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Incremental Times
This deserves a thread on its own.

I think incremental times are the way forward. They do take getting used to. At the Olympiad I was on the top boards of the Women's event. It was obvious that the use of the incremental time control did change the nature of the game significantly.

Obviously there were no time scrambles but instead you got longer time pressure situations. Instead of having a 10 minute period of intensive thought and movement you could have over twice that approaching the 40 move control but more so towards the end of the game where you didn't have 5-10 minute blitz but instead perhaps 30 minutes of constant pressure on the players.

I think it is necessary for Scottish players of all levels to get used to that situation. It is clear to me that those who aren't used to it are at a significant disadvantage.

While mistakes can still be made, these are less common. Games do not swing to and fro. Instead you get more ground out wins or prolonged struggles to achieve the draw. Effectively, skill rather than luck plays its part.

It is known that I have wanted to introduce a congress with increments for some considerable time. There were two problems to this - the lack of sufficient clocks and the lack of a speaking clock for the visually impared. The former is becoming less of a problem and there are now two 'talking clocks' on the market. DGT has stalled in producing a third and I believe that they require 'sponsorship' of €20-30,000 to continue development.

I ran a lightning tournament using incremental times for a few years. The first year in particular there were a large number of complaints during the first few rounds. Eventually these disappeared and some of the most vociferous at the start were the most supportive at the end.

FIDE is about to change the Laws to allow an incremental clock to be introduced in th final stages of the game. However this will give only 5 seconds per move and though it may be a useful way of solving disputes over draw claims in the last two minutes (10.2 for those who know the Laws) it is nowhere near the same thing as the continuous 'pressure' put on by having to play every move every 30 seconds for a long period of time. (I know that several fast moves means that your time can increase but what I witnessed was that when this happened the player would take longer over one move and very quickly find themselves back in the same situation.)

Many of us will have seen the situation of an inexperienced player thrown into a league match with little practice of using a clock. Those without experience of increments are in a similar position to this. The time handling skills can be different. Until you are used to those then you are under more pressure and, just as for the beginner, the clock has a significance beyond what it should.

FIDE tournaments in the main will continue with the current time control of 40 in 90 +30mins with 30 sec per move. To ensure a level playing field these time controls must be adopted in Scotland. I would cetainly like to introduce that for the next Scottish. Most of the longer games finish around the 5 and a half hours mark with a few approaching 6 hours which is the current limit at the Scottish.
Alex is quite right to point out that talking digital clocks for the visually handicapped is becoming less of a problem. The problem still lies in the costs of the clock, which I pointed out in a previous thread. My question from the previous thread about blind/visually handicapped players would still be relevant. How do we accommodate them in such tournaments?
At the Olympiad these players brought their own clocks as you have to events. Certainly two English players do so as well.

This is obviously not ideal but due to the small numbers seems the best solution. With significant numbers of such players CS would need to consider investing in such clocks.
Obviously for a blind/deaf player the speaking clock provides nothing over the ordinary one.

One Olympiad player may have had to use a DGT for the first round until her own clock was 'approved'.
At the IBCA Congress held in India, it was announced that DGT were developing their own talking clock, but it would not be ready for 2 years. I know that they were approached by a couple of Braille Federations in 2008, and wanted 25000 Euros to develop the prototype. This was beyond the means of our federations. The problem is DGT have some sort of contract with FIDE that they are the only supplier of clocks to FIDE tournaments. An exception is made for braille clocks. The German Talking chess clock is not being produced at the moment, only the Spanish one is.
How often does a "talking clock" actually talk? Is it every few seconds or so? I imagine if lots of those were talking all at the same time in the vicinity of my game I'd find it very distracting. Sad

Or have I got the wrong end of the stick with talking clocks? Big Grin
Quoting from the Olympiad thread:

andyburnett Wrote:I much prefer the non-incremental controls: if my opponent uses up most of their time dealing with my dodgy attacks then they shouldn't be given 30 seconds extra per move to show how dodgy they were - he should gracefuly lose on time and allow me to write articles about how clever I was!

One of the major complaints against increments that has some merit behind it is that 90 mins + 40 x 30s = 1 hr 50 mins for 40 moves rather than the "normal" 2 hours for 40 moves. So your opponents would have less time with increments, meaning your dodgy attacks work better Big Grin

I also wouldn't underestimate the pressure having only 30 seconds a move makes.

I've been playing with increments for all my chess the past few years in Finland and I like them. I have also still managed to win on time with them, but the main thing as Alex points out is that in the technical phase of the game there is enough scope to play well without clock time being a major factor. So games head more to their logical conclusion, and you can continue to probe in objectively drawn positions without risking anything.

One other nice feature I like is that players must continue writing down every move rather than stopping when they get short on time. On the other hand, I have seen some people ignore this rule (including arbiters who also play) so perhaps I am imagining it!

Nice post! On the writing down the moves point, may I give you a very recent example from the U16 Olympiad. Murad Abdulla is playing an opponent from the Lebanon and both players are on the 30 second phase in a tricky endgame with both having mating chances. Murad is recording every move when made. His opponent is recording every previous two moves (Murad's then his own) after he makes his own move. The Lebanese guy is less "out of his rhythm" than Murad and is seeming to gain valuable seconds when every one is vital. Is he being "creative" or is this totally above board? Alex and co?
Unless the rules have changed then you are allowed to make your reply and then write down both your opponents move and then your own, Ive always done this anyway.

My main reason against increments is that I do not like the concept of gaining time. It favours slow players and makes it much more easy to achieve a draw in the final stages of the game. I also enjoy time scrambles, which for me is the most exciting part of both playing and watching games. 30 seconds per move is a lot in simplified positions.
The talking clock would use an ear plug, without an ear plug, it acts just as a normal digital clock Big Grin
Robin - The Laws state that you must not play a move without having recorded your previous one. So it is acceptable to record your opponent's move and your own at the same time. Indeed it is quite common.

Scott - if the increment is less than 30 secs there is no need to record, otherwise you should. I've had to pull up one or two players for failing to do so - all within the last 5 minutes - so it may be a habit rather than defiance of the Law.

Andrew - To expand on Stephen's answer. The clock 'speaks' only when requested and through a headphone.

Joe - Agree that watching time scrambles is exciting (and as an arbiter trying to record them is too). Not so sure that all players like them. Time scrambles are really an artificial part of chess and occur only because there has to be some restraint on how long a game can continue. Increments are actually a step towards the original concept of the game. Not too long ago the Scottish (and other events) were 40 in 2 hours then 20 per hour repeating. This could mean very long games and adjournments. Increments is the halfway house between the two. Whilst it is not 'pure' chess, it is a reasonable compromise.

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