Many days, I am short on time and therefore, like to play chess games that are short on time for each side, about 5 minutes. My opinion is 5 minute chess games are actually more beneficial than I realized when I have to learn to make decisions very quickly. In fact, I sometimes have to make decisions that are split second in nature in order to avoid outcomes such as potential car accidents and slip/falls. So how does chess help quicken decision making?

The Nature of a 5 Minute Chess Game:

In a 5 minute chess game, you simply cannot take a long time to make a move because otherwise, you would get into time pressure which could result in you losing the game on time, even when you are winning against your opponent! In order to be successful in a 5 minute timed chess game, you need to anticipate what might happen several moves deep in 20-30 seconds. This takes a lot of skill and to be honest, took me years to master.I still lose many chess games timed at 5 minutes because I took too long to think about 1 move. Here is an example of a chess game where the opponents are playing 5 minutes each side and the opponents only have 5 seconds to make a move:

The Link Between the 5 Minute Chess Game and Stronger Decision Making Skills Under Pressure:

I have found through personal experience, that the more I am in situations similar to the video I shared, the better I am able to come up with a decision and not be stuck in analysis-paralysis. I remember once I got into a near fender bender and I had seconds to make a decision to avoid an accident. Thankfully I was able to avoid an accident but I attribute this to me playing 5 minute chess games on a regular basis as many times, I would only have seconds to think before a critical point hit me. I would have been in a car accident if I didn’t train myself to think so quickly.

I came across an article from vanseodesign that summarized this point very well “Whatever your situation when faced with a decision, choose the path that improves your situation. Your choice doesn’t have to solve your problem or take you to the promised land. Just improve your position and you’ll find yourself a little closer to where you ultimately want to be”. This is similar to playing in a 5 minute game because sometimes, when you need to make a decision, it doesn’t have to be the perfect decision. Just one that makes things better at the current moment with the ability to correct course much later.


The game of chess is the perfect tool to perfect the art of quick decision making. When you have only seconds or minutes to react and perfect this well on the chess board, this will carry over very well to the tough decisions that need to be made in life where you just don’t have that much time to think about the situation. Being able to think quickly will also help stop analysis-paralysis as analysis-paralysis hampers your self confidence and your belief that you can trust your gut in difficult situations. Go ahead and leave a comment below on how chess helped (or can help) you make better decisions when time wasn’t on your side!


2 replies
  1. Kristi
    Kristi says:


    I have loved chess since I was little. My dad taught me how to play and it has always been my goal to finally beat him. I’ve not accomplished that yet.

    I really like this 5-minute chess and will definitely have to try it. Do you have any idea where I would find a clock like that?

    • Elan
      Elan says:

      Hello Kristi,

      I do apologize for being so late in responding. Ah how life can be hectic! There are many online chess stores where you can buy a great chess clock. Here is a link to my previous article on chess clocks I recommend. I highly recommend the Insa Wooden Mechanical Chess Clock from the House of Staunton as not only is it very well made, but it is so easy to set up as there is no fumbling through cumbersome menus! Just turn the winder to the desired time and you are all set!


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