View Full Version : FIDE time limit and age

Ian Rout
12-11-2004, 10:08 AM
This follows from the Olympiad discussion, but on a new thread as it is really a new topic. Earlier this week I read Nigel Short's column in the Daily Telegraph


(can't quote the exact link as it's down at the moment; note that to to read the article you will need to register, which is free) and had some thoughts, or re-had some earlier thoughts, which I have now got around to writing down.

Short discusses England's results at the Olympiad and mentions one suggestion which has been raised, namely that England needs to send younger players who can cope better with the FIDE time limit of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move from the start.

The idea that old blokes have trouble with this relatively fast time limit is circulated frequently and I am not entirely convinced.

I can certainly see that in a lightning game or even an allegro the part-second gained each move in the swoop and thump is in total a significant proportion of the total available and represents a massive advantage for members of the Playstation generation. Even just the intimidatory value of being young and fit in what is to a great extent a physical contest must be worth something.

But why should being young be of any advantage at the FIDE limit, given that you always have thirty seconds for a move? Compared with time limits which involve a move-40 time control and/or a guillotine finish, the thirty second increment should level the playing field since the game, while it speeds up at the end, can never degenerate into lightning.

Possibly the argument could be that at the shorter limits players don't have time to pause to clear their heads so this favours younger players who can play intensively without needing that break, but this seems to be double-edged - longer limits would also be a problem for older players getting more tired after five or six hours. In other words, youth has an advantage at any time limit, not specifically or more noticeably at this one.

Certainly I think the FIDE limit is too short for top-level chess (it's very good for club chess though, we use it or similar limits a lot in ACT). But I'm not sure to what extent it really gives any extra benefits to younger players that they don't have anyway. Does this effect really exist, or is it just an excuse when the real difference is that older players don't have the obsessive single-mindedness of the young? Or just that in any sport there is a trade-off between youth and experience, but at some point the increase in experience becomes small or worthless whereas the increase in age becomes a major handicap. Any thoughts?

Incidentally Short points out a significant counter-example to the theory that teams should include more kids; if the time limit favours the young how is Luke McShane's result explained?

12-11-2004, 11:20 AM
Incidentally Short points out a significant counter-example to the theory that teams should include more kids; if the time limit favours the young how is Luke McShane's result explained?

At least one loss was caused by a late night with some Australian players, falling asleep on the beach at 4am and waking up completely alone 2 hours later. His game the next day was going fine until about the 3 hour mark when tiredness kicked in.

Another interesting point is the Australian player who had the most difficulty with the time control was Gary Lane, and who did he beat in Rd 13?

28-05-2005, 09:52 AM
Faster time limits tend to favour younger players as they tend to better tactically than strategically. The faster it is, the more tactical mistakes there are.

At the top level, there shouldn't be much difference.

Older players are probably more used to slow time limits, wheras
some people have grown up with the new limits.

Younger players tend to play ,ore blitz.