//Training Room

An Introduction to Chess: Part 1 – Game Formats

Want to play chess as a pro? Know the game formats and find out which one is best for you!

Chess, in its modern iteration, has been in existence for centuries. Yet, the meta is never stale.

In comparison to a lot of modern strategy games (think Dota2 or League of Legends), chess does not really need a lot of “patches,” partly because the endless possibilities that arise within a game have never been exhausted.

In other words, the game has never been figured out, even in the age of advanced artificial intelligence and the availability of obscene computing power. However, people are always finding new ways of doing things.

Just think of how James Naismith’s peach baskets turned into the version of basketball we enjoy now.

The following formats are what the Chessmasters play–with all formats having only the time element as a distinguishing factor (except for Chess960 and Makruk).

Which is best suited for you?

Classical Chess

Prior to the introduction of the chess clock in the late 19th century, a game could literally take forever to play. Players love taking their time in making the best decision possible. A single move could take hours, and some players abused this fact.

Enter the chess clock, and suddenly, games in international tournaments are “shortened” — although these games are anything but.

A game could last 4-6 hours. This format came to be known as the classical format. The World Chess Championships and the World Chess Cup are still played in this format. Locally, the UAAP and the NCAA events are also played in this format.

International Master Paulo Bersamina and the NU Bulldogs waiting for their Ateneo rivals during the UAAP Classical Chess event of Season 81. From IM Paulo Bersamina on Facebook.
Rapid Chess

In the rapid format, each player gets 10 minutes to from hour to play the game, so a game could last between 15 minutes to two hours.

Compared to the classical time format, the time players receive is considerably less. As of January 15th, 2023, the world’s strongest rapid chess player is Magnus Carlsen, with a 2839 rapid ELO. 

Because the time control is shorter, players are under greater pressure. The likelihood of mistakes increases — even the GOAT Magnus Carlsen himself is not immune to this. In last year’s World Rapid Championships, he uncharacteristically made a blunder against lower-rated Vladislav Artemiev.

Blitz Chess and Bullet Chess

FIDE, the world’s governing body for the sport, says that players in a blitz game get not more than 10 minutes each. Officially in the World Blitz championships, a player gets an initial time of three minutes, with two seconds added whenever a move is made.

Bullet chess is perhaps the one that seems to be the most popular among new players and those who got into the sport during the pandemic.

Here, players get only one to two minutes each. For pros, it is a way to practice their memorized opening lines, but it is also a way to get more fun out of the game because this format heavily relies on the player’s instincts and sharpness.

How fast can a game be? It depends.

Here, we see Magnus Carlsen checkmate the genius Bill Gates in 12 seconds:

In another instance, Grandmaster and Twitch star Hikaru Nakamura even made 48 moves in 13 seconds.

Time to try out the different time controls and find out which one is for you!

Banner image from Chess.com on Instagram.


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