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What is the best time control for top level chess?

Photo by Lennart Ootes

By GM Ben Finegold


An interesting topic often argued about by chess players of all levels:  What is the best time control for top level chess?


I think it is important that both fast and slower chess are played by the world’s elite.  But, most people I know, or people I don’t know who express their opinions online, are usually in one camp or the other.


The argument for slow (Classical) chess is simple; The slower the pace of play, the better the chess.  This is clear.  If you want to see the best players play the best moves, slow is best.


However, there is a very reasonable argument for faster paced chess events where the games can end in less than 30 minutes, and that is spectator friendliness.  Most people are not able to fully grasp the very top level of chess (online commentary helps!), and watching one game last 4.5-5.5 hours, and then end in a draw, isn’t everyone’s idea of entertainment.


I believe both Classical and Rapid/Blitz chess are important!  The quicker games are very exciting, with lots of twists and turns, mistakes, and decisive results.  Slower games have more draws and are better played games overall.


The ongoing Grand Chess Tour has the world’s best play both fast and slow chess, so, everyone should be happy!  I like both forms of chess, and I hope, in the future, more organizers see it my way, and have a little of each time control at their events.


The Sinquefield Cup will, for the first time, feature a rapid and blitz event right after the Classical (slow) chess. The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz will be the fourth event of the Grand Chess Tour. I can’t wait to see the best players play great chess and then play a faster paced chess in the quicker event and see who thinks and moves the quickest, keeping their wits about them as they play against the opponent, and the clock!