Pros and cons of speed/blitz Go?

I posted this over in /r/baduk, but I’m curious about the thoughts of the OGS community, too. :slight_smile:

In the chess community there are quite a few proponents of blitz settings (also bullet, etc) and plenty of Go players seem to enjoy blitzing, too. As a currently weak Go player, my concern with blitz (say, 10s/move) is that it may not actually improve my playing or understanding, but just reinforce my many shortcomings.

On the other hand, I consider that more time doesn’t necessarily make me play better, just agonize more over choices and then still make poor decisions. Though I suppose more time, if it’s actually used for thinking, does help with improving reading. An advantage of blitz that I could see is that more games can be played in the same span of time.

My “happy medium” right now are moderately fast time settings like 10-20 minutes main time with 3 or 5 byo-yomi periods at 30s each, much slower than blitz, though I notice that when playing online I rarely actually use my time and play too fast and too reactive. I should probably sit take my hands off of the mouse more often.

What’s your opinion on blitz? Is it beneficial? For everyone, or only for stronger players? Does it make you think faster, more decisive? Or is it mindless plopping down of stones that doesn’t have many benefits? What are the pros and cons of blitz?

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I notice that I now (around 10k) can make use of thinking time in a way that I couldn’t at 15k. My feeling is that you should think for as long as need but if it’s not helping then play. If you are too hesitant then maybe playing faster games can help you get in the habit of just playing and seeing what happens even when you’re not sure it’s the best you can manage.
But really the main thing is to play games and review them. (And tsumego of course!)

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I wrote a bit response but realized it may not be what you are looking for. I ended up turning it into a new thread. But here is some information (copy and pasted) from that thread that pertains to your question.

I am not sure if how I study Go would work as well for the 19x19, but it sure works for me on the 9x9. I get asked this question sometimes and so I’ve written a bit about how I personally study Go. It should be noted that I play 9x9 Go 99% of the time.

When I first started Go I experimented with different time settings quite a bit. After a while I noticed that I felt I grew the most from playing Correspondence. But I suspect this came from the fact that I would practice with variations on each move, often trying to predict 20 moves up to game completion.

I learned so much about the game and patterns from this practice. I began using the Conditional Moves feature to regularly as well, trying to see how many moves I could predict from my opponent accurately. I had numerous games going on and this began to feel like a full time job.

So I began playing 10 seconds/move Blitz matches. Slowly I dialed back the Correspondence and focused more and more on the Blitz matches. I ditched the normal Correspondence games and began only playing Fast Correspondence Tournament games (3 Days max time, 12hr move increments). The quality of my opponents greatly improved.

I felt I was able to get more out of my Correspondence with fewer games being played. I did this for about 4 months, striking a 70% Blitz/30% Correspondence ratio for my game playing. Around this time I began to feel strongly that each type of game was teaching me something different.

Correspondence allowed me to learn to improve my reading skills, while Blitz allowed me to develop and exercise my intuition . I learned the vast majority of what I know about Go by treating Correspondence games like a form of solitaire; where my opponents moves gave me new ways to look at the game, identify weaknesses in my Go skill sets, practice and develop better pattern recognition, and my ability to identify and predict what the “next best move” was.

Blitz gave me the ability to put what I was learning to the test against live opponents. There was no time to really sit and deliberate my options. I learned to respond quickly, listening to my gut, and had to rely on what I was learning in my Correspondence games.

What worked slowly became solidified and battle tested, while the stuff that didn’t was eventually abandoned because it never seemed to work in real time matches. Back and forth they went, the knowledge and experience of each strengthening each other, furthering my overall understanding of Go.


Hello, my opinion about blitz games is, that it should be reserved to people, who already “filled their cup” with all around knowledge about go. In order to be able to play fast go well, you need to know principles, proverbs, tesujis, josekis, fusekis, shapes … Without knowing all those things, blitz go will be just painful torture for you, which will also strenghten your current bad habits, which will become more automatized than before. It is like with physical training of martial arts. First, you are supposed to learn technique slow, to get feeling of it, to learn how it should be done properly, then after that, you are supposed to improve speed of technique execution to really get it under your skin, to get it automatized.

