Imagine Grandmasters making the worst possible move in the opening, and then winning the game. The opening is called the Bongcloud Attack and starts with putting the king out in the open on move two.
1. e4 e5 2. Ke2
What if you played the worst move in Chess? Moving your King out into the center right in the opening. Sounds insane doesn’t it? As crazy as it sounds, Grandmasters have been playing it for a while now.
Read it and weap.
Viable Opening or a Joke?
Before getting into the fundamentals of the Bongcloud, is this really an opening or just a joke?
The Bongcloud is a legitimate opening that can be played. However, it should only be played by Grandmasters since they know the game so well. This opening won’t be advantageous for an amateur to play. You also won’t see Grandmaster play the Bongcloud in legitimate Chess Tournaments either which says a lot about the strength of this opening.
I think of the Bongcloud as an opening that is unlocked at the Grandmaster level the same way you would “unlock” a special weapon or transmogrification in a video game.
The Bongcloud opening has been utilized as a joke opening on occasion for the past decade or so and is intended to give your opponent a chance. We all know how memes start in the modern era, and the name was given after a chess.com user named Lenny Bongcloud used it with little success.
He then claimed that you would have to be high to even consider it in tournament play. Nigel short was famous for playing the opening against an opponent who he suspected to be Bobby Fischer. From there, it started to gain traction as a cult following in the mainstream chess humor circles and continues to cause many smiles.
It’s outlandish and seemingly unwise, but if you lose to it then you might question reality. Some players don’t take it seriously and see it as a chance to easily seize the game and others simply smile as it is basically an inside joke in chess. Still, other higher-ranking players might take offense to someone playing this and interpret it as a silly and unrealistic opening that should never be played in chess.
Despite the various interpretations, the Bongcloud in the hands of an experienced player can yield some interesting results and in some cases a very surprising and satisfying victory.
The joke behind it is that it blatantly violates every sound chess principle and is commonly viewed as perhaps the worst opening possible. It shows what can happen to an overconfident king, and historically pride has come before the fall.
The opening starts off with the common e4 move which is seen as a great option for gaining central control and placing a piece on a central square. Nothing wrong so far because it also opens up for the development of the queen or bishop. E4 is a great opening move.
E4 is met with e5 in the center by black in this opening. There isn’t anything out of the ordinary going on yet, but brace yourself.
White then responds with the highly questionable move Ke2, and yes you read that correctly. The king boldly steps onto the battlefield and it’s important to note that once the king moves he cannot castle to safety. The king is now in a supportive role in the center and this means that he’s wide open for an attack. You can see why this would be considered a joke, but for the sake of the memes, we see grandmasters using it against each other anyway.
From here, whites will generally respond with another standard move like developing one of the knights to influence the center. There is no bolder opening move than for the king to step outside his court with his army behind him. It’s more of a statement than a serious opening that says white isn’t taking things seriously. Either that, or the player using it just came back from the legal recreational cannabis dispensary.
Let’s discuss Bongcloud theory. Now that the king is exposed and can’t get into safety, he is essentially forced to support the center and build around that. There are many creative ways you can go about this, but despite how silly it looks, you must remember that the King still has influence and is the only piece that can move any square in one direction besides the queen.
The king blocks the development opportunities of your bishop and queen so you may have to move him further or move other pieces to get them moving. If you’re going to try to play this opening seriously then the grandmaster to ask would be Hikaru Nakamura. It shouldn’t be taken lightly in the hands of a high-ranking player like him and he enjoys comically destroying people with it.
There isn’t much strategy to this opening except to maybe disarm your opponent psychologically because there is more pressure on them to win given the fact that you are also reduced in an important tempo. Your main strategy is to do your best to play around with this poor opening move and see if it’s possible to come out victorious, and this can be thrilling if you do. It is used appropriately as a handicap or a chance to win against a grandmaster throwing you a bone.
If you want to see how this opening is done by none other than the current #1 Chess player in the world, Magnus Carlsen has a tutorial on the Bongcloud.
To be honest, the only thing this opening has going for it when it comes to strengths is the fact that people will scratch their heads and might underestimate your abilities. Theoretically, it can help you build a fortified center, but it just isn’t worth it at the beginner level. A more experienced player will be able to build around the idea and still strategize to keep the king safe and use his central influence to the best of their ability. In the hands of an amateur, it’s essentially worthless and will result in your opponent getting the last laugh.
Typically, we think of the king as being strong, and he is, but his strength comes out in the end game, not in the critical stage of development which is intended to situate your minor pieces and influencee the center.
There are many weaknesses to using the bong cloud opening and its evidence that you shouldn’t do drugs. First of all, one of your main priorities in chess is to get the king to safety because the way to win is to attack and checkmate the king. Putting him out in the open is an invitation for an attack.
