Upgrade to Chess.com Premium!

Playing Blitz

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | Jun 28, 2010
  • | 33570 views
  • | 65 comments

People often ask me if they should play blitz, how helpful it is in terms of improving in chess. Experts’ views on this differ. Those who enjoy playing blitz often claim that it is very useful, and serves as an indicator of a chess player’s skills. Others, like Botvinnik, look down on this time control and prefer “not to waste time on entertainment.”

Nonetheless, nowadays time controls are getting shorter and tie-breaks more popular. Thus even skeptics have to take blitz more seriously. For example, it was quite surprising that Topalov was determined to avoid tie-breaks in the last WC match against Anand, and totally neglected his rapid and blitz preparation. It is no secret that Vishy is better at shorter time controls, but why give your opponent such a psychological advantage?

Let me offer you a few recommendations on blitz. Of course, none of us is perfect, I don’t follow all of them myself, but at least I’m trying:

1)    Treat blitz as a way of revising your openings. If you see that you don’t remember the plan and moves in a familiar position, here is your reason to go over your preparation once again after the game.
2)    Play a few games and stop to analyze them. Pay special attention to mistakes and gaps in preparation. This is easy to do if you’re playing online since all the moves are stored automatically. In otb chess the problem is that you might not be able to memorize all the games you have played. Therefore, you should either play less games before taking a break to record them, or improve your memory.
3)    If you haven’t played chess for a long time, you can try to regain your chess shape with the help of a few blitz games. Sometimes it’s extremely helpful.
4)    If you feel you are playing badly (compared with your regular level), try to relax and forget about revenge. Return to blitz some other day when your mood and chess shape are better. This way you will save rating points or money (if you are playing for a stake, which I avoid doing).
5)    Blitz requires extreme concentration. Before an important blitz event one should sleep well, prepare psychologically and consume enough food to last through all the rounds.
6)    Don’t mess with park players, chess hustlers. They have lots of dirty tricks up their sleeve: “acting like noobs,” fixing the clocks, chess-bluffing, provocation, etc. – all aimed at separating you from your money.

Conflicts are much more widespread in blitz than in classical chess. Here and there you can see someone queening the wrong way, trying to win rook vs rook, etc. In my opinion, chess wins are not worth risking the comfort of your conscience. I don’t understand people who love playing on time in dead drawn positions only because they have 2-3 seconds more on the clock. Naturally, emotions overflow, everyone wants to win, but, after all, one should act human.

Blitz is very addictive. When 15-year old Bobby Fischer came to the USSR and visited the legendary Central Chess House in Moscow, he ended up playing blitz for hours against the Soviet masters. As a result, Petrosian was summoned during the night to defend the honor of Soviet chess. Other opponents were no good against the American chess legend…

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/post-24244-1245218829.jpg

Later on Fischer proved his addictedness to blitz by occasionally playing Tal all night long.  Mikhail recalled that once Fischer came to his hotel room after the end of a tournament and said: “I have packed up my suitcases and bought a ticket for a plane, but I am ready to return it if you agree to stay for a blitz marathon.”

Performance in blitz is unstable: one day you may score great against a certain field, and the other day fail.  We could see that during the last Blitz World Championship. After the first day Anatoly Karpov made the news by emerging in the leading group, but finished the event in the “cellar” of the tournament table.

It is well-known that young brains think faster than old. Therefore, most top blitz players are young men. Women’s results are way more modest. Misogynists believe that women don’t know how to play blitz at all. Some even say the same about chess in general. Nonetheless, when Judit Polgar and Alexandra Kosteniuk received special invitations to compete at the World Blitz Championship last year, they upset quite a few top players, and scored decently overall.

