Wednesday, July 01, 2009

That guy really knows his chess clocks!

At the 1986 U.S. Open, I walked by as Larry Christiansen and his opponent (Kamran Shirazi, I think) were in a postmortem of their just-drawn game. According to my recollection, Shirazi had some extra pawns as compensation for some sort of piece deficit. Larry (who won the U.S. Open outright that year) appeared to be making the case that he had a better position, and looked up at Boris Spassky, who was standing to the side looking things over.

Boris apparently considered it a draw and, in response to Larry, waved his hands encouragingly over Shirazi's pawns, wafting them onward to a queening square. It was perhaps the following day when Joel Benjamin, who I think had been present for some analysis by Spassky (for the aforementioned game?), exclaimed with a playful smile, "That guy really knows his chess!"

Since 2008 I've played two opponents at the club who had the black Chronos GX Touch Chess Clock. In both games I was struck by how useful and elegant the clock was, and I finally decided I should buy one for the upcoming Reubens-Landey tournament to eliminate clock functionality issues from distracting me.

First, however, I looked back at my August 2008 And Time won't give me Time... blog entry, in which, although it was not my main topic, I touched on differences between digital clocks. For my intended purchase, I kept in mind a comment from Jason Rihel about the drawback of single time control clocks, and I also scanned the Internet (a Series of tubes) for other information to increase my confidence that that particular GX model was truly the right clock for me.

In the process I came to the shocking realization ("I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!") that, despite my claim in that blog entry and its ensuing comment trail that I understood the differences between time-delay / time-increment / Bronstein settings, I...didn't.

One of the things I turned up on that fabled Series of tubes was DG's Are time delay and time increment the same? entry on this very blog(!), from two years before my own post. At that time (December 2006), I wasn't yet a regular reader here. Just as he did for my later blog entry, Matt Phelps came to the fore, attempting to dispel confusion about digital chess clocks. After reading his comments there, I now really know the difference between time-delay, time-increment, and Bronstein.

"Matt Phelps? That guy really knows his chess clocks!"

No comments: