Match Timings

16th May 2019

Committee Proposal to be Presented at the AGM Regarding Match Timings (Rule 7)

This season the Committee have kept a close eye on the effect in practice of the match timing changes passed at last year’s AGM, have kept detailed statistics, and have listened to comments by individuals and clubs as the season progressed. In light of this the committee intend to propose change at the 2019 AGM, to take effect from the 2019-20 season. The proposal entails asking the meeting to choose one mandatory default time control for all league matches and have provided two clear options, one involving a long increment, the other a short increment. Either would, in the Committee’s view, constitute an improvement and simplification of Rule 7. The Committee do not, as such, express a collective preference for Option A or Option B but we believe both options are sensible and workable. Included within our proposal, effective whichever default the meeting prefers, is a fallback applicable only if both players agree or if the clock used for the default option fails.

Please note the below is a summary of the proposal, not a precise draft of the new rule.

The main change proposed, is to 7.3, as follows:

Remaining changes proposed apply irrespective of which option chosen:

Home captain to specify and announce before play the length of the playing session. Play to stop at the expiry of the playing session and if players involved in incomplete games cannot agree results those games shall be adjudicated [as per current rule 9].

Alternate time control - applicable only if both players agree or if digital clocks malfunction:

No substantive change to current 7.4 and 7.5 (i.e. recording required throughout the game under option A but can stop under option B [and the alternate time control] once that player’s clock first dips below 5 minutes)

Notes on the two time control options

If both players use all their time the maximum length a game could take, under option A is:

MovesMax. time
30 02:30:00
40 02:40:00
50 02:50:00
60 03:00:00
80 03:20:00
100 03:40:00

If both players use all their time the maximum length a game could take, under option B is:

MovesMax. time
30 02:50:00
40 02:53:20
50 02:56:40
60 03:00:00
80 03:06:40
100 03:13:20
120 03:20:00
140 03:26:40
160 03:33:20

Whichever option is chosen, an absolute minimum of 70 moves will be playable in a minimum length session, more if either or both players play more quickly and or if the session is longer. As such the Committee envisage the overwhelming majority of games will be complete within the playing session and anticipate very few games needing to be adjudicated. Unlike current rule 7, both options will give clubs with a fixed evening occupancy of their premises the comfort of knowing games will not go on indefinitely, but will on the other hand be able to make best use of the time available without have to cut games off after an arbitrary number (currently 60) of moves.

One simple way to ensure the length of playing session is as announced would be to set and run another clock alongside the match; when the flag falls, the session ends.

Matthew Britnell

MSCL Committee


5th June 2019

We thank the committee for their continued hard work on behalf of chess players in East Sussex, and for the opportunity to consider their proposal in advance of the deadline for submitting motions to the AGM.

At the 2018 AGM, the Chairman indicated the time control rules agreed for the 2018/19 season would be reviewed and brought back to the 2019 AGM for consideration. This proposal appears to bypass that decision by making a recommendation before full consideration is given by the General Meeting, the rule making body of the MSL, to the effect of last year’s rule changes. Without sight of the evidence taken into account by the committee ("detailed statistics" and "comments by individual and clubs") in making their proposal, we believe any further decision making will be flawed.

The proposal appears to fly in the face of the evidence that is available to us. Aside from comments from individuals known to want to implement a 10 sec increment, the 30 sec increment appears to have been well received. We are aware of some individuals who took a couple of games to get used to it, but aside from that, it did not appear to cause any discontent or serious problems.

When we consider the only figures available to us (the time controls as declared on the results pages), it appears even more that players were quite happy with the 30 sec increment: of the 825 games played last year, some 797 were played with a 30 sec increment (split fairly equally between a fixed playing session, and an unfixed session). 17 games were played under 42 moves in 90 mins + 7 moves per 15 mins (1 club we understand did not have digital clocks), and 11 played with a 10 sec increment. Even if we assume a certain amount of human error in reporting the time controls, there remains a significant amount of support for a 30 sec increment, and we therefore have to question why the committee would recommend in its proposal a time control which demonstrably has little support (at the same time as effectively asking the AGM to consider forcing a club to have to purchase new clocks).

