Nakamura bullet advice

Jan 9, 2013, 2:41 PM |

In bullet, there is allways hope (e.g. a mouseslip may allways happen!)

time is important in bullet, but checkmate is even more important

However, If a quick mate is unlikely, time is decisive

In bullet, trying to think may lead to a mistake

In bullet, time is a key element in almost every position: it can be correct to trade material for a few seconds on the clock

Speed wins games, but moving too fast costs points

The initiative is essential in bullet. Who can create threats is better.

"It is essential not so much to decide on the right move to make, but rather to assess the position with sufficient accuracy so that you don't miss a critical moment, where only the best move will do."

In order to be successful in simplified positions, one has to always be looking for the most direct counterplay while avoiding simple tactics. If no tactic comes to mind right away, moves like checks and passed pawn advances should be played instantly.

"... a fatal mistake in bullet - he became i nterested in the position"

"... in bullet spending [10 seconds or more]  on a non-critical move is the equivalent of dropping a piece."

"... it is important to be alert and take advantage of the opportunity to create the irresistible mating threats which make time considerations secondary."

"Pre-moving is ... the most important technical feature of online bullet chess" "Pre-moving itself is very simple and intuitive. All you do is input your move when it i s your opponent's turn to move. If the move is legal once your opponent has moved, it will be made almost instantly (commonly in a tenth of a second). If it is not legal, the premove is cancelled and nothing will happen."

"In many bullet games ... a time advantage of ten or more seconds definitely the equivalent of a significant material advantage, such as an extra piece or more."

Safe pre-moves: only moves, recaptures (if capture is not made, recapture is invalid and won't be played; not that a capture is a much riskier premove: if the piece is no longer there, your premove may become a comic blunder)

"Simple recaptures are therefore almost always safe pre-moves which should be made as a matter of course - even when the opponent's capture is unlikely."

Semi-safe premoves: work against reasonable replies, but a kamikaze atack may win a piece "The best players play semi-safe premoves frequently. They play the odds. Often the odds are pretty good. When you capture an opposing piece, it's likely your opponent will recapture it."

"Bullet brings out the child in us." Old mistakes and fears will resurface.

"Keeping in mind that the goal in the opening isn't to win outright (although it's nice to have that possibility), but rather to gain an advantage on the board or on the clock, it's often best to play sharp, semisound sidelines."

"... trappy opening play is more likely to succeed in bullet", "A move which sets a trap that has a small chance of working, but which is otherwise good, or even playable, is usually worth playing."

If your oponent spots the trap but spent 5 seconds or more, the trap has given you compensation.

"The initiative may come at a price, but that price is very often worth paying."

bullet openings: openings that are objectively so bad that they can only be played in bullet. (i.e., 1.h4 is !? in bullet, if you have studied it. You will play a familiar position, he will be in the wild. He may also get angry or overconfident.) Play bullet openings if you find it fun. When defending, play sensibly, do not fall for the angry/overconfident trap.

"The principled response to such openings (1.h4, 1... h5) is to seek activity in the center, even if this means surrendering material.

pawns may not be worth the time it takes to defend them

"the three basic approaches to an unorthodox opening: accommodate it by showing it some respect; ignore it and hope it blows itself up; or try to refute it by strong, aggressive moves." You can mix a bit of these three, too.

"White plays as one should against a bullet opening. He doesn't completely ignore Black's kingside pawns, but neither does he obsess on them and try to punish Black. Instead, White simply develops his pieces and builds up in the center."

"... he achieved a decisive advantage without having to find any particularly difficult moves. All he did was to let his opponent violate the basic principles of good chess, while refusing to become flustered or take too long trying to refute his opponent's suspect play."

"The most extreme example of a "bullet opening" is the king attack, which consists not of attacking the opponent's king (which is often a good idea) , but rather inducing the opponent to attack your king (which is usually not a good idea)." (i.e. 1... f6, 2... Kf7, etc)

"The hope is that the opponent will be so offended by the insulting opening that he will either attack irrationally (and unsuccessfully!), ruining his position in the process, or run short of time looking for mate." "King attacks have claimed any number of victims, and it is a big mistake to underestimate the dangers of the opening, especially on the clock."

"When the ... idea behind an opening is to gain a time advantage, it's as much fun to frustrate your opponent's design by playing quickly as it is to refute the adversary's deep strategic plan in tournament chess."

"White's success in this game stems mainly from his blind faith in development. Rather than take time to think, White just played a series of natural moves without worrying unduly about just what they might accomplish. It is often faster to let your opponent worry about that. Then White opened the position ..."

"it is almost always good to make an attacking move, because then the opponent has to respond, which uses up time."

In bullet the test is not "is it sound?" but rather "will it work?"

...detractors of bullet (those who can't think fast enough to play it)...

Since success in bullet is often associated with dragging your opponent into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, excess is often a virtue rather than a vice.

The key to success in bullet is to put your opponent under constant pressure, which might be as good a definition of the "initiative" in chess as you will get. The most direct way of doing so is by making tactical threats against your opponent's king.

In bullet chess, knights tend to be more useful than rooks except in positions with multiple open files.

 "...the superiority of a rook over a knight or bishop tends to be less in the middlegame and greater in the endgame. The difference in bullet, though, is that games often don't get to the ending."

Trading whatever material or positional advantage you might have for an attack can both speed up the finish to the game and put the opponent in time trouble.

where there is no obvious attacking possibility, it is essential to play fast... e.g. decide on a plan and follow it through to its conclusion

strategic focus: finding a clear strategic plan and following it, without being distracted by the details of what is happening on the board. The game might last longer than it would otherwise because of missed tactical opportunities, but strategic focus will help you play more quickly, and that's important too.

in bullet a single idea can often bring victory.

A familiarity with standard tactical patterns often pays dividends in bullet. If one player sees a familiar pattern coming and the other doesn't, the game can end quickly.

 Nimzovich taught us that "the threat is worse than the execution," and in bullet that is often true. The opponent might find a defense to a direct attack, but a move that sets up multiple threats can cause paralysis, which is fatal in bullet.

a bullet player who is significantly ahead on time should simplify and deaden the position and run the opponent out of time.

"rich men don't pick quarrels." If you are far ahead on time, simplify the position as much as you can and don't start unnecessary fights

even a "lost" theoretical ending may be winning: If there isn't enough time to convert an advantage, then there really is no advantage

If you're significantly ahead on time, trade pieces and try to get to an ending.

Conversely, if you're significantly behind on time, keep the pieces on the board and play for complications.


The principles of simplification apply even if the resulting position is objectively bad. A "losing" ending is a win if the opponent runs out of time and you have even one pawn left.

Because time is almost always a factor by the time an ending is reached, much of what you know about endings will no longer apply . . . .

 From "Bullet Chess: one minute to mate"