04 June 2015

The Nature of Bullet

Speed kills. The faster moves are made, the more likely they will be errors. Even so, finding tactical combinations in an instant seems to be a skill of strong players. Can very fast games, even bullet chess (less than three minutes for the game), be useful in training pattern recognition?

Although I usually avoid bullet chess, sometimes I go on a binge. The past few weeks, I have long sessions of 2 1 bullet of several hours each. This time control is slow bullet. A game lasting sixty moves is the same time control as fast blitz--a game in three minutes. These binges are often a futile quest for a rating goal. Last night, I wanted to get my rating back over 1500 after having been near 1700 before a string of losses. A couple mornings ago, the goal was to get my rating over 1600. That took half a dozen games.

Five years ago, my bullet rating on Chess.com was over 2100. The website made some adjustments in the formula to compensate for rating inflation, and it fell quickly. I'm usually in the mid-1600s, which puts me about the 95th percentile.

I am not very good at bullet. My reflexes are slow and I drop pieces on the wrong square. Most often, though, I make horrid moves. Nonetheless, I play better when I look at the board as a puzzle rather than questing for rating. Rating gains are a product of focus. To achieve a rating goal, the efforts must be directed at playing the board.

I am reviewing my bullet games. Some of them have tactics that are useful for creating problems for beginning and intermediate youth players. The tactics in my bullet games are less complex than in master games.

Last night, I had a nice position and understood the correct approach. Without time to calculate, however, I missed some key elements and dropped most of my attacking pieces.

White to move

30.Qe6+ Kg7 31.Rf7+ Rxf7 32.Rxf7+ Kh8

White to move


Okay, my move is not terrible. I'm still winning. But I missed a simple checkmate in three that I've seen in dozens of tactical problems.

33.Rxh7+! Kxh7 34.Qxg6+ Kh8 35.Qh7#.

33...Nc7 34.Bg7+ 

34.Rxh7+ was possible still.

34...Kg8 35.Rf8+ Kxg7 36.Qg8+ Kh6

White to move


The mate in six was perhaps a little complicated for bullet:

37.Bxg6 Bc5+ (37...Qxf8 38.Qxh7#) 38.Kf1 Qxh4 (38...Qxf8+ 39.Bf7 Qxg8 40.Nf5#) 39.Qxh7+ Kg5 40.Ne4+ Kg4 41.Qxh4+ Kxh4 42.Rf4#.

On the other hand, the simple 37.Rxd8 at least retains the advantage.

37...Qxf8 0–1

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