4NCL Time control

Venues, fixtures, teams and related matters.
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Thomas Rendle
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4NCL Time control

Post by Thomas Rendle » Mon Mar 18, 2024 10:29 am

I think the 4NCL is the best thing in English Chess during my time as a serious player - although I recognise it has had its challenges in recent years!

In recent years we've seen the move to faster time controls in international chess tournaments. Obviously some of this is the need / desire to have the option of two games in a day, but I don't think it's the only reason! Obviously I'm aware that one attraction of the 4NCL is the ability to play a serious and (very?) slow game, but I thought it was at least examining further.

The current time control is 40 moves in 100 minutes, +50 minutes to finish the game, with 30s/move added from move 1. This leads to 40 moves in 4 hours (before the time is added on). A 60 moves game can last up to 6 hours, 80 moves up to 6 hours 20, 100 moves 6 hour 40 etc.

With the games starting at 2pm on Saturday this means that if you want to eat at 8pm there's a decent chance one or more of your players may still be playing. Obviously you can eater later than 8pm, but then it's already pretty late by the time you get back to the hotel bar! On the Sunday there will usually be some games going past 5pm (I have played until 5.30pm at least once). With the quality of Sunday trains (I'm sure many experienced the joys of these again yesterday!) it can make for some rather tricky journeys home. I know of some players that have further to travel that would find it borderline impossible to get home if there game went this late on a day there was a problem with the trains.

I've spoken to some generally sympathetic players & team captains at the 4NCL and I wanted to open it up to a wider debate. Should the 4NCL consider moving to a faster time control? I think all moves in 90+30 is unrealistic. An alternative might be 40 moves in 90 minutes, +30 minutes. Or 40 moves in 100 minutes +20 or 30min if you want to keep the 3-minutes per move standard for the first 40 moves.

To get this changed we'd presumably need a motion prepared by the team captains, but I wanted to gauge thoughts from those involved in the 4NCL first.

Tim Spanton
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Tim Spanton » Mon Mar 18, 2024 10:49 am

I have no strong feelings on this, but to me the best argument for a quicker time control is the ability to be more confident about booking a team meal on the Saturday evening.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Mar 18, 2024 10:57 am

I have to admit I don't know what is usual in International Opens. What is normal?

Thomas Rendle
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Thomas Rendle » Mon Mar 18, 2024 11:01 am

I don't play that many opens anymore but something like 90min +30s/move for the entire game is pretty popular, as is 40 moves in 90, +30min to finish (+30/move), or the same but 15 minutes to finish instead of 30.

Mick Norris
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Mar 18, 2024 12:07 pm

Is 4NCL the same as the Bundesliga?

Would it be possible for an earlier start on either day?

Is it possible to survey the players at the final weekend?
Any postings on here represent my personal views

Ian Thompson
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Ian Thompson » Mon Mar 18, 2024 12:54 pm

Mick Norris wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2024 12:07 pm
Is 4NCL the same as the Bundesliga?

Would it be possible for an earlier start on either day?

Is it possible to survey the players at the final weekend?
The current 4NCL time limit is the same as the German league - https://www.schachbundesliga.de/die-liga/format.

An earlier start on Saturday probably wouldn't be appreciated by those travelling long distances to play. 11 am on Sunday is early enough. For those wanting to prepare for their opponents, it's a 9:30 am start already.

I think the occasional person missing the team meal on a Saturday night is a sufficiently rare occurrence that's it's not worth changing things for. No-one in my team has missed it so far this season, so that's 0 occurrences out of 48. The worst that's happened is that someone's arrived a little late 3 or 4 times.

AdamBremner
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by AdamBremner » Mon Mar 18, 2024 1:20 pm

A slightly shorter time control would really help with travel. As an example, the last possible train to get to Scotland after the last round in May is 17:26. That means if your game goes the distance and you use public transport, you are not getting home. That’s not a great position to be in. It also doesn’t help for Daventry that the nearest train station is already quite far away, and a few of the venues have a similar public transport problem. I suspect people going far south also are in the same boat.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Mon Mar 18, 2024 4:33 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2024 12:54 pm
Mick Norris wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2024 12:07 pm
Is 4NCL the same as the Bundesliga?

Would it be possible for an earlier start on either day?

Is it possible to survey the players at the final weekend?
The current 4NCL time limit is the same as the German league - https://www.schachbundesliga.de/die-liga/format.

An earlier start on Saturday probably wouldn't be appreciated by those travelling long distances to play. 11 am on Sunday is early enough. For those wanting to prepare for their opponents, it's a 9:30 am start already.

I think the occasional person missing the team meal on a Saturday night is a sufficiently rare occurrence that's it's not worth changing things for. No-one in my team has missed it so far this season, so that's 0 occurrences out of 48. The worst that's happened is that someone's arrived a little late 3 or 4 times.
I should think that the problems are more pronounced in the first division, perhaps considerably so. It was forever a problem when we had two teams in division one (not so on this last Saturday, with instead one team in division two :cry: ).

