Tandem chess

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Two teams of 2 in tandem chess

The tandem chess (in English bughouse chess , also exchange chess , conference or Berlin of four called) is a variant of chess , in which two chessboards four players, two sitting side by side together as a team, play for each other. Each individual player plays with his teammate (who has the other color) against his direct opponent on the board, his team partner sitting at an angle and against time. A team wins if the opposing team gives up, if it times out or if a single board mate. In principle, the normal rules of the World Chess Federation FIDE apply .

If, however, a piece is captured, it is passed to the partner, who may place it on a free space instead of a move on his own board. There are special rules for placing pieces (see below).

If a player wins by exceeding the time limit or by mating his opponent, his team has won and the other game is considered over. If the clock of one player in a team has run out or if a player in a team mates his opponent at the same time, the fight is counted as a draw.

Without the use of chess clocks , tandem chess cannot be played, as the time factor plays an important role: Without a running clock, a player who is about to checkmate or lose a piece would not be forced to move at some point.

Rules for placing pieces and promoting pawns

Various rules are common for the insertion. First of all, the rules that apply on the chess servers and are used in international tandem tournaments should be presented:

  • Pieces may be used in open spaces to bid for check or checkmate. The striking of an opposing stone by a piece to be used is not permitted.
  • Pawns may not be used on your own or the opponent's back row (i.e. only on rows 2–7)
  • From then on, pawns who reach the opposing back row are to be treated like a queen (or, if the player so wishes, like a rook, bishop or knight) ( cardboard queen ). If they are beaten, they can only be used as pawns.

Different rules for betting with check

Different rules for betting with chess are common:

  • Pieces may not be used in such a way that they offer check
  • or pieces may be used in such a way that they offer check if this does not result in checkmate.

Different rules for placing pawns

  • Pawns may only be used up to the 6th or 7th (or 3rd or 2nd) row.
  • or pawns may not be used.
  • or pawns can be used anywhere except for the opposing back row (ie rows 1–7).

Different rules for converting pawns

  • The player, which converts the farmers, may be an arbitrary figure take (except King and pawn) from the board of the player from the other team ( pull out or grab ), the same color as him and use this for the farmers. The converted pawn then goes to the opposing team. If there is no suitable piece to place on, the pawn can stay on his field until a suitable piece is placed on the second board.
  • or pawns who reach the opposing back row "fail" (are taken from the board and fall to the opposing team).
  • or pawns remain on the 8th row as pawns and can no longer move. They stay there until they are hit.
  • or pawns become the basic row queen on the 8th row . This can only move around (and capture) on the back row, but can also offer check to a king outside the back row. A white pawn on a8, for example, offers check to a black king on b7, but cannot capture a black queen on b7. If the back row queen is defeated, she can only be used as a pawn.


The opening

The suit advantage in tandem chess is great. A popular strategy is to sacrifice the king knight on f7 and lure the black king out, where he is attacked by pieces, especially other knights. Once the king is out in the open, his chances of survival are usually very slim. The king knight can reach f7 from the basic position in only three moves and can hardly be prevented from doing so, since the pawn move f7 – f6 (to deny the knight the squares e5 and g5) very quickly results in a white pawn on f7 used, which can have disastrous consequences. A possible defense against 1. Nf3 is, for example, Nc6 to prevent 2. Ne5, and after 2. Ng5? Black covers the weak point f7 with Nh6.

Often the diagonal a2 – g8 is also used for the attack, on which the weak point f7 also lies.

The castling is in tandem chess often felt to be disadvantageous. The reason for this is the weakness of the pawns on the g- and h-line (for short castling) or a- and b-line (for long castling). Instead of one neuralgic point in the starting position (f2 or f7), castling creates two. In addition, the defense is usually focused on a king standing in the center, as the attack usually comes very early. If the king now casts on a wing, the attacker can shift the attack more easily by placing new pieces than the defender can build up a new defensive position. The bunker technique is also widespread, in which the figures are mainly used in their own half of the board.

The value of the characters

The value of the pieces shifts slightly compared to normal chess, as this depends on the mobility of the pieces. Knights have the particular advantage that a chess bid from a knight cannot be blocked, but must be parried with a king move if the knight cannot be captured. Pawns are dangerous because they are placed on the 7th row and can then be converted very quickly - depending on the variant played. A queen ready to play is very dangerous as she can appear anywhere and give many mates due to her ability to move. Rooks are usually a little weaker than in normal chess. The figure value, however, depends almost exclusively on the specific position.

The figure values ​​are roughly

  • 2 pawns = knight = bishop = rook
  • 4 pawns = 2 knights / bishops / rooks = queen

In tandem games, a lot of material is very often sacrificed in order to obtain concrete positional advantages or to provide his partner with a required figure.

The game as a team

It is also very important to keep an eye on the situation on the neighboring board. This is especially true if the exchange of pieces is possible. It is advisable to ask your partner whether this is dangerous for him before swapping heavy pieces. You should also always tell your partner if a certain piece is becoming very dangerous for you or even leads to an immediate mate.

Tandem chess is a team game. Without coordination with your partner you have a big disadvantage.

Reflection period

Tandem chess must be played with a cooling-off time limit, otherwise it would be possible to stop playing in a losing position and hope for the partner's victory.

As a rule, blitz games (e.g. 5 minutes per player) are played, which creates another tactical moment. You have to weigh up again and again whether - when it is your turn - you can wait for your partner to deliver a figure you need, or whether you are forced to do without the coveted figure due to the remaining time to think about it.

If games with Fischer time are played, this tactical moment does not apply. On the chess servers and tournaments there is hardly any Fischer time to play.


Critics of this chess variant note that normal chess is "unlearned" as tandem chess differs greatly from it. GM Levon Aronian , has said:

“Tandem chess is good for already experienced players. But for beginners it could have its negative effects. Because if you don't have a good positional play, the player in tandem chess will drown and not waste the time dealing with the difficult aspects of chess. I started tandem chess when I was already a grandmaster. And I think tandem chess is good for the 'imagination' to develop new ideas. "

- Levon Aronian "Bughouse Chess"


A miniaturized version of tandem chess is the mini chess of the Hamburger Schachjugendbund.

Individual evidence

  1. Original: "Bughouse is good for players who know chess already. But for beginners it might have the negative effect. Because look if one has no positional knowledge he will get lost in bughouse and will not waste his time figuring out the difficult chess aspects. I started to play bug when I was already at master level see. And I think bughouse is good for the imagination, to develop new ideas "

Web links

Wiktionary: Tandem chess  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations