How To Deal With Time Trouble?

Recently, I received a couple e-mails from students who are having a hard time dealing
with time trouble. And if you are one of those chess players who succumb to this
dilemma often, then you are in for a treat. Right here, I will lay down certain tips and
tricks that will help you combat this OTB problem.
Very often, we see the following situation: a player plays a good game, gets an
advantage, but then appears in time trouble! Under time pressure, he makes an
annoying mistake and even loses in the end!
Such a situation is certainly frustrating. And the recommendations I’m about to give will
help set yourself free from the chains of time trouble.

First and foremost, there is a great difference between thinking and having

In most cases, a chess player THINKS only during the first few minutes after the
opponent makes his move. After that, he starts to check the SAME variations again and
again. Not contented, he starts to worry about the consequences, and try to find 100%
ideal move, and the cycle goes on and on.
Guess what? This cycle doesn’t help at all! This only creates chaos in his head and
totally mixes things up. Finally, after going through the same variations, worrying about
the consequences, and vainly searching for the perfect move, he does something
ridiculous… and you should know what happens next.
To avoid this typical, VERY frustrating, and game-breaking scenario, keep these in
–> Do NOT calculate 1 variation 2 times. You may not be the BEST calculator
around but when you sit at the board, you only have yourself to trust.
–> In most cases you should NOT spend more than 3 minutes on 1 move. You
may need to spend more time on crucial and highly tactical positions, but 3 minutes is
the average for every move.
This also brings us to the next advice:

Use your intuition.

Look, even a computer – whether it’s Rybka, Fritz, or even that supercomputer Hydra,
CANNOT calculate all of the lines until the end and come to a 100 percent correct
conclusion. That said, trying to judge the outcome of the game for MANY moves ahead
is a wasted effort.
Oftentimes, you will find yourself in a situation where you have 2 or 3 logical moves
and there’s no way you can calculate the lines until the end or come to a certain
What to do?

a close follower of my blog to be precise. NORMAL move is good enough in most cases. Heck! He was a former World Champion. Procrastination is a habit you want to get rid of. You’d do great by following his footsteps. which came to your mind FIRST (which seemed good for you at first sight on a position) and then do only the needed calculation to verify that the move is tactically sound. but to make it quickly and to start going forward. Meanwhile. than to find 100% perfect moves all the time. so samurai’s wisdom is suitable for chess) “Man should make a decision during 7 breathing in.” So the 4th advice is: Decide and do it quickly! If you have time troubles in chess. BUT he won MOST of them. normal. That said. I recommended one of my chess courses. it’s more important to avoid mistakes. isn’t it? He thought about 1 simple decision during more than a month!!! In an old manual for Samurais. but couldn’t decide which one to start with!” I can’t but smile and laugh a bit. Recently I got a message from a chess player. the result will be lamentable. Don’t try to make 100% correct moves all the time. and you’ll see that it works great! And another piece of advice: Make normal moves. Most often. He explained his chess problems. If thinking takes too long. —————————— Let me tell you 1 little story.Use your intuition! This means you should choose a move. Then you will start finding another solution and you will always keep going forward! . a game is decided by a mistake of one player (NOT by a brilliant play of his opponent). He answered: “Yes. I know many people who spent tons of time to decide which of my courses to order. when faced with a branching point in one of his games. It’s not surprising that he has a time trouble in chess. I found the following quote: (chess is a model of war by the way. and it’s going to be useful in the future. I was thinking about your courses since the last month. and one of them was constant time trouble. This is a very powerful advice! Check it in your practice. You learn something from it. which contains the answers to most of his questions. they lost the most important thing – TIME. go for the sound. then you probably have problems when it comes to making decisions in life. Even the greatest players like Karpov follow this advice! The former World Champion. and generally good move… the one that requires the least amount of calculation. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It was much better to make ANY decision. He didn’t win ALL of his games. then you will know that this thing does not work. ANY decision moves you forward! If your decision was wrong.

you still get something useful. a Spanish psychologist specialising in chess. if you think that my lessons don’t help you – reject them completely. I keep the better and BIGGER stuff in my complete courses. If you think that my lessons are useful – then what are you waiting for?! Order the complete chess courses (LINK) and start studying them NOW! If you only read these blog-posts. to be treated with as much attention as the other three. The Seven Deadly Chess Sins. explains some of the psychological factors behind it and how we can learn to combat them. the author analyses the causes that lead players to get low on time. will easily outrun him! Another example: some people wait several months to get my course with a discount. with all of us at one time or another falling into the trap of using it as an excuse for games we lose. Of course. but lose TIME. decisions we take and the eventual outcome of the game. Carlos Martínez. more specifically. In the chapter devoted to the sin of perfectionism. Unsubscribe from my mailing list and start searching for something else. is that it is not always ‘sinful’ to run into time-trouble and we shouldn’t always blame ourselves for doing so. I strongly advice that you make decisions. There are extremely complicated games where you need to carry out very concrete and exact calculation and that leads . He says something that’s highly worth keeping in mind: My bottom line. He’ll have no progress whatsoever! That person who goes forward (who makes a decision and learns from it). Introduction Much has been written about the factor of time in chess and how it influences play or. Make a decision! The psychology of time trouble Time trouble is one of the most common problems tournament chess players face. they will save a few bucks. There are two issues to highlight from that quote: 1. and make them quickly! ANY decision is better than nothing! For example. On the other hand. BUT it’s very little compared to what my complete chess courses offer. the one who doesn’t make a decision (or postpone it) will be stuck on his current place. Amid all the chess literature on this theme I’d highlight Jonathan Rowson’s book. Again. however. What is important is that you realize just how important a part of the game the clock is […] It may be helpful to see it as one of the four dimensions of the game. Time trouble isn’t always a genuine problem.

