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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Grischuk's time management (Read 1125 times)
ReneDescartes
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #24 - 04/01/20 at 22:19:22
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Really good responses above. Non-deterministic errors--fascinating. Here are some things that have helped me improve my time management. Maybe they overlap a bit with what others have said, but at least I'm leaving stuff out that seems wildly redundant.
  • I try to make positional moves in a brisk and businesslike way and feel good about it, since even if they're not the best, I'm racking up time I will burn with a good conscience when intricate calculation is essential. Mostly brisk moves with a couple of long thinks is characteristic of many players with a professional approach (Rowson, Larsen).
  • I try not to let myself be misled by a false conception of chess into getting stuck like Buridan's ass between two positional choices that are about equally good. It really doesn't matter!
  • As long as I have time to convert under the circumstances, I'll always let an opponent get ahead of me on the clock. What matters is whether I have time to make the 60 or 70 moves I might need to end the game. If my opponent is abusing his clock, that doesn't mean I have to as well.
  • Calculating can be a pleasure in itself. It's a pleasure just to exercise and validate one's powers, e.g., to succeed at visualizing. This pleasure can be dangerous; it can be addictive. It's falsely reassuring. To combat its seductions, I can do a few things:
    • consciously look around for candidates before calculating deeply (Aagard)
    • try to calculate each of the candidates a little before going on to calculate any of them a lot, and make "a preliminary assessment." This may save a lot of time, since the best continuation may quickly become obvious (Yusupov)
    • even if a best move doesn't become obvious, if there is an easy way to proceed that seems as good as an attractive complicated idea, tear myself away from continuing to look at the attractive idea (Nunn)
    • even if there's not anything just as good as the attractive idea,  find and verify a just-ok positional move to hold in reserve. Then go into the tank for the idea, but if after x minutes (depending on the time control) I can't decide about the complicated continuation, force myself "with an iron hand" to make the reserve move (Shereshevsky)
  • To get myself to cut off a calculation short of that,
    • I remember Larsen's "long variation, wrong variation"
    • I try to enjoy the idea of "let him worry about it," which helps me notice the moment when I go past the thinking strictly necessary for a decision.
    • I remember Botvinnik's blunt conclusion: in the end, one has no choice but to lower one's standard of play!
    • Since I analyze my games at home without an engine, I think "I'll calculate to the limit of my powers at home."
  • With a good conscience, I make certain "lazy" prophylactic moves that will save me from having to calculate the same tricks over and over (make luft, play Kh1 or Kh2 before f2-f4, etc., play Rb1 in the fianchetto KID, etc.) (Karpov).
« Last Edit: 04/02/20 at 15:38:38 by ReneDescartes »  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #23 - 04/01/20 at 18:33:27
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RoleyPoley wrote on 03/25/20 at 13:15:35:
Is there any particular style of player that is more prone to fall into time trouble I.e are they usually the more tactically inclined players or does it affect those we think of as being more positional too?

Some of the more famous time-trouble addicts have been described by their peers, quite apart from the time-trouble, as brute-force calculators. Korchnoi (Karpov on his style: "I sense brute force in it"), Reshevsky (Fischer on his style: "He is like a machine calculating every variation, and has to find every move over the board by a process of elimination"), Walter Browne (a master I know who knew him described him to me in conversation in more or less the same words as above).

Botvinnik also says somewhere that strategic players like him are often subject to time pressure. It seems "strategic" in the Russian school means something different from "positional"; for example, Yusupov has separate sections on strategy and positional play in his books. Could a Russian member perhaps comment on this? I don't think Botvinnik meant players like Karpov or Smyslov, who make one good move after another, then pounce, but rather players like himself (and maybe Grischuk and  Ivanchuk?) who rely on devising and assessing somewhat longer original plans at the board. That makes sense, since according to Bo Hansen's schema it's play by careful reasoning rather than intuition.

It may go without saying, but older players are also more subject to time trouble than younger ones. Even Capablanca and and Anand, probably the fastest minds in chess history, ran into time trouble in their 40s.
« Last Edit: 04/02/20 at 00:37:51 by ReneDescartes »  
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an ordinary chessplayer
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #22 - 03/31/20 at 14:17:53
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Excellent couple of posts. I especially like tipau's comparison of helpful advisors versus unhelpful critics.

If you saw me play in the period 1985-1995, you might conclude I was a time pressure "addict". It's not the case. As a youngster I played very fast, and after one too many blunders from hasty play at slow time controls, I decided that I would never again resign until I had used all the time on my clock. Obviously it would not be ideal to blunder first and only then slow down in an attempt to make a comeback. So I began a many years quest to find the best use of the time. In the period 1995-2002 I became fast again. Now that I am mostly retired from competitive play, it's hit or miss whether I get into time pressure. I think it was Vidmar who said you can't put chess on a shelf.

My first theory was that thinking hard from move one would "warm up" the brain and then I wouldn't make mistakes later. Useless. Many years later I found the two best ways to warm up were to go for a walk, and work some puzzles from a book. Both of those before the game, obviously!

My second theory was that playing "creatively" in the opening and middlegame would somehow lead to positions where my opponent will make more mistakes than me. Sort of worked, but not against decent opposition. They just made good moves fast and all my creativity went for nothing.

The key discovery I made, around 1992-1993, was accidental - working through the Encyclopedia of Combinations, I realized I make illegal moves when calculating variations. I also realized (a) the actual error is non-deterministic, meaning I don't always make the same mistake in the same position; (b) the frequency of error is highly variable depending on my form.

Now began a couple of years of experimenting to see how to control this problem.

Regarding point (a), the thing to do is recalculate some variations as a quality control check. Since my illegal moves are non-deterministic, there's no blind spot. Recalculating a variation, the second time I will not make the same mistake(s), and will notice any previous error(s). If pass, then calculations can be trusted. If fail, then variations in that game have to be double-checked carefully, even if this means getting into time pressure.

Regarding point (b), I found that staying sharp for a weekend tournament means playing two to three hours of serious chess at least three times per week. This from many years of playing at three chess clubs (Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Friday), varying between one to three nights per week. That's on top of all the studying I was doing. Studying is important, but it dulls the mind. Playing serious games, even against slightly inferior opponents, sharpens the mind. Another way to look at it: when studying, there is no penalty for illegal moves! Yet another way to look at it: playing the moves on a chessboard or computer, it's not even possible to make illegal moves! Note that early on I was one of the strongest players at all three clubs. Later on I was by far the strongest player at all three clubs, but unlike others I didn't stop attending as I became good. I wasn't playing for the club, I was playing for the weekend.
  
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #21 - 03/31/20 at 11:08:23
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I have struggled with poor time management. For me it started about 10 years ago when I came back from a period away from chess. I used more time due to a lack of confidence, which then became a habit. I think there are elements of perfectionism in my case too.

The last 2 years I have had some success in improving this area. Still room for improvement but I now often have half my time remaining by move 30, which was never the case previously (even if the first 20 moves were theory...). I also often have more time than my opponents when the game reaches it's critical points, which is quite refreshing! I can share some of the tips and ideas that I feel helped in case they are useful:

1) Timed 'How Good is Your Chess' practice
GM Danny King publishes an article in the magazine Chess each month, and also has a couple of books, where you try and guess the moves of a star player in an interesting game. Points are awarded for correct guesses, or equally good moves. I try and do one or two of these before a tournament begins, preferably with games in my openings. The most important things are to use a chess clock with the same time control as the upcoming tournament and force yourself to play relatively quickly. This is much easier to do outside the stress of competition.

From doing this I've found two things: firstly, my quality of play doesn't drop as much as I'd feared by playing faster (backed up by the article point scoring system) and; secondly, I work myself into a mini-habit of playing moves at the right tempo for the event.

An extra step for the dedicated (or desparate!): Chess24 broadcasts all the main chess tournaments. It also saves the time stamps for every player. For recent games after doing a 'How Good is Your Chess' article I've gone online and directly compared my time usage with a top player. Probably not a good idea if doing it for a Grischuk game, but most top players have good time management and it's very interesting to do.

