A time control dictates how much time each side has in a game of chess. It is written in the format of (Number of moves)/(Number of minutes.) Some popular time controls are:

G/30 - Game in 30 minutes (for each side.) This is "fast" for standard games. Game will last an hour max.

G/65 - The tournaments I have played in have used this TC. Nice and roomy.

G/5 - Normal blitz chess TC.

G/3 - Even faster blitz chess (:

Some digital chess clocks allow for an increment. An increment is an amount of time, in seconds, that is added to a player every time he makes a move. Another popular time control is 2 minutes each side with a 12 second increment.

I believe higher level players like to use TCs such as 30/60 SD/30. This means you have an hour to make your first 30 moves, then those 30 moves you have a sudden death time of 30 minutes added to your clock. Note that this is completely conjecture as I am too much of a patzer to know what higher level players do (:

See Chess Clock

People often wonder why there are time controls in chess, seeing as chess players are naturally not going to play as well as normal when they have, let's say, 5 minutes left to make the next 10 moves or they will forfeit the game.

Bobby Fischer used to tell a story about the old days of chess, before chess clocks were invented, when players in a tournament were only limited by etiquette as to the time they took to think about their next move. Paul Morphy, the most brilliant player of his era, and a very fast mover on the chessboard, was playing Louis Paulsen, a very good, but very slow player. On one particular move his opponent sat fixedly in his chair, gazing at the board, without twitching, for something like two hours, with Morphy growing more and more visibly impatient, until finally he leaned forward and said, "Excuse me, but why don't you make a move?" Upon which Paulsen jerked slightly, and with a look of surprise said "Oh, is it really my move?"

And that is why we have time controls in chess.

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