Fast chess

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Fast chess (also known as speed chess) is a type of chess game in which each side is given less time to make their moves than under the normal tournament time controls of 60 to 180 minutes per player.

Spectators watch as a street chess player plays bullet chess with a customer in Union Square, Manhattan.


FIDE divide time controls for chess into "classical" time controls, and the fast chess time controls. Currently, for master-level players (with an Elo of 2200 or higher) the regulations state that at least 120 minutes per player (based on a 60-move game) must be allocated for a game to be rated on the "classical" list.[1] Games played faster than this may be rated under the time controls of rapid play and blitz.

More recently in November 2015, Oleg Skvortsov and Christian Issler on behalf of the Zurich Chess Club have petitioned FIDE to allow the rating of 40 minute games as classical chess (instead of the current Rapid classification),[2] but there was no response.[3]


Various names indicate more specifically the maximum duration of a fast chess game.

Rapid, rapid play or quick[edit]

Play with more than 10 minutes, but less than 60 minutes, per player. Can be "sudden death", with no time increments per move; or can have a small time increment per move (e.g. 10 seconds). In the case of time increments, the total time per player for a 60 move game must be more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes.[4]

For the FIDE World Rapid Championship, each player will have 15 minutes, plus 10 seconds additional time per move starting from move 1.[5]

From 1987 to November 2011 FIDE had an active time control of 30 minutes per player, but this was abandoned in favor of rapid and blitz.[6]


Play with 10 minutes or less per player. Can be "sudden death", with no time increment per move; but may also be played with a small increment per move, a more recent development due to the influx of digital clocks.[4] Three minutes with a two-second increment is preferred. In the case of time increments, the total time per player for a 60 move game must be 10 minutes or less.[4]

For the FIDE World Blitz Championship, each player has 3 minutes, plus 2 seconds additional time per move starting from move 1.[5]

The terms blitz or blitzkrieg in chess sometimes means a quick attack on the f7 or f2 square early in the game, putting the king in check.[7] This term is not limited to fast chess.


A variant of blitz chess with one to three minutes per side. Common time controls for this setting is 2 minutes with one-second increment or 1 minute with a two-second increment. The term "Lightning" can also be applied to this variant.

Bullet chess is an especially popular format in online chess for various reasons. For one, the speed of bullet chess makes it harder for opponents to cheat using chess engines. In addition, online bullet chess lacks the typical practical issues normally associated with live bullet chess, particularly players accidentally knocking over the pieces.

Under USCF rules bullet games are not rateable, referring to any time control below five minutes.


A general term for extremely fast chess. It can also refer to games with a fixed time (e.g. ten seconds) for each move. This also can be used for one-minute games.


A game guaranteed to produce a result, because Black has draw odds (that is, for Black, a draw is equal to a victory). To compensate, White has more time on the clock. Common times are six minutes for White and five for Black, or five minutes for White and four for Black. This can also be played with a small increment.[8] This is also known as "time odds" and it is used in various tie breaks for quick tournaments. An example of Armageddon was played by Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Hikaru Nakamura at the 2015 FIDE World Cup.[9]

History and rules[edit]

Before the advent of digital clocks, five minutes per side was the standard for blitz or speed chess. Before the introduction of chess clocks in the mid-1950s chess club "rapid transit" tournaments had a referee who every ten seconds called out.

In 1988 Walter Browne formed the World Blitz Chess Association and its magazine Blitz Chess, which folded in 2003.[10]

In some chess tournaments and matches, the final standings of the contestants may be resolved by a series of games with ever shortening control times as tie breaks. In this case, two games may be played with each time control, as playing with black or white pieces is not equally liked among players. The short time controls in fast chess reduce the amount of time available to consider each move, and may result in a frantic game, especially as time runs out. A player whose time runs out automatically loses, unless the opposing player has insufficient material to checkmate, in which case the game is a draw. "Losing on time" is possible at even the longer, traditional time controls, but is more common in blitz and rapid versions.

