I don’t “really” need to be lectured on the clock after this one since it’s the only reason that I lost, but you can if you want.

I got there 13 minutes late, he was 20 minutes late, but we both had 80 minutes to start the game, he a couple minutes less.

I got into bad time-trouble for one reason, I didn’t want to play moves I figured would just about lose, but after spending lots of time I felt forced to play them anyway to avoid losing on time.

He exchanged too quickly as I pointed after to him repeatedly after the game (he kept wanting to look at it), and explained that he should move his king one or two squares first even though we played it out a bunch of times first where I showed him he was losing.

Anyway, in the game it was Q and Pawn, I had an extra pawn but 1:23 left on my clock. I knew I would have to make a move anyway before offering a draw (so it really doesn’t get one out of a pickle). I dropped the pawn back because I was too frazzled still and couldn’t decide on move the king (loses a pawn) or e4 or Q moves, which all looked okay except for king moves.

Then I offered him the draw, he refused, whereupon my clock went blank (battery died) and we got another clock and the TD knew it was his 3:23 left to my 1:08. We unexpectedly had time some time right then, and I showed him it’s an easy hold. He refused, and then I said something like “you are totally going to take a crap on me because of the clock, I can’t believe this”. Sure enough, that is what he did.

I believe there was 3-fold repetition 2 or 3 times but I did not make a claim. He did play f3 at one point, so I honorably thought he may have been trying to improve his position and did not make a claim. He never went ahead with any attack although it looked like he was trying to at first.

I looked over to my clock and it said 2 seconds, then I reached to press it and it said zero seconds, I never saw it say 1 second, must have blinked, even though I was looking right at it (it honestly felt like a time-warp had just occurred, and this must be destiny for him). Anyhow, he had 45 seconds at this point (may as well have been 5 hours, relatively speaking). Anyhow, we play on for another 10 moves, him not noticing my zero seconds. I only spent about 2 seconds on each of those moves because he was simply checking me back and forth, even did 3-fold, and then moved his queen one square over, and then repeated this 3-fold checking scheme. I could not believe it. Then he noticed at 23 seconds that I had none and immediately called time.

So I walked away feeling like I had lost because of this game of “chicken” on the clock, and then I end up giving him a post-mortem endgame lesson making him a better adversary for next time. I lose for non-chess reason and then probably he is stronger now that I told him how to win/handle that endgame. Bizarre.

First thought on my mind after the game was try never again to finish a game with <5 minutes on the clock or it will simply turn into a game of "who has more time left." Seriously, why take the draw, even if losing, compared to winning on time. It felt like a FICS game, but at least on FICS I expected that behavior. I knew the writing was on the wall with about him having 9 1/2 minutes left he just started moving and not writing the moves down til later, but I think that that may have been the last move he wrote down anyway, so he was blitzing on my time-trouble and was obviously studying the clock.

The game went on maybe 25 moves longer than I am showing, and he did not even push f3 for a while. He pushed h5, traded pawns on g6, tried to get his king involved but I checked him from h1 with my queen three times. And it was only after all this that I lost on time and he started simply checking the crap out of my king rather mindlessly while never pausing to look at the clocks. I mean, he knew that I was quite interested in a draw, so it wasn’t even about his wanting to simply survive on time that he failed to notice the clocks.

We both missed that he had 31. a5! winning, but I had thought I had been forced to play into his win for quite some anyhow. Funny that he wasn’t able to find the win even though spending quite a few minutes on it around that point. After the game he said “I should have played BxN (before I played Be7)”. I said that “Yes, it would have been stronger so why didn’t you?” and then I continued “I’ve only played it about 25 times in the past anyway.” It made me realized how just about everybody is screwing their game up, in some way, in order to play to the clock. It’s not a totally natural time-control for OTB play.

Here is the game.

Next game I am just going to play for a time control. I’ll play 20 moves to have 30 left, then to move 30 to have 20 minutes left (massive overkill for me), then play it out.

