Online chess is fun. Online chess is cool. Online chess is easy to play. But have you ever think about how much time do you spend playing online chess and later wondering why are you not doing well over the board, at real “wooden” chess (or may you be using plastic USCF chess set) somewhere on the Atlantic Open with standard time control? While playing online most people most commonly play so-called quick chess, with time control 10 or 15 minutes for game or even shorter. This kind of chess has NO REAL VALUE for improving your standard time control chess.
Think about it. When online players come to the “real world” chess tournament with their online opening repertoire they are usually get crashed right out of the opening. You ask why? They’re getting used to playing quick chess, so they do not pay much attention to their opening, because in 10 minutes it is very hard to exploit their mistakes if you not a master of course. However, in standard time control over the board chess, players have plenty of time to think why that knight is badly placed in the corner and why is that isolated pawn is a weak part of the opponent’s defense. In fact they will exploit both these weaknesses and somebody will have very tough time defending it. In 10 minute chess pawn weaknesses or bad placement of a piece is no big deal, since if opponent is going to even try to think about all that he will flag out first and lose on time. Even if you’re a piece down in G10 (10 minutes per game), you have high chances to even win the game. If you’re a piece down in G120, you are in deep trouble.
The other factor that makes online chess very different from real world chess is psychological factor. When someone plays online chess he can sit or even lie down in front of the laptop in pajamas, turn the music on and play chess. He does not know how his opponent looks, who he is and how he reacts on each move. The player only sees that little chess board on the screen and an empty chat box below. Now imagine different picture, a chess player seats in a playing hall with hundreds (!) of other players and the opponent right in front of the player who seems to do everything in his power to disturb our player, to make our player panic, to make our player scared and to finally lose the game. Yes it happens all the time. Opponents like to click with a pen, walk around like sharks, clear their throat when opponent’s time is running out, stare at the opponent, hit the clock as hard as they can and so on. Players who play over the board chess do know how to deal with it, otherwise they will lose every single game even though they may be twice as strong as their opponents are. Like Judith Polar said “chess is 60% psychology” and it is very true for real chess.
The point is this: if you playing chess for fun and just love to play quick chess during your free time there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re taking chess a bit more seriously and by playing quick online chess you want to learn to play better, especially over the board “long” chess, you should consider playing less online chess and dedicating more time for real studying.