Sub-page of JapaneseTiming

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In Japanese title matches a unique time system is used.

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Each player is alloted a fixed amount of time for the game. The amounts vary depending upon the match. Two day matches, the Kisei for example, allocate 8 hours of play to each person. A timekeeper is responsible for keeping the time and maintaining the time sheet.

Each time a stone is played, the timekeeper notes
the time taken since the last play. If **less**
than one minute of time has elapsed, the player
is not billed for the time used. If at least one
minute of time has passed, the timekeeper rounds
the value **down** to the nearest minute and
records the time used.

Once the time remaining for a player reaches a
pre-stated amount, typically 10 minutes remaining
in an 8 hour time allotment, the timekeeper will
begin counting the seconds (byoyomi in
Japanese). The count is done in units of 10
seconds, beginning with 10 and moving **upwards**
(10, 20, etc). Once the player plays, the
elapsed time is noted. As before the byoyomi, if
less than a minute of time has passed, the player
is not assessed for the time elapsed. If at
least one minute has passed, the player is
assessed the time rounded down to the nearest
minute. If the timekeeper counts out all the
remaining time before ^{[2]} the player moves, that
player loses the game on time.

If a player goes down to the wire but always plays a move in time, he will always be shown as using (e.g.) 7h 59 - or 8.00 if he loses on time. But the actual time he spends can be 2 or 3 hours above that - there are players who go into byoyomi in the early fuseki, and there's no way to show that on the timesheet. It can be partly inferred from the actual finishing time.

**Lunch**: they will break off promptly at the
designated time (e.g. 12 if they start at 8.30)
and take one hour away from the board, no sealed
move. Of course the hour does not count against
anyone's time allowance. In the evening they will
play on to a finish, or if it's Day 1 of a 2-day
game, till the first move is made after the
designated finishing time (e.g. 5 pm), but
obviously this move is sealed.

**Loo breaks** and so on are in your own time,
but everyone is much more accommodating and
gentlemanly about this than in the chess world,
and it has been observed that it can take 15
seconds to count out 10 seconds, etc etc.

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The time sheet is more difficult to describe, but basically it's a repeating table, each part split into four rows. The top row has the move number in each cell (1-20, then 21-40 etc. up to 100 - if you need more, you get a second page and start again at 1-20).

Cells are empty in the other three rows. The second row is labelled "Time", the third "Clock", and the fourth "Total". When a player makes a move, and if he spends at least one minute on it, the timekeeper makes an entry in the second row (Time), showing the number of whole minutes elapsed, rounding all seconds down.

In the third row (Clock) he puts the number the
minute hand ^{[3]} points to. He will have already
written in the margin the time when the game
started (e.g. "Started at 8.30" -- so if the
first move took 4 minutes, he will write 4 in row
two and 34 in row three.

In row four (Total) he writes the total elapsed for each player by adding up the respective figures in row two. In the first hour he just writes the minutes. After the first hour he writes the total out fully (e.g. 1.25).

If a player makes a move in less than a minute, a
"**/**" is put in row three (Clock), but rows two
and four are left blank. In other words, nothing
is counted against his time allowance.

That's it for the ENTIRE game, really. It's a
mistake to think of byoyomi as overtime. If a
player exceeds his alloted time, he loses. The
only difference byoyomi makes is that in the last
10 or 5 minutes, **as a courtesy**, the
timekeeper will count out the seconds (and he
will mark the clock time in row three in brackets
to remind himself to count). The way he does the
counting can vary. The timekeeper will often ask
each pro how he wants the counting to be done.
Typically a pro might then say: "just speak once
when I reach the last five seconds except in the
last minute, then I'd like you to speak at 30
seconds, 40 seconds, and then count out the last
ten. (Byou-yomi means counting off the seconds,
not reading). Many pros are happy with plain
vanilla, of course, and will accept a regular
style of counting like the one Richard mentions.

**Additional Notes**

- The timekeeper uses a stopwatch. The players do not use western style time clocks.
- Other periods than 1 minute do occur, e.g. 30 secs, 20 secs. I've seen nothing over 1m.
- A 4- or even 6-dan is more normally the timekeeper. (Don't forget, it's not a chore -- it's a great honour).
- There will often be a separate timekeeper and scorekeeper.
- If there is a query, the stopwatch is stopped.

Since we are on time limits, you might like to
know that the **longest game** on record was 240
hours (no time limits). The longest with time
limits was 40 hours each: 46 hours combined were
used. ^{[1]}

Richard Hunter: First of all, a big thank you
to John for his prompt response and
detailed account about.

I found it very
interesting. I wrote an article called [Byoyomi
Explained| http://www.britgo.org/bgj/10643.html] a
few years ago and didn't want to repeat myself
too much. At my request, Steve Bailey has kindly
posted it on the BGA web site.

It ends with an anecdote about loo breaks, perhaps slightly different from John's comment. I remember that they discussed differences between go and shogi in this respect on the Igo/Shogi news program one time.

This system is basically Japonese Byoyomi (as used on go servers) without main time but with several hundred periods.

Can someone elaborate on the **history** of the
time system described here? When it was first
used? where? etc.

John F.: 1st Old Meijin in 1961 - another Yomiuri innovation. Byo-yomi, yomi-uri -- geddit?

[1] The 46-hour game was Shusai and Kitani as elaborated upon by Kawabata Yasunari in The Master of Go?

[2] For logical reasons IMHO it should be

If the player does not move

beforethe

timekeeper counts out all the remaining time, that player loses the game on time. With other words, and academic OC, if time runs out at the very same moment the turn ends, the player hasn't made it and loses on time.

[3] Which clock is meant, the normal one for everybody?

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