Correspondence game "timezone" preference

I’d really like to play correspondence games with people in nearby timezones, so multiple moves can be played while both people are away.

Could we have a preference in the “Settings” for “Timezone” that lets you say +/- how close your opponent’s timezone should be.

Or even, quite simply, a “match timezone” option which does at least some hardcoded attempt at this. I don’t really care if it doesn’t quite get it “right” (IE someone is on a half hour timezone outside my spec), I would just love to be able to rule out playing with someone who is always asleep when I am awake.


I think we need to be careful about over-complicating things. If you want to ensure that multiple moves are played, I’d recommend using faster time-controls.

For example, with a fischer-style increment, if you add 8 hours per move, then you’re expecting an average of 3 moves per day.


In addition to @Farraway’s concern about adding complication, I have concerns about what such an option would do to players in less popular time zones getting games. If too many people end up using such a feature, people outside of the largely preferred time zones will have harder times getting a match.

Besides, how would you determine it? User option? Many people don’t even set their country. If you use geo-ip, what if someone’s IP-based location is misreported (somewhat common, depending on carrier), then they’re stuck in a wrong time zone.

There are dozens of niche preferences like this I could see people wanting, but from working with software that has been riddled with “features” like this added by request from different clients, it ends up turning into a terrible to use and impossible to maintain house of cards real fast.

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I appreciate that any suggestion for a niche feature needs to be appraised for the tradeoff of bloat vs utility. Thanks for taking the time to critique.

This suggestion addresses the space of players who want games that progress at a more-than-one-stone-per-day pace, without being at risk of timeout due to thinking about moves.

This is actually quite a significant space.

I don’t think you can achieve this affect by time controls? I would love it if you can.

“Just use Fischer” seems no good because you are at the whim of the other person accepting having actually thought it through and checked your timezone. So you end up getting in games that have to be cancelled because they can’t actually be played out due to out of sync sleeping.

If there is an timezone based engagement mode, people would be encouraged to supply that information (and I did picture it being opt-in in this way) and rewarded for doing so by having this mode of engagement available.

“People in unpopular timezones unable to get a match” can be ruled out as an objection by making the thing not-too-fussy. It’s not like “Oh, you are 1 hour out, the system wont let you play with these people”. It only needs to be coarser than that - “with this setting on, you get to rule out people on the complete other side of the globe”.

Right now I’m frustrated that I can’t conveniently play at a good pace without playing live, which I am not yet ready for (having tried it and discovered that :slight_smile: )

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I don’t think your proposal would solve this problem. Some opponents reply quickly. I suspect this is because they check their boards more frequently and that timezone is fairly irrelevant.

Where timezone is relevant I am less likely to be matched - when these opponents are active on the site I am sleeping, rather than creating or accepting challenges. Or at least, I should be sleeping!

Actually, I take back my earlier observation about Fischer.

It appears that Fischer with 8 hours and 1 day max achieves what I’m looking for: I’m trying it out now. Thanks!


How did your experiments work out Eugene?

I suppose to be able to confidently accept such a game, you and your partner should still know that you have enough timezone overlap to know that you’ll both be able to respond to each others’ moves. I think if I made an +8h fischer game and played with someone 5h ahead of time from me - eg: I’m in UK, they are in NY - then they would likely always get to make the “last move of the day”, so it would be my clock ticking down over night - say 10h unless I literally go and make moves immediately before and after going to bed. I would get the “first move of the day” in return, but that would be the 5h time difference of our time zones only.

In terms of site features - rather than restricting players by time zone - I was thinking maybe we could have games where the clock down only during a certain time window. So for my NY opponent, we would have the clock tick down from 09:00 eastern time (14:00 in GMT) to 17:00 eastern (22:00 in GMT) for the total of 8 hour window, with 24h+2h Fischer time. We would then both commit to making 4 moves a day in that time window and the 24h max would actually be 3 calendar days of grace time (because the clock ticks down only 8h each day).

I concede the point that it would be a complication - both in terms of configuring in the game options and yet another very important detail to highlight when accepting game challenges (like absolute time). One idea for simplifying this might be to (at least for starters) only offering a certain pre-defined time windows (3 for “continents”, or +3 for bi-continental) so they could be selected from a list and be displayed with descriptive names. But we should think of this some more, if we were to decide it was a good idea otherwise.

