Bongcloud Opening - How To Play This?

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History of the Bongcloud opening

Ke2 is an intriguing move. An early 'joke' notion for this move is to develop the king in order to prepare for an early endgame. The issues with 2. Ke2?! is that the King move inhibits castling to protect the King, puts the King in danger, ignores the development and the center, and blocks the Queen and Bishop, which are the two free pieces following 1. e4. Having said that, it can be utilized as a surprise to depose Black. Because of the uncertain nature of the move, it can be employed as a handicap system.

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Sometimes, rather than achieving checkmate, games begin with the bongcloud opening attack, in which the players attempt to move the king to the opposite side of the board.

The name of the bongcloud opening is thought to come from Chess.com user Lenny Bongcloud, who played it unsuccessfully or to be a more general reference to a bong, a device used to consume cannabis. During the emergence of internet chess, the opening developed a cult following. On Internet Chess Club, Nigel Short played against a strong player who utilized the bongcloud opening; Short assumed his opponent was Bobby Fischer. Andrew Fabbro's joke guidebook Winning With the Bongcloud helped popularise the opening in chess humor.

GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Hikaru Nakamura played the 'double bongcloud' at a competition when they both played symmetrically with 2. Ke2 Ke7 (equivalent to K-K2). The match had little bearing on the tournament standings and was promptly resolved by mutual agreement to draw.

Why is the bongcloud opening attack so strong?

As Hans Kmoch demonstrated in 1928 by his article Un ingegnoso esempio del mio sistema that the principles taught by Aaron Nimzowitsch in his work Il Mein System, and overall overprotection, guarantee victory in chess if you respect the principles of the bongcloud chess opening and learn how to play the bongcloud opening.

On e4, you overprotect your pawn with an extra piece (one that no one could have predicted): the King! White does have moves like Kf3 or Ke3 that can safeguard the pawn on e4. Because of this, Bongcloud's player has the upper hand. White has a centered King that is ready to play the endgame: in chess endgames, having an active king is advantageous.

Example of games featuring the bongcloud opening attack

Magnus Carlsen uses a bongcloud opening attack against Hikaru Nakamura (2021): Magnus Carlsen, the World Chess Champion, used the bongcloud opening attack against Hikaru Nakamura on March 15th, 2021, and Nakamura responded with another Bongcloud, a move the two chuckled about while playing. In under 24 hours, the video had over 700,000 views and 38,000 upvotes after being uploaded to YouTube channel chess24.5 and submitted to /r/videos.

Example of games featuring the bongcloud opening attack
  • 2…Nc6 3.d3! : According to Aaron Nimzowitsch's teaching, the piece on d3 is overprotecting the pawn on e4! This is the specialty of this opening. You protect a pawn with many pieces and one of those is King!!
2…Nc6 3.d3
  • 3…g6 4.c3: You should keep an eye on d4, preventing Black Knight from doing a check on d4.
3…g6 4.c3
  • 4…Bg7 5.f4: White establishes a pawn center and prepares to strike on the King Side.
4…Bg7 5.f4
  • 5…d6 6.g3: On the King's side, White is planning a fianchetto.
5…d6 6.g3
  • 6…Nf6 7.Nf3  0-0 8.Bg2: White has a setup similar to King's Indian Attack, but it is superior because White's King is prepared to play the endgame!
6…Nf6 7.Nf3  0-0 8.Bg2

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