Recognized Chess Variants
- Alice Chess. Classic Variant where pieces switch between two boards whenever they move. (2x(8x8), Cells: 128) (Recognized!) Author: Edward Jackman and Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Vernon Rylands Parton.One of the best games of the great V. R. Parton. It has been played a great deal all over the world for many years. The strategy and tactics are very different from orthodox chess, yet it retains an essentially 'chessy' flavor and can be played with simple equipment (two chess sets will do, or one chess set and a bunch of checkers to mark pieces on the Alice board). --Michael Howe
- Alice Chess. Play this classic variant in which pieces switch between boards whenever they move. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Vernon Rylands Parton.
- Anti-King Chess. Each player has both a King and an Anti-King to protect; Anti-Kings are in check when not attacked. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) By Peter Aronson.
- Avalanche chess. A popular chess variant, where you advance your opponents pawns. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Edward Jackman. Inventor: Ralph Betza.This chess variant, invented in 1977 by Ralph Betza, is very popular by many chess variant players. The game bears interesting tactical and strategic possibilities. The game is frequently played in AISE and NOST, mostly by postal play. Both Pritchard and Schmittberger in their chess variant books mention this game as one of the best chess variants.
- Avalanche Chess. A popular chess variant, where you advance your opponents pawns. (Recognized!) Author: Antoine Fourrière. Inventor: Ralph Betza.
- Berolina Chess. Different moving pawns. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Edmund Hebermann.
- Bughouse. 4 player variant where pieces taken from your opponent are given to your partner. (2x(8x8), Cells: 128) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.Tandem Chess, known under a large number of different names, is a widely played multiplayer chess variant. Tandem Chess players know that this game provides a lot of fun. Many regard it as an ideal way to spend some time after a serious match at the chess club - except sometimes those who are still playing such serious matches, as this may also be the noisiest chess variant there is. The game is played all over this world, and is in particular popular by younger players, although there are occasional tournaments organized where good chess players participate.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for March 2002.</b>
- Capablanca's chess. An enlarged chess variant, proposed by Capablanca. (10x8, Cells: 80) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and David Howe. Inventor: Jose Raul Capablanca.
- Chaturanga. Oldest known form of chess. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho.
- Chaturanga for four players.. Oldest multiplayer chess variant. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.Scientists differ in their opinions what was the first variant of chess. Especially in the end of the 19th century, there were chess historians who believed that a variant of chess for four players, Chaturanga or Chaturaji, was the first variant. Two player variants would be, in this theory, formed by unifying two armies, replacing the second king by a different piece.
The game is fun to play, with or without dice, although it seems a game of mostly luck and little skill when the game is played with dice.
- Chess. The rules of chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.Chess, as defined by the rules of FIDE, is an excellent game, played now for over half a millenium, which a history that traces back about one and a half millenium ago. As Ralph Betza stated it: It has a nice mixture of possibilities, with interesting endgames, tense maneuvering, and slashing attacks. Opening theory has developed very far, too far for the taste of some. Chess is played by many millions of people, from young to old, on many different levels of competence.
- Chess with Different Armies. Betza's classic variant where white and black play with different sets of pieces. (Recognized!) By Ralph Betza.Ralph Betza, probably the most prolific and successful chess variant inventor, has long studied the values of chess pieces. Chess with Different Armies represents a 'practical' application of these studies, which has resulted in the creation of 'chess', but not with the usual pieces, and which allows for battles between unequal, but well-balanced teams.
- Chess with Different Armies. A Ralph Betza personal favorite: Features series of armies with approximately the same strength as the FIDE army. (Recognized!) Author: David Howe and Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Ralph Betza.
- Chessapeak Challenge Tourney edition (photo's). Large (one meter square board) size edition of four player chess variant. (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.
- Chessapeak Porta-Challenge. Photo's of pocket edition of multiplayer chess variant. (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.If I should give a reward for the best design of commercial chess variant sets, then I would choose Chessapeak Challenge, in particular for their pocket edition, and king-size tournament editions. For a modest amount of money, you can buy the magnetic pocket size set, which has a clever design and looks very good. This is a perfect item in someones collection of chess variant sets. The large tournament edition, made from soft-plastic has a board of size about a square meter large and looks impressive.
<p>Apart being good-looking, the game is also very playable. This game belongs to a family of four-player chess variants on a cross-shaped board. Due some additional rules (in particular around the movement of pawns for which there are specifically marked squares on the board), this is one of the better playable games from that family. It is suitable for more and less serious play. Having a good partner is as important as this is in other team games like bridge, but I still recommend the team variant over the variant where each player plays for himself.
- Chu Shogi. Historic Japanese favorite, featuring a multi-capturing Lion. (12x12, Cells: 144) (Recognized!) Author: H. G. Muller.
- Circular Chess. Chess on a round board. (16x4, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Dave Reynolds.
- Courier Chess. A large historic variant from Medieval Europe. (12x8, Cells: 96) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.
- Crazy 38's. On strange board with 38 squares. (Cells: 38) (Recognized!) By Ben Good.In 1997/1998, the first chess variant design contest was held on the Chess Variant Pages website: design a chess variant on a board with 38 squares. Winner of this contest was Ben Good with his game Crazy 38s. The game also received the largest number of votes in the categories: Most original game and Best Game design.
Most striking feature of this variant is the board: it has a remarkable shape which creates interesting possibilities in play. The game borrows many elements from Shogi.
- Crazyhouse . A two-player version of Bughouse. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho.
- Crazyhouse. A two-player version of Bughouse. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho.
- Crazyhouse. Play this two-player version of Bughouse. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho.
- Dragonchess. A three-dimensional fantasy variant. (3x(12x8), Cells: 288) (Recognized!) Author: Edward Jackman. Inventor: Gary Gygax.DragonChess was invented in 1985 by Gary Gygax, who originally invented (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons. This is reflected in the game, by the fact that a lot of pieces come from the AD&D Monster Manual.
It is a more involved and longer game than orthodox chess, because it is played on three 12 by 8 boards, symbolically the sky, the earth and the underworld, and there are 15 different pieces, as opposed to the more normal 6. As such, it takes longer to play and to master than more orthodox variants; a typical game can last 70 moves or more.
Many pieces are involved from the flying Dragons in the sky, to the Dwarfs moving through the underworld, as well as many other fantasy pieces, such as elementals and basilisks.
A program is available from the pages which allows you to play a game (against a human opponent). Many people have played the game and found it to be good, including me, so I think it deserves to be a "recognised variant."
- Extinction Chess. Win by capturing every piece of the same type. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho and Antoine Fourrière. Inventor: R. Wayne Schmittberger.
- Extinction chess. Win by making your opponents pieces of one type extinct. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Antoine Fourrière. Inventor: R. Wayne Schmittberger.Extinction chess, invented by R. Wayne Schmittberger, is like chess, but the exchange of a single piece can already be fatal: a player loses when all his pieces of a type are taken. This creates a very lively game, where every move counts even more than in orthodox chess. The game is popular in NOST. The game rewards strong combinatorial play.
- Fischer Random Chess. Play Bobby Fischer's randomized Chess variant on Game Courier. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Robert J. Fischer.
- Fischer Random Chess. Play from a random setup. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Terumi Kaneyasu and Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Robert J. Fischer.Former world champion chess Bobby Fischer invented a variant of chess, where the main idea is that the opening setup is changed in the sense that the piece on the back lines appear in a different order. An important objective of this change is that the knowledge of opening theory becomes much less important.
This variant is not the first variant of Randomized chess - similar ideas already appeared in the one-but-last century. Still, Fisher's idea is one worthy to look at, and perhaps because of the man who proposed it, it will catch some more attention than other similar proposals from the past had received.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for April 2002.</b>
- Flip Chess and Flip Shogi. Pieces have two sides with different movements on board of 38 squares. (7x6, Cells: 38) (Recognized!) By John William Brown.In 1997/1998, the first chess variant design contest was held on the Chess Variant Pages website: design a chess variant on a board with 38 squares. My personal favorite in this contest was not the winning game, but the game that obtained the second place: Flip Chess, by John William Brown. I played a game by email, and several games with my children on improvised board and pieces, made from paper. The game is still among the most favorite of the chess variants I know.
This game has nice tactical possibilities. While the board is small, the flipping of pieces gives sufficiently many possibilities for play. While the author regards the variant Flip Shogi (where taken pieces become reinforcements for the player that took them) as an improvement, I think that the basic game is nicer. It is a good variant to play with children, too.
