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Is there an accepted repertoire of openings that are solid in Blitz (3-5min per side) Chess? I guess the primary factors should be:

  • reasonably solid
  • simple structures
  • minimal number of tactical traps to fall into
  • maximal number of tactical traps for the opponent to fall into
  • quickly reach positions that make your opponent think

And possibly secondary factors:

  • surprise openings?
  • modifications based relative strength versus opponent
  • mouse movement!? (i.e., if the moves require less physical movement, they will a) be faster to execute, and b) be less prone to mouse errors - probably more a factor in Bullet games (1m per side)
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1 Answer

Generally, the standard accepted openings in regular chess are the same that apply to blitz chess.

Gambit openings are more risky in blitz, as they generally involve long-term gain resulting from short-term disadvantages. Unless you are very comfortable in a gambit opening that returns significant results fairly early, I would generally avoid them.

Some openings that have fallen into disfavor in standard chess may be more valid in blitz chess, as blitz is far more forgiving of slight flaws in strategy (at least at the casual level).

The most important factor for determining what openings to use in blitz, though, are how familiar you are with the opening. The more you play the opening, the more familiar you will be with the good responses from your opponent, and the less time you will have to take to think about your response. The best is if you play non-blitz for a while (quick chess with 10 minute clocks, for example) and really familiarize yourself with the opening lines you are interested in. This will give you a depth of familiarity that will make your blitz game play a lot more solid, and will also result in you being able to play faster with fewer errors.

Surprise openings suffer from the same problem in blitz chess that they do in other forms of chess: if an opponent is decent enough to not be caught off guard by the opening, they are very likely to punish you by exploiting the weaknesses of the opening (i.e. most "fast mate" openings rely upon premature queen development, and hoping that the opponent doesn't notice the danger; good players will immediately become wary upon early queen development, and respond by putting heavy pressure on your queen, taking the initiative from you).

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I don't agree with your analysis of gambits. I actually prefer playing gambits in blitz, because they give me exciting, dynamic positions immediately that can put strong pressure on my opponent. If I screw up, then the material advantage in the endgame is going to be a problem, but when I don't, then the often very strong attack in the middle-game can be particularly tough to deal with under blitz conditions. –  ire_and_curses Dec 15 '11 at 14:44
    
@ire_and_curses I also tend to offer gambits in blitz, but only the ones I am most familiar with. The whole "if I screw up" is the key point; you are more likely to screw up a gambit that you haven't played frequently, and therefore it is more likely to be a problem. Really, my point on gambits ties in with my point on overall familiarity with the opening. However, between a gambit and non-gambit opening that you aren't very experienced with, the standard opening is a safer bet in blitz. I don't say gambits are bad. Just riskier. –  Beofett Dec 15 '11 at 14:52
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Actually I think @ire_and_curses may have a point. Often the gambit requires careful refutation (unless it's accepted), which may cause the opponent to think. I've added "quickly reach positions that make your opponent think" to the list of primary factors in the question –  tdc Dec 15 '11 at 17:26
    
Also I'd quite like to compile a specific list of openings that fall under the criteria (if that's possible) - it would give some focus to which ones to learn. Also, if anyone knows of a Blitz database (GM or otherwise) it might be an interesting place to look –  tdc Dec 15 '11 at 17:32
    
@tdc I'm having trouble of thinking of popular gambits that aren't very easy to decline. Usually it is simply a matter of developing instead of capturing immediately. –  Beofett Dec 15 '11 at 17:32
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