The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

General discussions about grading.
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John Saunders
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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by John Saunders » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:42 am

The practicalities of adjournment in league chess are a problem, I grant you, though the situation described should be soluble if referred to the match captains or league secretary. Some leagues allow the players to decide between them at the beginning of the game whether they want adjudication, adjournment or QPF (or perhaps two of these three options) and have rules which cover the priority should the players want different options. Although complicated (and I have taken the mickey out of it in previous writings), this is at least flexible and gives the players some choice of what they want to do. Personally I would advocate removing adjudication from the equation and making it a straight choice between adjournment and QPF, with QPF taking precedence should the two players not agree (decision to be made at the beginning of the game). In general, if both players want to play the game on, there seems no good reason to prevent them doing so.

Whilst discussing adjournment and adjudication, we should not ignore the fact that QPF is also a very unsatisfactory way to end a chess game. I've played in leagues where you play 30 moves in 75 minutes, then choose between adjudication and QPF finish of 15 minutes for all the moves. Latterly I used to choose QPF as the lesser of two evils but I still hated it. The most difficult thing is the radical change of rhythm. After playing at a rhythm of 6 moves per 15 minutes, you may have to budget for a possible extra 60 moves in the next 15 minutes. That's ten times as fast and even a 60 move game means you have to play five times as fast. You may argue that it is a question of keeping some time back from the first time control but that feels unnatural and is easier said than done. Though in general I am relatively better at rapidplay than standard play, I think my play in QPFs is relatively worse because I have a big problem making the adjustment. I don't like a game which starts as standard play, changes to rapidplay and then ends in clock-thumping blitz. I enjoy all three of these types of chess but not in the same game. To those who would brand adjournment analysis or adjudication as "cheating" I can only say I have occasionally felt equally cheated at the thought of having a game graded that for half or two-thirds of its course was actually a rapidplay (or even a blitz) game. I also hate not having a complete score of my game to look back at as it becomes difficult to keep score when you've fewer than five minutes left on the clock. How can you learn from your mistakes when you don't have a complete score of the game?

I totally agree with Richard's points about endgame play. I have written on this subject many times myself so I have nothing to add.

Do any local leagues use incremental time controls yet? I realise there are two major problems here: general availability of digital clocks and accommodating games of 100+ moves within the three hours typically available for evening chess. If these can be overcome then there may be hope on the horizon even for us QPFophobes.
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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:56 am

After playing at a rhythm of 6 moves per 15 minutes
My longest game this season in three hour sessions is 79 moves. I've also had a 67, 2 55s and a 53. Generally speaking, I reckon you should play at a near Jack Rudd pace for the first half of the game, say complete the first 30 in 45-60 minutes. This gives you 30-45 minutes for the rest of the game, so you accelerate a bit to say 30-60 seconds per move with the aim of completing the game with at least 5 minutes remaining. If potentially you may need to make a 10.2 draw claim, then make enough moves down to the last 2 minutes to make the draw obvious.

Of course if you reach a position where the decisive moves are going to be before move 30, then you use up the time to find them. With no adjudication or adjournment threat, openings can be chosen on their merits so you can avoid sharp positions early on if you wish. You don't avoid 1 e4 e5 in league play just because you could find yourself playing 18 moves of theory and 12 of game.
Do any local leagues use incremental time controls yet?
The Surrey Border league can use 60 30. Those that play this rate have told me that games are frequently over by 10pm so the G/60 element outweighs the increment. You need premises with flexible closing hours to make this work. They've also tried 80 10 (I think) for premises with chuck-out times. This avoids 10.2 claims but I don't know how draws by repetition or 50 moves can be enforced if the players don't keep score.

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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:33 pm

John Saunders wrote: Do any local leagues use incremental time controls yet? I realise there are two major problems here: general availability of digital clocks and accommodating games of 100+ moves within the three hours typically available for evening chess. If these can be overcome then there may be hope on the horizon even for us QPFophobes.
We have decided to use increments as an experiment in our county championships this summer. It will have to be a small increment (probably 10 seconds) in case the game does go on for 100 moves, but it should remove the blitzing at the end of a QPF finish game. I'll let you know how we get on!

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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by John Curtis » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:37 pm

I’m against adjournment and adjudication for any games, and don’t believe they should be graded. A game should be between two players, not between two players, their computers, their friends and anonymous adjudicators. I understand the arguments for adjournment, especially regarding the decline in endgame skills, but I don’t believe these outweigh the argument that a game should be decided over the board with no interference. One might say that anyone prepared to study endgames can use the ‘game in one session’ rule to their advantage; indeed the little study I put into the game I now use for endgame study. It might mean that my openings haven’t changed for years, but knowledge of the Vancura position saved a valuable half point at the last 4NCL, meaning that Bristol won rather than drew our match.

In the Bristol League we had many years of arguments over adjournment, adjudication and QPF. We used to play 36/90 then adjournment/adjudication, with an option for 35/75 with a 15 min QPF, but only if both players agreed at the start. Eventually, after many arguments at League AGMs, we got agreement to change this, and decided on 90 minutes for the whole game. While sceptical at first that this was better than 35/75 + 15, I now think it’s a much better system for finishing the game on the night. There’s no change in pace, you know at the start that you have 90 minutes for the game, and you can utilise your time as you wish.

