Strictly speaking, one of the worst possible openings in chess. Alternatively, a meme opening in chess.

  1. e4 e5
  2. Ke2??
8 8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
r n b q k b n r
p p p p . p p p
. . . . . . . .
. . . . p . . .
. . . . P . . .
. . . . . . . .
R N B Q . B N R

Even if you only know the most basic rules of chess, you can still note that the situation is desperately bad for White, mostly because after this move:

  1. Both Queen and one Bishop are completely stuck and require an extra move to start being useful,
  2. Not only is the center of the board left mostly undefended, but the only pawn occupying it is also left alone,
  3. Castling is now impossible in this position and requires a lot of awkward moves to execute,
  4. The King—who you might remember is the most important piece—is left exposed,

In sum, it’s a waste of a move at the very beginning of the game.

Some stuck up people say it’s «an insult to chess» (Short, 2021), it’s been good for a laugh, as demonstrated by Grand Masters Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura on a match between the two (Graham, 2021).

My personal opinion? Could be an interesting way to handicap oneself against a decidedly less skilled opponent… or if playing against a «mirror» player (often a child learning the game) an interesting way to even teach how to take advantage of someone else’s mistakes.

As Bongcloudmaster (BM) Andrew Fabbro says (2020):

To my fellow patzers, I wish you much success with the Bongcloud… though I would not expect it.


Postscript (after Brevity Quest)

Serjeant's Muse notes that one could also say that the Bongcloud attack is an example of honor and sportsmanship among chess players. Under the touch rule, a player must play the piece they touch first unless they announce that they are adjusting the piece. Under strict time limits, it's possible for a player to accidentally brush over their King.

Serjeant's Muse notes:

This happened in one such game between Carlson and Nakumura (sic), where the other promptly replied Ke7! Acknowledging the Ke2 was a mistake, and evening the playing field with both sides losing castling rights. I think the second time they played Ke2... Ke7 they were intentionally signalling a draw as they promptly danced back and forth to Ke1 Ke8 and so on.

References and Bibliography

The Bongcloud opening has also found another use: as a self-imposed challenge for elite players, usually with a great entertainment value for spectators. Hikaru Nakamura, one of the best chess players alive, embarks on "bongcloud speedruns", where, using a smurf account, he reaches a top ranking while using the bongcloud opening in each game. He also does this in bullet chess, one minute long matches that require rapid thinking. For chess purists, intentionally using a bad opening in a one minute game seems like a cheap trick, but for the audience, the quick thinking and odd patterns can be quite amusing. The bongcloud can actually be pretty repetitive, with the limited amount of early moves, but it is quite a novelty to see a top player using it. The bongcloud attack, while bad for a game of chess, might have been good for the game of chess: it is an example of how "meme chess" has expanded the appeal of chess, injecting some silliness and enterainment value into what has traditionally been a very staid activity.

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