Nor does the length of the game just affect Saturday evenings, as noted above. Sometimes people didn't want to travel from abroad because of the likelihood of missing flight connections back on the Sunday evening. Admittedly this can rarely be guaranteed but chess players are quite suited to taking calculated risks, and so lowering the risk might still have an effect.

Ian Thompson
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Ian Thompson » Mon Mar 18, 2024 4:41 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2024 4:33 pm
Sometimes people didn't want to travel from abroad because of the likelihood of missing flight connections back on the Sunday evening.
If the rules have the effect of discouraging teams from busing in foreign players for the weekend, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Mon Mar 18, 2024 4:48 pm

Bad. You assume far too much in thinking that the buses will be full of mercenary GMs. Moreover, no one is saying that there is a shortage of opportunities for domestic players to play 4NCL - the reverse is true, it is getting ever harder to get full teams out and so having the option of asking a player from abroad (though very often a former UK resident) to come back for the weekend can make all the difference.

Nick Ivell
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Nick Ivell » Mon Mar 18, 2024 4:49 pm

Playing in Daventry I often found myself paying a small fortune for a taxi to Rugby. It did not fill me with the milk of human kindness.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Joey Stewart » Tue Mar 19, 2024 6:48 pm

It feels like 4ncl (and competitive chess in general) is getting pushed further back towards the old days when only the most rich and elite players can really afford to compete - Meals are now awkward and expensive then ever (players from my club have reported all cut off times for ordering before 8pm at some places) and I wouldn't even consider public transport an option anymore.

None of this is really the fault of the league itself, mind you, more the general decline in reliable venues and affordable venues + the transport network being at rock bottom.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Roger Lancaster » Tue Mar 19, 2024 8:27 pm

It's a fair subject to raise but, leaving aside the question of players who have to fly in, surely most of the 'domestic' teams have one or two players with their own transport who might give teammates a lift in return for chipping in towards the petrol cost? As to "only the most rich and elite players can really afford to compete", participation in any national competition is likely to be (and always has been) expensive for anyone not residing close to the venue. Take, for example, the 4NCL Easter event which starts 3.0 Friday afternoon and ends 7.0 Monday evening. That's travel to/from Peterborough (with less chance of a lift!) plus a minimum of 3 nights hotel costs - 4 for those who can't rely on getting back Monday night - which will put it out of the financial reach of many but has nevertheless attracted 112 entries at time of writing.

Peter Ackley
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by Peter Ackley » Wed Mar 20, 2024 8:30 am

Whilst not the same standard player as Thomas I have to admit part of the attraction of the 4NCL is the longer time limit and, looking at my longer games, I see I usually make use of nearly all of the time. It makes a nice change from leagues, and even tournaments, to be playing these longer sessions and, after Spirit of Atticus folded, is the main reason I have remained playing in the league.

That being said I do appreciate from a meal point of view (from the Spirit of Atticus days I remember the late Mike Johnson grinding out many a win, starting at the 6-hour mark) it can make things difficult and when lift sharing one long game on the Sunday can make the journey annoying (many people know the story of me giving Jim Burnett a lift back, me winning in 20 minutes against a filler, Jim taking over 7 hours in a 140 move epic). I can't comment on missing last forms of transport home as I have no experience of being in this position (sorry).

I suppose, therefore, that whilst I would prefer the longer time limits however if sufficient people wanted a change for the valid reasons Thomas gives I would not stand in the way. I would prefer it, though, if at least we could keep the additional time at move 40 and the 30-second increment. This at least would differentiate the 4NCL from all other forms of chess these days.

On the flip side I disagree with Joey. Chess is not getting elitist. Prices are going up everywhere which means that if anyone wants to do anything they are going to have to pay more money. Clearly for some (and this being a growing number in the current economic climate) this is going to be prohibitive but this is not the fault of chess or the 4NCL. Indeed the 4NCL works hard to find reasonable venues (finding any venue is getting more and more difficult, let alone one which is cost-effective and meets the 4NCL's requirements) and works with the venues to get discounted rates on the accommodation. Furthermore there are always room-sharing options available and, unlike other activities I have been involved in, there is no requirement to stay at the venue, no requirement to partake in the meals at the venue. For those who are more price sensitive there are plenty of ways of bringing the costs down.

I wonder (and I have commented on this before) if the issue is not elitism but once again the fact that chess players just don't like spending money...

NickFaulks
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Re: 4NCL Time control

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Mar 22, 2024 5:22 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2024 12:54 pm
I think the occasional person missing the team meal on a Saturday night is a sufficiently rare occurrence that's it's not worth changing things for.
It is a real problem if they are the designated driver!
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