We would ask the committee to publish the statistics referred to in their proposal, including the impact of last year’s change on adjudications. This might include a report from the adjudication secretary and/or figures showing the variance in the number of games sent for adjudication because of the new time control.

At the 2018 AGM, one proposal from Brighton was set aside by the Chairman early on before any discussion, a proposal that considered different default time controls for different leagues. If you broadly accept that stronger players are more likely to play in the higher divisions, and if there is evidence to suggest different time controls are more suited to players of differing abilities, this is an avenue worthy of discussion and consideration. It was our belief that "stronger" players are more likely to want a longer increment than a weaker player. However, of the 11 games recorded as 80 mins + 10 sec, 10 were played in Div 1, 1 was played in Div 2, 0 (none) were played in Div 3. This would appear to suggest there is not a problem needing to be solved, and a suitable time control could be found that was acceptable to the vast majority of players.

Therefore, the Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club proposes the existing default time control of 65 mins + 30 secs per move remain the default time control with a minimum 3 hours 10 mins playing sessions, with the removal of the 60 move rules as being unnecessary.

To be clear, we are in favour of a time control with a 30 sec increment for a number of reasons: the longer increment has become the most common time control around the world, especially in the higher echelons; it helps and supports all players to make the best move in the position, especially if a game goes to an end game, and removes the lottery that ensues in a 10 or 5 sec time scramble; players have to continue writing down moves until the game is concluded, and therefore could still claim 3 fold repetition (not possible under a shorter time control). We would not support a change to a 10 sec increment becoming the default time for these reasons.

It is not clear why the proposal reduces the time available to 60 mins + 30 secs from 65 mins + 30 secs, whilst retaining a total playing time 3 hrs 10 mins. The effect is to potentially force a further 10 moves to be played than under current rules. We believe a change of this nature would be unnecessarily detrimental to the quality of the games played.

If there is a wish to have the same time control across all divisions, we believe the default time control used this year strikes a good balance between encouraging players to play the best game of chess possible, whilst constrained by a fixed time limit. We do not think a change after 1 year is either necessary or desired, and therefore propose that the default time remains that proposed by Eastbourne last year and agreed by the 2018 AGM (all the moves in 65 minutes, with a 30 sec increment from move 1).

We do however see the value in simplifying the rule 7. Equally in doing so we do not see that the league needs to impose a decision that would force a club to have to purchase new equipment. It is clear from the figures that in some instances at least, East Grinstead did play some home games on clocks provided by the visiting club. There is also evidence that they too are comfortable with the 30 sec increment, based on the information contained on the results page. We would welcome their direct input into this. If East Grinstead are unable to purchase new clocks, and if they (and visiting clubs) are happy to arrange clocks being brought in on the night, we should be able to simplify the rules thus:

Change 7.1 to read "Each playing session will be 3 hours and 10 minutes. Team captains should agree and state at the start of play the time when the playing session will end. Rules 8.3.1 and 8.3.2 still apply".

7.3.1 Default time control

All moves in 65 minutes plus a 30-second increment per move from move 1. If the playing session ends and players cannot agree a result, the game shall be adjudicated

Remove 7.3.2 This time control can be removed.

Remove 7.3.3 This time control can be removed.

Remove 7.3.4 The stated time control with a fixed playing session makes this rule redundant.

If East Grinstead (or other clubs) which to retain the time control as in 7.3.2., this can remain but be reworded thus:

Change 7.1 as above.

Change 7.3.1 as above.

7.3.2: If digital clocks are not available, or if before White makes his second move both players may agree to play under the following time control: 42 moves in 90 minutes, and 7 moves per 15 minutes thereafter. If the playing session ends and players cannot agree a result, the game shall be adjudicated.

Finally, the AGM may wish to retain, in certain circumstances, the possibility of a longer playing session. This might be because some venues can remain open available for longer. If this is the case, we believe it is necessary to agree in advance and not on the night, so that players will know before they turn up. If the AGM agrees, para 7.1 can be worded thus:

7.1 Each playing session will be 3 hours and 10 minutes, unless a longer session has been agreed in advance. Team captains should agree and state at the start of play the time when the playing session will end. Rules 8.3.1 and 8.3.2 still apply.

