Live chess time management

Live chess time management

Aug 31, 2011, 12:13 AM |

  We've all been there - 35 seconds left, mate is almost there, then bang, time's up and the opponent that was losing won just because you took more time to focus your moves. This happens at least once, and happens in every single bullet chess game.

History of Timers

    Originally, chess had no time limitations. In the London tournaments in 1834 and 1843 the players weren't up for a mental endurance. They were mostly in a physical endurance, due to the fact it took a player hours to make a single move. Tournament matches were often long and boring, since the players took so much time to take their moves.

    After the Staunton Matches, the french player Alexandre Deschapelles criticized the long duration of the games and suggested the time limitations. After the London Tournament in 1851 a mysterious contributor wrote "Let each player have a three-hour sandglass at his elbow and a friend on either side to turn it. While the player is thinking, the sand must be allowed to run; while his opponent is thinking, his glass will be laid horizontally on the table and the running suspended". Note that it was just one of many proposals.

   In the PIT (Paris International Tournament) In 1866, the first time penalty was shown, charging 5 francs to the tournament comitee for every fifteen minutes. In 1883 the first chess timer was invented and made it's debut in London.

The problems of time

  In you have the option to play in 2 different ways - Correspondence and Live. In the correspondence version you can take as much time as you wish to make a move, however in live, most people only allow 15 minutes of play.

   After putting a small time limitation, players suffer the consequences for their own actions:

  • More blunders due to time pressure
  • Stress of time
  • Unfair winning (See the introduction of this blog post)
  • Worst general chess performance

 Due to these time limitations, live chess is usually alot worst than online chess from many points, why? Well, first of all, most players that play live and online have a higher online rating than live. Second of all, it torns apart the principles of chess health, since it causes stress to both players at a given point saying "Oh man I'm going to lose this, there's no time left!" and it's not allowing the brain to process properly in such short timescale, especially if the player is an aged man. Last of all, it causes opponents to play very bad chess games. If you'll analyze a bullet chess game you'll see how many blunders both players do since they have to make their move in a few seconds at most.


  In conclusion, the live chess timer lies in the hands of the player that sets it. Allways use as much time as you possibly can in live chess and allways stay focused. If the timer is plentyfull, ignore it.