GMs and muggles decide: what are the best time controls?

1/4/2003 – While defining a new format for future world chess championships Yasser Seirawan polled the world's top 200 players on the proper time controls for blitz, rapid and professional chess games. Unfortunately he was not able to get as many GM's to vote as he would have liked. We bring you the results Yasser has received so far, as well as some of the messages we received from simple mortals. More

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Time controls questionnaire

Yasser Seirawan: "My sense was that the GM's who didn't bother to vote, even after being cajoled to do so, refuse simply because they don't expect their opinions to matter. Apathy and inertia being the most powerful forces in the universe are formidable obstacles to overcome! Hopefully, after publishing the following results, other GM's may be inclined to add their voices. We will leave it to others to draw their own conclusions about the voting. I would like to thank Joel Lautier and Emil Sutovsky for all your help in encouraging GM's to vote."

The votes received so far

No. Last Name, First Name
Title
Feder-
ation
Rating Blitz Mech. Blitz Digital Rapid Mech. Rapid Digital Prof.Digital
1 Kasparov, Garry
g
RUS 2838 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
2 Kramnik, Vladimir
g
RUS 2809 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
3 Fischer, Robert J
g
USA 2780          
4 Anand, Viswanathan
g
IND 2752          
5 Topalov, Veselin
g
BUL 2745   90 + 30
6 Adams, Michael
g
ENG 2744 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice D
7 Ponomariov, Ruslan
g
UKR 2743         90 + 30
8 Bareev, Evgeny
g
RUS 2724  
9 Morozevich, Alexander
g
RUS 2718  
10 Kamsky, Gata
g
USA 2717  
11 Ivanchuk, Vassily
g
UKR 2711  
12 Gelfand, Boris
g
ISR 2710 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
13 Leko, Peter
g
HUN 2707 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
14 Shirov, Alexei
g
ESP 2704  
15 Grischuk, Alexander
g
RUS 2702  
16 Khalifman, Alexander
g
RUS 2698 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
17 Karpov, Anatoly
g
RUS 2690  
18 Svidler, Peter
g
RUS 2688 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
19 Smirin, Ilia
g
ISR 2685  
20 Akopian, Vladimir
g
ARM 2678  
21 Polgar, Judit
g
HUN 2677  
22 Dreev, Alexey
g
RUS 2677  
23 Ye, Jiangchuan
g
CHN 2676 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 150 + 30
24 Azmaiparashvili, Zurab
g
GEO 2676  
25 Lautier, Joel
g
FRA 2675 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
26 Kasimdzhanov, Rustam
g
UZB 2674  
27 Short, Nigel D.
g
ENG 2673  
28 Vaganian, Rafael A
g
ARM 2664  
29 Malakhov, Vladimir
g
RUS 2663  
30 Beliavsky, Alexander G
g
SLO 2661 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
31 Sutovsky, Emil
g
ISR 2660 5 min 3 + 2 30 min 25 + 10 Choice D
32 Piket, Jeroen
g
NED 2659  
33 Rublevsky, Sergei
g
RUS 2657  
34 Georgiev, Kiril
g
BUL 2654  
35 Aleksandrov, Aleksej
g
BLR 2654  
36 Xu, Jun
g
CHN 2654  
37 Nikolic, Predrag
g
BIH 2653  
38 Bacrot, Etienne
g
FRA 2653  
39 Bologan, Viktor
g
MDA 2652  
40 Almasi, Zoltan
g
HUN 2650  
41 Sakaev, Konstantin
g
RUS 2649 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
42 Sokolov, Ivan
g
BIH 2647  
43 Zvjaginsev, Vadim
g
RUS 2645  
44 Lutz, Christopher
g
GER 2644 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
45 Salov, Valery
g
RUS 2644  
46 Van Wely, Loek
g
NED 2642  
47 Onischuk, Alexander
g
USA 2641  
48 Gurevich, Mikhail
g
BEL 2641  
49 Krasenkow, Michal
