Abolish a feature! - Blue Starter Clock

For those that don’t know, the ‘Starter Clock’ is a separate clock that runs before Black makes the first move:

Blue Starter Clock

It should be noted that it costs Black nothing to let this clock run. So long as Black plays before it expires, Black is then given an initial time according to the actual ‘clock settings’ after making his first move.

This is fundamentally unfair as White is afforded no such luxury. It is quite common for Black to play a move more or less immediately after a game starts and thus White cannot presume or benefit from such a delay.

Not only is it unfair. The Starter Clock can cause problems in typical tournaments:

  1. Live 9x9 Auto-Sitewide Tournament. The clock settings are byo-yomi 5min + 3x30sec. The Starter Clock will allow 6 1/2 minutes before the game even begins! And it does this at the start of every round! That is potentially a huge addition to the total tournament time for no practical gain. Unfortunately, I have seen instances where it looked like people may have been trying to gain a victory by stalling on the start and as previously mentioned, White cannot count on receiving or benefiting from that delay.

  2. Typical Title Tournament: Meijin Main 2020. Here the clock settings are fischer 1 week + 1day/move up to a maximum of 1 week. So after the tournament starts you have at least 1 week to make your first move, Yes? No! The Starter Clock for these games is only 3 days so in those games where you are Black you only have 3 days to make your first move compared to 7-10 days where you are White. Combined with the fact that new rounds begin unexpectedly for many, you have a situation where it is common for people to default on all their Black games and then continue where they are White, giving free points to half their opponents in that round.

While it might be possible to design a better starter clock, all in all I simply contend that no special starter clock is better than the current arrangement and it should be scrapped.



One reason for the starter clock is that white has had a chance to check out their opponent before commencing, whereas black has not.

Hmm - but this assumes the game creator is black.

Chances are that if the game creator is black, black will have already checked their opponent, unless it is a tournament. Basically black who has already looked at the opponent gets more time to look at the opponent? How has white already looked at their opponent? Either it is a random challenge(friendly match) where the challenger probably looked at the person before challenging and the receiver of the challenge looked at the person before accepting, a ladder challenge which you get a random color in I think, or a tournament game that chances are, black didn’t choose the opponent or look more in depth of it.
The only time that only one player knows about the other player and the other player doesn’t know about them is ladder challenges, which I feel may be the least impacted by this starter clock.


In live matchmaking the acceptor gets a time in the accept dialog where they know who their opponent is going to be before they play.

The creator doesn’t get this luxury, right?

I assume you are talking about live custom games here. The reality is typically that the person accepting has seconds to accept before someone else grabs it.


As per usual I am somewhere in between of the two opinions :smiley:

For correspondence games? I am absolutely for banishing the “feature”. Can’t think of a realistic reason why it should be necessary in most cases.

But for live games (ESPECIALLY blitz) I am not sure. I do not view the “feature” as unfair. What are you gonna do with extra 3 minutes of staring at an empty board… Not much. Unless you are some sort of an anime old-wise-man character who needs to concentrate for 30 minutes to predict the match and place the first winnig move.

The reason for this “safety net” (as I understand it) is because not everyone gets a match right after creating the challenge. And this can be very different depending on your time-zone and rank, but I dare say it is not uncommon for some to wait even a couple of minutes. And during this waiting period people are unlikely to sit staring at the screen, you go browse the meme thread or something (in my case before switching to correspondence I brew tea…). And in blitz games, if someone accepts then, you will timeout before you manage to navigate back.

The original intention (again as I understand it) is to make sure both players really are present before starting the clock (which to me sounds fair). There might be another solution like tracking if the tab is in focus and if the mouse moved or something, but I am afraid it might get very technical and very hard quickly with the evergrowing focus on browsing privacy.

So yeah, at least for blitz games I would like to have some alternative before even considering turning it off (not that it is my decision in any way :smiley: just thinking out loud).


The unfair part is, black has 3 minutes to show up, while white hasn’t. If black shows up first, black can play a move before white shows up. White depends on Black’s courtesy for benefitting of that extra time.

Btw. Pros like to stare at an empty board for 5 minutes before playing their first move.


A little additional info: From a small collection of tests on the Beta site, it looks like the minimum for the Starter Clock is 5 minutes and the maximum may be 3 days.


So, rather than removing the feature… what if both black AND white had a minute or two to show up and play their first move? During this time, either player is free to cancel the game, so there is little room for it to be abused… and there isn’t really that much advantage white can gain from seeing black’s first move (except maybe in 9x9 where openings are much more limiteed)… blitz would be almost impossible without some kind of buffer before the game starts, so I think having a double buffer makes more sense than having no buffer at all…


Scrap it for correspondence but have some kind of “contenders ready” feature for blitz where both players have to click to actually start the game?



I agree with this. Better both have some starting time than none, especially in site wide tournaments which can just start randomly, and rounds can start randomly (live and blitz). (Sometimes for instance the tournament can wait for players to fill it right? Or different games end at different times in a round?)

I don’t think the extra time makes a difference when you’re looking at the empty board or one stone on a board.

I don’t think this who can check out their opponent should factor in.

The important thing is just having time to realise the game has started for both players.

I think it needs to be a timer to avoid it being used by trolls.


Why not both? Both players need to click “ready” before the game starts, and if they have not both done so within some amount of time, the game is cancelled automatically.


you’d just have the exact same problem once the game starts immediately after the second ‘ready’ that took a while to come… and in the meantime the first “ready” player is checking some other tabs or going to the fridge.

the way it’s implemented today is perfectly fine.


I agree with Popz, and also, making a move is also a symbol of “I’m ready” right? There’s no need to click an extra button, just start playing.


This is solid reasoning except that you seem to be making the same assumption as Eugene. ie. That the creator is Black. If the game is set to random colour and the creator ends up White then they are still likely to TO in your scenario. I wonder if this is why some people create custom games that specify them as Black?

Absolutely agree except that I deemed it unlikely for such a change to actually get implemented. Scrapping a feature should at least be simpler to implement from my non-coder perspective. I assume it’s back-end?

My experience is that this is unnecessary. I often play blitz in my lunch breaks where I am the creator and colour is random. The game is usually accepted within 15s, there is no reason for the accepter to TO and yet when I get White the system would potentially have me wait 5 minutes for Black to start in a game that typically takes less than 5 minutes to complete. eg: https://online-go.com/game/23303902

Agreed but unfortunately the current system only gives that to Black and it is common for Black to play more or less straight away leaving White with no warning.


Somewhat related feature request: implement the option for a traditional “Le Mans start” for blitz games.

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Why not make it configurable? Have the starter clock enabled by default, but if you don’t want it in a game you are creating then uncheck the relevant box, or check one of the other options.


not sure why you re-opened this thread without commenting @Kosh but I think it would be fair if both players had, say, 1 min to play their first move before the game is cancelled and annulled. That way whichever player is away for drinks or snacks or bio break, etc. they each have at least a minimum time they can rely on before their clock starts.

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Maybe I should have merged? Not sure.

Reopened because there is also this thread: Blue starter clock for tournament and a bit of linking going on. The two issues are obviously related but not the same. The new thread seems to be only about correspondence tournaments. I wanted to give posters the option of posting here if that suited their comments better.