22 February 2012

Blitz, Rapid, Standard, Classical?

Chess tournaments may use different time controls and we refer to these events as blitz or rapid or classical chess based on the time control. But is there really a big difference other than having to move faster if less time is given.

Blitz and rapid time controls are specially mentioned in the FIDE Laws of Chess and its Appendices. Anything less than 15 minutes given to each player for the whole game is blitz.  Thus, 14 minutes each (14/G) is blitz, but 15 minutes each is not. Blitz Rules (in Section B of Appendices) apply to blitz games. For example, a player can claim a win if the opponent makes an illegal move. Also the 2-minute rule (for claiming draws) does not apply in a blitz game.

Where 15 minutes is given to each player (15/G), we have a rapid game where Rapidplay Rules (Appendices – Section A) apply. A rapid game is a game with a minimum of 15 minutes but less than 60 minutes for each player for the whole game. Thus 59 minutes each (59/G) is a rapid game where rapid rules apply, but 60 minutes each (60/G) is not a rapid game. Rapid rules includes such matters as no requirement to record moves, the arbiter cannot call a flag drop, and the game is drawn if both players' flags have dropped.

So if the event regulations say ‘FIDE Laws of Chess apply’ but 59 minutes are given to each player to the finish, then there is no requirement to record moves. But if the organiser wants players to record moves, then there must be a ‘local rule’ to say moves must be recorded. A local or event rule overrides FIDE Laws (unless the event is to be FIDE-rated).

Classical or Standard
What is ‘Standard’ or ‘Classical’ time controls is not specifically mentioned in the FIDE Laws since the general provisions apply to a game where the players have at least 60 moves to complete the game. These terms are used loosely and their ‘definitions’ have changed several times over the years. The current usage by FIDE seems to be that ‘Classical’ refers to time controls which are acceptable for Title Norm (IM, GM, WIM, etc) purposes. These are mentioned in Section B.1.0. in the FIDE Handbook. Under this definition, 90 minutes + 30 seconds (90’+30s) is classical, but 2 hours each to the finish (120/G) is not classical.

It seem seems then that ‘Standard’ covers time controls which are not rapid but which are also not classical.  So a 1-hr game or 2-hr game (with no increments) would be Standard time control games. The MSSM Championship with 90/G would be a Standard time control event.

What if there is time increment?
With time increment, the FIDE regulations say to count the total time as if the whole game lasts exactly 60 moves to determine the time control category. For example, the National Age-Group Championship uses 45 minutes plus 30 seconds as the time control. In a 60-move game, the total time for each player would be 45 minutes basic time plus increment time of 30 minutes (60 moves x 30 seconds). The total is 1 hour and 15 minutes. This makes the NAG a Standard time control event. So the tournament regulation does not need to state that ‘moves must be recorded’. It only needs to state that “FIDE Laws shall apply’. After all, FIDE Laws already require moves to be recorded with such time controls.

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