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This is a copy of my most recent blog post at kansaspatzer.blogspot.com
For those players making the transition from casual play with their friends and on the Internet to the world of rated tournament play, time management has to be one of the hardest transitions.
When I first started playing in tournaments, I rarely used more than 30 minutes off of my clock in a 90/120 minute game. The thing is, neither did my opponents most of the time. I found myself with a lot of time between rounds, and found myself getting bored waiting hours for the next round. Also, I knew that I could have done better - but I didn't know how to slow down. I'm impatient.
If you look at any tournament with multiple sections, you can tell which section is higher rated by which side still has boards going 3/4 of the way in. At the Kansas Open last year, there was one point where of the 25 or so boards in the Reserve section, only mine was still going, but virtually all of the boards in the Open section were still in play.
The opposite extreme can be a problem, of course. Time trouble can ruin an otherwise masterfully played game, and even the stress of knowing you are under 30 minutes or whatever can start to affect your concentration. I like what Dan Heisman has to say on this - that your goal should be to make the best move you can considering what time you have. I was at a tournament last year where I saw a player use 10 minutes in a position where there was one legal move. Clearly this wasn't the best use of his time.
How do you like to manage your time? In a 2 hour game, I like to use an hour for my first 20 moves or so (if I'm at 25 or more, unless there was an opening I know very well, I feel like I'm playing too fast), and to try to leave at least 15-20 minutes in reserve for the endgame. I try to record my time remaining every few moves (and that of my opponent) every tournament game so I can see how I'm pacing. Mikhail Tal once did the same thing in one of his games in The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal upon a recommendation, and he stated that it shows a lot about the game and, to an extent, the thought processes.
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OTB it is usually 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes quickplay, getting to the first time control point is the main hurdle.
here are my tips...
1) Know your opening well and don't lose time here.
2) Analyse sacrifces first, then, assess the position! sounds a bit crazy but this works!, you will also spot more sacs, and can then analyse tricky lines and exchanges and confidently play it without coming back up to the immediate position again.
3) When you feel you have time pressure, simply divide the time you have left by the numbers of moves you have to play and try to move at this rate. I usually think to myself something like 'I have to play about ~2 minutes a move now, ok I might take 3 minutes but make sure the next move beyond that is quickened to 1 minute, keep in your mind a rough idea of the tiem you need to claw back in order to stick to that 2 minutes a move.
4) Think in your opponents turn, I often find its best to simply think about the most likely response ONLY... requires discipline.
5) Try to keep a time advantage above your opponent, if you can do this, then realise even though you are under time pressure you opponent is under more, a satifiying feeling, if so then use some of your extra time to make opponents move choices even harder.
6) Sometimes you can get moves for free, ( but not to be confused with a tempo ) look out for these opportunities, i.e. play a check which gets blocked then move your bishop to where you originally intended it to go to... or if stuck in a draw by repetition situation utilise it a bit then pull out of the draw.
7) Don't be tempted to defer writing down opponents moves OR to write down your move first.
185 ( +1 | -1 )
I had the opposite problem...
... too slow, on the whole. But that was due to lack of practice. For the last 10 years of playing OTB (1976-86 - I haven't played tournament OTB since) I would play for maybe 4 months in any given year, get "chessed out", and not play for 8 months or so. The programme varied - some more, quite a few "gap" years... But the effect of this was very slow play.
I did, however, develop the habit of writing down the times of my moves - actually just write down the time used in the game so far, rather than calculating the time for the move. You can do that in the post mortem. Sometimes I did this for every move, at others at 5 or 10 move intervals. It depended on the game.
Here's a game in which all the times were recorded:
White: M.S. Black: I.A.D. Auckland University 1973
Time control: 36 moves in 90 minutes; 15-minute quickplay thereafter (a rancid time control in my view).
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d3 g6 4.g3 Bg2
5.Bg2 (0.01) Nc6 (0.01) i.e one minute used so far
6.0-0 (0.01) Nf6 (0.01)
7.Nbd2 (0.03) 0-0 (0.01)
8.Re1 (0.04) b5 (0.02)
9.e5! (0.07) Ne8 (0.07)
10.Nd4! (0.13) cxd4 (0.15)
11.Bxc6 (0.14) Rb8 (0.15)
12.exd6 (0.20) Nxd6 (0.17)
13.Nb3 (0.32) Qc7 (0.20)
14. Qf3 (0.36) Bb7 (0.25)
15.Bxb7 (0.38) Rxb7 (0.25)
16.Bf4 (0.40) Rb6 (0.28)
17.Qd5 (0.46) e6 (0.37)
18.Qc5 (0.50) Rc6 (0.40)
19.Qb4 (0.52) Qe7 (0.49)
20.Nxd4 (0.56) Bxd4 (0.50)
21.Qxd4 (0.56) Nf5 (0.50)
Clearly these last 2 moves on both sides were decided on during the think at move 19.
22.Qe5 (0.57) Rxc2 (0.52)
23.Rac1 (1.00) Rfc8 (0.55)
24.Rxc2 (1.03) Rxc2 (0.55)
25.Qxb5 (1.05) Nd4 (1.02)
26.Qb8+ (1.07) Qf8 (1.02)
27.Qxf8+ (1.09) Kxf8 (1.02)
28.Kg2 (1.10) Rxb2 (1.05)
Why so long about this obvious capture? Check out White's reply.
29.Be5 (1.10) Nc2 (1.07)
30.Rc1 (1.20) Rxa2 (1.08)
31.Rb1 (1.21) Ke8!? (1.20)
32.Rb8+ (1.22) Kd7 (1.20)
33.Rb7+ (1.24) Ke8 (1.25)
Worth a serious look is 33...Kc6. White is also thinking whether there's anything more than a draw for him...
34.Rb8+ (1.27) Kd7 (1.25)
35.Rb7+ Draw offered (1.27) Draw accepted (1.29)
One of the purposes of this is to go over the game afterwards and see how you managed your time compared with what the game required. Were the mistakes due to overhasty play? How quickly were you playing when the position became difficult? Of course, we sometimes experience the ignominy of spending a lot of time just to make a blunder. But these are rather less common than mistakes made too quickly!