Blitz is probably the most controversial time format in chess, there are a lot of issues constantly being ranted on the internet about this time structure. One of those topics is “why is blitz chess so hard?”
A lot of people seem to have a problem with blitz, I think there is a recurring pattern to this behavior. I think blitz chess has inherent properties that make it harder than other time formats (for some people).
That is what I am going to answer today! As a chess player here is what I know:
Blitz is harder because there is lesser time for both players to think of accurate moves. You are more likely to be pressured, flagged, or even lose a winning position due to a time scramble. Some players also find blitz more challenging since attacks are much more likely to happen.
This question is kind of weird to me since I have the opposite issue. I am good with blitz and just subpar with everything else (I am also decent at rapid though!).
However I still come up with some reasons why blitz chess might be harder for some people, I am going to present them here.
Blitz chess is harder because of the time pressure
Blitz chess is significantly harder than rapid or classical because of the time pressure, you need to make moves accurately enough while dealing with the constant ticking of the clock.
For some people the time pressure is enough to make their head confused as to what idea they should implement. They start playing unusually.
They may play decently in some other time formats but blitz chess just hits them with something different, it is obviously because they can’t deal with the clock.
In blitz it’s not only that you have to make good moves, it is that you have to make good moves while managing the limited amount of time that you have. This is hard if you are used to rapid or classical for example.
You may play well in the opening/middlegame but eventually succumb to the anxiety of the ticking time, having a sense of the clock takes a little bit of practice.
Especially for beginners, they in the first place already find it difficult to identify good moves, but they also have to deal with the issue of maintaining their time. This may be the biggest reason why blitz chess is hard for some people.
Time scrambles makes blitz chess hard to play
Blitz chess is harder because players are more likely to encounter time scrambles where they have to make decent moves instantly. Not all players can handle time scrambles, this may be the reason why blitz chess is difficult for some players.
Time scrambles are basically situations where both you, and your opponent have a low amount of time remaining on the clock and have to play really fast moves.
You have to play almost instantly, if this is online it is likely that the time scramble will be a pre-move battle (pre-moving is inserting a move before your opponent plays anything so you don’t waste time).
A lot of people find it difficult to excel with this, this includes me since I don’t have the fast fingers to play pre-moves quickly. Blitz chess almost always guarantees a time scramble situation.
In time scrambles a superior position does not mean anything, you can up as much material as you want and still lose because of time.
It also usually occurs in the endgame as well, a phase which a lot of people generally study less compared with the opening and the middlegame for example. This might be the reason why blitz is so hard for some people.
Players finds it difficult to avoid opening traps in blitz
Some players struggle with blitz chess because they are not knowledgeable in the opening. In blitz you are likely to encounter opening lines that have many traps and are attacking in nature.
This is especially prevalent in beginners, they are likely to not have a lot of experience dealing with any opening even the famous ones. This means that they are not familiar with the traps associated with most openings.
And with little time on the clock because this is blitz (typically around 3 minutes to 5 minutes) they don’t have enough time to speculate which line is the safest and just ends up deteriorating their position.
Some people do not even make it to the middlegame because of this reason, they just lose in the opening because they can’t deal with the opening traps along with the limited amount of time.
Not everyone has a lot of experience nor have studied openings extensively, this may be the reason why blitz is harder for some people.
Blitz is harder because attacks are more likely to happen
Blitz chess primarily revolves around tactics and attacks as its theme, which some players may not necessarily enjoy playing with.
In rapid or classical time format, players are much more passive since their opponents are likely to come up with good replies being the case that there is enough time.
This is not the case in blitz though, the opponents that you are going to find will likely choose aggressive lines since they know that you don’t have as much time to come up with the best reply.
Defending is a hard task for some people, especially if they are not used to this time format where attacks usually happen.
Some people are just used to playing stale positional situations where there is not much to do, in complicated positions where there is some defending involved they might crumble down under pressure.
And we have to understand that there is the time scarcity aspect as well, it is no wonder that people who find it hard to defend will also find blitz more challenging.
Blitz is difficult to play because it is harder to convert
Material advantage in blitz chess is not as important as with other longer time controls, this may be the reason why you find blitz much harder since it is more difficult to convert.
In some longer time formats the material advantage matters a lot because there is a lot of time to ensure that the player keeps the material that they have. This is not the case in blitz though.
In blitz there is not as much time to ensure that the player can trade down pieces and win through a simple endgame, there is much more opportunity for unnecessary trickery.
This means that even if you are up a piece in this time format there is still a chance that the opponent can bounce back, in other words, the conversion will need some effort.
There are people who become overconfident and play moves nonchalantly once they are up with some kind of material, these kinds of individuals will find it difficult to thrive in blitz.
