Bobby Fischer talked a lot about chess960 aka Fischer random and more generally how chess is dead, etc. Were there any similar interviews or discussions for increment?

I guess not much because the entire chess (and chess960, shogi, xiangqi, go/baduk) world was automatically inclined to do increment? Like,Bobby filed for patent in 1988 and then it was used right away 4 years later in 1992 rematch with Boris Spassky, and then 6 more years later, used in the 1998 FIDE WCC. Meanwhile chess960 had its 1st tournament in 1996 but only 23 years later in 2019 was there a FIDE WFRCC.

But still did Bobby even briefly describe how he came up with the idea of increment, what the problems without increment are, what the benefits of increment are, etc?

Of course today, we can say in our own words why increment is so beneficial, but I want to know what Bobby's own words were.

All I found:


The actual patent https://worldwide.espacenet.com/patent/search/family/022857891/publication/US4884255A?q=pn%3DUS4884255

A game timing apparatus and method for simultaneously timing events for two players is disclosed. The method involves presetting a pair of clocks for respective initial time periods, starting one of the clocks to time a first player's move, simultaneously stopping one clock and starting the other, and incrementing or decrementing each of the clocks by a time interval once for each move or a group of moves. The apparatus includes a pair of clock means, a pair of start switches for starting and stopping the clock means, and a compensation means for incrementing or decrementing each clock means by a time interval.


Fischer would later complain that he was cheated out of the royalties for this invention.





This radio broadcast was Fischer's 17th in the Philippines. The karaoke interlude was a departure, but otherwise it was no different from the previous 16. Fischer's talking points never vary: · Bobby Fischer is being persecuted by world Jewry. · The United States government is a 'brutal, evil dictatorship' that has falsely accused Bobby Fischer of a crime and forced him to live in exile. · Bobby Fischer has been swindled out of a 'vast fortune' in royalties by book publishers, movie studios, and clock manufacturers (yes, clock manufacturers), who have brazenly pilfered his brand name, patents, and copyrights.

1 Answer 1


Although you cited to his patent, you didn’t quote the most interesting part, which is a long-ish rationale for why increment is good:

The result of adjournments is often a skewing of a particular player's chess-playing ability since the success or failure of a player upon resumption of an adjourned game often depends on the amount of time spent analyzing the game during the adjournment as well as the quantity and quality of help that player had in analyzing the game during the adjournment.… Thus, the play of the game upon resumption of the adjournment does not necessarily reflect the ability of a particular player, but rather it may be more a reflection of the ability of his team of analysts, books and computers. There are many people, including the present inventor, who wish to eliminate adjournments for exactly this reason. A chess game should be an accurate reflection of the ability of a particular player and not a reflection of the strength and ability of his team of analysts, books and computers.

Another problem with the present timing system for competitive chess is that the number of moves which must be made during the primary time period is arbitrarily selected. While at first glance this may not seem important, the arbitrary selection of the number of moves has a major impact on competitive chess games. For instance, selecting 40 moves to be completed in the primary period of 2 hours means that each player has 2 hours to complete his 40 moves and also that each player can allot his 2 hours among his 40 moves any way that player chooses to. The result of such a system is that perhaps too many games are decided between moves 30 and 40 because many players will take an inordinate amount of time for their first 30 moves and be left with but a few minutes to complete their remaining 10 moves. The result is often a mad time scramble to complete move 40 before the 2-hour period runs out. Numerous games are decided by blunders (sometimes gross blunders) during such time scrambles.

Again, the decision of a chess game on the basis of several moves made during a time scramble may not accurately reflect the chess-playing ability of the players. Rather, it often reflects the ability of each player to budget his time appropriately. There are many people, including the present inventor, who feel that one's ability to budget time should not be such a decisive factor in deciding who wins and loses competitive chess games.…

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a new set of chess rules, a new method of timing chess games and an apparatus capable of performing the new timing method which will eliminate adjournments from competitive chess and which will eliminate the need for selecting an arbitrary number of moves to be completed in a primary time period.…

It is the primary object of the present invention to provide a timing device for timing two events which employs a compensation means to increment or decrement each of the two clocks of the timing device in order to provide the ability to time two players for an unlimited number of moves.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a timing device for use in timing competitive chess which, by encouraging quality chess in a reasonable time frame, allows the game to be concluded in one sitting.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a timing device for use in timing competitive chess games which eliminates the time scramble often associated with the completion of the primary (and sometimes secondary, etc.) time periods.

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    Thanks! That was worth quoting in full.
    – user30536
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 16:08
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    Oh so it's in another tab. I see it. thanks.
    – BCLC
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 10:09
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    Jim Ratliff any idea why this wasn't really talked about as much compared to chess960? Did everyone just accept increment? I don't see like interviews on a plane explaining 'chess without increment is blah x3. it gets harder and harder. you need more and more computers.'
    – BCLC
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 10:46
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    @BCLC I wish I knew more about the history of adoption/diffusion of the time increment. I think increment was more rapidly adopted in Europe. In the USA, its adoption has been much slower; US tournaments tended to use delay instead. Finally in the USA increment has taken over but I still play in a tournament that uses delay instead. Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 17:26

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