I find myself frequently running into time trouble. Even though mentally it feels like I didn't use that much time, when I look at my clock it says otherwise. When this happens I start rushing to try and make up for 'lost time' with blunders soon to follow.

I have an idea of where the time is going -- usually it's when I'm analyzing a critical position and I'm calculating the moves out. Many times I can't seem to find a clear plan to carry out because of time pressure.

Are there any techniques or ideas to try out and practice to help with this problem? What do you guys do to tackle this issue?

Edit: To answer Akavall's comment on when it happens. I certainly don't run into time-pressure in every game -- eg. if my opponent made a big blunder and I'm up in material. Usually it happens when the position is about even. I take too long coming up with a plan and the most accurate candidate move. Other times it happens when I'm in an inferior position trying to size up a defense.

  • Are you getting in time-trouble in every game or only in specific situations? For example, when I get a much better position I start to over-calculate, but in roughly equal position I don't have that problem.
    – Akavall
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 18:01
  • @Akavall See my edit since it's a bit long as a comment.
    – greatwolf
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 20:16
  • As far as I remember Botvinnik had some advice on how to deal with time pressure, I tried to google for it, but no success. However, I came across this: chesscafe.com/text/time.pdf Maybe it will be helpful.
    – Akavall
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 0:52
  • Best way to deal with time pressure in chess is not to get into time pressure. But if you do then start playing very fast.
    – Nasser
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 5:40

4 Answers 4


The two main things I do to avoid time trouble are:

  1. I write down the remaining time for each player after every move. This both keeps me very aware of the amount of time I have left, and lets me know how much time I have spent thinking so far on the current move, so I can take appropriate action if I've already been thinking for 5 minutes. I also try to have a few checkpoints; for example, if the first time control is at move 40, I try to have at least half my time left at move 20.
  2. This one is harder: in a non-critical position, I am willing to take less time than I'd like and just make a decent move in 2 minutes instead of spending 10 minutes looking for the best possible move. Of course you don't want to do this when the difference between the best move and second-best move is very large, which you don't know in advance, so you have to use your experience and intuition.

I know this is a very difficult situation to handle. It took me quite a long time to overcome this problem.

The best thing is to think as fast as one can. Also try to increase your concentration and keep thinking even if it is your opponent's move, as this might reduce some of time.

Study your games and make out which part (opening / middle game/ endgame) you find most difficult and find out if you like (can handle well) or prefer open positions or closed positions.

This will give you an idea about which part you need to spend more time in and where it is not required. Don't get scared about each and every move. Be confident and don't overthink.

I hope this will work well.


  • @greatwolf , I have assumed you are talking about standard classical format
    – Rusty
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 8:32

This may help you playing in time pressure- practice blitz and rapid chess (5 and 15 minutes). I played a few thousand blitz games online and I am not afraid of time troubles at all. If you play 15 minutes you will get time pressure all the time, so you will get used to handling it. This usually transfers in better time management in longer games. Also- don't recalculate the same variations over and over and over again (this is quite difficult). The last suggestion is from GM Kotov ('Think like a grandmaster').

  • 1
    I am not sure about your point about blitz, from my experience blitz is very different from time-pressure.
    – Akavall
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 17:57
  • It may be- but it helped me with feeling more confident in time pressure and avoid big blunders (mostly of course). Commented May 9, 2013 at 18:55
  • I found I do that mistake, I double or even triple check everything before a big move
    – ajax333221
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 14:46

Instead of trying to calculate positions, just count the pieces.

"If he takes, then I take, then he takes, then I take, then..."

Try this instead.

I've got 2 pieces attacking and he has 3 defending. Doesn't work.

I've got 3 pieces attacking and he has 3 defending. Doesn't work.

I've got 3 pieces attacking and he has 1... 2.. pieces defending. That works! I win.

  • I think this answer got voted down, because it doesn't answer the question. Please consider editing your answer or deleting it. Cheers.
    – user2001
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 22:58

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