Time Trouble – A High Wire Act

This is another Editor’s Choice selection. Rummaging through the archives I found this game. It had almost no comments made about it in my Blog Number 39 from 2010. About all I said then was to note the time remaining for each side after certain moves. The main story was the acute time trouble, first for Mr. Sells, and before the end for Mr. Mockler also. In fact time was so short that game scores suffered. It was only through the efforts of the players and Bill Townsend that what we have to look at today was reconstructed.

Part of the very truncated story told in 2010 was Mr. Sells” excellent results in time trouble. Prior to this game, it was the same year I believe, Philip won a game from Steve Taylor, and with the Championship of the Saratoga Club, in a similar time trouble situation. The Editor’s Choice category gives the opportunity to look at this interesting contest in greater detail than just as a discussion of time problems.

Mr. Mockler’s flag dropped before he could make his next move. The last 13 moves were played under extreme time pressure. It was one more good performance by Philip Sells in such a situation. This win was his margin of victory in the Schenectady Championship finals for 2010 ahead of: Chi, Mockler, Howard, Phillips and Rotter. The game came not long after another excellent performance in the Saratoga Championship ahead of Steve Taylor and Jon Feinberg. He defeated both of these strong players while in the same kind of difficult time pressure as he was against Mockler. Time trouble brings out some of Sells’ best chess.

Getting Philip Sells into time trouble was not hard around the years 2010 and 2011. Defeating him when he had almost no time on the clock was not so easy. In the last couple of years Sells has improved his handling of the clock. This is not to say he does not fall into time pressure from time to time. Lately I have not seen the extreme time shortages of 2010/2011. I am sure this is good for Philip and for his chess, but selfishly we spectators miss the dances along the high wire of time trouble he had treated us to previously.

Illustrative games:


Author: Bill Little

I began playing chess at the Schenectady Chess Club in 1950. I was just a little guy, and the warm welcome there and then won my devotion to the game and to the Club. Over the many years with the Club I have won the Championship four or five times. My rating peak was just under 2100. Today I am lucky to hang in in middle 1900s.