Not being an avid blitz player myself I advocate the longer time control games. However, there is something special about blitz and bullet chess that attracts many players online. For example, on Free Internet Chess Server (FICS), about 80% of all games played are fairly short time control ones. That’s partly due to the fact that you can play many more 3 minute games than, say, 30 minute ones. But, it still tells us something about popularity of short time controls online.
I have seen players like @ChessNetwork (with online blitz rating well above 2500) dominating opponents at blitz and 1 minute games. After observing a couple of his games, I came to the conclusion that these games cannot be treated as classical chess and other things become much more important than just finding the best moves. Namely – the time.
I decided to ask Jerry (aka ChessNetwork) couple of questions about how to be successful at blitz and what one needs to pay attention to for winning more games.
He was kind enough to share his expertisewith us.
Question 1: What’s the most important thing to keep in mind to win more blitz games?
What’s more important: time or a good position?
Answer by ChessNetwork: A good play includes playing into positions/pawn structures that you are comfortable with.
Can’t say either way… one need’s to find a balance between the two. 4 queens vs a pawn is worth nothing if you have no time to use that material advantage. If there is an increment, a good position is certainly more important.
Question 2: Is using pre-moves crucial to play short time control games? (I noticed you use them a lot).
Are there any other tricks we can use to win games? Like sacrificing a piece with a check to run opponent out of time, etc.?
Answer by ChessNetwork: Pre-moves are very important. With such limited time, every second counts. Why not pre-move only replies? Pre-moving recaptures are the easiest to do and take only 0.1 seconds on most sites I know of.
Time-burners by sacrificing with check is good to keep your opponent “in check” with his/her own pre-moves, especially with only seconds left on the clock.
There may also be a little trick to not making a move your opponent is expecting.
Question 3: How to train for playing blitz games on the higher level? (Solving tactics? Timed tactics? Or what else?)
Answer by ChessNetwork: Timed tactics seem like a good practice for blitz games. A way to increase your understanding can be by devoting a blitz session to playing one specific opening as much as possible and try to learn some of the ideas/plans within that opening/pawn structure for both white and black.
Let’s do a little recap of the ideas we have learned from @ChessNetwork that will allow us to play better at short time control games:
1. Time is crucial, make sure you have enough of it, otherwise you won’t be able to convert even the best position in the world.
2. If there is an increment, good position is more important than time advantage.
3. Use pre-moves for all forced responses to save time.
4. Use ‘time-burners’ (like a check to disable opponent’s pre-move).
5. Play unexpected moves for the same reason as stated above.
6. Timed tactics and the deep opening understanding is a way to go at blitz.
7. Figure out what positions you play the best, and try achieving them as often as possible to maximize your chances.