Chess Terms

Bullet Chess

Bullet Chess

The first time chess players hear the term bullet chess, many negative things could come to mind. Various mental pictures involving guns or chess pieces shooting each other may take shape! Luckily this is not the case.


What is Bullet Chess?

Bullet chess is a variant of blitz chess. According to FIDE, blitz chess is anything that has 10 minutes or less per player. USCF has designated that blitz chess time controls are between five and 10 minutes per player. Bullet chess is faster than blitz chess!

The rules for a bullet chess game aren't different from those of a normal chess game. Bullet chess refers to games played with time controls that are faster than 3 minutes per player. The most popular forms of bullet chess are 1|0 (one minute with no increment per player) or 2|1 (two minutes with a one-second increment per player). 

Who Plays Bullet Chess?

Everyone can play bullet chess, from beginner to World Champion! According to recent data, there are over 550,000 bullet games played per day on Chess.com. That makes it the second most popular time control being played (behind blitz).

Here is an example of Chess.com's IM Danny Rensch playing a bullet game with World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Even with time odds (two minutes for Danny vs one minute for Carlsen), Carlsen is too much for Danny to handle

How To Play Bullet Chess on Chess.com

It is easy to play a game of bullet chess on Chess.com! Go to Live Chess and locate the time control pull-down menu. Click the pull-down menu and select 1 min or 2|1  for the time control.

Bullet Chess
Setting up a bullet chess game on Chess.com is super easy!

After you have selected which bullet time control you would like to play, you simply press the play button. Chess.com will then automatically pair you with another Chess.com user who is also seeking a bullet game and your match will begin. 

2019 Chess.com Bullet Championship

In 2019, the Chess.com Bullet Championship was held to crown the Chess.com bullet champion. The event had eight participants: GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Sergey Karjakin, Federico Perez Ponsa, Olexandr Bortnyk and Alireza Firouzja – a star-studded field of top players!  Nakamura won the event after defeating the young phenom Firouzja in round 1, Aronian in round 2 and Bortnyk in the final.

Hikaru Nakamura 2019 Bullet Chess Champion

Conclusion

Bullet chess is fun to watch and to play! It has been suggested that the faster a time control is the lower the quality of the game. This may be true, but the rush one gets from playing (or watching) bullet chess is difficult to match. Pre-moves, unusual and offbeat openings, blunders and other craziness define this wonderful chess variant.

As a parting note, bullet chess already has its own variant - giant bullet chess! It is the same rules as a normal bullet game, but instead of playing online or using normal-sized pieces you use giant pieces. Submitted for your amusement, here is IM Danny Rensch playing GM Vachier-Lagrave in a giant bullet chess game:

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