I hate standard chess. Sitting there on your ass for hours on end obsessing over every single little move... it's a nerd's game. It's often talked about as being a game of intelligence, but there's a reason why computers are so much better at chess than humans, while there's no robot out there creating breakthroughs in mathematics or science. Because it's not about intelligence, it's tedious calculation and nothing else. Ultimately, all it comes down to is doing the calculations and memorizing the lines. It's a game for computers, not for humans.

It is for this exact reason that so many games end in draws. Because there's a limit to the degree that we humans can calculate and memorize lines, hence the best players are often equally good at it, hence nobody is at an advantage, hence it's a draw.

But I'm fascinated by bullet chess, or as a maximum, 3 minute blitz. Now, this is a game for humans. It's not about how nerdy you are with your calculations, it's about something that is a bit more ... intangible. It's about instinct... intuition, ... a certain feel for the flow of the game. These are human notions that you can't program into a computer, and that's what makes it so fascinating to me. I mean, a computer can play bullet too, but importantly, the computer does not think of bullet like a human does. The human plays it differently. However, in standard chess, both the human and the computer are doing the same thing: endless calculations.

So with that in mind, my question is, how good can you get at bullet chess, without playing standard chess at all?

For what it's worth, I am ranked 2300 on lichess (bullet), 2000 (3-min blitz) and 1800 (10-min rapid).

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    I fail to understand your premise, since computers are much better than humans both at blitz and bullet. So why wouldn't your same argument apply? Jan 27, 2020 at 0:45
  • I disagree, it is the same calculation in both cases. The main difference is that for slower gameplay it is more important to remember many possible positions in your head, while for faster, ability to think fast matters more (eg knowledge vs intelligence as presented in many computer games). Jan 27, 2020 at 9:44
  • Can you clarify what you mean by 'standard' - is that 10 minute games?
    – stevec
    Jan 29, 2020 at 9:06
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    What is with all this "nerd's game" and personal speculation and how does it relate to the main question?
    – gtgaxiola
    Jan 29, 2020 at 14:50

4 Answers 4


I think that bullet is a skill that is half chess, but half is simply the ability to think and move quickly, which is the domain of young people. Yes, you can clearly get very good at it relative to your standard level of play. Your ratings seem to prove that.

I still question whether bullet is really good for your chess on a deeper level, but you do not seem to care about that, so if you are having fun, by all means, enjoy it. Nevertheless, this may still ultimately make you plateau permanently since bullet is very shallow in terms of depth of understanding. Plateaus vary from person to person, so just how good you can get will ultimately be something that you will have to just play and find out where you stand.

If you ultimately want to improve your depth of understanding, you do not have to choose between sitting there for hours, and bullet. You can play more using controls that are more of a happy medium.

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    "I still question whether bullet is really good for your chess on a deeper level" I have heard it said that it can be useful to look back on your own recent bullet (or blitz) games and analyze the opening. But then it's not really the playing of the game itself that is good for your chess playing, but rather the later reflection on what you, under pressure, think are natural, intuitive plays in the first 5-10 moves.
    – Arthur
    Jan 27, 2020 at 14:12

Been there done that, done both.

You won't be much better than you can do OTB. Most players will be a few hundred rating points lower.

Top GMs can play speed chess almost as good as they do OTB. Most people play much worse.

How well you do at fast chess depends on how well you play. You would do much better if you played at a fixed increment that you must take between moves. In the old days that was ten seconds and we had weekly tournaments which greatly improved my OTB ability and kept me out of time trouble.

Bullet is its own game. If you enjoy it then go for it.

You should consider G10 and even tournaments at G30SD if you truly want to improve and also play slightly slower blitz games.

Do you have an OTB rating? I will guess that if you do not and start playing OTB it will be closer to 1500 or less. But you could be that genius that does really well.


