A New Time Control

  • FM FM_Eric_Schiller
  • | Jun 23, 2012

By IA Eric Schiller

I propose a new time control to speed up games while preserving quality. Most games these days don’t require time in the prepared portions of openings or in technical positions in endgames. One minute per move is enough. However, more time is needed when the opening goes out of book and for developing a strategy and for deciding whether to enter an endgame. So I propose a control of one minute per move with each player getting three exceptions per game. This keeps the games to about the same for most sports broadcasts and allows for two games per day.

Each player has 60 seconds to make each move except that this limit may be exceeded three times per game. On one occasion the player may take up to ten minutes and on two occasions up to 5 minutes. The clock will count down from 60 seconds and when that is expired will automatically switch to 6-minute mode (assuming the player has one left) and light a 5-minute flag. If the 5 minutes are exhausted it will add another 5 minutes if the 10-minute exemption has not been used and light the to-minute indicator and reset the 5-minute indicator, otherwise it will indicate loss on time.  When all three indicators are lit, using up 60 seconds results in a loss on time.



  • Games last 3-4 hours maximum, usually 2 hours if 40 moves.
  • No long waits for spectators, but enough time for meaningful commentary.
  • Decent quality games, since most moves can be made quickly
  • Can be modified for playoff Armageddon style with Black receiving one extra 5-minute think or White losing one.
  • Tension for spectators as clock drops below ten seconds
  • Clocks always show real time remaining, no delay confusion


  • 2 years ago

    NM CraiggoryC

    Interesting but what about going to the bathroom? If you go 2x you lose?

  • 3 years ago

    FM FM_Eric_Schiller

    @BishopCannons: I agree with you.

  • 3 years ago


     A time increment of 10 to 30 seconds?  Why?  How is this fair to the competitor who manages his time well and gets their opponent into time pressure only to have that deserved advantage taken away with a time increment?  In the end game, a decent chess player can make a move within that time increment with their clock never counting down, effectively removing the time pressure they were in.  I don't think that's fair at all to the player who does a better job of managinig their time. 

  • 3 years ago


    most chess players are not "professionals" most chess players do not play in the world open. At the "club" I play at weekly we mostly play each player gets 40 minutes on clock with 5-10 second simply delay if someone pulls out a new fangled clock.It is close to blitz. who cares about spectaters who knows they are alive. 

  • 3 years ago


    I'm still in the beginning stages of learning chess. In all honesty, I don't pay attention to the time at all. I just look for the best move. My recent over the board record is like 1 - 10, but I value the quality of my moves more than the "W"

  • 4 years ago

    FM FM_Eric_Schiller

    @sonicheroes16: yes. Thanks!

  • 4 years ago


    "If you don't like the conditions, you don't have to participate"?  My, how friendly.

      Even those who don't participate still have a right to freedom of speech and expressing their opinion, (for now anyway, unless the current resident of the White House were to be re-elected, God forbid).  Many chess players are very concerned with the accelerating destruction of chess today with this unfortunate focus on speed/bullet chess.  It's ruining the game and it's no small surprise that as a result U.S.C.F. memberships and participation in chess in general is declining.  Chess is not a race.

  • 4 years ago


    Mr Schiller. Are you the guy who wrote "The Big Book of Chess"? Because if you did, I just want to tell you that I found it very interesting and my chess skill improved by a lot!! It has also resparked an interest in me for chess. Thank you!

  • 4 years ago


    There should not be another time control.  Time controls are already short as they are.  They don't need to get any shorter.  Also, who cares about the spectators.  Chess isn't for spectators!  It is for the players.  Besides, chess barely gets any spectators!  I can't think of one nonplayer I know who would sit and watch a chess match for two hours (or whatever it really adds up to).

  • 4 years ago


    These time controls are for the spectators to enjoy a quick game. Not for serious games. In every serious game, there is almost always a move where one player takes more than 10 minutes to make their move. 60 seconds just isn't enought time to calculate variations.

  • 4 years ago


    Poor content and quality again by mr "IA FM" eric.

    What am i talking about? well here is a quote:

    "Games last 3-4 hours maximum, usually 2 hours if 40 moves".

    I beg to differ!!

    Let's assume that a game is 40 moves and each player played ON THE VERY LAST SECOND on every move (which is usually NOT the case of course).

    Then the game would last (37+5+5+10)*2 minutes=57*2=114 minutes,which is less than two hours. You might argue then that this is very close to two hours? Well...NOPE! This is only under the assumption that each player played on the very last second (including the first 10 moves ie white took 59.9999 or more to play the first move,say 1.e4).

    Another way to see how poor the content is to look at the replay of Anand-Gelfand match. After the opening phase,and excluding obvious captures,I did not see even ONE move which was played in less than one minute (including Gelfand's blunder in his loss).

    Yet another way is to compare this horrible time control to Fide's 90+30,which is not the slowest one,under the same assumption that both players play using all of their time.

    Then,a 40 moves game would last (90+0.5*40) *2= 110*2=220 which is about twice as much as Mr Eric's suggestion.


    Thanks again for the not-so-thought-out poor quality article,Mr Schiller.

    NOT looking forward to the next blundered article :)

  • 4 years ago


    impractical. nobody plays chess having to worry you get one minute per move. i agree with zborg play in 90 with increased increments. blunders are part of chess and they come in abundance with time trouble so what? We're humans not computers.

  • 4 years ago


    chess is a sea of blunders, so i heard. why not ask to ban blitz and bullet chess too if the argument is to stop "deterioration of quality of chess games"? funny.

  • 4 years ago


    In my opinion, the propose new time control has more disadvantages than advantages. Sometimes, masters deliberately delay the move for psychological reasons, don't forget to think about that...

  • 4 years ago


    The objections are because people don't want to see even more of a deterioration in chess quality, which is the inevitable consequence of faster time controls.

    How is it difficult to understand that people don't want more bad chess to be played, and don't want even more games won by stupid blunders in time trouble?

  • 4 years ago


    what if you need to visit the bathroom? that's one think gone already. n what if you already used your three thinks and then need to go to the bathroom? do you cross your legs or sprint for it? could get messy. im just sayin' ...

  • 4 years ago

    FM FM_Eric_Schiller

    @SanWogi: I have suggested the same thing, with positions drawn from a database of positions computer evaluated between -0.25 and +0.25. But no one has tried this yet.

  • 4 years ago


    i dont like this idea. just make the time control shorter. anybody interested in the topic could check recent anand/shirov experimental match to see how the new time control works.

  • 4 years ago


    I'd suggest to let go of these time constraints. The time control should be a frame, not the main thing in chess. The preparation war hasn't much to do with the time control. One might solve that by generating random, but equal starting positions (no Fischer random, but computer generated positions 10-15 moves from the starting position) they have to start with to avoid too much theory. That would change a lot, but not too much, in the character of the game.  

  • 4 years ago

    FM FM_Eric_Schiller

    The question of preparation is an empirical one and does not require chess skill to analyze. In the past, players were out of book early in the game, you can see this in their commentaries. Even in 1981 players were already following book past move 30, see Kasparov's games in Sermi-Slav. When playing prepared moves you certainly don't need 3 minutes per move. That's why chess went from a standrd 40/2.5 hrs. to 40/2. We now have many tournaments at 30/90, where the entire first control can be prepared.

    One can use a databse and search for tghe point where a novelty occurred and plot graphs showing how deep opening theory is, on average, at any point in time (by limiting search to games played previously). It would be an interesting study for someone with the time and patience to do it. But I think it is obvious that on average prparation is much deeper now.

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