g
POL 2641 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
50 Zhang, Zhong
g
CHN 2639  
51 Vallejo Pons, Francisco
g
ESP 2638  
52 Dautov, Rustem
g
GER 2636 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
53 Nielsen, Peter Heine
g
DEN 2636  
54 Korchnoi, Viktor
g
SUI 2635  
55 Hjartarson, Johann
g
ISL 2634  
56 Lputian, Smbat G
g
ARM 2634  
57 Sasikiran, Krishnan
g
IND 2633  
58 Tkachiev, Vladislav
g
FRA 2633  
59 Kharlov, Andrei
g
RUS 2633  
60 Seirawan, Yasser
g
USA 2631 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
61 Sadler, Matthew
g
ENG 2631  
62 Huebner, Robert Dr.
g
GER 2628  
63 Tregubov, Pavel V.
g
RUS 2627  
64 Tiviakov, Sergei
g
NED 2625 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
65 Movsesian, Sergei
g
CZE 2624  
66 Landa, Konstantin
g
RUS 2623  
67 Graf, Alexander
g
GER 2623  
68 Pigusov, Evgeny
g
RUS 2623  
69 Shabalov, Alexander
g
USA 2622  
70 Motylev, Alexander
g
RUS 2622  
71 Lastin, Alexander
g
RUS 2619  
72 Baklan, Vladimir
g
UKR 2618  
73 Goldin, Alexander
g
USA 2618  
74 Jussupow, Artur
g
GER 2618  
75 Kaidanov, Gregory S
g
USA 2616 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
76 Timman, Jan H
g
NED 2616  
77 Hansen, Curt
g
DEN 2613  
78 Shipov, Sergei
g
RUS 2613 5 min 5 min No 25 + 10 Choice A
79 Dorfman, Josif D
g
FRA 2613 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
80 Filippov, Valerij
g
RUS 2612  
81 Vescovi, Giovanni
g
BRA 2611  
82 Peng, Xiaomin
g
CHN 2611  
83 Radjabov, Teimour
g
AZE 2610  
84 Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter
g
ROU 2610  
85 Volkov, Sergey
g
RUS 2609  
86 Milov, Vadim
g
SUI 2606  
87 Fressinet, Laurent
g
FRA 2606  
88 Epishin, Vladimir
g
RUS 2606 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
89 Istratescu, Andrei
g
ROU 2606  
90 Gyimesi, Zoltan
g
HUN 2605  
91 Granda Zuniga, Julio E
g
PER 2605  
92 Glek, Igor V.
g
GER 2605  
93 Hellers, Ferdinand
g
SWE 2605  
94 Vladimirov, Evgeny
g
KAZ 2605  
95 Sokolov, Andrei
g
FRA 2604  
96 Andersson, Ulf
g
SWE 2604  
97 Novikov, Igor A
g
USA 2603  
98 Hickl, Joerg
g
GER 2602  
99 Kobalia, Mikhail
g
RUS 2602 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice B
100 Dominguez, Lenier
g
CUB 2601  
101 Sermek, Drazen
g
SLO 2601  
102 Bu, Xiangzhi
g
CHN 2601 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 150 + 30
103 Najdoski, Toni
g
MKD 2600  
104 Korneev, Oleg
g
RUS 2599  
105 Najer, Evgeniy
g
RUS 2598  
106 Eingorn, Vereslav S
g
UKR 2598  
107 Rustemov, Alexander
g
RUS 2598  
108 Stefansson, Hannes
g
ISL 2598  
109 Hodgson, Julian M.
g
ENG 2598  
110 Benjamin, Joel
g
USA 2598  
111 Fedorov, Alexei
g
BLR 2598  
112 Gulko, Boris F
g
USA 2597  
113 Hracek, Zbynek
g
CZE 2596  
114 Speelman, Jonathan S.
g
ENG 2596  
115 Portisch, Lajos
g
HUN 2596  
116 Nunn, John D.M.
g
ENG 2595 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
117 Degraeve, Jean-Marc
g
FRA 2595  
118 Kozul, Zdenko
g
CRO 2595  
119 Chuchelov, Vladimir
g
BEL 2593  
120 Giorgadze, Giorgi
g
GEO 2591  
121 Shulman, Yuri
g
BLR 2591  
122 Anastasian, Ashot
g
ARM 2591  
123 Asrian, Karen
g
ARM 2591  
124 Papaioannou, Ioannis
g
GRE 2589  
125 Crisan, Alexandru
g
ROU 2588  
126 Ehlvest, Jaan
g
EST 2588  
127 Ibragimov, Ildar
g
RUS 2588  
128 Neverov, Valeriy
g
UKR 2587  
129 Khenkin, Igor
g
GER 2587  
130 Rozentalis, Eduardas
g
LTU 2586  
131 Hansen, Lars Bo
g
DEN 2586  
132 Dolmatov, Sergey
g
RUS 2586  
133 Gurevich, Ilya
g
USA 2586  
134 Smagin, Sergey
g
RUS 2585  
135 Kacheishvili, Giorgi
g
GEO 2584  
136 Lesiege, Alexandre
g
