13

Can you improve significantly in chess by playing mostly blitz (say, 3 0) games? Or will you eventually reach a wall where the only way to advance is by sitting down for lengthy periods analyzing board positions?

The way I see it, blitz is good because:

  • Lots of in-game experience
  • Board vision
  • Quick tactics practice

What's say chessexchange?

  • Blitz is good up to about FIDE 2000 strength. After that you need a bit more depth to your game to progress. – magd Jul 8 '15 at 19:12
  • by chess do you mean chess with lots of time (maybe no clock)? – hkBst Sep 25 '18 at 11:40
11

Blitz is good for working out the kinks in an opening repertoire and reinforcing themes that you already know, but it won't help if you want to learn new tactics or ideas.

Blitz is too fast to be conducive to figuring out new plans, especially 3 0.

There are some upsides to blitz, though. First and foremost, blitz is fun! If you have 20 minutes, a few blitz games are probably going to be more enjoyable than digging up an old master game and slogging through that. If you go over blitz games afterwards, you'll definitely learn more about your openings as well.

In terms of reinforcing themes and working on tactics, if you make an honest effort during the game to look for the best move and work out the complications (as opposed to just making speculative sacrifices), then yes, it can be useful.

So to summarize, nothing quite compares to going over games between two grandmasters, but blitz isn't terrible. Make sure that when you do end up playing slow games you settle down and think long enough on every move.

  • Sorry a kind of unrelated question now that you brought it up. I've always wondered how much experience one can get by going through other top player's games, vs. playing their own. I suppose second-hand experience can be much more powerful for a mental sport versus a physical one. – YoungMoney Aug 28 '12 at 23:34
  • 3
    It's hard to come up with new ideas in a vacuum, so that's the rationale for going through other players' games. Analyzing your own game is also important though. Related question about analyzing one's own games – Andrew Aug 28 '12 at 23:42
9

Mostly I agree with what everyone else has said. Blitz is great for practicing something you have already, or to just "try it out quickly," but it's not a good way to learn.

In fact, I find that if you play enough blitz you will eventually start getting worse at chess. Your ability to really think through moves diminishes.

So, I would say, treat it like spice. A little here and there is really good, but it should not be your main course.

  • I'm curious about how much is “enough”, and how hast it has to be (we're not talking about bullet, right ?). I consider I played more than my fair share of blitz games, not to mention many blitzed long games, but think this mostly reinforced what I already knew (I consider Andrew's answer to be excellent), and a few well-thought games in a while provide enough insights to actually get better, and have ideas to experiment in blitz. Imho. – Nikana Reklawyks Dec 8 '12 at 17:10
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    @NikanaReklawyks I think you pretty much have the right idea. Blitz mostly helps me for finding tactics quickly and for working out new openings... for finding areas where I am comfortable. But to truly work it out, you need long games. – Jeff Davis Dec 10 '12 at 15:10
5

Most likely, "you eventually reach a wall where the only way to advance is by sitting down for lengthy periods analyzing board positions." This would result from what the economists call the "law of diminishing returns."

But playing blitz should enable you to improve your game for a long time BEFORE you reach that point. That's because it will teach you to think quickly, and think tactically, thereby sharpening your skills in both areas.

Especially if you are a slow, non-tactical player.

4

In my experience, Blitz will not help improve the game significantly.

  1. It is fun.
  2. It improves slightly to see all the hidden dangers (sacrifices/hidden bishops/etc) as soon as you see the position.
  3. It does not guarantee in-game experience because you mostly exploit the mistakes of your opponents under time-pressure and not the positional-game.
  4. It is addictive and will be a distraction when you play long regular games and needs to tame/shift your mind to the actual game.
  5. Related to 4. It will not help you improve your positional tactical play which requires time and effort to learn.
  6. Blitz will ruin your patience and that is one of the important tactics you develop playing chess which will help you elsewhere in life or in other games (poker).

.000000001% Exception: You might be different and can see it differently and can help you.

1

No, blitz will not help your serious game. You do not have time to analyze in depth, which is the basic necessity to play serious games well. It may be good for trying different opening ideas and sharpening your tactical vision, but not for much else. Most strong players will agree on this. Botvinnik said he played a blitz game once, on a train, and Fischer said blitz kills ideas. Good players can play blitz well, but only after they've spent years honing their skills on slow chess. It does not work in reverse. And yes, analyzing your slow games is the best way to progress.

0

Blitz will evict overanalysis from your mind. It will teach you to play good moves.

To play great moves, calculation is required. But there's no time in blitz.

Blitz will teach you where to look. Standard will teach you what to do.

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