An intermediate guide to Bullet: Psychological Tips

An intermediate guide to Bullet: Psychological Tips


Hi everyone!

Today I'll be telling you some advice on how to play bullet well. These tips might not necessarily improve your overall bullet strength, but who knows? They might come in quite handy! Of course, here is the golden rule when you play bullet:

Always have a stable network connection.

It doesn't matter if you play with a trackpad or a Logitech G502 mouse, or if you're 1200 or 2900, playing with a stable connection is basically key to bullet. As you only have one minute on your clock (or even less if you're playing hyperbullet or ultrabullet, for those crazy players out there!), any few seconds you waste can make all the difference between a win and a loss. I've been in a couple of annoying situations myself where I was in a winning position, yet disconnected and lost on time or abandonment.  So always double-check before your game that your internet is reliable. A couple of ways to see this is by checking your ping, or seeing how long it takes for you to get into live chess (it usually takes only 2-3 seconds but if it takes longer, look out!). Also, you can look at the little grey bars at the bottom of your screen, next to your username:

4 bars = good connection, very low lag

3 bars = ok connection, some lag

2 bars = poor connection, quite a bit of lag (bad for bullet!)

1 bar = you're screwed (don't play bullet unless you want to donate free points to others)

Now that we've gone over the most basic principle, here is some more deep advice that you could implement to your own mindset and chess skills.

Know your limits

Now we've all had that feeling when you win a streak of, say, 8 games, and you feel pretty hyped. This is exactly the time when you should stop playing. The more you play, the worse you get. Of course, 5-10 games can't do you much harm and could merely be used as a method of warming up, but when you're playing 50 games in an entire sitting? Not as good. As you begin to play for longer and longer, your brain starts to muddle things up and gets tired, which increases your chances of blundering, hanging pieces, losing on time, et cetera. If you really wanted to play a lot or "grind" to a certain rating threshold, the idea is fine. However, you should take a break every few games or so (I would recommend around 5-10 games). Get up from your seat, take a small walk, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, whatever. Just relax for a bit before going back to playing. Playing extensively for a long time can affect your mood too, as if you lose continually game after game you would start to feel quite hot and pretty frustrated inside, and start doing silly things like cursing at your laptop or smashing your mouse (at least, that's what I do ). When playing any fast time control, know your limits. The overall thing to learn from this is not to play too much at once - rather, you should divide your playing time into smaller sections for maximum effect.  

Poor guy. Look carefully!

Time control

Since bullet is one of the fastest time controls, you need to manage your time wisely. Some people go by the 20 | 40 | 40 rule, using 20% of your time in the opening, 40% in the middlegame and another 40 in the endgame. However, this rule is simply too slow for bullet chess. Instead, I would imply the 5 | 25 | 70 rule. In the opening stage, you can basically rattle off well known theory in only a matter of seconds. Usually many bullet players will emerge into the middlegame having used only a couple of seconds on their clock. For beginners, this is a test to see how much opening theory you remember. Just a note that you should not spend more than 3 seconds on a single move in the opening stage. When you reach the middlegame, positions become more complex, and require some degree of quick calculation and strategic planning. Of course, there is no such thing as "strategic play" in bullet. It's basically "so my knight gonna go there and my rooks gonna double on the open file, then we penetrate on the 7th rank, bam bam bam". Planning should only takes microseconds as you should have a "sense" towards the positions you are faced with. Remember also not to blast everything out in premoves, as your opponent may make mouseslips or hang pieces. Slow down, take a quick sweep of the board. This should take you no more than a second or so. In the middlegame, you should use no more than 7-8 seconds on a single move. When we get down to 30 seconds, every small bit of time advantage that you have is basically like a pawn's worth in a classical position. Time is crucial in bullet chess; even more crucial than a material advantage. Finally, when we get into the endgame, you should make moves quickly too, but spend more time here. Make checks if you can, even if they are incorrect, as your opponent will be forced to stall with their plan and follow yours. Most endgames are won by time and not skill, so there's no need to shove 50 pages of Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual down your opponent's throat. Some positions require knowledge though, and it is useful to learn some basic endgame principles before you charge into battle.

Never be intimidated

No matter how strong your opponent it, at the end of the day, it's night.

Don't listen to the quote, it's just a bit of rubbish .

This principle is quite self-explanatory. Never be intimidated by how formidable your opponent is. It's quite hard to do, but once you get used to playing higher rated players, you will gradually cease to be scared of even those grandmasters. And also a tip, never, never, NEVER, abort a game. It shows cowardliness and unsportsmanship behaviour. You can get restricted by constantly aborting games against players whom you don't want to play. You can, and you will. Aborting only a couple of games for some reasonable excuse like your network connection (which is somewhat unacceptable if you read the first paragraph of this blog!) is fine, but constantly aborting games is a major problem. 

Resignation does not exist in bullet!

Why would you ever even want to resign in bullet?! It's pure madness! Unless your position is so hopeless you cannot even salvage the slimmest of chances, then resigning should never come to your mind during a match. Even when down a queen, miracles may occur in bullet games. Stalemate, flagging, blunders, overlooked checkmates, the list goes on! Especially against lower rated players. Here is one of my bullet games where I blundered a piece early on but even managed to score the full point:

So in general, just don't resign! Play on, no matter what. Unless this happens:
 Or this:

In which case, you're simply screwed. Only then is it time to resign. 

A meme to conclude a somewhat dull blog post!

The future is two turns ago, old man | Are Ya Winning, Son? | Know Your Meme

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. It was mostly words, but hopefully it wasn't too boring! Please comment down below if you liked it. Next blog coming soon!