I saw wondering if it's possible to checkmate black in 3 moves by getting it to play Ke7 on move 2 but after we play e3 as the first move? If yes, then you could play e3 instead of e4 to save a bit of time. I tested it a bit, and it seems that it's only possible to get it to play d4.
From what I understand about this game, the AI has a pool of moves to choose from per move. There's a rolling timer byte that dictates the move that is chosen. The timer for this does not advance when you're holding A (among other situations) even if it's not your move.
For whatever reason Ke7 is in the pool of moves after e4 but not after e3 so I don't think a faster move route will be possible