May 20, 2023
Oh boy! The bullet & blitz brigade won’t like this! But I’m sticking to my guns…
Exception #1 to this rule: You value short-term entertainment over long-term improvement (nothing wrong with that - you do you - everyone has their own priorities!)
Exception #2 to this rule: You’re already a strong player (2000+ generally) and specifically want to improve your speed chess.
For most other players, you’re much better off focusing on rapid and classical time-controls.
Well, the more time you have, the less rushed you’ll be, and the better you’ll be able to implement what you learn and start developing pattern recognition. When you’re still on “the come-up” , you’re soaking in so much new information and developing foundational thinking habits - and you need time on the clock to practice what you learn!
You just won’t be able to internalize all this new stuff when you’re constrained by time (aka in speed chess).
With longer-time controls, you’ll also get to work on your thought process and time management. As you learn to allocate your time efficiently and make well-thought-out decisions, you'll start to internalize these habits, making them second nature.
And guess what!
When this becomes second nature, by default, your speed chess will improve!
Conscious, deliberate thinking (in long time controls) → your pattern recognition and intuition improves as you internalize and practice good thinking habits → over time, with enough practice, your mind will struggle less to see things (aka previously difficult things become easier) → your ability to make quick decisions also improves → you get better at speed chess in the long-run.
For example, a complete beginner still learning the opening principles will have to think long and hard about developing their pieces. They need to actively think about center control and getting their king castled. They have to allocate time and mental energy to make sure they are correctly following the opening principles.
But once they’ve gotten a lot of practice with it? It becomes second nature! All of a sudden, they can dedicate their time and mental energy to other more complex chess concepts.
Now, this is not to say never play bullet/blitz (I believe it does have its place in every player’s chess improvement journey), but when you’re on the come up, it should never be the priority.
That is, unless you value fun/entertainment over long-term improvement.
Or, that is, unless you’re already a strong player specifically trying to improve your speed chess.
The key lies in fostering a deeper understanding of the game and honing your intuition (which longer time-controls allow), which will eventually translate into better performance in faster-paced games. This is the reason strong players can make strong decisions in split seconds consistently! They’ve put in the work and reps in longer-time controls first.
As your intuition sharpens through rigorous practice in rapid and classical time-controls, you’ll find that your ability to quickly assess positions and make sound decisions in blitz and bullet improves.
All the best!