Allowable Time Controls

Recommended Time Controls - The USCF has specified minimum time controls as listed starting on page two of this handout, but it does not recommend any particular time-control. The time-control you use should depend on the purpose of your event. For Sunday quads, a relatively fast time control such as SD / 60 is appropriate.Tournaments with large prize funds are normally played at a slower pace such as 40 moves in 120 minutes followed by SD in 60 minutes. Look at Tournament Life Announcements (TLAs) in Chess Life to see what other organizers use. TLAs can be a good source of ideas when you are deciding how to organize your next event. In the end, however, the important thing is to choose the format and time control that will attract players. Some players prefer slow time controls and others prefer faster play. Variety in your time controls is important to help keep your members with different preferences involved in your events.

Quick and Regular Rating Systems - The USCF has two separate rating systems. A player's regular rating is affected if the tournament's primary time control is at least 30 minutes. A player's quick rating is affected if a tournament has a single sudden-death time control between SD/5 to SD/29 (5 minutes through 29 minutes inclusive for each player). Check www.uschess.org under "Ratings" or ask the USCF to mail "The USCF Rating" flier for more information on how ratings are calculated.

Sudden Death Controls - Sudden death time controls (SD)are common for primary, secondary, and tertiary time controls. Games using sudden-death time controls must be completed within the prescribed time, regardless of the number of moves. Sudden death time controls offer advantages to player and organizer alike because they guarantee a round will finish by a predictable time. Tournaments with a time control of SD / 30 are often called Action Chess.

Quick Chess - A Quick Chess event is for a person who wishes to play many games in one day and not have the results affect his regular rating. The time controls in a Quick Chess tournament are 5 minutes through 29 minutes per player (Game/5 -Game/29 inclusive). Sudden Death rules are used in Quick Chess events except score keeping is not required.

Internet ratings - The USCF does not normally rate individual play over the Internet. A few events such as the National Collegiate Chess League (NCCL) have been rated in the over-the-board system but have specific requirements such as requiring a certified TD at every site.

Please contact the USCF office if you have any questions or need additional information.

U.S. Chess Federation
PO Box 3967, Crossville, TN 38557
Voice: (931) 787-1234
Fax: (931) 787-1200

E-mail: techdir@uschess.org.

Official USCF Time Control Regulations

The following are official regulations for USCF rated tournaments. These regulations are a supplement to the USCF's Official Rules of Chess, 4th edition and the rule numbers quoted below reference this rule book.

Regular Rating System

The duration of the first time-control must be at least 30 minutes for each player. The first period may be sudden death. If a non-sudden death control is used, the rate of play must be equal to or slower than an average of 60 moves per hour. Suitable minimum controls would be 30/30 or 60/60. Rule 5Fa is an option that allows the TD to shorten the basic time control in minutes by the delay in seconds for games using a digital clock with delay. When this option is mandated, the initial control, not the shortened control will govern under which system the event is rated. A G/30 ( 5 second delay) with the control shortened to G/25 for the games using a delay will still be rated in the regular system.

Any secondary controls must be at least 30 minutes. The rate of play for any non sudden death controls must be equal to or slower than an average of 60 moves per hour. It is recommended that secondary and subsequent controls allow one hour per player (Rule 16V). It is preferable to use a single sudden death time control if not enough time is available for the one hour secondary time control. A control of SD/90 should be preferred to 30/60, SD/30.

Exceptions to the above limits may be granted by the USCF Office on a case-by-case basis, and when granted, must be announced in all pre-event publicity.

Quick Rating System

Quick Chess events use a single sudden death time control between G/5 and G/29 as described in rule 5C. Rule 5Fa is an option that allows the TD to shorten the basic time control in minutes by the delay in seconds. When this option is mandated, the initial control, not the shortened control will govern under which system the event is rated. A G/10 (delay = 3 seconds) with the control shortened to G/7 for the games using a delay will still be considered as a G/10 event.

Using digital clocks with delay capability (Allegro Clocks)

Rule 5F specifies that in tournaments with sudden death time-controls, Allegro clocks shall be set with a 5 second delay for regular and a 3 second delay for quick rated events. Other delays are non-standard and require notice in all advance publicity and must be posted and announced at the tournament. Not using the delay on allegro clocks is also non-standard and also requires notice in all advance publicity and must be posted and announced at the tournament.

FIDE Rated Events

It is very important that the Chief TD for a FIDE rated event read and understand the FIDE handbook before organizing or directing a FIDE rated event.

When a USCF event will be FIDE rated, additional requirements come into play. FIDE has minimum requirements both for rated play and also for events that will grant norms for titles such as GM and IM. FIDE has both a Rapid Chess system and a Regular Rated System. For events rated in FIDE's regular system, the time controls and number of rounds per day must meet the requirements as listed in the FIDE Handbook under B.02.1.0 Rate of Play, and B.02.3.0 # of rounds. A summary of what the handbook specifies follows.

The following are excerpts from the 1997 FIDE Handbook and incorporates all changes through 1/99. The TD of a FIDE rated event must be familiar with the FIDE handbook and must not rely on these excerpts as an overview of FIDE requirements.

1.0 Rate of Play

For a game to be rated each player must have a minimum of two hours in which to complete all the moves, assuming the game lasts 60 moves. Examples of ways this can be achieved follow.

a. The rate of play must not exceed 23 moves per hour at any stage.

b. All the moves in two hours.

c. 40 moves in two hours followed by all the moves in 30 minutes.

d. All the moves in 100 minutes by each time a player makes a move an additional 30 seconds is added to the clock time.

For games to count for title applications, a six hour session is required at least. Where the session is less then 7 hours, only one such result can be used in support of a title application.

3.0 Number of Rounds per Day

3.1 No more then 3 rounds per day and a total playing time of no more than 12 hours.

Title Norm Granting FIDE Events

The excerpts above from the FIDE handbook are applicable to general FIDE rated events. Events where a player can achieve a title norm are more restrictive. For GM norms, 2 rounds a day are allowed only for the first 2 days and then only one round per day is permitted. IM norms only allow 2 rounds a day. The typical time controls for title events is 40/120, 20/60, SD/30. In the 1999 World Championships and 1998 Olympiads, a Fischer time control of 40/100, 20/50, SD/10 with 30 seconds added after each move in all three time controls was used. FIDE rules require score to be kept throughout the game when the 30 seconds are added on.

Although FIDE rules do not require that an International Arbiter be the Chief TD for a norm granting event, both FIDE and the USCF strongly encourage this. If a non-IA is used as Chief TD, they must read and be completely familiar with the FIDE handbook and the latest changes. They should also notify the USCF's Technical Director in advance to verify all conditions meet FIDE requirements.

FIDE Rapid Play System

FIDE Rapid Chess was established for events starting on Jan. 1, 1999. This is a separate rating system and has additional rating fees which must be borne by the organizer. The basic time controls are G/15 to G/59. Please see the rating supplement or contact the Technical Director for additional details before running this event.