The Chess Variant Pages

Half Bughouse

Half Bughouse is a two player chess variant, that is played often in several parts of the United States, e.g. in Illinois. It borrows its name from Bughouse, as it shares the characteristic that you can drop pieces on the board. As Bughouse is played with four players, this game is `Half Bughouse' as it is played with two.

Half Bughouse is better known as Anywhere Chess. You find here two different descriptions of the same game.


Half Bughouse is played between just two players using just a single board, and the initial setup is the same as chess.

A legal move in Half Bughouse consists of EITHER:

1. Any legal chess move (including captures, Pawn promotions, and castling); OR:

2. The transfer of any piece or Pawn (already on the board) to any VACANT square, except that:

2a. King moves must be normal, legal chess King moves.

2b. Captures must be normal, legal chess captures.

2c. Pawn promotions must be normal, legal chess Pawn promotions. A Pawn may not be placed on the first rank or the eighth rank, except during a normal promotion.

Of course, checks must be respected. Rules regarding check and mate are the same as in chess.

Sample game

A typical, if somewhat brief, Half Bughouse game might proceed as follows:

1. h2-g6

Threatening 2 gxf7+ Kxf7 3 Nb1-g5+ Kf6 [...Ke8?? 4 Qf7 mate] 4 Qf7+ with mate soon to follow. If 1...fxg6, 2 a2-f7+ with similar disastrous consequences.

1. .... hxg6

Black sacs a Rook for the tempo.

2. Rxh8 a7-g3

Black adopts a strategy similar to White's, but White does not have the option of hxg3 so he must defend:

3. Bc1-e3 b7-f4

This is only a two-move threat, so White has time to launch something of his own:

4. Rxg8 fxe3
5. Rxf8+ Kxf8
6. Ra1-h8+ Bc8-g8
7. Nb1-h7+ Ke8
8. Rh8-f8 mate

Bill Smythe sent the information on Half Bughouse. Edited by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: June 9, 1998. Last modified: March 8, 1999.