While most blitz games take place online, I don’t like the idea of holding online chess events with prizes. As one can trace by reviewing the standings of the traditional Dos Hermanas tournament held annually at ICC, scandals occur all the time. Rating favorites (2700+ FIDE players with online ratings of 3400—3700) somehow get eliminated by relatively unknown IMs and GMs rated 2900-3000 ICC. Of course, this leads to complaints from leading world blitz experts – including the #1 US player Hikaru Nakamura – that their opponents have computer assistance. The anti-cheating methods which are supposed to prevent it don’t work out that well. One may disqualify the innocent, or leave someone’s misdoings unpunished (rewarded, in fact!). This spoils the impression of the event. As to female chess competitions, things are even trickier. Here one’s boyfriend/husband/friend may play for the girl, and the anti-cheating control won’t help at all. This factor is just one reason for my decision not to play in the recent qualifier for the World Women Blitz Championship Semi-Final held at PlayChess. Others include: that I have already qualified (with FIDE rating over 2350), that I prefer trying to conceal my preparation, and that I rather give lower-rated female players a chance to qualify.  By the way, after 8 rounds of the event the tournament software started malfunctioning, and all the participants (including a few top-20 players in the world) were kindly asked to “come back tomorrow and restart from round 1.” No comments.

The championship itself will take place in Moscow in October, just before the Chess Olympiad. Don’t miss it! ;-)
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/wsmg.jpg

To end the story about blitz on a positive note, let me share with you a game from the 1st World Mind Sports Games in 2008 where our Russian team won gold. One day before the tournament I felt my shape was not good enough, and decided to play a training blitz match online against my second IM Vlad Akselrod. Initially I lost a few games, but then got angry (in the sports sense) and struck back. As a result, I was prepared well enough to win all 11 games the next day and score a nearly 3000 performance against a rather strong field (see the table):

Final Ranking after 11 Rounds

No.
Name Rtg Team Pts. Games % Bo. Rp
1 RUS WGM Pogonina Natalija 2474 Russia 11,0 11 100,0 2 2941
2 VIE WFM Pham Le Thao Nguyen 2304 Vietnam 9,5 11 86,4 2 2547
3 RUS WFM Gunina Valentina 2381 Russia 9,5 11 86,4 3 2525
4 MGL WIM Anhchimeg Bayanmonh 2146 Mongolia 9,5 11 86,4 3 2490
5 RUS GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2525 Russia 8,5 11 77,3 1 2486
6 CHN WGM Ruan Lufei 2496 China 8,0 8 100,0 4 2855
7 CHN WGM Huang Qian 2430 China 8,0 9 88,9 3 2591
8 CHN WGM Hou Yifan 2578 China 8,0 10 80,0 1 2563
9 HUN WGM Gara Anita 2312 Hungary 8,0 11 72,7 2 2463
10 IND IM Harika Dronavalli 2462 India 8,0 11 72,7 2 2454
11 UKR WGM Zdebskaja Natalia 2419 Ukraine 8,0 11 72,7 2 2411
12 ENG IM Houska Jovanka 2399 England 7,5 10 75,0 1 2337
13 SWE WIM Andersson Christin 2132 Sweden 7,5 10 75,0 2 2321
14 AUS IM Berezina Irina 2252 Australia 7,5 11 68,2 1 2431
15 BLR WIM Azarova Nadezhda 2308 Belarus 7,5 11 68,2 1 2338
16 CHN GM Zhao Xue 2518 China 7,0 9 77,8 1 2511
17 PHI
Cua Sherily 2143 Philippines 7,0 10 70,0 1 2406
18 IND IM Tania Sachdev 2425 India 7,0 11 63,6 1 2390
19 IRI WIM Pourkashiyan Atousa 2241 Iran 7,0 11 63,6 2 2268
20 ITA
Panella Fiammetta 2004 Italy 6,5 9 72,2 3 2118

The full tournament table is available here  

Here is one of the games I played at the event against WIM Arianne Caoili (more known for being Levon Aronian’s girlfriend and a notable person in chess beauty contests):

 

Good luck in your blitz games! Wink

Comments


  • 5 months ago

    27052003

    I do not like playing blitz though I do play occasionaly

  • 10 months ago

    egycottonbrocker

    Blitz is very funny and very healthy for brain but if you are comming to join a classical tournement you should stop playing Blitz about one month before the tournement starting .

