Time Management in Bughouse
As most of you already know, the uptime is of great importance in bughouse. Thus, you know you need to keep moving, but it's easier said than done. In this post, I will help you solve the most common problems which burn your time.
Don't Think When Under Attack
The most common problem that burns your time is when you start thinking when you are under attack. In most cases, your opponent sacrifices and you start wondering what to do now, whether you should take the sacrificed piece or whether you should run with your king. You start asking yourself, “What pieces will come? Can my partner hold a rook or a knight?” While you are deep in thought, the other board’s pieces will start getting traded and you will get mated no matter what you play. In time, when you have more experience, you will develop instincts that help you know what to do, but till then, I will give you a very simple piece of advice:
Accept immediately every sacrifice and tell your partner to sit. Try to secure your king after your opponent runs out of pieces BEFORE he can get more.
Move Even if You Don't Know What to Do
The next common situation is when you just don't know what to do. The solution to that is to learn how to recognize the weak squares on the board: yours and your opponent's. This principle in bughouse is very similar to the same principle found in orthodox chess. For example, the most common weak squares in bughouse are h5, h6, g7, e6, f7, and b7 for Black and h4, h3, e4, g2, e3, f2, and b2 for white. When you don't know what to do - just attack or defend the most vulnerable square of these squares. You could also just counter your opponent's last move ; if he attacks, say, f2, you could just defend f2. Even making an empty move is much better than just sitting and thinking what to do.
Not knowing what to do often leads to a pretty bad situation in which you are sitting for a piece which actually does nothing. When you sit for a piece, make sure that piece hurts your opponent. Sitting for a piece just to start unclear attack will just kill your time for no good reason. It’s better to do empty moves than do that.
Don't Waste Time on Very Fancy Moves
The next time-wasting situation is when you start trying to make a fancy move work. Try to keep it simple unless you are in a SIT and you actually have the time to calculate a lot. Don't always try to do a forced mate. Maintaining a dominant position is usually quite enough. The threat of force is often as good as the force itself or even better. If you don't have a clear forced mate, or don’t see one quickly, just try to maintain your threats. Force your opponent to spend time worrying about the multiple threats you have and what pieces might come.
Try to constantly feel your partner's opponent’s pace. It's his time you are competing against. If he takes more time you can afford to use some more seconds in critical situations, but if he keeps moving you need to keep moving.
Never Double Sit
The last situation I will talk about is one of the worst possible situations in bughouse - the so-called double sit: this is when you and you partner are thinking at the same time. If you double sit for about 10 seconds, you can basically just resign the game. Both you and your partner will be down so much time that you and your partner will never, ever get the pieces you need. Most often, double sits occur when you are waiting for your partner to give you a piece and he or she is also waiting for you to give him or her a piece. Experienced players can resolve this very quickly by judging who can get the piece more easily and who has the more lethal attack, but if you’re an inexperienced player and get into such a situation, just forget the piece and move.
FEAR THE DOUBLE SIT. It will cost you lots of games.