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Posts Tagged ‘Blitz’

Answer: 7 games

I was pretty lazy in the last weeks and don’t feel much motivated. There is always such a time, I know. The biggest problem is that there is no incentive at the moment. Getting better could be a goal but to whom would I prove that I got better? With an abstract rating on ICC? And always remember that this is time that could be used to achieve other things.

I have decided for myself to put chess aside for a while. I am waiting for the next OTB tournaments and when I know the schedule I will prepare for them. Playing in such social events is much better and when you are sitting at a table you focus much more on the game. Not like the half-hearted internet games that are mostly there for fun.

Coming back to today’s topic, how many games do you need to gain 100 points on ICC in the 5min category? My rating dropped pretty much recently. I played more on my iPad and lost a lot of games on time. A surprising winning streak of 7 games made my rating jump from 1200 to 1300. :) Blitz is really only for fun, often I don’t care too much about my pawns but try to open lines for an attack. Here are snapshots of these 7 games. Enjoy!

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A simple mate

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Mutual time trouble but I managed to win 6 moves later with 2sec left on the clock.

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This is won now but not with 32…Nxf2+? (Ng3+!). White blunders back with 33. Kg1 which is a mate in 4 but had the chance to exploit my weak backrank instead.

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A messy Smith-Morra gambit that went totally wrong for me. I only tried to keep up some threats with queen and knight and after 24.Rae1?? White suddenly runs into a mate in 2. :)

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I first spoilt a good position and had to win the game a 2nd time. Black resigned here.

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Black lost on time here. Temporarely I even had a triple f-pawn. For some reason Black didn’t want to capture f5 during the game, he rather tried to develop pieced but never got a winning attack.

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This was the beginning of the end for Black.

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Blitz is bad. Period.

Don’t be fooled by my last post. Blitz is bad for your chess. I was frustrated by my low ICC rating and looked for an excuse to continue playing fast games. 2 days later my rating is up again (1565) and I had some time to think about it.

Opening Training

Here Blitz can help, however, you would like to play short games, review the opening moves and completely ignore the results. "Ignoring the results" is very difficult and you cheat the other players who think that you take the games seriously. Another point is how much time is required until you have confidence in your opening repertoire. A completely new system took me 1-2 months. Of course I don’t remember the reply to every possible move but this is not required. Often it’s enough to play a logical move and if there is a trap involved you will find out soon. Always remember: the real battle is fought in the middlegame so don’t be afraid that you play the "wrong" moves. Unless you blunder this won’t lose the game. Alternatives for opening study are specialized programs like "Chess Position Trainer" or "Chess Openings Wizard". Once you know your openings, Blitz isn’t helpful anymore.

Tactics

Blitz is absolutely inefficient if you want to practice tactics. How many positions with simple tactics will you get in a game – maybe 4? If you take a book with puzzles you will easily do 15 in less than 30 minutes. Blitz however can test if you are able to spot the tactics in a game.

Aggressive piece play

Piece play is something you have to learn by playing. Studying games will help you to understand what is good and what is bad but it’s hard to apply this knowledge to your own chess. Personally, I have to make my own mistakes, review the games with a strong chess engine and understand why another move is better. This requires time and first of all you have to build the skill. Blitz will test if you can do it quickly but it won’t help you to improve it.

Endgame Training

Another area for which Blitz is absolutely inefficient. It’s better to set up some endgame positions on the board and play them out against a computer or a human. Play them over and over again until you get them right. The concepts can be tricky and counter-intuitive so in Blitz you will have no chance to work them out. Endgames need precision, often there is only one winning or drawing move while all the other will lose the game. And finally, a golden rule is: don’t hurry. This is completely against the attitude you need to apply to win a Blitz game and therefore Blitz is bad for your endgame.

You learn to deal with losses

At least this should be true, shouldn’t it? Again the answer is no unless you are able to ignore your ELO rating. If you just play chess, alright, but most of us want to prove that their chess is outstanding and the only indicator for this is the rating. Another fact is that on ICC most players will only play against someone who is at least on the same level, so if you are able to beat a 1700er but your rating is 1500, you will never have the chance to play against them and that’s why the rating is not unimportant.

Conclusion

Blitz is basically a test how quickly you can apply your knowledge to the game and a competition if you can calculate faster than your opponent or if a better positional understanding can outweight other disadvantages. It’s a lot of fun, no doubt, and if the balance is right there is no reason not to play fast games. Blitz is like sweets – you can eat them from time to time but it’s not the healthy food you consume regularely.

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Yesterday was the second game in this month’s STtourney and my opponent was Fogbound. He was out of form, dropping one piece very early and then another. When it got tough I turned off my brain and played too quickly, giving back most of my advantage. We finally reached an endgame rook+knight+pawns vs. rook+pawns. It was easy to see that my passed pawn will win the game, but my opponent played on for another 20 minutes until he gave up. This was quite embarrassing – one should know when it’s time to give up. On the other hand it taught me a good lesson: don’t rush. Never. Spending 5 minutes to cash in the victory will save more time than mindless play.

I played a couple of more (shorter) games with bad results. My ICC rating has dropped below 1500 and I wanted to raise it, no matter how. This was a bad idea because at the end my rating stayed where it was before. Some losses were caused by missed tactics, one was time trouble and another poor endgame technique. I felt really bad afterwards because my inner voice told me that this is not the right way to get better but is this really true?

Why Blitz is bad

  • It does nothing to improve your calculation skill. Time is too short.
  • You do not look for the best move, you play a move that you know and that might work.
  • You might build the bad habit of not thinking enough in your long games, getting lazy and playing too quickly.
  • It’s addicting and the time is not available for serious study.

Why Blitz is good

  • Opening training. You will face many different moves and have to find an answer.
  • Tactics. Seeing and dealing with threats from your opponent, building mating attacks etc.
  • Aggressive piece play. You need to attack your opponent and have your pieces play together instinctively.
  • Endgame training (when it comes to it). Practice common endgames.
  • You learn to deal with losses.

It’s very important to make sure that you follow your own guidelines all the time, even in fast games. Spend some time during the critical moments of the game to find a better move. Store diagrams of the most shameful moments somewhere and review regularely what you have missed.

And finally: don’t forget to play long games because that’s the only way to get better.

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