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The parable of Bug House. The world's toughest chess variation. (humbledmba.com)
68 points by waratuman on Nov 27, 2011 | hide | favorite | 29 comments

I know that chess is probably the most traditional "thinking" game to play in the western world, but when I read this line:

> I think there may be a lot of neat similarities to chess and entrepreneurship, but ultimately chess is too controlled.

...I felt compelled to mention Go. In general, Go is much less constrained than Chess. The strategy plays on many axes: not only offense vs defense (as chess) but also territory guarding vs invasion, speed vs strength, and risk-taking vs conservative-waiting. In general, I would say Go has many more parallels with business (and life in general). I've recently been turning my passing interest in Go into a full-blown obsession, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative to Chess.

OP here. I love GO. For those that haven't played, it's the game showed briefly in a beautiful mind. Where Nash, the rational mind, can't figure out how he could have lost...and exclaims 'The game is flawed'

It's Othello squared. It's a fabulous game. It's intuitive, instead of rational. I lived in Japan for a year after college and played every year. It's hard to find people in the states that play and it takes a long time to play. The old saying goes, 'Two men sat down for a game of Go. That was yesterday'

If anyone plays Go and is in San Francisco, hit me up by email--would love to play!

You might try checking out the Dragon Go Server: http://www.dragongoserver.net/

As opposed to the live-play servers, Dragon Go is intended for a much more measured pace of play (the FAQ claims the average player makes 4 moves per game per week). As an added bonus, there's also an iPhone app. It's definitely not the same as playing in person, but it's currently how I get my fix.

I feel the need to point out that it's still deterministic and fully observable; it's just that there's around 50 orders of magnitude more complexity to Go than to Chess; and to humans and the AIs we've created so far that's a qualitative rather than quantitative distinction.

Couldn't find your email address, so I filled out the form on your about.me...

Man, I played this back in high school when I was on the chess team. It promotes such a different level of thought than normal chess, but when you get a teammate who literally starts taking pieces so you can place them and vice-versa, it gets insane.

I think the real benefit of this game is that it teaches you to read chess boards quickly. If you get good, you can glance at your opponents board and get a quick idea of things you can do in a few moves to help them.

When I was new to the game, a quick-and-dirty strategy I was taught was to figure out which board had the better strategic positioning within the first 15 moves. Then, the player whose board was not the "good" board, would assume a turtle role and play defense, all while capturing pieces for his teammate.

Although strangely enough, I recalled the turtle board winning the game more often than the board that was appraised with a higher chance of winning.

I came here to say exactly this. Bughouse is crazy fun when you have a teammate who is brutal.

I wonder why no one has implemented Bughouse as a massively popular webapp, I'd love to play that again.

Edit: Huh, apparently Bughouse is still 1v1, the 2v2 variant is called Crazyhouse. We never called it that back then, weird.

According to wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazyhouse) Crazyhouse is a 1v1 version of Bughouse. They say 2 players opposed to 4 players, not 2 players by team.

This is quite similar to Shogi, a Japanese variant of chess where you can put down any of your opponent's captured pieces. From what I know, that game is highly strategic; since all of your potential pieces come directly from your opponent, it's probably less chaotic than this variant.


The two player variant of Bughouse is called Crazyhouse. You can play it on the chess servers (freechess.org, chessclub.com etc).

There are also some chess engines that can do it, including the one in Mac OS X, though I don't know if Apple's GUI offers access to it.

This game has been around for a while. We used to play in my chess club after people got bored at a practice session or fooling around waiting for the next tournament game. It's a fun game to play but it's much more difficult to plan ahead when your opponent can drop any piece on you anywhere. I found that it didnt really promote the deep rational thinking that comes naturally with chess and is fundamentally different.

Just a clarification on the rules. You can't place all pieces "anywhere on the board." Pawns can't be placed in the first or last rows so no illegal placements and no instant promotion.

Can you place a piece to put someone in check?

It's been at least a couple of decades since I've played bug house, so my memories are pretty hazy.

>Can you place a piece to put someone in check?

Yes you can. Very often the game ends when a player uses a new piece to checkmate.

More details here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bughouse_chess

Also fun is the version where pieces "respawn". There are 6 respawn points. Every minute, a dice is rolled and the piece captured earliest (of all captured pieces) is placed at the respawn point indicated by the dice (knocking off any piece that happens to be there, of course).

There are no stalemates in this version.

My son plays it. But the way it was conveyed to me, it sounds like "The Secret". The whole point is to learn to wish for pieces. If you wished loudly enough, for example "I could checkmate if I had a pawn in my next move", then it could magically appear out of no where.

Back in high school we played Bug House during lunch and at the end of chess practice. This is easily some of the most fun that can be had with a chess board.

I think Fischer Random is much more challenging...

Based on what? Fischer Random is exactly like normal chess in complexity, and only cancels out the opening books.

Bughouse and crazyhouse are significantly more complex games (branching factor over 100 for Crazyhouse, even more for bughouse).

Based on my own personal opinion and experiences? Fischer random creates a lot of uncertainty in my mind when I play. Regardless of what obscure opening is played in a traditional game I still have a sense of what spaces are likely to be controlled by rooks, where I can anticipate a knight showing up and so forth.

As far as your statement regarding branching factor increase can you point me to some references? Its not that I do not believe you I'm curious at what point the complexity begins to take off.

As a serious player with a reasonable amount of experience with both variants I have to say I disagree with you profoundly on this. FischerRandom/Chess960 is just chess with a twist (familiar openings and opening setups aren't available). Bughouse/Transfer is a completely different game that's based on chess rules and conventions. It's major characteristic is a massive injection of chaos that's quite foreign to the game of chess.

I'd also like to mention that "exactly like normal chess in complexity" is false. How can you say that there are the same number of possible first moves in a standard game versus a fischer random game?

It's obvious that there are going to be exactly the same number of possible first moves plus or minus two. And what that has to do with the perceived complexity of the game, I haven't the slightest.

But you do not know the layout of the board in fischer random. And once you do the number of first moves is not even; the knights could be in the corners...

the knights could be in the corners...

"plus or minus two"

Four. Both sides can have knights in corners.

That may be, but there is only one first move.

you guys are all missing something: the money factor. This is why none of these games will mirror startuping adequatly.

Poker, with its structural luck factor and money factor is by far the closest match. I think the variant that best mirrors it is tournament poker, MTTs especially. If you look at PNL graphs from MTT players, you will see they mirror startup PNL very well.

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