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Bughouse games are extremely dynamic. The position never simplifies since
captured pieces are constantly being recycled. Draws are unheard of. Many of
the strategies used in the japanese form of chess, shogi, apply:
- King safety is paramount, so don't leave weak squares next to your king.
This applies in particular to KB2. Diagonal weaknesses are prey to dropped
- Contact checks and knight checks are best, so your opponent cannot drop a
piece to interpose. This makes the knight a very powerful piece, often worth
more than a rook.
- Drop pawns near the back rank, so they can promote quickly. Pawns are
quite useful for dropping in, to attack and to defend. It is illegal,
however, to drop pawns directly on the first or last rank.
- Always keep some pieces held in reserve, rather than dropping them in for
no reason. "A knight in the hand is worth two on the board."
- Be on the lookout for sacrifices to create weakness. The game ending
combination often starts with a blitz of sacrifice drops to lure the king out
of hiding, and ends with a mating net.
Bughouse chess is known by many names and has many of its own "special" terms
and strategies, just as regular chess does. Before attempting to play
bughouse, you should attempt to learn a fair bit of both. Just like real
chess, it is better to learn through study than by experience!
Please note that some of this may not be especially common in real life, but
is used quite often here on FICS.
- Placing pieces into your opponents position on squares that cause him
or her untold discomfort; used as "You got injected!"
- : Traditional FICS bughouse battle cries; one partner shouts
"spooooon!!" and his partner replies "nooooooooodle"
- Placing two pawns side by side on the seventh rank and promoting them;
used as "I themed you!"
- Used to express confidence in the defensive resources of your position;
used as "I'm rock here"
- Parachute, DoubleBlitz, Doublespeed, Siamese, Chok, Tjak, Choke chess:
synonyms for bughouse chess in various parts of the world.
- attempting to bother your opponent by projected a painful stream of
babble across his or her screen; as in "I'm being annoyified!"
The above should at least ensure that you aren't completely confused when you
start bughouse and your opponents start kibitzing at you. Now we move on to
general strategy, followed by opening theory.
The above tips will get you started. Here are some advanced tips on
AVOID leaving any holes in your position. In real chess, it may take a while
for your opponent to maneuver a good piece to occupy a hole. In bughouse, any
hole can be occupied immediately. This rule basically makes fianchettoing out
of the question for either side, as fianchettos can be easily occupied with
pawns. For example after 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 white can place a pawn on h6
already, followed by another on g7 and then white can start shouting "Inject!"
The main difference regarding holes in bughouse is that you also have to
avoid leaving holes on your SECOND rank. The main effect of this is to
eliminate the Sicilian and Queens Gambit from bughouse, as both openings leave
holes on the c-file. For example, after 1.e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nb5 a6 white
can place a pawn on c7 and win blacks queen already! This applies to the f-
file as well. A sample game once went 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.h4 d5 4.f3?? and
black placed a pawn on f2 with mate!
Reinfeld said it best: in bughouse, never move any pawns except the e and d
pawns. (Well, maybe he didn't say it about bughouse!)
This is the key concept of bughouse. A common saying is "As long as he's in
check, I'm winning". Often, new bughouse players are lured by the prospect of
winning material instead of continuing attack. While this may help your
partner in the short run, you and your partner will both be more comfortable
if you are attacking. The best way to attack is through checks that have to
be met with a King move. To accomplish this, checks should either be done
with knights (which cant be blocked) or with "contact" checks (placing a piece
within one square of the king).
Once attacking, communication with your partner becomes crucial. You must
tell him which pieces you need to finish your opponent off, and often, it is a
good idea to warn your partner that you are about to begin sacrificing pieces
to ensure that he is not under attack first. On occasion, your attack leads
to your partner getting mated!
This is one you dont see in real chess. However in bughouse, without
teamwork you will be cooked. Use the FICS command "ptell" to tell your partner
details of your position. Even if you have nothing specific to say, letting
your partner know if you are rock or injected can help him or her make
decisions about what to do. Clock information is also quite good to tell your
partner. This is as a result of another key bughouse technique: the stall.
- The Stall:
In bughouse, you often need a certain piece to mate with. It is perfectly
acceptable to wait and hope your partner gets it to you. However, stalling
occurs more commonly when you are being mated by force. You realize that if
you move, you are mated in one. Therefore, you simply decide not to move and
let your partner try to win the game. Naturally, for this to work, you must
have more time than your partner's opponent, or he will also refuse to move
and you will flag first.
