Monday, April 16, 2007

Chess -- The value of blitzing

The question of the value of blitz came up a while ago in a blog comment (see BDK's comment in this post). What's my take on that?

I did play a lot of blitz on the net back in the early FICS days, and my total improvement was only something like 100-150 points (which isn't much given that I played a lot, also as I recall I made most of the improvement rather early and then stagnated).

However, I didn't aim to improve. I played mainly to keep my mind off other things for a little while. I was basically just applying what I knew without expanding it.

Knowledge and skill don't just enter your mind just because you look at reality or just because you're doing a certain activity. Not even when the effects (good or bad) are obvious. Some people keep doing obviously destructive stuff over and over again, not learning anything. Something more is required: a commitment to improve, and certain mental actions (and practices) appropriate to whatever it is you're trying to learn. Often it's a question of deliberately establishing the right mental habits.

So, regarding blitz. I do think blitzing used a certain way can be very helpful in improving. For example, now when I'm playing I try to always be on the lookout for positions that I can't handle, and if I identify such an area I try to spend time (not while blitzing) improving that area specifically. (One example of that is positions where I've reached maximum pressure on some point but can't break through. It is easy enough to have a general idea of what to do as long as some piece can be better placed, but when they've all been coordinated and that isn't enough I'm just lost. I'm currently looking for general answers what to do in these cases.)

But notice that you don't automatically make these identifications just because you're playing blitz. If you do have given yourself the mental order to be on the lookout for things like that, you have a good chance of noticing them, otherwise you won't (or sometimes you will, but you leave it up to chance, and it will in any event be a slower progress.)

That's just a simple example (and an example within an example), but my point is that it all depends on how you use it. You can neither say "blitz will help you improve" nor "blitz won't help you improve". Rather, blitz has a good chance of helping you improve, if you use it in a good way.

Okay, enough for now, but I think I'll write more on this topic later.



Wahrheit said...

Your example is interesting--I seem to be very good at building a strong position,even against higher rated players, but not nearly as effective at closing the deal to a win.

I'll be thinking about this, and looking forward to your thoughts on the matter.

XY said...

I know how to handle some types of strong positions (even many, at least in the sense that I have a goal and some idea of how to get there). I have a very specific type of strong position in mind. I will wrote more on that, and post diagrams.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Yes, I too am curious about they type of positions you mention. Such positions drove Temposchlucker insane. One of his many posts is here.

XY said...

BDK -- Yeah, he seems to be talking about exactly the type of position I have in mind. I think I will mention that post when I write mine.

Grandpatzer said...

I have a post on what I think are the values of blitz here.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Incidentally, I agree about blitz. My coach, in fact, suggested I play tons of blitz and analyze with Fritz just to get a sense for the types of tactics I miss in real games.

XY said...

That's an interesting post, grandpatzer, and I'm sure I'll refer to it when continuing writing on this topic.

As for examining blitzes in Fritz (or Gnu Chess, in my case) looking for tactics, that could be a good idea. I'll think some more about that, and then blog about it.

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