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Advanced Opening Analyses in Bughouse: The Nf6 - d5 System

Jan 7, 2017, 9:35 AM 5

In this post, I will cover the lines of another one of the most played opening systems in bughouse – the Nf6 - d5 opening system. I will mostly analyze 1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5. I won't give much thought about the 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 ... lines as they are pretty boring and not so common.

Let's go over some basics tricks in this opening system.

This is one very common and often fatal mistake that Black commits:

Here, N@e5 just wins for White.

Another move order is:

4…c6 is not possible because of 5. Nxd5 Qxd5 6. N@c7

4…Bd7 is very risky because of P@e6, so pretty much the only way to reply to 4. Bb5+ is 4…Nc6:

This is a very common position in this setup. Usually black drops N@e4 or B@h5, while White usually drops the N on e5 or h5 as well if White’s knight gets to the h5 square before the Black bishop does. 0-0 is also a common move for White, while Black plays Qe7 and f6/f5 if he or she is empty-handed.

Another line is:
Generally, it's a bad idea to take out the Q early, but in this situation it is perfectly fine. This position depends very much on drops, so it's hard to analyze. If empty-handed, Qe4+ is unpleasant for White; however, if White does have material in hand, Black can instead play P@g4 and e6, which are perfectly fine moves.

8…e5 seems fine for Black, but it's countered by this pattern – P@b7, kidnapping the bishop. After 9…Bxb7 which is pretty much the only move, P@d7+ is coming and after 10…Kd8 11. Nxe5, White is clearly better. Although if 2 pawns aren't coming the e5 is perfectly legit. Thus, if you play 8…e5, you must tell your opponent to sit.

Now, I will show you a dangerous gambit line in which Black sacrifices the e5 pawn for the initiative. It is pretty sharp and playable:

8…N@e4 and 8…P@e4 are the best continuations for Black. White, on the other hand, drops N@h5 or B@h4 or plays Bd3, Bc4, or Bb5, which are all good moves. In such open positions with different pieces coming, many moves are fine and it is impossible to really prepare for them by the book. You just need a lot of practice playing these positions. I should note that if this gambit’s sharpness does not suit White, White can avoid this gambit altogether by playing Bb5+ before Nf3 so that Black can't play e5.

Here is another common line (arising from the moves 1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. exd5 Nxd5 4. Nf3 e6 5. d4 Bb4 6. Bd2 P@a3):

Maybe some chess players might wonder why White didn’t play 3. Nxc7+. Well, unlike in chess, in bughouse there is the piece drop B@c3 which wins the White queen. The position after 4. Bd3, as you can imagine, depends very much on the flow, with high flow favoring Black. B@c1 is coming and after Rxc1, either of the intermezzos B@c3 or P@c3 and P@d2 are a nightmare scenario for White. On the other hand, if the high flow comes after White castles it will favor White because Black’s kingside is really exposed.

I should mention that it’s important to know that in the following setup, the b8 knight goes to d7 instead of c6 to support the fragile kingside and especially the f6 square:

If no early pawn comes for 6…P@a3 or if you don't want to enter this position as Black, you could simply play this:

This is a calmer setup which also gives Black decent fighting chances. Black’s goal is to invade the light squares e4, f3, and g2, while White aims to gain control over the e5, f6, and g7 squares.

Finally, let's take a quick look over 1…Nf6 2. e5 lines:

This is most likely the best setup for White against this gambit as White, by playing Ne2 and f3, stops the crux of Black’s counterplay: the bishop on g4 pinning a White knight on f3. After White castles, the resulting position would be quite a calm position with a piece for a pawn. While at the beginner and intermediate level this is perfectly fine for Black, at higher levels of play, this gambit is pretty much abandoned.

Of course, what makes 2. e5 a rarely seen move is the fact that Black can just place his knight on e4, and in such lines, Black has no problems at all in the ensuing calm position:

There is also the following line, in which you enter into a position from another very common system, the e6 - Nc6 opening system, which I will analyze in my next blog post:

It's also important to notice that after 1. e4 Nf5 2. e5 Ne4, 3. d3 is not a good move for White because after 3…Nxf2 4. Kxf2 d4, Black has decent compensation for the sacrificed piece.

This concludes my analysis of the Nf6 - d5 opening system; I hope you found it useful!

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