Fischer Timing

    Keywords: Tournament


Fischer Timing is a time system named after Bobby Fischer. It includes the following rules:

  • one gets an amount of time (say, 5 minutes),
  • time used for each move is deducted,
  • and an extra amount of time (say, 15 seconds) is added after each move.
    • Or is it before each move, as wikipedia would have it? See discussion.
      • I think there is no difference between "before" and "after", if the clock can announce timeout at any moment (not just when a turn is made). Or am I wrong? Reflame
      • Apparently this was not clear until the revision to the FIDE rules of chess effective from July 1, 2014 ([ext] - retrieved November 08, 2016). In the glossary it states, "cumulative (Fischer) mode: Where a player receives an extra amount of time (often 30 seconds) prior to each move." (emphasis added; note there was no such glossary in the previous version of the rules) The significance of this is presumably:
        1. Is the increment available to the player already on the first move? Seemingly under FIDE rules it is, and
        2. Between moves do the players see the total time less the next increment (and so have to mentally keep track of the increment)? Seemingly under FIDE rules they do. My old chronos game clock (circa 2006) handles Fischer as an increment after each move so presumably it is no longer compatible with FIDE chess rules! Dave


Players' remaining time

  • grows as long as they use less than the post-move increment
  • and declines when they use more -- on average.
  • is always at least the incremental amount for each move

The Players' overall time limit is linearly dependent on the number of moves (e.g. you can tell that a 300 move game with 30 min + 30 sec/move will last for a maximum of 210 min).

There is no spilling of unused time.

There are no periods. All you have to watch is the time.


5 minutes plus 30 seconds bonus.

  #    Time     Used
  1     5:00    1:00
  2     4:30    1:20
  3     3:40    2:40
  4     1:30    0:10
  5     1:50    0:20
  6     2:00    0:30
  7     2:00    2:00
  8     0:00    lost

If it were only one second less in step 7, life would continue with 0:31 on the clock.

Fisher Timing and EGF tournament class

The EGF allows Fischer Timing for tournaments since October 2010. To decide in which EGF tournament class the tournament belongs, the adjusted time (TA) is calculated as follows:

  • basic time (in minutes) + 120 x bonus time (in minutes)
    or what is simpler to calculate:
  • basic time (in minutes) + 2 x bonus time (in seconds)

At the moment the minimum requirements for Fisher Timing are:

  • Class A: minimum basic time 45 minutes, minimum adjusted time 75 minutes (e.g.: 45 minutes + 15 sec per move)
  • Class B: minimum basic time 30 minutes, minimum adjusted time 50 minutes (e.g.: 30 minutes + 10 sec per move)
  • Class C: minimum basic time 20 minutes, minimum adjusted time 30 minutes (e.g.: 20 minutes + 5 sec per move)

See also: [ext] under Tournament classes.

Example tournaments where Fischer Timing was used:

Princeton-Rutgers 1st inter-collegiate match, (April 2009 | AGA E-Journal, Volume 10, #14)
30 min reserve and 15 seconds per move

See also:

Fischer Timing last edited by on October 20, 2023 - 12:19
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