Tuesday, May 17, 2011

15 Minutes of Fun

At the end of March, I wrote about how much I disagreed with Bob Moeller’s article in the Oklahoma Chess Quarterly entitled “Stop Playing Trash Chess” in which he calls any chess game with a time limit of less than 15 minutes for the game ‘Trash Chess’. I mentioned that I was going to write a letter to the OCQ about this article. I had been hoping to at the least find out what other people thought of ‘Trash Chess’ and maybe get a few blogs out of the ensuing debate, but then I noticed a spike of blog hits with the search term ‘Robert Moeller obituary’. That got me doing my own Google search and Mr. Moeller passed away last week at the age of 79.

  Mr. Moeller’s comments make a lot more sense to me now that I know how old he was. A common complaint of older players is that they don’t have the manual dexterity to play speed games. I do remember playing a national master ‘jgs’ on Chess Live. He was 84 years old, but played 2 minute chess with a second added back each move. He told me that he had to add the second to make up for his lack of mouse skills. ‘jgs’ has since passed away, but he never minded playing quick chess. When I was in my 20’s, the grand old man of New Jersey Chess was Edgar McCormick. Edgar was in his 70’s, was a former New Jersey champion and won the U.S. Amateur championship a number of times. He would frequent chess clubs and loved to play speed chess. This was in the days before electronic clocks. The mechanical clocks were fitted with a red flag that would rise as the minute hand got closer and closer to the top of the hour and then fall on the hour. When your flag fell, you lost the game. Speed chess with the mechanical clock requires nerves of steel since you never know exactly how much time you have left, and only have the inexorable climb of the little red flag as your guide.

  I don’t want to seem to be picking on the deceased, so I ‘m going to pass on writing to the OCQ, but I will still be playing plenty of 1-minute chess. Last Tuesday, I had the chance to play a few one-minute games on the Internet Chess Club. My friend Dan Troxell has told me he really enjoyed going over the one-minute games. Despite the fact that Dan is a fan of the Boston Red Sox (who swept the Yankees this past weekend, by the way), I have a lot of respect for his opinions and am considering making a monthly feature of my more interesting 1-minute games. For now here are 4 games I played last Wednesday night. I don’t think they are any more or less trashy than some of my over-the-board efforts.

  After waiting around for a few minutes without being matched up by the ICC computer, I decided to go for some ‘slow play’ and accepted a challenge for a 3-minute game. Switching from 1-minute to 3-minute play is challenging for me. I have to make myself stop playing frantic 1-minute chess and remember that I can take the occasional leisurely 20 or 30 second think, but also remember not to get to carried away in leisure or else I’ll run short of time or be 2 minutes behind my opponent.

  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not sure I can have more fun in 15 minutes. I hope Mr. Moeller rests in peace and can take as long as he wants for his chess games in eternity. As for me, if I’m told I only have 5 minutes to live, I think I have a good idea how I’m going to spend at least 2 of them!