Please cap the number of correspondence tournaments users can join

I recently came back to OGS after being away for almost a year, and just noticed that two 3-round correspondence tournaments that I joined over two years ago are still running. This is a bit ridiculous, and the cause is fairly obvious.

I won’t name anyone, but there are several users that seem to join every single correspondence tournament available and then play all their games as slowly as possible (always waiting until their timer gets low before playing a move), which effectively holds up every tournament on the site. One of these users currently has about 350 active games.

I recognize that since they’re not timing out, they’re technically playing all of their games “properly”, but I think it’s a significant negative impact on all of the other participants in the tournaments they get involved in. It’s not enjoyable to wait months between rounds for these too-prolific players to finish their games as slowly as the site will allow them, while the other 95% of the games in the tournament have long been finished.

It should be fairly straightforward to see what their impact is: pull some statistics that show how long an average correspondence tournament game takes to finish, and compare it to how long games involving those specific players take. Alternatively, a more complex option would be to look at how often (and how long) tournaments are waiting only for games involving one of these players to finish a round. If the results show that those users are single-handedly causing significant waits (weeks or months) like I think they will, I think that’s something that should really be addressed.

Simply adding a reasonable cap for the number of active correspondence tournaments each user can be involved in should fix this issue, and probably won’t affect more than a handful of users. Encouraging all of the tournaments to move at a more reasonable pace would be more enjoyable for everyone overall.


I don’t have a problem with slow players, but I can understand the sentiment. I don’t think limiting the number of correspondence games is solving anything, as there are people who play slowly without playing a lot of correspondence games.

But I think there are two other problems: 1) if a player gets disqualified in one game, the other games of that player continue like normally, which means that the round can be held up by a disqualified player, and 2) paused games can hold up tournaments indefinitely.

Perhaps a better solution to fix abovementioned problems could be concluding the round after all qualified games are finished, and give tournaments a time-out timer that kicks in after a certain ratio of games has concluded (with the timer based on how long the tournament has been going, e.g. if 70% has been finished within 3 months, start a timer of 1.5 months for the remaining 30%).

I’m not sure if I’m a proponent of this though, it brings complications with vacations for example

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I agree that certain players dragging out these tournments is a problem.

I have to disagree with everything said in this discussion so far.
The time controls have been set, and everybody has agreed to them. If a player doesn’t meet those time controls, they timeout. If they do, then they’re free to use the full time allotted to them.

Tournaments exist where you cannot pause games.
Tournaments exist that have faster than normal time controls.

If you want your games to progress faster, play in one of these. It’s as simple as that.

What you’re proposing can very easily be interpreted as “for the convenience of the majority, these players are not permitted to play on our server” but the problem is there will always be an outlier group that take longer than the majority.

I’m not saying you’re not entitled to your opinions, but I must say I find them quite unsettling.


As I said in the original post:

I recognize that since they’re not timing out, they’re technically playing all of their games “properly”

Yes, they’re allowed to do it, but it’s still a very small group of players that are hurting the experience for hundreds of others because they insist on pushing the system to the limit. That’s exactly why I’m suggesting changing the system and wasn’t suggesting punishing the users for doing it.

Let me try to give an absurd example to explain why “they’re not breaking any rules” isn’t a great justification:

Imagine if I joined every correspondence tournament on the site, and in every one of those hundreds of active games, always waited until I had less than an hour left on my timer before playing my move. And then, even when the result of the game was completely clear, instead of ever passing or resigning, I’d just continue playing, invading completely settled areas, and forcing the game to go to the absolute end, where there isn’t a single legal move left on the board. Then, just before a game finally ends, I turn on my vacation for 8 weeks. Each of my games would easily take over a year to finish, and none of the tournaments would get past round 1 the whole time.

I’m allowed to play that way, it doesn’t technically break any rules and I’m just using the mechanics as they were set up. But the reality is that it’s extremely inconsiderate to all of the other players in the tournament, and I’ve probably soured hundreds of people’s experience with correspondence tournaments on OGS in the meantime.

Edit: it’s probably also worth clarifying that I’m mostly talking about the weekly official correspondence mcmahon tournaments. Those are the most popular ones on the site, and “just join different tournaments” isn’t a very useful suggestion.


I agree with BHydden that it’s more inconsiderate to ask / force these players to play quickly than it is for them to play by the rules. The only thing I would find offensive of the slow game strategy you mention is the part continue playing out a lost game. Like I said, the only thing I find problematic is the disqualified / paused games delaying a tournament.


As this is against the site’s ToS it would not be allowed.

At first, I agreed with you that a round could advance if only disqualified games remained. However, I believe this is unfair to the opponents of the disqualified player. Each of those active games, although not contributing to the tournament score, are still ranked. One may enter a tournament knowing that they will have at most 8 (arbitrary number is arbitrary) concurrent games and be happy with keeping up with such a load. But if a few of their opponents get disqualified they may find a new round beginning and another 8 games starting while they still have active ranked games against the disqualified players. Just because a game can’t change the result of the tournament, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be finished.

Hmm, yes, good point…

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I had same bad experience. I agree that’s very annoying to wait months for a round to start after you’ve finished your games.

