Can you have too much of a good thing?!

Russell Sherwood  Sunday, April 23, 2017

A common question from aspiring CC players is “How many games should I play at once?”. Apart from the obvious and sarcastic answer of “One!” this is a very interesting question.

 

With a little thought, it is obvious that playing too many games will have a significant negative effect in terms of quality. What might not be so obvious is that playing too few games can also have a negative effect – skills take time and practice to develop and the player also takes a time to focus on a game.

 

So this leads us to a conclusion that there is an optimal number of games. Talk to a number of stronger players and the answer will tend to be somewhere between 20 and 30, although it is rare these players can explain why!

 

So let's try and quantify this. When we look at it, our available time determines the number of games we can play. The time is in two areas – our time and computer time.

 

There are a number of variables to consider;

 

(1) The rate of play in the events we are going to take part in, typically between 10 moves in 40 and 10 moves in 50 days.

 

(2) The minutes per day we will devote to CC. (This does not need to be daily, so 6 hours a week would be 6/7 hours per day)

 

(3) How long we believe we need to review and analyse each move.

 

(4) How many PC minutes we are willing to utilise per day.

 

(5) How long we believe we should be using per game to analyse each move. Note 30 minutes here would not to be to leave an engine running on IA for 30 minutes – it could be looking at 15 positions for 2 minutes each.

 

When we combine these number we come up with two metrics – Human Capacity and Machine Capacity.

 

Human Capacity = (Average minute per day(2) *Average rate of play in days(1))/Time to Analyse each move(3)

 

Machine Capaity = (PC Minutes per day(4) * *Average rate of play in days(1))/Time to Analyse each move(5)

 

Our capacity is whichever of these two numbers is lower.

 

As an Example:

 

I look at my games and they are split evenly between 10/40 and 10/50 – my average rate of play in days is 4.5 (40+50)/2/10

 

I say I will spend 60 minutes per day on CC and I think it will take me 15 minutes to review each game.

I'm willing to let my PC stay on for 4 hours and think it will take 30 minutes per game to analyse.

 

In this example

 

HC = (60*4.5)/15 = 18

 

MC = (240*4.5)/30 = 36

 

So, in this case, my capacity would be around 18 games. If I wanted to increase my capacity I either need to spend more time on CC (2 Hours per day) or reduce my analysis time (15 minutes to 7.5 minutes) or a combination of both.

 

Now in practice, you can probably add around 20% to this number because during the game there will be phases when moves are made quickly which allows a little time to build up on your clock!