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)

3 Answers 3


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. Commented Dec 15, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 17:32

Highly aggressive openings and gambits in which a pawn is given up for the initiative or piece activity can be very effective in blitz. This is because, in general (and especially at lower levels), attacking and creating threats is easier than defending, and defending with limited time on the clock is even more difficult. You will often see grandmasters play very risky or aggressive openings in blitz that they would never play at classical time controls, because in blitz the opponent doesn't generally have time to find the refutation, and setting the opponent difficult or unusual problems to solve is a good way to get a time advantage.

Gambits are also effective in blitz because the advantages are short term and the disadvantages often don't become an issue until much later. The early burst of activity is worth much more than the pawn you give up, which will usually only be a factor in an endgame. By the time the endgame comes round, both players are usually low on time and liable to make all kinds of mistakes anyway.

As well as gambits, openings that sacrifice static advantages such as pawn structure or the Bishop pair, in favour of dynamic advantages such as space, time, and activity are also good in blitz. One example would be the Saemisch variation in the Nimzo-Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3), which I think is an effective blitz weapon but somewhat risky to use in classical time controls.


against 1. e4, i prefer 1. ...e5 and after the standard 2. Nf3, there is 2. ...f5. Respectively, a lower ranked player had beaten Capablanca with this. The thing is that a player on the white side's reflex is to play for either 3. eXf5 and then bewildered by 3. ...e4, or 3. NXe5 fXe4 4. Qh5+ g6 5. NXg6 Nf6 and the shelf crumbles. Unnecessarily speaking, this won't work against a strong player. At least, I bet gambits for blitz play.

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    The question is asking for an overview of openings, rather than a list of individual openings people like. (The latter would be the wrong kind of answer for this site, because our format encourages getting the single best answer for each question, rather than a theoretically endless list of equally good answers, or discussion.) Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 11:30

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