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Are there benefits to playing blitz or bullet as a beginner?

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Chamaecyparis
As a beginner should you play any fast games at all and if so how should you go about it?
From what rating does playing blitz make sense to improve your game and why?

What would be a good ratio spending time between slow games, study and fast games?

Do fast games make you think quicker? (Seems like the blunder rate can be high)

What do fast games teach you about time control?

Looking forward to hear educated opinions from more experienced and strong players.
KeSetoKaiba
Chamaecyparis wrote:
As a beginner should you play any fast games at all and if so how should you go about it? I wouldn't recommend anything shorter than 10 min (per side) in chess for beginners. Longer time controls are usually better for learning and especially true for lower rated players. Why? Simply put, you need more time to think and "extra" thinking time to consider your options and look for improvements before you move. You can't do this in speed chess when starting out because you lack the pattern recognition to quickly see things in the position and probably don't even know what to look for yet. More experienced players can perform better in speed chess, but even then, speed chess is typically avoided.
 
From what rating does playing blitz make sense to improve your game and why? Even at higher ratings, long time controls are still preferred for quality. It is just that your games get to a point where you can play many more games pretty decently versus one game slightly more accurately and it might make sense for long-term improvement to get a larger sample size/volume of games and this means playing speed chess more often. Probably 1800+ speed chess becomes more acceptable because by then the player is probably proficient at positional ideas and has a strong sense of pattern recognition. Even at this level, speed chess isn't usually recommended though and at 2000+ rating currently (who knows, I might drop again, rating fluctuates a lot), I play more rapid than speed chess.

What would be a good ratio spending time between slow games, study and fast games? I'd play like 90% of my games at slower time controls if speaking about a player under 1200 rating. The last 10% can be occasional speed chess if they want to have fun or experiment with shorter time controls to gain experience with it, but even then, the speed chess probably won't facilitate learning much.

Do fast games make you think quicker? (Seems like the blunder rate can be high) Yes and yes. This is the primary danger of speed chess. You don't want to condition your mind to move quicker because they you'll find it tougher to patiently think during longer time controls and you'll be prone to blunders. Even if you play longer time controls regularly, I would recommend playing one you are comfortable with and then occasionally playing a different time control just to help prevent conditioning you to moving at a single pace. 
 
An example could be playing 10 min rapid regularly and occasionally playing 30 min rapid or 5 min blitz just so you don't condition yourself to only moving at a pace of 10 min chess. You can condition your mind into a certain rhythm for any time control, but there is more danger in conditioning it to move faster than the opposite.

What do fast games teach you about time control? Similar to above, mixing up time controls can teach you about time management skills and help prevent you from moving at one pace only. However, fast games in particular don't teach you much about time control; this comes from the varying of time controls so keep aware of the clock remaining and how you manage it (especially under pressure while remaining calm).

Looking forward to hear educated opinions from more experienced and strong players. Happy to help. I'm sure most players will have similar views to me as many have said this about time controls too. What I am saying isn't new. It is just that the best speed chess players in the world are also the best chess players in the world at longer time controls. Learning chess at longer time controls translates some ability into speed chess, but lesser so the inverse as improving at speed chess doesn't always mean you have strong chess ability at longer time controls; they might just be quick at moving for that time control.

(My responses in bold above)

jg777chess

There are far more drawbacks as a beginner to playing speed chess than benefits. I’d learn how to play chess with some proficiency before diving into the speed chess arena. Primarily speed chess can create bad habits and thought processes that’ll slow your overall chess growth. 

-Jordan

tygxc

@1

"As a beginner should you play any fast games at all" ++ No

"From what rating does playing blitz make sense to improve your game and why?"
++ Blitz never improves, it is for fun only.
Improvement comes from analysis of lost games. It is not worth it to analyse blitz.

"What would be a good ratio spending time between slow games, study and fast games?"
50% slow games e.g. 15|10, 50% analysis, 0% fast games.

"Do fast games make you think quicker?"
++ No, it is the other way around: slow games grow an intuition you need for blitz.

"What do fast games teach you about time control?"
++ 1|0 bullet grows you a confidence that you can play 60 moves in 1 minute in time trouble.

maafernan

Hi! Yes there are benefits playing Blitz but be careful about Bullet games.

Let me tell you a little about my experience with Biltz. I learned the fundamentals  of the game at my local chess club (children's school of chess-say up to 14 years old)  where strong /titled players (some of them eventually became CM, FM, IM, GM, national champions...) were educated. An important share of the activities was to play 5/0 Blitz under the watch of our instructors -some were tematic i.e. only pawns, specific openings, but of course other were just normal games. Short tournemnts were organized and small prizes (i.e. old magazines) given to the best placed. So playing Blitz is beneficial no doubt.

