Slow Chess should die a fast death

There is no way to prove this, but I’m making you a promise right now.

Imagine that chess was invented last week. Imagine it’s invented in a time when we have clocks, when people are working 40 hours a week, when we have computers, Internet, video games, professional sports on TV, and dozens of other distractions on a regular basis.

There is absolutely zero percent chance that the world of excited chess enthusiasts would band together and say “Let’s make sure every single chess game lasts anywhere from 4-6 hours”. Just like every other new and popular game/esport that’s emerged, a typical chess game would not last longer than 30-40 minutes.

Slow chess should disappear and be replaced by rapid chess. Rapid chess should not be rapid chess, it should be chess. What should the standard time control be? Something like 30+5 second increment sounds perfect to me. And when I suggest 30+5, please note that I’m choosing a time control this slow only to appease the masses. I think 15+5 is more appropriate.

Why is slow chess so horrible? There are so so many reasons. But the main one is the simplest:

People don’t like to play slow chess!

Now wait you might tell me, “I really do love to play slow chess, and so do all of my friends”.

I have an answer for you: “No you don’t”.

Let’s run a little experiment. Let’s allow tens of thousands of chess players around the world to choose what time control they would play if they wanted to have fun and play chess. Since slow chess is so sacred and important for some unknown reason, I’m sure they would choose to play slow games? Nope. Almost no one has any interest in playing slow chess.

In an actual real life experiment, that takes place every day on the Internet and has for the last twenty years, less than 1% of 1% of games are played at a slow time control. If you log onto the Internet Chess Club with the goal of playing a slow chess game, you’re player pool is going to be greatly diminished because no one wants to play slow chess!

As an International Master, even if I wanted to play slow chess, it’s extremely hard to find an opponent around my level. Why? Because Grandmasters and International Masters don’t want to play slow chess! They don’t find it nearly as fun as faster chess, and they don’t choose to play it in their free time.

On the Internet way above 99% of all games are played at a time control of 5 minutes or less. On top of that, I’d suggest that over 90% of players will go an entire month without playing a single slow chess game online.

Why is the chess world based solely around a time control that people have demonstrated that they no interest in playing? Sure there are plenty of excuses you could use to explain why you don’t play slow games online.

  1. Maybe you are busy and don’t have time to play a four hour game. Newsflash for you: Maybe all major chess tournaments shouldn’t take three to five whole freaking days where you play chess every minute of every day and barely have time to eat or sleep? Maybe people are too busy for that!
  2. Ok but I really like slow chess, but online I’m just trying to relax and have fun. Yes, because slow chess is not fun. In fact it’s so not fun that not only are you not willing to play it, but even something like 10 minute chess is way too slow for 95%+ of online chess players to ever play. We are intentionally formatting chess tournaments to be as little fun as possible. This is stupid and detrimental to the long term health and popularity of the game.
  3. If chess games are too fast, then players will play so much worse: Every single top 10 player in the world will play just as strong, if not stronger, as the first 5+ world champions if the time control was 30+5. Do you know how freaking good Magnus Carlsen is? Do you realize how good he is even with 30 minutes for the entire game? He’s certainly still 2700 FIDE+, it’s just a question of where he would fall in that range. He would absolutely demolish someone like Alekhine even giving 2 hours to 30 minute odds. I suspect the average true strength of play would drop by about 100 FIDE points, but I am so happy to sacrifice 100 points of skill for a game that takes 20% as long and allows you to actually enjoy yourself and relax at a chess tournament. Many of the deep and interesting combinations that you see in top level tournaments, would also have been played in rapid games.
  4. If 30+5 becomes a standard time control, all of the top players will be different. This is almost certainly false. Who is the best blitz player in the world right now? I’d bet it’s Magnus Carlsen, probably followed by Hikaru Nakamura, Grischuk and other members of the current top 10. Who were the best blitz players in the world in the 80s-90s? Almost certainly Kasparov+Karpov. How about in the 70s? It was Fischer. In the 20s it was well known that Capablanca was the best. The best chess players are the best blitz players. The best chess players will also be the best rapid players, with very little exception.

Now let’s talk about all of the reasons why slow chess is horrible as a standard for the chess time control:

First of all it’s extremely unfriendly to fans. I think this is pretty obvious. A prime example was the 2015 Sinquefield Cup in which Maurice Ashley spent the last hour of a broadcast joking about how boring the game between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana was. Chess doesn’t have to be this way!

It’s very bad towards retaining new players. There is a large pool of potential new players that comes from the Internet. They find chess online, become hooked, and want to try a chess tournament. Imagine their confusion when a chess tournament is so wildly different than online chess, and much less entertaining and action packed.

