Game#43 – What is rapid chess and should I play it?

Rapid Chess

Rapid chess is a wonderful time control that gives players the opportunity to play higher quality games at a slower pace. Blitz is sometimes too fast for people. Classic time control are simply too much of a time commitment for players to use regularly. Enter Rapid Chess. It is a time control for players who want to focus on quality rather than quantity. On Lichess, the time control for rapid chess is 8 to 25 minutes. A more technical formula is >1499 seconds (clock initial time) + 40 * (clock increment).

While blitz is still the most popular time control for online chess sites, rapid is a close second. In fact, there are many players who only play rapid . During a normal day on Lichess, there are always a dozen or more challenges waiting in the lobby

Playing rapid chess allows for deeper thinking and calculation – two areas that can only help improve your game. With blitz chess, you get one or two long thinks during the game – anything more than that puts you in time trouble. Rapid chess games allow you to budget your time better. You might have three or four opportunities to ponder on a critical position. This leads to less blunders and a more satisfying feeling to improve your chess playing skills.

In this post, I recorded a video so you can watch this first and then read the content below!

My rapid chess game on Lichess.

Paul H.– funarog
Sicilian Defense w/King’s Indian Attack [B20]
Lichess.org
5 mins 8 second increment

Post-game analysis

Leave well-placed pieces alone. If a piece is on a good square, leave it there. Amateur players sometimes grow uneasy about keeping a piece on a square for too long. In this game, my knight had a nice home on c4 and I felt obligated to move it to b2. There was no need to do this. Improving your chess starts by making meaningful moves.

Playing Nb2 doesn’t lose but it took the pressure off of my opponent. Instead, Ng5(!) was the right move for a couple of reasons. First, it prepares Qf3 attacking f7 which is a dangerous threat. Secondly, it prepares Bf3, doubling up on the weak h5 pawn. So, if a piece is well-placed – leave it alone. Think of another way to improve your position.

Remember your opponents threats. I played 14. Bd2 rather robotically with a tinge of arrogance. I was so focused on expanding my scope on the board I neglected to consider a simple knight fork that would have won him the exchange. No matter how confident you feel during a game, never ever underestimate your opponent’s threats – no matter how simple. Be paranoid. In his book, Mastering Positional Chess, Daniel Naroditsky explains, “When it is your move, think to yourself: If it were my opponent’s move, what would he play?” That is the best piece of advice for any amateur player to learn and use in every one of their chess games.

Assume your opponent will find your idea. Amateur players like to think they are clever. I know because I think that way all the time. We think that our opponent will not find our idea and when he misses it, we pat ourselves on the back. When I played 18. Ng5(?), my opponent could have captured on g5 and taken the free pawn on c3 giving him an advantage. Chess is a game of calculation. Understand the consequences of your actions before you boldly pursue them.

Use your time to think. As I said in my introduction, rapid chess allows more time for deeper thinking. I spent over a minute calculating 34. g4. Even Stockfish didn’t recommend this move right away! It turns out this was the winning move but I had to be sure. Rapid chess can help limit the impulsive thoughts you get during a blitz game. It slows things down so you can calculate and plan your next move.

Conclusion

Nothing improves you chess more than classical tournament chess. But for those who can’t find the time for that, rapid chess is a good alternative. The longer time controls (some using an increment) lets you dig in to a tough position and figure out what the best move should be. Lichess and Chess.com are two online playing sites that have rapid chess as a separately rated category.

Game#43 - What is rapid chess and should I play it?
The rating categories on Lichess.

Some players only play rapid and don’t even try to get a blitz rating. Both sites allow you to adjust your playing preferences so you can only get paired with another player looking to play rapid. With these accommodations, there is no excuse not to logon and play some rapid chess!

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