by Maz Zavanelli
ICCF interim President




10/40  or  10/60?


At the Daytona Beach Congress in was just catching on and quickly
replacing postal chess as the method of choice for correspondence play.  Many were
greatly concerned about the rapid pace of email games and a heavier game load. 
ICCF addressed these concerns in several ways.


1. Reducing event sizes from 15 players to 11 players where possible.  

2. Adding a “phony day” rule to eliminate the arrival day arguments, problems, and disputes.

3. Setting the time control to 10/60.



Five World Champions were for 10/60 and the president at that time, Alan Borwell, was
also a strong supporter.  I was of the opposite view, strongly opposed, and wanted a faster game.


It is now clear we need both.  The majority of the rank and file like me want the
faster time control.  The top players want the slower time control.  The perfect
Amici Sumus solution is to have both.  Hence when we did the webserver, the next
evolution of technology, we made it completely flexible and up to the organizer/administration of the event.  This flexibility becomes very important when you consider the needs
of school chess where you want to finish an event in the school year.


My own preference for 10/40 has been greatly reinforced. The longer time control is
subject to abuse. In one game my opponent always replied the same day or one day
so after 25 moves he had taken only a few days.  I reached a wonderful position where
I found a beautiful sacrifice that would lead to mate in a few moves or win tons of material.  After receiving this “shocker”, my opponent began taking the maximum time.  On the 14th day,
I would send out my repeat.  On the 39th or so day I would get his move.  One of the most beautiful games I have played became a source of frustration, impatience and anger.  I became petrified over the possibility that I might misrecord the winning sequence.  With leaves interspersed, the next 5 moves took 7 months, and I hated every minute of the delay.


Our own experiences as a player mold our strong opinions.  I am convinced that we
need two tiers (or more) of playing conditions; one for the very top events such as the
World Championship finals and Olympiads, and one for “normal players” who just
want to have a satisfying game of chess and get on with it.


The rules have a peculiar effect on behavior.  In one email game my opponent
would always send his move 10 minutes to midnight.  That would eliminate the
phony day edge.  If you look at it a different way, this is why we had the phony day
rule in the first place so you wouldn’t be charged a full day when it was impossible to reply. 


Or was it?  I sat quietly waiting at 10 minutes to midnight for the “ambush”. 
When it arrived, I banged out my reply on the keyboard and exclaimed loudly
to myself “I gotcha!”.  I later told a friend with great satisfaction.  He was more computer
literate than me.  He explained my opponent was using a batch delivery system and was
sending all his emails out at once automatically each night.  I was disappointed to learn
that my opponent wasn’t really there to see my “banging the chess clock” in reply.


The psychology of chess is that we are always trying to improve our openings,
our play, ourselves.  This constant self criticism and endless analysis leads us to be
forever unhappy with the rules and playing conditions.  No matter how good, we
always want more, which necessitates a state of continuous change.  And at 5 minutes to midnight I assure you that one of us somewhere will be trying to get the last ounce of satisfaction and the “edge” out of the rules even if we are playing in cyberspace.


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