CAN 2584  
137 Agrest, Evgenij
g
SWE 2584  
138 Macieja, Bartlomiej
g
POL 2584 5 min 3 + 2 30 min 25 + 10 Choice B
139 Chernin, Alexander
g
HUN 2583  
140 Kazhgaleyev, Murtas
g
KAZ 2583  
141 Van Den Doel, Erik
g
NED 2583  
142 Yermolinsky, Alex
g
USA 2583  
143 Yin, Hao
m
CHN 2582 5 min 3 + 2 30 min 25 + 10 120 + 30
144 Conquest, Stuart
g
ENG 2582  
145 Burmakin, Vladimir
g
RUS 2582  
146 Gleizerov, Evgeny
g
RUS 2581  
147 Huzman, Alexander
g
ISR 2580  
148 Dokhoian, Yury
g
RUS 2580  
149 Illescas Cordoba, Miguel
g
ESP 2580 5 min 3 + 2 30 min 25 + 10 Choice A
150 Kotronias, Vasilios
g
CYP 2580  
151 Ivanov, Alexander
g
USA 2579  
152 Yakovich, Yuri
g
RUS 2579  
153 Aseev, Konstantin N
g
RUS 2579  
154 Tukmakov, Vladimir B
g
UKR 2579  
155 Christiansen, Larry M
g
USA 2578  
156 Kotsur, Pavel
g
KAZ 2578  
157 Gavrikov, Viktor
g
LTU 2578  
158 Nijboer, Friso
g
NED 2578  
159 Sulskis, Sarunas
g
LTU 2577  
160 Spasov, Vasil
g
BUL 2577  
161 Kengis, Edvins
g
LAT 2577  
162 Volokitin, Andrei
g
UKR 2577  
163 Ulibin, Mikhail
g
RUS 2576 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 120 + 30
164 Ftacnik, Lubomir
g
SVK 2576  
165 Moiseenko, Alexander
g
UKR 2575  
166 Popov, Valerij
g
RUS 2575  
167 Magomedov, Magaram
g
RUS 2575  
168 Milos, Gilberto
g
BRA 2574 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 90 + 30
169 Palac, Mladen
g
CRO 2574  
170 Greenfeld, Alon
g
ISR 2574  
171 Dvoirys, Semen I.
g
RUS 2574  
172 Agdestein, Simen
g
NOR 2572  
173 Adianto, Utut
g
INA 2572 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice D
174 Minasian, Artashes
g
ARM 2572  
175 Vaisser, Anatoli
g
FRA 2572  
176 Kovalev, Andrei
g
BLR 2572  
177 Aronian, Levon
g
ARM 2571  
178 Bauer, Christian
g
FRA 2571 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice B
179 Psakhis, Lev
g
ISR 2571  
180 Fridman, Daniel
g
LAT 2571  
181 Romanishin, Oleg M
g
UKR 2571  
182 Cvitan, Ognjen
g
CRO 2570  
183 Kempinski, Robert
g
POL 2570  
184 Kolev, Atanas
g
BUL 2570  
185 Hamdouchi, Hichem
g
MAR 2570  
186 Galkin, Alexander
g
RUS 2569  
187 Bruzon, Lazaro
g
CUB 2569  
188 Ruck, Robert
g
HUN 2569  
189 Kuzmin, Alexey
g
RUS 2568  
190 Pelletier, Yannick
g
SUI 2568 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
191 Harikrishna, P.
g
IND 2568  
192 Nataf, Igor-Alexandre
g
FRA 2567  
193 Pavasovic, Dusko
g
SLO 2567  
194 Avrukh, Boris
g
ISR 2567  
195 Yegiazarian, Arsen
g
ARM 2567  
196 Alekseev, Evgeny
m
RUS 2567  
197 Stocek, Jiri
g
CZE 2566  
198 Sax, Gyula
g
HUN 2566  
199 Halkias, Stelios
m
GRE 2566  
200 Luther, Thomas
g
GER 2566  
201 Jobava, Baadur
g
GEO 2566  
202 Baburin, Alexander
g
IRL 2565 5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice B
203 Borovikov, Vladislav
g
UKR 2565  
204 Alterman, Boris
g
ISR 2565  
205 Polgar, Zsuzsa (GM)
wg
HUN 2565  
206 Sturua, Zurab
g
GEO 2565  
OTHERS
  Rotstein, Arkadij
5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice A
  Villamayor, Bong
  Choice B
  Stohl, Igor
5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
  Anjelina Belakovskaia
wg
  5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice D
  Gofshtein
            Choice A
  Mikhalchishin, Adrian
      60 + 60 sec
  Sergey Ivanov
5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
  Rogozenko Dorian
5 min 5 min No 25 + 10 Choice A
  Alexandrova Olga
wg
UKR   No 5 + 3 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
  Kallio Heikki
FIN     120  + 30
  Rogers, Ian
5 min 5 min 30 min 25 + 10 Choice C
  Gleizerov, Evgeny
5 min 5 min 25 min 20 + 10 Choice C

