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As far as casual chess goes, I'm a fairly average player. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I'm generally able to avoid obvious blunders, think a move or a couple forward, etc.

However, since I've taken up chess, I've tried my skills in some local tournaments, and the scenario is always the same - I get put on a 10- or 15-minute clock, and either run out of time, panic, or blunder, and walk out with a straight row of zeroes. I even lose to my friends that I can easily beat when not on the clock.

So - should I look at blitz chess in a different light? Think differently? Or is it just "practice, practice, practice" and "don't be a slow thinker"?

  • Play, play, play and play. – Zistoloen Oct 15 '13 at 11:25
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Some things that have helped me get better are:

  • Counter-intuitively, continue to work hard on your slow game. The best speed game players in the world just happen to be the best slow game players. When playing slow games, you are giving your brain more "soak time" to absorb patterns and really grind into positions, giving your analysis ("I takes, he takes, ... ") skills the necessary deliberate practice.

  • Time Management is key. If you are playing blitz without a time delay/increment, then it is vital to play the clock first, board second. Playing the board makes sense until you hit your time allowance per move. Then it is a matter of playing what you consider to be best and moving on. Play what makes him burn HIS clock, not yours. You're not painting a masterpiece, you're trying to win by any means necessary! Of course, with very strong opposition, you may need to do both ... but the clock trumps the position quite often, especially as you start getting into a time-crunch! Consider reading NM Heisman's famous Two Triggers Novice Nook ... might offer you a fresh perspective if you're ever hesitating to make a move or feel nervous that you might be wrong if you rush into things.

  • Get Good (or at least decent) at tactics. You should have enough tactical patterns burned into your skull to recall 1-3 ply / single-motif shots in less than 3-5 seconds. Focus on breadth (covering a ton of basic 2-4 ply tactics) and do not waste time trying to solve 12-13 ply puzzles (as most tactics servers and puzzle books tend to lure you into!)

  • Practice closing out won games against a full-strength computer at insanely tough time-crunch controls (for e.g. start with basics such as KQ vs K in under a minute and work your way up to piece-up/two-pawns up type of won games)

  • To deal with nerves or panicking, put yourself way out of your comfort zone (as necessary!) by playing a lot of online-blitz against decent opposition. This also allows you to try out a lot of different opening lines (some of these will want to become your pet lines / repertoire) quickly.

  • +1 for hint about playing slow games to improve blitz skills. I myself had a good experience with it. – masoud Oct 19 '13 at 14:21
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    Thank you for a much better answer than quora (best answer there says blitz prep is no different than classic). For the point on practicing won games vs computer, can you recommend a program or website to do so? – Lightbeard Apr 21 '17 at 14:48

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