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A4c Variant Tournament
February 15 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
“A4c” or “The Clock (Almost) Never Stops” Variant
Background: One of the strongest blitz players in our club came up with this variant and, after hearing it described, we couldn’t resist holding an informal tournament to give it a try. It involves a good deal of fast chess plus a game within a game (a metagame) centered around how best to manage one’s fixed time allotment over several games.
Concept: Players will play best of 3 games against the same opponent in each round with 10 minutes on their clocks, with no increment or delay. When a game ends, players pause the clock but do not reset the time. They reset the pieces then restart the clock for the next game with the times remaining from the prior game(s). If a player runs out of time they lose the match. If a player wins the majority of the points possible in the 3 games, they win the match (so if a player wins two games and still has time remaining on their clock they win the match). One player gets two games with the white pieces (first and third games) and the other gets preferred clock side for all games.
Oddities: Clock location does not change so one player always keeps it on their preferred side. Typically the players start the game by drawing for colors then whomever wins the draw chooses White or Clockside, but given we’ll be holding a Swiss system tournament the player assigned White in any round gets two whites and the player assigned Black gets to choose clockside. (We could also allow the player who is assigned White by the pairing software to choose color preference or clockside to further complicate the metagame).
Comments: I like the metagame aspect of this format because it incentivizes players to manage their clock across multiple games with tactical decisions (whether it is burning down an opponent’s time when they are ahead on time or resigning quickly to preserve more time for subsequent games). It also allows a stronger slower player to manage their time differently and take more time to win the majority of games (though this is risky if they go into a third game after budgeting time poorly).
Format: As mentioned above, we will play 3 games at Gs/10 over three or possibly four rounds, depending upon when we get started, and we may split players into groups of 8-12 by rating if the tournament doesn’t start very near 7pm (leaving time for just three rounds), so please arrive a little earlier if at all possible.