- Glinski's Hexagonal Chess. Chess on a board made out of hexagons. (Cells: 91) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Wladyslaw Glinski.The most widely played hexagonal chess variant is the one invented in 1936 by Wladyslaw Glinksi from Poland. The game was and is played in many countries, and is reported to have attacked to over half a million players. Hexagonal chess organizations existed, and organized many championships. After the death of Glinski in 1990, the interest and organization level of this form of hexagonal chess went backwards.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for January 2002.</b>
- Grand Chess. Christian Freeling's popular large chess variant on 10 by 10 board. Rules and links. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!) Author: Greg Strong and Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Christian Freeling.Many people have invented large chess variants, and many of these have besides the orthodox chess pieces the other combination pieces: a piece that moves like bishop and knight, a piece that moves like knight and rook, or a piece that moves like queen and knight. One of the most succesful games in this category is Grand Chess, invented by Dutch game inventor Christian Freeling.
Malcolm Horne praised the game for its lively play, and many others have found the game very interesting. Two world championships were already held (conducted by email play); the first was won by author R. Wayne Schmittberger. The game has been featured in several chess variant books and journal articles.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for May 2002.</b>
- Hexagonal Chess (Glinski). Chess on a board made out of hexagons. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Wladyslaw Glinski.
- Hexagonal Chess (McCooey). Chess on a board, made out of hexes. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Dave McCooey.
- Hostage Chess. Pieces taken are
held hostage and can be exchanged against other pieces and then dropped. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) By John Leslie.
- Hostage Chess. Play this Chessgi-like game in which no pieces change sides. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: John Leslie.
- Janggi: Korean Chess. The variant of chess played in Korea. (9x10, Cells: 90) (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho and Jean-Louis Cazaux.Korean Chess is the variant of chess, played in Korea, by many millions of people. It is also covered in several books on board games.
Korean Chess differs only in a few notable details from Xiangqi, Chinese Chess, and the debate which of these two games is the better one remains undecided.
- Janus Chess. Variant on 10 by 8 board. (10x8, Cells: 80) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Werner Schoendorf.
- Kriegspiel. With help of a referee, two players move without knowing the moves of the opponent. (3x(8x8), Cells: 192) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Henry Michael Temple.This more than one century old chess variant has a steady group of enthousiastic players and three books written on it. Playing Kriegspiel well may not be easy, but rewarding. The complexity comes in this variant from the fact that there are many things about the position you cannot know, but some you can guess or deduce.
Kriegspiel is often played over the board, with help of a referee, but also on chess servers on the Internet. It is occasionally used as a theme in fairy chess problem compositions.
- Los Alamos Chess. First known variant played by a computer. (Recognized!) Author: Jason Shields.
- Los Alamos variant. Chess on a 6 by 6 board from the early days of computing. (6x6, Cells: 36) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.There are several chess variants that differ from orthodox chess mostly by a smaller board and less pieces, but otherwise follow about all of the rules of chess. Los Alamos chess was not the first in this category, but it takes its own special place in the history of chess: it was the first game in the chess-family that was played by a computer - even earlier than the royal game itself.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for June 2002.</b>
- Losing Chess. Taking is obligatory; the first player that loses all his pieces wins. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Antoine Fourrière.
- Magnetic Chess. Pieces that moved attract and repel pieces like magnets. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) By João Pedro Neto and Claude Chaunier.In an issue of Variant Chess in 1999, David Pritchard called Magnetic Chess the chess variant of the decade. Later, he took the title and give it to Hostage Chess. John McCallion in his column in the NOST-bulletin then had readers vote between these variants - the one vote he received went to Magnetic Chess, making this NOST's Chess Variant of the decade (1990 - 1999). Pritchard also mentioned the game in his book Popular Chess Variants, that appeared early 2000.
Given all this interest in this interesting and challenging chess variant, this invention of Joao Pedro Neto is probably the first chess variant whose first publication was on the Chess Variants Pages and that found such a wide recognition.
- Makruk (Thai chess). Rules and information. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.
- Marseillais Chess. Move twice per turn. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Antoine Fourrière.One of the double move chess variants should be recognized. The question, which one, is easily answered: Marsellais chess. It is the classic among the double move chess variants, enjoying a steady popularity since 1925. The rather coservative ruleset ensures, that Marseillais chess is really chess -- you cannot take profit from temporary illegal positions while moving thru check, for instance.
- Marseillais Chess. Move twice per turn. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho.
