Give Them Little and Make Them Pay a Lot
This post is going to be all about flow control – how you manage to keep piece trades high or low. Most people in bughouse really love to attack. They love to sacrifice pieces for the initiative and make wild moves against their opponent's king; the only way such a style could work is if a lot of piece trades are coming on the other board. You all have experienced countless times when your partner is spamming, “Give me N,” “Give me P,” Give me Q,” “+++,” and so on.
Here I am going to show you how to punish those people who really love to attack. There are two big problems when you are attacking too much. First, you sacrifice material, and second, more importantly, you sacrifice TIME because, generally, you need to wait for more pieces. As you probably can guess the solution is mainly on the other board. When your partner is under a “sac attack” from the very early opening he needs to play very quickly and accept all (in most cases), but it's up to you to keep him safe. Let me break down the situation that occurs:
1) Your partner is playing quickly and he wins material.
2) His opponent can't play as quickly because he or she needs pieces to continue his or her attack.
3) Your opponent must play lighting fast and trade as much as he can as fast as he can.
There are a few very common mistakes people do in this situation. They play very quickly to keep the uptime, but in this case, this is bad because, inevitably, many pieces will be traded if you make 10 moves in 5 seconds. Another frequently seen mistake is that they sac attack themselves, giving back the material won by their partner. This is also bad because you make it a brawl in which it's 50/50 who will die 1st: your opponent or your partner.
What you actually must do is slow down the pace – “Give Them Little and Make Them Pay a Lot for it.” Don't forget points 2) and 3). Your partner’s opponent slowed down because he needs pieces and your opponent must play as fast as he can to provide trades. Thus, take a few extra seconds and play really strong moves with tactical or positional threats. Make your opponent either blunder pieces as he rushes to get his partner pieces or force him to make a really bad trade. Keep doing this again and again – as long as your partner’s opponent is “sac attacking.” Your opponent will be forced to either lose time to answer your threats or very soon he will be in much more trouble than your partner is. Either way, his partner won't get enough to finish off your partner. Use the material your partner won to win even more material; instead of rushing for a mate just slowly take his pieces and starve his partner.
Playing dry lines is also very good against teams who tend to attack too much. For example, you can play the London system as White (the London system in bughouse, though, is characterized by the moves d4 and e3; do not play c3!), or the e6 - d6 system as Black; even 1. e4 e5 is a fairly dry line.
The strategy delineated above is very unpleasant to face – not only is it annoying to face over the board, but the psychological aspect of this strategy also makes the “sac attacker” suffer. Basically, the sac attacking team will be really annoyed. Indeed, the sac attacker will never get enough material to finish the game and his partner will die every game. What I noticed from my experience is that sac attackers or so called sacsitters are under the impression that they always dominate their opps, but, when facing strong teams, their partners always end up losing and fail to supply them with enough material. The sacsitters keep telling them, “Man just play safe and trade a lot. It's easy. I DOMINATE.” Not only is it not easy but it is also nearly impossible to do when facing strong opponents. So I would like to tell all of these sacsitters: NO, your team loses because of you.