This could work very nicely for tournaments. I’m currently in this “fast paced correspondence tournament” of a few thousand players. This tournament will probably run for years and years as even though some games reach their conclusion quickly, but if I’m playing someone from Australia, then we realistically will not get more than 1 move per day in so that game will take a year. With thousands of players, every round will have bunch of these slow games, despite players’ best efforts.

But with timezone-aware clocks for tournaments, we could have an “Europe” timezone tournament with:

  • 10 moves / calendar day clock increments
  • 3 calendar days max time for convenience/flexibility buffer
  • 12h (or 8h) per calendar day time window - only sign up if you can play during the bulk of that time window

So we could actually sign up for games where players are guaranteed to make a decent number of moves per day (or lose with timeout), while still maintaining a lot of the scheduling convenience of a correspondence game.

This sounds very exciting to me, WDYT?


Actually, one of the main reasons in my opinion to avoid faster time-controls is the fact that you don’t know your opponent’s timezone in advance. 8 hours increment per move works well with someone who in connected to OGS at the same times as I am, but it’s almost guaranteed to result in a timeout if my opponent systematically plays one move just as I turn my computer off for the day.

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Back when I was playing correspondence a lot, conditional moves were the answer! If you play what you think is a forcing move and your opponent only has one or two reasonable answers, then put in some conditionals. You can go a few moves deep. If your opponent sees things the same way as you, then you might get through 5-10 moves in one “turn”. And if they don’t play one of your options, you’ve lost nothing, and you probably got something out of the time spent analysing the position anyway.

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I wonder if we should create a “conditional moves” Group, where it’s a requirement to always include conditional moves in your games :slight_smile:

I usually do it, and I can’t recall the last time my opponent has done it…


I did a bit of research and modelling on what the “time zones” might look like

key points:

  • all configurations based on 07:00 - 24:00 waking hours (which are supposedly ~average hours for most people)
  • trying to capture as much population by time zone as a possible (relying on World population by time zone for time zone populations)
  • the population density has 4 peaks - americas, emea, ~india/pakistan and east asia
  • I proposed 3 separate 12-hour ~single-peak time windows (americas, emea, australasia) and 3 bridging 10-hour time windows between population peaks (pacific, atlantic and eurasia/india)

For example, the “emea” window would be 08:00-20:00 in London, 10:00-22:00 in Kiyv, and 12:30-00:30 in Mumbai. The “atlantic” one would similarly cover London to New York (including Sao Paulo in between), etc.

I was hoping to try to emulate that kind of clock behavior by agreeing with my opponent to manually pause the clock every evening, but that doesn’t work because of the 4 pause limit. So I’ll probably have to try this out off-ogs (or get some kind of extra backend support for pausing the clocks, maybe on beta only?).

Altogether, I think on the backend maybe this wouldn’t be too hard to implement since we have pauses on weekends already. We’d just need to extend that to also do the hourly timezone pauses/unpauses.


Like lichess has a “give opponent free 15 seconds on their clock” button, maybe OGS could have “give opponent extra pause” button? Just don’t use it if your opponent is abusing pause, but if you’re pausing a lot by agreement, just refill eachother’s pause allotments


Or rather “give opponent extra 8hrs/24hrs” or something

Before going into modifications of pause system and such, which would have some side effects and could generate some endless debates IMHO, there could be first some helping tools to see when 2 players may have opportunity to be online at the same time.

I figure a tool like an integrated calendar in which both players would chose their availability (could already start with some default settings according to usual place and occupation) so that they can figure out Intersections.

That tool then may have its place in the players profiles, checking automatically disponibility before each challenge and helping to find playable games.

Great work. When finished maybe you could incorporate it in the OGS wiki?

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Musta been a while since we played :smile: I also usually do it—that is, IF I can foresee a sequence.

I created a tournament to try this idea out (a test game seems to be going well enough):

It’s 4 moves / day, “Atlantic time zones”, specifically:

  • 14:00 - 24:00 Greenwich Mean Time (eg: London)
  • 11:00 - 21:00 Brasilia Standard Time (eg: São Paulo)
  • 09:00 - 19:00 Eastern Standard Time (eg: New York)

If you are interested in trying out faster (more than 1 move / day) correspondence, please join the tournament and share your observations afterwards!