I've been playing chess from many years but started playing more from past few month. I only play 3 minute blitz games, have rating around 1350 in chess.com and 1700 in lichess, have played few thousand games till now.

I observed that sometimes my brain just doesn't seem to work and am unable to find even the simple moves fast. I won't be able to think few moves ahead. I keep losing games continuously till my rating goes down by 100s of points. This happens for days together. And sometimes, it magically happens that my brain works quick, analyses and find the best moves naturally without any strain.

Does anyone feel the same when playing blitz games? How do you bring yourself into 'that sweet spot' where the brain is active and quick?

  • 5
    Yes, I've had the same. Lost an OTB game recently in 12 !!! moves because I just could not think. Even after I saw the moves I had a really weird feeling of not knowing. Looked at the position for 20 minutes and saw nothing. Maybe it was because we had to play in masks but I don't think that was the reason. It was really horrible. I was even accused of "throwing" the game on purpose, because "I do not play like that"
    – B.Swan
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 15:28
  • 3
    It even happens to Carlsen: youtube.com/watch?v=9pdW_eeSxoQ&t=203s
    – Akavall
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 19:27

6 Answers 6


I think what you are experiencing is fairly common. I find that I have games that i feel like an absolute legend, able to come up with creative solutions and just not making any mistakes.... then there other games where i hang pieces , miscalculate large trades and just can't get things to click.

I think its partially due to fatigue though. If you are playing game after game after game, especially with blitz , theres little time to think and your brain starts to fatigue and you start making mistakes.

I think the best way to do deal with this just recognizing when you are starting to get fatigued and take a break. I find puzzles are really good for helping me with this. I usually do puzzles for half an hour, take my time try to calculate things out a little. then have a cup of tea, then good to go.


Fatigue is likely a factor. It's common in older players like myself and with playing a lot in a short time. I'm worst in the afternoon games 3 & 4 of a one-day tournament.

But it also may be akin to stage fright. I play best against familiar players in our club or online with friends. I miss many good shots in a tournament, against strangers or with players I'm supposed to beat ( because they're lower rated ). Your opponent may also be affected. Years ago I drew a game against our States previous Senior Champion. He was about 500 ELO better than me. I was relaxed with little expectation of winning. He seemed intense, made an impulsive move, and I won.


1700 on Lichess is good, but not amazing - it puts you in the top 45% of people who play blitz on Lichess. It's the sort of platform from which you can decide to dedicate time, effort, and hardship, to excel and maybe aim for a title one day, but it's also still very reasonable to chill out there and just enjoy yourself.

If you're not looking to reach for those heights yet, or at all, don't focus on the rating points. Play blitz until you're not having fun, or you need to go do the washing up/go to work. If you are winning and having fun, the points you're gaining aren't what matters. If you're losing and having fun, the points you're losing are irrelevant.

With that out of the way, I have personally found that it's mostly familiarity and sleep. For a period, I completely shirked bunch of responsibilities (don't do that) and played the heck outta bullet, used the "analyse your mistakes" feature on lichess, looked up openings, and slept whenever I felt tired, with no alarm to wake me up. During this time, not only did I have a great deal of fun, my rating went up quite a bit, and I think I improved (as my rating stayed there).

Now I've been playing mostly atomic for several months, and not spending nearly as much time playing standard chess, and sleeping in such a way to line up with a full time job which very much destroys me. My standard play feels very much like you describe your "brain fog".

So long as you've having fun, just stick to it, and make sure you're sleeping right. It's also worth making sure you're eating right, too, but I have no experience with poor diet's effect on my psychology 'cause I always eat reasonably well.


You might consider the possibility of a real illness. What you describe is a symptom of hypothyroidism, which means that you have an inactive thyroid gland. Another symptom of this condition is feeling cold and shivery. I speak from experience. It can be treated with thyroxine tablets.

  • 4
    Can you provide a source?
    – Pedro A
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 1:26
  • @Pedro A. Search for example, on the Mayo Clinic site Diseases and Conditions.
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 2:24
  • 1
    Brain fog doesn't mean you have thyroid deficiency. There are loads of conditions that can cause brain fog including being stressed out/overworked. Just because it turned out to be hypothyroidism for you doesn't mean it is the first thing that people should look for. Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 10:02
  • I certainly did not say that it was the first thing to look for. I said to consider the possibility, which only requires a quick internet search. If the possibility had been suggested to me it would have made a great difference to two years of my life that I would not wish anyone else to undergo. I am amazed that you seem unable to understand this.
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 16:32

Try playing blitz for 25 minutes and meditating for 5 minutes. This helps to make sure that your mind isn't overloaded and can rest. For more info check here.

  • 1
    Could you expand on what the "pomodoro technique" is? Otherwise if the link dies then your answer becomes useless.
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 11:13
  • @BrianTowers It's a link to wikipedia, so I doubt it will abruptly dissapear Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 12:19
  • This is almost a link-only answer and therefore does not meet the Stack Exchange quality standards. Please explain how the Pomodoro technique is relevant to chess games, especially during chess games (if that is what you mean).
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 12:22
  • @Tsundoku Better? Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 12:27
  • That explains very briefly what the pomodoro technique is but now how it applies to playing chess games. I assume you mean something like "play blitz games for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break", but that is left unsaid in your answer.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 12:38

"Brain fog" is very common. Especially when you put too much energy towards one thing and having strong desires and expectations of improvement. Basically, what's happening is you are just having a moment. You're brain is now in digesting mode and kind of taking in everything you have learned. Kind of like ...DOS mode.

Take advantage of that and just go do something else. You'll know when it's time to get back to it. Sometimes this can last a day or maybe a week but believe me, you won't forget a thing.

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