As most of you know, instead of playing 75 minutes + 15 minutes quick-play finish, we are allowed to use increments in the Suffolk League.   To date, very few people have tried this, although those who have have found no problem with it.   If you are using increments (also known as ‘Fischer timing’) you start with the same 75 minutes, but instead of a quick-play finish, you receive an additional 10 seconds for every move, from move 1.

Most games played with increments are slightly shorter than those with a quick-play finish.   This is because a 30-move game will take an hour and 20 minutes each, and a 60-move game takes an hour and 25 minutes each.   You will need to play 90 moves to reach the same 1½ hours as in a quick-play finish.   Very few games in the League last this long.

One of the reasons that players reject the use of increments is because the 10 seconds added each move is considered too little time.   If you were to run out of your initial stock of 75 minutes, you would have to make a move every 10 seconds, else lose on time.

I plan to propose to the SCCA Committee and to the AGM that we change the timings from 75 minutes + 10 seconds per move, to 65 minutes + 20 seconds per move.   This has the distinct advantage that you would have longer to think if your time runs out; you would need to make a move within 20 seconds, which is not unreasonable.   The 4NCL uses 30 seconds per move, by the way, but with only one game played each day, there’s plenty of time to finish the game, even if it goes on for six or seven hours.

As has been pointed out before, the main advantage of using increments is that there’s no ‘Rule 10.2’ – the ‘two-minute’ rule, when you can claim a draw in the last two minutes of your time if you feel your opponent is making no effort to win ‘by normal means’.   This can cause major problems in a match where there is no arbiter.

I would like to know what Suffolk players think of my proposal.   A 30-move game would last an hour and a quarter each (slightly less than the current 75 minutes + 10 seconds per move); a 60-move game would last for an hour and 25 minutes each (the same as the current timings), and a 90-move game would extend just over, with an hour and 35 minutes each.   If that is seen likely to cause a problem with venues, the initial stock could be decreased to 60 minutes (instead of 65), when a 90-move game would take an hour and a half each.

Please post your comments below.

11 thoughts on “Increments
  1. I think 10 seconds is plenty. If the alternative is to blitz it out to a finish then 10 seconds is a luxury! Plus one idea of increments is to be able to finish a won endgame rather than succumb to a time pressured draw, so 10 seconds is enough to play out that winning position. Prior to the finish some time management should give more than 10 seconds available per move.

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      You are wrong and you simply have not got a won endgame if you have no time to finish the opponent off. The board position may be clearly winning, Well played but tough if you have no time left.
      The clock is as much part of the game and rules of chess as the way the King and Queen move. You have to play both the opponent and the clock and so you have to win in the time allotted for the game.
      That is how it has been since clocks were introduced.
      Now you want to change the rules to your advantage and therefore to your opponent's disadvantage.
      I don't think I like that much.
      David Green

  2. In Australia, all the tournament games are with increment. I don't think that I have seen a single tournament game here without using increment. How many games do you play a day in the league? The standard timing here is 90 +30. The difference is that the 4NCL have a 40 move / extra 30 min cut-off which extends the length of the game significantly. Without the cut-off, the general length is about 3 – 4 hrs per game. Indeed , there is a tournament happening here in Ballarat as I write this, which uses 90+30 and they fit in 2 games+ 3 games + 2 games over a three-day bank holiday weekend. The other commonly used time limit here is 75+30, which would provide shorter games (or even 60+30) but these would not be FIDE-rateable. Regards, Kai

    1. Kai (Justin Tan's Dad for those who don't know) – League matches here are held on weekday evenings. They start at 19.30 and need to finish by 22.30, as many venues are only available until that time. So increments that could extend the game much beyond 3 hours are not viable. Our league games are not FIDE-rateable.

  3. Hello,

    While I am no 150+ player, I bumble along playing at a standard equal to most of the board 3 and 4 players in Div 2 and so I write as a roughly average level player for the Suffolk league. My results are pleasing this year with 12 Suffolk league games played making me the fourth highest scorer in Div 3 so far.

    Just your average mid Suffolk dinosaur. I lumber about and I have a bit of a bite.

    I have been doing a bit of research by checking the length of my own " serious" chess games that I have stored on my laptop over the past 3 years. The average number of moves is around 43 and in most of them my opponent had used most of their time under the 75+15 minutes timing when the game ended.

    The change to Fischer increment would have seen my opponents needing to play significantly faster than they did in these relatively short games.

    While only one of my opponents lost on time, at move 30 they had about 5 minutes of initial time left. The remaining moves would then have to be played in 5 minutes + 30×10 seconds, a total of 10 minutes and then they have to play on the increment. Essentially my opponent then has to play 10 second blitz while I have my usual adequate reserve of time, 45 minutes in my drawn game against Stephen Pride, to make the situation as complex as I possibly can.

    Increase the increment, decrease the fixed time, whatever happens time will run out somewhere because most venues shut at about 11 PM and I suggest that this is more than late enough when faced with a return journey from Saxmundham, Clacton or Cambridge..

    Please decide amongst yourselves what increment gives you the most advantage/disadvantage for your style of play. I could not care less provided you leave us dinosaurs the option of using an analogue clock for the rest of my sixth decade of playing competitive chess.

    David Green

  4. Although I have had experience of playing incremental or Fischer control games in a tournament abroad a couple of seasons ago and more recently this season in the 4NCL, I have not been over enthusiastic to try it out at a local level precisely because the increment is only 10 seconds. My experience to date has been with 30 second increments and I found that that gave adequate time for reflection.
    If there is a real drive to move to this type of time control (and I can see the advantages of this) then I would be more enthusiastic with 20 seconds. 30 seconds would probably take it too far given the three hour time slot for an evening game.
    As it stands I can take it or leave it. However if incremental times become more acceptable (as I think it eventually will) then it should become the default play rather than the optional one.

    1. Sorry Ian ,
      I was almost fully in agreement with your post until you suggested that incremental become the default making the option for non-incremental i.e. analogue timing optional. This throws away nearly two centuries of Chess practice and is as unacceptable to me as changing the position of the Knights and Bishops at the start of play.
      The clocks and their use are part of the game and no-one is advocating changing the rules of chess and maybe the next step is to suggest that a digital chess board rather than a good old analogue one is mandatory.

    2. Can I be just a little pedantic.
      You said "I will be proposing to" when surely you mean that you will be proposing on behalf of your club, Bury St. Edmunds Chess Club. Or is it the case that committee members get to propose their own individual ideas for rules and constitutional change without working through their club? If so please make every chess player participating in the SCCA competitions a vice- president so we all have the same access.

      David Green

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *