Apr. 2nd, 2017

alexpgp: (Chess)
For a time, during ninth grade—on nights when my mom was off pursuing some academic degree to make our life easier—my stepdad would bring home a diagram showing the pieces on the board for a game he had been playing with someone at work when—alas!—the lunch hour came to an end. The position would be written down, with the game to be resumed the following day at lunch.

In such positions—by some strange coincidence—it would almost always be my stepdad's turn to move.

This conferred upon my stepfather a significant advantage, as he could take his time at home, in the evening, to look for the best move at his leisure. And he invited me to sit across the dining room table and help him.

We had a lot of fun doing this. As our respective skill levels were comparable at the time, it became an arena where he took my suggestions seriously, and we generally ended up playing through the rest of the game a couple of times. Most of the time, our "analysis" showed a win for my stepdad.

I learned later, after I joined the USCF, that the use of "seconds" was common among high-level players, although the advantage of being the next player to move when it same to adjourning a game was nullified via the use of "the sealed move," in which the player "on the move" would secretly write down the move he or she intended to make on a card, seal the card in an envelope, sign the envelope, and hand it to the tournament director.

Now, the level of uncertainty was the same on each side. The player sealing the move had committed to said move, and so any "home analysis" had to start with possible responses by the opponent. The opponent was in no better position, having to start with possible "sealed moves" by the player sealing his move.

In modern times, adjournments are rare, as organizers try to fit in as many rounds as possible, which requires faster time controls (the number of moves that must be made within a stated time period to avoid a forfeit). I recall, in my first tournament, the time control was 40 moves in 2 hours, which was pretty leisurely; ten years later, the typical control was "30/60" (30 moves in an hour), with some tournaments stating controls of "30/30" (30 moves in 30 minutes) or even "game/30" (meaning you had to finish the game within 30 minutes of your thinking time or forfeit the game, even if you had a clear win on the board).

It's been years since I've played really serious chess, and I've never been much of a fan of online chess. No time, I keep telling myself.

Maybe I should change my attitude...


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