Thursday, September 17, 2015

How I gained 193 Rating points of Blitz in 18 days!

(this will be both posted to the forum and My own blogspot blog.  Irregardless of its usefulness to others- it represented a huge effort from me- and I think I gained important insight not only to blitz but also to OTB chess.)

First and foremost, I don’t want to debate the usefulness (or uselessness) of obsessing on Blitz chess.  I want to make it clear, that these are 10 minute game and that time control is definitely faster than I naturally play chess- does not stop one from making general plans (on the opponents time especially), and to a point making accurate calculations.  10:0 is not bullet chess and rapid mouse skills and instant pattern recognition, while handy, is not required!

I also want to make it clear, that I am not trying to be boastful with what is probably a pretty common achievement.  Lots of people gained 200 points , after their blitz score has the chance to settle and if they put in a  modest amount of chess improvement.  Its nothing extraordinary or epic… its simply personally satisfying- and I think some people that stagnate in these levels would do well to carefully read my observations and make small changes in the way that they play Blitz….

THERE.  Now most of my future competition has now  stopped reading- tl;dr. and we can get to the some of the observations I had.   These ‘observations’ are common things I see and I will group them into things to do and things NOT to do….

IF YOU WANT to be good at Blitz--- then DON’T

  • Don’t RESIGN. Hardly ever!  My own experience is that in Blitz, it can be hard to convert winning material to a win (the winning side is quite prone to premature and unsound attacks), that tricky sudden checkmate threats can be very effective, and that baring all of THAT the opponent still has to completely beat you before his clock goes to nothing.
The idea that the next game will be better, because you won’t make SO many mistakes is Naïve!  Mistakes tend to come in bunches (see next point). So if you still feel like you’ve got chessic determination- you should TRY to surprise your opponent who is lulled by his winning position. 
IF YOU DO resign, STOP playing for the night.  You’ve been beaten, your determination to win is spent and youre not seeing good moves and important threats- tomarrow night WILL be better.

  • Don’t Play On and on, when you are Losing!  This is a huge mistake I see a heck of a lot!  The point is you are losing for a reason.  Your tired, your distracted… your only kidding yourself to think that it won’t be the same next game,  Though, an important qualification--You can’t give up the moment you lose a game! see Next point.  Some games go bad, and you need to persevere.
But the Point is to determine where the occasional bad game threatens to become a massive Rating retreat.  
One mental Mistake I was making was thinking that if I fell behind a few games I had to play on and on to Catch up.   This is Almost like a gambling disease, where a compulsive loser plays deeper and deeper into his checkbook to try to get back his fortune.  “Know when to fold em” is what the lyrics say, and a good blitz chessplayer- knows that when you are shedding points It is time to quit
  • Don’t Spend lots of time looking for the Best move, or playing complicated ones… The Advice to look for a Better move (once you find a good strategic/tactical move) is REALLY bad in blitz.  Instead, blitz is about NOT missing blunders, simplifying pieces and positions once you get ahead. And Being Just as careful in long chess about NOT giving the opponents easy tactical opportunities. If your behind in blitz you must quickly make the decision to hold against the opponent or ignore him looking for a sudden attack and checkmate; he isn’t expecting.   You can make rather simple quick moves and see if he makes the BAD mistake of SLOWING down to grind you down. If he can’t force a checkmate- you might be able to win Yet on Time!
This must be all done on a rapid assessment of the position.  Spend HIS time asking the same question he will be- Can the opponent force a checkmate with his extra peice?  Basically, if you Can’t find a hanging piece or win an easy tactic- you should try to have less time in the endgame and avoid losing! If you have a strong enough time advantage in a long Game, the game can SHOCKINGLY allow you to win AFTER the opponent has promoted queens and simply doesn’t have time to find the win – in a WON position…

IF YOU WANT to be good at Blitz--- then DO

  • First, AND FOREMOST…. BE under-Rated!  Yes, I know- OF COURSE- you are under-rated, but bear with me.  You are probably under-rated if you’ve done lots of tactical puzzles and noticed that you can solve more of them and quicker.  (solving Simple puzzles quick is VERY important in blitz).   You Are also probably under-rated if you’ve gone up in other time controls and not blitz.
You SHOULD not be routinely playing blitz to look for improvements in chess ANYWAY.  You need time to work on having a better thought process- But once you’ve achieved improvements in OTB or STD- then playing blitz makes more sense.  You are UNDERRATED and know only need to master the fine art of blitz….

