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Time is of the Essence

Time is of the Essence

Nov 29, 2009, 8:32 PM 3


One of the features that originally attracted me to this site, and one of my favorite things about it, is the "days per move" counter. The ability to go at your own pace allows players from all walks of life, all around the world to face each other in friendly competition. The "vacation" function is another asset which allows us to enjoy this site, without fear of the game taking over our lives. Sometimes you just need a break, and I understand that. What I have difficulty understanding are the abuses of these assets that some of the players I have faced employ.

Sure there are justifications for using all of the allotted time. When facing an opponent who invoked a prolonged vacation earlier this year, I sent a note asking about the delay. The opponent informed me that he had taken some time off to study for mid-terms. I thanked him for letting me know, and wished him good luck. When mid-terms were over, he came back and we finished our game. Unfortunatly, this example seems to be more the exception rather than the rule.

One of the common abuses I have encountered is “The Last minute move”. Choosing the three days per move option does not require that you wait the entire three days to make a move. It seems reasonable to expect that your opponent would move without taking significant time off the clock, at least some of the time. But on several occasions I have played against opponents who wait until the last possible moment to make their move, every time. This strategy seems most prevalent among players who are already loosing the game.

Another common strategy for delaying a loss is “The Last Minute Vacation”. I recently completed two tournament games with a player who vacationed regularly, only to run out of vacation days and lose on time after nearly five excruciating months hanging on the ropes. Another player who utilized both the strategies of “The Last minute move” and “The Last Minute Vacation” hung on for more than five months combined in consecutive games of a loosing effort, before unceremoniously resigning the final game. (Thank goodness for small favors.) An entire tournament was held up by that players egotism, and is at this writing still being held up in one remaining five month-long game against another frustrated tournament contender.

My general suspicion in these types of cases is that the offending player knows that they are likely to loose the game playing straight up, whether by lack of skill or errors made, and therefore hopes to catch their opponent off-guard. If this is indeed the truth, it is an asinine strategy.

Any player who smells blood in the water is sure to pace the river banks waiting to claim his prey. Most good players became good players by playing many, many games. This should stand as a clear enough indication of their passion for the game. And if a player is passionate about the game, it stands to reason that they would keep close tabs on the progress of the games in which they are engaged.

Look, even good players make mistakes. That is a fair justification for not resigning a game in which mistake-free play by your opponent will likely deal you a loss. You could get lucky, and find that you are facing an opponent with a weak end-game. But show a little class and some respect for your opponent and your opponent’s time. Don’t prolong a game unnecessarily. Most of us are on chess.com because we enjoy playing the game of chess. Do us all a favor and don’t become the player who sucks all the fun out of joining this otherwise wonderful website.

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