My friends and I used to play chess everyday before school started in high school. We were all more or less novices, knew the rules and nothing more, absolutely terrible lol. Our games were probably between a 3-0 and 5-0 min control. We didn't really measure the time we just knew we had between 25-30 mins to play a few games before classes started. I remember thinking chess games were supposed to be an hour long ordeal or more, and that we were somehow breaking an unholy rule for our fast games, didn't care though, they were a lot of fun.

I graduated 11 years ago, and since then i've played online, 1 and 3 min only games. Initially i played a few 10min and even 5 min games but i quickly learned how ridiculously easy it is for people to cheat, (yeah i cheated a few times too, i was still new to the game and a sore loser... lol). Anyway since then, i've learned all my tactics and pattern recognition from just playing and watching other really strong players play. ChessNetwork (Jerry), Kingscrusher, agadmator and the ChessBrahs have been my main influences on Youtube and Twitch. The ChessBrahs Eric and Aman really pushed me to get better because they're so damn good and entertaining lol. Currently i'm 2135 bullet 2148 blitz on Lichess, and can easily maintain a 2100 rating in both. On Chess.com i'm 1950 bullet and 2018 blitz and can easily maintain and 2000-2050 rating in both. "SoDamnMetal" on both sites, hit me up for a game sometime. I feel like the cheaters are much more abundant on chess.com and my ping is not so good there either for some reason even though i live in the US.

Literally everything i know about chess is from bullet and blitz games and i find it hilarious how many people who get frustrated in bullet/blitz tournaments and say you absolutely cannot get better at chess through these time controls. These are the kind of people that rattle off theory and opening book moves like they're rain man or the next Bobby Fischer or something but you look at their profile and they're rated 1200-1500 xD. I know 0 about theory and openings, I believe the core of chess is tactics and pattern recognition, and your only limit is how much practice you put into them.

I'd like to get into a rapid and standard time control eventually but idk, the ease of cheating kind of has me jaded, plus the thrill of chess for me is the high octane, low time controls.

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    Our club has tournaments G15SD. You cant really cheat. I suppose somebody could try but they would likely get caught. Most players are at the table the full 15 minutes. I always wandered around at the games with 2+ hours per side but I do sit at the board for the 10 and 15 minute games without getting bored. Jan 27, 2020 at 1:50
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    The cheating im concerned about is strictly online, i know the odds of successfully pulling it off OTB are quite low. Unfortunately i live in a small rural town and chess clubs are just not an option for me. I envy you though, i'm sure they're fun. Jan 27, 2020 at 6:54
  • I understand there is some cheating online. But it is very hard to cheat at G10SD. Much easier to cheat if the game is longer. OTB is getting harder but I have still seen it. It happened to me in the 50s when I played Lombardy and he kept going to the mens room every move. He got caught in the next tournament he played. Our town is small and rural. People play at the library weekly. They come from surrounding smaller towns as well as our location. Now we have two libraries hosting chess with good turnout. Jan 27, 2020 at 15:37
  • Blitz can improve your game, but not bullet. Like seriously, there's no depth in ideas in bullet unless you know what you're doing from past experiences (strategically speaking). But if you play long time controls, you can come up with many strategies during a single game that you haven't seen from your past experiences, and by doing this process you can learn a lot actually. In bullet, you won't have the chance to do that, and in blitz occasionally. I use blitz to train my openings. Lichess classical rating around 2400, rapid around 2200, blitz around 2000, and bullet around 1550!
    – Guess601
    Jan 30, 2021 at 1:54

I belive you are wrong, if you look at players like Magnus Carlsen which can only see up to 10 moves in advanced (and of course not all moves but a small fraction) they can still beat an engine that looks 20 moves to the future because while they cant tell what will happen their intuition is high enough to understand how a position might evolve not by checking options but by understanding the dynamic between the diffrente pieces. To your question you would improve playing only bullet but you might want to consider blitz to improve not only your speed but also your tactics and general chess skill

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