Ed’s note: This was actually a while ago but I haven’t had time to finish it, add links etc but rather than abandon it forever here it is.
I’ll make it better when I get a a chance. I’ve added a picture and a link to organiser Adam Raoof’s excellent blog.
Yesterday I played my first rapid play chess tournament. Each player has 30 minutes for the whole game and you play six games in the day. So over an eight hour day you might be playing chess for up to six hours. Normally I play club games where you each get 90 minutes for your first 36 moves and more time after that if you need it. Here are the things I learnt. I’ve left out the obvious ones like don’t drink excessively the night before a chess match (one that I’m always breaking).
1. Don’t bother keeping a scoresheet – it takes up valuable time, breaks your concentration and mostly afterwards you’ll know why you lost a game without playing over it. Normally I write all my competitive games down but for rapid play you’ll notice most people don’t bother. I wrote my first four games down yesterday and lost three and drew one. I stopped writing them down won the next and drew the last. (This wasn’t just a result of not keeping score but the also benefit of the Swiss system used in this tournament where in each round you’re paired with a player whose results in the tournament so far more or less match your own).
2. Don’t dwell on your last game. There’s a short break between games – think about what went wrong/right and then move on. In my first game I played a move that I’d been considering the previous move, the problem was that my opponent could just take it now which he couldn’t have on the previous move. My mistake, conscious of not spending too long on each move, was not doing the most basic sense checks before making a move which I’d normally do.
3. There’s no point being ahead on the clock if you get check-mated. Normally in long play games I play pretty slowly. Conscious of this I played much faster than usual in my first three games – in all three I got decent positions out of the opening (which is unusual for me) but lost my way in the middle-game. I’m not saying that slowing down would have saved me but investing some time in thinking up a plan earlier on would have been useful.
4. If you’ve lost your first three games there’s no harm in offering your opponent an early draw. They’re probably in the same boat as you and keen to get off the mark. It’s what I did.
5. Don’t be put off if you get hammered. I’d originally entered the Amateur section for players without a rapidplay grade but the organisers decided that as my standard grade is 125 I should be out into the Minor category for players with a rapidly grade of 145 or less. So instead of being at the top of my grouping I was fresh meat for a bunch of experienced rapidplayers. Someone yesterday suggested that for most players their rapiddplay grade is lower than their standard play grade so the 125 the administrators gave me was 1. fairly arbitrary and 2. plain misleading. On the upside you get better by playing better players which certainly the case for me – two of the players who beat me went on to come joint second in my section.
- Visit The Chess Circuit blog run by Adam Raoof for news on upcoming rapid play chess tournaments in London.