What to do in time pressure?

GM jefferyx
May 14, 2013, 8:42 PM |

Hi everybody, today I'd like to illustrate how to handle time pressure, as well as how to play against it. Once again, I will demonstrate this by showing a few games played by the top level.


This is from the recent Candidates tournament. As you may know, Carlsen won on tiebreaks against Kramnik. One of his masterpieces came against Grischuk. Here he is White and it seems that Black has some really strong attacking chances. He is threatning e3 which is actually a bit nasty for White. Comps suggest playing Rb8, answering e3 with fxe3, and after Qg5 playing g3!? Now, g3 is not really how Magnus plays chess. Instead he notices Grischuk's time troubles and knows that playing Rb8 is exactly what Grischuk wants. Thus, here he plays the powerful Qa6! Grischuk blitzes e3 and Carlsen answers by taking, and after Qg5, Re2. Grischuk now sits in his chair with few minutes on the clock and absolutely no counterplay. This was a fantastic approach to how to play against time pressure. Once your opponent is in time trouble, try to make his moves as difficult as possible. Give the opponent a lot of chances to make mistakes and the opponent will crack.

So what about when you're in time trouble? When you are in time trouble you must try to simplify the game as much as possible. The next example is from the ongoing Grand Prix Tournament held in Zug.



Here Kasimdzhanov is White against Hikaru Nakamura, who is number 1 in the U.S. It seems like White should be better namely because of the poor Black's Queen position. Also White has 5 minutes for 15 moves which is pretty big time pressure. Because of this factor, White should quickly move his knight back to d5 and go from there. Instead Kasimdzhanov sacs on d6! Now maybe this could be good, but there is no way that you can sac your rook with 5 minutes and 15 moves to go. Especially with the fact that you only calculated this move for at most 3 minutes. And this simply punished him as he failed to see a small detail. This is a very good example of how not to play in time pressure. You never want to go to any complications unless you are absolutely certain that it is a win. And Naka punished him in fine style. Try to find how he finished him off.










I hope this has helped, and in the next time scramble I hope you can come out on top.




Well, this is it for now. I'll see you all next time!