I have read other posts (e.g. this) with descriptions of the thought process when playing long time controls, but I'm wondering what kind of information a GM processes during games with very short time controls.

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    I believe their thought process when playing bullet is similar to your and my thought process when solving an online captcha, i.e. for the most part unconscious / intuitive.
    – Annatar
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:26
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    The magic of higher skill is not that one is able to quantitively process more information, but that one is better at filtering out the parts of information that are actually relevant. For this you won't use checklists, but experience - which is much harder to describe in words (I think it's impossible to get a precise answer to your question).
    – Annatar
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:32
  • Become a GM and You will understand
    – Drako
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 7:48

2 Answers 2


Well, of course in very short time controls one cannot assess all the details prescribed in the answers of that good post. Grandmasters rely mostly on their vast experience, as much as it happens in other fields. But we can say that pattern recognition for tactics and mate threats play a major role. And they also learn to polish their intuition. They can efficiently and quickly prune the decision tree (even if they are wrong, they have the process automated) and they learn to recognize the critical points in which they should take some more time evaluating a position. They will have time saved for that critical moment, if it appears.

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    I have a hard time seeing why this answer would deserve a downvote. It's not incorrect that grandmasters have much experience and knowledge which they use to automate lots of thinking steps that amateurs need some time to go through in order to find what is worth looking at in a given position.
    – Scounged
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 22:16
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    I agree, I don’t know why it was downvoted.
    – Ziofil
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 14:51

They look at lots of master games and repeat those same patterns, avoiding blunders.

In the opening, every move is used to get a piece out.

In the middle game, piece maneuvering occurs.

In the end game, they move their kings and rooks to the strongest positions.

There's no shortcut to getting good.

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