2) Remind yourself of the important of time immediately before each game
Personally I need to be focused on this issue or I find that I slip back into bad habits. I have a list of a few sentences that I repeat to myself before games. One that often pops into my head during games and helps me to pull the trigger, especially when making simpler decisions, is "the same more faster is better".

3) Aagaard's definition of the types of decision
I was taking too long over simple decisions e.g. re-positioning a piece, making luft for the king etc. If you take 4-10 minutes over these moves, rather than 1-3, then time trouble is impossible to avoid. Ideally the time spent on each move should be matched with the importance of that move. At the board I've found acknowledging what the type of decision it is helpful, then if I think it's a simple decision I can more easily make myself move more quickly.

4) Listen to expert advise on time trouble
I've come across a number of sources with advice. Some is unhelpful, as it's just logical arguments about why spending too much time early on is bad, as if everyone doesn't already know that! I suspect those are written by people who have never suffered it and look upon it with a mixture of bemusement and perhaps superiority.

The best source I've come across is 'Pump up your rating' by Axel Smith - lots of ideas in there. He proposes you make a full analysis of your time usage and also suggests a number of rules. For example: never be late; don't look at or analyse other games while playing; if you know what you're going to play do it immediately. Another interesting axiom he proposes is that optimal time management should result in a player making an equal number of mistakes from playing too fast compared to playing too slowly (time-trouble). Interesting to think about and check how far off from that you are. Personally I still have a long way to go!

Another interesting one is the Andrzej Krzywda episode from the Perpetual Chess Podcast (#76 if anyone wants to look it up). It's been a while since I listened to it but he talks about struggling with time management and some ideas, like picking openings where the price of a mistake is lower, to enable faster play.
  

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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #20 - 03/31/20 at 09:29:51
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I've got a long history with poor time management. I'll answer the questions asked by gen z kid, since they are relevant.

- Which time controls do you most often play in OTB classical chess? Classical time controls - 1hr/1hr 30 per game. Usually with increment.

- How would you define time trouble (or rather, what counts as 'time trouble' for you, because I know we'd probably have different standards on what's considered time trouble)  Usually when I'm over 30 mins down on time, compared to my opponent then I know my time management has been poor. Even though I may have enough time right now (for the next 5-10 moves), that won't be the case later on and I end up paying the price.

- How good at blitz/rapid would you consider yourself compared to classical chess (and what are your favorite time controls to play?) Decent at blitz, stronger at rapid. Despite my time management history, I actually prefer faster time controls. Its a bit of Parkinson's Law - the more time I have, the more I fill it with thinking, most of which is unnecessary. This leads to fatigue, and sometimes confusion, when making a simple decision in good time is all that's required.

- More often than not, do you usually get into time trouble because you take a few very long thinks or many medium long thinks? Very good question. I'd say a bit of both actually. But usually its one long think sets me 20 mins behind my opponent, then a failure to pick up the pace by taking longer thinks than is necessary leads to time trouble building up incrementally.

- During your long thinks, what are you usually thinking about? Indecision, plain and simple. My intuition is good, and I rarely fail to find the best one or two moves straight away. The problem mostly occurs when I can't tell the difference between them. I need one move to present itself as superior to the other so I can safely play it and move on. My brain needs this to happen. When that doesn't happen I get stuck in a loop and my time get used up analysing two equal moves until I realise I'm down 30 minutes and I just have to play something.

I'm a procrastinator in life and in chess, and in both cases its a bad thing.

- Do you still get nervous when you have low time, and have you ever lost on time in classical games with increments or delays? I get stressed and frustrated with myself at letting it happen. I have lost with increment I believe, although this is rare.

- How much time do you usually have by move 20 and move 30 (if you regularly play in tournaments where there is added time after move 40) Usually over half my half is gone by move 20. By move 30 I'm usually down to well under 40 minutes, on average.

- Have you been a slow player your whole life (ever since you started playing tournament chess) or did those issues arise later in your chess journey? Yes, absolutely.

