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How Fast Are The Best Bullet Players?

How Fast Are The Best Bullet Players?

ToddBryant
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The Bullet Chess Championship 2024 kicked off this week with a stacked lineup of FIDE top 10 players and bullet specialists! I gathered some data to highlight just how fast the fastest players on earth can play!

Bullet chess is a wild terrain where the laws of physics change. Normal chess principles don’t always apply, and speed and time management reign supreme. Since the Bullet Chess Championship is a 1+0 event, I considered only 1+0 games—many of these players are also heavy 10-second and 30-second hyperbullet players, where they have different stats.

The data reveals how top players manage their time and what makes them some of the scariest bullet monsters on the scene. Let's look at a few players from this year's field.


Hikaru, The Monster
GM Hikaru Nakamura is the most famous chess streamer in the world, and has dominated online blitz and bullet—even before Chess.com existed!—for decades.

Time Usage: Aside from his record-breaking ratings, Hikaru's stats had a few interesting features: He builds dominating time advantages. One of the stats I gathered was each player’s average clock lead by move 20. Most were in the zero- to one-second range, but Hikaru is, on average, up by a crushing 4.5 seconds when the middlegame begins. No other player in the field was close to this number.

Hikaru Nakamura
You'd look pretty comfortable too with time advantages like these! Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Think Time: Additionally, Hikaru’s average think time—his average time spent per move—was 0.80 seconds, which came in at the bottom of the field. Hikaru pushes a consistent high speed on his opponents from move one, and applies clock pressure all game. 

Time Scramble: He’s also great at time scrambles. A key stat I looked at was each player’s scramble strength. This is how much better, in terms of performance rating, a player scores in games that reach scramble. Dealing with Hikaru is tough enough, but if you are unlucky enough to battle him in a time scramble, he gets 71 points stronger! This is particularly striking in light of the following fact:

Reaction Time: He doesn’t actually premove that much! I gathered percentages on how often players premoved overall and in time scrambles. At 15.37% and 36.74%, respectively, Hikaru was at the absolute bottom of the field! An example of this can be seen in the following clip

Hikaru is brutally fast in time scrambles, but he is not a frantic premover. Instead, he hovers, makes moves with lightning-fast reaction time, and only premoves when it is necessary or absolutely safe. Don’t Lefong Hikaru!!

Tang, The Mouse Wizard
GM Andrew Tang is one of the most interesting players in this field. He is a famous bullet and hyperbullet specialist, known for his blazing speed, mouse skills, and incredible feats such as blindfold ultrabullet.

Tang is unique in that his FIDE rating of 2502 is lower than the rest of the 2600-2800 players in the field, but he makes up for this with skills particular to bullet. 

Premove Speed: He combines raw speed with heavy premoving in his scrambles: Tang had one of the lowest average scramble move rates of 0.32 sec/move, and 51.00% of his moves in time scrambles were premoves. 

Think Time: Tang’s overall average thinking time of 0.90 sec/move and average move 20 clock lead of 1.26 seconds were more standard. Andrew Tang’s unique superpowers activate especially in time scrambles. 

Time Scrambles: He becomes an entirely different player in these situations: no one else came close to Tang’s scramble strength. In games that reach time scrambles, Tang performed at a 3200 level, gaining, on average, 170 points of performance. I pity anyone who has to battle Tang in a rook-against-rook time scramble!

Sevian, The Dark Horse
Twenty-three-year-old GM Sam Sevian was one of the players whose numbers surprised me because he is neither a FIDE top-10 player nor a bullet super-grinder like Tang and GM Daniel Naroditsky. Since 2020, he only has a few hundred 1+0 games on Chess.com, and 1,684 bullet games overall. Here is how dangerous he is with only a few minutes more than one:

Move Speed: Sevian’s average move speed is 0.79 seconds, the fastest in this entire field, edging out even Hikaru. Sevian also topped the field in both premove rates with 25.23% overall and a huge 57.68% in time scrambles. 

Time Scramble: Sevian’s strength in this department was roughly equal to his baseline performance, suggesting he is maybe not as specialized in time scramble tricks as some of the high-volume grinders. But with his striking raw speed, I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows some surprising results in the BCC.

Naroditsky, The Veteran
Nobody plays more bullet than GM Daniel Naroditsky (although GM Jose Martinez is close). As the most experienced player in the field, Naroditsky has some of each of the stats that make bullet players dangerous:

Experience: Naroditsky has a mind-boggling 141,773 bullet games played on Chess.com. He prefers hyperbullet (30-second and 10-second), but has a wealth of experience in 1+0 too.

Time Usage: Naroditsky’s overall time usage came in on the low end of the field at 0.81sec/move. By move 20, he is up an average of 2.62 seconds on the clock, the highest figure of anyone not named Hikaru.

Time Scrambles: Naroditsky gets 45 points stronger in time scrambles, which he achieves with a blend of premoving (44.89% of moves) and raw speed (0.34 sec/move).

There you have it! If you would like to see my time stats for the full 16-player field, you can find them here: Bullet Time Stats Spreadsheet

Who do YOU think will race to the Bullet Chess Championship's crown the fastest? Watch Day 3 here!

ToddBryant
NM Todd Bryant

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