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Alice Chess. Classic Variant where pieces switch between two boards whenever they move. (2x(8x8), Cells: 128) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
H. G. Muller wrote on 2019-11-26 UTC

This is a trial for using the Interactive Diagram for Alice Chess. Custom-supplied functions BadZone and WeirdPromotion take care of refusal of moves to squares of which the mirror square is occupied, and take care of shuttling the moved piece to the other board, respectively. The boards are separated by strip of 'hole' squares, which has to be two files wide to prevent Knights from crossing it.

files=18 promoChoice=NBRQ graphicsDir=../membergraphics/MSelven-chess/ whitePrefix=w blackPrefix=b graphicsType=png squareSize=33 symmetry=none royal=6 pawn::::a2,b2,c2,d2,e2,f2,g2,h2,,a7,b7,c7,d7,e7,f7,g7,h7 knight:N:::b1,g1,,b8,g8 bishop::::c1,f1,,c8,f8 rook::::a1,h1,,a8,h8 queen::::d1,,d8 king::KisO2::e1,,e8 hole::::i1,i2,i3,i4,i5,i6,i7,i8,j1,j2,j3,j4,j5,j6,j7,j8

I implemented e.p. capture as a move by the Pawn on the board where the doubly pushed Pawn started. This seemed the least illogical way to do it, as the e.p. square on that board will always be empty (or the double push would not have been allowed). And it is the square the double push really passed over, and thus where it could have been blocked. The move could still be illegal because the corresponding square on the other board is occupied, but that is normal for any move to an empty square in Alice Chess that would be legal on its own board. There has to be no extra rule to prevent double capture this way. This method of e.p. capture corresponds to one where the doubly pushed Pawn must first make a single retrograde step before being captured, rather than replacing its double step by a single step. That this is not the same is the fault of an Alice double push not really being two consecutive single pushes.

I still have a comment to make about the legality of moves (an aspect that the diagram doesn't address). The ambiguity here seems to be caused by not making proper distinction between legal and pseudo-legal moves, but heaping them all under the term 'legal'. A more precise description would have said that a move in Alice Chess is pseudo-legal if (before transfer) it would have been pseudo-legal in orthodox Chess on the board where it is made, and the target square on the other board is empty. And then an Alice move is legal (as usual) when it does not expose the King to pseudo-legal Alice capture. This prevents solving distant checks by interposing a piece that was on the board where the checked King resides (but then disappearing to the other board, so that the King can be captured) from being considered legal. Despite the fact that they would have been perfectly legal orthodox Chess moves on the board with the King.

JT K wrote on 2016-10-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

What a great classic variant I've only recently discovered!  This description mentions that you can use only one board.  I agree and think it's easier visually. After each piece is moved, you could just mark it with some sort of large poker chip underneath (or clip something onto the top) and vice versa - when a marked piece is moved it loses the marker. 

Then, the players could simply have an understanding that marked pieces and unmarked pieces are not in each others' way and cannot capture each other.  So a game could go like this:

1. d4  Nf6

(now the white pawn and black knight are both marked)

2. Qd6 now possible for White because White knows the unmarked Queen can go "through" his/her marked pawn.  Then the Queen becomes marked at d6, threatening the marked Black knight.  The Black knight then moves to e4 and loses its marker. 


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-02-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Alice Chess is a 3D chess variant that works very well, with only minor trickery required (i.e. that no piece is allowed to occupy the corresponding square on the opposite board). Not only that, but interesting exchanges of differing piece types can still be made, with there still being a variety of 'major' and 'minor' pieces.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2013-02-16 UTC
I made a dedicated derivative of Fairy-Max to play Alice Chess. It uses the method of a single board with 'pedestals', i.e. it uses the same coordinate notation on both boards. This to make it playable in a GUI as if it were normal Chess, when you switch legality testing off. (The GUI will see moves jumping other pieces, that in reality are on the other board, and would not think these were legal...)

The engine can be downloaded from , and can work under WinBoard.

I might some day equip WinBoard with special support for Alice Chess, so that the user can actually see which piece is on which board.

The Alice version of Fairy-Max does not have e.p. capture. It has castling, but I am not sure what it considers 'passing through check', and for Q-side castling also b1 has to be empty. Normally this should not be a problem.