I can think of no other game or sport where the style of play in actual competitions varies so wildly from what the community has agreed is the most entertaining and fun way of competing. If you play in a Hearthstone tournament, they don’t suddenly increase the length of time you get to think each turn to 10 minutes. The slowest time control you’ll ever see in a Scrabble tournament is 25 minutes for the game.

The standard time control is so long you can basically play just one chess game per day. Yes, I know that in the United States we actually play two slow chess games per day, but I consider this a pretty barbaric practice. But again, this is only because I’m crazy and enjoy having time for meals, exercise, a small amount of relaxation per day and sleep.

What change could be made if the time control became 30+5? You could now play in a major tournament and easily play 4 games per day, while also having plenty of time to eat, sleep, exercise and have fun.

Imagine rounds at 12:00 PM, 1:15 PM, then a 5 hour break and two more games at 7:30 PM and 8:45 PM. You’re going to play a maximum of about four hours of chess, and if the tournament is in an exotic or interesting city, you actually have time to explore it and do fun things both during the day and at night.

Meanwhile you get to play a large volume of chess games. A four day tournament could be sixteen games. A super tournament between the top players in the world could be 36 games instead of just 9. A world championship match could easily be something like 50-60 games. In fact speeding up the time control and including more individual games would actually drastically reduce the amount of luck/variance that occurs in one single chess event, and you would get to enjoy more chess games.

When I play in today’s standard American chess tournaments, I honestly feel like less of a human being. We are not meant to wake up at 9 AM, shower and eat a quick breakfast, rush to play our game at 10 AM, play a 5.5 hour game where we are sitting in one place for the majority of that time, rush to eat in the 1.5 hour window we have before the next round, finish eating, go upstairs to wash up and maybe rest for 10 minutes, rush back downstairs for the next game, play another stressful 5 hour long game, search to see if there’s anywhere that’s still open for dinner, finally find a place and get back to our hotel room only to realize we have under 8 hours until the next round begins tomorrow morning.

The above is the life of a chess player and I’ve experienced it many times. We don’t have to live this way. However I know that when it comes to this topic it’s like I’m banging my head against the wall. Despite the fact that no one has even the slightest interest in playing a slow game if they are given a direct choice in what time control to play for fun, they will defend the slow time control until their lungs explode.

People are so unbelievably opposed to any change, and I consider it one of the biggest flaws of the chess community. The time control that we use in actual chess tournaments should actually be fun. If chess tournaments aren’t fun, lots of people will slowly stop playing in them and fewer people will watch them. We already know what people think is fun, so how about make our time controls reflect that at least a little bit.

50 thoughts on “Slow Chess should die a fast death

  1. That is a truly awful blog. It’s a bit like saying if cricket was invented today it would be 20 20. Are we now heading into a new age of McChess where American’s tell us there should be no draws and the games should be over in half an hour?

    He produces loads of opinion backed up by no evidence whatsoever. The reason why chess games last more than 10 mins is the lack of intellectual satisfaction one gets from playing speed chess, the feeling that you have never come anywhere near to getting to the heart of the position (to the best of your capabilities). You need the time to understand the game, not play a game using your best-guess.

    Onward is the march of American cultural destruction & anti-Intellectualism.

    Liked by 4 people

    • “Onward is the march of American cultural destruction & anti-Intellectualism.”

      I guess you’re going to have to lump the Swiss in with your silly nationalist bigotries…

      By the way, if cricket were invented today, it probably would be Twenty20. After all, that form of the game is keeping cricket alive at the national and, increasingly, the international level.


      • An interesting and no doubt deliberately provocative article. Obviously chess with different time controls all have a place and adherents. Most chess players enjoy a variety.
        It’s interesting that games very popular in the USA like American football and basketball are very slow games lasting forever. Is it because their players lack the ability to think for themselves so that they need a stream of “time outs”( better called interruptions) so that the coach can tell them what to do next?


    • I agree As a 5 time WCCF and 2 time Mensa World Correspondence Champion and TCC US champion I enjoy even slower chess. OTB I prefer 10 moves per hour Online I only play faster limits because it is irritating to see opponents log off log on log off etc every move You know they are cheating and faster play online is simply to avoid the cheaters Totally different animal In correspondence you know they are cheating but the idea is the very highest level of play training you to play the best at slow chess


    • People don’t play slow chess online because it gives cheaters too much time to choose second and third best moves or more human looking moves that are rated as blunders/mistakes by the engine they’re cheating with.

      You’re simply more likely to play an engine an engine assisted player in online slow chess, even if that engine only calculates one or two moves for the entirety of the game.


