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[OTB rules]


Complete ruleset for OTB (over the board) Bughouse tournaments

The main passages are taken out of Nabla's homepage (www.pion.ch). There are some adjustments made, according to experiences and discussions after the Berlin Bughouse Gathering. So in addition to Nabla's strict rules, the ruleset is now devided into a section of strict rules and some optional rules, which have to be defined by the organisator of an OTB Tournament. This ruleset has to be used, if the organisotor of a tourney wants the tourney rated and taken into consideration for Bughouse titles.


1. Bughouse is played between two two-player teams on two boards. Both teams have White on one board and Black on the other, both games start simultaneously.
2. The time control is decided by the organisotor of the Tournament.
3. For each game, FIDE rules for 5-minutes blitz (FIDE5) apply, if not mentioned otherwise in the following articles.
4. The first game to end decides of the match result; the remaining game is then stopped.
5. Both boards are placed near to each other and the clocks on the side, so that each player can see the time on both clocks. Changes to the normal chess rules
6. Every piece taken can be given to the partner, who will place it in front of or near his board. These pieces are considered to be part of the partner's stock (they are of his piece colour).
7. Instead of a normal chess move, a player can drop a piece taken from his stock on any empty square (on his board), but with two restrictions:
- he must not stay in check (of course)
- a pawn cannot be dropped on the first or last rank.
If the drop leads to a checkmate, the player wins the game.
8. The pieces on a player's colour which are not on his board are considered to be potentially in the player's stock. Hence, unless all necessary pieces are on his board (very unlikely):
- The player is not considered to be checkmated if he could parry the check with a piece potentially in his stock. Thus, a checkmate must almost always be given either with a "contact check", either with a knight check, either with a multiple check.
- The player is not considered to be stalemated.
- FIDE5 rules #14 e) 2) and #15 e) , describing the case of a player without enough material to deliver checkmate, are irrelevant.
9. A pawn moving to the last rank is promoted, but physically stays as a pawn; the player must orally point into which piece he wishes to promote - usually "queen" or "knight". If the pawn figuring the promoted piece is taken, it returns to a simple pawn in the partner's stock.

Progress of the match

10. Each players plays his own game: he is not in any way allowed to physically act on the other board or clock, for instance by pointing out a square or a piece with his finger.
11. On the other hand, all others forms of communication are allowed inside a team. A player can for instance tell a move to his partner.
12. As soon as one game is ended, each player of the game can stop playing and neutralize the clock. This puts an end to the match, even if after that his opponent finds a mate in one move. On the other hand, if both players neglect to neutralize the match, their game can go on. If a referee is present, he will by himself neutralize the match as soon as one game is ended.
13. If only one game has ended, it decides of the match result. On the other hand, if both games have ended, the following applies:
- If both games are won by the same team, they win the match.
- Otherwise the match is a draw.
14. Two games are considered to end simultaneously in the following case: a player takes a piece which allows his partner to mate immediately, but get himself mated immediately too. As ruled by the previous article, the match is a draw in this case.
15. A draw offer, like its agreement, must be done by both players of the team, and decides of the whole match. Optional rules which the organisator has to define and point out before the Tournament starts

Hidden pieces

Example: All players must have all pieces of their stocks well visible in front of their boards or just near it. If (by purpose or not) a players is hiding some of his pieces, his opponent can press the clock and ask him to show them.

Touch move or clock move

Example:. FIDE5 rule #11 (touch-move) doesn't apply in the case where the touched piece is in the player's stock, even if this piece is put on the board. On the other hand, once the piece is dropped the move can not be taken back any more.


Example:. Like in FIDE5 rules, a move (except from a mating move) is considered to be finished only once the clock has been pressed; it follows that:
- An illegal move leads to the loss of the game, but only if the clock has been pressed. Otherwise it can be taken back, but must be played with the same piece if that is possible (FIDE5 rule #14 d) ).
- A piece taken can not be used by the partner before the clock is pressed.

Repetition draw

Example:. As set by the FIDE5 rule #15 d), a player can claim a draw after 4 repetitions of the positions counted in a loud voice, but only given that no piece has been dropped inbetween. On the other hand, he can claim the draw even if his opponent's stock has increased.

Time Control

Example: The time control is 3 mintues for each player, known as 3 0.


Example: In case of contention, a team can neutralize the match
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  © 12/2002 · Daniel Denes· Emailemail