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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Maurice Dekker.

d4 d6 chess

d4 d6 chess is a chess variant that can be played with one chess set and two dice.

In d4 d6 chess, when you choose to move a piece, you typically roll a die and move as many steps as the outcome of the die.

Igor Seabra and I created this game together while having fun playing it.



Initial configuration

At the start of the game, the board looks like this:

White's army comprises two Ratos on c2 and f2 (represented by Chess bishops), two Cavalos on d2 and e2 (represented by Chess knights), two Formigas on c1 and f1 (represented by Chess rooks), one Gata on d1 (represented by a Chess queen), one Gato on e1 (represented by a Chess king) and two Guardas on a1 and h1 (represented by Chess pawns). Symmetrically, Black's army comprises two Ratos on c7 and f7, two Cavalos on d7 and e7, two Formigas on c8 and f8, one Gata on e8, one Gato on d8 and two Guardas on a8 and h8. Note that the two Gatas are not on the same file, and nor are the two Gatos.

In the initial configuration, the Cavalos' noses are pointing forward. That is, the White Cavalos on d2 and e2 should be facing north and the Black Cavalos on d7 and e7 should be facing south. (In the diagram they all seem to be facing west, which is wrong.)

Terminology: areas

The playing area consists of the following 48 squares: c8, d8, e8, f8, c7, d7, e7, f7, the entire sixth, fifth, fourth and third ranks, c2, d2, e2, f2, c1, d1, e1 and f1. The 16 squares outside the playing area form the waiting area. So the waiting area consists of a8, b8, g8, h8, a7, b7, g7, h7, a2, b2, g2, h2, a1, b1, g1 and h1. The waiting area mainly serves as a storage room for a few pieces. (It may be helpful to cover the waiting area with cardboard tiles in order to accentuate the playing area.)

The promotion area consists of the following 8 squares: a6, h6, a5, h5, a4, h4, a3 and h3.

White's border area consists of the following 6 squares: c2, f2, c1, d1, e1 and f1. Symmetrically, Black's border area consists of c8, d8, e8, f8, c7 and f7.

White's starting area consists of the following 4 squares: c1, d1, e1 and f1. Symmetrically, Black's starting area consists of c8, d8, e8 and f8.

The following diagram displays the waiting area with red markers, the promotion area with green markers, White's starting area with white markers and Black's border area with black markers.


black_guardaA Guarda moves as a Chess king. A Guarda cannot capture anything.

All pieces except Guardas are gambling pieces. Unlike the gambling pieces, a Guarda can live on all 64 squares, freely entering and exiting the playing area and the waiting area. However, we will explain below that the guarding power of a Guarda is only existent when the Guarda is in the playing area.

We next explain how to make a move with one of your gambling pieces within the playing area. First point at the specific gambling piece within the playing area that you want to move, or name the square that they are currently occupying. Then pick up one die, depending on the type of piece:

Roll the die. It shows some result n. Then you must make, if possible, exactly n consecutive steps with the piece that you chose. These steps together form one move. The stepping must be done within the playing area. You are allowed to change direction in between the steps. Within one move, you are not allowed to visit any square twice. For a non-capturing move, all squares that you visit need to be empty. For a capturing move, all squares that you visit, except for the final square of the move, need to be empty, and the final square needs to be occupied by an enemy piece, which is then captured. You cannot capture a piece that is orthogonally adjacent to one of your opponents Guardas that is in the playing area (except if the captured piece is a Guarda: two Guardas cannot protect each other). If, under all of these restraints, it is not possible to complete the move in exactly n steps, then you must try to make a non-capturing move with exactly n-1 steps instead. If this is also impossible, try a non-capturing move with exactly n-2 steps. Etc. If you get down to 0, you will make a (non-capturing) move with 0 steps, which means that nothing happens.

The gambling pieces step as follows:

Turning a Cavalo

Reclaiming the Cavalos

When a Cavalo is captured, instead, the owner immediately places it on an empty square of choice in the waiting area on their side of the board. So if a White Cavalo is captured, it is moved to a2, b2, g2, h2, a1, b1, g1 or h1; and if a Black Cavalo is captured, it is moved to a8, b8, g8, h8, a7, b7, g7 or h8. Promoted Cavalos are also reclaimed. (Of course, a Cavalo in the waiting area cannot move, except when using a special move as explained below. Therefore the question to which square you reclaim your Cavalo is usually irrelevant. If the reclaiming of a Cavalo is triggered simultaneously with the turning of a Cavalo, the turning of the Cavalo is done first.)


Imagine that the White Cavalo on d3 in the diagram below is facing north.

Suppose White wants to move the Formiga on b3. If they roll a 1, the Formiga can move to a3, capture the Guarda on b4 or capture the Formiga on c3. If they roll 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, they have no choice but to move the Formiga to a3.

Suppose White wants to move the Cavalo on d3. If they roll a 1, the Cavalo moves to d4. If they roll a 2, it moves to d5. If they roll a 3, the Cavalo must capture the Gata on e6. If they roll a 4, the Cavalo must move to d5.

Suppose White wants to move the Gata on d2 using the d4-die. Then, whatever number they roll, they will always be able to capture the Formiga on c3 if they want to.


The objective of d4 d6 chess is to capture the opponent's pieces. If ever you have no gambling pieces left in the playing area, you lose the game. When a hundred turns (fifty per player) pass without any captures or Cavalo steps, the game ends in a draw. The game can also end in a draw by mutual agreement.

White starts.

In your turn, you must make a move with one of your gambling pieces and you may make one special move. You are allowed to make a special move before or after performing a move with a gambling piece. When you start your turn by choosing a gambling piece to move and rolling a die, you cannot make a special move before completing the move with the gambling piece.

We described how to move gambling pieces above.

A special move can be one of four things:

  1. Move one of your Guardas.
  2. Place one of your Guardas. This can only be done with a Guarda that is currently in the waiting area. Pick it up and place it on any empty square in the playing area.
  3. Promote one of your Cavalos. This can only be done with a Cavalo that is currently in the promotion area. Replace it by any other piece of choice that is of the same color. There is no limit to the amount of pieces of a type: you can have two Gatas or two Gatos of the same color on the board. Note that a White Cavalo that never makes a capturing move can only promote on a6 or h6, and a Black Cavalo that never makes a capturing move can only promote on a3 or h3.
  4. Place your "third Cavalo". This is only allowed if both of your Cavalos are in the waiting area and your starting area contains at least one empty square. Remove one of your Cavalos from the board, and place the other Cavalo on any empty square of choice in your starting area.


I wrote a weak engine in Python that can play this game with some minor modifications to the rules. It uses brute force search and null move pruning.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Maurice Dekker.

Last revised by Maurice Dekker.

Web page created: 2022-02-04. Web page last updated: 2022-07-08