Another element of stalling is if you know your opponent needs a certain
piece to mate you, and your partner tells you that it will come to your
opponent next move. It is good strategy to tell your partner not to move
until your opponent moves, so that your opponent will be forced to move
without that piece. Again, unless your partner has more time than your
opponent, this will not work, as your partner will flag.
Please note that there is currently a bug in timeseal that affects bughouse:
you cannot flag someone with timeseal until they move, so theoretically, they
can stall forever and not be flagged. "Sealsitting" is unethical and
frustrating. If you have timeseal and are trying to stall, once you are out
of time, the accepted practice is to move or resign. Not doing so will cause
a great deal of ill will. However, it is not currently considered abuse.
- Piece Values:
Most serious chess players are familiar with the Piece Value Table: Q=9,
R=5, B and N=3, P=1. In bughouse however, the values are completely different.
While there is no general consensus on bughouse values, here is an
Q=10, N=7, R=4, B=2, P=1
The knight and queen rule the bughouse chessboard. The queen often can be
placed into a position with mate. The knight is useful as well because it can
check from a distance and not be blocked. Many bughouse mating attacks begin
with a sacrifice on KB7 followed by a knight check. For example, after 1.e4
e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ng5+ all white needs is a
queen for f7 and black will get mated. The bishops value is seriously
diminished, as it often performs no better than a pawn, and sometimes not even
as well. The pawns promotion abilities may in some positions be worth
significantly more than a bishop.
The general strategy of bughouse is for the partner with white to go for
mate, and the partner with black to try to hold it together. Black attempts
to exchange pieces to reduce his opponents attack, while strengthening his
partner's. White therefore, attempts to keep pieces on the board to ensure
attacking chances. Often in bughouse, space advantages built on pawns can
reach epic proportions for white, so black would rather have fewer pieces to
try and rearrange in the face of oncoming pawns.
These rules are obviously meant to be general. However, understanding and
utilizing them will help you play much better bughouse chess!
- Opening Theory:
Yes, sadly bughouse has some opening theory. However, most of it is very
short, as new pieces appearing on the board begin to mess up opening
plans! Mainly, there are two or three defenses black can try, and white
generally attacks in one or two ways in response.
White - White generally positions his pieces to attack the kingside, and
especially the square f7. This may involve Bc4, Ng5, Ne5 or any similar
methods. A common development scheme used is e4, d4, Bc4, Be3, Nf3, Nbd2,
Qe2, known by some as the "Mongolian Attack". Please notice that white does
not castle in this line. In fact, castling is generally bad in bughouse. It
restrains your king to one side of the board, thus restricting it's ability to
escape from enemy pieces. This rule also applies to black. White may also
play for massive central pawn advances, attempting black to either open the
position so that white can attack, or force black to lock the pawn chain in
the center so that white can build a long pawn chain into the center and into
blacks position. This would work best against a fianchetto. For example, 1.e4
g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.e5 and white attempts to place pawns on f6, g7 and inject black
Black - I have seen several defenses for black. I will list them by the
names I have seen them referred to on FICS, although serious bughouse
players may know them by other names in real life.
Federkevic defense: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 b6 - Black attempts to keep his pieces out
of the center, where they may be rolled back by white pawns. He also leaves
the dpawn on d7, where it may support e6, preventing sacrifices. The drawback
is that black may get injected along the queenside light squares.
Barbeau Counter Attack: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 Qh4 - Black pressures e4 and attempts
to force white to adopt an awkward development to protect the e4 pawn. For
example, after 2.Nc3, 2...Bb4! exchanges a bishop for a knight. The drawback
is that white often munches blacks queen in the opening.
Fortress Defense: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d6 - Black attempts to simply huddle in the
center behind a wall of pieces and pawns. By far the most common bughouse
opening. The drawback is that black will be cramped, but black is always
cramped in bughouse, so this is probably your best bet!
Bughouse is much more informal than regular chess and all four players
generally kibitz about both games while they are on. Oftentimes, observers
watch and kibitz along with the games. However, come into channel 24 and see
for yourself. A good way to see some of the principles above put into action
is to ask in channel 24 if anyone is playing, and then watch their games.
Only then will you get a sense of what fun bughouse is! Happy bugging!
[Strategy written by IanO; Advanced strategy written by dogdog; editted by
Friar - December 17, 1995]
See also: bughouse
Next: help channel
Up: Informational Files
Klaus Knopper <email@example.com>