I'm playing lots of online chess. I find one thing in particular really hard: time. I lose on time a lot. Yesterday and today I lost 3 times pure on time - games where I would've destroyed the other if it wasn't for the time - but since I keep on thinking too long about certain situations it takes a lot of time.

I play mostly 10+0 matches. I know I can play longer games; I just want to know how I can improve my time 'problem' so I can also play shorter games.

  • Can you play with increments?
    – SmallChess
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:09
  • @StudentT Well I can but if I just set moves to get extra time I often give pieces away in the last few seconds. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:14
  • 3
    I get the impression that this is just a complaint, and not a real interest in a solution, like a smoker who complains about inability to stop smoking. If you don't have the discipline to control your time use, nobody on the internet can help you. Maybe have a friend stand behind you with a wooden ruler and hit you hard in the head every time you hesitate to move? Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 15:25

7 Answers 7


I know I can play longer games; I just want to know how I can improve my time 'problem' so I can also play shorter games

My advice is not going to address how you can speed up your thinking or improve your clock handling skills. My advice is to play longer games.

I personally cannot think quick enough for bullet or blitz chess. My 'home' is rapid play or slower. The slower time controls also suit my more positional style and a preference for the endgame.

When it comes to time controls, choose the time controls that suit you and your style, otherwise you are going to go against your grain and become frustrated.

  • True, I got to admit; it's kind of pissing me off and putting me down when I lose on time. I was just kind of wondering if there's a way to train to play shorter games. I like to play when I'm on public transport or in my work break, but I don't have unlimited time then. Of course it's not a big problem when I'm at home, but yeah. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:16
  • @JoshuaBakker: You might want to try 3 day chess on chess.com. I do something similar - play a move when I have time, give it a rest when I don't. You can play multiple games at once too, as well as different X day time limits (1 day to 14 days).
    – user1108
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:18
  • Hmm never thought about doing something like that. I will def. try that out too. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:20
  • Hi @JoshuaBakker. How have you got on with the advice? If you feel the answer deserves it, please consider upvoting/accepting.
    – user1108
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 15:09

I'm not sure if this will work, but have you considered playing much shorter time controls, and then going back to 10+0? I have noticed that if I play 1+0 "bullet" on lichess, and then play 5+0 "blitz", it seems easier...

  • Not sure that'll work. Also, if I play bullet (and I played it a few times just for the fun against a bot) I just either give everything away in no-time or I just go through my time. It doesn't change how I play 10+0 after that though. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 14:02
  • That's why I said I wasn't sure. I know I've used that tactic to improve my game 5+0 successfully... but anything below 1+0 for me is a complete waste of time. That means I can use this to help with 5+0 (using 1+0), but it doesn't work to improve my 1+0 (with something smaller).
    – Ghotir
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 14:05
  • Well I guess it's good it works for you, but for me, nah, doesn't really work. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 14:09

You have to become good at slow play before you can graduate to blitz. You learn very little in the fast games, and if that's all you do, you'll never really progress. The great players like Fischer were strong at blitz, but only after they were nurtured on classical play and really understood chess.

  • Point is, I never play Blitz. It happens at 10+0 which is a pretty big time (in my opinion). But you think I should play more than 10+0 and become good at that before I can get good at 10+0? Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 6:36
  • I incorrectly called 10" games blitz. But the above was the advice given by many strong old time players like Botvinnik and Fischer, i.e. become better at slower chess first. Work backward from longer times, (30", to 20", to 15") and as you become better at them (able to "see" the board quicker and with more understanding, which implies some study), then graduate to the faster games. You have to walk before you can run. Skill at fast chess is generally commensurate with skill at slower chess, so improving the latter will help the former. I'm 80, and progressed that way. Good luck.
    – CConero
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 12:38
  • I'll try that. I won't give up until I become a bit better. Thanks for the advice. I guess I just have to go with long games for now. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 14:36

If you want to play a 10 min format and you are unable to cope up with time I would suggest first check out in which phase you are taking more time . Are you thinking long in the middle game, trying to do deep calculation and finding the most perfect move? Then do not think in that fashion! Try finding an easier move instead, which is safe. It is important that looking at the position you can make some moves using your instinct and not calculating every move.

You should also keep track of your Opponent's time & try flagging your opponents. Also practice games where you always have a time advantage. What I mean here is you would always have more time on clock compared to your opponent. You play chess not only to checkmate your opponent but to have a time plus on clock.

One more suggestion would be always practice at shorter time controls before you play in the original format. For instance play 5 min, 3 min or even 1 min games so that when you return to 10 min it feels easy.


I know this is an old question, but online chess and over the board chess for blitz, lightning and sometimes quick games are not the same type of game. I shall explain why.

Premoving a skilled player in lightning and blitz as the clock runs down will bite the honest skilled player much more than a less skilled time player with low rating. It will never reflect their weaker over the board play.

The first big reason is that we get to see them pick up their piece and make a bad sac. The idea of “bishop takes pawn for zero compensation followed by premoved castling" will never happen in over the board. It only happens in online lightning time scrambles.

This alternate playing style allows a less skilled player to play in a nonsensical fashion and refute your premoved skill play. Over the board play, on the other hand, makes a decent player unable to premove without fearing premoves and quick rating loss.

I am master level chess player, and yet I’m a 1900 rated online lightning player. Over the board lightning players I crush are people I know, and they beat me online doing the same thing.

If both players do not use premove, the contrast between not seeing a piece touched and moved to a square and the time delay to place it on the a square makes a large difference.

The next big reason is the mouse move. The speed of the Internet connection, such as lag like on chess.com (where I’m rated 1900 in lightning and 2240 in blitz), the piece I move delays as it hesitates every singe move.

In conclusion, do not view quick online chess as anything comparative to quick over the board games, as they truly are NOT the same thing. The longer the game, the more comparative to over the board it becomes. End rant here. :)


Analysis: You will have to change your analysis of a position to require fewer calculations. You can look around stackexchange for questions dealing with board analysis.

Time Management: You will also have to force yourself to make a move quickly when you are not at a critical point of the game (recognized through your analysis). You will need to look at your clock regularly so your time does not slip away.

Preparation: Studying openings to a deeper level and knowing endgames thoroughly will also help you make quicker moves - giving you more time to acquiring an edge (tempo/material/position) during the mid game.

Forced Moves: If you can put your opponent in a position that requires a forced move, you can start thinking further ahead while your opponent is playing. At slower time controls this isn't as obviously valuable as a deeper calculation of the current move can derive a greater benefit.

Retro: Review your games after they are played. Determine why you require so much more time than your opponent.


There is a Method that is described in Chess Master at any age that tells you how much time you should have after each move. The book describes breaking each move down into periods and marking how long you have for each move.

Considering that most games are over in about 40 moves you break it down into time per move and at 10 minute that should be 15 seconds per move. So you mark down your time and any time that you take fall behind the 15 seconds per move you punish yourself. Say 10 push-ups for every move made not in the allotted time.

As long as you stick to this immediately after your games you'll find that time control problems become less frequent.

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