Are there any known or "standard" openings in bughouse or crazyhouse chess? Obviously, as soon as pieces start coming off the board things get less predictable, so this question is less about the existence of opening lines as it is about moves which are consistently seen to be good; e.g. White playing e4 to open development lines, or Black avoiding g6, which creates exploitable weaknesses.


4 Answers 4


I play 1... Nf6 after 1. e4. Then 2. e5 d5 3. exf6 exf6. I have had great scores with this opening versus Chess master.

[FEN ""]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 d5 3. exf6 exf6

The idea is to have strong king side with 4 pawns for defence. The second advantage is the development. Bishop in c8 is ready for attacks. If white castle king side u can put pawn in h3 if gh3, Bh3 or @Nf3+.

  • 4
    Could you please explain the ideas behind the sac and how this helps Black or her partner?
    – lily
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 23:46
  • I think the point is that black's position is very solid. The usual entry points for f7 knight sacs is through e5 and g5, but here the f6 pawn covers both squares. Also the extra pawn provides extra coverage on the kingside should black ever want to castle there.
    – flicflac
    Commented Apr 13, 2013 at 10:16
  • I'd rather gxf6 and leave the king in the center blockhaus than open such a column and leave h6 vulnerable to drops. 4. Bb5+ 5. Qe2+ is already putting a lot of pressure. Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 9:23
  • 2
    What is your intention if White postpones exf6, e.g. 4.d4 ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jan 2, 2022 at 14:41

This reddit page has plenty of good advice, and mentions a (strong player's) opening repertoire (section "My Opening Systems").

Excerpt :

For White:
Modified Catalan
Basic setup: 1. d4 ... 2. g3 ... 3. Bg2 ... 4. h3 ... 5. Nf3 ... 6. Bg5 ... 7. 0-0 ... 8. Nbd2

Themes: Solidify and fortify your king before you attack. h3 is an important move so your opponent can't place a pawn there attacking your fianchettoed bishop. You start out a bit passive but extremely solid. Black will have a hard time breaking through while you use the time he's trying to drum something up to form an attack of your own on his likely more exposed kingside. Trade pieces in the center and then drop on the kingside. Often p@e5 to challenge the center or a pinned piece or p@h6 to pry open the king. You can allow the f3 knight to be captured, whereafter you'll often recapture with the e-pawn to build a nice box around your king. If they sac on h3, capture and then simply replace the pieces right back where they were. If no tension develops after the first 8 moves and there is no obvious attacking idea, bring a rook to c1 and break with c4 (or just play c4 immediately) to trade pawns and open things up.

Illustrative Game: http://en.lichess.org/THYYswroKIlD

[NdT : there's this length of description for all the lines listed below]

Modified Chigorin/Trompowsky: 1. d4 ... 2. Nc3 ... 3. Bg5 ... 4. Nf3 ... 5. e3 (or e4, if allowed) ... 6. Be2/d3 ... 7. 0-0
e4 systems: 1. e4 ... 2. Nf3 ... 3. Bc4/b5/e2 ... 4. d3 5. Bg5/f4 ... 6. Nc3 or Nbd2 followed by eventual c3 ... 7. 0-0
Offbeat stuff: 1. b3 ... 2. Bb2 ... 3. e3 ... 4. d3 ... 5. Nf3 ... 6. Be2, stuff like that.

For Black
Crosky Gambit : 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nc6!? 3. exf6 gxf6! 4. ... d5 (can transpose with 2. ... d5 instead of Nc6) 5. ... Rg8 6. ...Bg4 7. ...e6
Modified Modern : 1. ...g6 2. ... Bg7 3. ...Nf6 4. ...h6 5. ...d5 6. ...Bg4 7. ... 0-0 8. ...Nbd7 or Nc6

(and more)

tl;dr: Beginners may be best served by playing conventional e4/d4 systems as white and the French as black. Avoid pawn moves which weaken key squares; fortify weak squares around your king. Maintain the initiative and attack. Sac when it draws the king out and you have a follow-up. Emphasize king safety over material gain. Calculate what your opponent (and you) can do with exchanged pieces before entering into tactical complications. Go crazy!


Crazyhouse openings repertoire

See my lichess study. All moves have been cross-checked with an opening book of 2000+ rated players. Moves that the opponent is likely to play and moves that give a human the best practical advantage and winrate are chosen. When lines deviate from engine recommendations, they are marked as dubious but with high practical chances.

A complete repertoire for white 1.e4 players

Abbreviated overview. See 1.e4 Overview chapter for more.

Some of these moves may look a bit crazy without a proper crazyhouse PGN viewer.

