Bughouse (or siamese chess) is a variant of chess played between two player
teams on two separate boards. The special feature of the game is that pieces
you capture are transferred to your partner, who is playing with the opposite
color pieces from yourself. He may "drop" such a piece on an empty square as
a subsequent move in his game. Bughouse games have a separate rating.
STARTING A BUGHOUSE MATCH
1. Find a user who is available for a bughouse partnership with the "bugwho
2. Select a partner with the "partner" command
3. Find an opponent team. Use the Bughouse channel (channel 24) or the
"bugwho p" command.
4. One of your team challenges the desired opponent on the other team to a
When the match is accepted and all four players are present, then two games
are initiated simultaneously: one between the challenger and the challengee
with the desired colors, and one between the other partners, with colors
opposite from their partners. The same time control applies to both boards,
though "moretime" can be used independently on each board. Each player is
notified of the game number of their partner's game, so he may observe it as
well as playing in his own game.
During bughouse play, you will be periodically notified when your partner
passes you captured pieces. You will be told the type of piece that was
passed, and the set of pieces that you are currently holding. You are also
notified when your opponent's holdings change. Both player's holdings are
displayed whenever your board position is refreshed. Strength assessment
takes held pieces into account, not just pieces on the board.
A special move notation is needed to drop one of your held pieces onto the
board. The notation for making a drop is "P@fr", where P is a piece you are
holding [PNBRQ] and "fr" is the empty destination square. Example: "n@f5"
would drop a knight on square f5.
You may talk to your partner during a bughouse match. It is recommended to
set up convenient aliases for common messages, such as "I need a knight!!",
"Don't give him a bishop!", and "Are you out of your mind?!". The "ptell"
command is used for this purpose; only your partner will hear a ptell.
The match is finished when one player is checkmated, resigns, or is flagged.
At that point, *both* games end and the bughouse ratings of *all* match
players are adjusted, whether or not the team result was because of their
game. A draw request should be made and accepted at *both* boards before the
match is ended as a draw [a near impossibility].
Note that checkmate is defined differently: there must be no *possibility* of
avoiding checkmate by a drop interposition. Even if your opponent is
currently holding no pieces that he can drop in order to avoid mate, he/she
may later get a piece from his/her partner and use it to interpose the check.
Thus, only contact and knight checks can give a "decisive" checkmate (meaning
that no interposition or drops are ever possible).
For notes on strategy in bughouse chess, see the "bughouse_strat" help file.
Observers should observe both games in order to see the full match. You can
observe your partner's game using several commands: follow, observe, pfollow
or pobserve. Pfollow and pobserve are special commands especially for
bughouse games, so become familiar with them.
Kibitzes and whispers go to observers (and players) of *both* games even if
you are observing only one game. Observers will also be notified of pieces
transferred to each player's reserves. (Note that kibitz can be used as a
shortcut to tell your partner something if you don't mind your opponents
hearing it. It also makes the game more exciting for the observers.) A "say"
will go to your opponent, as well as to your partner and your partner's
o Pawns cannot be dropped onto your first or eighth ranks, although they may
be dropped onto the seventh rank and promoted on the next move.
o Pieces that had been promoted revert to pawns when captured and passed to
o Your partner variable is not saved between logins. Use the "partner"
command to get a partner after you log on.
o Bughouse is not be supported by all interfaces. Contact the author of your
interface to determine if you can play bughouse with it. If an interface
relies on the board position rather than moves, things should generally
work out. No new styles have been added to support bughouse.
o Because bughouse is such a nonstandard type of play, there are a number of
commands that are not applicable to a bughouse game:
1. Adjournments and disconnections end both games and the match cannot be
resumed. (This leaves a lot of room for abuse, but hey, bughouse is
just for fun, guys!) The "adjourn" command is disabled during play.
2. Simul commands cannot be used for bughouse games. [FDA regulation to
avoid frying the brains of the participants. :) ]
3. "Takeback" is disabled (for now). At best, takeback would work only
on noncapture moves (including drops) in order to avoid having to take
held pieces away from the other game.
4. "Switch" is disabled (for now).
5. "Moves", "oldmoves", "mailmoves", and "mailoldmoves" do work during a
game, but they now break the PGN format, which doesn't allow drops.
Moves are shown as "P/@@-fr" and "P@fr" in the old and PGN formats.
Only moves and drops are recorded, not changes to a player's holdings.
Theoretically, knowing the duration of each move in both games allows
you to reconstruct the holdings as well.
6. Except for commands that terminate a game or involve certain forms of
communication, commands affect only one of the two games in a bughouse
o You may find it useful to create a bughouse alias such as 'alias bug match
$@ 2 12' so that "bug user_name" is all you would need to type in order to
match user_name to a bughouse game having 2 12 time controls.
o To help you form bughouse partnerships and bughouse matches, a special
channel is available: channel 24 -- Bughouse channel. To enter this
channel, type "+channel 24".
bughouse_strat bugwho channel channel_list examine
match partner pfollow pobserve ptell
ratings say set v_bugopen variables
Created: 24 January 1998 Friar
Last Modified: 27 February 2008 mhill