I don’t intend to demonise time trouble or argue it always represents a problem. As if time and managing it well wasn’t a fundamental part of the game and one required for success. and particularly at key moments. As the game goes on. however. And. require you to use up a lot of time. ideas and moves in a position. He barely has any time left when the decisive moment comes and overlooks a blow from his opponent – for instance an intermezzo – or makes a miscalculation. but if you get into constant time trouble you should ask yourself whether that highlights factors you can recognise. Time trouble: a reassuring excuse Regardless of the level it’s very common to encounter players who have difficulty managing their time adequately. you sometimes come to a decisive moment in a game and have to analyse a move very carefully. The process. plan and calculate well in positions – you also need to carry out all those procedures relatively quickly. Similarly. are much more “silent” and frequently occur without our knowledge of them or without us recognising their importance. with knowledge and how you apply it in practice in particular positions. 2. The goal of the current article is to describe and reflect on some of the causes of time trouble and to propose some strategies that will help you to work on improving that aspect of your game. . he begins to get low on time but his position is clearly better. makes a draw. This process. to consuming a lot of time. and time is then often used as an excuse or justification for the result. Look on the clock as a dimension of the game. train and improve. Those factors might be of two types: technical and psychological. he uses the lack of time as a justification – he played better than his opponent and claims that if only it wasn’t for time trouble he would undoubtedly have gone on to win. with myriad variations. That handicap leads them to commit errors in a game they had under control. That may. The clock is an inherent part of the game and strongly influences it. Only on that basis will we be able to generate solutions and find specific areas we can work on and improve. to generalise and sum up. from that point on. once again. in the best case scenario. or even won. The psychological factors. There are chess situations during a game that we can later look back on with some clarity. occurs all the time. On many occasions it’s just not enough to understand. He loses the game or. is as follows: a player starts to consume more time that his opponent looking for better plans. The first step is therefore to identify them – to become aware of our thought processes and observe sincerely and honestly what goes on in our minds during a game. It’s therefore very important that if time trouble becomes a constant feature in your games you should become aware of that and work on it. The technical factors have to do with chess itself.

in practice it’s usually about hesitation. losing a certain freedom and creativity in the analysis and evaluation of positions. but as the chess-player that they assume themselves to be when they are most perfect. Another important psychological factor that leads to time trouble is fear of your opponent. but because he’s not sufficiently sure of himself. moreover. I’d like to point out another key factor which was already referred to at the start of this article: perfectionism. Some characteristics of a lack of confidence are: doubts about the openings we play. . he doesn’t trust his calculation and. Ask a player directly to relate his thought processes during a game. This fear mainly arises when you play against a superior opponent. trying not to miss anything. Constant time consumption over a series of moves. 2. Training specific visualisation exercises or “easy” tactical/technical exercises can help us increase our confidence during games. in essence. You try to play a good game where you commit no mistakes. GM Yuri Averbakh writes: My own experience shows that a lack of time isn’t usually due to an inability to allocate time sensibly but a character flaw linked to indecision. In the classic book. uses up a lot of time (tension). he checks the same variation again and again. therefore. The appearance of doubts in analysis and/or taking decisions is one indicator of a lack of confidence. Maintaining a constant state of alertness involves an enormous expenditure of energy (fatigue) and. A chess player doesn’t get short on time because he doesn’t know how to allocate it. overestimation of the possibilities of our opponent and pessimistic or negative thoughts about the outcome of the game. or against a player you have a negative score against. Other psychological factors Another frequently encountered psychological factor which causes or intensifies time trouble is a player’s lack of confidence. The Psychology of Chess. Although you could refine that statement a little. Jonathan Rowson writes: Perfectionism manifests itself as the desire to find the best move on each and every occasion […] Perfectionists thus strive to play chess not as the chess-player they are. But what if you play chess without trying to demonstrate anything to anybody? And you play chess to enjoy it? And you fully enjoy the game and the ideas and calculations you carry out? Finally. This can be seen when a player consumes minutes on each of a series of consecutive moves which. uncertainty over the evaluation of positions. are not critical to the outcome of the game. Averbakh clearly points to psychological factors and not a mere inability to manage the clock. To put it another way: you adopt a more rigid process of thought and play. A lack of confidence can usually be recognised in two different ways: 1. You carefully and scrupulously analyse each of your moves.

No perfect game exists (although seeing some of Magnus Carlsen’s you might doubt that). That’s what Rowson calls the moraliser. giving meaning to what happens in the game. This type of player. Such a way of thinking generates tension while contemplating and taking decisions at the board and will lead to the unproductive use of precious time. You’re not a superior being with supernatural powers but a player trying to show his best chess. it’s still very much a personal matter. unique and exclusive move in each position. In conclusion Although time trouble is a common phenomenon and generally results from only a few factors. and therefore you shouldn’t play to punish your opponent according to a perfect model. you want to find something more convincing. . or what I’d call mental strategy. Realising which of your own character traits cause or intensify it is the first step towards understanding and training to avoid time trouble. inevitably ends up consuming excessive time trying to find the opponent’s error and the fitting punishment. There are players who try to punish any move of their rival which strikes their eyes and understanding as “strange” or “extravagant”.In The Psychology of a Chess Player Krogius also refers to this. That causes a reasonable variation not to seem sufficiently effective. The game consists of resolving problems that arise. He mentions analytical doubts and writes: They occur when you insist on finding the best.