The 36th Piece!?!

Tournaments require 38 pieces!?! You’ve got 34 chess people, a board, a clock, paper, and a pencil. If most players are honest, they will admit that the clock and keeping score gave them some initial difficulty! But getting used to the clock and knowing how to use it are 2 totally different things. I haven’t seen any books specifically on how to use a clock!?! If the game can be won or lost by how you use this piece, at least some type of study is in order! I’ve only seen 2 places where the times of the games were kept and published. Yeah you get to see it while it’s live, but I’m talking in a format where study and comparison can be done. That Bobby Fischer’s chess games, the Havana Match, and Kasparov Karpov III by Keene and Goodman. Some mention of the clock was also in Krogius’ book, Psychology In Chess.

How you use this piece can change the outcome of the game!

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Always get to the board early enough to set and check the clock. Check that the delay and/or the increment are working.
  2. Always start the clock promptly at the beginning of the round. If you have no clock, the time will be split instead of your opponent taking the whole loss of time.
  3. Record the clock time for you and your opponent on each move.
  4. Always remember to press your clock!
  5. If you must get up, get back to your board as soon as possible.
  6. Grandmasters advise that you use your time for calculating variations and your opponents time for positional considerations and strategy!
  7. When in time trouble, continue to record the game as long as you can. If neither of you are recording the game, there can be no scoresheet based draw claims.
  8. When in time trouble, never move instantly! Use the delay or the increment time to double check your move.
  9. Never remind your opponent to hit their clock. It’s not good sportsmanship, it’s a rules violation!
  10. If you always have time left and you are losing more than half of your games, you are moving too fast!

Make a list of the things you will constantly check when it is your opponents turn!

What do you do when it’s your opponent’s turn to move? You are supposed to be looking everything else except variations. I have my list of everything else and so should you. I call mine the magic 10! They are: Range, Speed, Power, Force, Time, Space, Mobility, Initiative, King Safety, and Material. This is for a piece or group of pieces. This is what you do leading up to, during, and after your skirmishes! Unlike Checks, Captures, Threats, and Sacrifices, something about the magic 10 goes in and out of balance on every move.

40 moves in 2hrs. What does that mean!?! No it doesn’t mean 3 minutes per move!? There is no time limit for a move and you must accept that some moves will require a lot of time!

White to move took 22 minutes to play 14. Ne4
White took 38 minutes to find 19. b3
It took Bobby Fischer 17 minutes to find 20…Qc5
Why did it take 10 minutes for Karpov to play 7. Rc1

The other clue I got was from Test Your Chess IQ Book II by Livshitz!! In the master section they actually tell you how long it should take you to solve each puzzle. Take a look at #936

White to move. The time to solve this was 15 minutes. It’s a forced mate!
7/17/1997 Black spent 30 minutes and played 16…Nf4!
3/29/2003 White spent 49 minutes and played 16. Nf7!
6/7/2014. After 36 minutes, White played 16. Bh6!!

The thing to understand is that when you use this type of time, it’s for several moves, not just 1 move!! If you have calculated properly the next 4 or 5 moves will only take a few minutes.

Lastly, always take a minute or 2 to regroup and reorient yourself once a time control is reached. My goal is to have an equal or winning position by the end of the 1st time control, and then finish them off if I can in the 2nd one.

Want to win more games…. Learn how to use the 36th piece!?! Group and private lessons and coaching are available. Ask for Coach Mike 804-426-6058. If you are not ready for lessons, we will get you ready for free!!

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