The difference between Blitz and Standard play

I played a FICS game this morning and I think this game illustrates precisely why I have a much lower blitz rating (which someone commented about last night, suspecting I must be cheating at Standard) than Standard rating. Even someone at the club thought that people cheat on the internet, but I think they think that because their “game” is to play fast.

In this game, my lower-rated opponent sort of brought his “blitz game” (disregard how much time was spent on the moves) and I brought my “OTB game” – granted, the game only took me around 20 minutes to play.

In the opening, I see c4 preceded by Nf3 so seldom that I didn’t realize that it takes away my standard …e5 response and offers a Catalan for Black instead. I “tried” to play a King’s Indian, and yet thought I had “goofed” with …Re8 (since you normally see it on f8 in the KID), and yet I still apparently got a comfortable, reasonable, interesting opening position (granted that his Qb3 next to the apparently useless c4 is not so hot and that he blundered a few times).

In sum, it’s not that my blitz game is so bad (it is) but rather, IMHO, that blitz is simply bad chess all-around. Lots of brilliant moves and positions occur in nearly every blitz game, but if you can’t slow down to extract the most out of every position, then it is simply not quite the same game.

I just played a blitz game that I really like. It shows that a simple positional win is possible in Blitz, even as Black, even if blitz is hopeless for me when it comes to more complex, open positions – not because I don’t play them well, but there is too much to look at to avoid hanging pieces, pins and forks.

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5 thoughts on “The difference between Blitz and Standard play

  1. You have lower rating in blitz – it is not because you play worse in it. Me – the same, 1400-1500 ( max ~1570) and 1700-1800 – standard. The same on chess.com – this is a something natural. I partly agree about bad chess and fully – about a lot of excellent possibilities, that we don’t see just because we don’t have enough time. Still, sometimes you can a decent game, more often if you playing very familiar opening.
    The second game is not without blunders too, just not yours.
    On another note. You remember that boy, that I played ( and won) twice. When I talked to his parents, they said that his coach wants him to hit 2000 rating by spring or something like that (he is 1700+ now).
    I was surprised (though the boy definitely has ability) and said, that for 2000 you should have stability and it’s not easy.
    He played recently in the big tournament (the one I missed) and lost 3 games out of 5.
    I remember how he missed the standard stuff with me, frankly you can’t do that and pretend to be an expert. I would fire his coach for those promises. I even thought maybe I can give lessons to kids too, just charge less than our masters.
    At least I would teach that and quite a few other things.

  2. I would wish to teach too.

    With blitz, I am like you in that I use it to expand my repertoire, but now I am like that with Standard as well. Someone once said that when you change repertoires it is a sign of growth, and I would add that it means a person is getting ready to make a jump beyond their ratings plateau.

    I agree with you about the kid, and that he could play tournament after tournament with that same score. I’ve seen it happen, the bad habits that simply don’t go away, we all do this.

    To get to 2000 it takes opening, endings, prophylactic play (never missing/stopping the other players plan, which is the #1 thing that takes too long to figure out in blitz), aggressive play (almost never failing to consider the most aggressive plan/moves before thinking of defense, then the shortcoming will be whether one calculates it well, or not), tactics, calculation, finding the initiative, knowing where to spend time to wrest initiative, time on defense, and not getting into insane time-situations, pacing the game.

    That right there is already a lot to do well, never mind having consistent performance, chess stamina that comes from having studied some, and played a lot as we have have. Knowing when one is going for too much or not enough, and not being afraid to look for even more, examine all candidate moves, even unnatural/unfavorable looking ones. All that in a 90 minute game with an opponent that may only spend 30 minutes of their time, and then use the rest of all of that extra time in your own time-pressure. Facing Class A opponent after opponent that is already polished at using this clock technique for maximum effect, and the ones who do get into time-pressure often being the ones to find that five move combo instantly after 2 hours of play.

