Oct 062010

All chess players know the truth of these words from French playwright Moliere. Blitz and Lightening games are strewn with errors that wouldn’t occur in games that take place under the auspices of the ‘normal’ time limit. Despite this undoubted truth however, some of us still mismanage ourselves into ‘time trouble’ occasionally. In fact I can think of several current and previous team mates who rather make a habit of it.

Experience suggests to me that, attitudinally, players tend to fall very firmly into one of two camps when it comes to time management. Either, they persistently get themselves into time trouble and then blame the clock for any defeats they may suffer as a result (how many times have you heard the “I was winning at the end but I ran out of time” excuse). Or, they virtually never get into time trouble and simply can’t understand how certain team mates regularly end up ensnared in time scrambles.

I tend to fall into the latter group, but once in a while I do get wrapped up in a position and fall behind on the clock. Usually this is in mid-week league matches where I get 75mins for 35 moves or so. At longer time limits I don’t tend to have problems and, interestingly, the statistical evidence also suggests that I perform rather better. Today’s cautionary tale comes from one of the shorter matches and on this occasion both I and my opponent got into quite acute time trouble.

After the game above had finished I’m sure that my opponent must have felt regretful about its outcome, I know I would have done. What really fascinates me though is whether he would have blamed himself for getting into the time trouble that cost him the game. When I’ve lost games on time in the past I know that I’ve tended to focus my frustration on the inaccuracy of my moves rather than on the lack of organisation and indecision that led me into the time shortage. You can see from the game above that both players made crucial errors when under pressure to reach time control.

In the end I can’t put it any better than Moliere really. The best course of action is to avoid time scrambles!

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