I am used to taking a long time to think about each move, so my time management is poor when I have to play under time pressure. Can anyone suggest time settings for games (or other activities to train myself to read faster) that will allow enough time to read properly but will force me to read a bit faster so as to train myself in time management.
First I describe my problem - maybe some people will relate to this - and then I have some specific questions at the end.
In the 3.5 years I’ve been playing Go, the vast majority of my games have been online correspondence games with a relatively small proportion of online live, online blitz, or real-life live games. Early on, I used “analysis mode” or similar to try out different variations while my reading skills were still very poor. Then my reading improved to the point where it was time to force myself to do reading in my head as that is the proper way. This worked out fine and I can do reading in my head well enough for my level (8 kyu).
Now, here’s the problem. In correspondence games, one effectively has unlimited time for each move. Since most of my games are online correspondence games, I often spend many minutes (sometimes 5 or even 10 minutes) thinking about each move. This is problematic for many reasons such as: [a] taking a long time for each move means that I play fewer games overall; [b] taking a long time for each move means that all of my correspondence games end up taking longer to complete so my strength and my opponents’ strengths may change over the course of a game, tournaments are slowed down, etc.; [c] real-life live games with my friends at our local Go club end up having to be photographed and finished off the following club night, which is not ideal; and so on.
The main problem is that taking a long time per move is effectively training me to read slowly which is not good for playing under live timing. I am so used to taking as long as I want to read out as many variations as I want in search of the best move I can find, that when I play with any sort of live timing I make lots of mistakes because of the time pressure. Hence why I say “Correspondence considered harmful” (in terms of time management; though in terms of learning the basics and developing my reading skills, I have found it extremely useful!).
Now, clearly, time management is an important aspect of the game for anyone playing Go in tournament or club settings with time limits (and, arguably, for playing Go in general for reasons such as [a] - [c] above). I feel that I am at the point now where my reading without time pressure is accurate enough that I want to put a bit more focus on reading quicker while still being (at least nearly) as accurate. So, I have some questions below on how to train for time management.
Incidentally, I have recently played a few 19x19 blitz games. The extreme time pressure makes them very exciting and I love the buzz, but such time pressure does not lead to good play. They are so fast, there is essentially no time for reading at all. As far as I can see it, blitz is more about instinctive play than reading. But, as Kageyama said in his book Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go: “Reading is the essence of Go.” Therefore, it seems to me that time settings (such as blitz) that do not allow for proper reading may be useful in developing instincts (or very fast reading once you are already quite fast) but are not really much use in developing proper time management (or reading skills) if you are not used to playing under time pressure. Hence why I say “Blitz considered harmful”, as it just encourages sloppy play without proper reading.
So, I have some questions about time settings, time management, training to read faster, etc. Hopefully some of you lovely people can suggest some answers that might help me (and others) to play better in games with live timing. Thanks:
I know that professional tournaments typically have quite long time settings, say 2-4 hours per player, maybe even more like 8 hours per player in some tournaments. (I think Japanese tournaments typically have very long time settings.) And I have heard of professionals taking 1, 2 even 5 hours thinking about just one move. Clearly, this would be absurd for amateur players! Can anyone suggest an approximate average and upper and lower bounds for time settings used in amateur tournaments? Just because I guess this is a good target to work towards.
Similarly, can anyone suggest suitable time settings for casual club games? Presumably, tournament games will typically be longer than club games as people will take the tournament games more seriously. But again, even in a club setting, one wants enough time to play a good game but short enough time limits that games don’t take too long. Of course, in reality, the time limit of club games may be dictated by other factors such as how long you have the room for but let’s ignore that for now.
As above, blitz is too fast for proper reading but 5-10 minutes per move is too slow for developing time management. Can anyone suggest time settings for a live game that will allow enough time for proper reading without having to worry too much about the time pressure, but with at least some sort of sensible time restriction so that games don’t take all day? I’m thinking something fairly relaxed to start off with that can then be gradually reduced towards tournament / club level settings as I get used to the time aspect.
Can anyone suggest any other activities that might help with time management? I’ve tried the time trials on goproblems.com, which seemed useful. You have 1 minute per problem. I read as much as I can in the minute. If I solve it, all well and good. If I haven’t solved it and I’m nearly out of time, then I do my best guess and hope for the best. I suppose this is quite similar to what one has to do in a game with a time limit. Has anyone else tried this? Have they found it useful? Or are there any other suggestions of other time training methods?
I guess 1 and 2 are target endpoints for tournament / club games respectively and 3 is a starting point in training towards those targets.
Of course, any other relevant comments, questions, etc. are welcome.
Thanks to all