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Basic understanding of Tournament chess is not required per se, but it helps.

The difference between a blitz chess tournament and a regular chess tournament is about one to six hours on the clock. I say one to six because regular chess tournaments can be G/60 or G/120 +60 after 40 moves. A blitz tournament under USCF guidelines gives each opponent 10 minutes or less on their clock. Typically this is between 3 and 5 minutes. Bullet games are closer to the 1 minute mark.

Okay so that’s pretty technical concerning time constraints, what do I need to know if I’m going to play in a blitz chess tournament?

Some people are slow methodical thinkers, some are energetic lightning fast (and perhaps impatient) thinkers. Because of this, if you're good at long chess games, the inverse is likely true about blitz. Both inverse are likely true in fact. My blitz rating is over 400 ELO points lower than my standard rating. I often lose on time, not to blunders, just because I'm trying to calculate some five move tactic and 104 seconds are remaining on my clock, lol.

Equipment
First off you’re not going to be writing your moves down. That means don’t bring your little nerdy chess booklet to have your opponent sign after each game. During a regular tournament if you didn’t write your moves down, you’d be allowing your opponent to cheat if they wanted to and get away with it. But while blitz, you’re lucky if you have a couple of seconds to think through your move.

Secondly, I suggest you play with triple weighted pieces, and play on an extremely immovable flat surface. The flat surface may seem obvious to you, but perhaps not the triple weighted? This is nearly a necessity because of a typical knock over piece quick style that is prevented when the piece rebounds upright after a finger glitch.

Third, I guess by now you realize you need a clock. But what type of clock? Analog? NOOOOOO. Definitely not analog, you'll have no idea how much time you truly have remaining on your clock. I suggest a digital Chronos, with heat sensors. Yes, they make chess clocks with heat sensors for blitz in mind. I have one, and perhaps the nicest thing about them is the fact that they make no noise whatsoever. No clicky-buttons. You just tap your finger on your side of the clock and your opponent’s time starts to decrease. Sometimes your opponent will try to click his clock with a piece, and will fail to realize he has to do so with his finger, garnering you extra edge. If you can't afford a chronos at least get a digital clock so that you know your exact seconds remaining.

Now that you’re equipped, practice a few games with your buddy, and then go find a tournament! Blitz tournaments are actually kind of rare, but if you go to a national tournament like they hold in Las Vegas twice a year, or even the US Open. They hold their main tournament (usually G/120 +60) and throw a blitz tournament on the side. Cash prizes are generally good if you’re capable.

    Rules that apply to blitz tournaments that do not apply to anything else.
  • Touch move does not apply, its clock move. Once you hit your clock, your move is submitted, until then, you can do whatever the heck you want.
  • Don’t say check. This applies to all of chess, however, even more importantly to a blitz game. This is also what inspired this node, because this is possibly the most important thing when concerning a blitz game. If your opponent fails to realize they are in check, makes a different move, and hits their clock? GG they just lost, TAKE THEIR KING! I have no idea why this rule applies, but I do have a theory. You can’t calculate adding additional time or having a time penalty for making an illegal move in blitz. Even if you could, it would utterly destroy the whole game. While some random TD comes over to arbitrate, your opponent is thinking seven moves ahead in a blitz game while the clock is paused. So instead of this messy strife, you can just take your opponent’s king and win.
  • Personally, I think smack talk should be allowed in blitz, however, tournament play no talking allowed.

Tip
Now that I have that out of my system, I’ll leave you a tip. Don’t try to play an opening in a blitz game, unless you’re a master. Traps are too common in openings, and if you’re anything like me, you fall into traps often. Instead, just play simple development with the notion of either attacking the Queen side, the King side, or controlling the center. If you have that game plan in mind, you won’t drop hanging pieces, or get mated in the opening.


Previous chess writeup: Teaching Chess.

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