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I started playing chess 2 years ago and ever since I started, I have experienced consistent time troubles. Recently, I gathered some data from my 40 most recent rapid 10+0 games, and concluded that I am ~2.08 minutes behind my opponent at around the midpoint of the game.

This is absolutely horrible ! In one game I was 6 minutes behind, compared to my opponent. While the best time advantage I have had is 1.3 minutes. Only in 4 of the 40 games I had a time advantage or equal time, so in conclusion,

in ~90% of my games I am behind on clock of about ~2.1 minutes halfway through the game.

As a result, I can't play blitz (3 minutes) at all, even though I wish I could, since I have to start pre-moving way before my opponent enters that stage of the game. Which further explains my rating discrepancy of 1700 in blitz while 1930 in rapid, on Chess.com...

I think the main reason why I am so consistently behind on time stems from my anxiety of missing a tactic or just blundering something. I really want to fix this problem, but it is just so hard. Has anyone experienced the same thing as me? How have you overcome this problem, and what are available resources for a player like me ?

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    I assume that you've played some 3 0 blitz based on what you've written. How do you feel while playing 3 0 blitz after you fall into severe time trouble? Do you panic, or can you play on without freaking out? On an other note, what is your experience with increments, and why are you mainly playing without them when you have time trouble issues? – Scounged Feb 23 at 19:41
  • I just get mad and disappointed, but I can play it out. In fact, I consider my self to be sufficiently good in time troubles. I have no experience with increments but I guess I should try 15/10, although I will still be 2 minutes behind or more mid game, so my problem remains. – hexaquark Feb 23 at 20:19
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    15 10 gives you ample opportunity to relieve time pressure by playing a sequence of quick moves, and this is actually a major difference between increment and no increment play; even the difference between 3 0 blitz and 3 2 blitz is quite dramatic, as the premove becomes way less necessary in 3 2. Btw, why do you get mad and disappointed when being low on time, is it because you find yourself in time trouble itself, or is it because you lose because of this? – Scounged Feb 23 at 20:33
  • I have this problem too. Also, I notice that some streamers, like John Bartholomew, Maria Fominykh and even Grischuk (maybe the worst!) have that problem. – Akavall Feb 23 at 21:04
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    Why play short time controls at all? – Alexander Woo Feb 23 at 21:04
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It doesn't matter if you spend more time than your opponent in a game. What matters is that you're spending the time effectively. The more complex the position the longer it's going to take to find the right move.

Where are your spending time time? And why? What is it you are thinking about? Are you double-checking, or triple checking your analysis? Or are you analysing as many moves as possible? Also look at the types of position you spend more time on: is it opening moves, is it positions right out of the opening, is it tactical positions, quiet strategic positions, unbalances positions, dynamic positions, or maybe positions you feel like you have a substantial advantage and you're trying to find a win?

The key is to bring discipline into your thinking, and train yourself to make a move quicker. First step is to figure out which position/moves the time is being spent. Then to figure out why. That why could lead you to identifying lack of knowledge/experience of a particular type of position -- maybe a weakness in your play. That means you can train yourself to get better at such positions, gain some confidence, and make it easier to find the right move quicker.

However, if you are spending the time double- and triple-checking your calculations, then it's a confidence issue. Something like Kotov's book "How to Think Like a Grandmaster" might help, to start training yourself to analysing a variation once, and only once, and to trust your calculation abilities. Perhaps calculation training is all you need.

If the reason for the time being spent is in the middle game trying to find a plan, then finding annotated games by grandmasters in the same or similar openings might be the solution, to give you more familiarity of the positions. That will help build an instinct as to the right kinds of moves and plans to play.

If you're spending a lot of time in the opening, then maybe spending time studying various opening systems you are playing to get a better understanding of them, e.g. playing through annotated master games.

And a steady diet of calculation, both tactics puzzles and endgame calculations. Chess is very much a pattern-recognition problem at the human level. And discovering patterns in study will help spot them in play. Building that instinct to the correct move, and then using calculation to verify your instinct is correct -- that's the Magnus Carlsen school of chess.

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