The Muggles speak

Here are a few excerpts from messages we received from our readers on the subject. The choice of which message to publish was mainly random, so please do not feel discriminated if yours does not appear in this section.

Luis A Baquero
I not a professional player but I'm going to give my point of view because what the professionals adopt for themselves affect all the players in the world. minimum total time for classical chess: 7 hours (40/2, 20/1, all/30, mechanical clock). With digital clocks, same as the previous scheme and 40/2, 20/1, all/30 + 30. I can also suggest that to decide the winner of a drawn match in classical chess, simply the highest rating should advance and the lowest rating should have a share of the prize of his opponent.

Francesco Di Tolla
It is diffcult to chose: from one side one would like a simple rule, so that rule A would seem the best on the other side I fear that with this ruile many players would end up playing 20-25 moves in 150 inutes and later coplete the game at the speed of one move each 30 seconds. This could be source of many early-endgame errors. For this rule C seem more uniform (and more similar to what we are already used than ruke B)up to the 60 moves at least, but looks somewhat more complex to read/implement. If I could chose I would mimic rule A with a 60 seconds increment: 90 minutes + 60 seconds increment is the perfect interpolation that reproduces 40 moves in 120 minutes and grants you always 60 seconds to move (forces a more uniform play between middle-game and endgame), preserving the 7 hours limits for 120 moves. Being forced to stay with the FIDE proposals I would anyway go for A.

Patrick Sharper
I am in favor of the longest time controls for all events. Shorter time controls hurt the quality of the chess.

Chris Kantack
I vote for Choice C 40/2, 20/1, 15+30/All. To me the increment per move only makes sense in the sudden death time control.

Shaun Press
Option B would be my preferred choice. If length of playing sessions is a problem then B can be modified to 40/100+30 & 30+30 which was the time control at the 2000 Olympiad, if I recall correctly.

D. Ebrahim Al Mannai
Choice C (40/2hrs. 20/1hr, All/15min+30s) would be my choice for the time control. If a game goes beyond 90 moves, then the players have earned the extra time (over 7 hours). The arbiters can wait an extra ten minutes or so! Choice A is the least desirable, as it lacks the discipline that the traditional 40-move time control demands. Thanks for hearing from us mortals.

