Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Out with "Zero Default Time"!

Back in 2001, Melbourne's Roland Brockman was a keen supporter of the then new concept of 90m + 30s time control. Scroll down to the bottom of this old ACF newsletter and you can see him take on a couple of heavy-weights. Well, I think we can safely say that Roland was the clear winner of that argument.

But now it seems that after nearly 8 years of quietude, the Melburnian is set for yet another confrontation. And this time he's taking on an even bigger opposition. None other than FIDE! Roland isn't happy about the so-called "zero default time" rule.

In this email to Oceania Zone president, IA Gary Bekker, Roland writes:

I must confess to you [Gary] that I am on the Bandwagon again. You will recall my many years of campaigning for use of the increment instead of guillotine finishes. That battle seems to be all but won. Now however I have a new bee in my bonnet, namely the 'zero tolerance rule' which means that you have to be at the board the instant play starts or you will be forfeited. I.e. even if you are there minutes before the start but get out of your seat to grab a pen you can be defaulted. This rule made a complete farce of the recent Chinese championship, much of which has been written, eg: on

Now [FIDE general secretary] Ignatious Leong informs me that this ludicrous rule will apply in the upcoming Commonwealth Championship in Singapore. I politely pointed out to him that this would be unlikely to be popular and cited the example of Bobby Fischer who was a few minutes late for his first game with Spassky in 1972; he was caught in traffic.

So here we go again, albeit I think that popular opinion among chessplayers will be much louder and more forceful than in the increment/guillotine debate. At any rate I'll forget any thoughts about going to Singapore this year. The Aus Major in North Sydney is looking good once again.

I think most people would agree with Roland here. The whole concept of a zero default time is totally ridiculous. In any case, the relevant rule isn't supposed to take effect until 1 July this year, so how these organisers can get away with this farce is, quite frankly, beyond me! Obviously, of course, it will already be enforced in time for the said Commonwealth event.

Worth noting, however, is that the Australian Chess Federation has opted for sanity. According to ACF big wig Denis Jessop, the national body will enforce, not the strict "zero default time" but, 30 minutes. Well done to them. All federations should follow their lead.


Anonymous said...

Good to see the ACF use some common sense.

Anonymous said...

ACF Deputy President Bill Gletsos pointed out on chesschat that the ACF is only enforcing a 30 minute forfeiture time for its own events (Australian Championship, Australian Open, Australian Junior) including events that take part in the 2010 ACF Grand Prix.

For other events it is leaving it up to the individual clubs and organisers.

Anonymous said...


especially the brilliant tongue in cheek comment by one Michael X Tractor (Classic!)


Denis Jessop said...

A couple of comments.

Bill's post followed mine on CCF. The ACF is prescribing the time limit only for ACF events because it has no power to prescribe it for other events. This is one of the consequences of the present ACF Constitutional structure.

Also, regrettably, the battle for increments is now not clearly won as FIDE has indicated that the 90min+30spm limit will be phased out in the middle of next year for FIDE tournaments in which title norms are available. It will still be available for other events. I believe that it is the best time limit for club events where one round per night is held and for many other events too.


Anonymous said...

Its not CCF anymore Denis, didn't you get the message?

Now its CCAPCF, only missing the R :)

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the 0 start? Can you picture Mark Webber arriving late tomorrow for F1 race? Or think about any other example in any other sport where a player is allowed to arrive late....

Kevin Bonham said...

Re the last anon comment, I've been a frequent viewer of motorsport for decades. I've quite often seen cases where cars are not quite ready in time for the start (eg last minute problem on the warm-up lap). Such cars are often permitted to start late, either from the pit lane once the rest of the field have left the grid, or even some time later if it really takes a while to fix the problem. Of course, they lose time while the others disappear into the distance so even a few minutes of it effectively puts the car out of contention.

Ditto for cycling; Floyd Landis missed the start of a time trial in the Tour de France one year after some kind of mishap while getting ready to start it. He was able to start several seconds late. Of course he lost those several seconds.

So clearly there are sports where late starting is permitted. There are others for which it would be ridiculous but chess is not one of those.

Anonymous said...

Comparing chess to any other sport is basically a wrong idea because our "sport" is just so different. Noone questions such things like going out from the playing during your game to smoke a cigarette, however imagining Lleyton Hewitt doing the same when the ball is on his side would be more than funny. Also hard to see when Real Madrid offers a 0 : 0 to Juventus because they both noticed that that the other's defence can not be broken up... The examples are endless, the point is simple: Chess is dramatically different and therefore these comparisons are sensless. (And so is any effort that tries to make chess an olimpic sport.. chess does not belong there at all)