Play longer games?

In chess one of the main advice strong players give to weak players: play longer games. The idea is that with short time control you’ll be repeating your habitual moves to manage to play on time, and you’ll never consider new ideas. Does that work in go, and how long is long enough?


My gut feeling is that you can benefit from both fast and slow games in different ways. The fast games provide adrenaline and compel you to think efficiently and during your opponents turn but as you say it may be that you cling too much to what you know in fast games.

Slower games allow us to consider moves unfamiliar to us and gain enough confidence to try them but there is a risk of laziness where we don’t even bother to think during our opponents turn. So how long is long enough?

If you were playing with a friend of equal ability without clocks and totally absorbed in the game, how much time would you use? That is probably a good upper limit IMHO. If there is more time available than you are capable of productively using it will just undermine your efficiency.

In Hikaru No Go the time made available to students and pros seems to increase as they progress because their ability to use that time increases. Hope that helps. :slight_smile:


Well i’ve been playing blitz Go for a long time now, and I’ve been stagnating for a long time now, so either the fact that I didn’t practice tsumego or replay pro games or study joseki was the deciding factor (which is my guess) or there is some merit to that idea. Blitz mainly forces you to read, quickly. Of course reading quickly doesn’t mean reading deeply, it also doesn’t mean you practice making a lot of well-thought-out strategic decisions. Blitzing is for people who enjoy messy fights. I happen to be one of these people.

What I’ve noticed is that I’m considerably weaker at strategic assessment than I am at local evaluation. I usually come out of the opening with an overwhelming disadvantage… and force my opponents into complicated variations to make up for that. In short, I’m more likely to find a game-swinging tesuji or solve an approaching tsumego before my opponents realize it’s there… than to play honte.

I imagine this puts me at a disadvantage in a tournament setting, unless we’re both in byo yomi. :slight_smile:


10+5x30 (10 mins main time with five 30-second byo-yomi periods) should be long enough for a typical game of the sort that you’d play one or two of a day (or more if you’re feeling prolific)

Perhaps play a 30+5x30 every few days as well. This is probably best with someone you already know. Also, correspondence is doubtless very good for lengthy positional assessment and reading.

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My typical OGS game is 80 minutes per side and I couldn’t love it more! It is fun to be able to think or read whenever you want to. Doing it ever since I got to play AFK tournaments where such time schemes are more or less the norm.


Much like the game of Go itself trying to improve or break through a barrior comes from balance. Ive always been told from better players to try and avoid blitz games, because very rarely do we have lightbulb moments where we make connections when trying to implement new ideas. Those kind of mental networks are formed from deep thinking, and eventually through repitition.

Like most people before me have said there are pros and cons to all match types. Blitz lets you got a lot of practice in, in a short amount of time. But the down fall is we typically only acess a superficial level of stratagy and analysis, and we typically rely on instinctual improvisation when we are down to the wire.

It would do you well to play longer games, though getting out of the habit of making blitz type analysis and playing faster than we have to or should is a whole other matter.


It feels to me that it depends on why you are playing.

If you are playing to test your current ability, then play fast. The faster you play the more you have to have internalized in order to do well.

If you are playing to learn then play slow. This gives you the time to examine the position and work out consequences.


Well, blitz is a different kind of beast. I assure you that in a blitz game, I have a rather large advantage over people of the same rank who haven’t played many blitz games in their life.

Of course it is I dont doubt that.

Ive noticed that many blitz players like to play agressive moves meant to confuse opponates, moves that dont always make sense. Sometimes i feel itsa stype of timesuji try to stump the opponates thoughts to lose time.
Which kind of sounds like what you talked about in regarda to having poor strategy overall but being able to read local situations well.
I wonder if you played the same people you mentioned in a slower game who would have the advantage

You can just edit your post. :stuck_out_tongue:

But yes, the converse is also likely to be true: in a slower (but still live) game, I would be at a disadvantage if that is someone’s turf.

That is far too long at your level. I doubt you can actually read that far ahead to make proper use of your time. Even professional preliminary league games and tournaments don’t take that long in general. 60 min per side plus byoyomi is already considered enough for tournament play. 80 minutes especially for an amateur that is not high dan in casual games is just wasting time (your time so feel free to do so).

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Contrary to the advice that @S_Alexander has heard, I have heard and believe that blitz chess has value in that it allows one to see a lot of different positions and patterns in a short amount of time. This is probably more valuable in chess than in go, because chess has less variety in it positions. Of course, too much blitz would probably lead to sloppy play. @Kosh and @smurph have well articulated the potential value of fast games in go. At my age, however, I think too slowly to play blitz well, or even a fast game. Now it’s correspondence or 45 + 5x1m for serious games for me.


Second @Conrad_Melville here. Depends on your age. Being an old brain I play only correspondence games. Every now and then, both opponents are online together, and play as if it was a live game.

Honestly I just do it because it is sooo much more enjoyable. With fast games it is always quick and hurry, hurry, hurry. When time is slow it is more fun. I like to look around, read random possibilities, just ponder position. I would like to say it leads to better play but somehow I doubt it :grinning:

One more reason is that I like to play on my actual board and just relay game, which is a bit slower…


I think reviewing the game is more important than the time control. When you review, you can take as much time as you need. You can look at different strategic options and try to find your mistakes and better options. If you play blitz, you can spend more time in review at looking at strategic options. If you play long game, you can spend less time in review since you already gave it some thought. Once you have reviewed yourself, you can use tools like Lizzie (great for analysis, using LeelaZero) to check both your original play, and your more thought-through assessment.

Leela Zero, AQ etc gives you access to pro-level review of all your games. Of course, you don’t get an explanation for every move, but at least stronger players will understand the reason behind most of the moves (although even top-pros were scratching their heads on several of the Alpha Zero moves).