  2. Some good points Greg, but surely “quality” of the play which a time control allows has to be a factor in such issues. In classical chess you sometimes get deep combinations, and the player has the time to follow them up correctly against strong defense, and the result is something memorable and satisfying and give people joy when they view the game, even a hundred years later. I’ve played a handful of such games myself. But although faster games can be more fun and more exciting at times to watch as a spectator, you will ultimately be left with forgettable games with relatively shallow tactics. Any really creative and deep ideas that a few great players like Carlsen or Naka can come up with in fast time controls will tend to lead only to frustration when they fail to find the most precise follow-up a few moves later and ultimately spoil the beauty of the game, and will be frustrating in a story of “what might have been if he had only had more time.” Faster games have their place, and I’m not opposed to experimenting with them and giving them more attention and importance — just as I like Fischer-Random Chess. But ultimately the difference between the Rapid and Classical is one of quality, right? Like the difference between an artist who paints a quick “sketch” that is nice, or takes several days to carefully paint a masterpiece.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I see your point, but I think there is another side to the argument. Think of long tournaments when players end up blundering towards the end of long games or after a few days of playing. I think reducing the time control would reduce player fatigue and then could improve quality of play in some instances (though might increase time scramble blunders). Maybe something a bit longer than 30+5 would allow for deep tactical ideas on the part of the players, reduce player fatigue so they can play their best throughout the game, all while still making the games watchable for someone without 4-6 hours to spare in their day.


      • Complaining about fatigue is like Billy Conn saying I was winning for 11 rounds till got knocked out by Joe Louis in the 12th etc Work out!


  3. The market has spoken. Big organizers conduct formal surveys of their clientele from time to time (active tournament players who’ve enters their events), and structure future tournaments based on the results. I’ve received several such email surveys from Goichberg over the years. It seems plain to me that neither the organizer conducting the survey nor the players who answer it have any incentive to lie. The answers aren’t published, the respondents expect anonymity; the survey only exists to help the organizer determine which format will bring in the most entries. It’s pure capitalism; the free market at its best. And with all that, there is no shortage of opportunities for folks like Greg to play their beloved rapid chess, and speed chess… And even have it rated, nowadays (I mean blitz). So it’s hard to see what he’s complaining about.


  4. People have to go to extraordinary lengths to set up long chess games. For example, the Slow “Live” Chess Association on and the Heisman affiliated have members go through a negotiation forum to setup 90 +30i & 45 +45i games. For people who work, hit the gym, have family obligation, etc., this is very difficult; and so negotiations tend to be tough, even on a good week. Many people simply resign themselves to not playing in these tournaments, though they’d like to, but simply cannot work out game times with randomly selected opponents. At chess clubs, such as the Pittsburgh Chess Club, you can walk in at any time of operating hours and find a long game going (or at least someone willing to play one), and that’s especially true of much older, non-competitive club members. The emphasis on youth and scholastic chess in the USCF, and the simple difficulty of players blocking out a time slot for slow games, seems to be what’s mostly driven to the surface the view being expressed in this blog post.

    Personally, I love short controls, but the science and art of chess only show themselves in the slowest of controls. Without the slowest of controls, club players would never have the very rare brilliancy (or, let’s say, “semi-brilliancy”), which they show to fellow players 10 years later. Fun in the moment is good, but the ever-lasting art and science generated by, for example, Lasker, requires more than 30 minutes on the clock and the seeking after of cheap thrills; and there’s certainly no way that an exceptionally weaker tournament player, like myself, can come away with that will matter years later. Maybe the biggest problem with the short controls is that very little in physical (i.e., brain) performance is required, which adds to the sporting aspect of the game. Saying “death to slow chess” is, to me, like taking most of the good stuff out of what makes chess great.


  5. It’s okay to promote rapid chess and to love it, but why do you need to pretend that people hate slow chess ? The number of people playing slow chess in the world is not diminishing. I prefer long games to rapid ones (I like feeling “in the zone”), but there should be something for everyone.

    Rapid competitions already exist : people like to contend in quickplay, but they also like to play long games.

    The reason why long games are not popular on the Internet is because there’s less emotional involvment than in-person and the odds of playing a cheater are quite high.

    So, by all means, I’m in favour of organizers trying the formay you suggest (why not ?) and see if it appeals to players.


  6. I think Mr. Shahade really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. There are multiple online leagues for 45+45 and 90+30 chess. Both league and individual. I never, ever have difficulty finding a long chess game online. Ever. If he’s going to write articles, perhaps he should inject less of his personal wishes into them and instead stick more to fact and reality. The reality is that long chess is the heart and soul of the game. There is simply NO WAY to play the grand strategy game of chess as it was meant to be played in even an hour. It’s just too, too fast. 15, 20, 25 minutes on a position – this is standard.

