Blitz Chess Vs Rapid Chess: What’s The Difference?

The high intensity pacing of speed chess can be very addictive and if you spend too much time playing speed chess, your chess may suffer for it. However, there are many variants of speed chess and players often find this confusing.

What’s the difference between blitz chess and rapid chess? The difference is that in blitz chess each player must make all of their moves in 10 minutes or less. There is a minor variation to this rule if there are time increments involved. In rapid chess the players must make all of their moves in 30 minutes or less, which again, may be modified by increments.

However, it’s important to note that, unlike “slow” chess, there is no official body for speed chess games and there may be variations in rules and times between tournaments and geographical locations. Let’s take a look at that in detail.

Blitz chess vs. rapid chess: What's the difference? - ChessPulse.com
Blitz chess vs. rapid chess: What’s the difference? – ChessPulse.com

Let’s Talk Speed Chess

Speed chess or “fast chess” is the term used for any game of chess in which both players are put under immense time pressure. The time limits are applied in such a way that they reduce the player’s optimum thinking time and require them to know more about the game than they might otherwise know.

Sometimes, players of a lower rank will appear to shine in speed chess games when taking on better ranked opposition. This is usually not because they have come into a fountain of new knowledge but because they exploit the obvious weakness in speed chess: if players aren’t given much thinking time, then using unusual openings, etc. that they are not familiar with will make it much harder for them to play well against you.

The Many Variants Of Speed Chess

People have been playing speed chess and all the different variants such as blitz, bullet, rapid, lightning, Armageddon, etc. for as long as people have been playing chess. Of course, the fine art of chess is in “slow chess” in which two titans of the board battle things out slowly using all their thinking power to create the best positions.

There’s a lot of joy to this original slow kind of chess too but there are times when it’s completely impractical and if you want to squeeze a game in during a lunch hour or with a friend after work – then speed chess is often a much better option if you want to ensure an outcome on the board the same day.

The Potential For “Addiction” To Speed Chess

Speed chess can become addictive, however. The joy and exhilaration of quickly played chess games that result in wins and losses far more often that they do in draws can be very seductive. Many a chess player finds themselves drawn to the dark side of fast chess because there is an immediate payoff.


I would caution against abandoning “slow chess” in favor of playing “fast chess” unless you want to see your ratings tank, in fact, we wrote a whole article about the downsides of playing speed chess here. Note: we will return to this subject by the end of the article and demonstrate that playing fast chess doesn’t need to make you a worse chess player.


Blitz Chess Vs Rapid Chess

OK, so blitz chess and rapid chess are two different variants of speed chess. There are others which we will not concern ourselves with here (though we touched on the differences between blitz chess and bullet chess in detail in this article here).

A Quick Introduction To Blitz Chess

Blitz chess is defined by general agreement as a game of chess in which each player is given 10 minutes or less on the clock to play all of their moves. However, they must not have less than 3 minutes to do so.

There may be a modification of this rule set that allows for a small time increment each time that a player makes a move. Normally, however, the total time allowed is still under 10 minutes. So, a player might, for example, receive 5 minutes on the clock to begin with and then an allocation of 5 extra second per move for the first 60 moves. This still means that the game lasts only 10 minutes.

There was once a governing body for blitz chess in the form of the World Blitz Chess Association which also published a magazine simply called Blitz Chess. Sadly, both the governing body and the magazine went under in 2003 and though there are official FIDE blitz tournaments now, there is no separate body to represent fast chess of any kind.

A Quick Introduction To Rapid Chess

Rapid Chess, on the other hand, is defined by general agreement as a game of chess in which a player is given 30 minutes or less on the clock (though never falling below 10 minutes as this would make it a game of bullet chess or blitz chess, instead) and typically no less than 25 minutes to play their moves.

Again, this rule set may be modified to accommodate additional time increments for each time that a player makes a move. And again, this still will not, typically, see the total time given to each player to exceed 30 minutes.

The Variations Of Both Blitz And Rapid Chess

However as there is no governing body for fast chess and FIDE’s interest is, comparative to the rest of their interests in chess, relatively recent – many fast chess tournaments around the world will set their own conditions of play and these time lengths are not mandatory but rather offered by convention – you will find exceptions in some places.

Both rapid chess and blitz chess may offer a modified rule set that helps to keep the flow of the game and ensures that players do not spend any time adjusting clocks. A very common rule is that any move made that is not legal is a forfeit of the game.

This can occur easily if a player does not notice that they are in check, as we said here the other player is not obliged by the rules to tell you that you are in check, and then moves in such a way that they do not get out of check.


Do Blitz Chess And Rapid Chess Make You Bad At Chess?

No, they don’t. However, as we touched on earlier if you become addicted to these games prior to developing yourself fully as a player they can impede your game.

However, the top players in the world are great blitz and rapid chess players. Magnus Carlsen is current the Chess World Champion and the World Champion of both blitz chess and rapid chess.

If you watch grandmasters practice, many now spend a lot of time practicing rapid chess. Why? Because they have developed their skills and can play excellent slow chess but if they can learn to speed up their thought process – they can put their opponents in slow chess under more time pressure and thus, they may be able to eke out more wins for their efforts.

Back in 2012, the Word Chess Championship matches between Anand and Gelfland showed Anand exploiting this technique with Anand playing so fast in the second game on white that Gelfland was put under incredible time pressure.


Conclusion

Blitz chess vs rapid chess: what’s the difference? They are both version of speed chess or “fast” chess. However, rapid chess is the longer of the two variants and games are expected to last for 30 minutes or less on the clock, for each player, whereas in the case of blitz chess, you will be offered just 10 minutes or less to make all of your moves before the game is over.

As you would expect blitz chess is thus, the more pressured game. You will need lightning reflexes and a lot of tactical theory and opening theory to stand out at blitz chess when compared to rapid chess where you have more time to calculate your moves while playing. Many people argue that speed chess somehow makes you a terrible chess player given that Magnus Carlsen is not just the World Chess Champion but also the world Blitz and Rapid Chess Champion, we think they’re not entirely correct.

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