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Bughouse Rules

Bughouse is an outrageously fun team game in which one partner plays White and the other plays Black. As a player captures an opponent's piece, that captured piece is passed to the partner. The partner can either make a regular chess move, or place any one of the pieces passed by the partner anywhere on the board! (well, almost anwhere - there are certain rules to follow that we go over in class). To add to the excitement, Bughouse is played with clocks at a quick pace (5 minutes) and players are allowed to TALK!! In fact, you have to talk in order to effectively communicate strategies with your partner. Of course, your opponents might overhear you and plan their counter strategy. So you could whisper, or even talk in secret codes! But you can't hide captured pieces - they have to stay out in the open where everyone can see them. Not fair pulling a rook out from under your beard! These rules and others are contained in he official USCF Bughouse Rules 5th Edition, which will be posted on the walls for Bughouse events. It was interesting to note, during Grandmaster Nigel Davies' recent instructional clinics, that he greatly encouraged Bughouse as a tool for developing the imagination.

IMPORTANT! Because of the high level of noise, Bughouse will be played only on pre-advertised Bughouse tournament days (normally around Halloween, plus or minus a week, and sometimes at other times during the year).

BUGHOUSE RULES (adapted from )

1. Number of Players - There are exactly two players on a team; they are called 'team members,' 'partners' or 'pardners' (Texas only). No substitutions of players are allowed at any time during the tournament. Ya dances with the pardner what brought ya. A Tournament can have many competing teams.

2. Bughouse Game - A 'Bughouse Game' matches one team member against one opponent, and the other team member against that opponent's partner. Play is conducted by the four players on two regulation chess boards, each starting from the normal chess starting position, with white moving first and each using a chess clock (digital takes precedence over analog). One partner plays White; the other Black.  The first checkmate or time forfeit on either board ends the Game. If either partner on a team wins their board, then their team wins the Game. Just as in regular chess, there are multiple Games (rounds) per tournament.

3. Colors - For each Game, the team decides which partner is to play white and which is to play black. Once a Game is started, partners may not switch boards (and although you can always give advice to your partner, you cannot touch your partner's pieces).

4. Time control - The time control is Game in 5 minutes. Use 2 second delay when possible.

5. Bring a clock- Each team is responsible for providing a clock. If a team does not have a clock and their opponents do have a clock, the team without a clock forfeits. If neither team has a clock then both teams forfeit.

6. Completion of Move - If a player's hand has released a piece then that move cannot be changed, unless it is an illegal move. A move is not Completed until the piece is released AND the clock is pressed. If the clock has not been pressed then the opponent may not move (this is under review)

8. Illegal moves lose, if they are caught before the next move is made. I. If an opponent makes a move and starts the opponent's clock, they have forfeited the right to claim that illegal move. II. Before play begins both players should inspect the position of the pieces and the setting of the clock, since once each side has made a move all claims for correcting either are null and void. The only exception is if one or both players have more than five minutes on their clock, then the tournament director may reduce the time accordingly. III. Illegal moves, unnoticed by both players, cannot be corrected afterwards, nor can they become the basis for later making an illegal move claim. If the King and Queen are set up incorrectly when the game begins, then you may castle short on the queen side and castle long on the kingside. Once each side has made a move, incorrect setups must stay.

9. Passing pieces - When a piece is captured, the captured piece is passed to the partner only after the move is completed (opponent’s clock is started).

10. Placing or moving pieces- A player has the option of either moving one of their pieces on their board or placing a piece their teammate has captured and passed to them. I. A captured piece may be placed on any unoccupied square on the board, with the exception that a pawn may not be placed on the first or last rank. II. Pieces may be placed to create or interpose check or checkmate. (under review - some variants do not allow "drop mates") III. A promoted pawn, which has been captured, reverts to a pawn and not the promoted piece.

11. Displaying captured pieces- A player may not attempt to hide pieces captured by their partner from the opponent. The first attempt will be a warning and the second attempt will result in forfeiture of the game.

12. Communicating allowed- Partners may verbally communicate throughout a game. It is legal for one partner to make move suggestions to the other partner. It is illegal and grounds for forfeiting the match if one partner physically moves one of their partner's pieces.

