Thursday, 18 June 2015

And I thought I had a bad day

Last night at Belconnen Chess Club I had the mortifying experience of blundering an advantageous position when I played the second move of my calculation, rather than the first. At first glance I thought I had tossed a rook (I had planned to play a check while a rook was en pris but moved my queen one square too far), but was able to at least win back the rook with the check I intended to play straight away. Unfortunately this gave my tenacious opponent an extra move in the position and it was all he needed to head into an endgame that was winning for him,
So I was feeling a bit sorry for myself (and annoyed as well), when I heard about Magnus Carlsen's first round game at the 2015 Norway Chess tournament. Having ground down Veselin Topalov he reached move 60 and relaxed a bit, expecting some extra time to be added to his clock. What he failed to remember/realise was that the event was using a new time control (the third new control in 3 years!) and  while he had received extra time at move 40, there was nothing added at move 60. As a result his think over move 61 took too long and he lost on time.
As usual he took his defeat in his stride, acknowledging that it was his responsibility to know the tournament conditions. On the other hand the time control was new, and possibly unique at this level, with the players getting 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then an extra hour added after that, with the 30 second increment also starting after move 40.
To be honest I am not keen on the shift back to sudden death time controls at the top level (ie no increment before the first time control). I understand it is about making chess more dramatic (who doesn't love a time scramble), but I think it can detract from the overall result and quality of the game.

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