Quite often we have met club players who perform well in tournaments with classical time control and give a strong appearance of being underrated players. However, when time trouble comes they tend to collapse quite easily.
The same is seen at rapid and blitz events; some players can’t even finish the game and they end up losing by flagging or making horrible blunders. We all have seen that and it is sad, indeed. Playing good blitz and rapid is important; every strong player is competitive in these modalities and it is a fun way to develop skills.
Although blitz is not recommended as a way to improve your classical chess strength, your blitz skills are usually a sign of your chess strength.
Obviously, there isn’t just one way to fix these problems with time pressure, but there are a few methods you can try if you feel identified with what’s described above. The key word and main thing to do is PRACTICE, but that’s not all there is.
We have a few recommendations for you that have worked with a few students:
1. Improve your tactics sensor and quick calculation
Try to spend a couple of hours a day solving tactics, as many as possible. Do it with a time limit and do not seek for too difficult problems.
Instead, focus on hundreds of problems with medium difficulty. The goal is to think more tactical, to calculate quickly mini operations (3-4 moves tops) and commit fewer mistakes.
Cheapos and tricks are important in blitz, improve your awareness.
2. Make practical decisions
Instead of seeking for the best move settle for a quick decision of fewer committal moves. While in a classic game you can calculate and have a deep evaluation of the position, in blitz you need to make this decision in seconds. Be practical, avoid being captivated by the beauty of the game.
Play training games; do it with all the intention of keeping control of what you are doing. Do not just “play fast”, try to play the best you can as fast as you can.
Make strong moves in a relatively short time.
4. Develop your intuitive play
Perhaps this is the most difficult one and you can only achieve it by study and practice. In blitz, it is extremely important to trust your intuition. Follow paths by feeling rather than certainty. The more you see the more you store in your memory and the easier it gets to imitate.
Certain openings are simply not good for blitz unless you know them very well. That’s the case of too sharp openings where one side’s play is easier. The initiative is a strong factor in blitz; the more you are forced to think the more difficult it will get as the game advances. We recommend playing openings by “schemes” rather than those that demand concrete variations.
For example, the Hedgehog system, English opening, Queen’s gambit accepted, Scandinavian, Caro Kann and French are, in our opinion, superior to sharp Najdorfs. Needless to say that this is subjective, it all depends on your opening knowledge.
We hope the guideline above will serve you well to increase your blitz abilities. Don’t hesitate to give it a try as it has worked well with our own students.
Thank you for reading and as usual, feel free to share your thoughts with us.