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Crazyhouse (also known as drop chess, mad chess, reinforcement chess, turnabout chess and schizo-chess) is a chess variant similar to bughouse chess, but with only two players. It effectively incorporates a rule from the game shogi, in which a player can introduce a captured piece back to the chessboard as their 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,pocket or bank. At any time, instead of making a move with a piece on the board, a player can drop a piece from their reserve (a piece in there is considered “held” or “in hand”) onto an empty square on the board. For example, a check that would result in checkmate in standard chess can be answered in Crazyhouse, if the defender can play a legal drop that blocks the check.[1]
  • Drops resulting in immediate checkmate are permitted. Unlike in shogi, this includes pawn drops.[2]
  • Pawns may not be dropped on the players' 1st or 8th ranks.[2]
  • Pawns that have been promoted and later captured are dropped as pawns.[2]
  • Dropped white and black pawns on the 2nd and 7th ranks, respectively, are permitted to make a two-square move as their first move after the drop.[3]
  • A dropped rook can not castle.[4]

Unlike shogi, having two or more pawns on a file, and checkmating with a dropped pawn, are both permissible.

The physical problem of changing the color of a captured piece can be handled by:[5]

  • Swapping the piece for a piece of the same denomination and the other color taken from a second chess set.
  • Playing the game through a computer interface.
  • Having 32 white checkers with the drawing of the piece on it, and the orientation determines whose it is (like shogi)
  • Using a checker under the piece to mark its true color.


An extension to the standard chess notation is used to record drops. Drops are notated by the piece type, followed by an @ symbol, then the destination square. For example, N@d5 means "knight is dropped on d5 from reserve".[1]


There is no standard FEN specification for Crazyhouse. However at Lichess an extended version of FEN is in use. Here is Lichess's FEN implemention example.[6]

r2qk3/pp2bqR1/2p5/8/3Pn3/3BPpB1/PPPp1PPP/RK1R4/PNNNbpp b - - 89 45

Lichess simply adds a 0th rank as a reserve. There are more than 8 pieces on the reserve, so the last section may have more than 8 characters.

A different notation is used by Xboard/Winboard. The reserve is given in square brackets following the board position.

r2qk3/pp2bqR1/2p5/8/3Pn3/3BPpB1/PPPp1PPP/RK1R4[PNNNbpp] b - - 89 45 uses another notation. The reserve is put after full-move number.

To keep track of which pieces currently on the board are actually promoted pawns, Lichess and Xboard/Winboard use "~" after letter designation. However, uses coordinates of promoted pawn to resolve it.[7][failed verification]

r2q1r1k/2p1ppb1/p2p2pp/3P1p2/B6B/2N2NPp/1PP2P1K/3Q3q w - - 0 26 NNBRpr h1


Minor variations of the rules have resulted in some variants.

  • Loop Chess: promoted pawns keep their rank when captured.[8]
  • Chessgi (also known as Mad Mate or Neo Chess): promoted pawns keep their rank when captured. Pawns may be dropped on the 1st rank.[9]

See also[edit]

  • Hostage Chess—a player can drop back into play their own previously captured pieces


  1. ^ a b "crazyhouse". FICS Help. Free Internet Chess Server. 2008-02-28. Archived from the original on 2014-04-16. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  2. ^ a b c "crazyhouse". ICC Help. Internet Chess Club. Archived from the original on 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  3. ^ This isn't written in any rulebook, but Lichess and allowed it.
  4. ^ Also this isn't written in rule.
  5. ^
  6. ^ ""IM opperwezen vs LM JannLee in T6Q3tMva : Analysis board •"". Lichess. Archived from the original on 2018-05-26. Retrieved 2018-05-26.
  7. ^ ""Chess: liviu78ro vs JannLeeCrazyhouse - 3367504566 -"". Archived from the original on 2019-01-17. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  8. ^ "Game rules (Loop Chess)". BrainKing. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  9. ^ "Chessgi". 2001-03-20. Archived from the original on 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2014-04-17.

External links[edit]