The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Hectochess, our featured variant for November, 2023.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Timothy Newton.

Bipartite Chess


I have come to like chess over time. It started when my Dad announced the 84 spaces contest. Everyone was frantic with ideas to enter a variant. I watched my brother, Andrew, and Dad, Paul, invent their variant, Wizard Chess, and I invented my own variant, Outback Chess, for the 84 squares contest. It was fun, and it helped me think logically, so of course when I heard about the 43 spaces contest, I wanted to enter. So I made a special variant with two stages. I hope people will like the extended gameplay and fun board. Enjoy!

These are the rules for Stage One

Stage One Setup

The game board is a 5x9 rectangular field, and I have blocked off two spaces, A3 and I3 (represented by an X), so the board would have 43 spaces. The board is not checkered. The first two rows on either side serve as home rows. The home rows are where the pieces are initially placed (rows A, B, H and I). The standard initial setup of the pieces is as follows:
     A   M M X M M
     B   M M M M M
     C   - - - - -
     D   - - - - -
     E   - - - - - 
     F   - - - - -
     G   - - - - - 
     H   M M M M M
     I   M M X M M

         1 2 3 4 5

Stage One Pieces

In the movement diagrams below: x=capture square, m=movement only, o=other piece.

M - Messenger: The Messenger moves and captures exactly like a pawn in European Chess during Stage Two. During Stage One only the Messenger may move diagonlly forward even though it is not capturing an enemy piece.

Stage One Rules

  1. The object of Stage One is to get all of your pieces to the opponents Home rows.
  2. Black always goes first.
  3. Messengers are not permitted an initial two step move.
  4. There is no capturing in stage one.
  5. There is no King in Stage One.
  6. There is no promotion.
  7. Stage One ends when one of the players achieves the object and gets all of his or her pieces into the opponent's Home Rows. The winner of Stage One wins the right to choose which of the two Power Pieces he or she would like to have in Stage Two, the loser gets the other Power Piece for Stage Two.

These are the rules for Stage Two:

Stage Two Setup

The teams are now on the side of the board opposite to the side that they occupied at the beginning of Stage One. The board is almost the same, but the blocked out spaces are now E1 and E5 ( again marked with an X). Each side now has an array of new pieces. The initial setup of the pieces is as follows:
      A  D P K G C
      B  S M M M S
      C  - - - - -
      D  - - - - - 
      E  X - - - X
      F  - - - - -
      G  - - - - - 
      H  S M M M S
      I  C G K P D  

Stage Two Pieces

K - King: The King moves and captures exactly like a King in European Chess.

P - Power Pieces: There are two types of Power Pieces, one Diagonal Power Piece and one Orthogonal Power Piece. The diagonal Power Piece moves and captures like a Bishop in European Chess, but only to a maximum distance of three spaces.

      x           x
        x       x 
          x   x 
          x   x
        x       x
      x           x

The Orthogonal Power Piece moves and captures like a Rook in European Chess, but only to a maximum distance of three spaces.

  x x x P x x x

C - Captain: The Captain moves and captures like a Knight in European Chess, but he also has a movement-only option one square directly to the front or back.

        x   x
      x   m   x
      x   m   x
        x   x

G - Guard: The Guard moves and captures like a King in Orthodox chess, but it does not capture on any of the spaces behind it.

        x x x
        x G x
        m m m

S - Soldier: The Soldier moves and captures like a King in European Chess, but cannot capture on any orthogonal space.

        x m x
        m S m
        x m x 

D - Swordsman: The Swordsman moves like a limited European Chess Rook, who can only move two in any orthogonal direction, but he only captures on the second space, he cannot capture on the first space. The Swordsman cannot leap.

      x m D m x

Stage Two Rules

  1. The objective in Stage Two is to check mate the opponent's King.
  2. In Stage Two all of the pieces may capture.
  3. During Stage Two the Messengers move and capture exactly like European Chess Pawns, and they are permitted an initial two step move.
  4. There is no en passant capture.
  5. Promotion: The Messengers promote to Soldiers when reaching the enemy Home Rows. There is no other promotion.
  6. Capturing all of your opponent's pieces except the King (Bare King) counts as a win unless, on the very next move, the opponent can bare your King, in which case the game is a draw.

Computer Play

I would like to have a Zillions of Games format version of Bipartite Chess, but I have not been able to figure out how to implement it.


I made a board out of paper with 1 and 1/2 inch squares. For the playing pieces I used normal Chess pieces and Checkers to serve as the Power Pieces. To cover the "blocked" spaces I used paper squares with an X drawn on them.


This game was invented by Timothy R. Newton. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions on any aspect of the game you can e-mail me. (The email address can be found via this link; editor.)
Written by Timothy R. Newton
WWW page created: December 18, 2002.