Sunday, December 14, 2008

On Giving Up Internet Blitz (Again)

Since I last played in the five hour marathons at the Reno Chess Club (see here for my rather whiny farewell) most of my chess activity has consisted of blitz on FICS. While I've certainly gotten some satisfaction and enjoyment from these games, I've also gotten into some pretty bad habits.

As James Stripes writes in this post at his excellent Chess Skills blog, "Blitz and rapid chess involve a lot of smoke and mirrors, while standard chess is a quest for truth." I have seen that in the evolution (devolution?) of my "style" over the last months; I developed the typical blitzer's habits of playing trap chess and "hope chess," always pushing forward and doing very little consolidation, rarely playing for an "edge" or going for a superior endgame. I have had some nice artistic successes, learned a lot about the openings...and hung a lot of pieces.

Last night I had a good winning streak, ran my blitz rating up to a reasonably respectable 1377, and having a desire to get back to the "quest for truth" have decided to play only 15 0 or longer (the minimum for standard rated games) for the present. My FICS rating at that is 1686, and I figure I could get that quite a bit higher by playing serious, real chess.

Meanwhile, I've gone to a couple of meetings of the Juneau Chess Club, which is a laid-back affair for two hours at the library, once a week. There are several pretty decent tournament players in my town, in the 1400-1600 USCF range, so I'm going to get busy organizing a "stimulus package" and start playing rated games again. Game in 90 minutes to be the maximum, if I have my druthers. There are also several tournaments a year up in Anchorage and starting next summer I expect to have the time and money to travel to something in the "Lower 48."

So right now I'm headed off to get back to "real chess," because I've gotten a bit shallow, and hope is not a plan.


Rolling Pawns said...

Recently I practically quit playing on FICS after a year of very intensive play. It helped me for some time, but then I realized (after losing a couple of OTB games by not seeing simple tactics - which I thought blitz will guarantee) that I need something else to improve, so I play online correspondence now. Regarding 90/G control - situations like you described in "five hour marathons" post (screwing up endgame in the time scramble) can happen pretty often. One thing that helps me is Botvinnik's rule - 20% of time for the first 15 moves.

James Stripes said...

Thanks for the kind words!

When I started getting serious about improvement a couple of years ago, I resolved (one of those New Year's things) to limit online blitz to five games per day. That lasted until April. It might be worth renewing that resolution, even though there are worse addictions.

I've been known to rush through 100 games on a Saturday, raising my online rating 200 points, then dropping it 300. The principal benefit of these many hours for several days each month is that I can state authoritatively (my database contains ~98% of the games I've played) that I've lost over 16,000 games. After dropping this bombshell in conversation, I add that I've won over 20,000.

This chess addiction does not harm the liver or other essential organs, and it may even have health benefits, such as decreasing building resistance to dementia and other mental deterioration that often results from old age. Abstinence is a poor solution.

I enjoy the rush of 3 0 chess, but prefer the quality of play I put forth in slower games, such as 15 0 on FICS and 16 0 on (the minimum that gets rated as "standard"). Another alternative to too much blitz is increasing correspondence/turn-based play. In the quest for chess truth, three days or more per move is advanced philosophy!

tanc (happyhippo) said...


I play Blitz on FICS either at 2 12 or at least 10 0. I find that one good thing about blitz is that it shakes off the rustiness and gets you up to speed real quick in terms of opening theory.

Other than that, it has of very little value and I don't regard blitz ratings of much value. Heck, I don't even value online ratings or actual FIDE ratings at all.

I play for the fun of it.

I used to play correspondence chess but got bored of it and quit mainly because I'd realise that if I do not see the critical move within 10 minutes, there's no chance I'll see it OTB. ;)

I just concentrate more on tactical and endgame training these days.

Wahrheit said...


Abstinence is a poor solution. Your point is well taken--perhaps like steak and ice cream, blitz could beneficial in right-sized doses.

knight_tour said...

I think that I get quite a bit out of blitz even though I am not so good at it (My FIDE is 2088 but my online blitz rating moves between 1800-1950 rather rapidly). What I do is play four or five blitz games and then go over them all in Chessbase to help improve my openings.

BTW, I don't get material to allow me to post so often in my blog, but if you would add a link for me I would appreciate it.

Polly said...

Maybe you could run a chess tournament up there, and we all could come up and visit. I'd like to get one the hard states out of the way in my quest to play all 50.

likesforests said...

I'm doing the opposite--playing more fast games! At 45+5 at the 1800-2000 ICC level, although many aspects of the game play a role, simple tactics are usually still decisive. I only have time to get in a couple G/45s a week. It makes sense to me to toss in some G/15s to get more practice with tactical thinking.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Good to hear they have chess up in Palin country! :)

Have a nice holiday!

fadil said...

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