Note that Microsoft's US 8,070,606 cites the Bobby Fischer patent, US 4,,884,255, "Digital Chess Clock."
The first claim of the Microsoft patent [Progressive stall timer
A method of operating an online turn-based multi-player social
experience executable via a processor on a server computing device, the
acquiring from memory on the server computing
device a base time interval allotted for a participant to take an action
in a current turn;
providing the base time interval to the participant in the current turn; and
if the participant does not take an action in
the current turn during the base time interval, then shortening the base
time interval stored in memory on the server computing device to form a
shortened base time interval and, in a later turn, acquiring from
memory on the server computing device the shortened base time interval
in which to take an action in the later turn and providing the shortened
base time interval to the participant in the later turn instead of
providing the base time interval;
wherein the shortened base time interval comprises a random value within a fixed percentage range of the base time interval.
Microsoft also cited Jay Walker.