Do I have a Chess Identity Problem?

For those who play chess and consider themselves rather worthy of being called’good’ - or for those who just like to play - I have a question.

I am of the school where my father taught me how to play when I was 5 or 6… and he woudl never let me win. He used to say 'You’ll beat me when you beat me". So that went on for some time and I eventually beat him.

Our games - strategic as they were - were generally not fast paced. And when I sit down to a game, I like to concentrate, really think about each move.

The other day when I played a gentleman at the local chess dive, he insisted on being timed. I HATE THAT!!! But as I was the only one sitting not in a game, he came over and we played. I have only seen this guy in the place maybe once or twice. He aways get’s the same drink, and is usually in and out in about half and hour. For those who play with me, they know I like to not be quick and just sit back relax and play. Yes I tend to win more than I lose, but hey I play alot.

I lost to this guy. Rather he willed me to lose. I hate timing moves, and he loves it. Does that mean I am any less a chess player than he? He’s not rated, but his MO seems to be bringing those trusty clocks with him, and intimidating players by his speed. So this morning I had the rare chance to prove my point - even if in my own mind - I insisted on not being time, and he said it was his day off from work so he consented. I won. He got pissed and immediately took out his timers and wanted to play again. Me, and the 33 year old kid I am, said “no, I am late for a meeting.” Wherein I simply went for a long drive and pondered why I didn’t stay and play him on his time
So for those who play a fair bit of chess, is there any clout in what I say. Are people who like to take it slow and easy simply fooling themselves when it comes to competitive chess? Am I not as good as I think I am because I have a hard time with timed matches? Is it personal preference influenced by habit of association? Whadaya think?

What sort of time limit are we talking about? 5-minute or 2-minute games obviously require more instinct and is a completely different game than an untimed game. Most serious players I knew considered these these “fun” games, because you didn’t have time to think as hard as you do when you play “real chess”.

If we’re talking a reasonable time, (back when I was competing, we used 30 moves/60 minutes as the standard game time), then it’s a matter of rationing your time so that you can think more about moves when that thought is required and still have time to make the easier moves. This is a skill that “good” chess players have to master, and is a real part of the game.

Of course, if we’re talking about an average of 2 minutes per move, then you have to be a fairly good player just to find things to think about for that long. And if you’re not that good, then you should be able to ignore the clock without letting it get to you.

For comparison purposes, my ranking topped out around 1800, although I did hold wins over a couple people in the low-to-mid 2000s.


I think the thing to remember is that they are two different games. Well, not that far apart, as they’re both chess variations, but different enough to affect playing and strategy. In the timed version, fast, instinctive, good play is more important, where the untimed has well-thought out, perfect play as more important. So I would think of it as two separate skills.

As an analogy, a sprinter and a distance runner are both running - in fact, they can use the same track - but they don’t race exactly the same way, and may well each be able to beat the other in their own turf.

I don’t think it unusual at all that each of you prefer to play the way you are used to - the game you are used to. But you should both be aware that you are challenging the other to different games, and not get too bent out of shape about the fact that you are each good at what you practice at.

We were using 30 moves in 60 secs. I do not like the tims version, either because it is not what I am used to as you mentioned, or because the like the raw perfection with a long game. I have a usual group of roughly 10 guys and 3 women who play constently. As being one of the few who is married, my time table doesn’t go much past 5:30pm on a weekday. My latest class this semester is 1:30. So when the students leave I sometimes follow and go down to the cafe.

When I played competitively in college and grad school I topped out in the 1880’s whith a couple wins against master’s. Highlight was winning a Connecticut Invitational match as the age of 24.

Now I am waay too busy teaching to get back into any kind of circuit, but I enjoyed it when I was active.

