What’s the Best Time Limit for Older Players?

A few weeks ago I played in my first rapidplay event since starting to play again, the English Rapidplay Championships. My overall result was OK, I finished in sole fourth place on 6.5/9 with an ECF rating performance of around my last published grade. On the other hand I found the experience ‘challenging’ to say the least.

This makes me wonder what the optimal time limit is for older players, and I would argue that the longer time limits are generally better. Fast time limits lead to serious levels of tension, which young players seem to negotiate better than the ‘oldies’. What may seem exciting and fun when you are young becomes unpleasant and stressful as you get older.

There is another factor that may have an influence, that of stamina for longer games. I guess this may be what influenced Garry Kasparov in his choice of fast time limits when he played again recently. But as he was probably disappointed with the outcome his choice fails to convince. Frankly I think he would do better with classical time limits.

Of course we do not need to guess, it is possible to work it out. There is plenty of data at the FIDE web site that includes the ages of players and their ratings at different time limits. The players can be divided into different age groups and their ratings compared. If I am right the older players should, on average, have lower ratings at the faster time limits.

Nigel Davies

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.