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Rapid ratings cover a very wide range of time controls and bump up against regular (where games are dual rated) as well as blitz time controls.

What is the average time for USCF rapid games that are rated in USCF tournaments?

Comments on the validity of the extremes are also welcome.

  • What's your definition of "tournament"? Does it only include advertised tournaments, or also club-level events that are rated but not advertised? – D M Feb 1 at 3:24
  • as asked in the OP USCF tournaments rated for rapids play. afaik they are all advertised. so if you are a member and have access to announcements for several months of tournaments you could eyeball what is most usual. – edwina oliver Feb 1 at 3:41
  • "afaik they are all advertised." - Not really. There are many tournaments that don't get TLAs. That's why I was considering whether I would be better off looking at what's being advertised for future months, or what was rated in past months. – D M Feb 1 at 3:45
  • I thought USCF advertised every tournament but did not hype those without a larger paid ad. Either method would work. I just want to know the prevalent speed used. And if it clusters at either end that works too. Or if its trimodal, or spread out all over the range uniformly would be helpful. – edwina oliver Feb 1 at 14:17
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But in practice what is the average encountered in all or most tournaments? Or even a distribution for high endish , low endish, middling value? And which of those is prevalent?

This page will let you see every tournament that was rated in a particular state in a particular month. It takes a little effort from there to click through and see what the time controls were for each tournament. Going through all of them is too much for me, but I decided to take a couple of sample states. Looking at every quick rated tournament in December 2019 and January 2020 in Wisconsin, the time controls were:

  • G60 d5 (7 events)
  • G45 d5 (2 events)
  • G30 d5
  • G26 d3 (3 events)
  • G25 +4

So, if you add the increment/delay to the time, half were 65 minute games (the maximum allowable for dual-rated games) and 4 out of the other 7 were 29 minute games (the maximum allowable for quick-rated-only games). The average was about 50.4 minutes.

Now let's look at a larger state. Florida had the following quick rated tournaments in December 2019:

  • G60 d5
  • G55 d5
  • G50 d5
  • G45 round 1 G60 rounds 2-3
  • G40 +10
  • G40 d5 (4 events)
  • G30 d5 (4 events)
  • G25 +10
  • G25 d5 (10 events)
  • G24 d5
  • G20 d5 (3 events)
  • G15 d5

As was the case with Wisconsin, most of these were dual rated events; games well below 30 minutes were rare. But in Florida, it seems that 30 minute games (the minimum allowable for dual-rated) were the most common. The 65 or 29 minute games that were the most common in Wisconsin were rare here; only one of each of those were played. The average was about 36.5 minutes.

If you combine the two states, then the time controls were as follows:

Time  Number of tournaments
65    8
60    1
55    1
50    4
45    4
35    6
30    10
29    5
25    3
20    1

It would seem, then, that which time controls are popular depends on your area. But in both states, there tended to be many tournaments right at the edge of where the events would be dual rated, at 65 or 30/29 minutes. The average was about 41 minutes, and the median was 35. There weren't many tournaments that were towards the low end of what can be quick rated.

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Rapid ratings cover a very wide range of time controls and bump up against regular (where games are dual rated)

It is perhaps worth spelling these out for those outside the US who are unfamiliar with USCF time controls. According to the USCF's Official Rules of Chess (thanks, DM, for the link!):

5C. Ratable time controls.

There are three rating systems: Regular (slow), Quick (fast) and Blitz. For the purposes of rating G/minutes and inc/seconds (or d/seconds), add minutes (mm) and seconds (ss) for total playing time for each player. That is, total time equals minutes plus (seconds times 60) or mm+ss; e.g.: G/60 d/5 = 60+5 = 65 minutes total playing time for each player. Multiple time controls add all mm for each control: mm = mm(1) + mm(2) + . . . .

Regular only: Total playing time for each player is greater than 65 minutes (mm+ss > 65).

Dual (both regular and quick): Total playing time for each player is from 30 to 65 minutes (30 < mm+ss <65).

Quick only: Total playing time for each player is more than 10 and less than 30 minutes (10 < mm+ss < 30)

For Regular, Dual and Quick the primary time (mm in minutes) must be at least 5 minutes.

Blitz: Total playing time for each player is from 5 to 10 minutes inclusive and the primary time control must be at least 3 minutes. 5 < mm+ss < 10 All rounds must use the same time control.

USCF used to have a rapid range of G10 to G30. What these latest limits do is to bring them much closer to the FIDE time controls. According to the FIDE Laws of Chess:

Appendix A. Rapid chess

A.1 A ‘Rapid chess’ game is one where either all the moves must be completed in a fixed time of more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes for each player; or the time allotted plus 60 times any increment is of more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes for each player.

The advantage of the USCF system is that there are no gaps whereas for FIDE there can be gaps according to the ratings of the players. According to FIDE Rating Regulations effective from 1 July 2017:

1. Rate of Play

1.1 For a game to be rated each player must have the following minimum periods in which to complete all the moves, assuming the game lasts 60 moves.

Where at least one of the players in the game has a rating 2200 or higher, each player must have a minimum of 120 minutes.

Where at least one of the players in the game has a rating 1600 or higher, each player must have a minimum of 90 minutes.

Where both of the players in the game are rated below 1600, each player must have a minimum of 60 minutes.

So if at least one player is rated 2200 or higher time controls between G61 and G119 are not eligible for any rating.

If at least one player is rated 1600 or higher time controls between G61 and G89 are not eligible for any rating.

Comments on the validity of the extremes are also welcome

The English Chess Federation follows the example of FIDE for its definition of rapidplay - G10 < time control < G60 but follows the example of the USCF and doesn't have the gap between rapid and standard for moderately rated players and above. G60 and above is rated as standard regardless of rating/grading.

Having the definition of quick/rapid chess include time controls between G30 and G60 seems to me to be just "filling the gap" because I have never come across a rapidplay with a time control greater than G30. Note that the time control in the World Rapid & Blitz Championships 2019 was G15+10 (equivalent to G25):

RAPID: Swiss system, 15 rounds in the open event and 12 rounds in the women's event. Time control: 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1.

The fastest rapid time control I have ever seen was G10+5 (equivalent to G15). Here in Europe the usual rapid time controls are G10+5, G15+5, G15+10, G20+10 and the occasional G30.

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    Your USCF information is outdated; that's an archived page you're referencing. "These regulations are a supplement to the USCF's Official Rules of Chess, 4th edition" but they're on the 7th edition now. – D M Jan 31 at 22:07
  • @DM Do you have a more up to date link? I would really appreciate it if you do. Maybe it's just me but I find the USCF to be secretive about their rules. – Brian Towers Jan 31 at 22:17
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    uschess.org/docs/gov/chessrules/… - See rule 5c – D M Jan 31 at 22:24
  • @DM Many thanks! – Brian Towers Jan 31 at 22:26
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    No problem. After the edit, it looks correct and conforms to my experience (60 d5 is dual rated; 60 d6 is regular-only.) – D M Jan 31 at 22:55

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