A decade back i used to play chess, but just OTB and without time control. I now got back into chess and often play something like 15+10, where I very rarely lose on time and I am now rated ~1500 on Lichess. I tried playing shorter time controls but i lose almost every game (rated 900 blitz) on time. I also dont seem to improve at all an do not really know where to start to get better at those time controls. Are there some ressources that could help me improve or should i just change my playstyle for blitz?

  • 9
    The classical chess wisdom goes "If you see a good move, look for a better one", but in blitz, if you see a good move, just play it
    – B.Swan
    Jul 11, 2020 at 11:33
  • I have found it useful to watch YouTube videos like this which feature blitz games played in places like New York City. These videos show the games in real time, so they give a good feel for the tempo of such games. Jul 11, 2020 at 13:27

3 Answers 3


Welcome to Chess StackExchange!

You say the transition from games at 15+10 to blitz sees you going from rarely losing on time to almost always losing on time.

Can I ask if the blitz is still with increment eg like 5+5 or some such?

When I switch from say bullet to 5+5 to 8+5 and such it always takes me several games to get into the rhythm of the new time control.

Do you have a sense at the shorter time controls that you are falling behind in the opening phase, middle game or end game? Are you spending too much time in the openings to get a good position but then run out of time to win?

One way to cope with the time issue is to play a small number of quieter openings. You will learn how to play their characteristic pawn structures and where to put your pieces. For example I aim to play as white the London System and as black against e4 the French Defense. Against d4 I like the NimzoIndian.

There are online games repositories with notes that can help you.

A good area to study is the endgame, an extra effort here will dramatically improve your results.

Rook and pawn endings are quite common and it's worth studying them. I find it's the area where my opponents often stumble. Always try to get your rook active even at the cost of a pawn and remember that whether in attack or defence the rook belongs behind the passed pawn!

Pay particular attention to your king safety or your opponents lack thereof. In a time scramble an exposed king position can be a nightmare.

Best of luck!

  • 1
    Thanks four your answer. I often get to a clearly winning endgame gut dont have enough time to finish (espescially when playing with 0 time increment). I know almost 0 opening theory and i thought at my skilllevel its maybe a it to early to spend time on studying opening. I think i spend to much time in the middle game, calculating exchanges etc Jul 11, 2020 at 20:27
  • You raise an interesting point: how to balance a better position versus a lesser clock state! If you get a chance to watch world-class blitz players live online you will see that they also struggle with this dilemma. To improve markedly you will at some point have to put in some serious effort to study the game. Jul 12, 2020 at 2:05
  • Playing lots of blitz and hoping to improve could work if you were playing a strong player and after each game you analysed your moves with them. Otherwise you may just be letting bad habits become ingrained. I adopted the NimzoIndian after discussing it with a chess master for no more than 5 minutes: his simple clear understanding of the ideas for black and how to play with the knights sticks with me decades later. Jul 12, 2020 at 2:06
  • I agree with most of the answer, but switching to a different opening system that OP doesn't feel comfortable with will make things even worse unless he spends a great amount of time studying it (which is in my opinion not really worth it)
    – David
    Jul 12, 2020 at 15:33
  • This could well be the case however Schmerterbus wrote that he was losing nearly ever game already! Jul 12, 2020 at 16:33

What do you call blitz? When I played it was zero seconds per move. Now it seems to be variable like SD1 to SD5.

At your rating it really does not matter what you do. For sure you will not ever improve if you play blitz. It is more likely to reduce your actual rating a LOT.

What you need to do is improve your skills. Then practice at playing at exactly ten seconds per move. Get in the habit of not moving instantly, but also not taking time that would run your clock out before the game ends.

You need to study tactics and learn an opening thoroughly.

15+10 is like postal chess to me.
What do you do with all that time?

Play 1+10 and force yourself to learn to move faster. You wont play much worse for a while and you will improve. But do study tactics and learn openings. Then learn end games.

  • 1
    How do you play with zero seconds per move? Doesn't that make the whole game last zero seconds? Jul 11, 2020 at 16:27
  • @JohnColeman he probbaly means 0 increment Jul 11, 2020 at 20:25
  • @Schmerbertus could be, but then you can play a 30 minute game with no increment which would by blitz under that definition Jul 11, 2020 at 20:26
  • "At your rating it really does not matter what you do. For sure you will not ever improve if you play blitz. It is more likely to reduce your actual rating a LOT." I strongly disagree with this statement. It's much more of a myth than a proven fact. What is true is that there are many more effective alternative ways to learn than playing Blitz, but this doesn't mean your skill level will drop dramatically for playing it. Indeed, at beginning levels, playing Blitz can be a great way to start getting familiar with a whole range of different positions.
    – David
    Jul 12, 2020 at 15:35
  • Same difference. Zero increment with ZERO SD. Every move was to be made instantaneously. This got less popular as clocks became in more wide use and SD 5 or 10 became the norm. Like David said you will not improve but this way when the patzers played each other one of them had a chance and they did get a lot more games in between rounds. Jul 14, 2020 at 20:21

I can understand your situation. Because I am also a classical player, rated 2109 on lichess; but performing poorly on the blitz (1712) and bullet (1741). Moreover, there are more than 30 games, where I lost on time though the positions were in my favour. So, I think, I can give you some tips to improve your ratings by at least +300 points.

  1. Smooth Transition: As per other answers, I think you should try 15+0 [Rapid] >> 10+5 >> 10+0 >> 5+5 / 5+3 [Blitz] >> 5+0 >> 3+2 >> 3+0 >> 2+1[Bullet] >> 1+0, in following manner: If you can complete (win/lose) 10 games in a row within the given time then go for the next tier.

  2. One Opening man: Instead of experimenting with different openings, you must stick with a single one and simultaneously have to study it deeply. After studying a line properly, set a target to play first 10 moves within 10 sec. If you follow a single line (eg., 1.d4) for more than 100 games; then you will find that it is quite easy for you to reply not only fast but also accurate. And it will help you significantly in time management.

  3. Pre moving: After "mastering" an opening, try to pre-move [This is crucial in the bullet, not in blitz]. Just make sure to play first 10 moves within 5 seconds!! and you will rock on bullet [at least below 1500 tier].

  4. Pattern Recognition in Middlegame: A simple way to play ultrafast middlegame is pattern recognition (eg., if both King and Queen are in the same diagonal, then try to find your bishop to set a "Royal Fork"). The only way to achieve this is by practising a lot of puzzles. So, be prepared to try at least 20 puzzles (If possible 50) each day.

  5. Accurate Endgames: "All's well that ends well." So, be focused at your endgame. First, master the checkmate patterns (Staircase mate, smothered mate etc.) and then try the comparatively advance theory (like opposition). If you are already good at endgame, then invite your opponent directly from the opening, by exchanging valuable pieces early in the game.

It's a long journey, but if you follow the aforementioned steps, you will definitely improve in a significant margin.

Best of Luck.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.