Lightning Chess

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
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Gerard Killoran
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Lightning Chess

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:01 pm

Our club has an annual Lightning (10 seconds a move) tournament. It seems to have gone out of fashion as a format, but does it deserve a revival?

I came across this example, from the time when there was a British Lightning Championship. Bernard Cafferty shared first place with Michael MacDonald-Ross


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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:02 pm

My club still has a "10 seconds per move" competition.
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Graham Borrowdale
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Graham Borrowdale » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:14 pm

I have not played in a 10 second tournament since the old Berks & Bucks congress with Alex N's loop tape. I guess more common nowadays is 5 minutes, or some version with increments. The trouble with 10 seconds per move is that it can seem incredibly slow, especially in the opening and for obvious moves.

Eric Gardiner
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Eric Gardiner » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:32 pm

The Hull and District Chess Association has a Team Lightning event (10 seconds per move) every summer. Unfortunately I couldn't find a working link to a report. It's good fun but another potential problem is that long games can mess up the playing schedule. If I recall correctly, the local rule is that games are <ahem> adjudicated by the event controller if they reach 60 moves without an agreed result between the players.

Paul Habershon
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Paul Habershon » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:07 pm

Bedford CC used to hold a lightning tournament every September as a curtain raiser to the season. No longer. They were good fun but bad for the nerves. The main irritant was players stealing seconds by not moving promptly. It was a bit unfriendly to claim by default so the best you could do was to wait two buzzes before playing your own next move.

Brian Denman
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Brian Denman » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:59 pm

There seems to be a mistake in the score in the Cafferty v Tolan game. 40...Qd3 puts the queen en prise. I have checked the article in the Coventry Evening Telegraph and it seems that 40...Qd1 was played. Sometimes the print in old newspapers can be difficult to read.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:07 pm

"Bedford CC used to hold a lightning tournament every September as a curtain raiser to the season. No longer. They were good fun but bad for the nerves. The main irritant was players stealing seconds by not moving promptly. It was a bit unfriendly to claim by default so the best you could do was to wait two buzzes before playing your own next move."

Yes - we had the same problem. However, now we use digital clocks, with the following setting:-

"CLOCKS SET TO MODE 20 – 0 min 0 s; +20 s A MOVE, "

Sorry about uppercase - it's part of a poster! So the habitual takers of 15 seconds either get away with it, or lose on time, but at least you get 20 seconds for your own move, as it resets to 20 s every move. It worked really well this Christmas as a much-loved and popular player won the tournament.

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Mike W. Richardt
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Mike W. Richardt » Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:49 am

I do remember that the Downend chess club in Bristol holds a 10 sec per move tournament.
I usually travelled from Taunton up to Bristol which was a nice evening of fun, laughter and just silly chess. They usually had their tournament between Christmas and New year and the prizes were some "unwanted" Christmas presents donated by the players - great atmosphere.

It looks like they hosting one again on 2nd January - http://www.downendchess.com/file/2017buzzerentry.pdf

I think I may turn up and have a nice evening of fun and laughter and catch up with some friends.
Although it's unlikely that I bring any unwanted Christmas presents as our little bundle of joy arrived earlier this week and their is apparently no refund for those!!! :-)

I have to say that I do probably prefer a variation of the lightning tournament with the option of the hour glass where players have 10 seconds each at the start of the game and the seconds just swing back and forth as the game progresses - a nice alternative.
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Dan Lambourne
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Dan Lambourne » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:34 am

The North Glos League hold one almost every year as an individual Christmas tournament, and the results over the years can be found on http://www.gloucesterchess.co.uk/lightning.php

Whilst the Birmingham League have a team event every March, where this years (last seasons) results can be found on http://www.birminghamchess.org.uk/team_ ... ults17.htm

Martin Benjamin
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Martin Benjamin » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:53 pm

Paul Habershon wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:07 pm
Bedford CC used to hold a lightning tournament every September as a curtain raiser to the season. No longer. They were good fun but bad for the nerves. The main irritant was players stealing seconds by not moving promptly. It was a bit unfriendly to claim by default so the best you could do was to wait two buzzes before playing your own next move.
I gave up playing in old style lightning buzzer events for that reason. In many games, I found myself playing effectively something like 6 seconds per move v 14 seconds per move for my opponent, as I felt awkward waiting for two more buzzes, so I moved on the next one. I don't like making a fuss in normal games, let alone lightning competitions, so I simply let it go - but it was no longer enjoyable. With digital clocks, the format should be easily resurrected. I would not mind playing in 10 second delay mode, or even the version which starts with 20 seconds in total split between the players and the allocation shifting from clock to clock depending on each player's speed of play.