The play will be governed by the FIDE Laws of Chess, except when they are overridden by the specific tournament. A common rule used in fast chess tournaments is that if a player makes an illegal move, the player's opponent may point it out and claim a win. For example, if a player leaves his or her king in check, the other player may claim the win. This rule can be left out for a friendly game or left in for what some consider to be a more exciting and fun game. However, in case of a dispute during a tournament, either player may stop the clock and call the arbiter to make a final and binding judgment.

Chess boxing uses a fast version for the chess component of this sport.

USCF ruleset for quick and bullet chess[edit]

As in all forms of chess with time controls, one can either win on the board or win on time. A game is considered to affect the quick rating between more than 10-minute-per-side and 60-minutes-per-side time controls. As 30-minute-per-side time control to 60-minute-per-side time controls are also under the normal rating system, a 30-minute game to 60-minute game affects both the quick and normal ratings. This is known as; and advertised as in chess magazines; as dual rated games. However, the K factor (a statistic used for ratings) is reduced by comparison, meaning that players will either lose or gain (or rarely both) less rating points compared to a solely quick/standard game. As normal, any time control over 60 minutes counts under the normal rating only. All of these time controls include the delay added to the time control, such as a 60 minute with a 5 second delay is still considered to be a 60 minute game, not a 65 minute game.

As of March 2013, the USCF has also added a separate blitz rating class, for any time control between 5 and 10 minutes. Unlike quick chess, 5 minutes can also mean game 3+2, or three minutes with a two-second increment. Due to this, it is impossible for a game to be dual rated as both blitz and quick. [11]



Unofficial blitz[edit]

By 1971 the Russian and Moscow five-minute championships had been going several years with Tal, Bronstein and Petrosian all having success. That year Fischer played in a blitz tournament organised by the Manhattan Chess Club scoring 21½/22.[12] The first unofficial "Speed Chess Championship of the World" (or World Blitz Championship) was held in Herceg Novi on 8 April 1970. This was shortly after the first USSR versus the rest of the world match (in Belgrade), in which ten of these players also competed. Eleven Grandmasters and one International Master played a double round-robin tournament. Bobby Fischer won first place, with a score of 19 points out of a possible 22. Fischer scored seventeen wins, four draws, and one loss (to Korchnoi). Mikhail Tal was a distant second, 4½ points behind.[13] Fischer won both games against each of Tal, Tigran Petrosian, and Vasily Smyslov; all of them being past World Champions.

There were also strong tournaments in Bugojno (1978) won by Karpov, and Nikšić (1983) won by Kasparov.[14]

In 2000 Anand won the "Plus GSM World Blitz Chess Cup",[15] which has been sometimes referred to as a Championship,[16] but there is no contemporary acknowledgement of this title. Moreover, the History given at the official 2008 website has referred to the 2008 Championship as the 4th, with Tal (1988), Grischuk (2006), and Ivanchuk (2007) given as predecessors.[14]

In 2009 and 2010 there was an event called the "World Blitz Championship" held after the Tal Memorial in Moscow in November. There is no record of this event in the FIDE Calendar for 2009,[17] when it was won by Magnus Carlsen. However, the minutes of the October 2009 FIDE Congress discussed whether it should be a "proper" Championship (given the qualification scheme), and left the decision to the corresponding internal Commission.[18] For 2010, it was organized in conjunction with FIDE from the beginning.[19] However, in neither case was an arbiter's report presented to the next FIDE Congress or General Assembly, as would be expected for a World Championship and indeed occurred previously with the 2008 Blitz Championship.[20] The 2012 Arbiter's report refers to "7th" blitz championship thus seeming to imply that 2009 and 2010 events were indeed Championships,[21] though this report can be faulted for referring to the "1st" rapid championship (2012) which at the very least forgets Anand's (official) rapid championship in 2003. The balance of the evidence favors these Blitz Championships being counted as official.

