Thursday, December 3, 2009

Prospect Beats Rolling Meadows

Prospect squeaked by Rolling Meadows today by a score of 36.5-31.5. Prospect won the top three boards but Rolling Meadows dominated on boards 3-8. Were it not for a draw on 6th Board the match would have gone the other way. I won't be able to get to the games for a few days so I figured that I would pontificate upon a couple of notation rules that came up in the match.

Writing Your Move Before You Make It

Many players like to write down their move before making it on the board. After concentrating on a position for many minutes, the act of writing down the move breaks their focus and enables them to take a fresh look before they make the move on the board. Sometimes this enables them to spot something that they missed before. The problem is that if they realize that the move they wrote is a blunder, they will erase it or scratch it out and make a different move. Some people claim that this is "making notes" rather than simply taking notation.

I am not personally persuaded by the arguments against writing a move first, but the fact of the matter is that these arguments seem to be carrying the day. The United States Chess Federation has ruled that a move must be recorded after it is made. The Illinois High School Association seems to be moving in that direction. So my advice to all players is to get used to writing down your move after you make it. You never know whether both your opponent and the steward might happen to be anal retentive.

Taking Notation in Time Trouble

When a player has less than five minutes on his clock, IHSA rules allow him to quit taking notation or to ask one of his teammates to take notation. Should he do so, his opponent is also permitted to cease taking notation or turn the responsibility over to a teammate even if he still has twenty minutes on his clock.

I advise the player with more time on his clock not to take advantage of this provision.

The biggest mistake that a player with a large time advantage can make is to move as quickly as his opponent. If a player has twenty minutes while his opponent has two, the best way to get his opponent to use up those two minutes is by using part of the extra time to come up with a move that forces his opponent to think. Moving quickly wastes the time advantage.

I have seen several games in which a player with plenty of time on his clock turned over notation to a teammate because his opponent had done so in time trouble only to begin moving as quickly as his opponent. On several occasions, the player with the time advantage blundered and lost. Had he continued to take notation, I cannot help but think that he would have been forced to play somewhat more slowly and might have come up with a better move.

The game on 1st Board in today's match was very even all the way to the endgame, however, Prospect's Robert Moskva had a considerable time advantage. After Rolling Meadows' Tom Chung turned over score keeping to a teammate, Robert continued to keep his own score and played the ending very deliberately and accurately enabling him to win. I do not know that he would have played less carefully if he had quit taking notation, but I have seen it happen several times.

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