Consider the following time control idea (which obviously would not be implemented with a sand clock, but a modern electronic clock): The hourglass starts in neutral, each move reverses it. Thus any of your pondering automatically adds to the time of the opponent. As soon as the last sand grain has fallen, loss on time.

Has such a time control been tried in a "serious" game or even tournament?

  • Technically, this is definitely doable with a real hourglass (starting horizontally, with an equal amount of sand on both sides) - see Wikipedia. The DGT 2000 had it as one of its modes. See also this Reddit thread.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 21:39
  • In my youth we often played casual games with a 3-minute egg timer.
    – bof
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 3:07
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    I think this is an included mode on many electronic chess clocks already. I have no idea how common use it is, though.
    – Arthur
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 11:38
  • @Glorfindel: Yup, "can take forever" (Reddit) is an issue (although not a practical one, I think - unless two trolls play a 100 move seasnake and use all of their, say, 10 minutes for every move). Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


The biggest problem with this variant, is that it gets players to play even more impulsively(the clock becomes a strategy to win). Imagine a scenario where white has accumulated a lot of time while black has very little time, instead of thinking hard to find the best move, white would much rather play quickly(otherwise black would gain time). In normal chess you can not control your opponents clock, in this variant you can. So the game becomes more about the clock than chess.

This is likely why it is mostly unknown, and not played OTB.

  • I see this rather as an incentive (especially for bullet wizards :-), but answer accepted. Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 18:58

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