[Event "Crazyhouse Openings: 1.e4 Overview"]
[Site "https://lichess.org/study/vPETXYUF/JRY7gzah"]
[Variant "Crazyhouse"]
[White "You - vs"]
[Black "Someone else"]
[Annotator "https://lichess.org/@/sicariusnoctis"]
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR/ w KQkq - 0 1"]
[SetUp "1"]

1. e4 { Don't panic. :)

This study contains various opening lines designed (statistically) to give practical advantages for players at the 2000+ rating. Moves that lead to statistical advantage are chosen. The most frequently played responses by opponents also taken into account. Needless memorization is avoided where no significant advantage can be found by suggesting a transpositional move. This is not the only set of valid lines, nor is it always necessarily "optimal". That depends on your style. Take this as a reference, and create your own repertoire. There are various strong and "trappy" lines that I have certainly missed.

Chapters are ordered from greatest to least "importance" or line popularity at the 2000+ rating level. Study the early chapters (Italian, Nimzowitsch, Alekhine, French, and 1.d4) well! Chapters not marked "[as Black]" are from the perspective of white. Not all chapters are complete -- they are constantly evolving as I learn and discover new lines. The lines that come up most frequently in my own games are covered in greater depth and detail than ones that don't, if they are covered at all.

This chapter is an overview of the 1.e4 lines for white which are covered in this study. If you are looking for a good starting point, memorize these first, then look deeper into the ideas discussed in the other chapters.

Share and enjoy! } e5 { C20 King's Pawn Game [30% of games.] } (1... Nf6 { B02 Alekhine Defense [22% of games.] } 2. Nc3 { From here, 2..Nc6 transposes into the Nimzowitsch Defense, given below as 1..Nc6. } d5 { B02 Alekhine Defense: Scandinavian Variation [8% of games.] } 3. exd5 Nxd5 4. Bc4 e6 5. Bxd5?! exd5 6. Qe2+)  (1... e6 { C00 French Defense [21% of games.] } 2. d4 d5 (2... d6 { C00 Rat Defense: Small Center Defense [2% of games.] Develop naturally, then play e5 for a kingside attack. } ) 3. Nc3 { C10 French Defense: Paulsen Variation })  (1... d5 { B01 Scandinavian Defense [7% of games.] } 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 { Most common continuations: Qa5, Qd8, Qe6+, Qe5+. })  (1... Nc6 { B00 Nimzowitsch Defense [6% of games.] } 2. Nc3 { Stops d5. } 2... Nf6 { [11% of games.] Frequently arises out of the Alekhine Defense. This is an important position to study. } (2... e6 { B00 Nimzowitsch Defense: French Connection } 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nf3 Bb4 5. Bd3 d5 6. e5 Ne4 7. O-O) 3. d4 d5 { B00 Nimzowitsch Defense: Scandinavian Variation, Bogoljubov Variation, Vehre Variation } 4. exd5 Nxd5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Bb5 e6? 7. P@a6!)
2. Nf3 Nc6 { C44 King's Knight Opening: Normal Variation [27% of games.] }
3. Bc4 Bc5 { C50 Giuoco Piano [16% of games.] } (3... Be7 { C50 Italian Game: Hungarian Defense [6% of games.] } 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4)
4. O-O Nf6
5. d3 O-O
6. Nc3 d6 { [10% of games.] Most typical position of the Giuoco Piano, occurring 60% of the time in Italian lines with this repertoire. Various move orders converge to this point. }
7. Ng5 Bg4?! { [3% of games.] } (7... Nd4?! { [3% of games.] } 8. Be3 { Gives white the ability to win a knight to replace the current one on g5 after Nxf7 is played. } 8... c6? { For example. } 9. Nxf7)  (7... Qe7 { [3% of games.] } 8. Nd5 Nxd5 9. Bxd5 $14)
8. Nxf7 Rxf7
9. Bxf7+ Kxf7
10. Qxg4 { Preparing B@h5+ fork after 10..Nxg4. }

Openings covered, listed in order of line popularity:

  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 Italian: Giuoco Piano
  • 1.e4 Nc6 Nimzowitsch (often transposes from Alekhine)
  • 1.e4 Nf6 Alekhine
  • 1.e4 e6 2.d4 French
  • 1.e4 d5 Scandinavian
  • 1.e4 c5 Sicilian
  • 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d6 Rat Defense
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6?! Philidor
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Bc5?! Busch-Gass Gambit
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 Petrov

A complete Italian-Hungarian repertoire for black against 1.e4

Abbreviated overview. See 1.e4 Overview [as Black] chapter for more.

Some of these moves may look a bit crazy without a proper crazyhouse PGN viewer.