This is my solution for now: join the “fast correspondence” group and play fast correspondence tournaments.
It’s a new experience for me and my first fast tournament will start in 9 days. Looking forward for it.


It would be fun to have some information on the page of the starting tourney how long this specific tournament category typically takes to finish. :smiley:

Weekly McMahon - modal running time: 1001 days”.


I also don’t like waiting for months for a round to start. I joined two tournaments about a year ago without realizing this and they are still active (second round out 3), and is even more annoying when you realize the entire round is being held up over one single game left, nearly over, and one player refuses to resign or is on holiday.

But like it has been mentioned, you agreed to the time controls, and is not very nice to force people out of tournaments and/or playing faster just for convenience. The obvious solution to avoid tournaments that have very long time settings, or that have too many players (which is another per-tournament setting I believe). Or make your regular games correspondence but play live tournaments?


Yes, these people are not breaking any rules. That may be so, but it is inconsiderate of the rest of the participants in the tournament. It is the same as trolling the chat in my opinion.

As a tournament director in real life, it is my job to make sure my players are having an enjoyable time and address any concerns they may have. If a person was talking too loud and disturbing the other players, while not breaking any rules, I would still be responsible for informing him that he is being inconsiderate. And if it continues, I would have to take action.

I think the tournament director or a moderator should at least talk to these players and make them aware that what they are doing is inconsiderate of the majority of the players and dragging out the tournament past a reasonable length.


I agree that since slow players don’t break any rules, they shouldn’t be punished. We just need to change the rules!

The problem isn’t that there’re tournaments with slow time control + pauses + vacation, the problem is that it’s the default option. So if you want something faster, you can find 1 or 2 tournaments per month, and that’s it. We could make portion of automatic tournaments to not allow vacation time. We could make some tournaments that only allow players who take X hours or less to move on average. We could simply make automatic tournaments to have faster settings.

I think it’s also a bit of a problem that some faster players don’t realize how long this tournaments are. I sure didn’t when I joined them. So I’m all for showing a realistic estimation of tournament length.


The answer is so simple. Goodbye Fischer, hello Canadian.

I also second the “no weekend / vacation pauses” notion. Make Correspondence great again!


To me it makes sense to move the tournament to the next round if all qualified players have finished their games.

If people are okay with randomly being thrown into a new tournament round at the whim of one guy who takes years to finish a game, why aren’t they okay with the next round starting (randomly) as soon as all qualified players finish their games? People would just have new expectations joining a tournament, understanding that a new round might start while disqualified players of previous rounds are still playing.

It doesn’t seems like a really drastic change to me. In both cases you’re not really sure when you will reach the next round, and you should anticipate the new load of games coming your way regardless. Most people join multiple tournaments, or have other games going, instead of just finishing all their games in the current round and waiting for the next to start (with no active games going on).

So the experience of having a bunch of games on-going, and then suddenly having a new round of games thrown on top, will probably remain as a common experience that tournament goers are used to dealing with. Except the tournaments would finish a lot sooner.

I’ve voiced this out before but the vocal, who are mostly likely the minority out of all the correspondence tourney players, in the forums here defended the slow 1-5 players who hold up 90% of the months/years long waiting time, so I didn’t see the mods taking it seriously.
I suggested using spam mail to at least remind them to play faster if you couldnt punish them.

Also, these players don’t play slower because they cannot handle the large number of games. They INTENTIONALLY PLAY SLOW.

They devilishly play the slowest possible without breaking rules. Eg. Only making moves on weekdays, so the game never moves as long as the timer does not force them to. Taking vacation on weekdays and never using them on weekends to not waste them. Never make a move below the time given per move to max out thinking time. Never make a move when the the thinking time will exceed the the max thinking time possible.

A 3 day per move game will see these people only make a move every 3 days, FASTEST. To make it even more apparent it’s intentional, they will suddenly be able to make fast decisions ONLY if the timer is nearing the final hours/days to max out the timer again, then it becomes snail-paced again.

How do I try to offset their slow-ass playing? I make 20 or more deep and wide variations in conditional moves. This still takes months to complete even a mid sized board with these types tho.


I’m quite surprised that almost none of this discussion addresses the topic of the thread. The proposal is to cap the number of tournaments that one can participate in simultaneously. Slow play is the underlying motivation, but it is not the topic, and the proposal is not to “punish” slow players or to create faster tournaments. Off hand, I can’t think of a good reason why everyone should not be limited to, say, 50 simultaneous tournaments rather than 60 or 80 or whatever the record is. (The exact number isn’t the point, and what it should be could be the basis of a new argument.) An additional benefit to limiting the number would be that it would reduce the load on the server capacity. How important this might be, I do not know.


Actually it does. What others are saying is that it is an XY problem. The OP’s actual concern is to shorten tournaments, and he/she is just focusing on one way to address the issue.

I would say that the number of games is a consequence rather than the cause of lengthy tournaments. You get invited to the 2018 edition of a title tournament while the 2016 and 2017 editions are still running.


Deimorz, care to say what tournaments…?

I know you say you don’t want to mention who, but maybe give us a clue…?

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No! No naming and shaming! The mods won’t allow this!