How to Avoid Blunders. Part 4

Gserper
GM Gserper
Jul 31, 2011, 12:00 AM |
29 | Tactics

The kind of blunders we are going to discuss today is by far the most popular one. There is no chess player who has never experienced this kind of blunder.

4.) Blunders due to time trouble

I bet you can immediately remember the painful blunders you committed when you didn't have time to think about your moves since your only objective at that time was just to play any move and avoid a time forfeit.

The list of games lost due to time trouble is really endless. So here are just two examples of blunders made by extremely strong chess players in time trouble:

 

 

This is a game from a World Championship match, and Black is in terrible time trouble. You have to be a very strong player in order to see a tactical shot like  37...Ra1 when the last seconds of your time are running away.  But if you have at least a couple of minutes, then you don't need to be Kasparov to see that 37... Ra1 is a terrible blunder and after the intermediate 38. Qxg6+ White protects his g4 pawn first and then captures the Ra1.
The next game is even more dramatic. White has two forced checkmates (in 3 and in 4 moves). Try to find both of them. 
So, you found both of them didn't you? If not, then you can replay the whole game and see the annotations if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".
Now, which checkmate do you think White preferred in the game? Neither! One of the best US Grandmasters Samuel Reshevsky was well known for his horrible time troubles and here, when his flag was about to fall, he thought that he found a checkmate in one!  He played 40. Qxg6?? (the last move before the time control!) and after 40...Bxg6 immediately resigned. You can argue that it was tricky since Black's Bb1 was far away, but in my opinion it only underlines a simple fact: anything can happen in time trouble! So, your best way to prevent this kind of blunders is just to avoid time troubles. I know, I know, it is easy to say but not that easy to actually do. Here are a couple of tips that could help you:
  1. Chess is all about making decisions. So, when you are not completely sure about your idea, learn to trust your intuition more.  I read somewhere a humorous, but very wise saying of Emmanuel Lasker: "make your mistakes with conviction".  If you avoid time trouble by playing faster than usual, then you may or may not make a mistake.  In time trouble you will make a mistake for sure!
  2. Use your opponent's time! Sounds obvious, but most of chess players prefer to walk around playing area analysing somebody else's position instead of his/her own game!
  3. Prepare your openings! Besides an obvious benefit of playing good moves in a theoretical position, you'll also save some time on your clock in the opening!
I truly hope that this simple advice will help you to avoid or at least minimize your time trouble blunders!
to be continued....
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