Do you think a king in real life would step outside his castle when there are flaming archers and enemy soldiers waiting to gut him? Definitely not. The king also blocks development in this opening which means you lose a tempo and have to struggle to figure out how to properly move your army.
A00 Bongcloud Opening: Extended Variation
1.e4 e5 2. e2 d5 3. e3!?
In this extended variation, we see the king treading forward even more boldly to e3 after another hit off the bong. As you can see, this is very fool-hearty and you should only play this in good fun.
A00: Bongcloud Opening; Tal-Lengyel Gambit
1.e4 e5 2. e2 d5 3. b3 dxe4 4. h4 !!
This is a more viable option but that’s generous because you will most likely get harassed by the queen early on and get into a sticky situation. You also basically completely sacrifice the center for the sake of silliness and humor, or in some cases, disgrace. It’s like the king forgot to wear his royal robes.
1. e3 e5 2. f3 d5 3. f2!?
Out of all the variations, this is probably the more sound approach because you at least have some pawns in front of the king. It is often criticized as being too reserved and doesn’t follow the basic boisterous nature of the bong cloud. This variation opens up the door for a hypermodern approach that is actually rather viable.
Magnus Carlsen vs Hikaru Nakamura Bongcloud
Hikaru and Magnus played the Bongcloud against each other and had quite the chuckle.
Nakamura vs Xiong
This is a game between a Super Grandmaster and frequent user of the Bongcloud opening, Hikaru Nakamura and Grandmaster player Jeffery Xiong.
Hikaru is a big fan of playing the Bongcloud, especially during his famous Scrub Stomping speedruns on his Youtube channel.
He also teaches the basics of the Bongcloud.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Bongcloud a good opening?
The Bongcloud opening is not a good opening at any Elo rating. The Bongcloud is played by Grandmasters as a joke to their opponent. You will not see the Bongcloud Attack played in a tournament.
Who invented the Bongcloud opening?
The Bongcloud opening was named after Lenny Bongcloud, a player on Chess.com. However, the bongcloud became popular due Chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura playing the Bongcloud attack in his streams on Twitch.
How do you play chess with Bongcloud opening?
You play Chess how you normally would. However, with the Bongcloud opening, you manually castle your King since you are giving up your right to castle on 2. Ke2.
Is the Bongcloud opening appropriate for tournament play?
The short answer is no, but we still see it used among the grandmasters as a joke practice. There’s nothing wrong with perpetuating a loose and fun opening instead of taking chess so seriously all the time. It’s more appropriate for high-level players though because you would be wise to learn other lucrative openings before you joke around on the chess board.
Why is this opening a joke?
It is a joke because it breaks almost every single fundamental rule for playing good chess, and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll never see this played in a match where there’s money on the line. It was named after a player who didn’t have any success with it, and the results are comical.
Are some people serious when they play this?
Indeed, some people are seriously trying to beat you with this opening like Hikaru Nakamura. It’s done in a light-hearted manner, but when you have mastered everything else in the game, it’s fun to explore the less viable options and see what can be done. Clearly, he has had extended success against players using his grandmaster status to develop a hypermodern approach.
The Bongcloud opening is an anomaly is Chess. It shouldn’t be played seriously if you’re an amateur. Grandmasters will play this opening in casual play, but it’s not used in tournaments where the stakes are high. There are simply better openings to play.
In closing, or you could play this opening against Grandmasters to have a nice chuckle.
The Bongcloud is a meme opening where White or Black move their king on the first few moves of the game. Among the worst openings in chess, the Bongcloud makes rare appearances on high-level games. However, high-profile players like GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So sometimes play it to lighten the mood of a match.Is the Bongcloud a good opening? ›
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.How do you play the opening moves in chess? ›
- Control the center. ...
- Focus on developing your minor pieces. ...
- Protect the King. ...
- Move each piece only once. ...
- Don't bring the Queen out too early.
Most Bongcloud Variations lose by force so you have to play the correct lines.What's the worst opening in chess? ›
Of the twenty possible first moves in chess, author and grandmaster Edmar Mednis argues that 1. f3 is the worst.What opening do most grandmasters play? ›
According to the lichess masters database the most common openings are the indian game and the sicilian.What is the funniest chess opening? ›
- Patzer Attack/ Wayward Queen Attack.
- Sodium Attack.
- Sturm Gambit.
- The Potato.
- Toilet Variation.
- Tortoise Opening.
- Tuebingen Gambit.
- Vulture Benoni Defense.
The most popular second move for White is 2.Nf3 attacking Black's king pawn, preparing for a kingside castle, and anticipating the advance of the queen pawn to d4.What are the 3 special moves in chess? ›
- Castling. The special move castling allows a player to legally break three of the basic movement rules of chess! ...
- Pawn Promotion. ...
- En passant.
In chess, the player who moves first is referred to as "White" and the player who moves second is referred to as "Black". Similarly, the pieces that each conducts are called, respectively, "the white pieces" and "the black pieces".
