I have reached 2200 bullet on Lichess, and want to start preparing chess specifically to get better at bullet. Just like chess as a whole has strategies and techniques to learn, I wanted to know what sort of strategies (tricks?) bullet has.

Some strategies I am already aware of are

  • Playing highly premovable openings
  • Giving and repeating checks when possible to run down time (blocking premoves basically)
  • Capturing all the pieces when winning to guarantee a draw
  • Lots of puzzle storm for quick pattern recognition
  • Keeping up rapid/blitz to build intuition and thought out chess
  • Forcing opponent to move different pieces to force mouse movement

What other strategies and tricks are present, especially those highly specific to bullet rather than other formats?

1 Answer 1

  • Playing highly premovable openings is great, but get ready to punish your opponents that do this.

Many players tend premove everything in a few seconds and it's easy to punish them with a surprise move. A concrete example is if they play king indian's defense and you fianchettoed the bishop on b2, then if you grab their knight on f6, most likely they won't capture back because they're busy premoving.

There's of course a lot of such tricks (even more dirtier, like the Lefong) and even top players fall for them. Note that if you don't try to punish them, you'll just end up way down on the clock. Simultaneously, be aware not too fall yourself into this trap.

  • Become an one trick ponny in the opening, even better if it's something dubious that you're familiar with.

By this, I mean to pick one or a small set of openings that you get extremely comfortable with. You don't have time to calculate and pattern recognition is the most essential thing in bullet, so naturally if you are familiar with your position, then moves come naturally.

Additionally, the hardest time I usually have is when my opponents play dubious opening that I never encounter before (e.g. they start with 1. a4 or something that isn't standard). Typically they are comfortable playing this, even though they are worse out of the opening (which in bullet doesn't matter that much).

  • A fast inaccuracy is typically better than a great move that burns a lot of your time.

The clock is an extremely important factor, usually as a rule of thumb I try to not waste more than 5 seconds on a move, unless I have a big time advantage or I'm about to get mated.

  • Predict your opponent's next move

For example, players in time scrambles will randomly give up their pieces just to give a check, and you should anticipate and premove to capture such a check, but in the same time hover your next move in case they don't.

Additionally, since you know that they will check you, try to walk on squares that your opponents can't give you check. E.g. if they're left with a light square bishop in an endgame, then just move you king on black squares. If they give a check with the knight, putting your king diagonally with one free square between, will require 3 more knight moves before they can check again (and so on).

This is of course not specific for endgames, making save premoves followed by hovering next moves amounts to a lot of time saving.

  • Analyze your games

Might be funny to hear about analyzing your bullet games, but this is extremely helpful. Of course, not in the same style that you would analyze a long-time format game. I typically tend to look at a single move or one position that made me think during a game. Or if I fall for some trap in the opening I'll check it afterwards to see how to avoid it.

Looking at one move for a single game might not be too much, but if you add them up for the amount of bullet games that you play - then it's a lot.

  • Attacking is way easier than defending in bullet

I often observe that I have such a hard time defending if the opponent makes a bold sacrifice and goes straight for the checkmate. So if you have the chance, don't be materialistic.

  • Avoid trading all major pieces if you're defending

Perhaps one simple way to end the game, if you're on a material advantage is to trade all major pieces and the premove the pawns to get a new queen(s). In the same time, if you're on the defending side avoid trading the pieces - even if it means getting for example a queen for a knight and they're left with another piece (because your knight might do some damage in time scrambles).

  • Don't play when you're tired or tilted

I find it impossible to play on my highest level after a full day of work or when I'm tilted. To avoid this I have a smurf account that I use just to enjoy the game during these times- typically I end up losing a lot, but in the same time I can keep my main account intact (when I'm tired, I can't focus, I can't play as fast as I usually do and I also lose my pattern recognition ability).

In the same spirit, I also observed that rating matters a lot. If I play on my lower rated smurf - then my opponents play better against me, as opposed to when I would play on my main account (I feel like there's some sort of fear here). I also play worse if I see a higher rated player.

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