Basically, blitz is fast chess where you lose if you make an illegal move. If your opponent moves into check, you can capture his king or her king. Game over. You win. If you castle through check, too bad! You made an illegal move. You lose.

Another big difference is that most regular chess games end with checkmate or resignation, while most blitz games end when one player runs out of time.

Rules Highlights

  • G/5 time control without increment or delay
  • The penalty for an illegal move is loss of game. For example, after a player moves into check or misses a check and fails to move out of check, the opponent may capture the king to win. Other illegal moves (e.g., castling through check, moving a knight along a diagonal, moving a pawn two squares after it had advanced on a previous move, etc.) are also penalized with loss of game. To claim the win in this case, the opponent stops the clock and asks for a TD before touching a piece to move.
  • Touch move is the rule for both USCF and FIDE. In unrated scholastic games, clock move and release move are commonly used. USCF-rated blitz games must be touch move, but unrated games may be played under whichever rule the TD prefers.  At OSCF State, we have moved to the USCF rules in all Blitz games.  SO… Touch move at State!
  • After their turn, players must press the clock with the same hand they moved their piece with.

USCF Rules Details
[Except when specified otherwise by the TD, USCF rules apply.]

Blitz Chess (also known as Speed Chess, 5-minute Chess, Lightning Chess (2-minute), and Bullet Chess (1-minute)) is a variant defined as a single, sudden death time control from 1 to 10 minutes. Blitz games typically are set at five minutes and do not use time delay. Since each game takes only about 10 minutes, it has long been popular for fun games where time is limited, such as lunch breaks or between rounds of other tournaments. Some clubs will host Blitz events that may have as many as 20 rounds in a single evening. Take note that Blitz is not Quick Chess with a 5-minute time control (which follow standard sudden death rules.)

USCF Blitz Rules

    1. Each player must make all his moves in the time specified for the game.
      1. Standard time control (TC) for blitz is G/5 with no delay.
      2. Non-standard time controls, including the use of delay or increment, may be used at the discretion of the organizer provided that they are stated in any advance publicity, announced and posted at the site.

TD Tip: Non-standard time controls should be set keeping in mind the spirit and intent of Blitz Chess (Rapid play, quick, fun chess). Total game time should not exceed 10 minutes per player per game.

  1. All the clocks must have a special device, usually called a “flag”, either a regular flag or some device on a digital clock that indicates a flag fall. Standard timer for blitz chess:
    1. Whatever timer is used (analog or digital), a standard timer must continue to run for both sides even if one side’s time has expired. (See 8c).
    2. A digital timer (given it meets the requirements of 2a) is preferred over an analog timer due to the precision of setting and the accuracy of timing. If no digital timer is available, then an analog timer may be considered standard.
    3. The player with the black pieces chooses the standard timer.
  2. Before play begins, both players should inspect the position of the pieces and the setting of the clock, since once each side has completed a move the position on the board and the time on the clock remain as set.
    1. If the king and queen are set up incorrectly, it is legal to castle short on the queenside and long on the kingside.
    2. If an illegal position is created or an illegal move made without the opponent making a claim, the position stands and a claim not allowed when the opponent has determined a next move.
  3. Each player must press the clock with the same hand that moves the pieces.
    1. When castling a player may use both hands.
    2. When capturing or completing a promotion both hands may be used if it is clear that the clock is pressed after the move is determined.
  4. The tournament director may state at the start of the event the direction the clocks are to face, and the player with the Black pieces then chooses the side of the table on which to sit.
  5. Except for pressing the clock, neither player should touch the clock except:
    1. To straighten it.
    2. If a player knocks over the clock a penalty may be assessed.
    3. If your opponent’s clock does not tick you may press his side down and re-press your side; however, if this procedure is unsatisfactory, please call for a director.
    4. Each player must always be allowed to press the clock after their move is made.
    5. A player should not keep a hand on or hover over the clock.
  6. Defining a win. A game is won by the player:
    1. Who has mated his opponent’s king.
    2. Whose opponent resigns.
    3. Whose opponent’s flag falls first, at any time before the game is otherwise ended by stopping the clock prior to the player’s own clock’s flag fall and has mating material. Mating material consists of (at a minimum) two minor pieces, a pawn, a rook or a queen provided it isn’t a position where one could claim it to be a draw under section 8.
    4. Who after an illegal move is completed by the opponent, then takes the king (if the king is in check) or claims the win and stops the clock, before the player determines a move.
    5. An illegal move doesn’t negate a player’s right to claim on time, provided it is done prior to the opponent’s claim of an illegal move. If the claims are simultaneous, the player who made the illegal move loses.
  7. Defining a draw. A game is a draw:
    1. If one of the kings is stalemated.
    2. By agreement between the players.
    3. If the flag of one player falls after the flag of the other player has already fallen and a win has not been claimed, unless either side mates before noticing that both flags are down.
    4. If one player has insufficient mating material when the opponent’s flag falls or makes an illegal move.

