WPP #1 - Reshevsky's Curse: Bad Time Management

WPP #1 - Reshevsky's Curse: Bad Time Management


    The title of this blog is slightly misleading. It contains the name of a top American player from the 50s, 60s and 70s, but is not really about that player at all. It just illustrates something that I think we all know: everyone suffers from bad time management, from 1000 up to the GM level. What's more is that most amateurs never get around to fixing it.

    I know that I've been struggling with time management, spending ten minutes or more on moves which are completely inconsequential and ending up in serious time trouble later because of it. 

    Reshevsky is the most famous example of this. The amazing thing is that he did better than most with minutes left on his clock, and never once lost on time. But amateurs are different. Here's a particularly painful example from one of my games. I'll put the amount of time I spent on some White moves before the comment.

    My time usage was extremely awful during this game. I spent a total of 30 minutes on the simple Nbd2-f1-g3 maneuver, and another 25 figuring out how to react to 15... d5. I even spent 9 1/2 minutes on 9. d3, which is a book move. What was I thinking?
    Before looking deeper into that question, though, let's look at another one of my games against the same opponent a day earlier.
    In this game I won a pawn out of the opening, allowed White to get more than enough for it, then blew an endgame several times. I believe there's a reason for my time-trouble blues, and these two games can help me see what that is. Here's my list.
  • Excessive use of time in the opening. In the first game I spent 9 minutes on a book move for no reason, instead of simply making moves which I know I won't regret.
  • Constant and unfounded double-checking of plans and analysis. I could have saved myself at least 25 minutes on 20... Qb6, 21... Qc6 and 22... Rxe1+ in the first game if not for this.
  • A muddled thought process. Admittedly this was one of the other major points I was going to bring up, but most of the time a player's problems are interconnected, and that's what makes them so hard to overcome. I'm willing to bet that there are at least 3 moves in every one of my games in which my thought process is about 50% efficient.

     Now, I don't really know how to eradicate my double-checking problem or improve my sometimes inefficient thought process. Maybe mental toughness and learning to play "macho chess", in Silman's words is key. Maybe the key is patterns and I just haven't been around long enough or played over enough games to absorb any. What I do know is that although it's incredibly difficult to do all of the time, a concerted effort to fix your weaknesses during play eventually pays off.

    Besides, I'll let you in on a little secret. I played a 90/30 just yesterday. I was very intentional about using no more time in the opening than I had to and not double-checking my analysis needlessly.

I won that game. And for most of it, I was up 20 minutes on the clock. live.png