Chess Terms
Blitz Chess

Blitz Chess

There are many different time controls in chess, but blitz chess (or fast chess) has become the time control of choice for most chess players. Let's learn more about blitz chess.

Here is what you need to know about fast chess:

What Is Blitz Chess?

Blitz chess (more commonly known as speed chess) simply refers to a game of chess that has a fast time control. Speed chess is fun to watch and to play. It has been suggested that the faster a time control is, the lower the quality of the game. This may be true, but the rush one gets from playing or watching fast time controls is difficult to match. Pre-moves, unusual and offbeat openings, blunders, and other craziness define speed chess.

Without speed chess, silly and awesome things like giant bullet chess wouldn't exist. It has the same rules as a normal game, but instead of playing online or using normal-sized pieces, you use giant pieces. Here is IM Danny Rensch playing GM Vachier-Lagrave in a giant bullet chess game:

Pretty cool, right? Getting back to fast chess, the word "fast" is subjective. For the purposes of this article, we use the widely accepted view that speed chess refers to games played faster than classical time controls, which are most commonly used for over-the-board (OTB) tournaments. According to FIDE, classical time controls refer to games that have at least 120 minutes per player. As an example, one game in the world championship chess match can last over six hours.

Speed Chess Time Controls

Speed chess is subdivided into rapid, blitz, and bullet time controls:

Rapid time controls on are any time control longer than 10 minutes per player. The most popular rapid time controls on are 30|0 and 15|10 (the same time control that FIDE uses for the World Rapid Championship), although many other rapid time controls can be created and played on by creating custom time controls (see the How To Play Speed Chess On section below to learn how to create a custom time control). 

Blitz time controls on are between three and 5 minutes per player. Blitz is the most popular time control on with over 3.5 million blitz games played per day. The most popular time controls for blitz are 5|0, and 3|0, although 3|2 is very popular as well. FIDE's World Blitz Championship time control is currently 3|2.

Bullet time controls on refer to any time control that is faster than three minutes per player. These are the fastest time controls and are the second most popular time controls on with almost a million bullet games played per day. The most popular time controls for bullet are 1|0 and 2|1.

Here is an example of's IM Danny Rensch playing a bullet game with the 16th World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Even with time odds (two minutes for Rensch versus one minute for Carlsen), the world champion is too much for our master to handle. 

Who Plays Speed Chess?

Anyone can play speed chess. From beginners to grandmasters, almost five million games of chess are played per day on—an overwhelming percentage (above 99 percent) of these games are at speed chess time controls. As of 2020, Carlsen is the reigning world champion for rapid and blitz time controls. 

speed chess
Magnus Carlsen with the 2018 World Chess Championship trophy. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In 2019 the Bullet Championship was held to crown the bullet champion. The event had eight participants, including GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Oleksander Bortnyk, Alireza Firouzja, and more. Nakamura won the event by defeating the young phenom Firouzja in round one, Aronian in round two, and Bortnyk in the final.

speed chess
Nakamura is the 2019 Bullet Champion.

Most of's large events use speed chess time controls, including the Speed Chess Grand Prix, PogChamps, FIDE Online Nations Cup, The Adopt-A-Danny series.

fast chess's Speed Chess Grand Prix is a premier speed chess event.

How To Play Speed Chess On

Playing a game of speed chess on is easy. Go to Play Online and locate the time control pull-down menu. Click the pull-down menu and select the time control that you would like to play.

how to set up a blitz chess game on
Setting up a speed chess game on is easy.

After you have selected the time control you would like to play, simply press the green "Play" button. then automatically pairs you with another user who is seeking a game with the same time control, and your match begins. 

You can create a custom time control by selecting the "More Time Controls" button in the time control pull-down menu. Under the "More Time Controls" option, you can select the "Custom" button. You may enter your desired time control in these fields (minutes and increment) and then select the green "Play" button.

option to select a custom time control in Play Online on
The custom time control option in Play Online.


You now know what fast chess is; what time controls are used for rapid, blitz, and bullet; and how to play speed chess on For most players, it takes time and experience to find their preferred time control. Some prefer slower games while others prefer faster ones; we are all different. Head over to Play Online and play some games now!

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