Rachel Naidich MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

One game that I love to play is bughouse. Bughouse is a popular variant of chess that involves teamwork. Rather than playing 1 vs 1, bughouse is a 2 vs 2 game where each player has a teammate. The difference in mechanics between bughouse and regular chess is that in bughouse, when you take your opponent’s piece, you can pass it to your teammate. Each turn, you can choose to either move one of your pieces just like in normal chess or place a piece that your teammate has given you on any square that isn’t already occupied by another different piece.

In typical chess, one type of fun that already exists is challenge. It is challenging to think about the decision tree of moves that can be made and to be able to forsee the future. Bughouse creates a different kind of challenge and introduces a new element of fun: fellowship. By allowing players to place down pieces that they receive from their teammate, it becomes even more difficult to predict future moves because it depends on what is happening on your teammate’s board. Overcoming this challenge requires constant communication between teammates. For example, if one player realizes that they will get checkmated if their opponent has a queen, they need to communicate to their partner to not trade queens. Or if a player thinks that they can win high-value pieces with a pawn, they might communicate to their partner to try to trade for a pawn. Just like in team sports, this constant talking and strategizing between teammates creates high levels of interaction and forges bonds between the players.

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