At the time I never heard of bullet time control instead, and never played either (I think the shortest time control was 4/0 when in blitz tournements with handicap vs lower rated players, e.g. 7/0 vs 4/0). Bullet is something that was just possible with digital clocks that allow precision and of course in on-line play. I would not recommend a beginner to spend too much time playing bullets, perhaps 5-10% maximum of the total chess activities, and mainly for fun.

Good luck!

 

Chamaecyparis

thank you for all your thoughtful answers!

Kraig

This is a hot topic with people on either side. I am well aware I am in the minority here, but I am an advocate of blitz play for improving players. In 2019, I was 600. In 2022, I broke 2100. I did this by almost exclusively playing blitz (rapid accounts for about 10% of my games, and even then, most of that is 10+0).

How did I improve then? Well - I learnt about chess through study, lessons, tactics, youtube, etc then applied what I knew in blitz, analysing games and refining openings.
Whilst I never practiced rapid, whenever I dabled back into rapid, my overall strength had vastly improved and I gained rapid rating points rather quickly. There is definitely a downside to this: A blitz player has the potential to be too shallow with calculation and/or impatient when playing longer time controls - but with enough practice and discipline, this can be limited.
It really depends on what you want to play though.

The short answer - play what you enjoy. I'd never have enjoyed playing longer games, so if I was told that was the only way to improve, I'd probably not have hung about long enough to get good. If you enjoy blitz, play it, that's the most important thing. If you don't, play rapid. You will improve at both. Whether you improve 10% faster doing one over the other is par for the course if playing for fun!

If you simply just play blitz and dont analyse or don't learn/study chess on top of that - improvement will be limited, you need to make sure you're still learning, but the same would apply to an extent in rapid too.

I'd avoid bullet though. It's usually too fast for a beginner or improving player to derive anything meaningful from that and will probably just hinder development by making you too impatient even in blitz games. Start off with 5+0 or 3/5 min games with an increment to build experience.

KevinOSh

From what rating does playing blitz make sense to improve your game and why?
What would be a good ratio spending time between slow games, study and fast games?

Benefits of fast chess is you get experience of a lot of different openings in a short space of time. Assuming you analyze your games afterwards, which is important, then you get very fast feedback on how you are doing and how you can do better.

If you want to become a strong player, then more time should be spent playing slow games than blitz games. Because too much blitz creates bad habits that spill over into your slower chess games.

Do fast games make you think quicker? (Seems like the blunder rate can be high)

Not much. Blitz and bullet games force you to make quicker decisions and that is why they have a high blunder rate as you point out. Moves are generally played on instinct and intuition. It can be harmful for slower games because finding good moves involves a lot of thinking and that takes time.

1g1yy

I would say there is absolutely no benefit. 15/10 is a good time control for beginner to intermediate players.  With too little time you'll simply never have time to do anything but get practice using a mouse.  Conversely, too much time is not great either because you need at least a certain amount of experience to even make use of the time.  If  your calculation ability isn't up to where more time is useful, you're wasting time imho. 

It will have a negative impact on your game, and in my opinion, profoundly negative.  Some puzzle rush for mouse speed is all you need to play blitz / bullet at whatever level you are capable.  But playing slower games is the only thing that will help you think better and improve.

neatgreatfire

It developed my intuition / tactics a lot, but gave me some bad habits which I struggled with during a few OTB tournament. 

654Psyfox

No.

llama36

The traditional answer is speed chess is poison.

But a practical observation is that kids who improve tremendously quickly play all sorts of time controls, and a LOT of games... although the cause and effect is unclear. Playing an obsessive number of games across every different time control indicates passion, and that may be the real reason they improve so much so quickly.

Anyway, even super star young players play lots of long games and do serious study. No one with any sense will tell you that the best way to improve is to exclusively play fast games.

1g1yy

Here's a good, relevant discussion that's gotten a lot of mileage here.

https://www.chess.com/forum/view/general/how-blitz-and-bullet-rotted-my-brain-don-t-let-it-rot-yours

inkium
Chamaecyparis wrote:
As a beginner should you play any fast games at all and if so how should you go about it?
From what rating does playing blitz make sense to improve your game and why?

What would be a good ratio spending time between slow games, study and fast games?

Do fast games make you think quicker? (Seems like the blunder rate can be high)

What do fast games teach you about time control?

Looking forward to hear educated opinions from more experienced and strong players.

Back when I was a beginner, I did play quite a bit of fast games but found they didn't help. You should be playing mostly Rapid. No need for classical, unless you enjoy that