As a staffer on a prominent chess server for many years, I have seen a lot of people asking what exactly denotes bullet (sometimes called lightning), blitz, and standard time controls. Hopefully, this article will help clear things up a bit. Some servers may vary but on the biggies like ICC and FICS, these are the time control breakdowns.
Bullet is any time control up to 2/1, which is a two-minute game with one second added per move (known as increment). Therefore, a game that is 2/2 (two-minutes with two second increment) would qualify as blitz. The most popular bullet/lightning time control is 1/0 (one-minute straight up, no increment).
Blitz is any time control from 2/2 on up to 14/0. Now it can get a little complicated, here. 14/0 would be blitz, but 14/9 would qualify as standard chess because the nine-second increment can cause the game to go longer than fifteen minutes per side. Some popular internet blitz time controls are 3/0, 3/2, 5/0, 10/0, and 2/12.
Standard is any game that is fifteen minutes or longer per side. 15/0 is by far the most popular standard chess time control on the internet, but all manner of other standard games are played. 15/10 is also popular, as is 20/20 and 30/30. For those who like a longer game (usually tournament chess players), 45/45 is gaining popularity with the help of the Team 4545 Leauge: http://team4545league.org/index.html. They provide monthly tournaments that are a heck of a lot of fun if you like slow chess.
If you play or plan on playing rated over the board (OTB) events, I do not recommend 15/0 as a training tool. The USCF counts anything up to thirty minutes as ‘quick chess’ (basically, blitz) and so 15/0 isn’t going to prepare you for a six-hour slugfest. I recommend at least 15/10, but longer is always better. 60/0 is gaining traction in the USCF, so keep that in mind if you play on the ‘net for training purposes.
I hope this article clears some things up for a few users who are unclear about internet chess and time controls. It’s nice to be informed when placing or accepting seeks. If you have friends who are new to internet chess, bookmark this page and forward the link to them.
Good games, all!