Conditional Weapon

Sherwood, Russell  Saturday, January 12, 2019

The advent of the TriBi time control system has removed some old tactics utilised by some players (Dead Man’s Defence for example) but has provided some new avenues. One of these is the use of the conditional move as a tactical weapon.


In a traditional event, if a player got into time trouble, all they had to do was get through to the next time control (typically less than 10 moves) and then normality could be resumed. However with TriBi, once in time trouble, there is no way to get out of it. Some players have seen an opportunity to now try and push their opponent into a special kind of time trouble: The Deficit. What is this? In simple terms One player has significantly more time on the clock than another, hoping this can lead to a time crunch for the other player.


For example, if one player has 120 days on the clock against 100 days of their opponent this is not an issue but if this winds down and becomes 15 days against 3 then problems can exist for the 2nd player. There are some protections within the ICCF rules with regard to active play however the best approach is not to get into this situation.


A tactic which I have seen being utilised is the used of conditional moves. If we assume it takes T1 time to make a move (an incorrect assumption but bear with me) and it takes T2 time to make a conditional move.  We can assume that T2 will be a lot shorter than T1, in some cases it is only the length of time to enter the move onto the server. If a player makes conditional moves and their opponent “accepts” a significant proportion of them, then it is fairly simple to see that the first player will build up a comfortable time buffer fairly quickly, unless the 2nd player’s move selection time is significantly shorter than the firsts!


So in practice, this means conditional moves should be considered when the opponent's response is “obvious” or your response to their most likely move is “obvious”, to build up a time buffer, so you are never on the receiving end of this tactic.


It is worth adding that a number of players have been observed letting their clocks run quite a while in opening positions, probably not realised the event is TriBI, make sure this, not you!


Till the next time! 

Updated Saturday, January 12, 2019 by Russell Sherwood

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