Open Letter from GM Macieja

On the 28th of September 2008 GM Bartlomiej Macieja sent a letter to the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee, which was pubished in Chess Today.

The text is below:

“Dear Members of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee, I am sure all of you have seen videos of two recently played important sudden death games. The videos can be found for instance on

Some time ago I proposed to change rules in such a way that playing endings only on time, for example K+N – K+N would not be possible.

Unfortunately, the situation has not moved too much. The main problem has always been how to define “deadly drawn positions”. An additional problem has been that some positions are “deadly drawn” for some (strong) players, but not for other (weaker) players.

I suggest that the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee makes an official recommendation to play blitz games, including sudden death games, with an increment. I believe 3’+2″ is a much better time control for a blitz game, as we avoid “flying pieces” and other irregularities which so often happen in (and after!) blitz games played without any increment. The duration of a round doesn’t significantly change.

Adding only 1 second per move to a sudden death game completely eliminates the problem of deadly drawn positions. If a position is really deadly drawn, both players will understand there is no reason to play it on. Please note, that no artificial definitions are needed any longer. The players will decide themselves what a deadly drawn position is for them.

Best regards,
Bartlomiej Macieja”

Comment from GM Alex Baburin:

I would certainly second this proposal – in my opinion a time increment should be used whenever possible, as it limits the role of an arbiter. I trust that the only argument chess organisers have against using the increment is that the duration of the round becomes unpredictable. But this isn’t a problem for blitz games – even if players make 150 moves, with 2- second increment the game would last about 16 minutes. I would argue that using 3’+2″ is much better than 3’+1″ – you might get some “flying pieces” in the latter case.

Obviously, one will need to figure out a “fair” time distribution for “sudden death” games – maybe something like 4’+2″ for White vs. 3’+2″ for Black?

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