Blitz chess (and particularly bullet chess) can be a lot of fun. But beware!
Short time-controls can negatively affect your otherwise hard-earned skills.
Let me explain:
Real chess skills depend heavily on good thinking habits. Too much exposure to short time controls will hurt good thinking habits. I have seen with my own eyes how bullet chess can negatively affect your chess skills.
The damage is very real – a personal story
A friend of mine discovered the joys of chess a few years ago. She started to play chess online. Friendly people helped her improve and they shared their knowledge. She improved rapidly!
But many of the online players were playing bullet chess and/or short time controls (usually less than 10 minutes a side). It was so easy to find someone who would play a quick game. It seemed to be a great way to practice – having fun and improving at the same time. Or not?
A few months later she started to realize that she wasn’t improving anymore and that she wasn’t really applying her knowledge to her games. The habit of playing too much bullet chess harmed her chess development in a very sad way:
She developed a mental laziness and lost the ability (or will?) to think deeper about a position!
Can this be reversed? Yes it can. Developing good thinking habits is hard work. But nothing worthwhile is easy. No pain, no gain!
Don’t fall into the trap of bullet chess
If you are serious about improving real chess skills – play chess, not bullet. And not too much blitz. An occasional blitz session is fine, even helpful, but don’t let it overshadow your focus on “slow chess”.
It is a scientific fact that repetition is one of the mind’s most powerful learning methods.
Now think about this:
When you play chess at bullet time controls you are rapidly repeating a very shallow thinking process! That means you are teaching your brain to develop a bad habit and if you think it is easy to switch between fast thinking vs. deep thinking – think again! It isn’t easy.
How to spot a bullet chess player
If you have ever spoken to a regular bullet player who will share some of their bullet strategies with you, you will typically hear them talking about obscure advice:
- Make unsound sacrifices to confuse the opponent and cause him to use up too much time,
- continually check the opponent’s king with purposeless check,
- make random moves as quickly as possible and
- get into an endgame where you can pre-move.
All this advice is aimed at getting ahead on the clock. Which brings us to the following conclusion:
Bullet chess isn’t chess. It is fundamentally different to classic chess.
In classic chess, the object of the game is to plan your strategy, provoke weaknesses and try to exploit them. That is real chess! The object of bullet chess is radically different – try make your opponent run out of time before they can exploit your weaknesses.
But bullet chess is so much fun. Am I saying you shouldn’t play bullet?
Yes and no.
Slower time controls can be just as much fun
Playing 15 minute games (or slower) are not only fun, but also give you the opportunity to develop a better thinking process. Developing a systematic thinking process is one of the most important skills a strong chess player should have.
The joys from developing lasting chess skills will far outweigh the short-lived adrenaline rush which bullet time controls give you.
Want to further improve your chess skills?
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