In 2011 there was no official blitz championship held, but FIDE was involved with the Sport Accord Mind Games blitz won by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, with Hou Yifan winning the women's division.[22]

Unofficial Rapid[edit]

In 1987, Garry Kasparov (the World Champion of classical chess at the time) and Nigel Short played a 6-game exhibition Rapid match ("Speed Chess Challenge") at the London Hippodrome, won by Kasparov 4-2.[23][24]

The 2001 victory by Kasparov in the FIDE World Cup of Rapid Chess (organized by the French Chess Federation in Cannes) was held contemporaneously to the Melody Amber rapids (thus splitting the top players between the two events),[25] and is sometimes considered to be official, but it was never named as a "championship" but rather a "world cup".[26]

After Anand officially won the 2003 Rapid Championship at the 6th Cap d'Agde event, FIDE had optioned the 2005 Rapid to Cap d'Agde (after no bids in 2004), but it was not held.[27] Radjabov won the 2006 Cap d'Agde rapids (7th), but this had no FIDE status.[28]

The yearly Frankfurt/Mainz events hosted by Chess Tigers (2001-2010) often had something called a "Rapid" championship, sometimes billing this as a world championship.[29] In its last two years for instance, in 2009 Levon Aronian won the "Grenkeleasing World Rapid Chess Championship" in Mainz,[30] and similarly in 2010, the "Open GRENKE Rapid World Championship" was won by Gata Kamsky.[31] However, these are not official titles. The Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) also held a World Rapid Cup in some of these years, and the annual tournament in Melody Amber also had a rapid segment. There was also occasionally a Eurotel Trophy or Intel Grand Prix event, each of which would be of high stature.

Official World Blitz chess champions[edit]

Official World Rapid chess champions[edit]

The 1988 victory by Karpov in Mazatlan was officially called the "World Active Championship", but FIDE changed the word 'active' to 'rapid' soon after.[6]

Note: In 2015, Magnus Carlsen received the privilege of playing at a dedicated Board 1 the whole time, not having to move while others did. The given reason was that Norwegian television was sponsoring the event, and moving the heavy cameras around would be too much hassle.[54] After his first round draw, he should not have been on Board 1 until Round 8 when he caught the leaders.[55] Carlsen himself later called this "weird" that board one would be reserved for him.[56]


Many top chess players do not take rapid, blitz and bullet chess as seriously as they do chess with standard time controls. Some dismissive quotes from top chess players on the topic of it are the following:

  • "Playing rapid chess, one can lose the habit of concentrating for several hours in serious chess. That is why, if a player has big aims, he should limit his rapidplay in favour of serious chess." – Vladimir Kramnik[57]
  • "Yes, I have played a blitz game once. It was on a train, in 1929." – Mikhail Botvinnik[57]
  • "He who analyses blitz is stupid." – Rashid Nezhmetdinov[57]
  • "Blitz chess kills your ideas." – Bobby Fischer[57]
  • "To be honest, I consider [bullet chess] a bit moronic, and therefore I never play it." – Vladimir Kramnik[58]
  • "Blitz – it's just a pleasure." – Vladimir Kramnik[59]
  • "I play way too much blitz chess. It rots the brain just as surely as alcohol." – Nigel Short[60]
  • "Blitz is simply a waste of time." – Vladimir Malakhov[61]


