Last night Joshua and I played in the Erie Chess Club’s Speed Chess Tournament, which was held at Barnes and Noble.
Most people don’t associate speed and chess, but speed chess is a way to make chess fast and exciting. The rules are a bit different from regular chess:
1. There is a two faced chess clock. Each player has 5 minutes. Some crazy people play even faster, like this. After you move, you push the button on your clock. That starts your opponent’s clock. Unlike regular tournament chess, there is not a touch move rule.
2. You win if you checkmate your opponent, if he resigns, or if he runs out of time and you notice.
3. You lose if you get checkmated, or if you run out of time and he notices.
4. It is a draw if you repeat the same position 3 times, or if there is a stalemate, or if one player runs out of time but the other player doesn’t have enough material to win, or if both sides run out of time before either one notices.
At this speed, psychology is important. If you are losing, you want to keep the game complicated, because your opponent can easily blunder, or he can run out of time if he thinks too long. (Yes, you do actually get to think even in a 5 minute game.) If you are winning you need a position where you can win quickly. Playing offbeat openings that you know well (like my favorite – the King’s Gambit) is a good way to lead your opponents into traps that they would see through at normal speed, or just to make him think too long. And the odd move with no obvious purpose is also good.
Joshua won 5 of his 8 games in the lower section, which had players up to about 1700 USCF. I scored 2 wins, 3 draws, and 3 losses in the higher-rated section. This was pretty good for both of us, since I have not played in a tournament for about 15 years.