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Are there any nice strategies for 4 player chess? (Bughouse chess)

How to open, how to win? I have not found anything good on the web.

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  • 2
    I think one of the reasons Bughouse was invented was to obviate normal chess "strategy" and replace it with "timing" and "opportunism".
    – Jeff Y
    Jan 22 '16 at 17:16
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    Although Wikipedia does have a strategy section, so: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bughouse_chess#Strategy
    – Jeff Y
    Jan 22 '16 at 17:52
  • The relative values of pieces change dramatically in bughouse. For example, knights become much more valuable because they are unblockable.
    – ryanyuyu
    Jan 26 '16 at 17:22
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    Possible duplicate of Crazyhouse/Bughouse openings Oct 28 '16 at 9:20
  • @NikanaReklawyks the 'opening' part, yes. But this question also asks for general strategies.
    – Glorfindel
    Oct 28 '16 at 10:55
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This reddit page has a ton of information, coming from a strong player.

Excerpts (z means "crazyhouse") :

Opening
The standard rules apply: develop your pieces, control the center, and get your king to safety. But there are some opening ideas uniquely emphasized in z:

  • Flank pawns should usually be kept where they stand in the opening. Openings like the Bird or Dutch exposing this square are extremely dubious. Even openings like the English and Sicilian aren't to be recommended as they weaken the c2/c7 square respectively. Diagonal pieces can be dropped to exploit the weakened color complex. Guard the tender f2/f7 square from sacs so that your king isn't drawn out early.
  • Pawn gambits, especially those in which you delay the recapture, are almost without exception a bad idea; your opponent can accept and then simply drop the extra pawn to stabilize.
  • Note that getting your king to safety does not always mean castling: sometimes it means keeping it in the center and fortifying the tender points of egress.

Middlegame
The middlegame is almost always where the game is won or lost. This is where you should look to start exchanging pieces, breaking with your pawns, building up pressure on vulnerable squares, or cracking open your opponent's defenses with careful pawn drops or piece sacs. The midgame is rapidly achieved in crazyhouse, so be ready to join battle straight away!

Strategy Pointers and other midgame motifs

  • On both offense and defense, be aware of positional sacrifices: knights and bishops or even major pieces can often be sac'd to expose the king in a manner which might be considered unsound in chess but which in z is very powerful. Similarly, a few points of material can be sacrificed to gain a foothold in enemy territory.
  • Scan for weaknesses: holes where pawns can be dropped, pieces vulnerable to a fork, weakly defended kingside squares, overloaded defensive pieces. Identify a weakness and then concentrate all your drops on that weakness.
  • If you identify a weakness but your pocket is empty, look to force exchanges. If your own position is weak, avoid exchanges until you're more solid.
  • Defend pawn drops on your kingside: know how to react to p@h3/h6. The knight is an excellent defensive piece in this scenario. [...]
  • Knights should be kept on hand until you can drop them to attack weak squares around the enemy's king, place extra pressure on a pin, or drop into a fork.
  • A knight and a queen is the most powerful complementary attacking combination because they each cover squares the other doesn't. Knights can be used to place un-blockable checks, and queens can be used to drop into mates.
  • (and a ton more)

Common Mating Patterns
[...]

My Opening Systems
(see this answer for an excerpt)

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I think any strategy has to be based on the strengths and weaknesses of the players in a much more pronounced way than in the 2 person game.

Here is an example strategy where one player is a strong tactician and the other a strong positional player.

Generally speaking a piece in the hand is worth more than a developed piece particularly to a fine tactical player. If one player is a better tactician and the other better positionally then it might make sense for the positional player to quickly develop pieces with the intention of swapping them off to give the tactician extra pieces to play with and for the tactician to launch a pawn storm to swap off pawns to give to the positional player and to create an open position on his board with more weak squares for his paratroopers. Obviously this has to be co-ordinated so that the right pieces come along at the right time.

1

There is a lot of depth to the tactics and strategy. Assuming at least familiar with single board chess tactics such as a fork, pin, etc. then next up is understanding Time & Communication. Neither of these has a single board equivalent.

  1. Communication

    Agree on how communication works. It does no good for one player to say hold on trades, or no knights, if their partner moves and allows the ops to win because they got the knight they needed from the other board.

Before a game begins, some more advanced teams will agree on a multiboard plan. For example, 1 person will feed from their board, meaning lots of trades and they will move as fast as they can. They will try and keep the trades close to even. Most likely at some point they will go "I have stopped moving" meaning they are in the process of getting mated. No more move will be coming because all that will happen is they will lose material without getting anything more for their partner or mated.

  1. Time

How time works in a two board game is significantly different from a single board. The op that can force you on time is the one playing your partner. If you have 2 minutes left, and they have 3 minutes left, they can force you to move by just moving themselves. If you could crush or would like a blocker or anything else, tough they have you on time. Note how much time your opp has left does not matter. If they only have 15 seconds but have you in a mate in 2, you have to stop moving.

Besides forcing, it is real bad for both players of a pair to have their time going. Bleeding time is bad. One of you need to move. Abandon whatever you are waiting for and get a move on. If your opponents are bleeding, do not say or do anything.

This is just a start. Enjoy.

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