Author: Hector Perez

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A structured way to play and think is needed in over-the-board games.  With this flow chart, half of your time will be spent on his move and half on your move.  Immediately after writing down your opponent’s move do the following:

   HIS Understand his tactical (CCT[1]) and strategic threats[2] (25% time).

   YOUR If serious, respond accordingly.  If not, search for tactics (CCT).  If none, strategize.[3] The goal is to find the best move. (50% time)

   HIS Double check candidate move for his best response (CCT). If problem, go to Step 1. If none, make move, press clock. (25% time)

   Write down your move, check clock, and, if response is forced, continue calculating tactics. If no forced response, strategize. Sit at the table and concentrate on the position while waiting for opponent to move.  As necessary, rest and relax (close your eyes), drink water, eat snack, and get up to stretch/walk/bathroom.  

It is important to follow this 4-step sequence on every move, even openings and positions with mate-in-one! However, if there are 5 minutes or less left on either clock, then move writing is no longer required.

To calculate the amount of time available for each move divide the total time available by 60. Move times are only approximate averages. In general, move quicker in the opening (1/6), slower in the middlegame (1/2), and at average speed in the endgame (1/3). Spend only up to twice the allotted time on tactical positions, but spend only half the time on strategic ones.



Time Control     Total Time          Per Move            Step 1   Step 2   Step 3    Step 4

G/75             4500 sec            75 sec              19 sec    37 sec    19 sec   (varies) 

40/2 SD/1        180 min             3 min               45 sec    90 sec    45 sec

40/90            5400 sec            135 sec             33 sec    66 sec    33 sec

G/30             1800 sec            90 sec              22 sec    45 sec    22 sec

[1] CCT = “Check for Checks”, “Catch all Captures”, and “Treat all Threats seriously.”

[2] Think as if you are playing for your opponent (i.e. possible plans, goals, etc.)

[3] Strategy includes quick, simple plans that improve the position (i.e. complete development, increase piece activity, decide general attack area, trade pawns and open lines, create weaknesses, strengthen king safety, etc.)