Their opponents are likely to still want a fight even if they are down in material because there is also the time issue, this means that you still have to work for your meal even if you have the advantage.
Some people find dealing with this difficult since their mind usually becomes unfocused when they are up in material, blitz is not a good place for you if you are like this.
Some people find blitz hard because they are perfectionist
There are competitors out there that are perfectionists and would quit the game if they even blundered a single pawn, this is why blitz is harder for these players. Blitz chess doesn’t reward perfectionism.
As I have stated above, material advantage is not much of a big deal in blitz games since the one with the material advantage can still make mistakes that can give the material back.
However there are some who do not understand this and are willing to resign even if they are just down a pawn, meaning they don’t have the will to fight back.
But the thing is, not all games will be in your favor and there will be times where you blunder a positional or material advantage, it is normal no matter what your skill level is.
Even super grandmasters can blunder as well in the blitz format, this tells you a lot on how common blunder/mistakes/inaccuracy whatever your level is. This means that statistically, you are not going to win a lot of games if you are like this.
There will be occasions where you will make mistakes, and if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to still bounce back in the game then you will naturally find blitz harder to play.
Blitz chess is difficult because the moves are based on intuition
A lot of moves made when playing blitz chess are based on intuition rather than calculation, some players struggle with this since developing a good intuition requires a lot of experience.
In blitz you need to play the moves that are good enough for the position to not make it crumble rather than actually finding the best moves in every possible turn.
Of course you would want to play the best moves as much as possible if you can do it with the limited time that you have, but most likely than not, you are not capable of this.
Finding the best moves require an investment in time, in blitz the time is sometimes much more important than the actual moves. Some find it harder to cope with this fact and end up losing on time.
Finding even decent moves on such a time restriction is actually quite difficult for beginners who do not have their intuition on point yet, this may be the reason why you should struggle in blitz so much.
Maybe you just can’t find a decent move if you do not spend as much time on it, do not worry, you will learn this with experience. Blitz is kinda harder for some people due to this intuition problem.
Blitz is harder because you are more likely to get flagged
Blitz chess is a format where the time is not too short (but is still somewhat short) and not too long. A lot of players find it difficult to estimate their remaining time and they end up losing via getting flagged.
This is especially the case if you are used to playing with other time formats, you might think that you have more time than you actually have.
A lot of people who are not used to blitz are more likely to spend time even on the opening for example, a phase that is not as important in this time format.
When I play blitz I almost always play the opening instantly (as long as I don’t blunder) because I am aware that I might end up getting flagged later down the road.
Some do not do this and spend way more time in the opening and the middlegame, which ends up with them playing an endgame with a miniscule amount of time left.
This might be why you are struggling with blitz, because you cannot cope with the idea of getting flagged and you do not adjust your time based on it. It is an understandable mistake, but it does make blitz harder.
Blitz players are likely to pressure opponents to move faster
Some players who are just early in their development find it difficult to play blitz because of the nature of their opponent, it is likely that their opponent moves faster which pressures them to make mistakes.
There are some out there who can actually play decently even in the blitz time format, but end up struggling because their opponent is pressuring them to play faster than they can accommodate.
This is fair play, you have to do what it takes to win even if it means pressuring your opponent to make some sort of a mistake. But it does mean that blitz will be harder for certain individuals.
I am talking about people that cannot keep their cool, those that allow their opponents to dictate the pace of their game. Now, I am guilty of this too but not as much.
There are certain occasions in some of my bitz games where I have been pressured to move faster than I could and end up losing, but this doesn’t happen as often.
There are some out there that find it difficult to overcome this hurdle, which is understandable if you are just new to this. But blitz is significantly harder due to this stigma.
Blitz will be harder if you are not used to it
The reason you may be struggling with blitz chess is because it is in a different format than you are used to playing (maybe you are used to playing rapid?). Different time controls will require different approaches.
This is the same with literally any other thing that you do in life, the more you do it the more that you learn how to properly deal with it.
Maybe you have the potential to excel in blitz chess but are just starting with your learning curve, you will naturally find it hard at first even if you have the potential.
I recommend keeping up with your daily blitz routine if you are that dedicated in learning how to excel in this time format, experience is the best teacher.
Just keep on playing and it may work out for you!
Almost all of us find it harder to deal with things that are new, if you are still a beginner you are likely to find everything difficult, not just blitz. If you are specifically struggling in this time format though then this article can help you.
Review all the reasons that I have stated above and self-reflect on how you can improve on them, you are the only one that can actually change things since you control yourself.
I must admit that I am not the best blitz chess player out there, but I have become better than most chess players by being honest about myself.
So be honest about yourself and identify why you are really struggling with blitz, I believe only you can really answer that. I wish I have helped you through this article, sleep well and play chess