The Dark Side of Bullet Chess: Is Bullet Chess Good for You?

Take the slow, methodical gameplay of chess, give it 10 shots of adrenaline, and what you have is Bullet chess. Is Bullet chess good for you as a beginner player?

Is Bullet Chess Good for You?

If you’re looking to try new openings and improve reflexes Bullet chess can be good. If you’re a beginner looking to improve your game stay away!

With the advent of chess apps, Bullet chess has quickly become one of the most popular versions of the game out there.

It’s super fast paced, and if you’ve ever watched it being played, you’re either completely intimidated, or ABSOLUTELY DYING to give it a try yourself.

What is Bullet Chess?

Understand this, watching bullet chess being played is like watching pure chaos! It’s almost always impossible to follow, and, well, see for yourself.

The video below shows 2 games of bullet chess.

In the first a Grandmaster is playing with literally only 1 SECOND of total time on his clock vs his opponent who has 15 seconds.

Yes, it can be that fast paced! And at that speed, the moves are literally impossible to follow.

In the second game comparatively, both sides have AN ETERNITY to play, 30 seconds each, and it’s still a chaotic race to a mad finish.

And it’s because of this super fast, chaotic pace that players are completely addicted to its game play.

What are the Rules of Bullet Chess?

Bullet chess and normal chess have the same rules. The only difference is in the speed of the game.

Bullet chess is a timed version of the game where each player has 3 minutes or less to move. Your clock starts when your opponent has made their move and hits the timer. When you make your move, you hit the timer to start your opponents clock.

The most popular version of bullet chess is 1|0, where each side has 1 minute total time to play with no increment, meaning they gain no time back after each move.

Arguments For and Against Bullet Chess Helping Your Game

The forums at weigh in on this question with very legitimate arguments.

“Bullet chess is good for your bullet chess, but bad for everything else.”

Ivandh at forum

And some are much more passionate about their disdain for the game:

“I hate bullet chess with a passion! I see the positive effect of improving your speed, but other than that I don’t see anything but negative things. Many a game ends with no resolution. One player just moved faster than another. There is no chess here. It is played predominately by bored teenagers.

RaymondStingray_ at forum

And this is not to say that there aren’t lovers of Bullet chess. Bullet chess is easily one of the most popular versions of the game.

“I find myself unable to stop playing bullet chess at times because it’s so addictive.”

The_Bald_Man at forum

“Spot tactics quicker, learn to make rudimentary plans, see the board quickly, evaluate in a hurry, spot weaknesses. These are some of the things that can come from bullet, but not slow chess.

pfve at forum

So the question is, do you want to beat your opponent because of skill and strategy, or because of the clock?

Most seasoned players want to win based on strategy, not on a blunder caused by being rushed.

Rushed blunders can also create a stalemate where no one wins. Not fun.

Granted, both sides go into the game knowing the rules and how clock management is a MASSIVE factor, but do you think this helps your overall game?

Does playing bullet chess regularly improve your reflexes and ability to spot tactics and weaknesses quicker?

The fact of the matter is that Bullet chess is more of a time scramble than anything else.

When it comes to the question of Bullet chess helping your overall game, I think it’s clear that taking your time and strategizing would be more prudent than a chaotic race against the clock.

Think about how you’ve learned any other skill.

Do you learn its basics and then chaotically rush to apply what you leaned? Or do you take your time, slowly but surely mastering the tactics and principles of the undertaking?

For just about everything, it’s the latter, isn’t it?

Good thing there’s no such thing as bullet brain surgery.

What do the Grandmasters and Experts Think?

yes or no

Most grandmasters agree that bullet chess hurts your overall chess game play, especially as a beginner.

In a normal game, each player is taking their time to calculate how certain moves and openings will play out.

Time is taken to set things up. Pieces are moved in conjunction with one another to create traps.

But with Bullet chess, you don’t have any time to do any of that.

Because of the mad rush, sometimes blunders aren’t even seen by your opponent and vice versa.

You could be losing a game badly by the number of pieces captured, but still win because of the clock or because of a blunder made by your opponent to beat the clock.

This just doesn’t happen outside of Bullet chess.

In standard chess, if you’ve taken your opponent’s key pieces, and he or she is “material down”, meaning your pieces are more powerful than your opponent’s, then no mad rush on their part will allow them to come out with a win.