  • Warm up BEFORE playing any game online.  I like playing a lowish level of chess titans.  If I am Sharp I can beat level 6 pretty easily and without dragging our the game and being very slow.   Its  a Great indicator whether I am In the mood.  Pick a challenging level thats you can definitely beat when you are playing good chess.  This is a nice way to warm up, and get a feel for how its going to go tonight.  I tried chess puzzles, but I think that a midlevel chess playing program is a much more accurate indicator. 

  • Play LOTS of game.  I’ve already warned you about NOT losing game after game… but you need to realize that you should still put in the time into the game- and that Means MORE games.  A single loss is NOT decisive.  Play with determination ! Play Game after Game- UNTIL you come to the end of a Winning streak (End at the first losing game)! or You begin a losing streak.  The point here is to stop when you’ve gained rating - your ahead, and before you’ve lost much ground! 

  • Know your openings- and Play the Same Openings as much as possible – given a certain sequence of moves- after you’ve played many games against people you get a very Good idea what your typical Opponent will play.  The knowledge is Far, far more important than GM theory.  The players that you are playing against think they are clearly good moves.  So they are Natural!  Do they commonly create strategic or tactical advantages??  Know YOUR traps thoughout your repertoire!  Just picking up the occasional win from a trap is a big deal in blitz and can make a steady rise.

  • Mostly and Lastly,  Seriously work on seeing the SIMPLE stuff ALL the time.  SPEND time looking at previous Games – how are you winning and losing?  Is Time a big issue in your games? what about tactics- do you routinely lose pieces?
When you Review games do so rapidly- looking for hanging pieces, simple tactics, and check mates.   Do so for all your moves- then your opponent moves- then Redo making your own moves…  do you repetitively give away pieces?
Hanging pieces, threats, and simple piece/pawn safety should be your obsession

LET ME end by Saying that  I think Chess Blitz can be Played two ways…

IN the first way you play aggressively, looking towards your opponents weaknesses.  Attackers (in Bltiz) have a BIG advantage… the opponent has to defend while at the same time- not fall badly behind on time.   If you play aggressively and seize the Attack- your time versus the opponent becomes less important.  You are pushing the opponent to panic and blunder- and it CAN work.   Often, opponents that feel stressed and attacked, just Resign.   This is the Chessy way to play it. ( you aim to win on attack and not time).

In the Second way you play more cautiously  – not being aggressive.  Sometimes you cede the center, but you carefully watch for threatening play (to squash it) and you make very sure your playing faster than your opponent.  If your defensive enough your opponent starts running out of time.  he might try an unsound attack. Either way your work to win on time.  Hypermodern black openings often work very well for this strategy.   This is the Bullet way to play it ( you aim to win on time and seeing your opponents big blunders).

SO WHAT is the Best for Blitz!?  NEITHER. The trick is to be able to do both.  The Whole Point of Blitz IS to be able to FLEXIBLY change your thinking speed without being inconsistent with important things- like looking for loose pieces and seeing serious threats.


  1. I think the danger of playing Blitz is : to get Used to Repeat classes of Bad moves. Positional Bad moves are not as important in Blitz as they are in OTB
    To prevent getting Used to Bad Habits i do my Blitz Sessions like this
    Play Game a
    Put Game a into a engine and search for errors >0.35
    While engine Analyse play Game b
    Look for the Blunders of game a
    Start blundercheck of game b
    While engine is analysing Play Game c
    And so on....

  2. thank you, -- yes it is time to stop playing Blitz... but definitely a good time to look for errors. playing blitz allows you a chance to see, when you are rushed for time, what kinds of errors you allow- and what kinds of errors you miss.

    as you know, this blog has been stuck in the "reducing blunder" idea , now , for quite a long while. it is time to seek that deeper positional understanding. I think it is time to give some of the many annotatized games and instructive minatures- time and attention.
    I also want to explore my blitz games now as map of ideas that worked and those that didn't.
    I had also thought of taking some of my blitz games and replying them against a PC- I have quite a few games where I was ahead, yet lost anyways. there might be instructive value in redoing those games and learning to convert a peice to a win.

    so the idea is that, though I don't think obsessively playing blitz has been that instructive- I might get a lot of instructive review of some of my weaknesses. but the point is, I need to quite obsessing SO much on the occasional odd (crazy) blunder.