The Secrets of Brooklyn’s Bughouse Champs, Part I: Openings
By Feng, Garcia, Kim, Swindell & Vicary   
June 8, 2011
With absolutely no help or encouragement from me, IS 318's graduating eighth grade class have become tremendous bughouse players (in addition to being the 8th grade, K-8, and K-9 national champions of "regular chess").  This year, JP Garcia and D'Andrea Dey won the NY State High School bughouse championship; Black Feng (James Black and Danny Feng) finished second. In the National (K-9) Bughouse Championship, IS 318 finished with 3 ½ of the top 5 places, including first (Black Feng) and second (David Kim and Randy Rivera).

As a post-nationals final project, I asked each member of the 8th grade class to write a short instructional article about some aspect of bughouse. I was amazed by what I received. These students have mapped out comprehensive systems of opening theory, with competing schools of thought. They think in terms of light and dark square strategy. I learned a lot reading the articles, so much that I asked Jennifer here at CLO if she'd be interested in publishing them. She was, and so I've selected the best articles, and grouped them in three installments:  this first article covers opening theory; the second describes typical attacking themes, and the third covers defensive tactics and "partner management." I hope you enjoy them and learn as much as I did- Elizabeth Vicary
, IS 318 Coach

Danny Feng

I think the best opening against 1. e4 in bughouse is 1...Nf6.
1.e4 Nf6
The most common and tempting move is 2. e5.
The best move for White is actually 2.Nc3! d5 This is probably the only move for Black. 3.exd5 (3.e5 Nc6) 3...Nxd5 4.Bc4 (4.Nxd5 Qxd5 This can get quite bad if White gets to play B@c4, so it's wise to check what they have, but if things continue normally, Black  is fine. The plan for Black  is Bg4, Nc6, e6, and Bc5/b4.) 4...e6 This position is a bit difficult to play, but I would probably continue ...Nxc3, ...P@d5, or ...P@f6, ...Nc6, and ...e5.
This is the best move even though it seems insane at first because Black  is obviously giving a knight away.
Another move for White is 3.d4, refusing to take the knight. This is not a very common move and I've never faced it in a tournament.
Black  is threatening to get an attack with 4...Nxf2 and N@e4/N@g4. If Be3 (Be3/e6 is usually not a good move in bughouse), P@f4 is an idea, making the bishop move away from f2. White's only move is probbaly P@f3, which traps the knight, but they might not have a pawn in hand. If you don't have a knight to drop, your plan is Bf5, e6, Be7, and Nc6. This is like a French, except the light squared bishop isn't terrible and the knight that is normally on g8 is on the very active square e4. You should watch out for P@c5, controlling the dark squares. Black can also play similarly with P@c4, with the idea P@d3, cxd3, cxd3, Bxd3 and P@c4 again, controlling the light squares. Castling is not recommended for either side because of things like P@h3 /P@h6. ...h5 can be considered for Black  because it stops N@h5. Black  should check what pieces White has. If (s)he has a pawn and a knight, h7-h5 might be bad because White has P@h6 anyway and if gxh6, then N@g7+ followed by Nxh5 is almost winning for White. Black has to watch out for his/her dark squares in order to be safe.

Black  is actually better in this position because he is up a tempo, and it's not easy for White to attack because of the pawn on f6. Black  will have an easy time developing with Nc6, Bd6, Bf5 (Bg4 if there's a knight on f3) and even ...0-0 can be considered, followed by ...Re8+. Other ideas for Black  are P@e4 when White has played Nf3 and d4, or Bb4+, to trick White into playing c3 and weakening the light squares. If White plays d3 instead of d4, they'll have little space and Black  should have a easy game.  

David Kim
I think keeping the e6-d6 pawn wall is better than playing e6-d5 or d6-e5 because both e6/d5 and d6/e5 make the squares around the pawns weak.
1.e4 e6

1...d6 2.d4 e5 , I think 3.d5 d5 is the best move. Your plan is playing Bc4 and dropping pawns on f5 and e6.
2.d4 d5
I think playing the Advanced is the best because you start attacking the dark squares.
If 3...c5, you play 4.Bf4 , drop a pawn on d6, and Black's dark squares will be weak. 4...Nc6 and White's idea is to try P@d6  

JP Garcia  
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Nc6
This is the opening that I play. You can also get a good attack. Now they usually play 4. Bb5 or 4. @Pc5. One way to defend against this is to drop a pawn on d6 or play Be7 and try to drop another bishop on f8. You may have to use both ideas.
Most people do this to get their partner a knight. This shouldn't affect your partner that much because Black  is usually defending.
This is usually played to stop any ideas with Nf3-g5 or Bg5.
5.Nf3 h5!
The move ...h5 is used to activate your rook. You can play ...Nh6 and after Bxh6, ...Rxh6. You can it to attack g2 with Rg6. if they don't take your knight, you can play either ...Ng4 or ...Nf5, protecting d6. This only works after White plays Nf3; without it, White can take on h5 with the queen.
6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.Nc3 Nh6
Now one idea is to play Ng4 and drop a pawn on e3, trying to clear the f2 square. To defend f7, you can try to place a bishop on g8.  

Shawn Swindell 
1.e4 e6
Against 1... e6 there are many things you can play, depending on your style but I play 2.d4. Against 1...d6 I play 2.d4 If 2...e6 (Anything else besides 2... e6 is bad, for example: 2...Nf6 3.Nc3 and White's idea is 4. d5; or 2...e5 3.d5) 3.d5.
And your plan here is Bc4, Nc3 and attack the light squares.
Against 1...e5 you just play 2.Bc4 threatening to play 3. Bxf7 and a knight drop on g5 or just 3. Nf3 then 4. Bxf7 or vice versa.;
If 1...Nf6 2.e5 Ne4 you just play
3.Qe2 or 3.Qf3 defending against ...Nxf2. (The national K-9 bughouse champion, Danny Feng, plays 2...d5 3.d4 -- don't take the knight-- it's nothing for White-- 3...Ne4 and here either 4.Qe2 or (4.Be3 is good. After this, you want to remove the Black  knight from the center with 5. Nd2 or 5. Bd3.) )
1...d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3;
1...c5 is a weakening pawn move and you have many options 2.d4 opening the position, is good, as well as(2.e5 attacking the weak d6 square.; You can also just play normally with 2.Nf3 ) ;
Against 1...c6 you play 2.d4+-
This is almost winning. Black  has almost completely weakened his dark squares; White's much better if he/she plays d5 or e5;
1...Nc6 is weak; you just play 2.d4

And now White should with the following ideas-- opening up the position, gaining space in the center, and opening up Black 's kingside. Remember, it's not rated "for now," so just have fun. 

Brooklyn Bughouse Tips Parts II and III coming to CLO over the next few weeks. Follow uschess on twitter and like our new facebook fan page to stay posted.