Currently, I do the following in order to improve my chess:

  • Play several (currently 9) correspondence chess games simultaneously on Chess.com.

  • Do tactics and puzzles regularly on Lichess.com and Chess.com.

  • Play occasionally against the computer (though not full strength) in rapid time controls (10|15).

I chose to play correspondence chess as it provides me a considerably good amount of time to think, and hence play to my best.

I also find that correspondence chess is easier to manage, as I don't have to be online throughout the game.

The thing is, correspondence chess moves so slowly, I feel that it would take me years to complete two dozen games (and hence improve my game).

My questions

So is it a good idea

  • to play faster time controls too (online),

  • or to increase the number of simultaneous correspondence chess games I play?

If the second course of action is better, how many games should I (optimally) play simultaneously to increase my performance?

If the first is better, what time control is the most suited to my need?


Information that could be of some use to potential answerers.

  • I've heard that Blitz and Bullet chess aren't really good for learners.

  • My rating was between 1200 and 1300 in the rapid time control on Chess.com (before my data got erased).

  • My training (puzzles) reading online Lichess reached 1903 before falling to 1842, after which I've been inactive for quite a while.

  • 2
    Why not do both?
    – user1108
    Oct 31, 2017 at 9:07
  • @Bad_Bishop Maybe, but I wasn't sure if that's a good idea, and felt that it would be best to wait for the advice of someone more experienced than me! Oct 31, 2017 at 9:09
  • It depends on what kind of chess you want to play. There is the sporting side of chess with fixed time controls where you don't have the luxury of days to move.
    – Ywapom
    Oct 31, 2017 at 21:50

5 Answers 5


Some combination of both.

Rapid/Blitz helps a lot on opening to middlegame play. You play a lot of games, see many variations and be familiar with your choice of opening and their middlegame plans. It will also help on typical endgame, eg how to draw with minor vs Rook, the Lucena, Phillidor, etc. By simply playing a lot, you improve on the mechanical part of the skill set. (Which is often undervalued by players who have already gone past this stage, hence the advice "blitz is bad for improving")

Of course, don't only play fast games. Play games where you at least always have enough time to calculate forcing lines. After that, check the strategical ideas you know of. Strategical ideas come from tutor/book/post game analysis and experience. You can't invent it during a game, not before you are a GM. If you don't know it, having infinite time won't help.

Basically IMO, play as many games as you can so that you can put the stuff you learned into practice, lots of practice. And analyse your games!

  • Thanks for your answer (+1)! I'll make sure I play both time controls! Nov 6, 2017 at 5:00

Correspondence chess will do more to improve the quality of your game. That is, your moves will be a lot more thoughtful and deliberate, and so will your opponent's. When you lose, it will probably be due to a subtle mistake beyond your ordinary comprehension (have better players point out where and why you lost).

That said, "fast" games may do more to improve your playing strength. There will be times when you will "under the gun" and make "stupid" mistakes under time pressure. In the short run, at least, minimizing such mistakes will do more to improve your rating.

  • 1
    Additionally, playing rapid chess will condition you to think during your opponents move and calculate responses to what you expect him/her to do. Rapid chess helps you get repetitions in with familiar openings and helps you evaluate your repertoire faster. Slow chess gives you the time to work on deep calculations and investigate proper theory for your repertoire. Evaluating both will help you identify the types of mistakes you make. I vote again for "do both" - but use the same types of openings in both (don't play a different opening just because it is good against short time controls).
    – Paul
    Oct 31, 2017 at 13:55
  • Thanks, I realise that I should pay attention to both aspects of the game (+1)! Could you suggest some ratio between the number of correspondence chess and 'faster-time-control' chess games I should play? And also, what time control is the best, among the shorter ones? Rapid (10|15) or blitz(5|2), for example? Nov 6, 2017 at 4:59

You seem to have the incorrect idea that playing chess is how to improve. That is a completely wrong idea. You play chess to DEMONSTRATE your skill, not improve it.

The basic way to increase ability is to systematically analyze thematic positions. Correspondence chess is useful in this respect because you can spend hours analyzing the key positions. Of course, if you do not spend time analyzing while you are playing correspondence chess, then it is useless. The most famous school of chess, the Botvinnik School of Chess, that trained generations of Soviet players, such as Garry Kasparov, worked by sending positions to the students by mail and the students would have to analyze the positions and send back their work.

I would note that the effect of doing disciplined analysis has had a critical impact on the skill of many famous players. For example, in 1964-1965 Bobby Fischer wrote the book "My 60 Memorable Games" which is hundreds of pages of detailed analysis of his own games. Writing this book took Fischer from being "just" one of the world's best into a full class ahead of everyone else--a huge increase in strength. Also, Jan Timman wrote a book called the "Art of Analysis". Before this book, Timman was just a strong grandmaster, but after he wrote the book he became a world championship candidate. Alexander Alekhine became the strongest player in the world after writing his book ("My Best Games of Chess"). There are other similar examples.

  • Thanks, I already do tactics and positional training, I was wondering what kind of time controls I should play in!(+1) Nov 6, 2017 at 4:54

Usually chess training patterns are specific to an individual. What worked for me may not work for you. But, here's what I have found out personally- I did not find correspondence games to be helpful to improve my long time control games (time controls like 60/10 or 30/30), because the time management aspect is way different! In correspondence style games, I used to think of variations for 15-20 minutes, which one can never ever afford in a long time control game. My aim was to improve my long time control games and the associated time management and hence I stopped playing correspondence games. Since time management is such an important part of the game, training for specific time controls is definitely the way to go. The aspect of improving the understanding of your game can be done by studying your own games (mistakes) and practice.

  • Thanks for the different perspective! I found your answer useful! (+1) Nov 6, 2017 at 4:52

I believe that doing fast-paced games can allow you to be more successful in chess. Doing these types of games trains your minds to move faster during a normal game of chess, and gets you coming up with better strategies during a long paced game.

  • Thanks for your answer, I'll play shorter time controls as well!(+1) Nov 6, 2017 at 4:55

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