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The Chess Variant Pages

The 39 challenge: The winners

In the fall of 1998 and winter and spring of 1999, a contest to design a chess variant was held on the Internet. This was the second contest held on our website. The challenge was:
Design a chess variant on a board with 39 squares.
Fifteen games, invented by sixteen different chess variant inventors from all over the world (and many different ages and occupations) have been submitted. The submitted games were very diverse, with boards in many different shapes, rules of great ingenuity. To all who submitted a game or helped in other ways: by commenting on the games, voting on them, playing them, making `zillions-files' for them: many thanks!

A special thanks goes to David Howe, who helped with making the html-files and organized the tournament where the submitted games were tested out in actual play (by email.)

The votes

The winning games were decided by voting. Every reader of the Chess Variant Pages could vote, using an email-form.

Regrettably, only eight people used the opportunity to vote. From the votes, five finalists were chosen. The final points received by the finalists were calculated by using votes received in the first round and the (very few) votes for the final voting. Points between 1 and 4 could be given to each game.

The results of the finalists are:

  1. First place: Robber Baron: average of 2.83 points. Congratulations to Seth McGinnis!
  2. Second place: Thirty-Nine Squares Chess, by Andy Kurnia: average of 2.75 points.
  3. Third place: Heaven, by Rob Nierse: average of 2.67 points.
  4. Fourth place: Combination chess, by David Howe: average of 2.6 points.
  5. Fifth place: Power Chess 98, by Ronald Hoekstra.
Congratulations to all winners! While the scores of the finalists are close together (each of the games good enough to reach a place in the finals), we indeed have a worthy winner! Many congratulations to Seth McGinnis.


Each of the finalists will receive a copy of the Chess Variant Pages Offline CD-rom. Seth McGuinness receives a set of Heraldic Chess, donated by Modest Solans. Andy Kurnia will receive a copy of David Moeser's Neue Chess, donated by David Moeser.

The `Best Game for Children' Award

One of the games submitted to the contest receives the `Best Game for Children' award, chosen by a competent jury: Wim Bodlaender (8 years old) and Marijke Bodlaender (10 years old). Nominees for this award are: Hex39, Robber-Baron, King and Queen, and 4-player Pothole Chess.

The winner of this award is Robber-Baron. Second place in this category is given to Hex39.

Thank you and see you with the next contest!

Thanks again to all participants! We saw many interesting good and enjoyable ideas, and I hope you will have had as much fun designing the games as I had testing them out.

A new contest to design a chess variant on a board with 40 squares will start very soon. The contest is more or less held as this one, with two differences: we have more prizes (!), and will use a different way to determine the winners.

Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: June 29, 1998. Last modified: October 10, 1999.