Increment is FIDE's default for their tournaments, although their rules permit delay as well. Most internet chess servers also use increment exclusively.

As I understand it, delay is used by the USCF (for historic reasons?), and, for some reason, by the 2017 Grand Chess Tour.

Why is increment preferred over delay by pretty much everyone but the USCF?


Very simple. Move quickly (faster than the increment) and you end up with more time. Over the course of a dozen or so quickly made moves you can build up enough time to allow for another serious think if required.

With delay you can never get more time. Once in zeitnot you are permanently in zeitnot.

  • Accurate and easy to understand answer (+1)... and exactly why I prefer delay over increment (as a personal opinion).
    – Ghotir
    Jun 22 '17 at 14:39
  • Why doesn't the USCF also primarily use increment then?
    – tobiasvl
    Jun 23 '17 at 7:13
  • @Ghotir Time is getting shorter and shorter for a game. That's trend, good or bad, whatever. This delay could do very bad job for health of players. How to make game fast and safe at the same time? You can be three hours in constant time trouble, can't go on toilet, and still average game will be very fast. There should be additional time with delay on start but then we could return to good old 7 hours games. Once I moved my bishop in dominant position twice to every square getting around twenty minutes to calculate critical break, but this problem is really smaller then the one with delay.
    – hoacin
    Jun 23 '17 at 7:36
  • @hoacin I understand that point of view, I just disagree. I prefer for the time to be the time - if people want longer games (for instance, to allow a run to the restroom) increase the time control. I really disagree that this is a health issue. (With that said, I respect both sides of this issue, and am more than willing to play in tournaments with either.) I'm willing to agree to disagree.
    – Ghotir
    Jun 23 '17 at 13:34
  • I've always assumed that the USCF primarily uses delay because most USCF events are Swiss system tournaments with multiple rounds per day, and it's more important to make the ending time of each round more predictable, and not have to allow for a lot of time between rounds. When you use increment, it's more difficult to plan a schedule, and scheduling conservatively by allowing for a lot of time between rounds may leave a lot of people bored and impatient waiting for their next game to start.
    – patbarron
    Jul 1 '17 at 13:16

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