The rules of Alice Chess suggest each move is to be considered a multi-step move, the transfer between the boards being the final step. Otherwise there is no logic in the requirement that you must not move the King to a square that is attacked on the board it came from, but can stay as long as you want on a square that is attacked on the other board. So if there were e.p. capture, I think that it should be possible to capture a Pawn that just moved on the board it came from, even if it did not do a double-push. (And of course you can always capture it on the board it ended up on.) It does not seem that the game was intended to be played that way, however, so it would be logical to forbid any form of e.p. capture.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2012-10-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
A pretty playable subvariant would be with both boards full, and ordinary moves, starting and ending on the same board, by necessity, legal.

You could even adapt the mechanic for higher dimensional games, with layers of boards, with the rule that for a piece to move legally from one board to another, the move would have to be legal on all intermediate boards aswell...

Anonymous wrote on 2010-07-29 UTC
I have a more interesting opinion on 'en passant'. Since the name of the move means 'capturing something that has just passed', I think if a pawn goes from e2(A) to e4(B), it passes e3(A), e4(A) and is transferred to e4(B), so the e3 on board A is the en passant square. But that implies e4(A) should be another en passant square! Furthermore, all pawns have to fear en passant, not only after the double move. However, preserving the rule that only pawns may capture en passant, I realized the game may even be more interesting. That increases the oppotunities of pawn capturing, and require more care of player developing his pawns. By the way, that also explains why kings cannnot walk into 'false checks' as they are real (anyone may capture a king en passant, as the castling rule implies).

Charles Gilman wrote on 2010-03-24 UTC
Well here's another approach to En Passant. Given that this is a special move comprising two 'normal' Pawns moves, should it be treated as such, with the first step taking it from its starting board to the other board and the second bringing it back? Were this the case an enemy Pawn capturing En Passant would have to do so as if the Pawn being captured, now back on the starting board, were on the other board having made only the first step. A question that follows is what about Castling, whose bar on moving can also be seen as a form of En Passant - and again the King makes two of its 'normal' moves.
	On the issue of the film, is anyone else surprised that in this age of gratuitous sequels the film conflates two quite distinct stories, even going beyond previous films in this respect by conflating two queens? You would think that this would be a golden opportunity to make two films, one for each book. Through the Looking Glass in particular has its own distintive (chess-related) plot structure that gets lost when the two storylines are merged.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2010-03-21 UTC

Since Alice in Wonderland is currently in the theaters, I thought it would be a good time to make a video about Alice Chess.

Levi Aho wrote on 2010-02-10 UTC

En Passant

While reading through the various discussions on en passant in Alice Chess, I came up with an option not mentioned that seems to be quite consistant with the core rules: When making an en passant capture, it's irellevant if the destination square on the board of the capturing piece is occupied, as the pawn really ends up on the other board, which is open.

This satisfies the three main rules:

  1. A move must be legal on the board where it is played: By standard Chess rules an en passant capture is allowed when a double pawn move places a pawn adjacent to an enemy pawn.
  2. A piece can only move or capture if the corresponding destination square on the other board is vacant: In order for the captured pawn to have made a double move, this must be true.
  3. After moving, the piece is transfered to the corresponding square on the other board: This applies as normal.

This interpretation may seem strange, but it's entirely internally consistant. The standard chess en passant rules have no provisio for the destination square being occupied because it's impossible. I propose Alice Chess ought to have none, because it's irrellevant (unlike other variants where this issue is raised).

The other interpretation (that the destination square must be empty) really only makes sense if paired with a rule that makes double pawn moves illegal is such cases. In which case, the supposed ambiguity is, once again, not possible. However, I don't really like this option.

Firstly, it adds additional complications to the rules. With all other moves, legality is determined by the state of board the piece starts on. However, the legality of double pawn moves is dependant on both boards.

Secondly, the basis of this rule is that a double pawn move basically two seperate moves. If that was the case, in Alice Chess the pawn would end back on the board it started on. (Which could be an interesting option. If you handle en passant as I suggest, it works.)


While there seems to be no special mention of check and mate in the rules on this page, it seems to me that it ought to be handled as normal. In other words, the king is in check if it could be captured on the next move.

charlesfort wrote on 2007-01-03 UTCGood ★★★★
Alice Chess: this clever idea is applicable to virtually all chess versions and is widely played here too. // In view of extensive material why not solicit extra Comments for 2007 alphabetically, so readers get a chance systematically to familiarize with content all the years of this website? There are 26 English letters and 52 weeks, so each letter would get 2 wks. 01.01.07 to 08.01.07 for items from Aa to Al(including Alice Chess), next week Am to Az, then Jan. 15 to Jan. 31, 2007 is for letter-B works. And so on: April for G and H chess games; two letters per month being easier, and that allows discussion of W, X, Y, and Z-alphabetized topics from the Index during December 2007. Then more readers and contributors would be on the same page, the same choir sheet, and find common threads in what went before, duplicative work. You would not teach Abstract Algebra without assuming some ability for proofs, knowledge of sets, familiarity with notation, complex numbers, matrix arithmetic. Same general idea so everyone at least knows a Ferz from a Wazir.