    Some people move too fast and drop pieces, regardless of the deep and beautiful combos that they can see against their opponents, so they could OTH lose to anyone, IOW. Yet, they may also know all of the standard traps in the openings that they play. This leads to bad tournament scores at slower time-controls, and yet they can go play a 3 round Action or G/45 or G/60 and in one day get all of those rating points back because the faster time-control re-rewards all of their bad habits.

    I think that would be cool if you became a chess coach, and that it would be cool if I became a chess coach, too.

    “that for 2000 you should have stability and it’s not easy.”

    I would both agree with that, and point out that you have a lot of stability built into your own game, RollingPawns. IMHO, your biggest thing is that you are hard to beat. Not losing is huge as it can take a couple wins to make up for a loss against a low-rated player, particularly when playing lots of lower-rated players. If you are hard to beat, even if you got a bit lucky getting to 1900, then it means that you can do well at holding a rating. Let’s say that you had gotten a 2000 rating or more after one strong tournament, I don’t think you would lose your grip on it quickly as again you are hard to beat, so it would be a slow-slide, if you had one.

    OTH, I think you stick too long with dud openings like Benko and Marshall Gambit, hehe. They are okay, simply take a very high level to play competently. On the internet, I’ve had great success with Queen’s Indian as I didn’t realize that most players online at my level either are positionally weak or simply don’t have time to figure these things out, or lack in positional/objective intuition, yet they may spot piece-sacs for winning initiative instantly. Some times the tactical players have weak positional sense, so that is a good opening. It’s much harder to use that positional sense in a gambit opening, but I also think that playing gambits will raise the level of one’s ability (which is why I often play a “gambity” style of play online, because I can afford to learn and throw away rating points online more than OTB).

    That’s another thing, it often helps these tactical players that they are weak positionally, because we spot that and then get lulled into thinking that their whole game must be weak like that, but then they will unexpectedly throw in some great winning tactics. This happens all the time at class C level, they will know that they are winning, get complacent, and miss the three move mate against them (will see it after they move though, usually) – the way I know this is that most of their games that they describe to me follow this similar plot.

    If someone really wants to know what is different about say Karpov than the rest of us. Karpov will do massive defensive and tactical defense calculations on any given move, even calculating the opponents’ positional sacs. Whereas, the average 1900+ tournament player, may, calculate deeply their own attack, but will often resort to the very short blundercheck for any sort of defensive calculations, or even leave it up to their own intuition and miss a one-mover winning positional reply, which of course usually gets rewarded or they wouldn’t be at whichever particular rating that they are at.

    I’m amazed when I think that a positional win like this is possible for White in the French Tarrasch, and I should probably pick up this variation as White.
    http://live.londonchessclassic.com/live.htm, check out the game Carlsen – Short
    Short plays the unwarranted …Ne4?, but doesn’t follow it up consistently with a plan like ..b6 and if Bf3, then ..f5 and allow doubled e-pawns – that’s my own analysis of it.

    My take on GMs is that they “get paid for tactics”, not to show that their positional intuition can be as lousy as the rest of ours. I believe even Kasparov was wary of Short, tactically, when preparing for their match, but Short overreached a lot, that was his strength and weakness, and perhaps still is. Although regarding that tournament, Adams, Anand, Kramnik, McShane are all strong positional players. Anand is more intuitive, but I tend to see Adams as the strongest pure positional player, and don’t quite understand what his weakness is, why he doesn’t place better(?) Perhaps his play is not stylistically as dynamic.

  3. I think that requirements for 2000 that you listed are actually worth more, like 2100-2200. I am moving from dud openings 🙂 to more positional, Nimzo, Queen’s Indian, just ran through Fritz my Ruy game, where I played Zaitsev variation for the first time, drew. I like it more than Keres, Bc8-b7 looks much more natural to me, than Nf6-d7.
    I was dumbfounded by the number of tactics, that Fritz found in this game, though it was correspondence game and quality of them is much lower than OTB ones, you just make a quick move when you have a moment and completely forget the flow of the game in 1-3 days that pass between the moves.