In my opinion, blitz go is harmful until you get to around dan level strenght. After that, it helps you to get learned principles automatized and to get experience faster. DDK can learn a lot from just single game. Dan player learning progress is much slower and playing many games is a little balancing that out.


Andy Liu reportedly just played thousands of blitz games to get better. (My memory is hazy, but either he or Chen Zhaonian got tutoring from Feng Yun)

Same for me, though I ended up much weaker. I think my fast:slow game ratio is about 1000:1.

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Did he start blitzing as a DDK/SDK or only as an already strong player?

I wonder if blitz may be good for strong players and perhaps not so great for weaker players, but I just base this on the view that blitz ingrains existing knowledge rather than building new one. At around which strength did you start and where did it take you?

Started as KGS2 ddk and got to about 3d. :smiley:

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Impressive! That is indisputable evidence that even as a DDK one can benefit from (almost) only blitz. Did you review your games and study other materials?

Could we clone you, time-travel back with one of you, and have him play slow games for the same period to see where he’d end up? :smiley:

I did a few thousand tsumego and read half a book.

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I think an important to take into account how much time one spends studding go besides playing games.

If you spend much time on studding strategy, pro games, tsumego, joseki, … then blitzing could be beneficial since you only have to practice the learned skills and learning to apply them under time pressure is probably the skill you haven’t trained much.

If you spend most of your time playing, I’m not sure how much you will learn. In my case, I got a few ranks by learning to play slower.


I would not recommend blitz to anyone because I see it as idle entertainment. I enjoy Go much more as a learning experience. Don’t expect to learn without investing time :wink: I’ll be happy if it works for you though.

You write that you don’t use your time. Instead of cutting back on the clock, why not find more things to do with the time you have? I guarantee you that there is always something to do with your time as long as the game is worth playing.

Count the points, read out more variations.

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Obviously if you play bad opponents, you’re not gonna learn much.

Blitzing 10’000 games versus gnugo isn’t gonna make you 1d.

Blitzing 10’000 games versus one of our LZ bots however… :smiley:

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Blitz has a place in improving, like if you don’t have much time but wanna play 19x19, if you don’t like losing and want your defeats to be over quickly, if you have problems concentrating for long periods of time, blitz can be a solution to those problems.

It has benefits too, like improving your understanding of shape, tenuki timing/sente. Besides, it is very helpful in pinpointing bad habits, lack of fundamentals (since you don’t have the time to be a try-hard and play above your level), especially if you get someone to go over those games. All your strengths and weaknesses will be apparent on a blitz board.

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The theoretical value of blitz, as articulated in chess circles, is that it allows you to see lots of positions and try out lots of ideas in a short time. Forty years ago I wasn’t half bad at 5-minute blitz in chess (I once beat Sargon during the intermission of the North American Computer Chess Championship). I have no idea whether this theory translates well to go. I tried some 9x9 games at GoQuest (3 minutes absolute time) and got crushed. Blitz just triggers the worst failings of my aged brain: ridiculous oversights. I avoid blitz in go because I don’t need to train myself to make blunders. However, this may not apply to a young player.

I think the value comes in noticing specifically which blunders you are prone to make and retraining the instincts that lead you to them.


I think blitz is popular on because of the impression that it is harder to cheat. I don’t understand why they don’t use byoyomi (or even Fischer time) though. Always absolute time and someone loses on time in the last few seconds. Pointless. On OGS I have noted:

  • Given ample time, most players make nearly all moves within 10 seconds. Occasionally they will think longer about a move (usually after they have gotten themselves into trouble and desperately try to work it out).
  • The difference between one 30 second byoyomi period and 30 minutes main time plus 5 * 30 seconds is not really that big given how fast people usually play. Most people only need one 30 second period and never come close to depleting it.
  • Main time seems to be really pointless. It is depleted towards the end of the game even though nearly all moves are made within 30 seconds. If you want a longer game, it would be better to have 30 or 60 one minute periods.
  • A lot of people time out with one 10 second period. It is more important to find ANY move than to find a good move.
  • There are a lot of bad moves with 1 x 10 s. But that doesn’t mean you don’t learn from them.
  • Maybe blitz is good for building instincts.
  • I think my fuseki and shape skills have improved by playing a lot of blitz. I don’t think my reading skill has improved, though.

One easily forgotten con is you need a good internet access to play blitz.