A GM has an elo of at least 2500, and Magnus Carlsen has an elo of almost 2900, so I think you can safely say that most games between grandmasters at a level of 2400-3000 elo. This is obviously very vague, so I think you can best describe it as: Most of the games among GM's are at a level similar to 2 chess computers, with an elo rating of 2500-3000, playing against eachother.

If you take this description into consideration, how high would the level of games be at a blitz and at a bullet tournament for grandmasters? Would they be significantly lower (like for example 2000-2400), or would a good grandmaster like Magnus Carlsen still play at a level around 2700-2800?

  • Ken Regan's research, in which he estimates chess performance by comparing moves to computer evaluations, would be able to answer this question, but I briefly skimmed through his papers and didn't see the subject addressed.
    – dfan
    May 22, 2013 at 19:02
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    The quality of play remains high, but what happens is that more blunders are made in blitz, near the end. Assuming one is not told a game is speed game, and they play over the game. Most of the time, it will be hard to tell if the game was speed chess or not, except for the sudden blunder or two that might give a hint it was a speed game. Reason is that in speed chess one plays by intuition and general feeling of the position. Since GM's have lots of this to spare, that is why the level of play remains high. If I have put a number, maybe around 200 lower ELO's from regular rating? Hard to say.
    – Nasser
    May 23, 2013 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


There is insufficient data to answer objectively. However, there are a few things that can be said with confidence:

  • a player's bullet rating should always be less than or equal to his standard rating, because more time allows for deeper middlegame calculations
  • you can't accurately predict a player's bullet rating by his standard rating and vice-versa
  • some chess clubs have formulas for matches with time handicap where the stronger player gets less time depending on the rating difference between his and the weaker player, but in most cases the stronger player is a strong bullet player too and wins anyway
  • grandmasters keep their knowledge of openings and endgames in bullet time controls
  • certain flawed strategies work better in bullet chess
  • there are many grandmasters out there who are critics of fast chess
  • there are many grandmasters out there who have a style incompatible with short time controls

To get the data to answer your question, you would probably need to examine a lot of games between players of similar strength where one plays standard and the other one plays bullet and see from the results if you can consistently find the rating gap, and there aren't many volunteers for that.

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    "a player's bullet rating should always be less than or equal to his standard rating, because more time allows for deeper middlegame calculations": not really. Your rating doesn't measure how good you are in absolute terms, but rather how you compare to others. In bullet you have less time, sure, but the same is true for your opponent. And it might be that a player isn't that good at deep analysis, but they are good at playing quickly, so that they are better at bullet than at classical time controls. Nov 3, 2021 at 10:01

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