From Chesspedia, the Free Chess Encyclopedia.

Bughouse chess

Bughouse Chess

Players: 4
Age range:
Setup time: 1 minute
Playing time: Usually 6-10 minutes
Rules complexity: Medium
Strategy depth: High
Random chance: None/small
Skills required: Chess strategy, Blitz chess

Bughouse Chess (also called sometimes Double Chess, Siamese Chess, Double Bug, Tandem Chess or Transfer Chess) is a chess variant played with two teams of two people with two chess boards.

Team members sit beside each other playing opposite colors. Each player plays his opponent as in a standard chess game except that when pieces are captured they are given to the teammate. The teammate can then decide to place the captured piece almost anywhere on the board in place of a regular move (as in shogi). Team members have to work together, and against a clock, to win. The first board to lose decides the match and if a draw occurs on one board the entire game is a draw.

There are two main variants of Bughouse Chess: Bughouse and Tandem Chess. The main difference is that in Tandem Chess, one cannot use pieces to check or to mate. Also, in Tandem Chess one cannot place pawns on the 1st, 7th or 8th rows if playing white or on the 1st, 2nd, or 8th rows if playing black. In Bughouse anyone can drop any piece anywhere except for pawns on the 1st or 8th row.

Both Bughouse and Tandem Chess use chess clocks to prevent players from waiting indefinitely for a piece (waiting for pieces is considered perfectly acceptable, see Bughouse strategy below). Tandem Chess is usually played with 5 minutes per player, and Bughouse 3.

Though opinions vary about this, it is generally accepted that at least some form of discussion between teammates is allowed. Any Bughouse variant allows players to ask their partners to capture a specific piece for them.

Bughouse strategy

One of the main ingredients of any bughouse game is time. It is not uncommon for one player to completely stop moving because he knows that any move he makes will result in him getting mated the next move. It is even possible for this to happen on both boards. For example: I am one move away from checkmating my opponent, so he is not moving. However, my teammate is also not moving because any move on his part will result in checkmate. The game now turns into a game of sitting, called a 'Sitzkrieg' (German for Sitting War). The game is now decided by whether my teammate or my opponent has the most time left on their clock, because if either runs out of time he will be forced to move and will immediately lose.

Another very important aspect of Bughouse is player communication. It is customary amongst weaker players to announce any big gains, losses or trades ("rook in 3!", "queen trade!") and to ask for specific pieces while listing their result ("pawn is rook!"). If you do not do this you might very well find that your partner loses because he was unable to plan ahead for any incoming pieces. Stronger players, however, have a finely tuned habit and ability to observe both boards simultaneously, rendering most explicit communication unnecessary and redundant.

Pieces in bughouse have different values to that in chess. Their approximate values are as follows (keep in mind however that initiative or good defensive position is more important than material):

  • knight - 2 pawns
  • bishop - 2 pawns
  • rook - 2 pawns
  • queen - 4 pawns, 2 pieces

External links