“Why Am I So Bad At Bullet Chess?”

I know your pain. Every chess player, at some point or another, falls head over heels in love with bullet chess and then they discover something alarming – their skills don’t carry over from the main game to bullet chess not at all. But why should that be and what should you do to overcome this disadvantage?

Why am I so bad at bullet chess? Most people are bad at bullet chess because they’re afraid to make a move, they haven’t memorized enough game patterns, or they simply don’t enjoy high pressure situations. This is OK, because there are coping tactics for bullet chess players or you could just play regular chess.

Let’s take a look at how that might work.

Why am I so bad at bullet chess? - ChessPulse.com
Why am I so bad at bullet chess? – ChessPulse.com

Why Is Bullet Chess So Hard?

We don’t think that bullet chess is “so hard”, what it does is use different skills from playing regular chess – so, it can feel “hard” when you first tackle it. However, it’s fair to say that some players are much better rated at bullet chess than regular chess and vice-versa and that clearly demonstrates there are differences.

So, a better question is “what can I do to get better at bullet chess?” and for that, we have some definition answers:

You Need To Learn To Move Even When It’s A Non-Optimal Move

Your greatest asset in bullet chess is not material, it’s not the position on the board, it’s time. When you run out of time, you are done. That means there is something to be said for making moves even if you don’t think that they’re the best available move.

Every single game of bullet chess will be riddled with mistakes but when your opponent’s clock is running, they’re running the biggest risk of losing and not you.

Too many regular chess players hold off when they should be moving and moving again. Give yourself exactly 2 seconds and then make the move that comes to mind. That’s all you have.

Learn Patterns And Then Build Tactics Around Them

We don’t think you should try to learn endless games in order to call upon them in bullet chess, that’s probably going to drive you crazy and there aren’t enough hours in your lifetime to make this a completely successful strategy.

What you can do though, is start to learn patterns, like if you’ve built up your strength on the left hand side of the board and pushed your knights forward – you can learn to make the most use of that structure to ravage your opponent’s lines.

Attack And Don’t Worry Too Much About Material

Material is not “irrelevant” in bullet chess but because of the time constraints it becomes much less important than it is in regular chess. That means you’re going to be better off trying to keep your opponent on the back foot than you are trying to protect any particular piece.

There is some evidence that says most chess players simply struggle to think defensively. If you can force your opponent on the defense with a blistering attack, your advantage becomes much greater than theirs and they will make mistakes that let you back into the game. So, be aggressive in your play!

Whatever You Do, Don’t Resign

There is no sense in resigning in bullet chess, the game is too short to bother with that kind of approach and one thing you learn when you play on is that – you are now completely free to experiment.

Many players have watched their opponent’s flag drop just because they played a move which would be considered insane in ordinary chess but which provoked the opponent to waste too much time trying to find a trap in their play. Again, most games will be won and lost on time not on the final position on the board, so don’t resign – just keep going.

Protecting The King Is Always A Good Idea

If you can build a nice spiky difficult to penetrate box around the king with pawns, queens and bishops (and even rooks and knights) all defending each other, your opponent is going to struggle to break that down with just a minute on the clock. Heck. They might struggle to break that down in a much longer game.

Wherever possible, you want to approach bullet chess with the idea that winning by checkmate is great, but it is far easier to exhaust your opponent’s time and win by default. This may not sound particularly sporting but that’s how the game is designed to be played. Don’t be afraid to run down their clock.

Don’t Wear Yourself Out

Bullet chess is awesome and, in fact, when you first trade chess for bullet chess then it can be addictive. There’s something exhilarating about playing a game that won’t last more than 2 minutes. You can fit dozens of games into an hour. After 2 hours, you can have rampaged across the hopes and dreams of many other players.

After 10 hours, you’re probably ready to go to bed or to drop dead on the spot. The joy’s gone. You’re pushing yourself through each game. So, stop. You do not need to keep playing beyond the moment where it stops being fun.  Save some of yourself for another day.

One thing we know for sure is that players who are exhausted don’t improve. Their brains are too tired to learn anything new. There are no advantages to pushing yourself too hard when playing bullet chess.

Keep Things Simple (Particularly If You Are Winning)

When you’re in a winning position, it can be very easy to start making moves that make your position more complicated – to increase your certainty of a win. Don’t do that. It’s a great idea in ordinary chess but in bullet chess, you want to keep things simple and just move forward.

It’s rare that a game of bullet chess is decided by some sort of innate chess brilliance, mainly they are won or lost on the courage to keep things moving while your opponent flounders for time.

Make Things Complicated (When You Are Losing)

The reverse is true, of course, when you’re losing. Then, you want to make things as awkward as possible for the other player. Fill the middle of the board, make ridiculously complicated arrangements of your pawns that kind of thing. Force them to think and, in turn, force them to slow down.

Your moves still don’t need to be brilliant – they just need to be functional, watch their time run down the drain while they deal with them.

Make Sure You Can Rely On Your Computer And Internet Connection

Finally, most people play bullet chess online and that means you can introduce a disadvantage to the game by having “lag” (a delay) on the line when you’re sending and receiving moves. You can’t get this down to zero but by having a good internet connection and a decent PC or laptop can make all the difference and every slight time advantage counts in bullet chess.


Why am I so bad at bullet chess? Bullet chess is a super high-speed version of chess and thus, the winner of a game of bullet chess tends to be the person who can think faster on their feet. At least, in theory, if, however, both players are equally mentally agile – it doesn’t mean that their bullet chess will be equal. That’s because you can heavily influence the outcome of bullet chess through memorization.

The more approaches, particularly openings, you can remember, the faster you can push your opponent to the midgame and use your knowledge of tactics to dominate the game. It’s important to acknowledge that though they use the same rules bullet chess is not chess and the skills they utilize are subtly different. Not every player enjoys bullet chess, and you don’t have to play it if you don’t want to and even if you do – you want to keep your bullet chess to sensible limits.

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