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Review: New Rules for Classic Games

New Rules for Classic Games is a book, written by game-designer R. Wayne Schmittberger. The purpose of this book is to give to the reader many new games to play. The book concentrates on board games, but some other types of games also are treated in some extense.

The main theme of the book is: take an existing game, change it somewhat, and we have a new game - in many cases, this new game is also entertaining and nice to play.

In fifteen chapters, the author discusses twists on various games, but also other game issues, like the `petty diplomacy' problem with three-player games, how to simulate dice rolls when playing by mail, etc. There are specific chapters on new variants of paper and pencil and no-equipment games, party games, outdoor games, backgammon, checkers, chess, and some more general chapters like `Changing the Number of Players', and `New Ways to Use Game Equipment'. However, the non-board game parts of the book form only a small part: the majority of the materials in the book discuss board games.

The chapter on chess variants is the largest of all chapters, and some chess variants are also discussed in other chapters. The following variants are mentioned in the book: Extinction chess, Double Unbalanced Chess, Chess Handicaps, Racing Kings, Dodo Chess, Modern Chaturanga, 3D Hook-Move Chess, Parallel Worlds Chess (the latter two are three-dimensional chess variants), Pre-chess, Shatranj, Dice Chess, Checkless Chess, Screen Chess, Giveaway Chess, Double Move Chess, Refusal Chess, Compromise Chess, Pocket Knight Chess, Kinglet, Sputnik Chess, Grasshopper Chess, Avalanche Chess, Emperor King Chess, Knight Relay Chess, Rettah, Alice Chess, Double King Chess, Double Bughouse, Missile Chess, Teleportation Chess, Exotic Chess, Capablanca Chess, Turkish Great Chess, Freeling's Grand Chess, Wildebeest Chess, and Chu Shogi. The latter 15 by 15 variant of Shogi (Japanese Chess) is discussed extensively, with an example game, illustrated moves, etc., in more than 12 pages.

The chess variant materials are very interesting, and for the real chess variant enthusiast, these may be enough reason to purchase the book. But also the other parts of the book are interesting.

Some of the games are the invention of Schmittberger, but many other games are well-known or less-known inventions of others, some very new, and some very old. Schmittberger has an entertaining and clear writing style, and his explanation of game rules never is imprecise.

In general, I would recommend this book to all board game enthusiasts.


R. Wayne Schmittberger, 1949-
New Rules for Classic Games
ISBN 0-471-53621-0
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
First printing: 1992.

A translation of this book in Dutch (and likely in some other languages) exists. The title of the Dutch translation is: Mens erger je weer - Nieuwe regels voor klassieke spelen. If you know of translations in other languages, Let me know.

Buying the book

You should be able to find or order this book in many good bookshops. Alternatively, you can buy the book online on the World Wide Web from Amazon:

New Rules for Classic Games

Written by: Hans Bodlaender. Amazon link added by Fergus Duniho