Friday 18 September 2020

The 15 hour game

 Before the invention of chess clocks, players could generally take as long as they wanted over any (or all) move. In casual chess this could be avoided by simply refusing to play a particular opponent, but in tournament chess this option wasn't available. At best you might have a rule that limited the thinking time over anyone move (eg no more than 30 minutes), but this rule wasn't always enforced.

For example, the final of the 1st American Chess Congress , played between Paul Morphy and Louis Paulsen, saw games as long as 15 hours. But based on the times listed in the tournament book, almost all the thinking time was taken up by Paulsen. In the game below, 27 of Paulsens move's took more than 10 minutes to play, while Morphy's longest think was (on move 51) was only 10 minutes. On move 52 Paulsen took 75 minutes to play Qh3. However the extra thinking time did not help Paulsen too much, as this game was agreed drawn, albeit in a position were Paulsen was still winning. 

Paulsen,Louis - Morphy,Paul [C67]
USA-01 Congress Grand Tournament New York,NY (4.2), 30.10.1857

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