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2006-09-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
hmm this place is a bit frisky lately, anyway, i'm going to rate some
unusual games, and what better place to start than here. 
This is an amazing game, no need to say anymore. Highly original,
strikingly beautiful concept.

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2006-09-13 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
In the 'Play It!' section, the author mentions variants to Alice Chess : Alice Chess, Alice Mirror, Alice Zero (aka Ms. Alice Chess), Alice Grand, and Alice Extinction. I believe these variants need to be explained to users who don't have Zillions (like me). -- Also, the article doesn't mention the variant suggested be Patron that: 'Alician Chess can also be played on three boards of identical size. ' Patron doesn't clarify that if a square was occupied and the corresponding squares weren't that a piece may move to this square or not; he merely says that there is 'no choice' implying that two corresponding squares out of three can be occupied in the same time. This would be a nice addition.

Nasmichael Farris wrote on 2005-03-08 UTC
Thanks, Fergus. I appreciate the clarification.

Larry Smith wrote on 2005-03-06 UTC
The application of en passant in Alice Chess is really not that confusing.

The opposing Pawn must have immediately performed a two-step move to the
capturing Pawn's field, resulting in a position orthogonal adjacent.  The
cell which the capturing Pawn is moving to must be vacant, in both fields. 
This denotes that the single step was a viable option for opposing Pawn.  

If that cell on the capturing Pawn's field is occupied by either friend
or foe, en passant is not viable since the single step of the opposing
Pawn was not possible and thus capture of that Pawn on that cell was not
an option.  If it is occupied by an another enemy, a simple capture of
this enemy piece is still possible but this would not result in the
capture of the opposing two-stepping Pawn.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2005-03-06 UTC
It was Jellis, not Parton, who said 'it is usual to forgo it.' This is a
crucial point, because Parton, not Jellis, is the inventor of this game.
If Parton had said it, we could safely assume that Alice Chess has no en
passant, but Jellis does not speak of the game with anything like the
authority of its inventor.

I'll look at the page on Passar Battaglia later. I'm not up on the term
and cannot comment on it at this time.

Nasmichael Farris wrote on 2005-03-06 UTC
Fergus Duniho speaks about Alice Chess and en passant. 'Jellis mentions some details about en passant that I also thought of while working on my own Zillions Rules File for Alice Chess. First is the question of whether the capturing Pawn has to be on the first or second board. As I understand en passant, it allows a Pawn to capture a Pawn it could have captured if that Pawn had made a one-step move instead of a double move. Thus, the Pawn that can take another by en passant must be the one that could have taken the Pawn if it had moved only one space. This means a Pawn on the second board. When a Pawn makes a double move, it will switch boards, and if it lands beside an enemy Pawn on the other board, that Pawn will normally be able to take it by en passant. But Alice Chess does introduce one situation in which the rule of en passant becomes ambiguous. When a Pawn makes a double move, it may pass over a space whose corresponding space on the other board is occupied. Thus, the space the enemy Pawn would have to go to for an en passant capture will be occupied.' I was reading an article from Alessandro Nizzola on 'Passar Battaglia' ( wherein the double move was used to pass the battle by, and in the Italian rules, the opponent could not recapture. So perhaps Alice allows conditions where en passant and passar battaglia co-exist. Does the community feel there is a need for either one or the other, or, in the spirit of Alice, that both are interwoven? Fergus' analysis is sound, but there are loopholes, not because of his argument, but because of Alice's mirror world. Discernment is tough with the board shifts, and adhering to the few extra rules brings about so many new possibilities. Arguments in either direction are possible, and perhaps that is why Parton offered up the statement on en passant, 'it is usual to forgo it.'

Derek Nalls wrote on 2005-02-13 UTC
[Comment voluntarily deleted.]

Larry Smith wrote on 2005-01-28 UTC
This game definitely challenges the player's ability to extrapolate
positions.  Keeping track of the oscillation of every moved piece and
maintaining some form of strategy, the player is fortunate to be able to
plan more than several moves.

This is also the joy of the game.  A player who desires an easily
comprehensive form might well be warned about the dangers surrounding this
game.  But they should not fear to attempt it.

