Monday, June 18, 2007

Just say No

A public service announcement from Nancy Reagan.

Friends, I am here to talk with you about a horrible danger to the American family. It afflicts approximately 2 million of our households that we know of, but the stigma is so great that the real numbers are probably much higher than polls suggest.

I am here to talk with you today about Blitz chess.

Blitz chess afflicts many otherwise normal, or "real", chess players. While it may seem innocuous at first, Blitz chess can quickly become a daily habit. Indeed, studies show that Blitz chess is a gateway time control which often leads to bullet chess, the least "real" of all forms of chess.

How can you tell if you or a loved one has a problem with Blitz chess? There are no hard and fast rules, but the following questionnare offers a list of symptoms. If you answer 'Yes' to three or more of these questions, then you probably have a problem with Blitz.

1. You tell yourself 'Just one more game' more than five times a night.
2. You switch to a new group of friends because your old friends don't approve of your Blitz play.
3. Even in long games you begin making speculative sacrifices on move three just to "get your opponent in time trouble."
4. You must wear an ice pack around your wrist when playing online.
5. Every opening you play is a gambit which would never be used by a GM.
6. You find yourself enjoying chess more than you used to, even wanting to play it with family and friends (who used to get a raging bore on with your desire for 'a long game').
7. You get angry when players suggest you have a problem with Blitz.
8. You have thought, "I can go back to slow games any time I want, I just don't want to right now."
9. You have engaged in two or more blog posts defending the usefulness of Blitz play.
10. Your name is DK-Transform or XY.

Once you recognize that you want help, what can you do? Aside from attending BA meetings, you should work through the following steps at your own pace:

1. Admit you have a Blitz problem, and that this has made your life a mess.
2. Come to believe that only Dan Heisman can make you better.
3. Turn your will and life over to Heisman, and stop playing Blitz.
4. Make amends with your friends who play "real" chess so that, hopefull, they will let you back in their club.
5. Having had an epiphany as a result of these steps, become a proselytyzer for "real" chess, go into the blogosphere to badger, condescend, and generally spread your love of "real" chess so that others may know there is a way out.

Thank you for taking the time to read this urgent message about the dangers of Blitz chess. I know too many families who have been ravaged by this virulent form of gamemanship. Just say "No" to Blitz.


Blogger Loomis said...

I'm afraid that I might get added to symptom number 10 for suggesting that playing blitz at work is another sign of addiction.

6/18/2007 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger The retired pawn said...

This post is surely to become a classic...two tumbs up!!!

6/18/2007 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Loomis: nice one :)

6/18/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Chess Teacher said...

After reading Thank you for taking the time to read this urgent message I was thinking that I could have played a Blitz game during reading it. ;-)

Maybe we can add a new symptom to the list.

6/18/2007 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

LOL, I'm only quilty at point 5.

6/18/2007 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

You mustn't forget the "traditions" of Blitz Anonymous:

" We keep what we have only with vigilance, and just as freedom from Blitz comes from these steps, so freedom for us Real players springs from these tranditions.

As long as the 64 squares that tie us together are stronger than those that would tear us aprat all will be well:

1. Our common welfare of real chess comes first, personal chess improvement depends on real unity.

2. Heisman is our only authority, our leaders are but trusted servants.

3. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop blitzing

4. B.A As such, ought never be organized, but we may seek guidance from heisman desciples.

5. Our primary purpose to carry the message of real chess to the blitz addict who still suffers.

6/18/2007 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Pearson said...

I'm trying to find my Higher Power, but he seems to have left the building.

6/18/2007 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger XY said...

What is this, a confrontation?? *angry* Now you made me so upset I lost on time. But I guess it's my own fault playing that unsound gambit. I have no choice but to play another one, but I could go back to playing slow games any time I want. And what kind of a name is XY anyway?

6/18/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Loomis said...

I always thought 'XY' was a chromosome indication. ;-).

6/18/2007 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger XY said...

As someone blogging about stuff like chess, programming and science fiction TV shows and I don't need a nick to indicate my gender...

Although I don't need a nerdish sounding nick like XY to indicate that I'm a nerd either. Maybe I don't need a nick at all. From now on I'm just "The Blogger".

6/18/2007 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

lol to all the messages.

blunderprone: tradition 2 is great!

6/18/2007 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

you will have your turn soon!
all of you!

6/19/2007 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger wang said...

1, 3, 4, 6-9


Hello my name is wang and I'm a Blitz addict...

6/19/2007 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger XY said...

I just realized that I'm not a blitz addict after all. Because the third criteria clearly states "Even in long games...", but I never play any long games, only blitz. What a relief.

