RGG FAQ Part 3 Section 5
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3.5: What does 1/5 or 1/10 mean?
This 'abbreviation' used on Go servers indicates the time limits of proposed matches.
Often, rather than having a time limit for each move or a time limit for the whole match, many Go matches have two time limits. One is the 'basic' period and the other is the 'overtime', or the 'byoyomi' periods.
The first part of the 'abbreviation' refers to the basic time limit. Often on Go servers, the basic time is one minute. You can play as many or as few stones in this period as you like. As soon as the basic time ends the first byoyomi period starts.
The second part of the 'abbreviation' refers to the length of the 'byoyomi' periods.
Byoyomi periods require you to maintain a certain average pace: you must play a certain number of stones (typically 25) within the time period.
If you play the 25 stones within the byoyomi period, you get another byoyomi period. So if the byoyomi period is 10 minutes, as soon as you play stone 25, the clock starts again at 10 minutes. (Even if you have used less than 10 minutes to play your 25 stones).
If you do not play 25 stones during a byoyomi period, you lose the match.
So, if someone proposes a '1/10' match, that is a match with a main period of 1 minute followed by repeating byoyomi periods of 10 minutes each. So, when the match starts, the clock counts down from one minute, then resets to 10 minutes and starts counting down again (and again).
In this fashion a 1/5 game with 200 moves cannot take more than 42 minutes: first, each player gets 1 minute, then each player gets 5 minutes to play 25 stones, another 5 minutes for the next 25, etc. If each player took the maximum time, each player would get one minute plus 20 minutes (in four 5minute byoyomi periods) to play all their 100 stones, for a maximum match time of 42 minutes.
This and other terms used on the go servers are listed and explained on Robert JASIEKS pages.