Digital clocks in County competition

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Alex Holowczak
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Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:06 pm

Given that the MCCU AGM seemed to agree something with regard to digital clocks for MCCU competition (though no one was quite sure what), I see that none of it has made it as far as the 2010/11 rules.

Do we know what was agreed?

A few comments generally on their use:

We don't need a rule to allow digital clocks if someone wants to use them. You can use them legally regardless; FIDE doesn't discriminate.

Rule 6 should be changed to allow digital clocks to have their move counter switched off: "Following Black's fortieth move both clocks shall be turned back thirty minutes and the game shall be completed under the ECF Quickplay finish rules. ... Following Black's thirty-sixth move both clocks shall be turned back thirty minutes and the game shall be completed under the ECF Quickplay finish rules." You can probably do away with this section altogether, and reword it to say that the first time period shall have 40 moves for a 5-hour match, 36 moves for a 4-hour match, with a 30-minute quickplay finish. With the current rule, using digital clocks without the move counter is technically a violation of these laws, since the clock will only add on the quickplay finish time at the end of the first time period. Since the rule wouldn't be policed (nor is there any need to), there's no reason for the rule to exist.

Strictly speaking, it's not played under ECF Quickplay finish rules - I don't believe they exist anymore. I think it means Article 10 of the FIDE Laws of Chess.

I gather there was some talk about which incremental time controls should be used, if at all. Might I suggest that for a 4-hour session, this time control is 90 minutes + 30 seconds/move, and for a 5-hour session, the time control is 40 moves in 90 minutes, followed by a 30-minute quickplay finish, with 30 seconds/move from move 1? These two time controls are common at FIDE level. The first time control is used at Sean's events painlessly. The last is used at Olympiad level, and FIDE always use it for 5-hour sessions. I would imagine that Sean will revert to it for his norm events next year. The advantage of a 30-second increment is that moves always have to be written down, and the advantage of an increment generally is that there is no need for a 10.2 in an arbiterless situation.

How, in the MCCU, would one go about making proposals to that effect? Do you have to go through your County Association to get that far? Do Officers of the MCCU get the right to propose regardless?

Sean Hewitt

Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:52 pm

Leicestershire used digital clocks in all it's home matches last season and will do so this season too. We don't have 16 analogue clocks to play with!

Re increments - I don't think you can use 30 sec increments in the county championships because of the potential length of the game. Although we successfully use G90+30" for 4 hour sessions, we usually have one game each tournament go to 5 hours (one went to 5 1/4 hours). That's not a problem for us in the hotel but if that happened in a county match you could have a serious late arrival home - or get kicked out before the game had ended by the caretaker!

I think a more sensible time control would be similar to the e2e4 Minor time control of G110+10" (or 40/90+20'+10") for a 4 hour session, or 40/110+30'+10" for a 5 hour session.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:06 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:That's not a problem for us in the hotel but if that happened in a county match you could have a serious late arrival home - or get kicked out before the game had ended by the caretaker!
I hadn't considered that. Now you mention it...
Sean Hewitt wrote:I think a more sensible time control would be similar to the e2e4 Minor time control of G110+10" (or 40/90+20'+10") for a 4 hour session, or 40/110+30'+10" for a 5 hour session.
... I agree.

Mick Norris
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Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Mick Norris » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:40 pm

The SCCU play 35 moves in 1 hour 40 minutes followed by all moves in 20 minutes; with an increment of 10 seconds for every move played from the start

Any reason for the MCCU to differ?
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:56 pm

That time control seems to fit nicely between 4 hours and 5 hours.

Personally, I don't like 35 moves in 1 hour 40 because with the increment, 35 moves would add 5 minutes 50 seconds. So in real terms, you get (slightly) more than 3 minutes per move. I think that's a bit too slow. In fact, it's probably the slowest time control for the first time period still in use in England!

Sean Hewitt

Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:51 am

Mick Norris wrote:The SCCU play 35 moves in 1 hour 40 minutes followed by all moves in 20 minutes; with an increment of 10 seconds for every move played from the start

Any reason for the MCCU to differ?
Well, it's contrary to the ECF County Championship rules for a start - which state that the first time control must be 40 moves in whatever number of minutes you want to choose.

