4. heinäkuuta 2017

The Art of the Blitz - Tip #2

Never Lose the Option to Win on Time
My blitz rating is much higher than my standard rating. I tend to be able to punch above my weight in the shorter format. Last year, I won four out of the six games I played against titled players. Out of the 100 or so blitz games I have played in these big tournaments (5 minute 0 increment), I have lost only one on time. I should also mention that I don't have the quickest hand action either; I'm definitely slower as a piece mover than Tero or Petr, for instance.

But what I do have is experience playing tens of thousands of high speed games online. And from that experience, the best tip I can share is that you should never lose the option to win a game on time.

If you find yourself in a position where you have a comfortable advantage (maybe a few pawns or a piece up), but the only way you can win is if you manage to checkmate your opponent within the next 20 seconds, then you have done something horribly wrong with your time / game plan management.

If you are winning a game, it is an absolute crime and a tragedy to lose it on time. Don't let the weaker player beat you like that!

So how does one achieve this? It takes three things -
1. Self-awareness
2. Game Plan Methodology
3. Practice

Self-awareness is important because you need to know what your key strengths and weaknesses as a player are. For instance, I am good at getting small positional advantages but am bad at executing tactics.

This understanding helps with the second point of having a game plan methodology. Every chess game involves a game plan choice. If you're winning, you can either go all in for the checkmate, or you can liquidate your advantage and simplify into a winning endgame. If you're losing, you can try to complicate the position, or you can try to out-gun your opponent on time. There are many other options as well besides these of course. But the key is to figure out which plan you should have, and at what point you should switch plans.

In my case, because of my positional strength and tactical weakness, I typically attempt to maintain a good position and use that to slowly pressure my opponent on time, and then win. But if my opponent has managed to get ahead of me on time, then I will usually try to liquidate my advantage for a simple position that I can play quickly even if it means having to make many moves to finally win. The important thing to note when adopting this plan is to be decisive and alert about when to switch to it so that you have enough time to execute it. Typically you should switch to this kind of plan when you have at least 1 minute to spare. As far as middle game checkmates go, I rarely attempt to execute one. And if I do, I do so only if I have a lot of confidence in its success and a lot of time (so that I have a backup option to win on time in case something goes wrong).

The last point is common sense - practice. Test out your time management / game plan methodology. Practice was particularly critical for me because I had played most of my chess online where it was possible to play ten moves in one second. So I needed to re-calibrate my internal time management clock to figure out when to adopt a certain plan.

I will end by saying that each player is different, and your unique strengths and weaknesses, and even your attitude to chess should be the driving force behind your personal blitz strategy. If you would like help figuring out the plan that works best for you, feel free to reach out to me - ashwin26@gmail.com

Tip #1: The Best Move is Faster than the Fastest Move

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