13. Clock Hand- Each player must push the clock button with the same hand they use to move their pieces. Exception: only during castling may a player use both hands. When capturing only one hand may be used. The first infraction will get a warning, the second a one minute penalty and the third will result in the loss of the game.

14. Touching a Clock- Except for pushing the clock button neither player should touch the clock except: I. To straighten it; II. If either player knocks over the clock his opponent gets one minute added to their clock; III. If your opponent's clock does not begin you may push their side down and repunch your side; however, if this procedure is unsatisfactory, please call for a director; IV. Each player must always be allowed to push the clock after their move is made. Neither player should keep their hand on or hover over the clock.

15. Define a win- A game is won by the player: I. who has mated their opponent's king; II. If the checking piece is not a knight or is not in contact (on an adjacent square) with the defending king and the defending player does not have any material to block the check, the defending player may wait until his or her partner supplies a piece provided their time does not run out. III. whose opponent resigns; IV. whose opponent's flag falls first, at any time before the game is otherwise ended, provided he/she points it out and neutralizes the clock while their own flag is still up; V. who, after an illegal move, takes the opponent's king or stops the clock; VI. an illegal move doesn't negate a player's right to claim on time, provided he/she does so prior to their opponent's claim of an illegal move. If the claims are simultaneous, the player who made the illegal move loses.

16. Defining a draw- A game is a draw: I. By agreement between the teams during the game only. II. If the flag of one player falls after the flag of the other player has already fallen and a win has not been claimed, unless either side mates before noticing both flags down. Announced checkmate nullifies any later time claims.

17. Replacing pieces- If a player accidentally displaces one or more pieces, he shall replace them on his own time. If it is necessary, his opponent may start the opponent's clock without making a move in order to make sure that the culprit uses his own time while replacing the pieces. Finally, it is unsportsmanlike to knock over any pieces then punch the clock. For the first offense the player will get a warning (unless this causes his flag to fall, in which case the opponent will get one extra minute added to his clock). For a second offense a one minute add-on for the opponent will be imposed. For a third offense the offender shall forfeit the game. Thereafter, the tournament director may use other penalties or expel a player from the event for repeated offenses.

18. Dispute between players - In case of a dispute either player may stop both clocks while the tournament director is being summoned. In any unclear situation the tournament director will consider the testimony of both players and any reliable witnesses before rendering his decision. If a player wishes to appeal the decision of a tournament director, the player must first appeal to the section chief then, if necessary, the player may appeal to the Chief floor director, whose decision in all cases is final.

19. TD touching the clock - The tournament director shall not pick up the clock; except in the case of a dispute.

20. Observer conduct - Spectators and players of another match are not to speak or otherwise interfere in a game. If a spectator interferes in any way, such as by calling attention to the flag fall or an illegal move, the tournament director may cancel the game and rule that a new game be played in its stead, and he may also expel the offending party from the playing room. The tournament director should also be silent about illegal moves, flag falls, etc. (unless there is an agreement with the players, before the game, to call them) as this is entirely the responsibility of the players.

21. Replacing a promoted pawn - If a player promotes a pawn they must leave the pawn on the board and clearly indicate to their opponent to what piece the pawn is being promoted too. The promoted pawn will be laid on it's side to indicate that it is a promoted pawn (MCS&C local rule - to prevent later disagreements about what piece the pawn was promoted to, and to avoid pawns annoyingly rolling about and off the board, a spare piece quickly found from another set should be used and placed in the normal upright position, an upside down rook still signifying a queen. The argument against this is nuclear proliferation of Queens, but I don't think it is a strong argument).

22. Replacement clock - Only a tournament director may determine if a clock is defective and change clocks.

23. Player behavior - Excessive banging of pieces or clock will not be tolerated and the offending player may be penalized with loss of time (Director discretion)  

24. Insufficient Losing Chances- Insufficient losing chances claims cannot be made in Bughouse games.

25. Rules Not Covered Above - The Official Rules of Chess, 5th edition, shall be used to resolve any situation not covered by these rules.