12-Hour Lichess Winter Chess Marathon: Insights, Strategies, and a Touch of Grit

Very interesting chess battles. Some hints and tips for doing well in the marathon

Hello, fellow chess enthusiasts!

I recently embarked on a thrilling 12-hour chess marathon on Lichess and thought it'd be great to share some insights, strategies, and yes, a few learnings from the experience.

Tip 1: Picking the Right Time Control

Ask yourself: Do you like the time control? For the Winter Marathon, my answer was a resounding YES. This format allowed me to confidently berserk against sub-2000 players, leveraging my past successes.

However, I’m not a fan of increment time controls. Beserking becomes a high-stakes gamble as opponents can leverage the increment, while you risk losing on time, even in winning positions. Moreover, increments seem to aid engine abusers, a concern I've observed in previous marathons.

Tip 2: Timing Your Entry

Starting late can have its perks. Your opponents might be fatigued, and Lichess's vigilant anti-engine team may have weeded out cheaters. I kicked off my marathon around 1 pm, balancing it with work on a Hypermodern Chess Course. The late start also meant I streamed and played for an intense, but manageable, 12 hours.

Tip 3: Stick to Your Guns

Stick to ones guns

In marathons, familiarity breeds success. Stick to your well-honed opening repertoire. For me, 1.Nc3 was a key move, opening doors to comfortable positions and the Grand Prix Attack. Save experimental openings for less grueling formats.

Tip 4: Set Achievable Goals

Marathon Achievable Goals

Start with a realistic goal to minimize disappointment. My initial aim was the top 500, but as I gained momentum, I ambitiously revised it to the top 100. Having such flexible yet challenging goals kept me motivated till the very end.

Tip 5: Embrace the Losses

Embrace the losses

Losses are inevitable, even in streaks. Witnessing an IM lose seven straight games yet finish in the top 20 was inspiring. It's essential to maintain grit and learn from each defeat. Surprisingly, I managed to avoid long-losing streaks, which felt like a stroke of luck.

Tip 6: Nutritional Choices Over Coffee

Nutrition during the marathon

(Note my pistachios were just the inner kernels - so I wasn't messing around getting them out of the shells)

Contrary to popular belief, I avoided coffee during the marathon. Instead, I opted for healthier alternatives like pistachio or almond nuts, coupled with a jug of water. This combination kept me hydrated and provided sustained energy, without the jitters and crashes associated with caffeine. Remember, maintaining a steady energy level is key in such long events. I remember in some long multi-hour Over-the-board chess games where I had overdone the coffee and was struggling to keep my eyes open later in the game.

Regrets? A Few

In retrospect, I should've taken more frequent breaks. A single break for nuts wasn't enough. Regular short breaks for physical movement are now on my checklist for future marathons.

In Conclusion: A Rewarding Experience

Despite the exhaustion and a disrupted sleep schedule post-marathon, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was fulfilling to achieve my goal, share the journey on YouTube, and return to my normal routine reenergized.

Check Out My Commentary Video

Dive into the details of my marathon experience:

Explore My Chess Courses

For more chess strategies and insights, visit

Enjoyed this post? Your likes and follows are immensely appreciated!

Cheers, K