  1. ^ FIDE Rating Regulations effective from 1 July 2014
  2. ^ Zurich Chess Challenge Organisers Ask Ilyumzhinov For "Changes In The Rules of Calculating Ratings In Classical Chess"
  3. ^ The need to speed up chess (translated by chess24)
  4. ^ a b c "FIDE Handbook – E.I. Laws of Chess - For competitions starting on or after 1 July 2014 - Appendices". World Chess Federation. Retrieved 2014-07-27. A.1 A ‘Rapidplay’ game is one where either all the moves must be completed in a fixed time of more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes for each player; or the time allotted plus 60 times any increment is of more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes for each player. ... B.1 A ‘blitz’ game’ is one where all the moves must be completed in a fixed time of 10 minutes or less for each player; or the allotted time plus 60 times any increment is 10 minutes or less. 
  5. ^ a b "Regulations for the FIDE World Blitz Championship 2015 & FIDE World Rapid Championship 2015" (PDF). FIDE. 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c "Rapid Chess". Business World. 2013-01-06. Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  7. ^ Kidder, Harvey (1960). Illustrated Chess for Children. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-05764-4. 
  8. ^ "Armageddon Tiebreakers". Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  9. ^ PeterDoggers (19 September 2015). "World Cup: Nakamura Wins Armageddon, Nepomniachtchi Appeal Rejected". Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  10. ^ The Web Novice. "Mechanics Institute newsletter #166". Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Barden, Leonard, The value of blitz chess, The Guardian, 4 October 1971
  13. ^ Brady, 1973, p. 164
  14. ^ a b "Blitz Championship History (archived)". 
  15. ^ "The Hindu story about Anand winning the "Cup"". 
  16. ^ "Organizer's vita of Anand at 2012 Champs". 
  17. ^ "2009 FIDE Calendar". 
  18. ^ "80th FIDE Congress, Halkidiki (Oct 2009), Minutes 5.39 and Annex 33". 
  19. ^ a b "FIDE Archive: World Blitz Championships - Finals". 
  20. ^ "Arbiter's Report, Annex 35 to 79th FIDE Congress (Dresden 2008)" (PDF). 
  21. ^ "Arbiter's Report, Annex 48 to the General Assembly (Istanbul 2012)" (PDF). 
  22. ^ "Sport Accord Mind Games: blitz results". 
  23. ^ Chess article, Raymond Keene, in the Spectator
  24. ^ Youtube video (part 1)
  25. ^ Mark Weeks. "World Chess Championship 2001-02 Braingames & Einstein". 
  26. ^ "LA Times report on Cannes 2001 World Rapid Cup". 
  27. ^ "FIDE Calendar 2005". 
  28. ^ "ChessBase report on 2006 Cap d'Agde". 
  29. ^ "Chess Classic Mainz Ends". 
  30. ^ " report on Mainz 2009". 
  31. ^ "TWIC report on Mainz 2010". 
  32. ^ "World Champion Eliminated From Blitz Chess Tournament". 
  33. ^ "FIDE Announcement of World Blitz Championship 2006". 
  34. ^ "FIDE World Blitz Championship". 
  35. ^ "FIDE announcement of World Blitz Chess Championship 2007". 
  36. ^ "Dominquez wins World Blitz Championship!". 
  37. ^ "Magnus Carlsen wins blitz championship". 
  38. ^ "World Blitz Championship 2012, Grischuk wins". FIDE. 2012-07-09. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  39. ^ "Le Quang Liem is the World Blitz Chess Champion". 
  40. ^ "Magnus won the World Blitz Championship 2014". 
  41. ^ "Alexander Grischuk is a new World Blitz Champion". 
  42. ^ "1992 Women’s World Rapid and Blitz Championship". 
  43. ^ "GM Kateryna Lahno wins the Women's World Blitz Championship 2010". 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2013-12-08. 
  44. ^ "FIDE Archive: Women's World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2012". 
  45. ^ "Anna Muzychuk is Women's World Blitz Champion". 
  46. ^ "FIDE announcement that Anand is World Rapid Champion". 
  47. ^ "World Rapid Championship 2012, Karjakin wins". 
  48. ^ "Shakhriyar Mamedyarov became the World Rapid Chess Champion". 
  49. ^ "Magnus Carlsen wins FIDE World Rapid Championship!". 
  50. ^ "Magnus Carlsen wins 2015 FIDE World Rapid Championship!". 
  51. ^ "1992 Women’s World Rapid and Blitz Championship". 
  52. ^ "FIDE Archive: Women's World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2012". 
  53. ^ "Kateryna Lagno crowned Women’s World Rapid Champion". 
  54. ^ Carlsen on top but with a surprising name
  55. ^ 2015 World Rapid crosstable (after Round 7)
  56. ^ More top seeds cede lead in Qatar
  57. ^ a b c d "Quotes About Blitz Chess". Retrieved 2012-07-27. 
  58. ^ "Kramnik on Nakamura, blitz and Carlsen". Chess in Translation. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  59. ^ "Kramnik on blitz". Chess in Translation. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  60. ^ "Nigel Short: 'I Understood That Kasparov Was Very Vulnerable'". 1 November 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  61. ^ "Vladimir Malakhov: chess player, nuclear physicist". Chess in Translation. 2010-09-05. Retrieved 2014-09-10. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]