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Training & Psychology

Mastering Time Management in Chess: Tips and Tricks for Optimal Play

Mastering Time Management in Chess: Tips and Tricks for Optimal Play

In the world of chess, time is a precious resource that can make or break a game. Each move counts, and how you manage your time can significantly impact your overall performance on the board.

While every player has their own unique approach to time management, some tried and tested strategies can help you make the most of every second during a game.

Setting Milestones for Time Allocation

To better manage time during a chess game, it’s essential to set milestones for the time spent at specific move intervals.

For example, if the game follows a 90-minute duration for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, marking off your scoresheet at 10-move intervals with the relative time spent can serve as a useful guideline.

This practice allows you to gauge whether you’re allocating too much or too little time for each move.

For instance, at the 10-move milestone, players might aim to have around 22 and a half minutes remaining on their clocks, signifying that they have allocated their time wisely.

Similarly, at the 20-move mark, players would ideally have around 45 minutes left, reflecting a balanced and measured approach to time utilization.

However, it’s essential to note that these milestones are not rigid prescriptions but rather flexible guidelines.

Overcoming the Temptation of Speed

One common time management pitfall is playing too fast. While avoiding time trouble may seem advantageous, rapid moves can lead to strategic errors and costly mistakes.

Instead, focus on maintaining a steady pace and resist the urge to play faster just because your opponent does.

Mind your own time, and don’t let their speed influence your moves unless they genuinely face time trouble.

Utilize Opponent’s Turn Wisely

During your opponent’s turn, take advantage of the time to think about your strategy, analyze the board position, and consider candidate moves.

However, it’s also essential to take short breaks and walk around occasionally to stay mentally fresh and focused.

Evaluating Time Spent After Moves

Recording your actual time after every 10 moves can provide valuable insights into your time management habits.

Reviewing the game afterward allows you to identify patterns of playing too slow or too fast, enabling you to refine your time allocation in future matches.

Calculating Complex Moves with Precision

In intricate positions that demand deep calculations, it’s crucial to allocate sufficient time. Spending 10 to 20 minutes on a single move can lead to well-calculated and strategically sound decisions.

Avoid rushing in complex situations to ensure the best possible moves.

Efficient Moves for Simpler Positions

On the other hand, relatively straightforward positions may require less time for calculation. Identify simpler moves and try to allocate as little time as possible for them, allowing you to conserve time for critical moments in the game.


Incorporating these time management techniques into your chess strategy can elevate your performance and lead to more effective decision-making on the board.

Remember, time is a resource that must be used judiciously, and mastering time management in chess is an essential skill for any serious player.

So, take your time, think critically, and make each move count on your journey to chess excellence.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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