I know they are two completely diff games, times verse raw. But I still get irked when someone calls me on it, and the gentleman in the OP had watched a few games of mine, before conveniently showing up when there was an empty chair across from me.

wow! atrocious spelling… I should have previewed. :Smack:

To play 30 moves in 60 seconds, you almost have to have one or two basic openings/attacks that you know like the back of your hand, so you can quickly recognize what the opponent is doing and counter it. A less skilled player can beat a more overall skilled player once or twice by choosing unfamiliar and misleading attacks to use, but I guarantee that if you watch a dozen of his games, you won’t see more than 6 different attacks, and you probably won’t see more than 3 ‘good’ ones.

So, if you really want to show him that you’re a better player, learn his tendancies and figure out, ahead of time, a way to stymie his attacks or take him into unfamiliar teritory.

Or be content in the knowledge that I think you’re a better player for being able to win the “with thinking” game.


You are perfectly correct. On the first game he opened with an attack that initially threw me. After my second move I knew he stymied his way into an attack he had mastered…

I’ll not forget his methodology. His MO is surprise and lead away. Simple but quite effective for someone not accustomed to timed matches. But his Macho-Grob won’t go unnoticed the next time.

Oh, gah. If you measure the game in seconds, the clock is more important than the moves.

Normal rated chess was (last I checked for USCF at least) >30 minutes for the whole game. 30 minutes or less for the game is “Action Chess” and has a different rating category. 5 minutes is “Blitz” and less than that is typically called “lightning”. Typical games for tournaments are 2 hours for the first 40 moves and 90 minutes for each group of 40 moves after that (again, last I checked).

I find playing in less than 5 minutes to be simply a waste of time. Even in a 5 minute game you can make interesting moves, but the faster games are a test of reflexes more than anything. Plus, you’re moving so fast that even that breaks down–one player starts to move before the other has hit the clock, etc.

You do not have a chess identity problem.

You have a chess proficiency problem. Speed chess is just a notch above your level. It requires you to not only be 3 or 4 moves ahead of your opponent but be able to do it under duress and a set time limit. All that guy did was teach you how to play the game and psych your opponent out. Basically experienced players have seen and now recognize all of the basic and effective opening moves and know how to counter it. You havent reached that level yet. Dont worry. You’ll get there with more plays.

I don’t agree that speed chess is above or below normal chess. It is a parallel skill. And it screws up your normal game if you play it too often (a friend of mine who was a tennis player as well as chess player said that for similar reasons, he never played table-tennis; it screwed up his normal game).

I didnt say it was above or below Normal chess. I said it was a level above Phlosphr’s proficiency. Yes, it does screw up your normal game.

In speed chess, you dont necesarily play the best option. You play the best one that pops into your head and lead your opponent to where you want him to be. Its like bullying your opponent to play your game. If you cant bully him into the right moves, you’ll end up in a draw or you could lose. Its knowing the classic moves inside and out.

In normal chess, you play all the angles, be 6 or 8 moves ahead of your opponent, not use the classic moves, and you can be creative to throw off your opponent. Eventually you play faster and better. When you get lazy, you play speed chess.

I recently bought a chess clock to play with my 10-year-old son. I’ll set my time low, like to 10 minutes, and his time (it’s a digital) to some higher figure, so that I will have to play under time pressure.

I found that he responds to my time pressure, feeling as if he has to move at a like pace. Even if I put 3 hours on his clock. If I can change his mentality about that, maybe he won’t have your clock problem when he grows up :smiley:

so ** X~Slayer(ALE) ** you are saying I am not proficient enough at chess to play speed chess effectively. I beg your pardon if I take that as a dig. Perhaps you did not read the entire thread before my last post.

I’m a fairly proficient chess player, I’ve won a few tournaments here and there, but I’m a much better player of mind games.

