Crazyhouse (also known as Drop chess, Mad chess, Reinforcement chess, Turnabout chess, or Schizo-chess) is a chess variant similar to bughouse chess, but with only two players. It effectively incorporates a rule in shogi (Japanese chess), in which a player can introduce a captured piece back to the chessboard as his own.
All the rules and conventions of standard chess apply, with the addition of drops, as explained below.
- A captured piece reverses color and goes to the capturing player's reserve or pocket. At any time, instead of making a move with a piece on the board, a player can drop a piece from his reserve onto an empty square on the board.
- Drops resulting in immediate checkmate are permitted. Unlike in shogi, this includes pawn drops.
- Pawns may not be dropped on the players' first or eighth ranks.
- Promoted but captured pawns are dropped as pawns.
When recording games, an extension of the usual algebraic notation for chess is used, so that drops can be specified. Drops first give the piece type, followed by an @ symbol, then the target square. For example, "P@d5" means "pawn is dropped on d5 from reserve".
Crazyhouse, which has been analysed much less than standard chess, requires different strategy. Pawns and knights increase in relative importance in Crazyhouse, while rooks, queens, and bishops decrease in relative importance. If a king is put in check by any of the latter three pieces, from two or more squares away, dropping a pawn next to the king becomes defensively useful. A knight, on the other hand, cannot be blocked by anything and its offensive value is more manifest. That piece can be used effectively to maintain a strategic influence over a region. After an early exchange of queens, it is usually unwise to reintroduce the queen too soon, particularly if she can be harassed by dropped minor pieces. Careful preparation is needed in order to reintroduce the queen to maximum effect. Pawns could be dropped deep in the enemy position where, for example, they can fork pieces or give an uncomfortable check.
Minor variations of the rules have resulted in some variants.
- Loop Chess: promoted pawns keep their rank when captured.
- Chessgi (also known as Mad Mate or Neo Chess): promoted pawns keep their rank when captured. Pawns may be dropped on the first rank.