- McCooey's Hexagonal chess. Chess on a board, made out of hexes. Variant of Dave McCooey. (Cells: 91) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Dave McCooey.This variant is designed
to be as equivalent to orthodox chess as possible. It seems
perfectly playable and in my opinion, is the closest to orthodox
chess of any hexagonal variant. It is not a large chess variant
and does not use any unorthodox pieces.
- Minishogi. On a 5 by 5 board. (5x5, Cells: 25) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Shigenobu Kusumo.Minishogi, one of the smallest variants of Shogi known, was suggested by Köksal Karakus as a recognized chess variant. He writes:
"I want to tell you that Minishogi should be one of those variants that are recognized. Because it is a small but very playable variant. Although Shogi still stands very complex, minishogi is simple to learn, has basic rules, but still has something to fight with your opponent."
- Omega Chess. Rules for commercial chess variant on board with 104 squares. (12x12, Cells: 104) (Recognized!)
- Pocket knight. Each player has a knight that he can drop during the game. (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.When I was a child, there were, besides orthodox chess, three variants I played: giveaway chess, bughouse, and pocket knight. Pocket Knight, the variant where players start with one knight besides the board that can be dropped instead of a turn, but which is otherwise similar to chess, is a more than a century old chess variant, played in many places in the world. The game is very close to orthodox chess, indeed, after both players have made their drop, then the game is not different anymore from orthodox chess. The possibility to drop a knight adds some additional possibilities for tactic play, while not changing the nature of the game too much.
- Pocket Mutation Chess. Take one of your pieces off the board, maybe change it, keep it in reserve, and drop it on the board later. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) By Michael Nelson.
- Progressive Chess. Several variants where white moves one time, black twice, white three times, etc. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Alessandro Castelli.If I would have to choose the chess variant of the 20th century, I probably would choose Progressive Chess. Many other candidates would already be older, or have received a smaller group of players. A simple idea changes chess to a game that usually lasts just a few turns.
The game is very suitable for postal play. Progressive chess is played in a number of somewhat different fashions, and the idea is also used in combination with other chess variants.
Progressive chess is widely played, e.g., in AISE, and NOST. Opening theory has been developed very far, which can give players that have no access to this theory a serious disadvantage.
- Raumschach. The classical variant of three-dimensional chess: 5 by 5 by 5. (5x(5x5), Cells: 125) (Recognized!) Author: Bruce Balden and Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Dr. Ferdinand Maack.One of the first three dimensional variants of chess was Raumschach. This variant of chess was popular in the first half of the 20th century, in particular in Germany and Great Brittain. The game also has been an inspiration for designers of fairy chess problems. Raumschach is a nice, playable three dimensional chess variant.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for September 2001.</b>
- Recognized Chess Variants. Index page listing the variants we feel are most significant. (Recognized!)
- Recognized Variants of the Month . Game Pak I. (Recognized!)
- Rococo. A clear, aggressive Ultima variant on a 10x10 ring board. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!) Author: Peter Aronson. Inventor: Peter Aronson and David Howe.
- Shatranj. The widely played historic Arabian game, predecessor of modern chess. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho.
- Shatranj. The widely played Arabian predecessor of modern chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Fergus Duniho.Shatranj was the form of chess as it was played for many centuries in the ancient Arabic world, more than a millenium ago. The game was very popular then, and knew its professional players, books, problem compositions, and legends. The game was practically unaltered played in Europe in most of the middle ages.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for December 2001.</b>
- Shogi. Play the Japanese form of Chess, in which captured pieces can be dropped back as your own. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho.
- Shogi. Missing description (9x9, Cells: 81) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Fergus Duniho.Shogi is the variant of chess that is most widely played in Japan, where the game has reached great heights. There are many organized events, professional players with a detailed rating system, etc. Shogi is known to many as "Japanese Chess".
Shogi received a small but enthousiastic group of players in the west. People often praise the game for its strategic and tactical possibilities, and state that the game is more complex to play than "regular" chess. Due to the rule that taken pieces can reappear as reinforcements of the opponent, draws are not common.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for February 2002.</b>
- Smess. Play this old Parker Brothers game in which arrows direct movement. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Reuben Klamer.