Unions can do whatever they like I guess but it seems sensible to me to try to stick to the ECF rules wherever possible. And if the end game is to change the ECF rules, having a time control that already meets their rules must be a good start.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:05 am

Sean Hewitt wrote:Well, it's contrary to the ECF County Championship rules for a start - which state that the first time control must be 40 moves in whatever number of minutes you want to choose.
This rule seems to override it C5: "D1: The Union Qualifying Stage shall be conducted on behalf of the Federation by the five Chess Unions and shall be run by them according to their own rules." This presumably extends to the choice of time control.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:30 am

Mick Norris wrote:The SCCU play 35 moves in 1 hour 40 minutes followed by all moves in 20 minutes; with an increment of 10 seconds for every move played from the start

Any reason for the MCCU to differ?
It's a silly move rate, 120 10 would be better. The reasoning is that you get a problem whether the move counter is switched on or off.

With the move counter on, you get a player who is not keeping score being notified by the clock that the time control has been reached. Arbiters seem to think this is wrong.

With the move counter off, you might never see the extra 20 minutes, indeed the only way to see the extra 20 minutes is for one player to run their time to zero.

Many moons ago the SCCU rate of play was 40 moves in 2 hours followed by adjudication. In practice matches took an extra half hour spent arguing over unfinished positions. Rather than accelerate the 40, the same pace of play was adopted when the adjudication half hour was consolidated into the main session. Thus 35/105 + 30 was adopted.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by David Sedgwick » Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:52 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Mick Norris wrote:The SCCU play 35 moves in 1 hour 40 minutes followed by all moves in 20 minutes; with an increment of 10 seconds for every move played from the start

Any reason for the MCCU to differ?
It's a silly move rate, 120 10 would be better.
It was adopted, on my advice, so as to be as similar as possible to the non-incremental rate of 35 moves in 1 hour 45 minutes followed by all moves in 30 minutes. The latter is still used in the vast majority of matches.

Where different matches in the same competition have different time limits, I don't think it desirable for those time limits to vary radically in their nature.


Sean Hewitt wrote:Well, it's contrary to the ECF County Championship rules for a start - which state that the first time control must be 40 moves in whatever number of minutes you want to choose.
ECF County Championship Rules wrote:C5. The duration of play shall be a maximum of five hours and all games shall be played with clocks. Each player shall make not less than 40 moves in two hours and then to a conclusion with 30 minutes extra for each player for the remainder of the game. Except in the Finals, the rate of play and duration of the sudden death finish may be varied by mutual agreement between the respective match captains.
That Rule dosen't seem to me to state what Sean claims. Why can you not mutually agree that in a National Quarter Final (for instance) the rate of play shall be 35 moves in 1 hour and 45 minutes followed by all moves in 30 minutes, as in the SCCU?

Sean Hewitt

Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:12 pm

As I read it that you can vary the rate of play (time per move) and the duration of the sudden death finish but there is no mention that you can vary the number of moves to the first time control hence my conclusion that 40 moves is fixed. That said, it's possible that this rule means something else - chess rules are often badly written and don't always say what they mean, or say so unambiguously.

Stewart Reuben and David Sedgwick are correct in my opinion that players benefit from uniformity on the number of moves. If you going to have x moves in y minutes plus z to finish (plus a possible increment) it's best if x is constant.

In the MCCU x is 40, as it is in the National Stages. If, in the SCCU x is 35, there incremental time rate makes more sense than it did previously although it wouldn't make sense for the MCCU or the final stages.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Digital clocks in County competition

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:09 am

I have submitted proposals to the counties I could claim to belong to. The gist of them was:
1) Remove all reference to the ECF Quickplay Rules
2) A pedantic point - shouldn't mention turning the clock back after 36 moves
3) Another pedantic point - the rules said things about mobile phones that didn't need to be restated because the FIDE Laws already say exactly the same thing
4) Yet another pedantic point - extraneous words that doesn't need to exist; "The current FIDE Laws of Chess, as published by the ECF shall govern play in all matches." The "as published by the ECF" makes no sense...

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