19 July 2011

Juggling Fast and Slow Together

By Jove, I think I've got it! One of my ongoing headaches with correspondence chess is juggling games with different time controls. Since I use my email inbox to manage my correspondence games, I've configured the different services to send me an email each time an opponent moves, including the last move. I treat the messages more-or-less in order; the oldest messages get tackled first. When I've had enough of looking at a particular game, I move on to the next email, and repeat the process until I've looked at all my games. Then I again start with the oldest message, cycling through the games once more.

The problem with this procedure is that different correspondent chess servers use different time increments. On a server that adds one day per move, games proceed at a faster pace than on a server that adds four days per move. That means the messages for games played at one move per day arrive more often and are usually near the end of the queue. But those are exactly the games that require higher priority, because I have only one day (on average) to study them.

The solution is to cycle through all of the fast games and then cycle through all of the slow games. In other words, I treat the fast games (1-2 days per move) as one pool, and the slow games (3+ days per move) as another pool. The decisions on -- (1) how much time to take for a particular move and (2) whether I'm ready to move in a particular game -- are taken separately for each pool. Furthermore, if my time for correspondence chess happens to be limited, I spend it on the fast games.

The upshot of this is that my time for reflection is used more efficiently and there is less 'panic' (for lack of a better word) during those periods when I have a lot of games to consider. Why didn't I think of this when I started playing on the faster servers?

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