I stink at blitz. Will trying to improve ruin my standard game?


I am hopelessly terrible at games under about G/15. My brain turns off and all I can think about is how little time I have. I've only been trying to improve at chess for about a year (learned when I was a little kid, but only played very occasionally and casually before getting addicted to chess.com last year), and in that time my board evaluation speed has certainly improved, but it's like I'm a different player when there is a fast time control, and I feel like an idiot. I drop pieces all over the place.

I'm interested in improving at quick games, especially since I think it'd be a good way to practice new openings I'm interested in trying out, but right now the most important thing to me is to improve on my standard OTB games (My normal time control is 40/90, SD/60). So, what are all you guys' thoughts on this? Should I not play blitz at all for now? Just not worry about the fact that I'm really really bad at it, and practice until I find my brain? Do you think my slower game will suffer if I spend time practicing blitz? Advice welcomed.


Just wanted to add that most of the online blitz I've played has been on ICC because I can play on my iPhone. My blitz rating there is about 850. Depressing.

Updated to add: and my USCF standard rating is currently 1670


What happens to your playing when you start running out of time in longer time controls? Does it feel the same as playing blitz, or can you concentrate better because you've been concentrating on the game the entire time?

I can't give you much of a hint except maybe hang in there and keep on practicing. If you come from the correspondence chess angle - chess.com online chess - then it's not going to be easy to come to grips with time controls. On the other hand, there isn't much of a reason to get awesome at blitz if you do fine at regular time controls.

(Part of the problem might be that you're playing chess with a handheld device, possibly doing something else alongside?)


Yes, it helps and No it doesn't. i thought it helped when I was lower rated. But then I realized that all it did was speed up my play. That is, I only played superficial moves and didn't really look deeply. I have spent twenty plus years trying to slow up my game and play better moves. Did playing speed help? I really don't know.


Personally since playing blitz I have seen my standard games results rocket, however you need to spend a good 10-15 mins at the beginning of the game to get into the rhythm. 

Play for fun, and I personally dont find longer games on the internet fun.. no real sense of achievement if you know what i mean


Blitz is not for everyone. At least you recognize that it may not be right for you. Others never learn this and they just blunder on...and on...


If you want to improve, you must first understand why you are losing. 

Are you losing due to tactics? Then I suggest that you identify which move led to your opponent's tactical shot and see how you could have avoided it. Practicing tactics on chesstempo.com also helps.

Are you losing because your clock time is running out? Perhaps it might be a good idea to play bullet 1 0 chess. In this sort of chess, you make moves very unreflectively. This will help you speed up your game hopefully.


I am no expert (Blitz 1150 here) but I have found that by FAR the greatest improvement in my Blitz game has come from books like John Bains' "Tactics for Students" or David MacEnulty's "The Chess Kids Book of Tactics".

I bought these books for my children, but they have been extremely useful to me!  The tactics are split into 10-15 chapters, each for a tactical motif (Pin, Fork, Skewer, Zugzwang, Remove the Defender, etc.)  This helps me see tactical motifs quicker on the board, and whenever I win a game it is because I pulled a tactic out and clobbered my opponent with it.

You could try the Tactics Trainer here, also (go into settings and specify a setting of 500-1000 difficulty and "unrated" if you want the basic tactical motifs).  If you are not a paying member here, chesstempo.com also has thousands of excellent tactics problems for free.

I have read many articles on how to learn chess (being an adult learner myself), and many respected teachers write that the most effective road to chess improvement under 2000 rating is to develop Tactical Mastery or "Chess Vision".

If you study tactics tin order to improve you Blitz, I would imagine that will also improve your game at longer time controls.


What age are you?

As you can see in my profile I'm 49, left chess at 17 and just retake it few months ago. 31 years without playing!!  

How I feel about my game? I'm wiser and play better online but I tried blitz and I sucked. Less memory, less reflexes and in general, slower thinking. And this is aging. Why do you think Kasparov withdrew at 42? Still Korchnoi, amazing at his 80 years, is  200 below his higher Elo and I'm sure if he plays blitz he will blunder.

Many players think blitz is fun but for me is not if I play badly. Bad chess is not fun. It could be for those who take chess as playing dices but not for me.

Higher and younger rated players find blitz useful because they have good memory, know many opening lines and endings and blitz is a fast way to check these lines. In my case I don't have half the memory when I was a teen and I play through intution basically.

My advice is to increase your time limit. If you are not satisfied with your game playing 10 min, go to 20 or 30. When you begin to sense satisfaction decrease the time limit slowly.


Thank you everyone for the feedback! I think most of my problem is just some sort of psychological block on the fast time control. It seems to put me almost in a panicky state for the whole game, I'm not sure why... Maybe that's something that will calm down the more I try.


davidegpc wrote:Maybe you need to do a lot of tactic problems (more than 5000) and then your OTB and Blitz rating will skyrocket. I also notice you are a diamond member so follow the chess mentor courses on tactics.

I'd consider myself something of a tactics addict. I have done more than 5000 problems on the tactics trainer here (Most from my iPhone!). My tactics rating has taken a beating due to bugs in the latest app update from last week and as a result I've stopped doing them from there until the app updates again, but hopefully that'll happen in the next couple of days. I don't think lack of tactics skills is my problem in blitz, because they seem to serve me well in my slower games.


 Silfer wrote: What happens to your playing when you start running out of time in longer time controls? Does it feel the same as playing blitz, or can you concentrate better because you've been concentrating on the game the entire time?

I do better in time pressure on my long games than on any part of my blitz game. Maybe when I'm down to about 1 or 2 minutes left I get panicky and go a little stupid, but I think having had the game firmly in my head keeps me from losing my head earlier.


(Part of the problem might be that you're playing chess with a handheld device, possibly doing something else alongside?)

I focus on the game even though I'm playing on my phone. I don't start a game unless I have nothing else going on. I play my turn based games on here from my phone as well, and pretty much all of my tactics training, so I'm very used to the small interface.


 diogens wrote: What age are you?

I'm 33, so hopefully don't have too much of aging brain yet! I definitely like your suggestion of starting with a higher time control and slowly decreasing. I also agree with it not being fun if I'm playing bad chess. If I don't see some serious improvements on the fast game, I will probably decide it's not for me pretty soon!

I find Blitz is a very different skill set. And I also think that Blitz on an actual board is different again than playing on the screen. My personal experience is that people improve generally their overall chess play better with tournament style time controls. Playing Blitz alongside is fine but it's main purpose is fun. I think it takes many years of normal chess experience before you can expect getting much better in Blitz.

Budgeting around 20% of your chess time to blitz is probably good for your game because you will get into time scrambles in your tournament games where you must come up with sound moves quickly.


Playing blitz will improve your memorization and think-process significantly. You will notice things easier, and since you already do tactics, looking for positional patters and tricks should come in handy with the tactic skills you've learned. Probably 75 percent of the time someone will play the same thing to your opening, and you'll eventually find a way to beat it.  


GM Allan Stig Rasmussen claims that blitz chess is one of the best ways to improve at chess.