Monday, October 16, 2006

Time Management

When playing real (i.e., slow time control) games, I have two time-management goals that are often in conflict. One, I try to use up all the time on my clock. That is, I don't want to rush moves. Two, I don't want to play so slowly that my flag falls.

One thing that helps me avoid a rushed endgame is to divide the total time T by three, and to plan on having a minimum of 12 moves made with 2/3T on the clock, and 24 moves by 1/3 T (so in a 60 minute game, I want 40 minutes left at move 12 and 20 minutes left at move 24). This simple algorithm has helped me a lot, but it isn't perfect. For instance, the above assumes a game will have about 36 moves, but this is often wrong and I end up in trouble in the endgame. I am so bad in the endgame I should give myself more time to think then. Also, the above rule is not etched in stone: a third of the clock is too much for the first 12 moves in familiar openings, so I often take less time for the first 12 moves.

Heisman suggests taking a deep think at certain critical junctures such as the first opening move that is out of your book, complicated tactically rich positions, and when you are making a positional committment that will have long-term positional consequences (e.g., a pawn break).

Anyone out there have any useful time management tips?


Blogger Loomis said...

One thing I never see mentioned when people talk about time managament is the amount of time your opponent has left. As long as I have as much time as my opponent, then I am confident that I'm not in time trouble. Even if I get low on time and can't calculate for as long as I'd like to figure everything out, if my opponent can't either then I'm not in serious trouble.

Of course, simply keeping up with your opponent is not always the right strategy, just one way to keep out of trouble.

Sometimes you have to accept a time deficit relative to your opponent. As long as you've used your time to understand the position better than he/she does then playing the rest of the game at a quicker pace will be easier.

A lot of the cases, time managament comes down to experience. It's worth taking a lot of time on a particular move to calculate that it leads to a winning position. If you have past experience winning those types of winning positions, you can afford to have less time on the clock. Blitz games can help significantly in this regard because you can get a lot of practice finishing off winning positions with not much time on your clock.

I don't know if those count as useful tips, they came out more as random musings. :-)

10/17/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume a 40 move game and allocate time based on that. I write down the time for each move when I play - this reminds me to look at the time.

Spend your first deep think right after the opening departs from the book line.

Don't spend too much time on quiet positions trying to create tactical situations - you'll just mess up. In these spots, develop pieces or improve your position - this is where strategic play comes in so this is always harder for me.

In sharp positions, spend as much time as you need to make sure you don't screw the pooch. . .you'll make up time after that because you'll already know where the line is going.

10/17/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Christian said...

I set marks every 4 or 5 moves, depending on time controls, and I try to use no more than 10 or 15 minutes for each mark, on average. In opening I try to be faster. In transition to middlegame I use more time. Before approaching first time control, I try to predict if there will be a long endgame or not. If yes, I try to speed up as much as possible, saving time for the endgame.

10/17/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

I suppose there is an element of pattern recognition that tells us we need to spend more time in a position than other moves. Not really a time management tip per se but more or a playing the right move tip. When I have a position in tournament play that is especially important.Before calculating I turn my score sheet over. I purposely slow down. It reminds me to recheck my calculations.

10/17/2006 05:07:00 PM  

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