- What are the worst instances of time trouble you've experienced in OTB classical chess? I think having 2 minutes to make 20 moves to reach the time control is the worst I can recall. It was a long time ago, however, but I remember it well.

- Are you actively doing anything to alleviate your tendency to get into time trouble, or do you consider it more of a stylistic preference rather than a problem? I'm trying to fight on the clock as well as the board since the game is fought on both fronts. I realise that you can pressure your opponent by good moves, but also by fast play. The sweet spot is combining these to the right degree. Online blitz does help with this and due to the current world situation that's all I've got.
  
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #19 - 03/30/20 at 08:48:24
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About 15 years ago i went with friends from Uni to play at the Biel  Tournament. While there I saw a player spend over an hour on his first move - i think it might have been Stu Conquest (he wasnt late by much if at all - he just spent most of the time staring at the board).
  

"As Mikhail Tal would say ' Let's have a bit of hooliganism! '"

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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #18 - 03/26/20 at 03:08:35
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LeeRoth wrote on 03/25/20 at 21:42:25:
The answers I have commonly heard time trouble addicts give are 1) perfectionism, 2) losing track of time while calculating, and 3) I don’t know.

I can certainly check off 2), but also a bit of 1).

But "perfectionism" doesn't have to be this extreme drive for absolute perfection that the word seems to imply. Trying to jump just a little bit higher than you usually manage can be enough to get you into trouble in a game like chess, where every small factor matters. So paradoxically anyone with ambitions of improving their play are vulnerable to this weakness.

gen z kid wrote on 03/25/20 at 21:02:55:
RoleyPoley wrote on 03/25/20 at 13:15:35:
Is there any particular style of player that is more prone to fall into time trouble I.e are they usually the more tactically inclined players or does it affect those we think of as being more positional too?

From my personal experience knowing some people who do have habitual time trouble issues, the majority of them are more positional players, which I'd assume probably is related to positional players being more likely to strive for perfection.

The reason could also be positional players are positional players to some extent because they're weaker at calculation and logically try to steer games into areas where they're stronger. Or they simply get less experience with difficult calculation due to their style. But when they sometimes fall into complicated tactical positions anyway, as we all do, their poor calculation and also lack of faith in their own abilities are likely to lead to time trouble.

@gen z kid: I will have to get back to all your other questions and see how many of them I want to answer. Again, I think it's more interesting to discusss the general issue here than my own problems in particular. Smiley
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #17 - 03/26/20 at 01:38:38
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kylemeister wrote on 03/25/20 at 22:20:26:
LeeRoth wrote on 03/25/20 at 21:42:25:
Reminds me of the story about a young Kasparov spending an extraordinary long time looking at a sac and then not playing it.  Tal asked him why, and Kasparov confessed that, try as he might, he couldn’t see it to the end.  Tal’s response was classic— basically, “ No Garry.  First you sac.  Then you think!”

I seem to recall that Tal took 50 minutes to decide not to play (1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 de 5. Nxe5 Nd7) 6. Nxf7 against Larsen.

Yes, he did. And then he made the same criticism of himself that he later made of Kasparov.

Of course he knew that Larsen had prepared against the sacrifice. And he wanted to be careful in a match. But he should have quickly realized that it would not be possible to calculate to the end. So he needed to decide right then what sort of compensation would be sufficient to go for it, and continue his calculations only far enough to decide on that. Anyway, that's how I remember Tal's post-mortem reasoning.

That doesn't make Tal right. Fischer said that Tal was more gambler than chess player. As a purist, Fischer didn't believe in sacrificing for an unclear position. But I think Fischer also would not have spent 50 minutes calculating a sacrificial variation, just the reasoning is different.
  
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #16 - 03/25/20 at 22:20:26
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LeeRoth wrote on 03/25/20 at 21:42:25:
Reminds me of the story about a young Kasparov spending an extraordinary long time looking at a sac and then not playing it.  Tal asked him why, and Kasparov confessed that, try as he might, he couldn’t see it to the end.  Tal’s response was classic— basically, “ No Garry.  First you sac.  Then you think!”

