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Though I have played chess for a long time, only picked up bullet chess very recently. And with better results than expected. However, as I play at random times I find myself playing in different settings:

  1. With a mouse
  2. With an Ipad (touchscreen)
  3. With a smartphone (touchscreen)

What surprised me is that the mouse does not significantly outperform the alternatives.

Though I am struggling to analyze this numerically, I feel that the mouse is by far best when making planned moves (especially something like a4-a5-a6-a7 or Ra1-Ra2-Ra1-Ra2...) where the smartphone is faster for making unexpected/semi expected moves (typically allowing me to build up pressure in the midgame where I kind-of know what kind of moves to make but cannot commit to an exact order in advance).

Now my question:

Are there any evaluations on touch vs mouse speed/accuracy for 'normal people' done beyond the scale of an individual? Especially for different kind of moves?

This is more a question of curiosity, but perhaps there could be practical applications. For instance, if the results are conclusive I might get some of the top players to test using a touchscreen instead, or if the switching is not to bad this could even be done for just the midgame.


What have I tried:

  • As mentioned I tried it myself
  • I searched online, found plenty of individuals who say one option or the other is better. Also found several statements specifically about the mouse being faster in a pre-move setting.
  • I checked what (top) players do in chess and other games. Most of them use a mouse, however this may simply be because they cannot afford to be slower at expected moves/pre-moves.

I am still thinking on how to investigate this myself. Of course chess based analysis would be the best, but perhaps it is sufficient to tap into more general research on device control.

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Your question is interesting. I think I can share my experience because I am playing bullet for quite some time now. I used to use a touchscreen (Galaxy Tab S5E), but for the last couple of months, I am using a mouse.

Both of them have benefits as well as drawbacks to their side. The best benefit for the touchscreen is reachability with accuracy. You can touch wherever you wish to and that too with accurate (assuming you are using 5.0+ inch touchscreen). On the other hand, the mouse is fast, but not accurate and may also "slip" in the crucial move (often known as mouse-slip).

So, the question is why is the mouse still the favourite option to major chess players?

The answer is "Polling Rate". An average wired gaming mouse offers a polling rate of 1000 Hz, compared to 120Hz touch refresh rate from the touchscreens. And this plays the crucial role in bullet because of each millisecond counts in it. So, I think, it's important to choose almost 10x faster equipment, though it's not that accurate.

Last but not least, Hardware. I ran lichess lag test on Google Chrome in my PC [Windows] as well as in the official android app [Pixel 3A XL]. Both of them were connected to the same wifi network. Though the lichess-server latency was the same in both devices [0.1 milisecond], "Network between Lichess and you" (i.e ping) varies significantly from mobile (181ms) to PC (103ms). So, clearly, mouse in a PC is more superior choice than the touchscreen, at least for me.

Thank you.

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    +1 The polling rate could cause a difference of half a sec per 60 moves, which would indeed be noticable at time controls of a minute, let alone 15 secs. -- The 80ms difference would be huge as it makes almost 5 sec difference. Perhaps they will somewhat be compensated but it still changes the pace of the game. However, I personally get the same ping results on my laptop, mobile site via phone (both 30 ms) and similar but more volatile via the mobile app (jumps between 20, 40 and 60 ms) -- Of course top players may have invested in proper hardware to leverage the difference it could make. – Dennis Jaheruddin Jul 15 '20 at 8:39
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    Wifi on my Laptop has 802.11ac wave 2 configuration, which is claimed 12x faster (asus.com/in/Laptops/ASUS-TUF-Gaming-FX504). I think that's why I saw the differences on the ping. I usually follow the stream on Lichess, especially by Andrew and Carlsen (Penguingim1 and DrNykterstein). Both of them uses a wired mouse. Maybe because it is easy to stream on Laptop, rather than iPad or some other touch screen. (Forgot this point beforehand). But, generally, their game lasts 70 to 80 moves; So, I think that half-second counts.What do you think ? – Amlan Saha Kundu Jul 15 '20 at 11:05
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Depends on you, your hand-eye coordination, and how well your mouse or touch screen works. There is no one answer that is right for everyone to use.

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  • This does not really answer the question. There are plenty of topics that vary wildly based on how an individual works (e.g. relationship between time control and playing strength) but that does not block discussing the general matter and underlying factors. (Did not downvote as you do mention some factors, but the question is really about an evaluation of these beyond 'if you are good with something it works well for you') – Dennis Jaheruddin Jul 15 '20 at 8:36

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