[Event "Crazyhouse Openings: 1.e4 Overview [as Black]"]
[Site "https://lichess.org/study/vPETXYUF/QXxmMVDM"]
[Variant "Crazyhouse"]
[White "Someone - vs"]
[Black "You"]
[Annotator "https://lichess.org/@/sicariusnoctis"]
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR/ w KQkq - 0 1"]
[SetUp "1"]

1. e4 { [72% of games.] } 1... e5
2. Nf3 { Also seen are 2.Nc3 (Vienna Game) and 2.Bc4 (Bishop's Opening), but these usually transpose into an Italian. } 2... Nc6
3. Bc4  (3. d4 { C44 Scotch Game [6% of games] } 3... exd4 4. Nxd4 Qh4?! { Trappy. Works best <2000, though. })  (3. Bb5 { C60 Ruy Lopez [5% of games] } 3... Bc5 { This is a nice move order to reduce variations (d3, Nc3) and induce castling. 3..Nf6 is what I usually play, though. Note that 4. Bxc6? is a mistake due to 4..Bxc6 5.Nxe5? Qd4! }) 3... Be7 { C50 Italian Game: Hungarian Defense [46% of games.] }
4. O-O?! { [14% of games.] } (4. Nc3 { [10% of games.] } 4... Nf6 5. d4 { [3% of games.] } 5... exd4 6. Nxd4 d5 { Example continuation: 7. exd5?! Nxd4 8. Qxd4 P@h3 9. P@e6?? hxg2 10. exf7+ Kf8 })  (4. d4 { [9% of games.] } 4... exd4 5. Nxd4 Ne5 { [8% of games.] } 6. Nf5 { [3% of games.] } (6. Bb3 { [2% of games.] } 6... d5 7. exd5 Bc5)  6... Bf6 { Usually continues with a sharp line, 7. P@g5 P@h3 })  (4. Bxf7+?! { [7% of games.] } 4... Kxf7 5. P@d5 Bf6)  4... Nf6
5. d3 { [6% of games.] } (5. Nc3 { [4% of games.] } 5... O-O 6. d4? { [0.5% of games.] } 6... exd4 7. Nxd4 { Next, 7..P@h3. Indeed, Nxd4 Qxd4 N@f3 fork is the main idea. Also, play d5 soon to open our bishop and block white's. }) 5... O-O
6. Nc3 { [2% of games.] } 6... d6 { [19% of games.] Most typical position of the Italian Game: Hungarian Defense, occurring 40% of the time in Italian lines with this repertoire. Various move orders converge to this point. }
7. Bg5?! { [4% of games.] } (7. Ng5 { [5% of games.] } 7... Nd4 8. Be3 Qe8 { Preparing a Queen sacrifice via 9. Bxd4 exd4 10. Nb5 Qxb5?! 11. Bxb5 Bg4})  (7. h3?! { [4% of games.] } 7... Na5 { One typical idea is to take the bishop, then B@d7-Bxh3. For example, 8. Bb3 Nxb3 9. axb3 B@d7 10. N@d5?? Bxh3 })  7... Bg4
8. Bxf6?! { [1.8% of games.] } (8. h3?? { [1.6% of games.] Common mistake allowing a devastating attack. } 8... Bxf3 9. Qxf3 Nd4 10. Qd1 Nxe4! 11. Bxe7 Nxc3 12. bxc3 P@e2) 8... Bxf6
9. Nd5 B@h5 $17 { Main idea is to trade everything on f3, decimate white's kingside pawn structure, and checkmate. Best move here for white is N@g3, which is rarely played, and is still quite advantageous for black. N@d2 allows Nd4, and Nxf6-Qxf6-N@d5 falls into a typical queen sacrifice, Qxf3! }

Openings covered, listed in order of line popularity:

  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Be7 Italian: Hungarian Defense (important: 70% of 1.e4 games!)
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Ruy Lopez
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 Scotch
  • 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Vienna

The primary opening I play as black is the solid "Italian: Hungarian Defense" which has a good winrate and is engine approved. Other strong openings are:

  • Italian: Hungarian Defense
  • Alekhine: Scandinavian variation (60+% WR at 2000+ rating!)
  • French
  • Nimzowitsch

Using this resource effectively

To use this resource effectively, I suggest maintaining your own study and including lines you encounter in your own games. Then, my study can be used as a reference point or to provide commentary. Or, you can look directly at the opening book, since that's where I have taken many of the ideas from. I also recommend completely memorizing the short "Overview" chapters, which are fairly minimal on purpose.


according to engine, the italian game is good, and the best reply to the italian is 3...d6. In crazyhouse, avoiding the fried liver is important for players of all level cause crazyhouse give white big attacking chances!

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