There were lots of people against this change, so we left the option for the old time control, allowing for adjournment or adjudication if both players agreed to this at the start of the game. Interestingly, and perhaps tellingly, I’m not aware of any games in the past couple of years where this option has been taken up. Perhaps old dogs really can learn new tricks

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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Ian Thompson » Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:34 pm

John Saunders wrote: Do any local leagues use incremental time controls yet? I realise there are two major problems here: general availability of digital clocks and accommodating games of 100+ moves within the three hours typically available for evening chess. If these can be overcome then there may be hope on the horizon even for us QPFophobes.
The standard time limit in Division 1 of the Surrey Border League is Fischer 85 minutes + 5 seconds a move. This became the default time limit at the start of last season. Players also have the option of agreeing Fischer 60 minutes + 30 seconds instead. This option has been available for several years (instead of 36 moves in 90 minutes + adjournment prior to Fischer becoming the default).

To allow for extremely long games players are allowed to make a 10.2 quickplay finish claim after 190 minutes play (i.e. at least 120 moves) if they are playing 85' + 5''. If they choose 60' + 30'' they have to play to a finish.

In the matches I have played so far this season I would say that about a third of games have been played with 60' + 30'' and about two thirds with 85' + 5''. None have been played with the other options players can agree (i.e. all moves in 90 minutes or 36 moves in 90 minutes + adjournment).

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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Richard Bates » Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:45 pm

I think one needs to be wary of seeing incremental time limits as some sort of panacea. 5 seconds a move is essentially blitz chess (and frankly if i'm playing blitz chess i want it to be over in 5 minutes).

Incremental time theoretically allows longer games to be played in single session chess, and has the obvious advantage of helping to avoid disputes in "drawn" positions, but they do not provide the thinking time which would be ideal. In practice the application of incremental time limits will often result in organisers speeding up the general speed of play, to accommodate the possibility of the occasional (but very rare) extremely long game (100+ moves).

At Hastings i had several games going to 50+ moves or thereabouts, and the time control there gives you essentially one shot at a semi proper think (although 20 minutes is barely that) to decide on an endgame plan (provided you reach the ending by the time control). Contrast with the standard seven hr session where you have a whole hour at your disposal after the first time control, and a further half hour should you need it. I just don't understand the need for faster time controls when playing one game a day. Under the Hastings time limit you would need to play 110 moves to have the equivalent time as that granted at the 4NCL. The six hr mark is reached at move 80 rather than move 60. That's quite a speeding up for the average endgame.

One might argue (if that's what you want) that it makes chess more "results oriented" under the logic "more mistakes => more decisive results", but this ignores the reality that mistakes, especially in the endgame, are often just as likely to turn wins into draws as draws into wins/losses.

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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:18 pm

I'm with those who distinguish between adjudications and adjournments here.

At least it is possible that a player can win with his own skill in an adjournment. And even if he wins because of the help of his computer in preparing for the adjournment, how is that significantly different from anyone winning a 20 move game in the first session by virtue of having discovered an opening novelty by preparing with his computer, or by reading chess literature, etc? The point is that he is at least doing some work for himself, and might legitimately expect grading points.

Adjudications are quite different. Most players stop working at this point; in my experience as an adjudicator very few even bother to submit analysis in support of their claim. Perhaps they assume that the adjudicator himself will just put it on his computer but I myself do not have any chess engine and I end up doing far more work than the players themselves. I generally find myself quite unsympathetic to the people whose adjudications are sent to me, in fact (and not just because I am unpaid!). It is not so bad when one player is clearly won and was presumably playing an idiot who lacked the grace to resign: I can see why he would not want to adjourn that game. But some positions, of course, really cannot be declared won or drawn with any confidence, and in these cases whichever person wanted to win should have done so for himself.

So I think that not grading adjudicated games is a good idea, on the basis that the winner has not earned his point, though if it also led to adjudications being scrapped, so much the better.

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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Greg Breed » Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:54 pm

John Curtis wrote:I’m against adjournment and adjudication for any games, and don’t believe they should be graded. A game should be between two players, not between two players, their computers, their friends and anonymous adjudicators. I understand the arguments for adjournment, especially regarding the decline in endgame skills, but I don’t believe these outweigh the argument that a game should be decided over the board with no interference. One might say that anyone prepared to study endgames can use the ‘game in one session’ rule to their advantage; indeed the little study I put into the game I now use for endgame study. It might mean that my openings haven’t changed for years, but knowledge of the Vancura position saved a valuable half point at the last 4NCL, meaning that Bristol won rather than drew our match.
I'm in semi-agreement here. I love endgames and I tend to do quite well in endgames in my grading category. My problem is getting there with a good or even equal position. I don't like adjudications because I tend to outplay my opponents later on in the game. The opening and early middle-game is where I struggle so adjudicating a position I know is in my opponents favour is not to my advantage when I know I generally play better later on. I've said before that I'm unsure whether grading adjudicated games is acceptable. I'm still unsure.
John Curtis wrote:Perhaps old dogs really can learn new tricks
In my experience, it's not whether they can learn new tricks, it's that they don't want to! Old dogs do not like change!
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Greg Breed
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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Greg Breed » Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:55 pm

