Blitz gained widespread popularity much earlier than rapid chess. Even Botvinnik, known for his hostile attitude towards speed chess in general, was spotted blitzing on a train to the USSR Championship. And do you remember the amazing finale of a blitz game between the earlier champions, Capablanca and Alekhine? Or one of the Moscow Blitz Championships, which went on without the World Champion Petrosian, for his wife Rona Yakovlevna could not stand a chance of Tigran losing to the chess hooligan Genrikh Chepukaitis? Mikhail Tal, who traveled all across the Soviet Union with exhibition games, was happy to play anybody with one minute against five. And do you like that story about Korchnoi running to a game in the Central Chess Club? When he arrived, he only had two minutes left. Mad as a hornet, he blamed arbiters all the way, but still managed to checkmate his opponent with a few seconds on the clock.
I hope the upcoming fantastic tournament in St, Petersburg will also provide us with equally epic stories about the world's most powerful ones, and entertain us with amazing plots and brilliant decisions. However, let us focus on the past events first.
Blitz appeared roughly at the same time as regular, "lengthy" chess. Even when there was no clock, players of the Paul Morphy era enjoyed quick "one-two-three" games. However, the first official World Blitz Championship took place in the same year as the first Rapid Championship, much, much later than the first classical World Championship.
Talking unofficial, we should highlight the 1970 Herceg Novi, which was a double round round-robin with 12 players who had participated in the recently finished Match of the Century. Robert Fischer won magnificently with 19 out of 22, with only a single loss. According to those present, the American genius has never spent more than three minutes out of the allotted five. Tal finished with 14.5, Korchnoi had 14, and they were followed by Petrosian, Bronstein, Hort, Matulovic, Smyslov, and Reshevsky. Yet, Spassky, Stein, Larsen, Geller, Keres, and some other top players did not participate, so Dimitrie Belica, the famous chess journalist, pointed out: "A fantastic win for Fischer, however, this was not a world championship!"