My favorite variant is the Mirrored Alice set-up, whereby opposing pieces
begin on seperate fields.  This offers a large variety of opening moves.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2005-01-27 UTCGood ★★★★
It's true that Alice Chess can be confusing, but the rules are actually very simple. Any move must be legal on both boards and the pieces end their move on the other board. Its a bit of a mind bender, but not more so than 3-D or 3-D positional games, as George points out. This confusion, if you will, is actually thematic with the name. Alice keeps getting turned around. Nothing is what it seems. That's the fun of it. Playable? Yes, but the spirit of fun can't be forgotten. Blunders? Yes, but, hey, the Alice Knight kept falling off his horse, didn't he?

George Duke wrote on 2005-01-27 UTCGood ★★★★
(Large CVs 'ABC' thread): David Pritchard says 'Alice Chess is confusing. Blunders are commonplace.' Antoine Fourriere's excellent script on strategy added within clarifies a lot. Still Alice Ch. is more of an 'idea game' than one of the highest playability. Alice is compatible with 'Positional 3D Chess' concept in article of that name.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2005-01-14 UTC
<blockquote><i> During a recent game at SchemingMind, the subject of the weakness of the Alice Knight brought forward an interesting possible variation to the rules. </i></blockquote> <p> A different solution might be to use a different Knight that isn't color changing, such as the <a href='../piececlopedia.dir/fibnif.html'>Fibnif</a> or <a href='../piececlopedia.dir/waffle.html'>Waffle</a>. It's probably not as appealing to the Chess purist, but it requires less in the way of special rules.

Larry Smith wrote on 2005-01-13 UTC
During a recent game at SchemingMind, the subject of the weakness of the
Alice Knight brought forward an interesting possible variation to the

Allow the Knight to capture on both fields.  In additions to the standard
capture move, it would be allowed to capture the destination cell of the
opposing field.  It would still only perform a single capture during a
move, and still be bound to one-half of each field.  And it would still be
restricted from moving to a friend-occupied cell.

This increase in power would greatly improve its influence in the game.

Unless this variant rule has been previously proposed, I suggest that it
be called Alice Knights.

Nasmichael Farris wrote on 2004-11-08 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
How many Alice Chess games have been played at the ChessVariants Courier Play by e-mail system? Any favorites from the players here? I would like to correct myself in terms of the knight tour for Alice--the bishops can move forward and backward past the 'goal square' -- like parallel parking a car- -- and thereby hit any square on both boards. But the knights are a bit more trouble mentally, to hit a square on either board. It seems like the piece, on a tour, having hit every other square in the tour once, could shift the pathway and set about coming back to the target mirror squares. If a note from George Jelliss at the website is used in reference to an algorithm for normal 64 square chessboards-- --'It is in fact possible to devise rules that will produce an exact tour, without deviation from the rule at any point, and without backtracking. In Chessics #22 (1985) I gave four examples of such 'Synthetic Tours'. They use Warnsdorff's rule ('Play the knight to a square where it commands the fewest squares not yet used') in conjunction with either the Obtuse rule ('Play the knight at as obtuse an angle as possible to the previous move - straight if possible') or the Acute rule ('Play the knight at as acute an angle as possible to the previous move'). The second rule either takes over when Warnsdorff's rule breaks down (I write these rules WO and WA), or the second rule is applied to the choice of moves suggested by the first rule (I write these rules W/O and W/A). The four combination rules all work if the tour is started a1-b3'-- then perhaps the idea could be extrapolated to the Alice boards. I have not yet done so today, but I aim to try. That would mean that the square is a WHOLE TOUR at most from that mirror square, and so would be useless for most short games, but something to consider. (Most games are so far much shorter than a corresponding 'FIDE Standard' game counterpart.) Or again, now that I am sitting still thinking about it, perhaps you are right. Again, thanks to all for their contributions.

Michael Farris wrote on 2004-11-08 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I am thankful for your comments on strategy, but I would add that the knights are N-colorbound in the short-term, but not long-term. Alice piece-teams must rather must think more long-term as in Shatranj; the 'knight's tour', for example, is possible, as is the 'wazir's tour'; it just takes twice as long. I agree that many shorter games are possible with the proper initiative, but with careful (or perhaps not so careful) play, more subtle games can be played. At, we are also running tournaments to explore this great game of Alice Chess, and we have a journal where I posted some points of strategy in the games. I invite your analysis and those observations of Alice Chess fans everywhere. Thank you for your passion for the game, and your insight into gameplay.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-11-03 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

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