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Increment Time Control

 

The Maryland Chess Association assigns an increment time control of 30 seconds to the Varsity and Junior Varsity sections at local scholastic tournaments (Maryland-Sweet-16 Qualifiers) and to many Championship sections at major scholastic tournaments (Mid-Atlantic, Maryland, & Baltimore Championships).

 

How increment time control differs from delay time control

·      A player's increment seconds are activated (appear on the clock) by the player pressing the clock to complete the player's move.  Conversely, a player's delay seconds are activated by the player's opponent pressing the clock to complete the opponent's move.

·      Both increment and delay seconds tick down (elapse) while a player is on move.  But once a player's increment seconds have been activated (by the player having pressed the clock to complete the player's move), the player must wait until the player's next move, before those increment seconds will begin to elapse.  Activated increment seconds don't begin to elapse immediately, because the player is no longer on move (the player's opponent is).  Conversely, once a player's delay seconds have been activated (by the player's opponent having pressed the clock to complete the opponent's move), the player does not need to wait for those delay seconds to begin elapsing.  Activated delay seconds begin to elapse immediately, because the player is on move.

·      Increment seconds elapse as part of a player's base time.  Conversely, delay seconds elapse separately from a player's base time.  Delay seconds elapse before a player's base time begins to elapse, and a player's base time will not begin to elapse until after all of the player's delay seconds have expired.  When a player is on move, the player's base time remains stagnant while the delay seconds are elapsing.

·      Increment seconds affect a player's base time (by increasing it).  Conversely, delay seconds do not affect a player's base time (they don't increase it).

·      During a move, if a player does not use all of the allotted increment seconds, then the player's base time has increased by the number of unused increment seconds, in comparison to what the player's base time was immediately before the player completed the player's previous move by pressing the clock (which activated the addition of increment seconds to the player's base time for the player's current move).  Conversely, during a move, if a player does not use all of the allotted delay seconds, then the player's base time has not increased by the number of unused delay seconds, in comparison to what the player's base time was immediately before the player completed the player's previous move by pressing the clock (which then put the player's opponent on move—after which the completion of the opponent's move activated the player's delay seconds to begin elapsing for the player's current move).  Unused delay seconds don't increase a player's base time because they expire between a player's moves without accruing to the player's base time.

·      With increment it is possible for a player to have more base time at the end of a game than at the beginning of it.  Conversely, with delay a player cannot have more base time at the end of a game than at the beginning of it; at most the player can have only the same base time. 

 

How increment time controls of 30+ seconds differ from all delay time controls and from increment time controls of <30 seconds

·      With increment of 30+ seconds, both players are required to record all moves throughout the entire game—regardless of how little time either player has at any point during the game.  Conversely, with all delay time controls and with increment of <30 seconds, there is a time-pressure exception to recording: neither player is required to record when either player has fewer than 5 minutes remaining.

 

Increment seconds for each player's 1st move must be applied manually to some clocks

·      For each player's 2nd move and all subsequent moves, all clocks that support increment add the increment seconds per move to a player's base time immediately after the player completed the player's previous move by pressing the clock. 

·      Ideally, a clock (such as the type MCA uses at scholastic tournaments: DGT North American) adds the increment seconds not only for each player's 2nd move and all subsequent moves, but for each player's 1st move, as well.  Unfortunately, though, this is not a feature common to all clocks that support increment.  If, before a game begins, a clock (such as Chronos, Saitek, or Excalibur) does not automatically add the increment seconds for each player's 1st move, then those increment seconds must be added manually to both players' base times before the game begins.  (For example, then, a Chronos, Saitek, or Excalibur clock's base time should be set for 45:30, instead of 45:00—or 90:30, instead of 90:00.)

 

What to do if neither player has a clock that supports increment

·      If a digital clock that supports only delay is being used because a digital clock that supports increment is not available, then the clock should be set to apply the increment seconds as delay seconds, instead.  If the increment time control is 30+ seconds, then both players are still required to record all moves, even though the increment seconds are being implemented as delay seconds.  (This recording requirement for delay of 30+ seconds is an MCA variation from standard USCF Rules, permitted by USCF’s authorization of a Tournament Director to exercise discretion regarding minor variations from USCF rules.)

·      If an analog clock is being used because a digital clock is not available, then extra time may not be added to the analog clock's base time—extra time meant to compensate for the clock's inability to support either increment or delay.  If an analog clock is being used, there is, however, a time-pressure exception to recording: neither player is required to record when either player has fewer than 5 minutes remaining.

 

Learn how to set your clock for increment time controls

·      Written Instructions  (or via www.mdchess.org: “Scholastic Tournament Information” on the left sidebar: “How to Set Common Chess Clocks for Increment Time Controls”)

·      Demonstration Videos  (or via www.mdchess.org: “Chess Links” on the left sidebar: “Clocks: How to Set Yours”: locate the appropriate specific link, or search independently for a demonstration video at www.youtube.com)

 

© 2015 John D. Rockefeller V

Maryland Chess Association

Scholastic Director

[last updated: 2015.07.26]

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