NonVi Games

Attack or Defend--Choose One!

In bughouse, you can either attack well or defend well. Unlike regular chess, you can't really do both. You have to decide which you want to do, then set your plans accordingly (and swiftly!)


If you decide to attack, you need to attack decisvely. You can't commit some pieces, then try to back off and regroup if you don't win. A successful attack has to be carried through, no matter what the cost. In a typical attack, you will be sacking pieces as needed to break through your opponent's defenses. Your partner needs to feed you pieces steadily, so it is best if they are prepared as well. Remember the cardinal rule in asking for pieces, though: if you say "X for game" then your partner is justified in sacking everything up to and including a queen to get you the piece you asked for. So if you call it, you better a) have the move and b) really be able to mate your opponent.

What happens if you stop your attack? If your partner has been feeding you pieces at a decent rate, then chances are good that your opponent has a stack of unused pieces in his hand. You may not have very good board position, and your defenses may not be up to a sustained assault. Your opponent gets to turn the tables and attack you. At this point, you stand a reasonable chance of getting mated.


If you are going to defend, then you need to defend fully. You shouldn't throw away pieces attacking your opponent's king (unless your opponent has lost the initiative in a failed attack against you and you are turning the tables on him). When you are defending, think fortress, and think mutually supporting pieces.


The basic idea of the fortress is to put enough pieces around the king so that your opponent has to burn a lot of pieces to get to you. The more pieces he has to burn, the better the chance that your partner will win on the other board. Remember, it doesn't matter whether it is you or your partner who wins--a win on either board is still a win.

I have an entire article on the importance of the King's Bishop Pawn. If you want to protect this square, one of the easiest ways to do that is to drop a pawn on f6 for Black, or f3 for White. This keeps knights out of the prime attacking locations for that square. Of course, you still have to watch out for bishops.

If the rules you are using allow for dropping pawns onto the first rank, then you can make use of this in the fortress strategy. Sometimes, a well-placed pawn on the first rank can be very effective in shoring up your defenses. However, try to not to block in important pieces.

Mutually supporting pieces

Placing pieces so that they support each other is a good defensive strategy. Drop a bishop next to some pawns--presto, instant recapture potential. Also think about the effects of your opponent sacking against your position--can you recapture without opening up major holes in your defense? For example, if you have a nicely positioned piece with lots of attacking possibilities, but you are only defending it with your King's Bishop Pawn, then you might have a problem. If your opponent can take the piece, and you have to recapture with your King's Bishop Pawn, you are opening yourself up to an attack. If your opponent has a lot of pieces, then it could be a very strong attack.

Last updated: January 11, 2003

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