Playing quickly as Black is important in G/90. White can push Black around because White has the initiative, but Black cannot push White around, except on the clock. It’s also important to look for tactical opportunities quickly as Black because White can go for a slow, boring positional win and it’s up to Black to confuse the issue. It’s also a double-whammy playing Black because the higher-rated player usually gets White, so it’s more important to not bother with a correct game too much, other than having it work somehow in your own mind, because you have to make it snappy on the clock. As White, you are usually getting the lower-rated player anyhow so can usually get away with screwing off on the clock more.


10 thoughts on “Surreal

  1. First of all, it doesn’t look like you got gentlemen in your club. In our club I saw how one expert having 4 seconds on the clock offered a draw to another with 1 second in roughly equal position. So, you should formally follow the rules. He can’t stop writing the moves having 9 and 1/2 minutes left, you warn him, then you complain to TD. Then, there is a rule (only USCF, not FIDE, still you are on American soil):
    “From the USCF web site: 14 H1. In a sudden death time control, a player with less than five minutes of remaining time may stop the clock and ask the director to declare the game a draw on the grounds that the player has insufficient losing chances.
    The draw shall be awarded if the director believes that a Class C player would have little chance to lose the position against a Master with both having ample time. The exact losing chances of any position cannot be calculated, but a director wishing a more precise standard may consider
    “little” to mean less than 10 percent”.
    Maybe this rule works in this case, at least you could try.
    To claim three-fold repetition you have to prove it, so if you stopped writing I am not sure it is possible.
    Frankly this 90 SD control looks like a trouble for you.
    Or you completely change your habits starting from leaving home at least half an hour earlier than you do, spending evenly your time on all stages of the game, etc. or if you can’t, you may as well just not play with it at all. What happens is not good for your chess and for you too.
    Sorry if it sounds like “lecturing”, it’s just as I see it as your friend.

  2. Rollingpawns, thanks for your comments. Incidentally, I just added to the end of my post.

    You know, I hadn’t even considered the “insufficient losing chances” rule, thanks for reminding me of that – the TD didn’t offer me any suggestions after the game. I should have stopped the clock and warned him, you are right. Funny thing, it upset me more as in like “you don’t care enough about this game to continue wanting to write down the moves for later analysis?”, so it’s even more of an insult to me that way, but then he wants to go over it after the game, go figure. He remembered the moves after the game, not sure where he stopped writing but as the winner he has to turn in a signed copy of his scoresheet, which makes this all the stranger. I know during that pawn race we were both just whipping our pawn down the board, but I don’t recall him looking at his scoresheet before that, even though he spent quite a bit of time analyzing the pawn push initially. Perhaps he caught up writing on some move where he spent 5 minutes or so but it didn’t seem like he spent any time writing down.

    I found out it’s only $2 to park after talking to the parking lot attendant when I got there – you’d think I would known that already. During construction of another lot, there was no attendant there and I had been let through before after saying where I was going, yet the arm was down (even though it’s always up when I leave), so I hadn’t known what the deal was there.

    Still, yes I shouldn’t have been late but I don’t think that has anything to do with setting a time-limit, like Rolf Wetzell describes in his book. You underline on your score-sheet a move that gives yourself a self-imposed time limit for, so starting time doesn’t matter, you simply need to get there by that ending time.

    I told the TD after the game, apologized for my outburst (I was upset with myself, but luckily no one seemed to care) and said I was only upset because of how I lost on time, not by the chess, but he offered no suggestions on arbiting the game, what I could do for next time.

  3. On the other hand, I don’t know how much OTB you will have without 90/G, so maybe you should try to adjust. Underlining a move on the score-sheet sounds like a good idea. Just try to play steady and not be much worse on time than your opponent. I am playing with this control for about 2.5 year, so I am accustomed, but you as I know didn’t play with it before moving, am I right? So maybe it’s just natural problem. Put a mark on 15th move – 18-24 minutes and 30th move – 50-60 minutes or whatever… You are playing it like you played before – 90/30, 1 SD or something like that. But it’s not FICS standard too, so just try to find the right tempo.

  4. Yeah, it was 30/90, G/30, which suited me fine although I hadn’t gotten used to that even until the end, when the weeknight games were faster.

    I’ll show up early next time just because I want to talk with some of the other players and I never get to because my games finish last (I looked at some of their games during my game), and my opponents then want to analyze even as they are putting up the chairs and closing the restaurant.