    Yes, basically there’s a small group of American players who are desperately trying to get chess to be played with almost entirely blitz and rapid time controls. It stems from a need for instant gratification and absolutely no ability to focus on a task for long periods of time. Keep in mind, I say this as an American. They resent and despise chess as it is (as you can tell from Mr. Shahade’s choice of words in the text) because they are just desperately addicted to blitz and rapid chess and they want to be recognized for it the same way real chess players are recognized for their efforts in true classical events. The fact is that blitz and rapid games are always going to mean less due to the fact that they’re too short to tap into the true heart and soul of a chess game.

    As it is now, the status quo, we have a great representation of all the different time controls. Classical, rapid, blitz, and bullet all have ratings and events. How Mr. Shahade doesn’t see this as the best case scenario and instead longs for a chess world void of longer time controls boggles my mind and makes absolutely no sense. This is one of those blogs that never should have been written because it just severely damages the writer’s credibility. Perhaps he was just overly emotional or just got beat in a classical game when he sat down to write it. /Shrug.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Why not just have basketball games last only 2 minutes then? It’s as much about the struggle and endurance as anything else that is a sporting contest.


  8. Most tournaments at local chess clubs already have shorter time controls (25 to 40 minutes) to please people who are busy or prefer shorter games. As an IM, you should already know this. However, for major tournaments that are supposed to decide the very best players, there is no reason to shorten the time controls. Longer and slower games are the ideal setting for the strongest players to emerge at the top and for the highest-quality games to be played. Some of the beauty and brilliancies of the games will be lost at the faster time controls, no matter how strong the players. Magnus Carlsen’s moves in blitz or rapid games are simply not as good or strong as his moves in classical games. And even if the top 10 or 20 players in the world are just as strong at blitz as they are at classical games, that does not mean at all that EVERY player in the world is just as strong as blitz or rapid time controls as he or she is in classical games. Maybe some (many) players actually enjoy longer, classical games and being able to think of the best moves and get at the truth of the position! And tournaments are not always SUPPOSED to be “fun”! One primary function of tournaments is to identify the strongest players. Is playing a Wimbledon final necessarily “fun” for Nadal or Federer?? Does Anand or Carlsen play in the World Championship because it’s “fun”? I don’t think so! But they play because they love the sport and want to prove themselves as the best in the world! Major chess tournaments serve the same function for the best players. Please stop assuming that chess tournaments MUST be fun all the time for all players! And stop assuming that every chess player thinks the way you do about time controls.


  9. interesting that most of the people who are responding negatively to this article are repeating the mistaken belief that the “quality” of chess will drastically go down at rapid time controls. In fact, GM’s blunder all the time at slow time controls even in positions where they could pull off a brilliancy they don’t. They fail to convert “brilliancies” in slow time controls quite often. In rapid time controls brilliancies do not occur at a lower rate, this is simply not true and not based on evidence. It’s true that endgame conversion will be somewhat more difficult however, this is something strong GM’s will adapt to by improving their endgame skills. I can’t believe somebody actually used an analogy from basketball. Basketball is split into 4 15 minute quarters. Could you imagine having 4 quarter each 1 hour long. Then the “best” basketball team would always win and it would be a better game??? WRONG YOU NEED TO STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN NOT TOO QUICK AND NOT TOO SLOW, CURRENT STATE OF CHESS IS HEAVILY SKEWED TOWARDS TOO SLOW FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN THAT IS HOW IT WAS DONE IN THE PAST


  10. A flaw in your argument is the following: You say that because 99 percent of the online games is played at a blitz tempo, 99 percent of the players prefers playing blitz games if given the choice. However it only implies that 99 percent of the players prefers to play blitz games on the internet. It by no means implies that 99 percent of the players prefers to play only blitz games in real life.

    Personally I dislike playing long games on the internet because I am not actually sitting across to a real person, there is no tournament hall with other games going on which I can check out, there are no friends hanging around with whom I can chat, etc.

    For me playing blitz games online is really like playing a game: I think about it a bit, but not too much. Playing long games in real life is more like playing a sport.


  11. The other part of Mr. Shahade’s insane rant that I find interesting is that he suggests all games at the top GM level be played with a time control of 30+5. He then goes on to say that 30+5 is still too long in his opinion and that 15+5 would be better, but he’ll settle for 30+5 to “appease the masses”. Wait, what? What masses? I thought nobody liked slow time controls? If nobody likes them, where are these masses of people he has to appease?

