Blitz (three to five minutes chess formats) has its fair share of good and bad, or does it? Many articles online express their concern about the effects of too much blitz in your chess which I will discuss here.
We don’t just believe everything we see online, we need to find credible sources. I am one of those sources! and I have seen the bad side of blitz that may heavily affect a player.
As a chess player here is what I know:
Playing blitz (3-5 minute chess) encourages players to find decent moves that work over the actual “best moves” that are necessary for slow games. Blitz chess is detrimental for someone looking to find the best version of themselves in serious, slow chess games.
Although blitz can be fun in many ways — having to play games in a short amount of time, quick strategic and tactical play, beautiful sacrificial opportunities, and its dynamic nature, can deliver harm to your serious slow chess due to its fast pace.
The good of blitz
Now I wouldn’t be here and tell you that blitz has no beneficial value at all which is obviously not true.
It can be helpful in a lot of ways, it’s just that it oftentimes gets misused by those who participate in it.
Such advantages that it can bring includes:
- Intuitional play- sharpens positional instinct that allows a player to judge situations even without much time.
- Tactics- prompts a player’s tactical ingenuity which is a prevalent theme in blitz.
- Testing ground- a good way to experiment with untested variations that could be applied in real games.
- Conditioning- ensure that a player is on the top physical and mental form before a tournament.
- Time trouble- helps practice dealing with time pressures due to its unforgiving time control.
This is a good supplement if used correctly which is oftentimes not the case hence the propaganda “blitz is bad for you”.
Moderation is extremely recommended, too little and too much can both be counterproductive in some way.
Beginners are usually the people that have a problem with this since it is so fun and engaging, let’s start talking.
Reasons why blitz can be bad
These are the reasons why blitz chess is bad for you:
1.) Too tactic-centric
Outcomes of blitz games are commonly decided by a tactical blow rather than a positional one which tends to wire players in this set of play.
This however is a problem since if you have played slow chess before then you know that it is more positional oriented.
This strength of a faster time format is also its weakness, after all it trains the individual to only execute this mode of play (which does not work in slower formats).
2.) Promotes intuitional play
Intuition is a very important component that constitutes a very strong player but is not the main ingredient.
General chess is played in a very well thought calculated manner over the feeling of “hunches”.
This format which incentivize the prime use of intuition is not helpful when developing skills in real chess.
3.) Makes you force sacrifices
This is a problem that I have encountered myself when I’ve become used in playing blitz, which is the tendency to look for sacrifices.
If you witness any professional games most actually ends in a draw not because the players are not ambitious but the opposite is just too risky.
It’s rare to see a sacrifice when both players played well since the game would likely favor the one up in material.
4.) Promote moves that are just good enough
Blitz doesn’t force you to find the best moves rather those that are just “good enough” to not lose.
Making decent moves positions in a fast time format is beneficial only that time control, regular chess requires making the best moves as much as possible.
If you develop this habit then eventually you’ll realize that you just can’t win in over the board play.
5.) Rewards time instead of positions
This is another factor that only applies to blitz and not the other time formats, time trouble.
Although such is useful for conditioning players to stay calm at the limits of time, it also makes them think that it is more important than it is.
This would make you more cautious of the time than the actual position which is a bad mindset.
6.) It changes your timeframe
If you’re someone that is playing blitz constantly then you will have a perception faster than everyone else.
I call this “time frame” the default position your brain takes in any particular activity which includes chess.
If you’re used to blitz games then your time frame will tell you to play faster than usual even when playing regular, which is bad.
7.) Embeds a short-term mindset
Chess is played in a long term trade off ideology and rewards those that embrace it.
This is the reason why most chess matches reach the endgame since most are not decided by a combination (there are exceptions).
This short term makeup will make you formulate decisions that can appear rushed or immature.
8.) Makes you impatient
Have you seen a beginner play chess? have you seen a more advanced individual play chess? what’s the difference?
Patience, experienced chess participants are more likely to wait for something rather than start it.