  4. The Ruy Lopez/Spanish is difficult to understand and virtually never played anymore online from my experience. Nowadays, players get the whole ‘tactics’ mantra, but positional play takes years, perhaps decades of play to ‘get’. The Spanish is like Heisman said, a battle of the positional.

    I tried the Zaitsev online once and flubbed it. The Tchigorin is not a prospect to relish as Black but in practical terms I could probably do well or at least okay with OTB against non-Expert players.

    I am trying to add the Open Defense to my repertoire (Kortchnoi used it unsuccessfully against Karpov in their 1981 match, but was also the ECO author). Yusupov is another player who has championed it.

    Positionally, the Open Defense can be quite difficult to understand at first. Of course, if you forget to play 6.Be6 I think it is, it’s an instant loss to anybody and I have done that countless times so much that I’ve virtually never played it as Black. But, even though it looks like an endgame loss or something, if you know the opening and can get through that and crank up the pressure at some point I think it is dangerous for White. It is an opening where Black could build up skill and White would be either trying to “common-sense” it, or refute it, or could lose their way.

    The main thing against the Lopez is that I would prefer a variation with activity early. Either you get that sort of position, or you have to wait forever in most variations before making an active move on your own as Black. But you could employ a ‘wait forever’ strategy and make your move in the endgame somewhere, too – after potentially doing a heck of a lot of accurate defending. Some will play it well as White, and you don’t want to blunder the opening to them, but a lot won’t. It’s an opening where it pays to know who you’re opponents are – unlike, say, the Scotch where that is largely meaningless. I am naturally more of a “match player” than a swiss-style player, so for me this sort of opening would have its plusses, but I’ve really come to be a more ‘universal’ player over time.

    Bc8-b7 gets played in the Archangelsk variation. White is supposed to play a4 against that, and a game from Timman gets quoted somewhere. It is a nice, active try for Black, and only real downfall is that it’s one more piece on the queenside that isn’t defending the kingside. Can quickly turn into a case of White mating before Black can do the same.

    I am sure that the Marshall has huge shock value against some and I would be one of those that stopped playing Lopez as White because of it. Here is what I would do, if I were you, or if I were your coach. 😉 Forget playing the hundred blitz games as Black, you’ve played it enough. Now study the heck out of it (particularly where you set it up on a board, and then don’t move the pieces for a while, perhaps even using a monograph which covers it), and some of the classic games, try and find the most tactical ones, set up the position and know where all of the tactical nuances are like no other opening. If you do that, you should the belief that you will win all of your games, but also they will probably make an intelligent ‘pass’ and you will have to be prepared to spend a copious amount of time on the clock to find any possible refutation in their continuation as quickly as possible. The refutation may not come on their first move, and may not happen at all, but their plan could be misguided.

    I would then choose a more mainline non-gambit variation for you, as you are doing now, but for a big win in a key last round, you could employ the Marshall for shock value so that your opponent has not played the specific line OTB against you before, or you play a new move. I am the sort of person that could “out-study” an opponent from a specific tabiya, it seems like most people can’t do that right even when they try. For you, I think you could but it may be apart from what you usually do. The problem is that this should very much work, it’s just that if one played by research every time I think it would greatly stunt one’s chess progress.

    The Benko is one of those openings where, well for me it’s nice I played it and then moved on, but I could go back to it for sure, but only because hundreds of rating points higher than when I last played it. I came to the conclusion that I would rather hold onto the pawn and simply get better positionally so that I could sack a pawn where I chose instead of in some automatic way on move three or so as Black. Plus, why give a lower-rated player a free-pawn in exactly the type of opening that they prefer to have a book response against?

    As for me, I can’t properly do the specified research as I can’t use the player-search in my Chess Assistant DB. Apparently, the install is Russian, even though it is technically in ‘English’. If I had Russian fonts and typed it in Russian, that may work, but it won’t even allow me to type into those search fields, and I haven’t called customer-support.

  5. Nice game. Agreed that you simply don’t see all the possibilities when playing blitz, that’s why its the devils work.

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