    Mr. Shahade needs to realize that he’s just not that serious about Chess anymore and that his views don’t accurately reflect the other players out there. I mean this guy plays chess, poker, does crossfit, travels, runs all sorts of leagues, etc. His main issue is that he doesn’t know how to prioritize his time. What he needs to realize is that a lot of chess players don’t really have any other hobbies. This is what we do. For us, your suggestions are the most ridiculous and outlandish we have ever heard. If you don’t like chess anymore, Mr. Shahade, go play something else. Believe me, nobody will miss you.


  12. It’s interesting that someone so prone to logical fallacies as Greg Shahade can make it to IM in chess. Just two examples:
    G.S.: “On the Internet way above 99% of all games are played at a time control of 5 minutes or less.”
    Duh, yes. And in our town’s swimming pool, 99% of the people can be found in the water rather than outside. Which proves that humans are fish. Of course on the internet people play fast chess, because the internet is the place for playing fast chess. For several reasons, one being that cheating in long games is not only much more common (and easily done) but also much more unpleasant. Woodpushers usually prefer to play without a clock with friends at home. Many strong players, especially those above 40 years of age, don’t play on the internet at all, because they don’t play blitz or even rapid at all. Is it desirable to make chess a sport only for young people, like tennis or football? If so, then by all means reduce the time controls to Mr Shahade’s desires.
    G.S.:”Every single top 10 player in the world will play just as strong, if not stronger, as the first 5+ world champions if the time control was 30+5. Do you know how freaking good Magnus Carlsen is?”
    And how did today’s top 10 players become so incredibly strong? By spending thousands of hours not having fun but instead playing and thoroughly analysing long time control games. How would anyone ever gain a 2700+ understanding of chess from playing blitz and rapid games alone? You learn to make correct decisions fast by having practiced making those decisions at a slower pace first.


  13. Greg,

    I totally agree with you. The purists defending classical time controls are not taking into account the level of memorization and refinement that has become the current state of Chess. Then they are worried that the level of play will be compromised. Chess needs to be, as much as possible, played `over the board`, as opposed to such a large percentage of `home preparation`. My concept of a competitive Chess game is inspiration, creativity, risk taking, tenacity and focus. I see far too many top level classical games being decided by some stupid blunder late in the game. And why does this happen? Boredom! The players are bored!


    • Boredom??….lol…there are a lot more blunders and stupid moves in rapid and blitz than standard chess….is it because they were really really bored playing rapid/blitz chess?…..


  14. Greg,

    I’ve been saying this for a long time, but people will defend tooth-and-nail these long time controls. I write this sitting here in Las Vegas for the National Open, another torture fest of 9 games, 2-per-day, 40/2 SD/30 time control.

    When I ask people why to be “taken seriously” and given FIDE titles, you have to excel at slow chess, and the rest are given names like “rapid” and “blitz” where you can’t get titles. Almost everyone says that blitz is just for fun but slow chess is for “approaching perfection.”


    Do you know how many combos GMs miss? Do you know how many plans are incorrect in GM games? We have 3400-rated computers now, so THAT is how we can know what is “very nearly true” in chess now. The slower control does NOT allow humans to play at 3400 ELO. Probably not even a correspondence time control would.

    So let’s go, I say… make the time controls faster please!


  15. Wow…..just wow…….. Greg, do you really not know that most if not all of our modern day opening and endgame theory were established because of the longer chess games and being able to calculate all the variations and come up with the strongest moves in a given position.
    Oh and by the way it’s not called “Slow” chess. It’s called STANDARD chess.
    And if these made up fans you talk about don’t like it they simply don’t like chess and can go to Scrabble or Monopoly.
    Or…..hey……here’s an idea how about those who don’t like standard chess of 4 and 6 hour games simply not play it……. This is a big enough world to play both blitz and standard chess.


  16. I do see both sides of the argument here:

    On one hand, fast games are more exciting, less stressful (you either win or lose quickly so the instant gratification factor is there, as well as being able to instantly forget a loss instead of stewing over a bad position for several hours). It also gives greater swindling chances for lesser players to even the odds. Online, I myself play blitz exclusively to try and make it harder for people to cheat me with engines. The more social hours it allows players to keep is also a big factor

    On the other hand. It has been said before and I will repeat- players do not play their best chess at breakneck speeds, games would simplify more and more to avoid complex positions, and the players themselves would get worse and worse (it is well known that too much bullet can send a good players down several hundred points – they lose the ability to think ahead or play sensible chess). It is annoying after a long game to find out you missed something – imagine how annoying it would be for EVERY game to find you had missed something, often multiple times.

