Thursday, January 29, 2015

Speeding up Shogi

I'd love to play a game of shogi, but I don't have time.

That's a common complaint. We all have limited time, and an hour to play, even our favorite game, is hard to come by. And if one or more of the players tend to think for a long time on each move, forget about a quick game.

Shogi games between evenly matched opponents often take over a hundred moves to complete. They can even take hundreds of moves to finish. And, with shogi's highly developed handicap system, all games tend to be between evenly matched opponents. The number of moves adds up to a long game, very quickly.

Speed up your games with a good digital clock and using byoyomi rules. These rules are typically applied to tournaments, but with small adjustments to the time allocations, can make a normally long game more manageable for anyone's tight schedule.

Amateur Shogi Tournament Time

Amateur shogi tournament time consists of X minutes of regular time plus Y seconds per turn after regular time is used up. For example, 20 minutes of regular time for each play and an additional 30 seconds of time per move for players that have used up their regular time. The 30 seconds per turn, in this instance, is called byoyomi. Think of byoyomi as shogi overtime. Thirty seconds seems to be a common byoyomi for amateur shogi matches.

If a player takes longer than the allotted byoyomi time to finish his move, then he loses the game. This sounds a bit harsh, but if you don't stick to this rule, the game will never end.

Professional Shogi Tournament Time

In professional games, all time consumed is rounded down to the nearest minute. For example, if a player takes one minute and 59 seconds to make his move, the time lost for that turn is only one minute. Regular time for professional tournaments ranges from three hours to six hours. However, byoyomi in professional matches seems to always be 60 seconds for per move. As in amateur matches, failing to make a move in the time alotted by byoyomi results in loss of the game.

Fastest Shogi Games

Of course you can play by amateur or professional shogi tournament time rules, and adjust the regular and byoyomi times down to make your own game move faster. However, an even more exciting game comes from running your entire game in byoyomi.

Running an entire game in byoyomi is great practice for making moves under pressure, so is excellent shogi training. If you are training for an amateur tournament, set a time with all moves restricted to 30 seconds. This gets you used to making quick moves, so when your clock runs down at the tournament (and it will run down—they always do) you won't feel pressure or like your time is artificially restricted.

Making the entire game 60-second byoyomi simulates late games at professional matches. A game set entirely to 30-second byoyomi makes for great practice for amateur shogi matches. However, for the most exciting (and time efficient game, set a byoyomi of 10-seconds. Anyone can fit a game into their schedule if every move must be made in under 10 seconds.

Byoyomi Time Clocks

Not all game clocks support byoyomi. Look for clocks that specifically state that they support byoyomi. Clocks that support byoyomi for the game of go often will work for byoyomi for shogi. Check the reviews for the clock for any mention of how its byoyomi feature work. Also, look at the game clock's online user manual for further information about its byoyomi features.

Using shogi's byoyomi rules, should shorten shogi to a length of time that you can fit into even your busiest days, and improve your skill when playing under pressure.

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