The only players who are much worse than me that beat me are those that know me. I had a friend come round to mine just the other day… he played white and spent 10 minutes!!! on his opening move! The first move!!! Aaargh! The whole game lasted 5.5 hours and was by far the most boring game I ever played. He was nowhere near as good as me yet I resigned because I was soooo bored!
Another time a player whom I was teaching to play, and had been for 2 or 3 months, beat me by humming the theme tune to a kids programme over and over and over again. Couldn’t concentrate!
I learned to trash-talk my opponents. Just chatter mindless drivel which spewed from my head like a prom date’s dinner. Invariably my opponents would pay a lot more attention to what I was saying than I did and thus spend less time concentrating on the game. An underhand tactic but effective.
Everyone has their own game.
Basically, he’s used to the timed game. He’s used to his opponents being thrown off balance and making mistakes. He’s used to spotting these mistakes and capitalizing on them whilst making few of his own.
In the long game, you have time to look at your moves more carefully and judge from his angle whether that move you’re about to make will help or hinder him. The untimed game is all about thinking a lot of moves ahead, memorizing different strategies and ploys and thinking long term.

I would say that you seem to be of the same standard as your fellow chess player, but both of you have totally different games.
It’s 1-1 at the moment… Play him a few times on his terms and you’ll eventually get used to it and win… just as you did against your father.

!? How do you count the moves at such a rate? How do you reset the clocks? (Maybe you were using some modern gixmotronic clock that does it for you). Anyway, I think a lot of the game is lost at this rate. Surely, you could suggest 5 or even 10 moves per minute, which at least looks like chess.

!? Well 1880 makes you pretty damned strong, it also means you played rated games (else how could you have a rating?), I thought that ALL rated games were timed, so I guess you have considerable experience with clocks, yet your OP suggests otherwise(!?).

I’d be fascinated to know which IMs you managed to sneak wins against? These guys will be at least 2200 and that 320 MINIMUM spread is getting towards the limit where a win is inconceivable for the weaker player, so WOW, well done! Presumably you played those guys with clocks?

Get over it, Phlosphr. From what you posted, it sounded like that guy didnt beat you thru his superior chess skill. He beat you by flustering you.

Theres a difference between playing regulation basketball and playing street hoops. Just because you are good in regulation b-ball doesnt mean you’ll survive in street hoops and if youre good in street hoops, most of the time you foul out in regulation ball. It doesnt mean that being good in one or the other is better. It does mean that you have to be better than either to be able to play both well.

I humbly disagree, especially when being “really good” at regulation basketball can earn you several million dollars a year (or at least a free college education) while being “really good” at street basketball earns you significantly less than that.

The big tournaments, the big names in chess, they all belong to the long game. That means that the chess community as a whole thinks that the long game is better.

TGUW: 320 differential is inconceivable? Not at the low-to-medium end of the scale. Your initial “real” ranking is almost entirely based upon the rankings of your opponents during your provisional period…if you only had weaker players in your pool, you’re going to end up lower-ranked than you should. When you meet up with people who are higher-ranked than they should be because they played stronger players provisionally, you’ll end up with a 300 point spread between you and somebody at or below your level.


I think there’s merit to the Intimidation Factor.
I played a game with my BIL for the first time on Christmas, and we were pretty evenly matched. It was getting close to time to go home, so I ramped up my play-speed by a factor of about 10, and started playing ultra-aggressively. I captured a few of his men, but made a couple fatal errors that would likely have cost me the game, had he not become so intimidated. He pretty much folded, and I won.

I’ll concede the point that newly acquired ratings are not necessarily “accurate”, however, you can’t get IM-status by playing half a dozen games against some newbies at your local chess club.

Phlosphr said he played “competitively in college” (and with a rating of 1880 (Class A is 1800-1999) so we’re not talking about “low-to-medium”) – I infer that he played many games against a large pool of “well-rated” players, thus mitigating against the errors that you spoke of. If that’s not the case and Phlosphr’s rating was achieved in a few games against a small pool of “not-well-rated” players then I would expect any error to be that of overestimation, in which case the actual spread would be worse than 320.

All of this is mere surmise, Phlosphr could turn up and tell us what we need to know, any second now…


I played competitively from age 16 to 27. I got into the circuit basically on the shirt-tails of my father who was a pro. I played CSCA ranked men and women almost entirely after I won my first adult competitive match. So my provisional period was a firey one. At 33 I can not play competitively anymore because I have a wife and a mortgage. I concede to building chess boards from scratch for friends. And I do venture to the cafe - quite often lately.