    Quick games really only favour sharp play full of highly memorised opening theory, with as many tactical tricks and swindle attempts as possible thrown at a bad position – not everybody has the time or inclination to learn this much chess, though many players have the ability to work it out given time to think. I say that, if you have confidence in this style of play, then test it against an opponent who has time to work it out over the board, and prove yourself to be the next mikheil tal, not change the rules to make it easier.


  17. Playing chess on the internet is different from playing on the real board. I’m way too lazy and easily distracted to play many long games online. Also, cheating is easy. Long games have more meaning than fast chess, getting cheated is more frustrating and winning them isn’t as rewarding online as it is in reality. I don’t want to risk wasting two hours and getting mad for the rest of the day because of some cheater. And even if I create brilliancy, I’m not sure who the opponent was, how good he was, maybe he thinks I was cheating, maybe he was distracted, maybe he didn’t care, etc. Standard games belong on real boards, or at least pre-arranged with a known opponent, instead of random people on the internet. That way it’s more formal, more serious.

    You say standard is less fun, but I say it’s different kind of fun. It’s like comparing watching a Shakespeare at a theatre with watching an episode of South Park on your laptop. Just because I’m more likely to watch South Park every other day doesn’t mean it’s a superior form of entertainment/art and that people who watch Shakespeare are wrong in some way. I don’t want to watch Shakespeare every day. In music, how many people listen to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos and such pieces daily? Not very many. Even doctors of music have their favourite non-classical performers. And in chess, the difference in time and emotion investments are even more drastic. But, when it gets serious, when the stakes are higher, when playing for pride or prize, to prove their mental strength and commitment to this sport, to satisfy the desire to create, or just to taste the “real thing”, people will prefer standard chess.


  18. Shahade’s just another kid who got good at chess young, then throws it away as an adult. Too bad he seems to have mistaken his POV for what the reality is for the rest of us.
    The fact that he didn’t put thought into it the blog shows when he immediately makes a part 2 where he changes the time time to much longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This article is hogwash and completely disrespectful to a time-honored game. It honors an impatient millennial, who can not sit through a “time-honored” dinner with their parents without acting fidgety, uncomfortable and checking Facebook. “Change things for me” so “I have the time needed to finish it” with a disregard for traditions, elders and common good. My gosh, the immaturity of this article is astounding but to supposedly offer stats to support this new idea is insane. Why travel to go to the Olympics when today’s global media can “shoot” the events in their own country? In fact, can’t you simply create your own “virtual” chess opponent from any continent to play a world event? Please slow down to enjoy the passions and practice.


  20. Thanks for saying this so boldly. Its crazy to see people defending this awful and idiotic long time controls that are so boring that they literally kill the game and its following. And if so much time is given, no wonder that most games end in draw. If long time controls so nice, why don’t they play a single for entire year and see what happens!
    This long format was invented and suited for 1850-1920 when everything was much more slow. Its definitely not relevant in today’s day and age. Let me give a similar example from another game: Cricket. Cricket has test matches which runs for 5 days. Yep, a single game actually goes on for full 5 days(originally it was supposed to go on for a whole week). These are the kind of formats that were invented during 1850-1920. The whole point of such formats is to waste time because they seem to have a lot of time on their hands or they don’t have much entertainment options. And just like classical chess format, no one wants to watch test cricket and its dying. But for some strange reason, authorities and players keep wanting to keep test cricket alive. But, atleast in cricket, there are other formats(shorter formats) which have good following(and earn money) to keep the long and boring tests alive. At least, they should do the same in chess as well. Rapid chess has the potential to be really popular(and great money spinner for players and coaches) which can keep these boring classical chess games alive. Otherwise, chess is headed for a demise sooner than later. Already, chess has an image of being boring and nerdy game. Who has the time or patience or interest to watch a game for 4-6 hrs? Even a hardcore follower is not going to follow the many games. Chess needs to be made TV friendly by prioritizing the rapid formats. It has a potential to be immensely popular. Its so sad to see that such a nice game being ruined by an idiotic format. I completely agree with you that the only reason anyone would want to play a chess game for 4-6 hrs is if they are forced to do it. Voluntarily, they would play a chess game for 60-90 minutes max.


  21. I love to watch relayed OTB games live (not streams with commentary).
    You can take a break and do other stuff and come back to see what move was played.
    A patzer like me has enough time to at least try to understand the moves played.
    While watching fast games online I do not feel that connected to the game at all.
    So I disagree with the “slow chess is fan unfriendly” part of your argumentation.
    Fast chess is to me. As an amateur you will never be able to grasp the ideas while the game is still in progress.
    It for sure is fun from time to time to watch the masters go berserk. =) But I would not want to miss the slow chess as it is.
    Playing patzer blitz online is one thing. Being chess fan is another thing.
    Let slow chess die would equal to force the football fan to get rid of his belly before he is able to have fun watching football.
    Or in chess terms. You have to be good at chess to follow fast masterchess and not only see pieces move around and causing dizziness.


