Instigator / Pro
1484
rating
6
debates
25.0%
won
Topic
#5398

THBT: Offense is more suitable than defense in Speed Chess.

Status
Debating

Waiting for the next argument from the contender.

Round will be automatically forfeited in:

00
DD
:
00
HH
:
00
MM
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00
SS
Parameters
Publication date
Last updated date
Type
Rated
Number of rounds
5
Time for argument
One week
Max argument characters
10,500
Voting period
One month
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Open
Minimal rating
1,670
Contender / Con
1706
rating
561
debates
68.09%
won
Description

For clarification, the scope of this debate will be focusing on blitz chess, where the time controls are five minutes for both players.

There is bullet and lightning chess, but I'd rather focus on blitz to give Con more room to argue his point.

By suitable, I shall be required to defend that blitz chess is more mechanically designed for players with a mostly aggressive or offensive style.

Round 1
Pro
#1
Openings

In blitz matches, chess has a variety of different opening variations that are given as a repertoire for players looking to take up speed chess. It is occasional that these separate variations will very commonly be hybridized versions of offense and defense, that favor versatility as a means of gaining the victory. Most of the time however, you shall come to discover that they all primarily lean offense. The following openings are frequently used in blitz.
The Leningrad Dutch for instance is usually more of an attacking style rather than one that favors defense. Since it begins with white playing d4, f5, c4, Nf6, eventually playing g6, this movement system is all about creating opportunities for attacks. Another opening used in speed chess that prioritizes aggressive play is the Alekhine's Defense. The Alekhine's Defense is all about putting pressure on the opponent and gaining the positional advantage through tactical play, out-manuevering their opponent through superior understanding of the pieces and the roles they're in.
While we may sometimes see a combination of defense and offense as I previously point out, it is important to understand that offense is more common in blitz openings. Offense/Aggression shall be used synonymously, as the definition is the same.

Time Controls Pressures

What separates a blitz game from the traditional chess match are the reduced time limitations for both players. Five minutes leaves less opportunity for caution and strategic planning, forcing players to think quick on their feet, and play the best hand possible. With these constraints, players will generally worry less about aligning or setting up their pieces to maintain a solid border of protection, shielding their king against the impending checkmate because they do not have the time for preparation. So usually, the priority will be on advancing and developing the pieces as quickly and efficiently as possible, then proceeding to forcibly infiltrate their way into the opponent's defenses. This usually leads to more strategic sacrifices and blunders. It is important to know that sacrificing pieces and blunders are very popular in attacking styles, while defense focuses more on preparing protection and preserving the pieces as much as possible.
Since blitz matches usually throw people off their game and sometimes cause people to think rashly or play impulsively, the key is knowing how to attack tactically.

Priority

The goal that both players share is to checkmate the opponent as quickly as they can. While forcing the opponent to lose by making them run out of time sometimes happens, this trick is rare when blitz players are on an equal level because the two of them will have a similar response and reaction time, there won't be a pause or delay in the minutes or seconds it takes for the opponent to make a counter-attack, so the goal will be checkmating them. And all checkmates require a strong understanding of endgames because if a chess player doesn't have a proper endgame, they have no way of finishing the match.
Since most of the endgames in blitz focus on checkmating, they should be considered offense because the goal is quite literally to trap your opponent's king by moving your pieces to corner him. Being on the verge of defeat  and forcing your opponent into a stalemate or a tie should be considered a defensive mood which also requires a strong grasp of endgame mastery, but this is rarer in blitz games, so you should generally assume that prioritizing checkmates is the wiser decision.
Con
#2
The trick my opponent says is rare is not rare and is why he lied in the description:

There is bullet and lightning chess, but I'd rather focus on blitz to give Con more room to argue his point.
The reason this is extremely key to realise is a lie by Pro is that we are both fine to drop bullet timings or faster variants of Blitz (such 3 mins or 3 mins with 2 seconds returned per turn) but this is done for Pro's sake, not mine.

