Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2011 arrow July arrow Secrets of Brooklyn Bughouse Champs, Part III- Defensive Ideas
Secrets of Brooklyn Bughouse Champs, Part III- Defensive Ideas Print E-mail
By Awon, Dabrowski, Fron & Vicary   
July 19, 2011
The students of IS 318 are best known for winning multiple Junior High School Championship titles, but they are also bughouse champs. In a CLO exclusive, they reveal their secrets from openings, covered in the first part, to the second installment on typical attacking ideas  and partner management to our final and current article on defensive ideas. The series was compiled by IS 318 coach Elizabeth Vicary. 

sebastian-thinking.jpgEvacuating the King by  Sebastian Dabrowski
Sometimes when your king is under attack on the kingside, it is best to move to the queenside. This is because your opponent has already dedicated pieces and time to attacking on the kingside. If the target, the king, escapes successfully, the attack usually loses its point. For example, in this position, let's look at a possible attacking line for black, and see how white can defend by running away with his king.
Black sacrifices with 1...Nxf2 and after 2.Qxf2 Black drops a knight on g4. 2...N@g4 and the game continues 3. Qe2 B@f2 4. Kd1 B@e3 5. Bxe3 Bxe3 6. B@d2 N@f2 7. Kc1 Nxh1 8. Bxe3 White's king is pretty safe and Black has wasted several pieces sacrificing on f2.
Dabrowski,Sebastian - example 2
In this position, White is causing black great problems on g7. If black takes (1...gxf6), white will recapture and drop a pawn or knight on g7. So black castles queenside. White's threats are then reduced and black's king is much safer.

ps-124-003.jpgPawn Walls Part I by Lukasz Fron  
Pawns are great defenders in bughouse because they aren't worth much, they're easily replaceable, and they shield the king well. In the next two examples, black pushes back white's attack by making some pawn drops to defend the king.

If White attacks you with 1.Qc5+ you can create a pawn wall with P@c6, and then if 2. Ba5+, then P@b6 and now you're safe and his pieces are forked. If bishop takes (3. Bxb6+) , then pawn takes (3...axb6), and you're safe. Also if queen moves (3. Qb4), you take bishop (3...bxa5) and when queen takes back check (4. Qxa5+)you just drop a pawn on b6 to block it.
Another example is if your opponent has a knight on g5 and is trying to take on f7, you can play P@f6, knight takes f7, king takes, and if Qh5+ or B@h5+ you just block with a pawn. (1...P@f6 2. Nxf7 Kxf7 3. Qh5+/B@h5+ P@g6)

318-008.jpgPawn Walls by Aleem Awan
In bughouse, a series of pawns can be more valuable than a queen itself. "Pawn walls" are the most useful and underestimated defensive tactic in bughouse. Even though other pieces are more powerful, pawns can be the handiest and most helpful piece a player can have on either side of an attack. In fact, the pawn's lack of value is its main advantage as a defender, because it can be easily replaced. If the attacker sacrifices a piece to a pawn wall, it will probably be captured and the captured pawn will just be replaced soon. On the defensive side of the following position, a white pawn wall would render Black's mating attack useless.

To set up a pawn wall, White should place pawns on g3, h3, and h5. The pawn on h5 prevents black playing h7-h5 or placing a piece/pawn there.
Although pawn walls are usually referred to as a defensive tactic, they can also be used to attack. In certain cases, a few pawns can mate just as fast or even faster than pieces. In example two, a mating attack has been set up by several pawns and finished with a nice checkmate. Notice that even with a decisive material advantage, forceful pawn placements make White's king vulnerable and eventually helpless as it gets checkmated.
1...Rg6+ 2.Kf4 P@e5 3. Ke4 P@f5+ 4. Kd5 P@ c6#
Follow the adventures of IS 318 at their official website, is318chessteam.com and look for a movie about the chess team, Brooklyn Castle coming soon. Inspired? The US Open Bughouse Championship takes place on July 31 in Orlando, Florida. See full schedule of US Open side events at uschess.org/tournaments/2011/usopen/