both players agreed. This killed it stone dead. As you don't know your opponent until moments before the game starts nothing can be agreed in advance, there is every chance that neither player knows how to set the clock, and people didn't even bother to suggest it.

As far as I know it worked well when it was used. As to over-running games, I very much doubt that any ever took as long as a conventional game that runs the complete distance, and is then followed by an exchange of views as to the procedure for claiming a draw, interference by spectators, and whether a game can be won by conventional means.

Tim Spanton
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Tim Spanton » Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:00 pm

Adam Raoof's Hampstead tournaments have a time control of 60mins + 30secs increment (apparently Fide allows such games to be rated as long as no player is over 2200). Three games on a Saturday is not a problem.

Robert Page
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Robert Page » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:35 pm

It is used in some congresses as we have done at Thanet for past three or four years with few problems as far as I am aware although Kevin can confirm. If there were, I’m sure we’d scrap it. Of course, it may be different where you have three games in one day. I think we use 90 mins + 30 secs. I do remember one occasion a couple of years ago when Alan Merry and Martin Taylor were still playing until about 15 mins before the next round was due to start.

Nick Grey
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Nick Grey » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:32 pm

It is good to consult but plenty of issues to consider - like losing players, captains, teams & clubs.

Ok for evenings. Captains set up at for a 6pm start 10.30 put away. The bell in the pub rings at 11. Impractical. Forget about the 2 hour plus journey times.

Using 10 secs in County at the moment. Again venue restrictions & hire times.

The 60+30 secs are nice until you get a Bishop & knight v lone king. Keep everyone waiting then say can I have a half point bye please Adam.

I'm one of those preferring adjournments, test cricket, long distance running / walking & unlimited time to the last man standing 'Rollerball'.

Martin Benjamin
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Martin Benjamin » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:34 pm

The Central London League has operated successfully for several years now on (previously) 80 mins plus 10 second increment per move or (now) 75 minutes plus 15 second increment per move. We start at 6-30pm, and I can't remember witnessing any game going beyond 10-00pm, and on most nights, everyone has finished by 9-30pm. Too tired to do even a rough calculation in my head, but it must be thousands of games.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:08 am

Robert Page wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:35 pm
I do remember one occasion a couple of years ago when Alan Merry and Martin Taylor were still playing until about 15 mins before the next round was due to start.
Congresses can get away with it, since the consequence is just starting a game or two late in the afternoon round and denying preparation time to those who finished their games several hours earlier.

In a league or county context, playing on a Saturday afternoon, it's not unknown for there to be an evening booking, therefore a timely vacation of the premises is necessary.

J T Melsom
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by J T Melsom » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:09 am

One of the interesting and slightly paradoxical things I've noticed with 80 mins plus 10 is that more games finish earlier than usual. Possibly because players realise they have to make enough moves to win on the night so crack on a bit in the opening to ensure time for the ending. This may be more true of the former Civil Service league which seems to have skipped the quick-play arrangement, having just played blocks of 6 in 15 with whatever time was left after the first time control. I dislike the 10 second addition purely because most of the time I can't see it when its added, but it gets the game finished.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Adam Raoof » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:12 am

Simple delay (often called Bronstein mode) is much better for league games where you have to be out of the venue at a certain time - it stops you accumulating time, but gives players at least X amount of time per move. Wikipedia - "with this timing method, the clock waits for the delay period each move before starting to subtract the player's base time. For example, if the delay is ten seconds, the clock waits for ten seconds each move before the base time starts going down"

All digital clocks that I use can offer this mode, I think.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Incremental controls - the `unlimited` game.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:03 am

Adam Raoof wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:12 am
For example, if the delay is ten seconds, the clock waits for ten seconds each move before the base time starts going down"
Don't the DGT's implement this by adding the delay? So it's your opponent's move and your clock shows 10 seconds. When he presses the clock, your time jumps to 20 seconds, but resets back to 10 if you move within 10 seconds.

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