6/19/2007 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

This is Heisman's most important point about blitz:

The best blitz players are also the best slow players. A tag team of Anand, Kramnik and Kasparov could reduce a mob of the world's best "blitz-only" players to sawdust.

And they got good by playing slow.

Skill at blitz was just an ACCIDENTAL BY-PRODUCT of their thousands of hours of slow playing.

6/19/2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

given your preference to fight against windmills, isn't it about time to join the Knights?:)

6/19/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...


My understanding was that knighthood is not available to those who don't believe in de la Maza.

I would sooner have a root canal than do circles of tactics. I follow no discipline.

Also, reading blog postings of people describing which level, circle, whatever they have just completed is like watching paint dry, for me.

6/19/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

FF: your hero advocates doing something MDLM-like for tactics.


6/19/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

XY: then you still satisfy that condition. We can recast it logically as:
If you play slow games, you make speculative sacs.

The proposition (If X then Y) is true if ~X is satisfied.

6/19/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Loomis said...

I might be a little more strict and say that the proposition 'if X then Y' is true if the condition ~X is always satisfied. And some people would go so far as to say you must be able to prove that ~X is always satisfied.

6/19/2007 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Loomis, XY has already said that ~X is the case: he only plays blitz!

6/19/2007 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...


can you quote me Heisman chapter and verse recommending seven circles? I am slightly skeptical. I have read all the Novice Nooks and don't recall ( not that my memory is so great).

6/19/2007 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

FF doubted when I said that his hero advocates doing something MDLM-like for tactics. Obviously he isn't familiar enough with scripture:
The first and most important step to becoming proficient at tactics is understanding safety and counting,understanding safety and counting, followed by repetitious study of very simple problems, those involving counting and single motifs (pins, double attacks, removal of the guard, etc.). Acquisition of this skill usually requires the kind of drills suggested by Michael de la Maza in his two-part 400 Points in 400 Days article for Chess Café.

He then goes on to say that he recommends doing this kind of method for very simple problems, not the complicated ones in CT-Art. Which is why I am doing them with CTB: I gotta learn to multiply single digits well before tackling the harder problems.

Related to this, in the same article, he says:Although the analogy of tactics to multiplication is not perfect (some difficult tactical problems are not just combinations of single motif problems), in general it is necessary to be able to solve the common, easy patterns quickly
and accurately to have a decent chance to identify and solve difficult problems that are encountered during play.

How do you know when you are sufficiently skilled?

If you have a set of easy non-checkmate problems, with at least 400 (preferably more) positions, containing all types of tactical motifs and you can
do 85%+ correctly within 10-15 seconds per position, then you are probably fairly capable at that level. A real test is to be able to score that same result with a set of random problems that you have never seen before, and the best
indication is if you can recognize those same tactics in game situations! Checkmate problems are much rarer in actual play, so while studying them is definitely helpful, they are not nearly as helpful as “play and win” problems.
Therefore basic checkmate problems can – and should – be included in the study set, but they should be a rather small minority.

FF, it seems you are doing what any reasonable thinking person does. Take what you need and leave the rest.

Are you sick of getting pawned yet?

6/19/2007 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

BDK- OK, you are right about Heisman.

I am an apostate. I have done a fair number of tactics puzzles, but far fewer than DLM requires, and with no discipline.

I will say this. 90% of my wins are due to my opponent missing some tactic that is CT-ART level 1 or level zero, if such a thing can be imagined. But usually I have the upper hand positionally when this happens. Conversely, 90% of my tactical blunders occur when my position is inferior.

6/19/2007 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

FF: if you need more direction, go to August 2002 'An improvement plan.' Note what articles he cites and links to there on his website. Note: it ain't Monkeybone!

6/19/2007 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

CTB phases 1-3 is basically CT-Art level 0.

6/19/2007 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

I have an interesting blitz story.

I was doing some shopping in Chinatown, New York City, with my wife- and we passed through Washington Square Park, where the chess tables are. ( This is where they filmed the unaptly-titled 'Searching for Bobby Fischer.)

A recent high-school graduate ( very nice kid, incidentally) was taking on all comers with a handicap- he played blitz, you get 15 minutes. Losers were requested to make a donation to charity.

I played him two games and won both. I am a 1745-rated patzer on FICS, and he was rated somewhere over expert but less than NM, and was also the National High School Blitz champion.

He seemed kind of upset by his performance, which looked to me to be the kind of dangerous looking but unsound assault so typical of blitz. Luckily, I had just enough clock time to find the refutations.

I guess the 5 to 15 handicap was worth about 250 rating points.

6/20/2007 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

FF: Yes, that sounds about right.

6/20/2007 10:15:00 AM  

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