I see it all the time on the net. Some players play, for example, a 15-minute game with a 10-second increment, and they finish the game with more time than what they started with! I've heard players doing this even in OTB tournaments- games that could go on for hours on end.

Is it because they are perhaps too impulsive? (And if so, why not just play bullet?). Or do they like to just use their gut? Is it also a bit an ego thing, as in, "I can beat this guy even if I don't think at all!". Or is it also a part of their strategy, they want to get their opponent in time trouble?

So what are the possible reasons why they play so quick?

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    Each player can be playing faster than they should for a variety of reasons, so I don't think there's a definite answer to this question
    – David
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 8:32
  • 4
    A lot of games I'll have tons of time left if the other person is slow because I use their time for my calculations Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 22:05

8 Answers 8


As I commented, there are several reasons why people play fast, among them:

One of the reasons I often see is fear of time trouble. Many amateurs are not really aware of whether the time they have left will "be enough", so start to move way too fast early on. They won't feel confident to play faster games either for that same reason.

It could be the case that your opponents are using your time to think if you take too much time, so when it's their turn they've already anticipated your move and figured out how to answer.

Other players want a challenge, so they will play a game in 5 minutes against an opponent who has 15.

The list could be infinite...

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    Playing quickly not only prevents your opponent from using your time to think, but also during the beginning pressures your opponent to play fast during his turn. Time is a resource and if you enter a difficult position with 2x the time of your opponent you are favored, so your opponent may choose to respond faster than comfortable to avoid that. Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 22:09
  • This only works, of course, if at some point you slow down.
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 13:11

I see it all the time on the net

It also happens a lot over the board.

There are two main reasons players play the moves very fast when they have a lot of time:

  1. They are in their preparation and the game may conclude (with a win or pre-arranged draw) before they leave their preparation. You often see this at the highest levels.
  2. They are sufficiently far along the autism spectrum to have problems maintaining a long attention span.

On the second point there is an English IM who will often finish a G90+30 FIDE rated game with only 5 minutes gone on the clock. I played in the same club team as him when he was about 10 or 11 years old (and he was obviously much weaker). At the time the only way I could beat him was to play deliberately slowly and avoid tactics. If he was bored then mistakes were far more likely to come. When he was interested he was very quick and very good, far too good for me.

Now there is a player for a club in the same league that I play in who clearly also has the same Asperger's-like medical problem. A few years ago I played him in a 10+5 rapid tournament. He wrote the moves down and won on time with more than 3 minutes left on the clock albeit in a probably losing but very complicated position, far too complicated for me in a rapid game. When I played him again a year or so later at standard time controls I won because I could use the extra time while his condition prevented him from doing so.


I think the biggest reason is that using your time efficiently is an acquired skill just as learning tactics is.

When you are not as strong, you do not know as much, and thus, you do not have as much to think about. As you acquire more overall chess skill, you have more to think about, and thus, you spend more time thinking. It is also a matter of practice. The more practiced you are, the better you are at time management.

Also, there is another factor, and that is the proliferation of kids in chess. When I started playing 40 years ago, there were virtually no kids playing. I was the kid at age 18 back then. Now, they seem make up at least half of chess players at the tournaments I have been to lately. Kids naturally think very quickly, and thus, they do not need as much time to think as I do now at age 58 (in a few weeks).

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    “When you are not as strong, you do not know as much, and thus, you do not have as much to think about” – erm, no?! I'd rather say, when you're not as strong, you don't know as much, so you spend much more time computing ahead various options that a more experienced player would immediately prune out based on her knowledge. Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 14:10

It's also a possible strategy to play with the opponent's mind by playing quick and ideal (or unexpected) moves, though it can be very risky and backfire.

Depending on how mentally strong a player is, seeing a few quick and ideal moves done in a succession by the opponent may pressure their mind. If they cannot cope up with the pressure, a blunder may be made even while having much time left.

Another way is to play quick moves that end with an unexpected move. This may surprise the opponent even more, make them thinking something else unrelated to the game (like "why did they play that move?") and wasting more time thinking if they miss some obvious moves.

However, if the opponent is not provoked and still stays calm, then it may backfire to the player if the (unexpected) moves are actually not good moves since they are practically reducing their winning chance.

  • That's in part how bullet works, yes. But how is this going to work in long matches? There's no pressure with the amount of time allotted and the opponent may just as well consider it a gift. After all, move too fast and a mistake is easily made.
    – Mast
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 1:35
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    Also, When you are playing against a less experienced player outside tournament setting, playing fast gives you a psychological advantage. Besides, players do this to make the opponent play quickly (I did this in an unrated tournament to secure a draw from a hopeless position). These don't work if your opponent has experience. Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 5:15

I don't see my situation pointed out by anyone here, so I'll add an answer:

I have been, for quite some time, playing only (online, of course) bullet games. On chess.com, out of 3889 games, 3192 are bullet. And on lichess I have 2634 bullet games out of 3215 total games.

Recently, I decided that I want to stop playing bullet, and I started focusing on blitz and rapid games. However, after about 500 games, I still finish most 5+0 games with more than 3 minutes and a half on the clock, and if I play 15+10 chances are that I will end with more than 15 minutes.

There's not strategy in it, I'm not trying to deceive the opponent or to buy some "buffer time" for the mid and end game, I have just been playing bullet for such a long time that my brain is "wired" this way and rarely I take more than 10/15 seconds to think I move. I even play fast in correspondence games!


It's a long list indeed.

One of the reasons I prefer such games over bullet games is it gives me a buffer. If I encounter a tricky situation, I have time to think about it. In Bullet games, you must play fast. In longer games, it's optional. If I don't need much time for the first 10 moves, I may still need a lot of it for the next 10. Especially with online chess where you often don't know your opponent, there's a major risk something unexpected will happen.


From my personal experience - I'm one of those people who generally plays fast even in long time controls, and a lot of it is because I don't really know what to do with all that time... Usually I'll look at a position for a minute, maybe two at the most, and play whatever is the best move I see - because my own experience is that at that point I'm not going to see anything better, no matter how long I think about the position. I kind of get "tunnel vision" on whatever I see quickly, and no matter how hard I try to look at other things, I keep going back to whatever I saw quickly and trying to figure out how to make that work. I play in a league where the time control is 30/90, SD/60, and I routinely finish my games with only 20 to 30 minutes used off of my clock. I know this is bad (I lose a lot of my games...), but I'm still trying to figure out how to break out of that pattern.

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    Try watching grandmasters' games to get more ideas, I like Mato Jelic and Kingscrusher on youtube a lot. Watching their analysis of pro's games has helped me a ton Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 22:09

List of main reasons

  1. By habit from playing lot of blitz/bullet games (example)
  2. In an attempt to avoid 'overthinking' the position (similar answer)
  3. The player is impatient
  4. To buy time for a later part of the game (example)
  5. To gain a psychological advantage (example)
  6. The player is in his/her preparation (example)
  7. The player has less experience with clock and/or afraid about losing on time (example)
  8. Playing with handicap for practise/fun (see this answer last paragraph)

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