  22. This guy’s whole argument is based on a fallacy. The internet attracts players who like to play fast chess and to use it’s stats to arrive at the errant conclusion that most people prefer fast chess is just dumb. You can’t measure a random sample using a biased source.


  23. All due respect, I don’t base what I like on what the masses like. Never have.
    Fair enough, you say people are resistant to change, but for every one of those there’s a person who believes anything different has to be better. Old chess has been around alot longer than any of us.


  24. I hate this idea. I care about quality, not quantity. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Slow chess should exist as should blitz. Not all of us want to play reflexively like coked out monkeys. Some excel in quick pattern recognition/calculation/instinct, others are good at diving deeper into the position and understanding things at a much higher level. They emphasize different skills and in life, as in chess, all of them matter. I care about having a good quality game that I can be proud of and where I can improve my skills. There are almost no 5 minute games I am actually proud of. It’s a false dichotomy where you think your preferences should be everyone’s preferences and that the two can’t coexist. This isn’t like choosing a pair of shoes where you can only have one or the other. There are tournaments of every kind. I absolutely hate the idea that one should die for the other to live and I think it’s awful for chess. 5 0 “chess” barely even qualifies as chess at all. It could be 10 times more popular for all I care but the games are of such poor quality (with time rather than actual skill often being predominant) that I would not want to play that. Hell, you can knock two bottles together and call it chess. It doesn’t mean it still is.


  25. As a spectator Rapid play is the sweet spot you have a minute or so to adjust after each move. Slow play is just not practical to watch as you have to go off and live your life. Live I’ve seen Tal vs Nunn Classical chess in USSR vs Rest of The World and Kramnik vs Miles Rapidplay match, Blitz play off at the PCA Grand Prix and The Kramnik v Miles was such a superior experience it made the Tal v Nunn slowplay feel like a wasted opportunity it would have been so much better a memory to have seen these Two geniuses playing each other over more games as Kramnik and Miles did.


  26. Going to attempt to address some things I’ve observed about fast/slow chess.

    First let’s establish that chess is a WAR GAME (of kings) and has a lot of political and ideological flaws inherently regardless of what version you are going to play, none of these flaws can be resolved except by not playing the game called chess. (Play something ‘better’ by your definition)

    Second it is a game of analytics and by relation strategy, hence its popularity amongst many types of mathematicians, strategists and economists.

    Perhaps most importantly playing long chess puts you in a state identical to deep meditation (many humans desire this state as it’s one of intense often singular (or ‘everything’) focus, also commonly called ‘flow’ or ‘in the zone’), the more skilled you are at entering ‘flow’ the less appealing ‘slow’ chess becomes (this depends on your values about efficiency vs wastefulness).

    Emotional Maturity
    When there is large skill gaps between you and another player a ‘slow’ game becomes uninteresting. An emotionally immature individual will then become either annoyed (low task difficulty vs ‘resources being wasted’ by other players ‘turns’) or frustrated (high task difficulty vs ‘get it over with/stop dragging out this match’). This does not occur with emotionally mature individuals as they find other ways, are patient, interested in other things, can shift their attentions, etc, esentially they have all the options. (They might even be playing to help the other player grow and what not! Usually you will see big warm smiles on their face and a strong maintaing of a charming/aroused eye contact on their face throughout match when you are playing someone mature, usually they are more interested in interacting with or aiding the individual than anything related to the ‘game’).

