Conditional moves and sliced bread
As the millennium approached I was the breakfast announcer on AIR-FM, a community radio station in Sydney's west. I'd been thinking about the Seven Wonders of the World and realised that there were, in fact, twenty-one of them—seven each from the ancient, mediaeval and modern worlds. The problem seemed to be that none of the modern wonders had been achieved more recently than fifty years previously, so I set my listeners the task of nominatingr the Seven Wonders of the Millennium. Click on THIS LINK if you want to see what they selected.
One guy nominated sliced bread because, if that didn't exist, we couldn't say, “That's the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Which brings us back to chess because I think conditional moves are the greatest thing since sliced bread.
I thought everybody else probably thought so too until, during the week, one of my friends complained fairly strongly about my conditional moves. “Why?” I asked. “I just don't like them.” I offered a couple more during the game, but will respect her feelings in future, and refrain.
I spend a lot of time on chess.com. It's not that I sit here doing nothing but wait for moves to come in, but my computer is linked to the Internet for about fifteen hours a day and when I see a move has been made I usually sit down and reply. The result is that I have a low average time per move which, of course, is neither good nor bad—it's just the way things are.
But my low average time isn't only dependent upon quick responses—it also gains a lot from conditional moves. If I know I'm going to be away from home for a longish part of the day, of if an opponent is off line when I move, I use conditionals to continue the game and, of course, they incur no time penalty.
Sometimes a reply might be forced, or might be the most logical move in a given position, so a conditional is appropriate. Sometimes, usually in end games, a whole sequence of conditionals is possible. Several times I've managed as many as six or eight conditionals, occasionally culminating in mate. (This becomes easier in those games where an opponent has lost a great deal of material but wants to play on.)
I won't go as far as nominating conditional moves as a wonder of the millennium, but they're certainly a wonderful tool to use in our on-line play.
But I'd like to hear what you think. Do you like using conditionals? Why? Do you hate them? Again, why? Let's turn this into a discussion. Add a comment. Share your thoughts.