Because of this, If you’re a beginner looking to improve your game, there’s a big chance that Bullet chess will make your standard chess worse.

Final Thoughts

Bullet chess can be a little slice of chaos. But if you’re a beginner, the speed and chaos can actually diminish your overall game.

At its fastest speeds, Bullet chess really boils down to a race against the clock instead of a match of any kind of chess skill.

As one player put it, “Bullet chess is good for your bullet chess, but bad for everything else.”

How do you feel about Bullet chess? Have you ever played? Have you ever watched a game and been ultra curious as to how you’d fare?

Are you a beginner level chess player or have you been playing for a while? If you’re a regular Bullet chess player, how do you feel your chess skill have improved or diminished?

Let me know how you feel in the comments section below! I love reading your questions and comments and I always reply back.

20 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Bullet Chess: Is Bullet Chess Good for You?”

  1. We just learned how to play bullet chess and it is definitely crazy! Thanks for the blog. It has helped us learn and understand why it is challenging.


  2. I agree with you, Eric, this bullet chess can be hurting the experience of beginners. It seems really like a game for someone who has no time. Contrary to that, I think, playing chess requires a lot of time, so I see more advantages in a standard game of chess. Nice to know a new variation of the game though. Cheers

  3. Hey,
    Another great article!
    I am going to share this article with my nephew (he will probably already have read it). I’m telling you, he is going to be a chess world champion one day. Keep up the great work.

    All the best,

  4. I love watching great players go head-to-head with each other playing chess. Although one standard chess game takes longer time to finish than Bullet Chess, I would still prefer it over the latter. I agree with what one anti-Bullet chess said that there is no chess in Bullet Chess as it has simply become a game of speed.

    To me, chess is a game of the mind; it’s about strategizing and anticipating your opponent’s every move in order to get ahead of the game. I like your analogy of learning a new skill; you don’t rush to learn things.  Rather, you take your time, and slowly but surely, you’ll get to where you should be. 

    Bullet chess can be addictive to those who just love to have fun but not to me and perhaps to most people who love the game of chess.

    • Agreed! In my opinion, Bullet chess is great for getting better at bullet chess, or even if you want to play someone who isn’t nearly as good as you but knows the game. It can definitely even out the playing field. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Hey Eric,

    While I do not use a computer much to play chess (I’m the old school table type) this is a very interesting concept that I have not heard about. I’m gonna go with the group that like it, I believe this is a great exercise to help you make decisions quicker and think faster, normal chess gets boring when people are just sitting there analyzing, this added timed factor creates a bit of chaos that helps the brain, will definitely give this a try with my chess group, thanks for bringing this to my attention, have fun! 

    • I think bullet chess is good for a quick departure away from the game if you’re already a seasoned player, but definitely not something to take on if you’re a beginner looking to improve your game. The first time you play it though it’ll definitely be nuts. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Bullet chess is the bomb! I played at it once with a friend of mine that I stopped seeing because well, he was completely addicted to it. It’s very good to exercise your brain and to refine your sense of strategy. However, if you want to rely on it to train on how to play real chess game, don’t. Because it isn’t just the same reality.

  7. Wow! Bullet Chess looks intense. I’m not sure if that’s something I would want to play at the moment as I’m just getting back into the game. Maybe once I’m used to playing standard chess again, maybe I’ll look in to it. 
    Thanks for the information Eric! Your website is helping me rediscover my passion for chess once more  


  8. I am a beginner level chess player, and after I watched this video, I can tell you my skills is diminished. It’s crazy how tech effect these kinds of games.
    Bullet chess is an extremely fascinating challenging concept, but I don’t think it will take the place of the standard version of chess game.
    Thank you, Eric, for sharing this blog, you gave us a chance to learn and understand Bullet chess game. 

  9. Thanks for sharing your article on billet chess. This is actually the first time I have heard of it and sounds pretty interesting. After reading I feel it’s a tad challenging but worth playing. I will have to see if my dad knows how to play if so I will have to check it out for sure. 

  10. Hi Eric,
    I do understand the thrill of Bullet Chess but for me it goes against the soul of the game. It is chaotic, and only someone with far more time than me (perhaps because they’re playing this!) could hope to master it. Of course, I do think that bullet chess can help improve the game’s popularity but maybe for the wrong reasons. Would you agree?


    • I don’t mind it as a variation of chess, but it’s not the best if you’re trying to learn the game. Thanks for the comment!


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