Alberto Chueca, FIDE Trainer & International Master 
bughouse chess teammate
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What is bughouse chess?

The craziest and funniest of chess games variations is bughouse chess, undoubtedly, Or at least that I what some people think about it. For those who don’t know this mode in chess, prepare yourselves, any chess-lover will stick around with this game.

Bughouse chess is a variation of normal chess, but it’s played in teams, two versus two. This game is played with partners and is legal to talk during the game, so you both can set strategies together.

One bughouse chess game is played with two boards at the same time, and you can see your partner move right beside. Actually checking out your partner’s game is necessary or you might get him in trouble!

This is the only chess mode that I have known so far in which you play with a teammate. The normal chess rules are applied in bughouse chess but with some changes, and with a unique characteristic that makes it so fun:

Pieces are unlimited!

Yes, this chess mode never ends until someone gets checkmated or runs out of time, but how is it possible to play chess with infinite pieces?

Every time you capture a piece your partner can put it back in his chessboard! So when you capture a piece you are gaining a piece for your teammate, and so does he.

How to play bughouse chess

bughouse chess chessboard

We need to know some rules before playing it correctly and don’t recommend playing a game without knowing the rules, for your partner’s well-being.

As I said, the rules are the same as in normal chess, but here are the only three differences I mentioned before:

  • Capturing a piece: When you capture a piece you need to decide to make a normal move or (if pieces were captured by your partner) to place the piece in any square you like.
  • When a player is checkmated the whole game ends: It doesn’t matter if you were winning on your board. This is why is important to keep an eye on your teammate’s board, if he loses you lose!
  • You can talk: Normally in chess, you should play quietly, but in bughouse chess, you need to talk to your partner to set up strategies.
  • Remember I said pieces can be placed in any square of the board? This is true, the only exception is the pawn. You can place a pawn wherever except the first and eighth rank, otherwise everyone would promote instantly and it would be a mess, right?

Bughouse chess Team strategy

bughouse chess playing

No matter how good you are at regular chess, bughouse is completely different, it’s easy to fall for a trap, they are two boards now instead of one! Here are some pro tips to avoid getting destroyed in the first five moves:

  • Team play is everything: Remember, you are not alone anymore, before considering a sacrifice, consider the person beside you. You can play supporting your partner like if he needs a piece to checkmate give it to him at any cost!
  • Communicate the pieces you need and the ones you shouldn’t give up: It’s common to say “Don’t give up a queen!” probably because if your opponent got one you would get mated in one. Or maybe you are the one checkmating in one, the only thing you need is a queen so “give me a queen!
  • The time advantage and the beautiful art of sitting: In bughouse chess time advantage becomes ridiculously important because this allows you to coordinate master moves!

Say that you are can checkmate in one all you need is your partner to give you a bishop, in this situation you can “sit”. Sitting consists of waiting for your partner to give you a piece you need to win.

This is why time advantage is important, you can’t do It if you are down in time.

Let the craziness invade your chessboard!

bughouse chess checkmate

When playing bughouse chess you will feel more anxious and excited than normal about the situation of the board. Bughouse can also be a good way to relax and have a pure fun moment.

Normal chess can sometimes be a little repetitive and stressful so it’s always nice to play this kind of game one or two times.

When you add more rules or principles or conditions to your game, your brain has to consider more things than normal. This can be beneficial in two ways:

  • You have to think about more things simultaneously, this is good training for your brain. Also, is different so you play something less repetitive and monotonous to your mind.
  • Bughouse chess consists almost entirely in attacking, what a surprise and attack are what we all love! This can also allow you to discover new patterns that can be useful in regular chess.

Bughouse chess is pure fun, if you are looking for something entertaining and exciting, you should definitely try it out.

Improve your chess skills with the bughouse!

bughouse chess king

Adding different rules to chess can also be good for learning and improving, the reason is so simple.

Think about your brain as a muscle that you are training to get in shape or get strengthen. When you start training a muscle (I mean physically) you lift weight or make a physical effort.

But when you do the same thing over and over again you get used to it, to the point that no matter how much you exercise, you won’t make any progress.

The same happens in chess, remember that chess has usual patterns, like the minor attack in the exchange variation of the queen’s gambit declined. So every once In a while you have to radically change your routine and add some ideas to your game to train your mind and get the most out of training.

Otherwise, you will get used to it and you will become an automatic player, and we already know how bad automatic moves in chess are.

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🔸2 Masterclasses and 1 Online Tournament every month. According to your level of knowledge on the topics you need to move forward on.
🔸Access to recorded chess lessons, so you don’t miss anything!
🔸Access to the training area where you will have assignments weekly to keep you active!
🔸You will join the private academy, with new videos uploaded every month.

🔸Tutorials, free chess ebooks…
🔸Personal support by email for your chess questions and concerns.

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