Reg Clucas
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Reg Clucas » Sun Dec 24, 2017 5:01 pm

Paul Habershon wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:07 pm
The main irritant was players stealing seconds by not moving promptly.
It can also cause problems when players move too quickly, i.e. before the buzzer. Back in the 1970s whilst living in Bradford, I was playing in a lightning tournament, and one opponent was one of the many Eastern Europeans that lived in the city. (At that time there were Polish, Latvian and Ukrainian Chess Clubs in the local league - don't know whether they still exist?). Anyway, I made a move which put my opponent in check, and as he had only one legal move he made it without waiting for the buzzer. So when 'his' buzzer went, I didn't make a move, waiting instead for 'my' buzzer to sound, and he kicked up an almighty fuss. Unfortunately the language difficulty made it impossible to explain to him what had happened, and it was only when the organiser got involved that the game was able to continue.

However the main problem is the one you state, i.e. players not moving promptly, and because of this I think it's a format only suitable for 'fun' evenings, like a Xmas competition. It certainly should not be played with prizes at stake!

Ian Thompson
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Ian Thompson » Sun Dec 24, 2017 5:56 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:07 pm
"Bedford CC used to hold a lightning tournament every September as a curtain raiser to the season. No longer. They were good fun but bad for the nerves. The main irritant was players stealing seconds by not moving promptly. It was a bit unfriendly to claim by default so the best you could do was to wait two buzzes before playing your own next move."

Yes - we had the same problem. However, now we use digital clocks, with the following setting:-

"CLOCKS SET TO MODE 20 – 0 min 0 s; +20 s A MOVE, "

Sorry about uppercase - it's part of a poster! So the habitual takers of 15 seconds either get away with it, or lose on time, but at least you get 20 seconds for your own move, as it resets to 20 s every move. It worked really well this Christmas as a much-loved and popular player won the tournament.
An alternative time control, closer to the traditional lightning 10 seconds per move, might be 5 sec + 10 sec delay. That would mean you had to move within 10 seconds normally, but you've got 5 seconds grace to cover occasional slight tardiness over the whole game. Adjust the 5 seconds grace per game as you see fit.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:09 pm

"An alternative time control, closer to the traditional lightning 10 seconds per move, might be 5 sec + 10 sec delay. That would mean you had to move within 10 seconds normally, but you've got 5 seconds grace to cover occasional slight tardiness over the whole game. Adjust the 5 seconds grace per game as you see fit."

Yes - good idea. We did have a problem with one player, who either moved instantly or after 14 seconds in "buzzer" chess. We tried Blitz, but two more senior players reached a position where one had 8 minutes past the hour and the other one 9 minutes past, so we (or probably I) came up with the current system. At this year's event, a seven player double-rounder, we started about 7.45 pm and were in the pub by about 10 pm, so games didn't drag on. We thought the longer form (if you can call 20 s "longer") might encourage the less experienced players to turn up. It didn't this year.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:01 am

At Harrogate we begin the season proper with a 10 seconds per move tournament. When I first became competitions controller around the turn of the century I did suggest moving to a ten minutes per game format instead but this proved very unpopular. It is a very different discipline to playing conventional blitz chess.

While we're on the subject does anybody know where a buzzer can be obtained? We could really do with a new one.
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Lightning Chess

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:07 am

Reg Clucas wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 5:01 pm
(At that time there were Polish, Latvian and Ukrainian Chess Clubs in the local league - don't know whether they still exist?).
The main Bradford chess club play their home matches at the Latvian club (the venue is also frequently used for Yorkshire vs Lancashire matches and the Bradford Congress is held there) and until recently the other Bradford club in the Yorkshire league (Bradford Central) played at the Polish Parish club. From chessnuts it seems that Latvians still exist up to a point but with no real connection to the original team.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

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