Bongcloud Attack

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Bongcloud Attack
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
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
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Moves1.e4 e5 2.Ke2
ECOC20
ParentOpen Game

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

1.e4 e5
2.Ke2?

It is considered a joke opening, and is associated with internet chess humor. Twitch streamers such as Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura have used it in online blitz chess, including games against high level opponents, as has World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. The name has also been applied to other opening sequences in which one of the players moves the king on move 2.

Background[edit]

The opening's name is thought to originate either from Chess.com user "Lenny_Bongcloud" who used the opening to little success, or to more generally be a reference to a bong, a device used for consuming cannabis.[1] The opening's usage in chess humor was furthered by Andrew Fabbro's joke manual Winning With the Bongcloud.[2][3]

The movement of the king to e2 violates accepted principles of opening theory, 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".[3][4]

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 Chess.com account with the aim of reaching a 3000 rating.[3] In 2018, Nakamura played the Bongcloud three times against GM Levon Aronian during the Chess.com Speed Chess Championship, winning one of the three games and losing the two others.[5] Nakamura also played the Bongcloud against GM Vladimir Dobrov and GM Wesley So during the 2019 Speed Chess Championship, winning both of those matches.[6][7] 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.[8]

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 drawn by threefold repetition after the players immediately repeated moves. 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][9]

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 which has also been named as the "Bongcloud"[10][11] – the American grandmaster noted that losing the game after such an opening had a crushing impact.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nicholas, Bergh (19 March 2021). "Carlsen fikk latterkrampe. «Bringer sjakken i vanry», mener sjakktopp". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  2. ^ Fabbro, Andrew. Winning with the Bongcloud. ISBN 979-8605806851.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Graham, Bryan Armen (18 March 2021). "Double bongcloud: why grandmasters are playing the worst move in chess". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Bostock, Bill. "'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."
  5. ^ Copeland, Sam. "Nakamura Beats Aronian In Speed Chess, Loses In Bullet". Chess.com. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  6. ^ Steincamp, Isaac. "Nakamura Routs Dobrov In Speed Chess Championship". Chess.com. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  7. ^ Doggers, Peter. "Hikaru Nakamura Wins 2019 Speed Chess Championship". Chess.com. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Nakamura – Xiong". chess24. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  9. ^ Gault, Matthew (16 March 2021). "Chess World Champion Plays 'Bongcloud Attack' Meme Opening in Tournament". Vice. Retrieved 19 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Barden, Leonard (2 October 2020). "Chess: Carlsen wins with 1 f3 as Play Magnus raises $42m in Oslo listing". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  11. ^ Satumbaga-Villar, Kristel (1 October 2020). "Magnus Carlsen shows Wesley So who's boss". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 19 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)