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I have noticed a gap in the PGN spec and the Laws of Chess in section 6.2.2

The time saved by a player during one period is added to his time available for the next period, except in the ‘time delay’ mode. In the time delay mode both players receive an allotted "main thinking time". ...

The delay mode is not mentioned in the PGN spec, so my question here is how to notate it in PGN tags then.

A game with TimeControl set to increment looks like:

[TimeControl "4500+30"]
1. e4 e5 

This is a game started with 90 minutes for each player, and an increment of 30 seconds per move (used in our chess leagues in Germany a lot).

How do you record a variant when Bronstein timing (named "time delay" in the Laws of Chess) is used?

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  • In the meanwhile, I asked the producer of DGT clocks and boards, if and how they record the Bronstein timing, and they answered, that they don't record it. So there is no information to gain from the producer.
    – mliebelt
    Dec 4, 2021 at 10:34

1 Answer 1

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First, one thing to clear up, according to the Wikipedia article on Time control, Bronstein Delay is not exactly "time delay" from the Laws of Chess. With "time delay", the player's clock does not start ticking down until after a period of thinking time has elapsed. In Bronstein time, the clock ticks down immediately, so you can lose on time (as far as I'm aware), but time is added back to your clock after your move as in incremental timing except that you won't get more time added than you spent thinking (so if you thought for 7 seconds in a game with 15 second increments, you will only get 7 seconds added back to the clock, but if you thought for 30 seconds, you will get 15 seconds added back). The net effect is equivalent to the simple delay, but I believe Bronstein allows you to lose on time in situations where a simple delay would not. Actually, upon further reading, the difference between Bronstein and simple delay is purely in how the clock presents the total remaining time as the delay is added at the beginning of the game on turn one, so a loss in time would occur after the same total thinking time for both time controls.


Regardless, that isn't quite what your question is about. So let's move to the PGN specification. As best as I can tell, the PGN specification does not provide any standard way for notating a delay or a Bronstein increment. Of particular note is this answer to a similar question from about 7 years ago.

The only suggestion is the standard one regarding these questions about PGN which is to put the information in a comment field. The standard is old and no longer maintained as far as I know.

I would agree. The TimeControl tag is optional, so you could omit it altogether in favor of an explanatory comment, or you could add a value that seems reasonable and then a comment to explain.

[TimeControl "?"] ; Bronstein, 30 min, 15 sec delay
[TimeControl "1800+15"] ; Bronstein
[TimeControl "1800"] ; 15 second time delay

Regardless, if you import this sort of notation into any parsing software, it would likely not show you any of your comments around the TimeControl tag, so depending on what you want to do with the PGN file, it may be irrelevant.

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  • Thank you a lot for your explanation. I think comments are good (for people), but bad for machines. There should be a recommended way to document the chosen TimeControl so that software like lichess.org or my viewer are able to use the TimeControl information additionally. In my opinion, something like [TimeControl "1800+15D"] would work well. the D for Delay.
    – mliebelt
    Nov 30, 2021 at 18:06
  • One comment about Bronstein: (taken from manuals) DGT 2010: At the start of a player’s turn, the clock starts countdown and if the player moves within the delay time, the time in the display will return to what it was before the start of the turn. DGT 3000: In the (Bronstein) Delay method ... this amount of time is added to the current time before the move is played. If a player uses less than the delay time for a certain move, ... the clock jumps back to the time at the start of the move. If a player uses more time ... the delay time is added to the current time.
    – mliebelt
    Dec 4, 2021 at 10:44

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