Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An Alternative To Time Increment

Tse Pin brought up some pros and cons of time increment in chess tournaments. One of the cons that was brought up was this:
As for the Organiser, each round have to start late if experienced players go into Bishop opposite colour endgame where the game may exceed 120 or even 150 moves with no end in sight and refuse to draw. For your information, a typical chess schedule with increment time is built based on 60 moves per game. In this case, 70 minutes per round. A 120-move game in every round will set back the schedule by 20 minutes for every round. This will add another 2 hours to the schedule for a 6-round competition. As for Arbiter, he shouldered a huge responsibility to make sure the event is able to finish as per schedule, else the Organiser reputation is at stake. Do you still remember one event that was played from 9am until midnight several years ago?
Yes, the problem with time increment is that it doesn't set a maximum to the time that can be added on to both players. When I was in the US, I saw a very interesting time control which I have yet to see in this part of the world. They called it "Time Delay". Basically, time delay means that after your opponent presses the clock, there will be a delay, typically five seconds, before your time starts moving. This works like an increment except that the time does not get added on to your clock. This still has the benefit of avoiding the "draw claim" scenario because in an obviously drawn position, players should be able to make moves in under five seconds, which doesn't start their time and in such a case, the arbiter can easily declare a draw.

I think it is a great benchmark for a draw claim. If players want to claim a drawn game, they should be able to play a move in under five seconds to demonstrate a clear draw.

And how in the world do we set such a time control? I don't know about the clocks that are being used by the organizers here in Malaysia, but here is such a clock that allows you to set such a time control:

It is called the Excalibur II and it costs about USD40. I don't get any money from this. You can buy the clock and try it out for yourself. Personally, I bought one such clock and I really like it. It is easy to use, the numbers are big, which is great for the elderly. Of course, the delay does not have to be set at five seconds. You can even set it higher. Perhaps, this is the future of time control in chess?