    “Insufficient Losing Chances”(ILC) claims are not allowed.
    TD TIP: Blitz tournaments allowing “Insufficient Losing Chances” (ILC) claims should be advertised and announced in advance. The TD should be aware that common practice has shown that in addition to the official Blitz rules that “Insufficient Losing Chances” claims are upheld only:

    1. If both players each have just one identical piece and if neither side can show a forced win.
    2. In K + bishop vs. K + bishop of opposite colors, with only 1 pawn on the board, provided there is no forced win.
    3. K + rook pawn vs. K can be claimed as a draw once the defender is on the rook file in front of the pawn.
    4. K + pawn vs. K can be claimed as a draw once the defender is immediately on the square directly in front of the pawn as long as it’s not on the 7th rank.
    5. K=rook+rook pawn vs. K+rook is a draw if the pawn is blockaded by the king and there is no immediate win.
  8. If a player accidentally displaces one or more pieces, they shall be replaced the player’s own time. If it is necessary, the opponent may press the clock without making a move. If the player presses the clock after displacing pieces, then a penalty may be assessed.
  9. If a player touches one piece, then moves another; and presses the clock, the opponent may press the player’s clock to force the player to move the piece touched, or may stop the clock to claim a violation. A penalty may be assessed.
  10. In case of a dispute either player may stop the clock while the tournament director is being summoned. In any unclear situation the tournament director will consider the testimony of both players and any reliable witnesses before rendering a decision.
  11. The tournament director shall not pick up the clock except in the case of a dispute when it is necessary to do so in order to assess penalties or adjust time.
  12. Spectators and players in another game are not to speak or otherwise interfere. If a spectator interferes in any way that may affect the result of the game (e.g. calling attention to a flag fall or an illegal move), the tournament director may cancel the game and rule that a new game be played in its stead and expel the offending party from the playing room. If the offending party is participating in the event, penalties at the discretion of the tournament director may be assessed up to expulsion from the event.
  13. A player who has played an illegal move must retract it and make a legal move with the piece touched prior to pressing the clock. If no legal move exists with that piece then he may make any legal move. Illegal moves unnoticed by both players cannot be corrected afterwards. An illegal move is completed when the player presses the clock, whereupon the opponent may claim a win.
  14. A legal move is completed when the hand leaves the piece.
  15. Moving the King next to another King is an illegal move. Intentionally playing a king next to the opponent’s in order to take the opponent’s king on the next move (if not caught) is a cheap shot and will not be tolerated! Stop the clock and claim a win because of an illegal move.
  16. If the player promotes a pawn and leaves the pawn on the board, the opponent has the option of stopping the clocks while a replacement piece is found.
  17. Standard penalty for first offense is to add one minute to the opponent’s clock. There may be circumstances where a penalty assessed may not be standard (e.g. repeat offenses, unsporting behavior, etc…) and is left to the discretion of the tournament director.
  18. The decision of the tournament director is final.