The New FIDE Time Control: Better, Worse, or Double-Edged?

We have a lot of interesting rules that can confuse people in Chess; the beginning rules or things that a lot of people find unusual when first learning about Chess would be things like En Passant and Castling.  Then we start getting into the tournament rules, starting with the Touch Move, Touch Take, and adjusting.  After learning the basic tournament rules we are pretty much set until they start throwing things at you like how tie breaks and/or the pairing system works.  However, once we get those down, we are on our way and pretty much good…let’s play in a tournament or two!  We might have an argument here every once in a while, might have to think about a draw regulation every tournament or so, but in general we are good and what we don’t know we pick up on our way.  And then they go and change our time control….

When I first started playing more nationally, the time-control was 2 hours for the first 40 moves and then after (if you made 40 moves) you got an extra 1 hour added to the 2 hours.  That was pretty much the standard time control from what I had seen.   It would vary a little bit, but that seemed regular for a tournament to have that time control. 

Last year I played in the Copper State International and experienced for the first time a G/90 (Game in 90 minutes) with a 30 second increment and after 40 moves you got an additional 30 minutes. 

Ever since then it has seemed like that time-control has grow more popular and has now even become the official FIDE time control.  And, of course, I find myself looking at the pros and cons of this time-control as it will obviously affect a lot of my future tournaments.

I feel like this time-control seems to have hurt the quality of play in the chess games.  Maybe not a ton, but because players have less time to think they make more mistakes and even if they do well through the opening and middle game, they might find themselves scrambling with the pressure of running out of time and either flag or make a mistake in time trouble and lose.  I remember talking to one chess player during a tournament and he said something like, “I finally make time control and feel like I can finally stop and think for awhile and then I am in time pressure again because you only get 30 minutes with the second time control.”  I have found this to be common with the less experienced players where they might be taking more time and getting low on time more often.  By less experienced I don’t mean low rated.  I have seen several of the very strong junior players (myself included) who sometimes struggle with the shorter time control because they are not as experienced in say lots of different openings and have to take more time with an opening they are not familiar with.  Of course there still are games where there is no time pressure or no mistake because of time pressure, but every tournament game will be decided because of time management beforehand and even more so with this time cut.  Overall it looks like cons are:  

1.       It hurts the quality of the games.

2.       It can be very frustrating as a player to mess up a win because of time, I have messed up a few and find it very aggravating knowing “I was winning.”

But the biggest things I find as pros are:

1.       It makes Chess more exciting for the spectators, as they don’t have to wait as long and that can lead to some exciting play when two players are in time trouble.  This makes Chess better for marketing and much more fun to watch live commentaries (like live TV J).

2.       The rounds go quicker.  This is very helpful for the players because they can relax a little bit more and won’t be as tired if they play a long game.  One tournament, using the old time control (not the G/90 with a 30 second increment and an extra 30 min after 40 moves),  I had two games in one day which ended up totaling 12 hours and 30 minutes of game play, and the next day I was quite tired (to say the least).  This won’t happen with the new time-control as the longest games go about 5 hours.  This puts a little question into affecting the quality of Chess because if players aren’t as tired they tend to play better.   Also rounds going faster makes tournaments possible to go faster, so you don’t have to spend as much money or time going to some of these tournaments.  Especially the norm tournaments which are often one game a day so that makes it a long 9-10 day tournament can be shortened to two games a day.

Overall, thinking about it, I think this could help the future of Chess, but will probably lower the quality of some of the games.  It also may be tougher for some of the young, stronger players to get norms.  And the bottom line for me…I better learn to start thinking faster!!!

Thanks for reading my opinion!  Now I would be love to hear your opinion on the new time-control and how it will affect the future of Chess! Smile

I can’t end there because I have a few puzzles for you Smile: