Fast Chess

Fast Chess

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

Here is what you need to know about fast chess:


What Is Fast Chess?

Fast 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 60 minutes per player and sometimes considerably longer. 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 Chess.com are any time control longer than 10 minutes per player. The most popular rapid time controls on Chess.com 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 Chess.com by creating custom time controls (see the How To Play Speed Chess On Chess.com section below to learn how to create a custom time control). 

Blitz time controls on Chess.com are between three and 10 minutes per player. Blitz is the most popular time control on Chess.com with over 3.5 million blitz games played per day. The most popular time controls for blitz are 10|0, 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 Chess.com 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 Chess.com 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 Chess.com's IM Danny Rensch playing a bullet game with 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 Chess.com—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/Chess.com.

In 2019 the Chess.com Bullet Championship was held to crown the bullet champion. The event had eight participants: GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Sergey Karjakin, Federico Perez Ponsa, Olexandr Bortnyk and Alireza Firouzja—a star-studded field of top players. Nakamura won the event after 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 Chess.com's large events use speed chess time controls, including the Speed Chess Grand Prix, PogChamps, FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup, The Adopt-A-Danny series.

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

How To Play Speed Chess On Chess.com

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

speed chess
Setting up a speed chess game on Chess.com is easy.

After you have selected the time control you would like to play, simply press the orange "Play" button. Chess.com then automatically pairs you with another Chess.com 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" button in the time control pull-down menu. Under the "More" option, you can select the "Custom" button. You may enter your desired time control in these fields (minutes and increment) and then select the orange "Play" button.

Custom time control
The custom time control option in Live Chess.

Conclusion

You now know what fast chess is; what time controls are used for rapid, blitz, and bullet; and how to play speed chess on Chess.com. 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 Live Chess and play some games now!