A batter in baseball must have good timing or he will rarely connect with a pitch. A soccer player must have good timing or she will pass the ball well ahead of the intended target and to the opposing defense. Timing is just as important in the game of chess.
When a player becomes more and more skilled, the reasons for his or her losses become subtler. For instance, instead of losing because you hung a knight in the first dozen moves of the game, you are losing because of a single tempo lost in an endgame of equal material.
Many times the reason that a strong player loses to another strong player can be explained by a mistake in the timing of a plan or strategy. Such an error could occur in the opening with a breaking pawn move without sufficient development. In the middlegame, one could begin attacking without first ensuring the safety of one's own king. Or perhaps most commonly, a person may lose a tempo in the endgame, which allows the opponent to queen first and thereby win the game.
In this week's featured game, black makes a terrible error with 8=8Ae5?? This move is far too premature. His queenside bishop is not yet developed and nor are his rooks connected. Furthermore, this move allows white to take control of the position and choose the pawn structure for the middlegame. It turns out that white missed an opportunity for the advantage with 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.fxe5 Qxd3 11.exf6 Bh8 12.Nb3 Qf5 13.Qd6 c4 14.Nbd4 when white's position is superior.
On the contrary, black demonstrates his knack for timing with 30=8Ag5!? which kicks the rook from its post while also ensuring that the knight will never enter f4. This move also leads to the trapping and capture of white's bishop a few moves later.
Timing is everything. Next time you lose a close match and can't put your finger on the mistake, check the sequence of moves. Was your timing right?