How often have we heard the following story…
“I had the game more or less under control. The judge yelled out ‘last turn’ and in order to get the last turn in my opponent and I agreed to play very quickly. On the last turn, he was able to grab an objective from me and win the game. Had we not played that last turn I would have had it.”
Where did this hypothetical player make his mistake? Most people would say that he messed up when he agreed to play the last turn; after all, had he said, “nah we won’t be able to finish,” he would have won. And that’s a perfectly valid answer to the question, but the proximate cause of his loss was more than likely the change in tempo.
|Control tempo, don't be controlled by tempo|
Pace of play is crucially important, and often neglected in playtesting. Most tournament games take place at a medium tempo/pace of play. It isn’t hurried speed turns, but it also isn’t a laid back casual pace where a single 2k game might take a whole Saturday afternoon. Therefore, most people would be best advised to practice games at a medium pace to better replicate the speed of decision making that you will be under at the event itself. This is fairly common sense.
I would definitely advise you to go one step further and play several games before you event at a sped up blitz round pace. I’ve touched on this before, but there is a reason why Chess experts play Blitz matches in order to hone their decision making. Not only does this sharpen their decision making processes under pressure, but it gives them the ability to dictate the pace of play with confidence.
This might be considered gamesmanship or unsportsmanlike by some, but it is true that most people will play at the pace of their opponent. If their opponent is playing quickly and with a sense of urgency, they will subconsciously speed up their own play. Most people do little to none blitz practice. A player looking to generate an advantage might begin to play quickly (a skill he has practiced) to see if his opponent (who hasn’t practiced it) will match his pace. If he matches the pace, the player has given himself a tremendous advantage in the game. If his opponent doesn’t respond to the change in pace, the player can just go back to his medium pace, with no loss.
Now that isn’t friendly gaming, it’s tournament gamesmanship. Come to your own conclusions about how and when to deploy that tactic.
But even if you don’t use that skill ‘offensively’ you can- and should- still hone the ability to play quickly for the inevitable times when you need to squeeze in another turn before time is called in the round in order to grind out a victory. You might not be gaming your tempo for an advantage, but you can certainly practice it so that you’re never placed at a disadvantage.