This is because reacting is oftentimes better than creating (not always) and playing blitz will make the element of waiting seem like a task.
9.) You shorten focus by playing too fast
Blitz games are mostly played in a “pilot mode” which are the unfocused decisions that are made as fast as possible.
This is helpful in blitz yes, but is generally harmful in the grand scheme of things.
After all focus is required for thinking hours straight just for a single move which is a regular occurrence in longer time formats.
10.) You have no time to digest what you’ve learned
After playing one game of this setup what do you do? you play another game without much analysis.
This is extremely poisonous for those wanting to learn since you have no time to correct your mistakes.
Some people still analyzes their blitz games, but just the environment it provides generally tempts players away from it.
11.) Learning comes from slow chess
I have never seen any player become very good at blitz and transitioning that at slow chess (regular chess).
Most often than not it is the other way around since the ideas are just more likely absorbed when you have time to think about them.
And even I have an adjustment phase once I’ve gotten too used to playing blitz since it is just that much different.
12.) Not putting enough thought
This setup also trains your brain to not put enough thought in most of the moves, meaning the experience doesn’t carry much substance.
You can play on and on for hours and still not improve since you don’t really get to calculate that deeply.
This stigma is especially bad in the early days of your learning since it might process your brain to not think much at all.
13.) Encourages surface-level analysis
Regular chess requires deep-level analysis even from simple looking moves.
Blitz encourages you to only prefer surface level analysis without much backing behind it.
This can be problematic when you get to play in the normal format since you will get overwhelmed by how well thought each move was.
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14.) Will mess your reward system
The feature of being played in a very fast rate is very convenient but also has its downsides.
Blitz lets you see the results much faster, and therefore you will get to incorporate the outcome on the negative.
If you win three games and lose two in faster formats it feels more severe than winning three and losing two in normal formats.
15.) Makes you attribute victories to luck and time
Another issue that we get to due to its fast qualities, which is the tendency to bring luck into the equation.
If you win one game of blitz you are more likely to rationalize that you only won by luck rather than skill.
This makes victories feel a little less deserved hurting your confidence in the process.
16.) More likely to trigger frustration
We’ve talked earlier about the dangers of having an altered reward system and the attribution to luck which of course encourages the feelings of frustration.
This is especially evident in my case after I’ve realized I have more likelihood of being agitated when playing blitz compared to other time formats.
We all have bad days where we just can’t play as normal and in blitz, those records get highlighted making you want to play more to only have more losing experience.
17.) Projects fake progress
Winning in blitz can give you a fake sense of progress that you are actually learning in the general sight of things.
Especially in online play (where blitz, are more common) players usually only rush moves during their gameplay.
Truth is, it’s hard to find a good opponent that can challenge you in blitz and such an environment might give a feeling that you were better than you actually are.
18.) Forms bad habits
This is the dangerous part of being addicted to blitz which is the habits carry over to normal games.
As humans we are a product of our habits and they are very hard to break since we do them every time.
It can become an annoying quirk to develop, especially when you got used to a field that you’re not supposed to specialize in (which applies here).
19.) Addicting for the “rush” instead of real improvements
As I’ve stated in the introduction, a little bit of blitz is actually recommended.
However there is a fine line to be drawn in order to identify when you are just getting too entertained to the point of addiction.
Being able to play a sacrificial combination, aggressive pushes, and tactical shots all trigger our stimuli which make us begging for more (not good).
20.) It is a completely different game
You may actually notice this yourself once you get enough experience in playing both, that they are completely different games.
Different time formats I mean which will have different themes, opening approach, and psychological issues that you’ll encounter.
This makes it toxic to specialize focus on such area if you’re not going to completely commit (you will suffer adjustment periods if you play too much of one format).
Overall every individual disadvantage is all saying the same thing, which is it is bad for slower time formats.
And since that is the regular set of play at least in over the board games you shouldn’t expect much value out of it rather than entertainment and conditioning.
However if you are only playing just for fun then I actually recommended it since it might hook you up which is my goal here anyway.
Sleep well and play chess.