    After a certain point (in any field) you realize in chess there is only so many combinations of moves as the game progress, and the outcome of the crude game of chess is known by the third move, if not the first (depending on who is starting first, another flaw) action, reaction, action = consequences know, though this employs a large network of skills outside of chess (reading individuals, knowledge/experience with action-consequence chains, etc). Often however you may not know ‘who you are playing against’ till it’s too late and the game is decided, or they are intentionally manipulating you. This occurs more frequently at higher skill levels till you reach a point where you are versus someone at maximum possible skill while you yourself are also at that that skill level, this leaves one with few options like: play fast chess, the increased speed of decision making can encourage ‘mistakes’ and add an element of surprise to the game (something lacking from chess in general; do not confuse or conflate ‘surprise’ with ‘bizarre’ or ‘weird’ or ‘strange’), and more importantly starts to enhance your skills, causing you to once again finally start to improve. There are however many ways to play fast chess, like arbitrarily moving the pierces around (highly effective strategy vs many grandmasters for an easy win. Also called ‘unpredictability’ though that is a cop out term used by people whom only think they are good at action-consequence chains, nothing is unpredictable, there was only failure in the individual to read the other person correctly(are they making arbitrary moves? If so how do I counter that in a game with a set patterns?!! They lost a tremendous opportunity to GROW their abilities and senses), and read the situation correctly(that they were indeed moving seemingly arbitrarily had full knowledge of the confusion and were just playing to have fun, aka noncompettitive(‘other motivations’.). A competitive individual like the blog poster will likely want to increase their skills by the most efficient means nessecary, as ‘the outcome of the match’ is most important to them rather than all the other things that are going on. But someone exclusively interested in personal growth, or someone just interested in a quick fun match with a stranger in a park will also be interested in fast chess for similar reasons (though the outcome of the match, accolades, etc are unimportant of course, true ability isn’t something that can be ‘compared’ to others).

    On the other hand if topic poster were to ever encounter someone who is truly challenging for them they would end up in a slow chess match, how much of that would be due to second guessing and working out insecurities like for most slow chess players? As can be seen with that abrasive hint, chess is less about the ‘game’ and more about working out issues, problem solving and enhancing many different kinds of skills, depending on what problems you want to work out or which skills you want to improve (or… in some cases what problems you DONT want to work out/deny (re:insecurities, addictions, dopamine thrill behavior, unhealthy patterns that if admitted to would cause tremendous pain and must then be worked out at all cost, perhaps not even to any success, etc), then either fast chess or slow chess becomes (increasingly) more appealing.


  27. Slow is the way chess is naturally played, and the only reason we have time controls at all is because people would think for hours over every move otherwise. Apart from time trouble addicts, there is literally nobody who thinks during a game, “Gee, I wish I only had two minutes to come up with my next move.” 95% of people who play chess online may play at fast time controls, but 95% of those are casual players with no understanding of the game, who scarcely even bother to think before bashing out moves. They should not be setting the standard for tournament chess.

    As for the spectators, to hell with them. Chess is for playing, not watching, and since (unlike sports) you can replay a game perfectly at whatever speed you want after the fact, the amount of time it took to play is irrelevant. I never understood why anyone would want to watch a chess game live.


  28. It’s seems pretty obvious from the posts that overall it is the weak players who like slow chess as they need a lot of time to avoid put pieces en prise while the better more experienced players prefer a fast game. To Eric I would say One often wishes one’s opponent had only Two minutes for their move. A few 5 minute games are a much better guide to who is the best player than a single 4 hour game.

    Though as others have observed there is a place for both.


    • I agree with you Mark that slow chess suits weaker players better, and as a weaker player myself I am not going to play close to perfect chess even at a slow time control and it’s not really going to attract spectators anyway.
      Most chess should move to being played in an electronic manner. No need to record moves or press clocks, that will be registered automatically. Games will automatically be transmitted.
      To prevent engine use players would need to be supervised. Just they will be supervised playing over an electronic board or computer.
      (Electronic OTB is where you have the board and pieces in front of you but you pick up the piece you move pressing it down to register, then press it where you drop it or press a piece you are capturing. Obviously there would have to be special ways to record en-passant and castling).


    • Nonsense. If anything, it is the weak players that prefer fast chess, because fast time controls eliminate significant areas of playing strength (such as the ability to calculate deeply) and drags their opponent down to their own unthinking level. Any strong player who has ever played blitz or bullet has dropped games to opponents who would not trouble them in the slightest at slower time controls. 2000-2100 rated players frequently scalp IMs and GMs in blitz while having scarcely a chance of doing so at classical time controls.

      Furthermore, the vast majority of people playing fast chess online (95% at least) are casual beginners without the slightest notion of how to play the game properly. What casual beginners do or prefer should have no bearing on how serious tournament games are played. I’ll believe people don’t like slow chess when they actually stop playing slow chess. I don’t see much sign of that happening any time soon. I have yet to walk into an OTB chess club to see anyone playing blitz, or even playing offhand games with a clock at all.


  29. Pingback: What can you learn from blitz games? – chess^summit

  30. No I think classic chess should still exist but they should use a 30+45 time control, and I’d encourage players learning the game to use that time control, as they need time to observe the board, the tactics, etc.
    Beginners playing blitz or even rapid will just hang pieces all the time, because observation is a huge thing in chess.


  31. By your logic, we should play American football only until one team scores, crossword puzzles with only two clues, and sleep would only last 15 minutes.


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