Did you know that you can play real slow chess tournaments on Chess.com? Have you heard of slow chess? Have you read what Dan Heisman has written on this subject? Do you know Dan Heisman?
Well, this is the blog post to introduce you to all of those things.
Dan Heisman is one of the best known chess teachers in the U.S. He's written a pile of books, writes Novice Nook articles, won prizes for chess journalism, had some famous and successful students, produces both free and premium instructional videos both here on Chess.com and elsewhere, writes blogs and articles on Chess.com both instructional and of general chess interest, and is a champion of slow chess. He defines slow chess as a game which allows you to play what he calls "real chess", something that you generally can't do at a time control such as G/30+0. Real chess is the kind of chess where you have enough time to consistently check if your candidate moves are safe (can they be defeated by a check, capture, or threat in reply that cannot be met).
So, how and where can you play this kind of chess on Chess.com? You've probably looked at the Live Chess server and seen that the longest time control there seems to be G/30+0, and you often see many players playing this time control, especially late at night it seems. But we know that this time control just isn't long enough to make real chess improvement. If you want to make real improvements, you have to learn to analyze. And the best way to learn that skill is to play lots of slow chess games intending to use almost all of your time every game.
How do you do that on Chess.com?
You join the Dan Heisman Learning Center group and play in their Slow Chess League. We offer both G/45+45, and now even G/90+30 games. Both allow you to play "real chess". G/90+30 is considered by some to be an ideal time control for learning to analyze and to mimic the long time controls played OTB (over the board) like FIDE rated tournaments. G/45+45 is the more popular internet time control as it is a practical game length for real actual "I have a job too" chess players. And it accounts for the fact that most everyday chess players seldom play G/90+30 OTB anyway. They often are lucky if their local clubs offer anything better than G/30 d5 or G/45 d5 for weekend tournaments.
But the real challenge is how to get such a game. That's a problem that's been solved, and that solution is employed at the DHLC (that's what we call the Dan Heisman Learning Center for short). In our tournaments (mostly swiss system) an opponent and a color are assigned to you for each round in which you are allowed one week to play your game (2 weeks in our latest G/90+30 tournaments). You begin by making a minimum of 3 offers of dates and times that would be convenient for you to start a game of this time control, and your opponent does the same. Then you negotiate and agree on a start time that is suitable for both of you. It's really that simple. When the agreed time comes, you show up, you issue or accept a challenge with your opponent, and you play your game. When you are done you report your results. Then you'll be paired for another round based on your results in the previous one. That's how swiss sytem tournaments (like OTB tournaments) work.
You're saying that you want more than just one game a week! Well yeah! You just sign up for more than one tournament!
To play in our Slow Chess League you need to be qualified. You do that by beginning in what we call our Micro-Swiss tournament. It isn't really a tournament, it's just a 1 week sample of what playing in one of our real tournaments is like. Just one week, just one round, just one game. You learn how to sign up for the tournament, how you find your pairing, how to make your minimum offers, how to negotiate, how to agree to a time, how to start your game, and how to play and report it. When you complete all of that successfully, the TD qualifies you to play in our league. Then you've got options.
You could go right back and play another Micro-Swiss game. Many players do. Besides teaching the newbies how our tournaments work, it's really just a great way to grab another game in any week where you can fit one in. (We offer lots of other ways to get casual slow games at the DHLC too.) Or, you could try out our Mini-Swiss tournaments. These are just 3 round tournaments, but you get put in sections according to your rating (we use the Live Standard rating) so that you are paired against players near enough to your own rating that you pretty much always have a real chance to win your games.
For a different kind of challenge, sign up for our regular Swiss tournaments. These are 5-7 rounds, like typical OTB swiss-style tournaments. There usually are no sections, so when you win you get tougher opponents each round, and when you lose you get easier ones. Some people say that you learn more in this sort of tournament where lower rated players get a chance to play others who are higher rated than themselves. But there's a lot more that's cool in our regular Swiss tournaments. We have optional team play! You can join a team of 4-6 players if you want and compete together, but you don't have to. And either way, everybody competes individually! What can be more cool than that? Our exclusive optional regional pairing! It can be hard scheduling games if you live on one side of the world and your opponent lives on the other. All slow chess players know about that problem. But we offer a solution. You may choose from 4 regional preferences: the Americas, Europe/Africa, Indo/Austral/Asia, or None. If you choose the Americas, then you'll be paired with other players who prefer pairing in that region if there is one avaiable to play in your score group (the standard way of swiss pairing). If you choose Europe/Africa, then we try to pair you with players who prefer that same region. What about None? That's what you choose when you really don't care where your opponents are from, or for many players it's because they like to play other players from all around the world! If you select None, then we try to pair you with someone else who has chosen that. Ask any of our regular Swiss players and I'm sure they'll tell you that's one of our best special features!
But what about that G/90+30 business? You may have heard that that's the way to go. No problem, we've got that too. But for G/90+30 we offer rounds which are 2 weeks long, 2 full weeks to play one game. Why? Because a game at G/90+30 could last 3-4 hours. My last game at this time control lasted just a bit shy of 4 1/2 hours! (A game at G/45+45 more usually would last 2-3 hours.) So here's the problem. That's pretty hard for lots of players to do. I mean, especially to do it the right way that Dan Heisman recommends: always with the full intention of using almost all of your time. That's the way to get the best results, and that's the best way to learn to analyze and so get better. Many players just can only do this on their days off, often weekends. That makes scheduling a game much harder. So, a round that's 2 weeks long gives you the time you need to successfully get your game scheduled. The rest is just like all of our other tournaments.
And that really still isn't everything. We have hybrid ladder / king of the hill themed tournaments. We have a Chat Room Chess Club on Monday nights where you can get a game of slow chess, or just watch other games, kibbitz, chat about chess, or trade math jokes with Dan Heisman. (Oh yeah, you never know when Dan might show up.)
And we do more than just all this slow chess too. We've got vote chess. We've got team matches (online chess). We've got a brand new DHLC only online tournament! We've got all kinds of stuff I just can't even think of to list here.
But I have to mention one other thing we have. We've got absolutely the best newsletter that I've seen anywhere on Chess.com. Our crew really knows how to produce one that's really worth your reading. Lots of articles, news on upcoming events, chess puzzles, games of the month, etc. How many other groups even have a newsletter, much less say one as good as ours? It's worth joining the DHLC just to get a copy of that.
So, what are you waiting for? Get in there! Come to the Dan Heisman Learning Center, join us and join in all of the fun and learning. I hope to see you there!"