How to play Bughouse Chess

Learn the rules to the 4 player Chess variant: Bughouse Chess quickly and concisely – This video has no distractions, just the rules. For a refresher of the original Chess rules, check out this video:

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The object of this 4 player chess game is to be the first team to checkmate either opponent. Layout 2 chessboards side by side and setup the pieces normally on each board with opposite colors next to each other. 4 players divide into 2 teams. Teammates sit next to each other with one teammate controlling the white pieces and the other controlling black. Each board’s game runs independently from the other board. Each teammate has one opponent who is directly across from them. Players are allowed to talk to their teammate with strategy or moves, BUT they may not touch a piece on the other board, nor may they change seats to swap which board they are playing on.

When you capture a piece, you immediately give that piece to your teammate to add to their pool. On your turn, instead of moving a piece, you may add a piece from your pool to any empty space on the board. This is called dropping a piece. You are allowed to drop a piece into check or checkmate, but you may not drop a pawn on the first or 8th rows. Dropped pawns may promote as normal, but when a promoted pawn is captured, it is converted back to a pawn when added to their teammates pool. If you drop a pawn on the 2nd row, it is allowed to move 2 spaces on its first move. All pieces in your pool must remain on the table in front of the board, visible at all times.

To prevent a player from stalling by not playing, Bughouse is typically played with chess clocks, with each board using its own clock. If you don’t have a chess clock, then players are not allowed to delay their move beyond the time it takes their teammate to make 3 moves. If they do, then they lose the game.

The first team to checkmate a king on either board, wins. If both boards are checkmated simultaneously, then the match ends in a draw. Also, a team wins if an opponent on either board resigns or makes an illegal move. Stalemates on either board result in a draw.


  1. I'm going to talk to the guys at work about this.

  2. It's been so long since i played this version of chess, i had forgotten the rules. We use to play it during chess tournaments. Kids especially loved this form. Often played at blitz time controls or quicker.

  3. Wait, how does stalemate happen? Couldnt you just drop a piece to make it not a stalemate?

  4. So basically, the pieces get banned from their own existence, and end up in another universe.

  5. Galaxy Brain variant: it's a 1v1 bughouse game. You must achieve checkmate on both boards to win — preferably at the same time.

  6. This is basically the Chess Multiverse lmao

  7. I played this back in my elemelementary school chess club, i did noy think it was a real thing!

  8. Imagine checkmating both boards at the same time.

  9. I Recommend do this on a similar or equal chess sets because, imagine a OCD players looking at you playing a nice wooden chess with you friend on a microscopic plastic board

  10. When I played this 20 years ago, the win conditions were different: Instead of checkmate, you captured your opponent’s king, and moving into check (or voluntarily failing to get out of check) was legal. When you captured your opponent’s king, you gave it to your teammate to use as a spare. If a player had no kings, play on that board stopped until and unless that player got a king from a teammate. If your team had all four kings, you won.

  11. 1:13 imagine you are in the middle of a war and suddendly a giant hand drops out a pawn almost your size ready to kill

  12. ᴀᴜᴅɪᴏʟɪʙʀᴏꜱ ᴘɪʀᴀᴛᴇᴀᴅᴏꜱ ꜱ.ᴀ ᴅᴇ ᴄᴠ says:

    Great explanation, thanks!

  13. This is my favorite way to play chess yet I often use the normal way since most don't use this.

  14. Whenever I was taught by my chess teacher the rules were different, mainly just that you couldn't drop a pice to put the opponent in checkmate or check and that you couldn't drop a piece in the opponents kast three rows.

  15. i used to call this Australian Chess.

  16. You can play this two-handed, but player 1 makes their white move before player 2 makes their black move & white move, then player 1 makes their black move, and the process repeats until the game ends.

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