Very long games in weekend tournaments

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James Toon
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Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by James Toon » Sun Apr 16, 2023 9:02 am

I am looking for advice on handling very long games in weekend tournaments. This follows our experience in the recent Guildford FIDE Congress.
(1) In round 1, Tim Foster v Peter Lalic was 214 moves in a playing session that lasted 7 hours and finished at 1.30am on Saturday morning.
(2) In round 2, Graeme Buckley v James Merriman was 124 moves in a playing session that lasted over 5 hours and was still continuing when round 3 in the other sections started.

In this tournament, we used the incremental time control of G90 + 30s for all games. The event was FIDE-rated and was open to players rated over 2400, so we had to offer a minimum playing session of 4 hours.

In future we would like to reduce the risk of games lasting more than 5 hours. There are various ways we could do this, none of which is ideal. I would be interested to know what other tournament organisers do.

1. Change the ratio of game time to increment. For example G110 + 10s would also comply with FIDE requirements. Games lasting more than 60 moves would finish earlier than with G90 + 30s. On the other hand, players would not be required to record the moves from the moment their clock first went below 5 minutes. Also it reduces the thinking time available in the ending.

2. Use a time control with a guillotine in the final session rather than an increment. For example 120min/40 + 30min/end would guarantee a maximum session of 5 hours. But it would increase the risk of players losing on time, and we would have to deal with claims under the 2-minute rule.

3. Devise a time control with an increment that reduced in later periods. For example 90min/40 + 30s, then 30min/end + 5s. If I've got this right, a game would require 160 moves to reach 5 hours in total. Similar disadvantages to option 2, though less extreme. I think all the DGT clocks (2010, 3000, 2500) allow you to provide for time controls with a different bonus in each period. Alternatively the bonus amount could be changed manually by the arbiter once the required number of moves had been made. This might focus the minds of the players.

I am a supporter of incremental time controls but I accept that any system with an increment in the final period could go on indefinitely. I suppose there's a balance to be struck between allowing players enough time to think in the final stages and needing to keep round timings under control.

Wadih Khoury
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Wadih Khoury » Sun Apr 16, 2023 9:58 am

I personally went with 110+10.
It has a lot of pros given the constraints.
My main worry was how would I handle any disagreement when the players stopped writing. An illegal move claim or a threefold répétition claim.

Paul Dupré
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Paul Dupré » Sun Apr 16, 2023 10:36 am

Hi James,

The problem as I see it is this; people don't like to admit their own incompetence.

I was there and I totally enjoyed the 2½ hour wait for a lift home from Peter Lalic.

Previously, I was away from chess for over 5 years from 2011 to 2016, and when I came back I was pleased to see Fischer bonus timings had become the new big thing. Though, some leagues had held on to adjudications and adjournments and that disappointed me immensely.

However, now I see major flaws in the implementation of the increment. Least of all what you describe above. As it happens both Peter and Tim lost out as they had to take a bye in the next round. But, also because it's does away with the 2-minute rule which I now think is okay as long as the arbiter can see that the defender knows what they are doing and replies instantly. Otherwise, if you lose on time - tough.

I had discussed Fischer timings with Steve Boniface at least 20 years ago on our way back to Bristol after a 4NCL weekend, and we were both of the opinion that for the 4NCL (a professional chess league) it was a good idea. 30 seconds bonus would eliminate the loss of game scores, and his fellows arbiters were all in favour.

This is what I think. Chess is a game played between two players for a limited amount of time in general. Fischer increment causes that time to be distorted and the only reason for using increment appears to be the belief that we can play a perfect game, if given enough time. I'm afraid most players are just deluded.

I could give you an example of why each off these don't work for local chess leagues:-
1.Adjudications - cheating.
2.Adjournments - cheating.
3.Fischer bonus increment - not many clubs have unlimited time available. Imposing professional standards on amateur players is a major flaw in itself.

But, alas I don't have the time.

In answer to your questions above I would say this; firstly you're not asking the right questions. And secondly, if it's a FIDE event, the draw should be done on FIDE ratings, NOT the best of both as was done at Guildford. I was most surprised to find out that my opponents ratings weren't even 1700s, but 2 were not rated at all, and the 3 others had FIDE ratings in the 1600s. I find that most disconcerting and dishonest to be fair.

Best regards,
Paul Dupré
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Apr 16, 2023 11:51 am

James Toon wrote:
Sun Apr 16, 2023 9:02 am

3. Devise a time control with an increment that reduced in later periods. For example 90min/40 + 30s, then 30min/end + 5s.

A variant on that theme would be all moves in 120 minutes, but with an increment of 5 or 10 seconds at move 61. Or 40 moves in 90 minutes, then an extra 30 minutes, again with the increment at move 61. There would be the problem of players not being required to record moves with less than 5 minutes remaining, but what if DGT sensory boards were in use throughout?

As far as league play is concerned, buth the Bucks League and the Berks League have adopted 80 minutes with 10 second increments. In practice this seems to give marginally earlier finishes than other systems used in the past.

This year the Bourne End One-Day Congress switched from all moves in 40 minutes to all moves in 30 minutes with 5 second increments. Round times were left unchanged. Games seemed to finish by the scheduled completion even including a mate with Bishop and Knight against King.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Ian Thompson » Sun Apr 16, 2023 12:22 pm

Whilst it doesn't solve the underlying problem, using a delay instead of an increment for some/all of the game will reduce the likely duration of games and lessen the incentive a player has to make pointless moves to gain time on the clock.

Shortening the increment/delay after a large number of moves would be my preferred solution.