Richard Bates wrote:I think one needs to be wary of seeing incremental time limits as some sort of panacea. 5 seconds a move is essentially blitz chess (and frankly if i'm playing blitz chess i want it to be over in 5 minutes).
I think you're missing the point here. You get 5 seconds a move added to whatever time you have on your clock. If you are down to seconds then your time management was poor. I'm not a strong player and tend not to think for that long unless the position requires it. I'll admit that I'm sometimes baffled at how some players think for 5-6 minutes per move for 15 moves in-a-row. Surely they should have calculated some of the variations and prepared responses. Sure - double-check - but wasting time is their fault not mine! Time management is as much a part of the modern game as the moves themselves.
There are some great quotes regarding time and i'll admit to my mind drawing a blank right now so I'll pinch a few from the web...
Some reinforce my argument, some weaken it:

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
Napolean Bonaparte

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.”
Albert Einstein

“You can't change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future”
Unknown

“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.”
Unknown

“Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Richard Bates wrote:Incremental time theoretically allows longer games to be played in single session chess, and has the obvious advantage of helping to avoid disputes in "drawn" positions, but they do not provide the thinking time which would be ideal. In practice the application of incremental time limits will often result in organisers speeding up the general speed of play, to accommodate the possibility of the occasional (but very rare) extremely long game (100+ moves).
True, but surely better than having to resume the game at a later date or having it adjudicated.
Richard Bates wrote:At Hastings i had several games going to 50+ moves or thereabouts, and the time control there gives you essentially one shot at a semi proper think (although 20 minutes is barely that) to decide on an endgame plan (provided you reach the ending by the time control). Contrast with the standard seven hr session where you have a whole hour at your disposal after the first time control, and a further half hour should you need it. I just don't understand the need for faster time controls when playing one game a day.
I think most of us are referring to league chess which is played in the evening. Most players are at work during the day so an overly long session is both impractical and unwanted.
Richard Bates wrote:One might argue (if that's what you want) that it makes chess more "results oriented" under the logic "more mistakes => more decisive results", but this ignores the reality that mistakes, especially in the endgame, are often just as likely to turn wins into draws as draws into wins/losses.
More results oriented than what? What it was before? Surely the whole point of the game and any other is to win. That's why it's called competition. Sure, I'm all for playing for the love of the game, but generally I want to win and I imagine everyone who playes chess is the same.
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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Greg Breed » Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:56 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:I'm with those who distinguish between adjudications and adjournments here.

At least it is possible that a player can win with his own skill in an adjournment. And even if he wins because of the help of his computer in preparing for the adjournment, how is that significantly different from anyone winning a 20 move game in the first session by virtue of having discovered an opening novelty by preparing with his computer, or by reading chess literature, etc? The point is that he is at least doing some work for himself, and might legitimately expect grading points.
I totally agree here. Both sides have an equal opportunity for analysis so it's hardly unfair.
Jonathan Rogers wrote:It is not so bad when one player is clearly won and was presumably playing an idiot who lacked the grace to resign: I can see why he would not want to adjourn that game. But some positions, of course, really cannot be declared won or drawn with any confidence, and in these cases whichever person wanted to win should have done so for himself.

So I think that not grading adjudicated games is a good idea, on the basis that the winner has not earned his point, though if it also led to adjudications being scrapped, so much the better.
I don't think that's right. In your example you quote a game going to adjudication because "an idiot lacked the grace to resign". Why should player 1 not benefit and why should the "idiot" not lose out? This, to me, seems to contradict your reasoning for not grading adjudications, as in this case, I would believe it to be justified.
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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by James Coleman » Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:56 pm

Yes. You'd have to have a system where any game that was played subject to adjudication (regardless of whether it reached adjudication or not) was not graded. So both players knew from the start they were playing an ungraded game. This would avoid the scenario of an "idiot" deliberately extending the game in a ludicrously lost position to save his grading points.

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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Greg Breed » Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:14 am

James Coleman wrote:Yes. You'd have to have a system where any game that was played subject to adjudication (regardless of whether it reached adjudication or not) was not graded. So both players knew from the start they were playing an ungraded game. This would avoid the scenario of an "idiot" deliberately extending the game in a ludicrously lost position to save his grading points.
Of course if the players knew that the game was ungraded at the start would they bother to play at all. What are we paying for then?
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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by John Upham » Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:23 am

Greg Breed wrote:What are we paying for then?
Could it be that you would enjoy playing chess rather than being concerned with rating points?

Perish the thought.
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Re: The grading of adjourned/adjudicted games

Post by Greg Breed » Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:44 am

John Upham wrote:
Greg Breed wrote:What are we paying for then?
Could it be that you would enjoy playing chess rather than being concerned with rating points?

Perish the thought.
I'm more than happy to play for enjoyment over rating points, but I do that at my club. If I have to make an effort to travel to an away match I expect it to be graded. After all, that's what are game fees are for.
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