Gary S.G. Bryant
I only really care about the time control for the top level. I go with: Choice C, (40/2, 20/1, 15+30/All) is the most conventional. The first two time-controls of Choice C are exactly the same as those used for the Mechanical Clock. The third time-control of 15 minutes plus the 30-second bonus increment avoids the undesirable guillotine finish. However, this time-control is the slowest. It would mean that games that last beyond move 90 would probably go beyond the seven-hour playing session. It is most likely to result in high-quality games and determine who really is best.

Damien Lavery (1525 patzer!)
Can I just say that I feel that tradition has a lot going for it. Why can't we blend the best of the old with the best of the new? Over the board, there are some positions where a long think is simply required. The art of the endgame demands this. I believe that the Ivanchuk vs. Ponomariov match for the last Fide championship, played at 90 + 30 time control, makes this obvious. In one game, win after win escaped Ivanchuk merely because of the time constraint. Kasparov often calls his analysis of the game 'the search for the truth'. Well it would seem that with this time control, the truth simply isn't enough! The game of chess simply must not be allowed to reduce to the randomness of people's reactions. Of course, with the advent of technology, the guillotine finish is undesirable, especially with clokcs capable of Fischer increment measure. But this should only be used for the purpose of avoiding a drastic end to the contest. Increments should not play a part in the main body of the game. I believe that the control of 2hrs/40, 1hr/20 and 30+inc/all is the most sensible. Please tell me what your opinions are!

H. Caceres
I think the best for the quality of the game is C, the classical. New FIDE format sucks, players fight against the clock and can't care about going deep to the heart of the position. They are always under the extra pressure of time, and a more profound understanding its not worth because of that.

Sakari Pankkonen
My preferences are rather conventional: Blitz Chess as proposed for mechanical and digital clocks. Rapid Chess time control as proposed for digital clocks, and with the natural idea that it should be played with digital clocks only. (It also suits the newish nature of this kind of chess.) Seven hour games for both mechanical and digital clocks as in Choice D. Thank you for the poll!

Ed Matheson
Choice C) (40/2, 20/1, 15+30/All) . Being a "not top" player, nor even a really good player, I am sending my vote to you. I want to see high quality games, as in the past, not some of these "speed" blunders that have been occurring more recently.

Thomas Lloyd
I am for all time controls for the blitz and rapid time controls, and i go with choice A for the professional time control.

Juan Luis Garcia Alonso
My time control is 90 minutes + 30 seconds for every movement for the whole game.

Kai Schröder
Is there really someone who wants a shorter time control whose name isn't Ponomariov? Here's my short opinion: For X/For X/For X/D. I wished this time control nightmare would vanish as quick as that...

Sampson Matthis
My choice is D. 40/2 20/1 30/all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kevin Plant (soon to be a force in the chess world)
Kasparov-Ponomriov 40 moves in 2 hours + 20 moves in 1 hour + 30 mins + 30 secs for remaining moves and draw odds for reigning champion. Leko-Kramnik same as above. The two winners: same as above but no draw odds but if drawn then 4 more games at 90 mins for all moves. It would be very unlikely that the match would still be drawn after all this. Previous world championships have rarely been drawn. If the match is drawn then they are joint champs and go into the semifinals of the next world championships and are seeded so they dont play each other in the semi. All above: best of 16 games. 4 games a week , mon/tues (wednesday rest day) thurs/fri (sat/sun rest days) 1 game per day. One final thing: keep up the good work at ChessBase, the best chess site on the Internet.

Will Davis
Slow chess: Choice C. All high level tournaments should be played at very slow time controls. Tthough I am only a Class B player (USCF) I hate seeing games decided by one player blundering in time pressure, and how much more I hate seeing GMs mess up like that. FIDE's constant speeding up of time controls was
definitely a bad idea, and caused the production of much worse quality chess. I believe the slower the better. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion.

Joost Bosmans
I vote for Choice D) (40/2, 20/1, 30/All) as time control for Professional Chess. As you changed the time control for Professional Chess it doesn't 'feel' as chess anymore.

Lawrence Cooper (IM)
Blitz: 5 minutes for all moves, no increments. Rapid: 30 minutes for all moves, no increments. 7 hour: 40 in 2 hours, 20 in 1 hour, 30 minutes for the rest without increment.


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