  • 10 months ago

    gaurav_knight

    Do we need to write moves in b litz games as well? How can u play a move, push thed clock button the clock & write the moves? please reply.

  • 16 months ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

    Twitter
    YouTube
    Facebook:
    Account 1, Account 2, Account 3
    VKontakte
    LiveJournal
    Google+

  • 17 months ago

    egycottonbrocker

    blitz through live chess is very great.

  • 17 months ago

    paulkeres

    Great article ! Simple and Sound.

  • 2 years ago

    neilparker62

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blitz - was an interesting read.

    I think when I learn to play blitz well I will also play better in longer games. It's all about training/disciplining the mind to track through variations efficiently and having the confidence not to keep 'retracking' over and over again. You can develop such skills playing  blitz without worrying too much about losing (I lose all the time but nonetheless keep experimenting with gambits and  speculative sacs!). 

  • 3 years ago

    egycottonbrocker

    BLITS is very useful when you haven’t played chess for a long time, you can try to regain your chess shape with the help of a few blitz games .

    playing chess enhances your opening it helps you to discover your openibg mistakes

  • 3 years ago

    dany1111

    hiii

  • 4 years ago

    egycottonbrocker

    good article , i know now three tupes of chess   clasical , chess 960 and Blitz

  • 4 years ago

    Draebi

    There is possibly one negative factor in playing blitz and that is that you may be reinforcing bad habits.  i.e. making the wrong move in a given position rather than the right move. Longer time controls allow you to find the correct move in many positions.  My old piano teacher always used to say that it is better to play a measure correctly 3 times than incorrectly 30 times (reinforcing bad habits). Botvinnik did not like blitz, Tal played tons of blitz.  Go figure.

    Having said all that, nevertheless, blitz is a lot of fun.   

          

  • 4 years ago

    FabioR

    Great Article!!! Many Thanks

  • 4 years ago

    BalticKnight

    Great article!

  • 4 years ago

    AndreaCoda

    Excellent article - many thanks for sharing!

  • 4 years ago

    archIsKing

    Great Article!

    I always play a few blitz games on the board before a tournament. It really helps!

  • 4 years ago

    ColonelCrockett

    when speaking of blitz chess and women you mentioned Judit and Alexandra's invitations. Alexandra was the bottom seed and performed remarkably well ... proving in my opinion that women rating are artificially deflated by their smaller sampling of players (playing only in women's events ... bad, bad, bad!).

  • 4 years ago

    tommygdrums

    Hi Natalia,

     

    Do you have any designs on writing a chess instruction book?  Your chess.com articles are always well written and very instructive!!  One small comment you made in your recent article on openings has completely changed the way I think about studying openings!

  • 4 years ago

    silaskulkarni

    BTW, I am saddened, but not surprised to discover how much people's perception of women's roles affects women who play chess.   Chess beauty contests?    Isn't it clear that focus on appearance or dating (famous for being Levon Aronian's girlfriend?) will certainly take focus away from the game and produce lower results.  I once read a psychological study that had men and women take a math test in normal clothing and then again in bathing suits.  In normal clothing they performed equally. When wearing bathings suits the women performed significantly worse.   Why?  Because wearing bathing suits made the women feel self-conscious about their appearance and they had a harder time focusing on the math.  It's very frustrating to see that the pressure for women to be pretty and attractive invades every sphere even one so purely mental as chess.

  • 4 years ago

    silaskulkarni

    I really enjoy blitz, but I think it can be too addictive.  I have more than once played 6, 7, 8 hours straight of interent blitz chess and find that I have great difficulty stopping once I get started.  I also find that when I fall into the compulsive cycle of rematch after rematch, the quality of my play declines.  In fact the longer I play in one sitting the more certain I am to have a drop in my rating. 

  • 4 years ago

    mobidi

    Nice psichological and strategical victory against weaker opponent.Realization is very hard always and all opponents are dangerous, your stile in this game was optimal.Good luck!

Back to Top

Post your reply: