Sunday, May 29, 2011

Confessions of a Blitzaholic - Is Blitz Good Or Bad?

Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information: Confessions of a Blitzaholic - Is Blitz Good Or Bad?

Confessions of a Blitzaholic - Is Blitz Good Or Bad?

Blitz Chess: Helps or Hurts?

By NM William Stewart
The timeless question ... Does Blitz Chess do more harm than good for your serious chess game? This question has puzzled chess players since the beginning of the game itself. I’m not surprised that in the short 5 months I've been running my website the topic has been already been brought up 3 times. Our contributing editor Martin wrote a popular article for our site entitled: Blitz Chess – The Pros and Cons where he concluded that playing blitz chess in moderation is ok. Contributing editor Daniel Naroditsky also mentioned his opinion on the subject in his introduction to his live blitz chess video Their consensus is that in moderation, chess blitz is OK. My opinion is a little bit different. While I love blitz chess far more than either Martin or Daniel, I'm here to admit it isn't good for you at all. This article is the confession of a true blitzaholic.

Blitz in moderation: a correct conclusion or nothing more than the fallacy of the middle ground?

But wait?
If your trying to become a good chess player we clearly know that too much blitz chess is bad for your game, but that doesn’t automatically mean that a little bit is good, or at least not harmful for your game. Wikipedia refers to the fallacy of the middle ground as “a logical fallacy which asserts that any given compromise between two positions must be correct.” E.G. If too much chess blitz is bad, and no chess blitz is bad, then a little bit of chess blitz must be good! As an avid blitz players it hurts me to say this but playing chess blitz in any amount is almost never beneficial for improving your low time-control chess game . It hurts me to admit this because I am, in fact, a Blitz-aholic.

But chess blitz is so much fun!

Blitz is definitely entertaining to play, and very fun to watch. It also allows players the opportunity to try out new ideas in a short period of time in an inconsequential game. Also, blitz can increase your tactical awareness and obviously facilitate faster play. Personally, I enjoy blitz because I can wildly sacrifice pieces and my opponent has less time to clarify the mess and refute objectively unsound attacks. Any of my friends know that I love playing blitz chess. Most young high rated players that got sucked into the chess world starting playing chess blitz online (the classic example being Nakamura). However, the popular opinion of nearly all high-level chess players that blitz is NOT good for your game and I reluctantly join them.

Compartmentalize your Blitz Skills and Regular Time-Control Skills Separately

To succeed in chess you need 2 mind sets: your “Blitz” mind and your “Regular Time-Control” mindset. I am struggling with this myself. Chess Blitz can seem the same as regular time control chess on a superficial level, there’s a clock, there’s the same rules, the same pieces, the same player on the other end of the table, but the mindset must separate how much time is given to you on that clock regardless of the similarities. They seem the same, but they are 2 separate “languages.” This is tough, but it must be learned.

My Final Thoughts on Blitz

Your ability to concentrate on a single game diminishes as playing habits are built around blitz games. For many of the same reasons that blitz is so fun – playing out many games in a short period, quick positional and tactical assessments, and unsound sacrificial attacks – blitz can be very harmful to your serious, slow chess game. I’m not recommending that people stop playing blitz, I'm simply saying that if you want to progress as a serious chess player – maybe you should reconsider the time you dedicate to playing meaningless blitz games and the time that you spend legitimately studying and deeply learning the game. And yes, this is coming from a blitzaholic.
By Will Stewart (USCF 2256, FIDE 2234) This video was an abbreviated article you can find the full version of the article here

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