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I played a game against a 6 years old child where I launched a strong attack against the poor child:

[fen ""]
[white "Me"]
[Black "6 years old child"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Be7 5.c4 Qc7 6.Be2 a6 7.O-O Nf6 8.f3 Bc5 9.Be3 Qb6 10.Nc3 Nc6 11. Na4 Qa7(11...Bxd4 12.Nxb6 Bxe3+ 13.Kh1 Bxb6)  12. Nxc5 Qxc5 13. Nf5 Qf8 14. Nd6+ Kd8 15. Bb6+ Ke7 16.Bc5 Qg8 17.Nxc8+ Ke8 18.Nd6+ Kd8 19. Bb6+ Ke7 20. Nxb7 Qb8 21.Bc5+ Ke8 22. Nd6+ Ke7 23. f4 Kf8 24. e5 Ne8 25.Nf5+ Kg8 26.Ne7+ Nxe7 27.Bxe7 Qc7 28.Rf3 g6 29.Rd3 Ra7 30.Qa4 Qb6+ 31.c5 Qxb2 32.Re1 Qb7 33.Bf3 Qc7 34.Red1 Kg7 35.Rxd7 Qb8 36.Rd8 Qb5 37.Qxb5 axb5 38.Bf6+ Nxf6 39.exf6+ Kxf6 40.Rxh8 Rc7 41.c6 Ke7 42.Rhd8 Kf6 43.R1d7 Rxc6 44.Bxc6 h5 45.Rf8 Kf5 46.Rdxf7+ Kg4 47. Rg7 Kh4 48.g3+ Kg4 49.Rxg6+ Kh3 50.Bg2++

He played strange moves in a few seconds in the opening, e.g. as 5...Qc7 or more concretely 11...Qa7 missing the exchange of 3 pieces for a queen (which Stockfish says is good for black) much better than the position where black finishes after 13. Nf5. He also moved his bishop twice in the opening, his queen twice... all this with his clock over 1 hour and 30 minutes in a standard 90'+30'' game.

Once he lost a piece he spent some minutes to play his king's moves after the checks with only two or three possible moves. It seems that he thought more about it when defending himself, but when I checkmated him his clock was on 1 hour 12 minutes for a 90'+30'' game.

Why do children move so quickly in standard games, specially in the openings?

In the tournament I am playing half of the players are children and after one hour and a half all children have finished their games and there are only adults playing.

I know many children play forced by their parents to attend chess after school and might find boring to play chess, but I am asking about childs that like the game itself. I assume once a child joins a chess tournament it means he or she doesn't find boring to play a chess game. I am asking why children that like the game and play tournament games frequently don't spend minutes in tricky moves as adults do. Why don't they use their time?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Brian Towers May 11 at 12:25
  • 9
    If the kid is only 6 years old, then it is very possible that this was his first tournament using standard time controls; good time-management needs some time to develop. Also, it could be noted that a 6 year old player most likely has an underdeveloped "sense of danger", and I wouldn't be surprised if your opponent in this game simply didn't realize that he was in trouble until move 16, when he was already helplessly lost. – Scounged May 11 at 15:23
  • @Scounged you might want to see more discussion in the chat. – BCLC May 11 at 20:07
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    btw i found out yesterday (i'm not sure, but i think i looked up the following on google specifically BECAUSE of this question. LOL): there's this 1 kid i played against in a tournament when the kid was around 5-6 years old. now the kid is a candidate master. lol. – BCLC May 11 at 20:23
  • Q: Why do children move so quickly? A: Because it's illegal to duct tape them down. ;) – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket May 13 at 22:02
65

The answer is very simple. A 6 year old child does not have an adult brain. It has the very immature, underdeveloped brain of a 6 year old. It has a short attention span and struggles to sit still for 5 minutes let alone spend 5 minutes on just one move.

A few years ago I was chief arbiter for three junior tournaments held at the same time. I got one of the coaches who is also a qualified arbiter to help me. Obviously he wasn't allowed to help his players even in the breaks between rounds.

Instead before every round he stood up and made the same speech basically begging the kids to take more time over their moves. The time control was something like 25+5 and yet most games were over in less than 10 minutes with the players thoughtlessly blitzing out moves.

As he explained to me, kids tend to move too fast in games which are just friendly, relaxed games. But when it is a competition and clocks are involved their brains interpret it as some kind of race and they have even less control of their time management. Adrenaline takes over and calm calculation flies out of the window.

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  • There is no short supply of ego to go around, either (although this applies to young and old to various degrees.) – corsiKa May 11 at 2:16
  • @corsiKa Use their ego to hit a target of acceptable time per move. Then again, more time should already result in winning. – Cees Timmerman May 11 at 10:50
  • In some sense, the naive view is that moving is the fun part of playing chess - hence kids want to be moving as much as possible. As you start to learn the strategies, countermeasures and so on (and as you develop the ability to just sit and stare at a chess board thinking abstractly about it), then thinking your way through the game becomes the fun part. As you build experience playing chess, the the latter starts to take over the former when you realise you're not guaranteed to win. – Ralph Bolton May 13 at 9:26
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I would propose another plausible explanation:

Time moves slower for children.

I don't mean that in a gobbledey-gook spiritual sense but in the sense that the way humans experience temporality is relative to age.

One Year for a 5 year old is 20% of their life. One year for a 20 year old person is a mere 5%. This transmutes down to smaller time periods too. A standard TC rapid game of say, 30 minutes, corresponds to a much larger proportion of a child's life than it does yours, hence they may lose focus and act more impatiently than you. (Of course there are a multitude of factors at play).

Indeed, there is a neurological basis for this phenomena:

The common explanation is that most external and internal experiences are new for young children but repetitive for adults. Children have to be extremely engaged (i.e. dedicate many neural resources or significant brain power) in the present moment because they must constantly reconfigure their mental models of the world to assimilate it and manage behaviour properly.

...Consequently, the subjective perception is often that time passes by at a faster rate with age.

Assuming you are an adult, you are probably have a much different sense of time than your more youthful opponents, for whom 30 minutes may seem like an eternity.

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Incentives and/or tactical ability tend to explain this.

Sloppy chess against similar fast-moving and reckless competition (U600 - U1200 tourneys or sections within larger tournaments) produces flip-coin level results (or better, if you are slightly less sloppy) results and that's enough for a kid to feel they did okay (or worse yet, report back to the parental control units at home that they fared satisfactorily and won 25-50% of their games). The rare exception are the few who are focused enough on winning at all costs (and are willing to self-correct + change their time management behaviors) and they will stand out amongst this pack. Though chances are, that guy or girl is already taking his/her time, even if his/her time management is just marginally better than his/her peers.

Now at the higher rating club levels where grown-ups tend to congregate, you'll still see this pattern with kids because they are tactical beasts who really don't see incentive to play positionally when they are cleaning adults clocks because they consistently visualize + calculate really well thanks to natural or well-trained tactical vision and the 40-year old across the board spent more time on the Najdorf than figuring out how to hold a 3-ply ahead position in their head and look for forcing moves. I mean who cares coming up with long, time consuming dynamic evaluations when I know (and this is their incentive!) this grown-up is going to miss a tactical motif within the next 10-15 moves and I've got them?

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I have another aspect to offer. Being a life long kids chess trainer ("Think, for gods sake!!") and a still lightning-fast old geezer now, I think it might also be linked to self-esteem. I do not think longer now to calculate, but because I don't trust my intuition anymore, and back it up with as untrustworthy calculation. As a kid, you are still the Godhead. You never even think about that you could be wrong. You'll never overlook a tactics that favors you. Too bad the opponent also has some...

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