Time Control for Blitz Chess: Explained

Who said that playing chess is boring? If you want to skip playing classical chess, which can last several hours, blitz chess is a thrilling way to go.

To play blitz chess, the same set of rules when playing classical chess apply, except that you’ll have to win within a short timeframe.

The time control for blitz chess is managed using an analog or digital chess clock. Each player is given three to 10 minutes to finish all their moves. Sometimes, players are given a two-second increment for each move.

Given that time frame, do you think you can make split-second decisions? Read on to learn how time control in blitz chess games works and some facts about the game.

What Is Time Control in Chess?

The term time control refers to the amount of time allotted for chess players to finish the game. The time control is made up of two sets of numbers called base time and bonus time.

The base time refers to the total amount of time, usually in minutes, given to a player to complete all his moves.

Meanwhile, bonus time is the additional time given to the player after finishing each move. Bonus time, also known as increment, is usually given in seconds.

See also  Will Chess Die? 7 Reasons It Will Not

Time Control Format

The time control format is expressed in two ways. A vertical bar or a plus sign separates the base and bonus time.

An example is 5 | 2 or 5 + 2 time control. The first number or base time reflects the time (in minutes) every player is given to complete the game. Meanwhile, the second number reflects the time increment (in seconds) for each move.

Time Control in Different Chess Variants

Time control ranges between one to 120 minutes and varies per chess variant. Given that, there are different chess variants, namely Classical Chess, Rapid Chess, Bullet Chess, and Blitz Chess.

For Classical Chess, the time control is usually more lengthy, lasting up to 120 minutes for the first 40 moves. After that, a 60-minute time limit follows for the next 20 moves.

Finally, the rest of the game should finish within 15 minutes, with a 30-second increment per move. This time control is under FIDE or International Chess Federation’s World Championship guidelines.

On the other hand, the rest of the chess variants’ time control lasts 60 minutes or shorter. These chess variants are collectively known as fast chess since they typically finish within a short time frame.

Time Control in Blitz Chess

For blitz chess, time control varies between three to 10 minutes for base time. Moreover, each player is given an additional time increment for every move.

When it comes to FIDE guidelines, the 3 | 2 time control format is used, which means that players are only given 3 minutes to complete the game, with an additional two-second increment.

See also  Top 5 Best Chess Apps for Android (Free to Play)

At the same time, the time control for blitz chess is managed using an electronic chess clock that falls within FIDE standards.

What Clock is Used for Blitz Chess?

Utilizing either an analog or electronic chess clock with dual time displays is a must for every blitz chess game. These days, people prefer electronic or digital chess clocks since they are more accurate and easier to read than analog clocks.

For analog clocks, the time displays have a flag indicator that notes the exact moment a player’s time has run out.

In essence, the player whose flag falls first has already exhausted all his time, which means he lost.

Regarding FIDE’s guidelines, the clocks used for blitz chess tournaments should be non-reflective, and the display should be visible at least three meters away. Here are some chess clocks that FIDE has approved throughout the years:

  • DGT XL
  • DGT 2010
  • Silver Timer
  • Sistemco
  • DGT 3000
  • CE clock
  • LEAP clock KK 9908

How Does the Chess Clock Work in Blitz Chess?

A chess clock has two timer displays to keep track of each player’s game progress. In short, the clock displays each player’s remaining time countdown. Both players’ time never runs at the same time.

Operating on the chess clock is pretty simple. On top of a clock is a pair of play buttons that players press after making a move.

Upon pressing your side of the button, your time pauses, and the opponent’s time will start running. Simultaneously, the opponent will then press their button after making a move.

See also  Long Castle Chess: How To Castle Queenside (White & Black)

The game goes on until time runs out or a winner is declared.

How Do You Gain Time in Blitz Chess?

Time management can be pretty tricky when playing blitz chess, given that you have to think about your next move and game plan, too. Unfortunately, there aren’t conditions that allow a player to gain additional time when playing blitz aside from the two-second increment for every move.

So to make the most out of your allotted time, first, you must master the game’s basic rules. For example, avoid hovering your hand over the chess clock and only use the same hand that you used to move your piece.

At the same time, it will help to develop tactics or strategize a game plan to allow you to step up in your game.

Time Control in Blitz Chess vs. Rapid and Bullet Chess

Blitz, Rapid, and Bullet chess are all classified as ‘fast’ chess. These three chess variants only differ in base time or increment.

Rapid chess’s time control lasts 30 minutes or less. On the other hand, bullet chess is considered the most challenging among the three fast chess variants, as it has the most limited time control. Bullet chess games last for three minutes or less.


Blitz chess is a challenging fast chess variant that uses the same rules as classical chess but with a limited time limit. The time control for blitz chess is within 10 minutes base time.

A digital chess clock is utilized to track time control for blitz chess players. When either side taps their side of the button, the time stops for them but continues for their opponent.