The reason it's important to understand why it's rare at the higher (not at all at the lower) levels to lose on time is because most opponents have understood when to go kamikaze and ignore the optimal play for the sake of salvaging time. I don't even want to structure my points like Pro did becuase my case is self-contained in a way and relies on you grasping things that are entirely interlinked with each other.

The first thing to understand is both of us are wrong if we say 'always default to offense or defense' in Blitz Chess. I support defense being prioritised over offense throughout but to suggest it's an absolute is ridiculous as by move 3 your opponent's deficient development of pieces or weird move, especially if they're opting for offense, can force you to be defensively aggressive and is why it's extremely important to counter something Pro raises that's a lie:

 Offense/Aggression shall be used synonymously, as the definition is the same.
The aggressive move is one of the following:
  1. taking another piece
  2. threatening to promote a pawn to something better
  3. checking the King
  4. placing the opponent in situations where one wrong move leads to a sequence of 4 or less moves towards checkmating.
I am not stupid enough to say you should never be aggressive in Chess. However, offense is not identical to aggression in Chess and I will explain some situations where this is the case, with 3 very different examples:

  1. Sometimes an offensive player will do something called a gambit, which doesn't always involve taking another piece and relies primarily on the aggression of the enemy being impulsive. They may even do this after the opponent offers up a piece of their own.
  2. There is such a thing as defensive aggression in Chess, this is 100% the case and to deny it is toxic semantic abuse by Pro. If I take your piece that either just took mine or that is significanty threatening me into a very detrimental positiont that's going to be continually difficult to defend, I am defending myself with the aggressive move. There are many examples of this in Chess so I will first let my opponent deny it or concede it.
  3. You can be passively offensive in Chess, the way this works is overdeveloping pieces in a sense, such that you're ready to handle a lot of chaos at least 3 if not 4 moves ahead and put yourself in very awkard positions (you know the type of player that will bring the queen out very fast, knights moves twice in ASAP or bishops threatening ASAP, that's one example of offensive yet not aggressive openings because the aggression hasn't happened quite yet).
Defensive play in Chess has a direct synonym that nearly every Chess expert on Earth will agree is indeed the same as the other word and that word is called 'positional'. The inverse of a primarily positional playstyle is a primarily tactical one. The real debate here could be worded to be more tactical or positional.

Now, what I am going to explain to you is something you need to slightly take my word on as I don't want to nor can I run through thousands of games. However, I'll justify what I say as I go along such that even if you're nowhere near expert at Chess you can nod at it being undeniable or shockingly non-instinctive-yet-true-instantly once I make it clear to you.

People assume longer games of Chess would suit very positional play. This is because they often end up positional. Equally, people would assume that Blitz speed games suit a lot more tactical play, since they end up very tactical. However, what they don't notice is that the timer blackmails this onto the players over the course of the games rather than it being the actual best approach.

Continuing from this point, what you'll notice is that the god tier blitz monstrocities such as Hikaru Nakamura end up able to play brutally defensive/positional with ease, over and over again while the timer forces their less conditioned yet very high Elo opponents to end up caving in and going kamikaze-tactical mode to save time and stress on their brain under said time pressure. Conversely, the reason longer-times Chess ends up positional is both players often can't capialise on any real mistakes and end up retreating the pieces they brought out because of something else, another rule at play:

At the highest level of Chess with 2 genuine Chess geniuses going at it, the game is going to be ruthlessly positional (and yes, plausibly passive) until the positional development of one player is such that it dictates aggression from the opponent.

Defense and passivity aren't idential nor is offense and aggression but they do have links and high correlation. The reason is that if you're prioritising having a neat, tidy, easily defendable position throughout the game, you're not going to take pieces other than to defend said position, generally speaking. Conversely, if you're priotising tactics and wild play, it's better for you to simply the tactical chain by reducing the pieces on the board and rushing opening to midgame or perhaps midgame to endgame but that's rarely optimal ever unless the position is so good for your opponent that you're forced to make it tactical for both (endgames are always more tactical than they are positional because there's simply less pieces to justify postitional thinking mattering too much and pawn progression to the end of the board is a hybrid thing where it's both considered tactical and positional).

