Wild and Calm Positions in Bughouse

Wild and Calm Positions in Bughouse


In this blog post I will talk about wild and calm positions, how to approach them, and the most important rules that govern these positions.

Consider the following diagrams:



Here we have a typical example of a wild and a calm position. This will happen often when one board trades the house and the other has a closed position.

Wait a second! You thought the first diagram was the wild position, didn’t you? Well, it's the other way around! The first position is really calm since both players are very safe and with a bunch of pieces on the board, it will take ages for something to happen there, while in the second diagram, there are very few pieces on the board and basically, a lethal attack can occur at any moment.

What is the first and most important factor in this situation? Again it's the UPTIME. Let's say White in the second diagram has just a pawn in his hand and his opponent also just has a pawn in hand. It’s White’s move and his or her partner is just 5 seconds up. White plays P@c7 and tells his or her partner to sit. The promotion cannot be stopped! In these 5 seconds, an experienced blitz player with a queen up will corner the Black king so that almost any piece would mate.

Thus, what should be done in these situations? If you are playing on the calm board, the most common and natural mistake inexperienced players do is that they start thinking. Because there are many pieces on board, they don't know what to do; unfortunately, this is a fatal mistake. By thinking, you will be DOWNTIME and your partner's opponent on the wild board will get any piece he wants anytime he needs it, unlike your partner, who must make use of the very few pieces he or she has on the board. If such a situation ever occurs, the team that is downtime will almost assuredly lose.

The first thing that must be understood is that the game will most likely end with checkmate on the other board, not on yours. Therefore, playing really quickly and controlling the flow is the best you can do. In this situation, blitz skills come in handy for all 4 players.

Of course, if you are playing the wild position, you must also play very rapidly. Drop any piece you get right at solid square. Aim for the 2nd/7th rank with your pawns; do not aim directly at the king. The easiest way to win this calm/wild board situation is by promoting a pawn to a queen.

In this situation, your abilities to play quickly and coordinate well will be tested. That's all that matters here. From the positions I gave you till the end of the game, you will likely have about 20 tells from your partner; in this calm/wild situation, you will often read or hear various tells such as “SIT,” “GO,” “NO Q,” “R GOOD,” etc.