- Smess. British name of Smess, a Parker Brothers game in which arrows on squares determine the directions pieces may move. (7x8, Cells: 56) (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho and David Howe. Inventor: Perry Grant.Smess, described as the Ninny's Chess, is sort of a simplified version of Chess for children, though adults can enjoy it too. It is a much simpler game to learn than Chess, because arrows on the board indicate which directions pieces can move, and the object is simply to capture a piece called the Brain. So young players don't have to remember how different pieces move, and they don't have to comprehend the concept of checkmate. Young children can be given the game and start playing it with only minimal instruction. Smess was a commercial game which Parker Brothers put out in the 1970's, and the design of the board and pieces is one which can appeal to children and to the young at heart. The squares had different shapes and sizes of arrows, and squares were placed on the board as though they were unevenly placed tiles. The pieces are funny looking and have silly names. Ninny, Numskull, and Brain. So the game is easy to learn and fun to look at. Besides this, it is, like Chess, a challenging game of wits. It's a simple game, but against a good opponent, it's also a difficult game. It's also good for stimulating original thinking among veteran Chess players, because the game is so different from what veteran Chess and Chess variant players are used to. If you're the sort of Chess variant player who likes something really different, give Smess a try.
- Tamerlane chess. A well-known historic large variant of Shatranj. (11x10, Cells: 112) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender.<ul>
<li>It garnered considerable attention from Murray, Falkener, and later, Gollon. This has given it great notoriety, regardless of play value.
<li>For those of us who became interested in chess variants pre-internet, it was certainly one of the first we were exposed to.
<li>The names of some of its pieces have become technical terms for variantists, i.e. Wazir, Dabbabah, and Camel.
<li>It was likely for many people the first exposure to a variant logically building on atomic moves (e.g. the groups: Ferz, Fil, Taliah; Wazir, Dabbabah, Rukh; Faras, Jamal, Zarafah).
<li>I believe that virtually everyone has meddled with in an attempt to improve it, thus fostering the creativity and adventurousness that characterizes the contributors to the CVP.
<li>I therefore propose that Tamerlane Chess be considered for Recognized Variant for its contributions to the history and culture of the variantist community. --John Lawson
- Tridimensional Chess (Star Trek). Three-dimensional chess from Star Trek. (7x(), Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Andrew Bartmess.The variant of three dimensional chess as it appears in Star Trek may not deserve a recognition for its playability. However, it is probably the most widely known variant three dimensional variant of chess, due to its exposure in several episodes of the popular Star Trek science fiction television series.
- Ultima. Game where each type of piece has a different capturing ability. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Robert Abbott.Ultima probably should not be regarded as a variant of chess. Rules are very different from orthodox chess. What ties this game to chess is that it can be played with a normal chess set, as long as it is possible to turn a rook upside down.
While the author himself has stated that the game is flawed, many disagree with him. The game is very popular among players of strategic games (e.g., in NOST), and is covered in several game books.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for November 2001.</b>
- Ultima. Game where each type of piece has a different capturing ability. (Recognized!) Author: Fergus Duniho. Inventor: Robert Abbott.
- Wildebeest Chess. Variant on an 10 by 11 board with extra jumping pieces. (11x10, Cells: 110) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: R. Wayne Schmittberger.Wildebeest Chess is a large chess variant invented by R. Wayne Schmittberger. It is a Recognized Chess Variant. Glenn E. Overby II writes:
"Wildebeest Chess has an established tradition of play, especially at one time via NOST. It has widespread distribution, courtesy of Schmittberger's book New Rules for Classic Games--which is where I learned it. It is also a finely balanced game, which like so many others takes a specific theme and refines it. In this case, it is the balance between leapers and riders that is worthy of attention. Not only were the number of pieces of each broad type balanced, but play shows that their strengths came out fairly closely as well. Knight and Camel are slightly weaker, but only slightly, than Bishop and Rook. The Wildebeest is markedly superior to a Rook, although not quite the Queen's equal. For those who like playing with Knights, Wildebeest Chess opens up whole new vistas of tactical challenge."
- Xiangqi (象棋): Chinese Chess. Links and rules for Chinese Chess (Xiangqi). (9x10, Cells: 90) (Recognized!) Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Fergus Duniho.Xiangqi, known by many as Chinese Chess may well be the board game played by the largest number of people. It is very popular in China, and gained a small group of players in other parts of the world.
Also for people in the West, Xiangqi is a nice game to play. It has interesting strategic and tactical possibilities, with some nice pieces to master (especially, the cannon). Original sets can often be purchased in Chinese shops, found almost everywhere in the world. A little practice makes that one can easily identify the pieces. Even when one is not good in this game, it can be a lot of fun to play it.
<b>Recognized Variant of the Month for October 2001.</b>
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