It is not something you would use in a serious game, it is both bad and disrespectful to your opponent.What is the weakest chess piece *? ›
The pawn is the lowest-value piece on the chessboard, and there are eight pawns per player. The way pawns are arranged on the board is called the “pawn structure.” On the first move, a pawn may move forward one or two spaces.Are chess AI unbeatable? ›
No human has beaten a computer in a chess tournament in 15 years. In new research, a team including Jon Kleinberg, the Tisch University Professor of Computer Science, developed an artificially intelligent chess engine that doesn't necessarily seek to beat humans – it's trained to play like a human.Do you get worse at chess as you age? ›
Before a player's early 20s, performance on the chessboard appears to increase rapidly. Skill then appears to reach a plateau around 35 years of age, peak at age 40, and begin to steadily decline after age 45.How do you punish a bad opening in chess? ›
The best way to "punish" bad opening moves is not to try to punish them at all, so much as to exploit the weakesses that they create in the opponent's position. The way to do this, of course, is to strengthen your own position by adhering to sound opening principles.What is the strongest chess opening for White? ›
1. Queen's Gambit. The Queen's Gambit is one of the most popular openings for White and begins with the following moves: d4 d5.How do I get better at chess OTB? ›
For most players looking to improve at OTB chess, I recommend spending one day per week rotating between openings, strategy, and endgames. As your rating approaches 1700+, this can be expanded out to two days per week.What is the strongest chess opening for black? ›
- The French Defense. The French Defense is a safe way for Black to develop its pieces in a compact fashion that leaves White with fewer attacking chances. ...
- The Queen's Gambit Declined. ...
- Caro-Kann Defense. ...
- The Double King's Pawn Game. ...
- Pirc Defense. ...
- Sicilian Defense. ...
- Dutch Defense. ...
- Alekhine Defense.
The Stafford Gambit has the most traps.What was Bobby Fischer's favorite opening? ›
As his first move, Bobby played c4 (English Opening, Queen's Gambit) instead of his favorite and strongest start: e4 (King Pawn). Bobby had been the strongest proponent of the e4 start his whole life but tied at 2.5 - 2.5 points, Bobby made a starting move he had played only two times in his life.
Magnus Carlsen usually plays the standard 2. c4 after playing 1. d4 against both 1… d5 and 1…Why is 3 minute chess so hard? ›
It's because the average strength of the player pool is different. Beginners tend to like longer time controls, like 10|0. After playing for a while they might switch to 3|0 but from what I've seen people never start with 3|0 because it's too fast so they don't like it. And of course all the pros play stuff like 3|0.What is the 50 rule in chess? ›
Proper noun. (chess) A rule in professional chess that a player may declare the game to be a draw after 50 consecutive moves by each side without any capture or pawn movement, usually invoked during an inconclusive endgame.Is 21 too old to start chess? ›
You're never too young, or old for chess! Keep trying and you will get better at it. Don't let age stop you from playing the best board game of all time.What are the rarest moves in chess? ›
Underpromoting to a bishop must be the rarest move in chess. We can easily think of some famous examples of rook promotions (such as the brilliant Saavedra study), and by comparison knight underpromotions happen every day - just think of this opening trap in the Albin Countergambit.What is the best trick in chess? ›
- Double attack. The mother of all tactical tricks: The double attack. ...
- The pin. First pin, then capture. ...
- Skewer. Even better players can overlook it: a piece is skewered and then material behind it is won. ...
- Discovered attack. A nasty surprise. ...
- Discovered check. ...
- Overloaded piece. ...
- Diversion. ...
- Smothered mate.
The most famous and popular among chess gambits is the Queen's Gambit (especially since Netflix released the series with this name). It starts with 1. d4 d5 2. c4, and White's idea is to use the flank c-pawn to deflect the central d5-pawn.What is the smartest first move in chess? ›
The best opening moves (and most popular) in a game of chess are 1. e4 (the King's Pawn Opening), 1. d4 (the Queen's Pawn Opening), 1. Nf3 (the Réti Opening), 1.Is there a 3 move rule in chess? ›
The threefold repetition rule states that if a game reaches the same position three times, a draw can be claimed. A position is repeated if all pieces of the same kind and color are on identical squares, and all possible moves are the same. After the position repeats three times, a player can claim a draw.What are the 3 C's in chess? ›
If they become grandmasters, I'll be thrilled. But what I really want to give them is COMMUNITY, COMPETITION and CULTURE. These are three basic human needs: to belong, to compete, and to appreciate beauty. Chess can offer all three.
