American Go E-Journal

Your Move/Readers Write: Quick thoughts on blitz go

Sunday February 21, 2021

“‘Blitz’ Go is not appealing to me,” Michael Ryan writes in agreement with Bill Cobb (Empty Board 2/17). “I have always thought that speed chess and blitz Go are regressive activities, encouraging some of the least thoughtful aspects of playing. Now, I have, occasionally, in chess tournaments, experienced ’the dance of the pieces’, where a fairly long sequence plays itself out, unasked, before your eyes in about a second or less.  Never in Go.  So those who have this as a regular feature of their Go experience may find blitz Go appropriate, a form of the game done with understanding.  But I expect these are players stronger that low-dan amateurs.”

Eric Osman writes that the point of blitz “is to play faster but not ‘as fast as you can’”. He notes that “There can be practical reasons for playing faster sometimes,” like limited time or impatience. “There are special skills that are acquired when playing fast go,” including building a knowledge base of efficient moves and “the ability to quickly assess the board position and choose what area of the board is most important.” Eric suggests that the question is “What is the sweet spot with respect to how fast is best?  If we play too slowly, we reach diminishing returns where given more time to think doesn’t likely cause us to choose a better move.  If we play too quickly, we make too many silly mistakes.  Somewhere between those two is the optimal speed for our game.”

Photo: 2012 U.S. Go Congress Lightning Tournament; photos/collage by Chris Garlock