The use of incremental (Fischer) timings is increasing. If you play in the 4NCL, then you will be familiar with the 30 second increment that is added from the first move. It makes for a better standard of chess, because even if you run out of your initial stock of time, you know you still have 30 seconds to make your next move.
The other local league, the Bury Area Chess League, first provided the opportunity in the 2007/08 season to use Fischer timings, provided both players agreed. A few players did try it out, and in 2014/15 it became the default option in the League’s Division 1. ‘Traditional’ timings would only be used if both players agreed. This was immediately successful and in the current season (2016/17) Fischer timing was extended to Division 2. At the League’s next AGM it is likely that all three divisions will have Fischer timing as the default.
But in the Suffolk League, where traditional timings are still the default option, Fischer timing is rarely used. Most clubs now have the DGT clocks which make the setting of Fischer timing straightforward.
My suggestion, which will be taken to the next Committee Meeting of the League, is to follow the BACL route and make incremental timing the default option in Division 1. If this is accepted, we can extend this to Divisions 2 and 3 in due course, subject to AGM approval of course.
There are a number of objections to incremental timings,, foremost of which is the worry that games may continue long after the three-hour limit set by many venues. However, to the best of my knowledge there has not been a single instance in the Bury League of a game continuing longer than three hours. The BACL uses 70 minutes plus 15 seconds per move. This means that a game of 60 moves would take 2 hours 50 minutes. A game would have to extend beyond 80 moves if it is to take longer than three hours, which is very rare in league chess. Some other leagues around the country use different timings – 75 + 10 seconds is popular. However there is some objection to such a small increment. The extra five seconds in the Bury League system permits a better standard of chess.
Watching a game where a player has exhausted his initial stock of time can be very exciting. We all know players who regularly get into ‘time trouble’. But they are well-adapted to handling this situation, often pressing the clock with only a second or two remaining, and seeing the clock reverting to 16 or 17 seconds!
There’s another important benefit of using incremental timings. The old ‘10.2’ rule, whereby a player may claim a draw in the last two minutes, does not apply. This avoids the situation where captains (if available) have to make an often difficult decision.
I would like to hear your opinion on the introduction of increments in the Suffolk League. Please comment using the link below.