Bongcloud Attack

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Bongcloud Attack
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e5 black pawn
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white king
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
Moves1.e4 e5 2.Ke2
ParentOpen Game

The Bongcloud Attack or Bongcloud Opening is an unorthodox chess opening that consists of the moves:

1.e4 e5

It is considered a joke opening, and is associated with internet chess humor. Being a poor move, its usage can suggest a self-imposed challenge. Twitch streamers such as Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura have used it in online blitz chess, including in games against high-level opponents, as has World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. The name has also been applied to other opening sequences in which a player moves the king on move two.


The opening's name is thought to originate either from user "Lenny_Bongcloud", who used the opening with little success,[1] or more generally in reference to a bong, a device used to smoke cannabis, due to a common belief that one would need to be intoxicated to think that using the opening is a legitimate strategy. The opening's usage in chess humor was furthered by Andrew Fabbro's joke manual Winning With the Bongcloud.[2][3]

The Bongcloud Attack violates accepted principles of chess strategy, by forgoing castling, impeding the movement of both the queen and the light-squared bishop, leaving the king exposed, wasting a tempo, and doing nothing to improve White's position. The lack of any redeeming feature, unlike some other dubious openings, puts the Bongcloud well outside of conventional practice. In a Twitter post, English Grandmaster Nigel Short described the opening as an "insult to chess".[4][5]

High-level usage[edit]

GM Hikaru Nakamura has used the Bongcloud Attack in online blitz games. He streamed himself using the opening exclusively on a new account and reached 3000 rating.[3] In 2018, Nakamura played the Bongcloud three times against GM Levon Aronian during the Speed Chess Championship, winning one and losing two.[6] Nakamura also played the Bongcloud against GM Vladimir Dobrov and GM Wesley So during the 2019 Speed Chess Championship, winning both of those matches.[7][8] On September 19, 2020, Nakamura used the opening against GM Jeffery Xiong in the final round of the online St. Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament and won the game.[9]

On March 15, 2021, Magnus Carlsen, playing white, led with the Bongcloud in a game against Nakamura at the Magnus Carlsen Invitational. Nakamura mirrored the opening with 2. ... Ke7, leading to a position nicknamed the "Double Bongcloud".[3] The game was intentionally drawn by threefold repetition after the players immediately repeated moves, the particular sequence they used known as the "Hotbox Variation". The game occurred in the last round of the preliminary stage of the tournament, and both players had already qualified for the following knockout stage, making the game dead rubber. It marked the first recorded occurrence of 1. e4 e5 2. Ke2 Ke7 in a major tournament.[3][10]

Despite its obvious disadvantages, usage of such a "joke" opening can also have a psychological impact: following Carlsen's win over Wesley So in a 2020 blitz tournament where he played 1.f3 (the Barnes Opening) followed by 2.Kf2—a variant also named the "Bongcloud"[11][12]—So noted that losing the game after such an opening had a crushing impact.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nicholas, Bergh (19 March 2021). "Carlsen fikk latterkrampe. «Bringer sjakken i vanry», mener sjakktopp" [Carlsen breaks into fit of laughter. "Brings the game of chess into disrepute", opines chess Grandmaster]. Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 19 April 2021. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  2. ^ Fabbro, Andrew (28 January 2020). Winning with the Bongcloud. ISBN 979-8605806851.
  3. ^ a b c d e Graham, Bryan Armen (18 March 2021). "Double bongcloud: why grandmasters are playing the worst move in chess". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 March 2021. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  4. ^ Nigel Short [@nigelshortchess] (17 March 2021). "Mike Basman used to shock by playing 1.e4 g5!? Although not quite as solid as the Berlin, at least this took control of the f4 square & prepared an extended fianchetto. It was highly provocative, but not an insult to chess - unlike some Twitch generation openings I could name" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Bostock, Bill (18 March 2021). "'The Queen's Gambit' and the pandemic injected new life into the multimillion-dollar chess industry, with esports teams and sponsors rushing to snap up the game's Twitch stars". Insider. Nigel Short, a British grandmaster, also called the Bongcloud "an insult to chess."
  6. ^ Copeland, Sam. "Nakamura Beats Aronian In Speed Chess, Loses In Bullet". Archived from the original on 3 December 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  7. ^ Steincamp, Isaac (1 October 2019). "Nakamura Routs Dobrov In Speed Chess Championship". Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  8. ^ Doggers, Peter (15 March 2022). "Hikaru Nakamura Wins 2019 Speed Chess Championship". Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  9. ^ Backhouse, Andrew (21 September 2020). "Chess star Magnus Carlsen makes a late, shirtless cameo". Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2021. Nakamura finished third with 21 points, winning his final game with the offbeat opening known as the “Bongcloud Attack”. He managed to confuse his young American opponent Jeffery Xiong with the ultimate troll opening, winning in 52 moves.
  10. ^ Gault, Matthew (16 March 2021). "Chess World Champion Plays 'Bongcloud Attack' Meme Opening in Tournament". Vice. Archived from the original on 19 March 2021. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  11. ^ Barden, Leonard (2 October 2020). "Chess: Carlsen wins with 1 f3 as Play Magnus raises $42m in Oslo listing". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  12. ^ Satumbaga-Villar, Kristel (1 October 2020). "Magnus Carlsen shows Wesley So who's boss". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 19 March 2021.