I seem to recall that Tal took 50 minutes to decide not to play (1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 de 5. Nxe5 Nd7) 6. Nxf7 against Larsen.

  
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #15 - 03/25/20 at 21:42:25
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The answers I have commonly heard time trouble addicts give are 1) perfectionism, 2) losing track of time while calculating, and 3) I don’t know.

Commenting on the games today, GM David Howell attributed his own time trouble issues to perfectionism.  Trying to look at everything, trying to find the absolute best moves, etc.  He also said that, when he leaves book, he sometimes has very long thinks, which then leaves him with insufficient time later on.

I’m not sure whether being positional or tactical makes as much of a difference as the player’s own individual personality.  Reminds me of the story about a young Kasparov spending an extraordinary long time looking at a sac and then not playing it.  Tal asked him why, and Kasparov confessed that, try as he might, he couldn’t see it to the end.  Tal’s response was classic— basically, “ No Garry.  First you sac.  Then you think!”
  
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #14 - 03/25/20 at 21:02:55
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RoleyPoley wrote on 03/25/20 at 13:15:35:
Is there any particular style of player that is more prone to fall into time trouble I.e are they usually the more tactically inclined players or does it affect those we think of as being more positional too?

From my personal experience knowing some people who do have habitual time trouble issues, the majority of them are more positional players, which I'd assume probably is related to positional players being more likely to strive for perfection.
  
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #13 - 03/25/20 at 13:15:35
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Is there any particular style of player that is more prone to fall into time trouble I.e are they usually the more tactically inclined players or does it affect those we think of as being more positional too?
  

"As Mikhail Tal would say ' Let's have a bit of hooliganism! '"

Victor Bologan.
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #12 - 03/25/20 at 05:48:24
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 03/25/20 at 02:44:11:
Jupp53 wrote on 03/24/20 at 18:30:11:
Leaving a bad habit behind you is not possible by repressing. You must build up a good habit.

Is this a theoretical truth, or only a practical one?


Both.
  

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Dum spiro spero. Smiley
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #11 - 03/25/20 at 02:44:11
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Jupp53 wrote on 03/24/20 at 18:30:11:
Leaving a bad habit behind you is not possible by repressing. You must build up a good habit.

Is this a theoretical truth, or only a practical one? Because I can think of several counter-examples from my own life where I was able to suppress a bad habit. Off the top of my head, in chronological order:
  • spitting (youth)
  • cursing (teenager)
  • drinking alcohol (university)
  • eating ice cream (adult)
  • interrupting women in conversation (about 10 years ago)

In every case I decided to stop, and simply did, literally overnight. The first and the last were in response to direct criticism, the others were entirely my own idea. I wouldn't say I never do those things. But I do them rarely, and deliberately.
  
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Re: Grischuk's time management
Reply #10 - 03/25/20 at 01:02:43
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Since you said you personally have extensive experience with time trouble, as someone who is interested in chess psychology I have a lot of questions to ask. Since I have so many questions I guess I'll just kind of list them out here:

- Which time controls do you most often play in OTB classical chess?

- How would you define time trouble (or rather, what counts as 'time trouble' for you, because I know we'd probably have different standards on what's considered time trouble)

- How good at blitz/rapid would you consider yourself compared to classical chess (and what are your favorite time controls to play?)

- More often than not, do you usually get into time trouble because you take a few very long thinks or many medium long thinks?

- During your long thinks, what are you usually thinking about?

- Do you still get nervous when you have low time, and have you ever lost on time in classical games with increments or delays?

- How much time do you usually have by move 20 and move 30 (if you regularly play in tournaments where there is added time after move 40)

- Have you been a slow player your whole life (ever since you started playing tournament chess) or did those issues arise later in your chess journey?

- What are the worst instances of time trouble you've experienced in OTB classical chess?

- Are you actively doing anything to alleviate your tendency to get into time trouble, or do you consider it more of a stylistic preference rather than a problem?

Sorry for the endless questions (and you definitely don't have to answer all of them), I'm honestly very curious Smiley
« Last Edit: 03/25/20 at 02:53:28 by gen z kid »  
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