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.