Why you learn nothing from a rematch in chess

One of the most common annoyances I hear about with online chess is the refusal of a rematch.

I’ll be the first to admit that I often do not accept rematches on lichess.

The main reason for me is that I don’t have time because I like to play a game while on a break at work.

The other reasons have to do with learning what I did wrong in the opening from the game.

Here is a list of a few reasons rematches can hurt your game in speed chess.

You need time to analyze your game.

This is best done right after since your reasoning for your moves are fresh.  When you are playing a game, there are almost always improvements you can make in your opening.

Losing is tough, but in chess we either win or we learn.  Hitting rematch is a sure fire way to not learn anything from your games.  If you’re playing bullet or just want to have fun, then by all means, hit rematch.  But if you want to process and learn what mistakes you made, you should look over your moves.

When you analyze your game, you can use an engine, but looking at the game with a stronger player than you (at least 200 elo higher) is often best.  This player can help you understand the ideas you missed, while an engine will just spit out moves.

It is these ideas you should be after, not the memorization of the moves.

Should you analyze blitz games in chess?

This is hotly debated.  Bobby Fischer said “Blitz chess kills your ideas” and this can be true.

However, I learned the hard way that playing the same openings over and over makes you predictable.

Blitz can help you get better at chess by opening your repertoire by adding new lines.

The best way to try them is with quicker games and then analyze them afterwards.

You need to study what went wrong in the opening

It’s important to let the chess engine run and analyze your opening for you.
Try using the opening explorer after your game to see other ideas.

opening explorer in lichess

Often when I am playing blitz or bullet, I am trying new things out.  Chess gets boring if you play the same opening over and over.

By using the opening explorer and seeing what most players on lichess or even masters have done, you can learn a tremendous amount.

If you do this after your game, you’ll be more likely to remember the main move in another game, leading to longer term improvements.

Let the engine tell you what blunders or mistakes you had

Sometimes we lose blitz games because of tactical errors.  We may play the opening perfect, middle game strong, and blunder in the end game.

This happens often, and if you can reduce this, you’ll win more games.

Blitz makes fools of us all and sometimes you can’t see all of the tactics.  You may be SURE there was a tactic hiding in the middle game somewhere, and often you just want the negine to help you find what was missed.  Sometimes the engine will tell you nothing was there at all.

Is it bad etiquette to refuse a rematch in chess?

Rematches are not mandatory. If you have something to learn, don’t rematch. If you’re playing for fun, go for it.

Many players feel that one game is not enough to determine which player is “better.”  This is a good point because in one game, you may have black and feel that there was a disadvantage the whole game.  Maybe you have a super sharp line as white and you wanted to pull it out to win the rematch.  Ask yourself first if this win is worth it for your long term chess.  It may be best to analyze first.

Whether or not you decide to rematch, keep it civil.  Often players will curse each other out because they are too “chicken” to rematch.

With all of this being said, if you’re playing bullet, just play the rematch.  There is almost nothing to learn from bullet so you can feel free to play rematches and do a best of 3 or 5 or 10.  Then you can determine who is the “better” player at making the other player flag more times.