My thanks to Steve Fairbairn for drawing my attention to this item on the FIDE website...
This news report, dated 12 March 2007 and entitled "FIDE President meets the World Champion Vladimir Kramnik", includes the following paragraph:
"Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Vladimir Kramnik exchanged the opinions in respect of time control and concurred that it is necessary to keep the 7 hours control for top level events and some traditional chess tournaments. For all other tournaments a new time control of 1 hour plus 10 seconds from move 1 for each player will be set up. The World Champion supported the idea. This proposal will be considered by the next Presidential Board meeting."
I had to read and re-read this several times in disbelief. I double-checked the date (in case it said 1 April). As we like to say in London, "they're 'avin' a laugh". They can't be serious, surely? If they are, they are completely and utterly insane. I could believe it of Ill-Lunatic (as Kingpin like to call him), but Kramnik has previously shown himself to be a calm and rational person for the most part. If he has been misquoted, he must get something up on his website pretty quick or his reputation for common sense is going to be blown to pieces.
Do I need to spell out the argument as to why 1 hour plus 10 seconds a move is insane? Probably not, but here are a few thoughts. It means that players would have 1 hour 10 mins for a 60-move game - even faster than the time control used for evening league matches in the UK. As it happens, I played a game last night that went to a frantic rapidplay finish, probably lasting about 90 moves, in which my flag fell when I was on the point of winning with K+N+P v bare K. All good knock-about fun between amateurs, and a draw was actually a fair result, but this is hardly suitable for serious grandmaster chess. Our league's time control is 30 moves in 75 minutes, followed by 15 minutes for the rest. That is basically 90 minutes for the whole game - but the FIDE proposal would work out at only 75 minutes for a 90-move game.
The other aspect of this which troubles me is its inherent elitism. FIDE still don't want to go back on their ridiculous shortening of the time controls, but they now have to cope with a world champion (and probably other elite players) who hate the new time controls. So they divide and conquer: they cut a deal with the big boys, but apply the new nonsense to the powerless masses. But the point is that the elite players would never have become great players in the first place had they not had years of playing seven-hour chess. It is utterly odious for them now to pull up the ladder so that a new generation does not have access to sensible time controls. How are young players expected to become good players on a relentless diet of speed chess? And any of them who did make it through the system would then have to acclimatise to long time controls on reaching the elite level. And, of course, it would mean the end of the line for subtly-played endgames. Reuben Fine's Basic Chess Endings could be consigned to the history shelves.
The good news is that I cannot see it happening widely. Most chess organisers are too sensible to give way to the sort of nonsense that FIDE tries to impose on them. For example, Stewart Reuben is a strong advocate of a one-minute increment at his Hastings and Gibraltar tournaments, and the 4NCL is planning a similarly sensible increment-based time control for its future events, designed as far as possible to correspond to the traditional seven-hour session. I'm sure there are plenty of other arbiters and organisers who will continue to do their own thing. But it would be the ruination of FIDE's own tournaments. Sad.