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Using Half-Point Byes Strategically

Using Half-Point Byes Strategically

Mar 15, 2014, 2:08 PM 1

As most of you know, if a player needs to miss a round of a chess tournament due to another commitment, he would request a "bye" and be given a half-point.  The purpose of this is for the player's tournament score to not be punished too severly for missing a round. So while byes exist because chess players have other commitments (some of us anyway!), it is my contention that byes can and should be used strategically, specifically during major tournaments where several games are played over the course of 3-4 days. By allowing yourself to rest for some rounds, you will have more physical and mental energy for the games you do play.  In other words, would you rather play 5 games where your energy may be sapped, or only 3 games with much more energy?  Yes, you're playing less games, but I believe your results will be better.  In, fact, I won a class prize at a major tournament about 3 years back only playing 3 games out of 5.  I remember being very fresh for the Sunday morning game, since I took a bye and relaxed the previous night.  My opponent was clearly tired from playing the night before.

The half point you get is actually quite generous if you stop to think about it.  The guy who struggled against a lower-rated player having a great day and played for 5 hours to squeeze out a draw is getting the same score for his efforts as the guy who took a bye to rest!

At any rate, it's definitely food for thought.  Again, I feel it's better to take some byes during these weekend swisses and go for quality not quantity.  Assuming a slow time control, stick with one game per day so you're 100% for the games you do play.

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