Game#46 – Classical chess – the best way to improve

classical chess

Playing classical chess is the best way to improve your game. It’s like most things in life – the more time you invest trying to learn something, the more you will understand it. If I gave you five minutes to take a two-hour exam, you would likely score lower than if you had the full two hours. The more time you have to carefully review the questions, the better you will do on the exam. Chess is the same. Playing an entire game in five minutes is not as conducive to learning as a game that lasts several hours.

Classical Chess means longer time controls

On Lichess , the minimum time controls allowed for classical chess is 30 minutes 0 increment. In the game below, the time controls were 15 minutes with 15 seconds added per move.

Game#46 - Classical chess - the best way to improve

This was my first classical chess game on Lichess. Before this, classical encompassed rapid time controls as well. After the split, the classical rating is a category by itself (see above graphic). This article explains the change.

Game#46 - Classical chess - the best way to improve

Post-game analysis

Switching from blitz to classic chess. Slowing down your mind can be difficult. Moves that I would normally reject in blitz get new consideration in longer time controls. In my case, the impulsive 5. e5 simply loses a pawn with no compensation. At my level, the game is not lost but the best I have is an uphill battle ahead of me.

Adjusting from blitz to classical time controls takes time. You have to control your initial impulses and replace them with more thoughtful and careful play. Had I done that, the simple O-O would have been fine and the game would have continued.

Development over pawn safety. Moves like Qb6 are common in many chess openings. From b6 the queen often threatens the b2 pawn and in some cases can pressure the weak f2 pawn. Here it does both. In fact, my opponent played 6…c4 threatening Qf2 mate.

A careful look at the positions reveals the Black is no condition to be taking on b2. His bishops are undeveloped, both his rooks have not been activated and his king is still in the center of the board. The best antidote to Qxb2 would have been something like Nbd2, developing a piece and continuing my development.

Game#46 - Classical chess - the best way to improve
Answer early pawn-capture threats with developing moves.

Continue to build your position. I’ve written so many Better Chess articles on the importance of building your position. Even in a win like this, I see areas I can improve. The move 11. b4 is an example of a move that only helps Black get his piece to a better square. Trading queens on move eighteen is not wrong but it wasn’t necessary. Just Qe2 and move one of my rooks to the open d-file.


Playing classical chess should invite more criticism to your game, not less. During blitz chess, it’s easy to blame the clock for a bad move. Making mistakes in a classical chess game are more illuminating. Slow time controls expose your thought processes and show where you need to improve the most.

The ill-advised push of e5 was a bad mistake. Playing at slower time controls is a reminder to review every move before it is played, no matter how certain you are that it is the right move. Time is not a factor, particularly in the opening phase of the game. Look at your opponents options and weight those against the move you are about to play.

It’s important to look for patterns of mistakes so you can take steps to correcting them. For me, I still need to work on piece placement. Building my position by favoring opening development over passive defensive moves. Simplification makes more sense in blitz games than it does in classical chess. Keep pieces on the board unless trading them improves your grip on the position.

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