Tournament tactics and tips


This was originally posted to the Cumbria Team Forum. Reposted here with a few new additions.


Just a few thoughts from me on this. Feel free to chime in with any other comments.


What is a team tournament -

A team tournament is typically a series of matches played as rounds. There are several teams. Each round we will play a different team. The two teams agree to a challenge, typically 4 or more players from each team play two games each simultaneously. One game as white and the second game as black.

Each teams players are ranked with the highest ranking player from each team playing each other and then second highest and so on.

Once a game has started there is no time limit to complete the games other than the 3 days per move rule. (A time limit may come into force towards the end of the year as we need to get match outcomes finalised).

You are free to chat to your opponent. But not to discuss moves.

You must not cheat - see elsewhere om for cheating rules.

Winning games score 1 point, a draw 1/2 point. The team with the highest points scored wins that match.

Scores for each round are added up at the end of the tournament. An overall winner is then declared.

Please be aware that time outs are frowned upon and you may be banned from participating if a repeat offender.


Playing higher or lower ranked players -

It is not uncommon to find yourself playing a much higher ranked player than you may be used to. 

You should treat this as an opportunity. If you do lose the game you will not be penalized heavily. You should also take every opportunity to take the lead. But be cautious as your lead may not be as easy to maintain as you think.

Similarly you may find yourself playing a much lower ranked player. Do not assume that they will not play strong moves, they may be much keener to prove themselves.

The key rule here is as is often stated 'play the game not the player'.


Some ways to get ahead -

Every player on has stats recorded about their previous games. It is worth looking at your opponents games before you commit to your opening moves. You can do this by going to their profile and selecting game explorer. You can enter the player name and see their individual stats as white and as black, This may give you a handle on heir playing preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

This may help you to decide which line to open with. If for example you feel comfortable with c4 and have noted that your opponent has not won many games as black against a c4 opening.

Similarly you can judge what opening moves they are likely to run with as white given their previous form., and to judge your optimum response as black.


Do not be afraid to look up advice on opening moves from other sources. It is likely that your opponent will be using help from online tools like ChessBase. This is not cheating as it is still up to you to decide which line you want to follow and a good player can always trip you up from the most well trodden opening lines. But it should save you form making a big blunder within the first few moves.


Review the whole game at each move. It is very easy to forget where you are with a game when you come back to a move after a few days. So often I have played a bad move in haste, which two days earlier I had already seen as a mistake. It's good to remind yourself what the opening sequences were and revisit what you were trying to do in the last 2-3 moves.


Always look for another move option even when you think you've got the best move planned. You've got 3 days to do this. Often in the middle game 2 moves are pretty equal to each other in these scenarios look at the position after a couple more potential moves and judge which one looks more favourable for an end game scenario. For example pawn positions, knights versus bishops, open lines etc.


Use the notes to list move ideas - these are private plus you can delete stuff as you go so that you've not got too many complex things to look at.


Use a real board. Often I find that just setting up the pieces on a board for 5 minutes helps me see opportunities and threats that weren't so obvious to me on the screen.


Don't play moves last thing at night or first thing in the morning....... Ok this might just be me, but this is where I always seem to get into trouble!


Don't feel pressured to accept a draw. I've had some draw offers after just 10 moves in a game. Quite ridiculous, On the other hand consider offering a draw where you think the game is just going to drag out with no obvious advantage. This can be very draining in a 3 day per move game and can lead to simple errors. If your opponent is a very similar rank or is a better player than you here is no great loss to your rating by accepting a draw.


Your always learning -

Try to treat every game as a learning opportunity. Look up those obscure lines. Use the analysis tool to play forwards at least 5 or more moves. Push your thinking.


Avoid time issues -

It happens to us all. Work, family pressures, taking time out.

But losing match points for timing out is poor form.

I use the mobile app a lot, so I can sneak 5 minutes here and there to look at a game (not play the move), building up my ideas for what I want to do next with a particular game, over time.

Try not to play all your moves in lots of different games together. Spread your move schedule out as much as you are able so you don't get lots of moves demanding your attention all at once. Most other players have a fairly predictable move pattern. Although this can suddenly speed up when the game gets more finely tuned towards the end.


Use the vacation function sensibly. If you are a member your games will automatically pause - so you will not lose the game on time in these tournament matches.

Running a business means my work week is 7 days long and I often have to use the vacation time to manage busy periods where I can't afford the time to look at my next moves.