What most low elo Blitz players do is exactly what Pro describes. They worry a lot about the timer, they hope their low elo opponent will do as bad as them when the time is low and rush the game. They may even gain some elo doing this but they end up brutally hardstuck. The reason is that this is not the correct, optimal way to approach Blitz games and can make you really suffer because even if you're never losing on time, you're losing to checkmates or even worse, you're letting your opponent draw via stalemates as you're in too impulsive a state of mind and constantly rushing things.

Based on how my opponent has approached this, what's clear to me is that both Pro and Con prefer to appreciate what the highest level of Blitz play is, not the lowest and what's going to work for novices. The reason offensive play works well for novices at Blitz is that from low to medium-low Elo, the opponents will indeed spend time thinking and mess up if you keep pressuring them with time. This ends up not too reliable as you approach medium Elo (1000 Elo but some argue until 1200 you're not allowed to say you're medium at the game mode). Medium isn't good, it's medium.

You will find yourself often hardstuck below that in Blitz if you keep approaching it as an offensive player. The reason is that you're giving your opponents a dream opponent minus the timer. So what you're doing is you're putting yourself into a situation where from half way through  (2.5 mins thinking time in for you at least, regardless of waht was used for the opponent) your situation is so chaotic and wild that you're not only probably unfamiliar with it but constantly forced to keep thinking in tactical ways without grasping overall positional flaws. This butterfly effect is something we can call 'more questions vs less'.

This concept is extremely vital to understand and will genuinely if you obey it take you up almost 200 Elo instantly if you give up having apex fun and stimulation and instead stick to my advice, for the gamemode. I am guaranteeing you that if you're a primarily offensive player at Blitz, if you stick to this you will first lose some Elo as youre brain isn't used to it, perhaps but soon will gain 160 Elo at least, if not 200, over a month of solid play (that's insane increase for time spent). This isn't a hoax and my promise is more for 2 months or 3 than 1, but 1 if you play regularly and solid and stick to this concept:

  1. The moves you make during the opponent even if aggressive (taking) should only be done if the opponent forces you to or is bringing out a piece too early and in too awkward a manner to handle easily if it sticks around there (you know the type, bishops threatening your knights ASAP maybe consider trading then and only then). Your aim is not to take pieces at all, your aim is also not to do fancy anything. You're trying to develop to control the centre and to stop the opponent's pieces overdeveloping into you.
  2. Around 1 minute into the Blitz game you'll notice something (well you shouldn't you should be paying full attention to the moves and not meta-thinking about it until game review later). You're asking about 2 questions maximum per turn generally, let's say 3 is the absolute maximum, while your opponent has to ask 4 to 5 not even 3 proportional to more being correlated with how offensive and tactical their style originally has been up until that point. Continue to approach the game defensively but of course keep your eye on easy, sleazy checkmate shots and maybe slip that in. I am not advocating 0 offense, I am saying it comes second as an inferior objective to defensive positional player and running down the timer.
  3. Eventually if you add together the questions you had to ask less than your opponent had to, you'll realise this isn't even about IQ anymore, it's about cunning. By trying to be too 'cunning' too fast, your opponent is outsleuthed by you because you're abusing the fact most people turn offensive under pressure and using it against them. Even if they don't it doesn't matter. The reason it doesn't matter is that by practising primarily defensive play for Blitz, when you finally vs an opponent who picks up on you playing that way, they'll also opt for defensive play and at that point the one more familiar with less tactics in Blitz will dominate the timer management and not make the first error leading to snowball effect of having to ask yourself more questions per move in order not to screw up.