“A pawn attacking a square crossed by an opponent's pawn which has advanced two squares in one move from its original square may capture this opponent's pawn as though the latter had been moved only one square. This capture is only legal on the move following this advance and is called an 'en passant' capture.”Which color wins more often in chess? ›
Statistics on Chess
In tournament games that have a winner in chess (decisive games), White on average beats Black in 55 percent of them (Elo ratings of 2100 or above), but for elite players (Elo ratings of 2700 or above), the winning percentage is 64 percent.
But in practice the Black team has a lower margin for error than White does and is more likely to lose than White is. That is the case in chess. Black doesn't lose more because he blunders more often, he loses more because he has less room for error.Which is the only piece on a chess board that Cannot check a king? ›
Answer: According to the question, the KING cannot check the king.Why do people hate the bongcloud? ›
Playing the bongcloud puts you at a significant disadvantage as it prevents you from castling and you hinders your development significantly, when someone play it players should be happy as they are giving you tempo and positional advantage.What Chinese game is harder than chess? ›
But because the board is larger, game tree complexity of xiangqi beats that of chess by 37 orders of magnitude. From personal (patzer) experience of both, chess seems more complex but xiangqi is way harder.Is there sexism in chess? ›
Sexism in chess
Some male players have commented negatively on women's performance in chess. In a 1963 interview, Bobby Fischer was dismissive of female players, calling them "terrible" and said it was because "[women] are not so smart".
Summary of her weaknesses
The queen is a weak defender. This is not because she can't defend, but because it isn't ideal when your main attacking piece is subjected into a defensive role.
summary: the king can take the queen if the queen moves right next to him and has no pieces supporting her.What protects the queen in chess? ›
The Bishops!” The two Bishops stand guard on either side of the King and Queen. “The Rooks are the guardians of the Kingdom!
And if Magnus Carlsen is the finest chess player the world has ever seen, he can be that intelligent! His IQ of 190 is ideal for him!Are chess players intelligent? ›
Studies have found that Chess players who play the game regularly, exhibit signs of intelligence and tend to have higher IQs. Some of the best Chess players such as Fischer, Carlsen, and Kasparov have genius level IQs.What is the smartest chess AI? ›
Stockfish has consistently ranked first or near the top of most chess-engine rating lists and, as of February 2023, is the strongest CPU chess engine in the world. Its estimated Elo rating is over 3500. It has won the Top Chess Engine Championship 13 times and the Chess.com Computer Chess Championship 19 times.How do you play zugzwang? ›
1. What is Zugzwang in chess? Zugzwang is a German word which basically means, "It is your turn to move, and all of your moves are bad!" There is no "pass" or "skip a move" in chess, so sometimes having to move can lose the game!What is Magnus Carlsen favorite chess opening? ›
What opening does Magnus Carlsen use most? Magnus Carlsen began to employ the Catalan as his main opening in the late 2010s, most notably using it in the second game of the 2021 World Chess Championship against Ian Nepomniachtchi, and used it extensively at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2022.What is opposite of zugzwang? ›
Although there are positions in which every move a player makes leads them to win the game, there is no real opposite of Zugzwang. It is much more common in chess for both players to be able to gain an advantage by moving their pieces, but only Zugzwang can force a player to make a losing move.What is an example of zugzwang in chess? ›
For example, when left with white king (e4) and pawn (e3) versus black king (e6), white moves to ke4 to create zugzwang. Black has no way to prevent white from moving forward, so white wins. 2. Trébuchet: Another type of pawn and king ending, called a trébuchet, creates a state of reciprocal zugzwang.How do you play chess in 3 moves? ›
To checkmate in 3 moves in chess, start by moving your queen pawn to d3. Then, move your king pawn forward to e4, which will free up your queen. Finally, move your queen on the diagonal to h5, where you will have your opponent's king checkmated without having captured a single piece.What is the 0 0 move in chess? ›
In standard chess notation, kingside castling is notated O-O (or 0-0), while queenside castling is notated O-O-O (or 0-0-0), indicating the number of spaces the rook jumps.What does 00 mean in chess? ›
0-0 means king-side castling. 0-0-0 means queen-side castling.
For example, the c file is called the QB, or queen's bishop's file. The ranks are written from each player's perspective.What is the most aggressive chess strategy? ›
The Smith-Morra Gambit
This is best for players who prefer to play aggressively. The aim of White is to not just take out black from the regular Sicilian lines, but also to use its development advantage to overwhelm the black king. Eventually, white aims to place its rooks on the semi-open d file and the open c file.
Follow 20/40/40 Rule
That's where 20/40/40 rule comes handy. For an under 2000 rated player, it makes sense to spend 20% of the time on openings, 40% on Middlegame and 40% on Endgame. Besides that, you should play practice games, solve tactics and analyze.
And if Magnus Carlsen is the finest chess player the world has ever seen, he can be that intelligent! His IQ of 190 is ideal for him!Who has beaten Magnus Carlsen the most? ›
Indian chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, shown here in 2018, has beaten world champion Magnus Carlsen.