Motion on the Submission of Results

Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club proposes that from the 2019/20 season, the ECF League Management System be used for all Mid Sussex League games.

Hastings Chess Club thanks Barry Maufe for the time and hard work he puts in to maintaining the website and publishing results. As a volunteer, his work is critical to the smooth running of the league throughout the season.

There have been instances however when due purely to the natural delay in results being published on the website, matches have been played without knowing a critical result from another match. Moreover, as a club with 4 teams playing in the league for the past few seasons (and also more teams in the Kent League), keeping records of who has played for which team and thus trying to manage players who have been nominated out is fraught with difficulty.

The ECF League Management System runs like this (much simplified): Once registered with LMS, a league administrator uploads the schedule of games for the season. Each team has a nominated person who logs in to upload results, which appear immediately. The opposing captain logs in and verifies the result. Each player has an individual record from which it is easy to see how many games have been played and for which team.

Now that the LMS has been in use for a couple of seasons and any glitches have been ironed out, we propose that from the 2019/20 season, the MSL uses this portal to submit and manage the league results. It is free, it will save the results officer significant time, and results will appear much quicker. There are other benefits which mainly affect grading officers such as easier correction of errors, especially where a players incorrect details are used, and the easier submission of results for the grading of games. As we appear to be moving towards the monthly calculation of grades, it will be much easier to submit results via LMS on a regular basis.

Marc Bryant

Chairman Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club

Response by Barry Maufe

8th June 2019

The following views are my own, and not necessarily those of Lewes Chess Club or the MSCL Committee.

I agree with the contributors (and Eastbourne Chess Club) that the time-control rule needs simplifying, but I feel that they have not gone far enough in this respect. I also feel that a major aim of a large body of the membership for a considerable period has not been achieved - that is to ensure that all games are completed on the night, obviating the need for adjudications entirely.

The fallback option of a time-limited session with incremental time-control is problematic, as the exact finish time is critical when a player is in time trouble. The player has to be sure to within a few seconds when he/she can stop playing to avoid losing on time. This would require the use of a mandatory sixth clock to record the session time, an unnecessary complication. The committee are aware of this requirement, though not mentioned in the Forum.

The current primary time-control has been used extensively and accepted by most clubs, so I see no need to change it. Incremental timing was designed to be open-ended. Session limiting it is strange, as chess clocks do not record and flag an overall session time in conjunction with the usual time-control, which would allow it to be easily implemented.

The changes detailed below will simplify the rules and achieve the following:

Suggested Rule Changes

Retain rule 7.3.1, the current default time-control. Fallback as per Committee proposal for Alternate time-control (which is rule 7.3.3), except that the precept for rule 7.3.4 is also included. Rules 7.3.2, 7.3.3 second paragraph, 7.3.4 to be deleted.


7.3.1 No Change

7.3.2 Deleted

7.3.3 If suitable digital clocks are not available, or if the host club is unable to meet condition 7.3.1

30 moves in 60 minutes and an additional 35 minutes to complete the game.

2nd paragraph deleted.

7.3.4 Deleted

I cannot propose this as a rule change, but if anyone agrees with it, or something similar, they may consider supporting it as an amendment at the AGM. There is a precedent for substantial changes by this method, as I have successfully employed such a device in the past.

Barry Maufe

Contribution from Peter Larwood

12th June 2019

Firstly I applaud the committee for taking heat out of the next AGM by posting on this topic.

I start my thoughts by saying that evening chess is between two players and should not include their computers or other players. So adjournments - and if possible adjudications - should be eliminated.

The reason why the stats show 65/30 being dominant is because it is the current default. As is obvious 30sec inc skews the length of possible playing session outwards. I suggest that 30sec inc is better accommodated in a four hour session.

80/10 partially removes that skew whilst providing for a reasonable number of moves within the evening.

Peter Larwood