Round 2
Pro
#3
Resolution

I do agree that I made the resolution this way to make it easier and more interesting for me. Con is free to use faster variants of blitz games, so long as they remain within the blitz range. (3-5 minutes.) It is my belief that the shorter the time limitations, the more offense becomes the priority. However, I only focus on blitz chess because it is the middle ground between standard, traditional chess and the quickest versions. The abundance of evidence proving that offense is better for speedier forms of chess than defense is available, making it very winnable for me, but sourcing it takes too much time and the burden of proof is higher, especially for bullet chess, so I prefer to stick to arguing one form, blitz. It is generally wiser for any opponent to the Pro’s side of this to agree to these debate rules out of their own self-interest rather than what Pro wants. 

Dropped Arguments & Other Side

1/3rds of my case was ignored by the opposing side. That is, the opening system. In my Round 1, I gave examples of the opening styles that are conventionally seen as the best generally using more offense which hasn’t been addressed making it a dropped argument. 1 2 
My opponent doesn’t begin with a very solid introduction, as the points alone aren’t solid enough to support his side of the resolution and his approach to the chess debate is too scattershot. There are some mentions of defensive aggression existing in chess and any contradictions to this are described as abusive semantics. 
My other complaint is that the other claim suggests I am arguing for an absolute offense. This is a strawman fallacy that was pre-refuted by me in Round 1 when I state that hybridized variant styles are common in blitz, but that they all primarily favor offense. The side I’m taking assumes that offense and aggression are synonymous which Con contested to. However, as aggression is an extension of offense and vice-versa, this is both semantically and contextually correct in any situation. 


Commonality

The majority of veteran chess players acknowledge that it is advisable for most players to prioritize offense. The reason being is that the average chess player does not possess the ability to play defense, as learning and applying defense effectively in a blitz game requires exceptional ability. This said ability is not only rarer, but unattainable for most chess players and is only available for certain highly-ranked players. 4 Where I disagree is when the other side claims I prefer to appreciate the highest level of blitz chess versus the lowest, as I feel this is a limiting factor in strategy discourse. It is important to realize that not all players can perform at a high-quality level and an attacking style is objectively better in blitz chess because the simplicity of it makes it appreciable for all players universally, regardless of skill level, and sometimes simple works better. The higher the elo rating, the more sophisticated the attacks can be utilized with ease. Conversely, a defensive style requires more commitment to memorizing patterns and certain arrangements. This memorization is less likely to be accurate because the player has less time to think or plan his moves, and positional play’s greatest attribute is applying convoluted arrangement of moves for the preservation of its own pieces, but it is the intricacy of the style itself that makes the defensive player shoot himself in the foot because the complexity needs the time controls lengthened for successful execution. So it would seem that a basic style that works for people of any level is certainly better than a style that can only work under certain conditions with a specific set of skill sets.

Middlegames

This will be the second portion of the Pro side. Some of the most common moves in blitz chess for sophisticated players is setting traps and waiting for the opponent to fall into them. This is a strategy that falls under the category of offense. Now the way the middlegames work is by having a strong opening that transitions into this stage. Blitz openings usually focus on developing & activating pieces which is an offensive strategy. The way this sets up the middlegames is because it enhances attacking potential. In all of the middlegames of blitz matches that you watch, conventional advice from chess veterans is to focus on creating tactical threats rather than playing positionally. An example of this is the pawn storm, which involves advancing a few of your pawns towards the enemy. The rapidity of it makes it blend perfectly for the environment of a blitz game. 4
Con
#4
Forfeited
Round 3
Pro
#5
Prophylaxis

Prophylaxis is a strategy in chess that is based on preventing the opponent's plans. The Godfather of Prophylaxis is Anatoly Karpov. Prime Anatoly would have had a difficult time contending with modern blitz players because his style is incompatible with the system of blitz. The whole point of securing a defeat is knowing how to checkmate and a checkmate, is by definition an attack. It is not a coincidence that the inventor of prophylaxis and the prophylaxis prodigy, Tigran Petrosian, avoided blitz matches because in doing so, they would be outside of their natural domain. This is because the very nature of blitz chess forces you to spend moree effort in using what you have learned.
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Round 4
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Round 5
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