    I won’t get enough OTB without G/90 because even after a big tournament, it’s not enough to change the rating much (although I should have won that one game where the guy blitzed me – he also plays at these club games of ours).

    I have to not give these guys endgame lessons by analyzing afterwards, because then I will no longer have a trump-card to show them when I’m in time-trouble. I need to put the pieces away around then.

    Incidentally, he was worried about 16…Nc4, which I saw during the game was totally losing.

    The extra time really doesn’t help me other than blunderchecking. None of my conceptions were any better than the original one after spending gobs of time on moves, even surprised me during the game. Wasted WAY too much time thinking about the opponent’s possible plans – bet you won’t hear that advice much. But at G/90 it’s true (IMHO)! Lets say the other guy has a sucker-mate in 5. Who cares!? It’s G/90, if you don’t spot the mate quickly, let ’em have it as long as you know you did your blundercheck. It’s better than losing on time.

  5. I am mostly interested in plans in post-mortem, I want to know what my opponent was thinking, it helps to understand flow f the game. Tactics mostly people don’t see even after the game, Fritz is good in it.
    I don’t give lessons, it’s toomuh, just say that this or that was probably a mistake, etc. “blunderchecked” moves are already not bad :), don’t worry about that. The worst moves are the moves you make when you are in the time trouble, not when you are somehow controlling the time, it still gives you the freedom to think more on one move and less on another.

  6. By the way you played 80 minutes, not 90. 10 minutes could be enough for you to write down that three-fold repetition and claim a draw. Last time I played 75 minutes, not 90, because of the 50th anniversary of the club (can you imagine that, ran 50 years by volunteers!). I felt it, but even more my opponent (as you remember). Again, this is another time scale and 10 minutes are important, just get accustomed. Imagine you would come in time and he 20 minutes late, you would get at least 15 minutes more on your clock, if you have to be formal in your club. In our club we start right after announcements, no special time treatment.

  7. Right, I’ll take the 90 minutes from now on. The Thursday night game most of those guys go to is even “worse”, it’s G/75. I could go tonight but don’t feel like paying $10 just to play 1 round (end of month game).

    RollingPawns, good luck to you if you play tonight! Blundercheck, yes, that is the key thing, all the rest is post-mortem moral victories. lol.

    This is the best explanation that I’ve seen on how to use one’s time:

  8. First, your opponent has to write down his moves until he has “less” then five minutes on his clock, not 9 and a half.

    Secondly, stop the clock, go to the TD and “claim” draw by the fact that your opponent just plays on your time and doesn’t make an effort to win.

    Thirdly, why do you always come to late? 🙂

  9. I was told by a TD that USCF rules say that when either player goes under 5 minutes, neither player has to write down moves (otherwise, it would put the person in time trouble at an advantage). I looked it up, and that is what the book said. (That does make it impossible to claim 3-fold repetition).

    I think the only way you’ll ever get over your time trouble is to quit thinking that winning on time is not a “legitimate” way to win. Chess is a timed game. Period. Also, a 90 min./G time control is not blitz. A very good game can be played at that time control (especially if you show up on time). This is a poisonous attitude you need to rid yourself of.

    I suspect, by your lateness and attitude about winning/losing on time, that, in many aspects of your life, you under value time. That suggests to me that you probably also waste a lot of time while you’re sitting at the board and need to discipline your thinking and concentration and especially time management.

    Do you recognize the difference between a critical move that requires using more time vs. when there are several fairly equal moves on the board? When you make a decision at the board, do you recognize the difference between a) a situation where calculating a bit longer can help avoid a mistake and b) a situation where judgment is required and no amount of time will improve your judgment? Realizing this distinction was an important epiphany for me.

    Do you use your opponent’s time efficiently? Using it to find general plans and even analyzing out your candidates to his most likely move?

    You also seem awfully focused on the opponent’s attitude/concerned with what other people think, etc. This seems very unhealthy and counterproductive to your chess improvement. If you think his ideas are wrong, prove it OTB or through your own home analysis.

    If you think you’re better than this “character” then prove it — on the board and under the time constraints of the game — and quit whining.

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