King's Pawn Opening: The Bongcloud

1.e4 e5 2.Ke2

The Bongcloud is a meme opening where White or Black move their king on the first few moves of the game. Among the worst openings in chess, the Bongcloud makes rare appearances on high-level games. However, high-profile players like GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So sometimes play it to lighten the mood of a match.

Starting Position Of The Bongcloud

The Bongcloud is a series of meme openings where either of the players moves their king on the first few moves of the game. The most famous version of the Bongcloud starts after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2.

The starting position of the chess opening Bongcloud.
One of the starting positions of the infamous Bongcloud.

The idea behind the Bongcloud is to play for style points and memes. The opening violates several chess principles by forfeiting castling rights, wasting time, and failing to control the center. The Bongcloud also delays the development of other pieces.


  • You'll be a part of a chess meme movement
  • Winning with the Bongcloud can be more satisfying than winning with sound openings


  • Puts the king in danger
  • Fails to control the center
  • Does not help to develop pieces
  • Loses castling rights
  • Wastes time
  • Blocks the light-squared bishop and queen's development

Main Variations Of The Bongcloud

As the Bonglcoud is an umbrella of meme openings, there is no actual theory behind it. Below you can see a few of the most popular ways to get to the Bongcloud.

White Bongcloud With 1.e4

One of the most popular variations of the Bongclouds happens after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2. White immediately reveals their intention of playing for laughs. After White's second move, they can no longer castle. White will also have to waste significant time developing their light-squared bishop and queen and keeping their king safe.

Black Bongcloud With 1...e5 Or 1...e6

Black can also play the Bongcloud by moving their e-pawn first. However, things are even more dangerous for the black player since they are playing down a tempo. The 1...e5 variation is particularly bad for Black, as White can immediately attack the black king, strike in the center, or both.

A "safer" way of playing the Bongcloud with Black starting with the e-pawn involves the move 1...e6. Black opens just enough space to move on with their bad idea and for their king to move up. 1...e6 keeps Black's setup more compact and solid than 1...e5, but it is still a poor move.

Bongcloud With 1.f3 Or 1...f6

White can play another "safer" version of the Bongcloud by starting with the move 1.f3 when White opens the f2-square for their king. Although still a horrible move, 1.f3 makes it easier for the white king to run away from the center. The king on f2 also leaves the d1-h5 and f1-a6 diagonals open, giving the light-squared bishop and queen more freedom of movement.

Conversely, Black can take this same "conservative" approach by playing 1...f6 and following it up with 2...Kf7.

Double Bongcloud

The Double Bongcloud happens when both players decide to move their kings on their second move. The most notorious game featuring a Double Bongcloud ended quickly when GMs Magnus Carlsen and Nakamura went for a draw by repetition with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2 Ke7 3.Ke1 Ke8 4.Ke2 Ke7 5.Ke1 Ke8 6.Ke2 Ke7.

History Of The Bongcloud

The Bongcloud was first "analyzed" by Andrew Fabbro in his satirical book Winning With the Boungcloud. According to Fabbro, his analysis was inspired by the user @Lenny_Bongcloud, who consistently used this opening maneuver.

In 2018, Nakamura played the Bongcloud three times against GM Levon Aronian during the Speed Chess Championship. The Bongcloud had a surge in popularity when Nakamura started employing it on his stream. The streamer later made a speedrun to a 3000 blitz rating on his @Clownpusher account using only this dubious opening, reaching his goal in January 2021.

Other notable players have similarly played the Bongcloud in online tournaments. In 2021, Carlsen and Nakamura played a Double Bongcloud draw during the Magnus Carlsen Invitational and caught mass media attention, with The Guardian writing a story about the episode. That same year, So won a bullet game against GM Fabiano Caruana during the Speed Chess Championship.

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