Can someone explain this time control notation to me?

6SS, 40/120 sd30 d5

  • 1
    I would like to know if the delay applies to the first time control too, as written 40/2,SD/30,d10...so whenever the delay is mentioned it applies to each time control period?
    – user8740
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 14:50
  • 1
    @jeff, Yes, if there is just one delay listed at the end, it applies to all of the time controls. If the delays are different, then they will be listed explicitly for each time control.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 5:38
  • Does that mean if there is no delay in the first period then a "d0" should be added? Commented May 25, 2016 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


That indicates slightly more than just the time control:

  1. 6SS indicates a 6-round Swiss system tournament.
  2. 40/120 indicates that each side will have 120 minutes to make the first 40 moves of the game.
  3. sd30 indicates that after the first 40-move time control is met, each side will have an additional 30 minutes for the remainder of the game ("sd" = sudden death).
  4. d5 indicates that there will be a 5-second delay on each move, during which one's clock will not yet have started to tick.
  • Thanks for the answer! For clarification: so let's say at the end of the 40th move I have 20 minutes left from the 120 minutes. Do I now set the clock to 30 or to 50 (20 + 30)? Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 23:19
  • 1
    @DerekChiang, the 30 minutes is added to whatever time you didn't use from the first time control (so in your example, you'd have 50 minutes for the remainder of the game).
    – ETD
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 23:22
  • Can you explain what Sudden Death means? I know but that would help your answer! :P (i mean just put it in the answer b/c not many ppl read the comments :P Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 18:29
  • How would you notate 90 minutes for the entire game with 30 seconds increment? sd90 inc30?
    – user134593
    Commented Aug 7, 2023 at 18:39

These additional points elaborate on what ETD said in his reply.

  • A Swiss Tournament is one in which you are matched against opponents so that the pool of players is differentiated as much as possible in as few rounds as possible. So, in the first round, those in the top half of the pool by rating are each paired against someone from the bottom half. The assumption is that the higher-rated player will win each game. In the 2nd round, the winners of Round 1 play each other, and the losers play each other. As points accumulate, the process continues until, at the end, the players with the best scores play each other in a few (hopefull) decisive matches. The winner has thus had the toughest opposition, while others are quickly sorted into the level at which they will get a succession of fair games. SS tourneys are usually between 4 and 9 rounds, so while each of the 120 players will each only play a maximum of 9 other players, the SS allows a definitive winner to be selected.
  • "Sudden Death" means that the first player whose time runs out (i.e. his "flag falls") at the end of that time control instantly loses the game. This is known as "forfeiting on time."
  • d5 does mean that there's a delay in the way the timer works. There are several kinds of delay. The most common is the "simple delay", in which the clock counts down the seconds of the delay. If it reaches zero, then the time control allotment starts running down. So, if you had 20 minutes after your last move, and a 5-second delay is in effect, then when the opponent punches the clock, the timer will count down from 5 to 0, and then display 20:00, then 19:59, and so on. If you make a move and punch the clock after 3 seconds (i.e. the delay timer displays 2), one of 2 things may happen: a) your original time of 20:00 is displayed and the opponent's delay timer starts, b) the remainder of the delay is added to your time, and the clock shows 20:02 for your time. The second approach is common on ICC and in many digital clocks. A 3rd method is occasionally used, as Bobby Fischer proposed it: The delay is handled as an increment, so that when your clock is punched it reads 20:05, not 20:00 as it did after your prior move. You get to keep any unused increment. A 4th method is also possible: Your time reads 20:00 when your clock starts, but after you make your move and punch the clock, the increment is added retroactively. So, if you started at 20:00 and took 30 seconds to move and punch the clock, the clock would read 19:30 just before you punched it, and 19:35 just after. The retroactive increment was invented to make sure that players who are low on time won't be able to play indefinitely unless all of their moves are made in 4 seconds or less. Finally, some controls require that the clock's total never exceed the original time control allotment. Otherwise, a player who played every move in 4 seconds or less would be able to accumulate time indefinitely, and always have more than the time control amount, in some situations, unless this condition were imposed. That's why it was invented.

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