Increments – or ‘Fischer timing’ – whichever you prefer, although the former seems to be gaining precedence.

We’ve had the ability to use increments in the Suffolk League for the past season, but how many times has it been used?   Not many, I suspect.

Often, this is because of the hassle of re-setting the clocks.   But it can be made easy if you pre-set your clocks.

Several clubs now have some DGT 2010 digital clocks, including Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Manningtree, Stowmarket and Saxmundham.   This is how to pre-set them:

1.   Switch on the clock;
2.   Press the + button to 18;
3.   Set the time on both sides to 1:15;
4.   Set the bonus to 10 seconds on both sides.

That’s it.   The clock remembers those settings, so the next time you switch on the clock, all you have to do is to go to ’18’, press enter and the middle button and it’s ready to go.

For normal settings (1:15 + 15 minutes to finish), the magic number is ’05’.   Use a similar procedure to set the clocks at 1:15 and 0:15 for the second period.

If you pre-set all your clocks on both the 05 and 18 settings, then all you have to do is ask your opponent what timings they want.   If ‘standard’, use ’05’; if ‘increments’, use ’18’.

The main benefit of using increments over a 15-minute finish is that no claim of a draw can be made under the 10.2 rule (opponent making no effort to win by normal means).   That rule really needs a qualified arbiter to sort out, which most captains are not.

Whilst on this subject, I wonder if it would be better to amend the timings from 1:15 + 10 seconds per move to 1:00 + 20 seconds per move?   The former gives you only 10 seconds to make each move when you run out of your original stock of time, which is rather too quick.   20 seconds is more reasonable, and closer to the 30-second increment used in FIDE rated events, such as the 4NCL and the e2e4 tournaments.

The downside is that games could, in theory, last longer than three hours.   With the current increment of 10 seconds, a game would need to continue for more than 120 moves to exceed the three-hour limit.   With a 20-second increment (and 1 hour), three hours are reached after 90 moves.   But very few games last that long; you would be well into your second scoresheet.

Your views will be welcome in the comments below.

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