When I play tournament games, I usually record the time I spent on critical moments of the game. Having the record of how much time I spent on individual moves helps later to understand why I made certain mistakes. Going through a set of my scoresheets from the past few years, I also realized that in a majority of games that I lost – I was behind on the clock after the opening. I may have come out of the opening with a decent position, but usually spending more time in the opening than your opponent puts your into an unfavourable psychological situation. The other player realizes that he is more familiar than you with a position, or is merely more confident in himself. Overcoming that type of disadvantage is difficult, and usually leads to mistakes later in the game and losses. Moral of the story –
- If the position allows, sometimes instead of spending lots of time trying to find the absolutely best move early in the game – it is more prudent to confidently play good moves. You will need that time and energy later in the game. Once are behind your opponent on the clock, it takes extra effort to catch up.
- Keep track of how much time you spend on every move. That can help to understand your strengths and weaknesses better when you analyze those games after the tournament, and give clues how to improve time management in your chess games.
- In your opening preparation – ask yourself the question: if a given position arises during a tournament game – will you be able to easily remember the correct moves and find them on your own, or the position is too complicated, and it will take you a lot of time to play correct moves.