Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Abdul-Rahman Sibahi.


Dada is, somehow, inspired by variants like Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Gothic Chess; since all these variants were named after the different art schools. I wanted to create an illogical and chaotic chess variant, and started with a strange Baroque-like piece called the Ghost Bishop (see notes.) However, the variant evolved into something very different from the original idea, and here it is.


The board is 7 files in 10 ranks. Ranks are numbered in the usual way and files are lettered from right to left. The King starts on a different colored square from himself.


FFEN : 1lfk1d1/2lad2/1p1pap1/1p1p1p1/7/7/1P1P1P1/1PAP1P1/2DNL2/1D1KFL1

The pieces are :

  1. Six pawns (P),
  2. Two Alibabas (A) (can be represented by Knights,)
  3. Two Double-Dabbabahs (D) (can be represented by Rooks,)
  4. Two Lions (L) (can be represented by Bishops,)
  5. One FAD (F) [or Ghost Bishop (G)] (can be represented by Queen,) and
  6. One King (K).

All the pieces are colorbound.


It can be noticed from the opening setup that the Kings start on the same color of the opposing FAD. Therefore, it is completely logical (un-fittingly enough,) to divide the pieces into Defensive pieces, which start on the same color as the friendly King; and Offensive pieces, which start on the same color as the enemy king.

Offensive pawns promote to any Offensive piece upon reaching the 9th or 10th rank. Defensive pawns promote to any Defensive piece, or a Diamond, upon reaching the 8th, 9th or 10th rank. Detailed promotion rules are in the following section.

There is no double-move, no castling, or any of these special moves.


Pieces move as described.

White starts be making one move with an Offensive piece. Black plays one move with an Offensive piece, and another with a Defensive piece, in no particular order (It's not really necessary to specify an order.) White responds similarly, and so on. The second move is mandatory, NOT optional. If the player has no Offensive pieces he makes only one move with a defensive piece. For the purposes of this rule the King is considered Defensive.

The Goal is to capture the opponent's king.

The game is drawn if twenty five full moves (1. Fc3 , Fe8 dPe7 is one full move,) are made without a pawn advance or capture, by threefold repetition, or mutual agreement.

Notation is handled as described in Murray's History of Chess. In short, it is standard algebraic notation except that, in case of ambiguity, the file where the piece started is PREFIXED to the move, as in the mentioned example. Ambiguity is only possible with pawns.


Offensive pawns:

Defensive pawns:

It might be possible to play the game with slightly modified CrazyHouse rules, which might turn out more lively than the original game. Rules :

  1. All rules, unless noted otherwise, are as they are in the original Dada. Captured pieces are kept in hand to be dropped on the board later.

  2. Offensive pieces may only be dropped on the color of the opposing king (The Offensive color of the player making the move.)

  3. Defensive pieces, likewise, may only be dropped on the color of the friendly king. (The Defensive color of the player making the move.)

  4. Pawns may be dropped anywhere except the promotion ranks for the color they're dropped on. (See Rules for detailed promotion rules.)

  5. A player may not capture a piece and drop it in the same move. (White can't, for example, move something like 5. DxA,A@e7 , where D stands for Double-Dabbabah and A for Alibaba, unless he already has an Alibaba in hand.

I am not sure how this would play out, but it's sure an interesting variant, giving all pieces attacking and defending values.


This game is highly experimental, and not at all play-tested. If anyone wants to play-test with Zillions of Games or some other program please feel free to. If you have any suggestions or modifications, please post them.

The Game, technically speaking, is played on two boards: The Dark board and the Light board, imposed on each other. Playing it might feel like a race as to who captures the opponent's King first. The Lion, however, is a very powerful piece because it controls 3/4 of the board (more than any other piece,) and moves on the other 1/4. So, it's a very useful piece to attack with. It's important to avoid the enemy Alibaba who moves on the same 1/4.

It would be interesting to play the Game with Extinction Chess rules.

The name, Dada, is mainly chosen because I like the sound of it. A more appropriate name would be 'Dabbabah Chess' since all pieces are Dabbabahs more or less. However, this name sounds too solid and formidable for my taste. 'Dada' gives more of a childish feel to the game.

Because all (most, if you include the Ghost Bishop,) pieces are Short-Range, this variant qualifies to be among the Short-Range Project games.


The Ghost Bishop moves in a very peculiar manner. In short, it moves like a standard bishop, BUT it is not blocked by the pieces in the bishop's path. Instead, it is blocked by the path two orthogonal moves forward away.

Another, and easier, way of describing it is as follows: It makes a non-capturing dabbabah move in the forward direction, then moves like a very standard bishop, capturing if it may, THEN it makes another non-capturing dabbabah move BACKWARDS. If it can't make the first dabbabah leap, it can't move at all. If it can't make the second, it can't move to that particular square.

This gives the piece some strange characteristics. Mainly, it may not be physically on the last two ranks, (even though it attacks them easily.) However, even though it can be physically on the first two ranks, it can't attack them. A good strategy against this piece would be to move the king to the last two ranks.

Unknowingly, this variant, and its Crazy version, turned out to have elements from two famous variants : Bughouse, and Parton's Unirexal Chess.

To illustrate the idea better, consider this diagram :

   +---+---+---+---+++---+---+---+---+--- Player 2  
8  |:R:| N |:B:| Q | |:k:| b |:n:| r |
   +---+---+---+---+ +---+---+---+---+
7  | P |:P:| P |:P:| | p |:p:| p |:p:|
   +---+---+---+---+ +---+---+---+---+
6  |:::|   |:::|   | |:::|   |:::|   |
   +---+---+---+---+ +---+---+---+---+
5  |   |:::|   |:::| |   |:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+ +---+---+---+---+
4  |:::|   |:::|   | |:::|   |:::|   |
   +---+---+---+---+ +---+---+---+---+
3  |   |:::|   |:::| |   |:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+ +---+---+---+---+
2  |:p:| p |:p:| p | |:P:| P |:P:| P |
   +---+---+---+---+ +---+---+---+---+
1  | r |:n:| b |:k:| | Q |:B:| N |:R:|
   +---+---+---+---+++---+---+---+---+--- Player 1
     a   b   c   d     e   f   g   h
        Board B           Board A        

Don't mind the checkering.

FEN: RNBQ-kbnr/PPPP-pppp/4-4/4-4/4-4/4-4/pppp-PPPP/rnbk-QBNR

The (-) is the partition between Board A and Board B. Player 1 has white pieces, with no king, on board A; and black pieces, with a king, on board B. Player 2 has black pieces, with a king, on Board A; and white pieces, with no king, on Board B.

The game is, basically, two simultaneous games of Unirexal chess (or rather half of it) with players competing to Checkmate the opponent king before he checkmates them.

Player 1 makes a white move, then Player 2 makes a move on each board, and so on : You Have Dada, or a very similar game, since here are no Lions.

If we add the little rule from Bughouse that pieces captured on one board may be dropped in the other, You Have CrazyDada. Again, not quite, because of the Lion.

This version, which uses standard board and pieces, is called Semi-Dada. Because it's not exactly Dada, but quite similar. And, if Dada itself proves to be a bad game, Semi-Dada (with or without drops) is definitely better.

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 Abdul-Rahman Sibahi.

Last revised by Fergus Duniho.

Web page created: 2007-04-20. Web page last updated: 2022-11-28