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Is Bullet-Chess Worthwhile?

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #1


       I remember reading somewhere that Pal Benko invented his Benko Gambit because he was such a notoriously slow player that even in easily won positions he lost virtually all his games on time-trouble . . . so by creating the Gambit, he was in effect sacrificing a pawn for 18-26 well-analyzed moves and allowing himself to do what he does best:  "play the endgame" instead of getting out-sprinted in (for him) unchartered middlegame positions. I have always thought that blitz chess was a very enjoyable but far lesser expression of chess.  The notion of bullet-chess being played at 60 sec./game makes me want to vomit.  Well, not literally, but seeing virtually every game decided by time vs. say 20% in blitz:  bullet seems like a very poor imitation of the Royal Game.  Do I exaggerate?  I once saw some guys, who all three looked like homeless dudes, playing bullet-chess in NYC for about an hour.  While the positions they generated were at times deucedly interesting, except for early checkmates or queen-droppings every game was played out to flag-fall.  It may have been fun, but even their grim trash-talk belied that.  The only value I could see was that if they were pros or very serious students, and got all their games video-taped then they might be able to learn from home analysis or being helped by a chess coach.  However, the sheer memorization of moves whether by Benko using his system or by someone playing bullet chess to win . . . all that seems like something very DEAD about chess.  I'd love to hear your comments!


  • 3 years ago · Quote · #2


    Never tried it, probably never will, but your points certainly seem valid to me.  I read somwhere on one of these threads that Nakamura stated that "bullet is not chess";  this, despite the fact that he is one of the world's best at it and has even written a book on it.  Probably the main reason I refuse to play bullet though is that I have enough addictions already.......

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #3


                 Hah!  You were brave enough to say what I wouldn't.  Addictions, indeed!  Chess for me is kind of like the kids with all their gadgets always tweeting and texting and video-gaming . . . . perhaps the "bums" I was watching in the park had become so deeply addicted to chess that they'd become "mainliners" and lethally hooked.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #4


    I don't know about brave, just honest.  I do think bullet is probably a harmless enough pasttime for titled players, but for most of us it is actively counterproductive.  How many threads a week do we get here from players desperate to "improve their game" and it turns out that all they've been playing is bullet and blitz?  In any event, once the bullet players discover this thread, I expect we'll both be subject to scathing, if not reasoned, criticism.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #5


    First of all, you are not 10 years old.  You are a fraud.  I can diagnose a phoney.  However, to answer your question, bullet chess is for young people who have the reflexes of a cat.  Certainly not for an old man.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #6


    Bullet is a game of reflexes, as ChazR points out.  It only takes the form of a chess game, but no one can really "think" at that speed.  It certainly cannot help your game.

    But the truth about Benko isn't that he was a "slow" player.  He was perfectly capable of playing blitz well, for instance.  He was just prone to time pressure in complex positions throughout his career, but was always able to play through it until he reached the highest levels.  He did lose most or all of his games in his only Candidates' Tournament on time, but he was clearly out of his class there despite earning his spot.

    His work on the Benko Gambit had nothing to do with saving him time on the clock in tournaments.  He felt he had found a significant improvement in the old Volga Gambit and championed his belief that Black gets sufficient compensation for the pawn in his move order for decades before most of the chess world took him seriously. 

    It was for him, I believe, a serious scholarly argument which he approached much in the same way he approaches endgame analysis.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #7


    Surely the word "fun" is allowed in this discussion?

    I agree that bullet chess doesn't hold a card to the longest thought out and researched games of correspondence or OTB/live games with large timers, but what's wrong with the "fun" benefit? I like playing bullet games sometimes as I might have 10 minutes to spare and they are just that. Fast thinking and often frustrating yet fun games. If chess is all research and analysis, but no fun, why play at all? BTW I'm not implying that correspondence isn't fun, just merely making a point that doing something for no benefit other than enjoyment is still a benefit.

  • 3 years ago · Quote · #8


    I didn't think much to bullet but I play a little when I'm too tired to play longer games. I think it could help with increasing tactical vision. Not sure. You certainly have to think quickly.

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