I'd suggest something like:
  • 90 minutes + 30 seconds increment/delay for the first 90 moves of the game
  • 10 seconds increment/delay for the remainder of the game
I'd use increments for the first 90 moves of the game and delays for the remainder of the game.

That means:
  • The vast majority of games will be played wholly at 90 + 30 and be over within 4.5 hours.
  • If a game lasted 5 hours at least 180 moves would have been played.
  • Your 124 moves game would have lasted no more than 4 hours 42 minutes.
  • Your 214 moves game would have lasted no more than 5 hours 12 minutes.
If that's still too long then switch from 30 seconds increments/delays to 10 seconds increments/delays at move 75 instead of move 90. That would reduce the maximum length of the two long games by 10 minutes.

If I've understood the DGT 2010 manual correctly it should be noted that changing the increment during a game, or switching from increments to delays, will require the arbiter to manually adjust the clock because:
  • You can't set time controls that have increments for some time periods and delays for others.
  • You can only set one increment time for the whole game (although you can choose the move number it applies from).
  • You can have different delay times for each intermediate time control applying to the game.
I'd accept that limitation of the time control because very few games would be affected by it. If that was unacceptable delays could be used for the whole game to avoid it.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Joey Stewart » Tue Apr 18, 2023 9:59 am

To be fair, almost all games exceeding 100 moves will not be because it was a great evenly matched position that took a long time to resolve but because of players taking the piss and belligerently playing on well beyond what should have reasonably been concluded as a draw just because the increments allow it (personally I feel like the offending parties should have been thrown out of the tournament in the cases above)
A simple solution would be to use the clock setting where you no longer receive increments after 100 moves and force those time wasters into a conclusion.
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:05 am

Joey Stewart wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2023 9:59 am
A simple solution would be to use the clock setting where you no longer receive increments after 100 moves and force those time wasters into a conclusion.
Which they would then win on time!
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:34 am

Joey Stewart wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2023 9:59 am
A simple solution would be to use the clock setting where you no longer receive increments after 100 moves and force those time wasters into a conclusion.

That however negates an advantage of increments that arbiters are not required to make possibly subjective decisions in the event of "unable to win" claims.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Joey Stewart » Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:36 am

NickFaulks wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:05 am
Joey Stewart wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2023 9:59 am
A simple solution would be to use the clock setting where you no longer receive increments after 100 moves and force those time wasters into a conclusion.
Which they would then win on time!
Good! Serves them right - they already had far more time then they deserved.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

Mike Gunn
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Mike Gunn » Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:57 am

If you limit yourself to using option 18 on the DGT 2010 then you can use the clock in exactly the same way as an analogue clock (but with the added benefit of having increments). So (say) after 40 moves have been played in 90 mins with a 30 sec increment you could change to whatever additional time and increment you choose for the 2nd period (e.g. 0 mins plus 10 sec increment). You do this by holding down the central button on the clock for a few seconds when the display starts flashing and you can change all the figures using the +/- buttons. This is actually easier than what we used to do with analogue clocks when a bit of maths was required too. (And players were trusted to do it without any interference from arbiters.)

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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Paul McKeown » Tue Apr 18, 2023 1:56 pm

James, this particular incident has, I believe already been dealt with in this thread.

I think both threads have some useful ideas.

I think in any tournament using incremental time controls you need to have a strategy to deal with the occasional game that lasts an inordinate length of time. I would suggest that the following are possible, in decreasing order of desirability (but a fantastically long game might demand the use of several of the potential measures):
[*] change from Fischer bonus mode to Bronstein delay mode timing
[*] reduce the length of increment - this may have the disadvantage that the players are no longer required to note their scores, in which case an arbiter's scribe will have to appointed;
[*] adjourn the game if the start of the next round is threatened, or if the venue is to close imminently, or if it is already ridiculous o'clock in the wee small hours and the arbiters need to get to bed;
[*] impose a QPF - I would do this only in the most extreme cases, such as the Lady Mayor making gestures towards the door after the prize distribution having already been delayed long past all small talk, champagne and canapés have been exhausted, or in the private view of the organisers and the arbiters that the players were simply taking the proverbial.

Any or all of these could be implemented after e.g. a number of moves, or a given period has elapsed after the penultimate time control has been reached, or a given period has elapsed since the start of the game, or a given time before the next round has been passed, or a given time on the clock has been passed.
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Chris Goodall
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Chris Goodall » Wed Apr 19, 2023 3:42 pm

As Roger noted already, the cost of having limited-time games is draw claims in the last 2 minutes.

Organisers, given a choice between the headache of adjudicating draw claims and the headache of accommodating games of indefinite length, opted enthusiastically for the latter. They knew what the consequences would be.

We could amend Appendix G to allow draw claims either in the last 2 minutes of a game played without increments, or after move 100 regardless, but then there is pressure on the arbiter to award the draw before they're absolutely certain.

We could have a list of positions that are officially unwinnable by normal means, that are automatic draws if claimed by the stronger side, like KRvKQ, KRvKRB, KNNvKQ.
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Nick Ivell
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Nick Ivell » Wed Apr 19, 2023 4:36 pm

KR v KQ is unwinnable?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Apr 19, 2023 5:05 pm

Chris Goodall wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2023 3:42 pm
We could have a list of positions that are officially unwinnable by normal means, that are automatic draws if claimed by the stronger side, like KRvKQ, KRvKRB, KNNvKQ.
Did you really mean "stronger side". Surely any claim of a draw by the side with a Queen against a Rook, a Rook and Bishop against Rook, or Queen against two knoghts would be upheld without much thought?

Nick Ivell
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Re: Very long games in weekend tournaments

Post by Nick Ivell » Wed Apr 19, 2023 5:13 pm

I always thought QvR was a technical win, unless computers have shown something different.

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