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If you’re anything like me, you’ve been sucked into the world of online chess games. I’m not talking about your standard game with its slow-paced gameplay and meticulous planning… I’m talking about blitz chess! It’s a high-stakes, fast-paced game that will have you on the edge of your seat as every move counts; but does playing blitz help your chess?
Super short time control chess such as Blitz chess leaves little thinking time and a whole new skillset to tactical decision making which can see you picking up bad habits in your chess game. If you can analyze your games, learn from it and apply to your classical game, blitz can help.
There are times when blitz chess and the game of speed will help you a lot, but it can also do more harm than good to your overall chess improvement. I’ll first show you the downsides of playing too many blitz games before showing an idea of how it can actually help you to improve your game.
The disadvantages of playing too much blitz
There are some disadvantages to playing Blitz chess that can harm your improvement if not managed correctly, including picking up bad habits, repeating mistakes and no overall strategy being employed
1. No improvement
Improving chess is difficult when you play too many blitz games. Let me give you a clear example. Imagine you are playing up to 100 blitz games per day. Out of them, how many games do you analyze to find out where you went wrong? Zero?
Until and unless you analyze, you won’t be aware of the typical mistakes you make in a quick game. Because of this, you will repeat the same mistakes over and over in a game including worse pattern recognition. This brings me to another very important point…
2. Bad Habit Pattern Building
When you repeat the same mistakes in a game, you are subconsciously building a pattern of bad habits. All of this adds up and this could hijack your own growth in chess skill. This is a huge downside to playing a fast time control game like a three-minute game.
3. Emotional Decision making
Answer this question honestly – Why do you play a lot of rapid chess? I bet a lot of you would agree that you play because it gives you a certain emotional high. What happens when you win a game in blitz, mercilessly flagging your opponent in the endgame?
You feel fast. You feel thrilled. You feel like the king or queen of the world. You may even be on the verge of chess addiction. (Oh yes! It’s real!)
Similarly, what happens when you lose?
You experience a feeling of defeat and of pain. That motivates you to keep playing until you win the game. This vicious cycle keeps repeating itself until you realize that you’ve spent an extra hour playing blitz, without doing anything useful for your chess improvement.
Also the more you play, the harder it is to be emotionally disciplined. At the same time, you keep reinforcing the bad patterns in your head.
4. Short Term Thought Processes
Blitz chess relies more on short term-plans than on the deep and long-term ones. Just like the time control, the tempo of the game is usually fast-paced. This limits your ability to think deeply and you miss the richness of the possibilities in the given position.
5. All Tactics – No Strategy!
Because blitz chess relies on short term plans over long term ones, this means most of the time, tactics become more important than the right strategy. As a result, a lot of players switch to full tactical mode without paying enough attention to strategy. Over a long period of time, this could create a huge deficit in your understanding of chess strategy.
6. Confidence Bashing
Has it ever happened to you?
You were outplaying your opponent with some of the most sophisticated techniques, demonstrating your technique and suddenly out of the blue, your opponent switches to raw attacking mode and you’ve some position evaluation to do.?
Now you know the attack is dubious and unjustified. But the next thing you are doing is nervously defending your board position. Then suddenly your opponent sacrifices one of their pieces. It’s a mistake and you know it. So you accept it. But then comes another sacrifice. Now you spend your time thinking whether to accept it or not, until you have very little time left. The game continues, but you blunder in the time scramble and lose.
This has happened a lot of times with me. This often hits my confidence level and makes me doubt myself. If you continue playing in this fashion for too long without actually working on your chess, this could leave you feeling demotivated. In such cases, it becomes important to know when to pull the plug.
When is playing blitz chess helpful?
Whilst there can be disadvantages to playing Blitz chess to your overall improvement in playing chess, if you have read and understood those listed, and take the considerations on board, you will be in a good position to make the most of the potential benefits of playing the quick games.
1. Opening Theory Improvement
If you’re looking to memorize openings and play them fast, then blitz skill can be very useful. The important goal to achieve here is to not spend even a little time thinking on the opening. Instead you want to build a muscle memory and a familiar position of executing things fast in the opening.
2. Increase Your Ability to Think Quickly Under Pressure
Being good at blitz will help you play better chess under time limit trouble. You develop your natural instincts of calculation to think fast in bullet chess. Also your brain will acquaint itself to think under high-pressure, instead of simply going blank as it can in a slow game. This skill can come in handy in classical games when you get into time pressure.
3. Improved Intuition
This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of playing blitz under faster time control. Since you think fast, you develop a certain feel and tactical vision for positions. You begin to understand which pieces go where and what are the typical tactics that might exist in a position. All of this helps you in building your intuition.
4. More Practice at Self Analysis
This is the most important tip to remember while playing blitz. The more games you play, the more experience you gain. But it’s important to learn from them.
Therefore, analyzing your blitz games and learning from them is what will help you the most to improve in the long-term.
Maximize Blitz Playing to 1-2 Hours per day
It’s difficult to give an exact number but around 1-2 hours of blitz everyday should be more than sufficient.
Make sure to play it when your mind is fresh so that you can actively think and train your brain in the right manner. This will also have a positive impact on your result and help you in the long term.
What Kind of Blitz Player are you?
There are chess players who will dip into a blitz chess game from time to time, be that a 10-minute game or Bullet game.
Other players may limit the number of blitz games they play per day or week, and others may dedicated entire spans of time to playing Blitz chess and nothing else. Whether you are playing blitz to learn, improve quicker decision making skills or improving your identification abilities of mating patterns whilst under time control pressure
As a beginner player the lure of online blitz games can be too much, a great ay to satiate the new found desire in the game of chess, and at first it feels like you are learning so much by being able to score quick victories over another blitz chess player.
But whether that quick fire win has come over a stronger player or a weaker player, unless you analyze the game and discover what you did right and where the key moments were in the game and try to commit them to memory, the win will mean little next time you play.
A game of blitz is certainly not for the slow player, the person who needs time to consider the position of the board and what the next move in their strategy is. I would suggest that blitz for the amateur player is more about entertainment, whereas the more advanced player and strong player will be able to utilize elements of Blitz chess for good purposes.
Playing blitz chess can improve or damage your game depending on your outlook.
If you play blitz without analyzing your mistakes, then it could do you more harm than good. This is the main problem at the lower levels, where the players just keep playing without making corrections to their game.
However, blitz is a fantastic way to improve your intuition and to train your brain to think under pressure. Not to mention, it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to play chess.