The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Expanded Chess, our

featured variant for September, 2023.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Charles Gilman.

Neutral Subject Chess

This variant is intended to complement Vernon Parton's Neutral King Chess. The idea is that each player's King and Queen are initially their own, but the rest of the FIDE set are initially neutral. The reason why Queens are not neutral is due to how players recruit neutrals for their own army, which is also why the Pawns are differently positioned.



As FIDE Chess, with "forward" for Pawns interpreted as away from the player moving them.


Each player can do any one of the following as a move:
make a noncapturing move with a piece of their own;
capture an enemy piece with a piece of their own;
capture a neutral piece with a piece of their own;
make a noncapturing move with a neutral piece that the enemy player has not just moved;
Castle using their own unmoved King and a Rook that they have recruited but not moved.

Neutral pieces may not capture each other. As will soon be seen, the question of neutral pieces capturing or checking recruited pieces never arises.

At the end of the move a player recruits as their own any neutral piece A that would be threatening a recruited piece B were it already of the opposite colour to piece B. If piece B is one of the player's own this nullifies the threat, so that enemy cannot immediately capture it. If piece B is an enemy one it confirms the threat, so that the enemy must move piece B or if possible capture piece A to avoid losing piece B. If piece B is the enemy King it is in Check. If another neutral piece C threatens piece A, the player recruits piece C in turn, and so on until there are no neutral pieces threatening recruited pieces.

Castling is allowed through squares threatened by neutrals as it ultimately recruits them. Note that the Rook will necessarily already have been recruited either because of the lack of intervening pieces or previously. Castling to escape check, and therefore with a Rook recruited by the enemy, is not allowed. The notes include an example of such recruitment.

A player moving a Pawn to their own seventh rank also recruits it as their own. This serves to both stop the Double Move and En Passant questions arising and increase the chances of promotion. The bar on two successive opposite-player moves by neutral pieces also helps with this. A Pawn reaching an end rank is promoted as in FIDE Chess.

Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are as in FIDE Chess.


Examples of opening moves that recruit pieces, with the triggering square in brackets:
b1-c3 recruits the Knight moved (d1).
c1-d2 recruits the Bishop moved (e1), the Knight on b1 (d2), and the Rook on a1 (b1).
d1xa4 recruits the Rook on a1 (a4) and the Pawn on b5 (a4).
d1-b3 recruits the Pawns on a4/c4 (b3) and b5/d5 (c4), the Rook on a1 (a4), and the Bishop on f1 (c4).
d1-d2 and d1-d2 recruit the Bishop on c1 (d2), the Knight on b1 (d2), and the Rook on a1 (b1).
d1-d3 recruits the Bishop on f1 (d3), the Pawns on c4/e4 (d3) on b5/d5/f5 (c4/e4), and the Bishop on c8 (f5).
d1xd4 recruits the Pawns on c5/e5 (d4) and the Bishop on f8 (c5).
d1-e2 and e1-e2 recruit the Bishop on f1 (e2), the Knight on g1 (e2), and the Rook on h1 (g1).
d1-f3 recruits the Knight on g1 (f3), the Rook on h1 (g1), the Pawns on e4/g4 (f3) and d5/f5/h5 (e4/g4), and the Bishop on c8 (f5).
d1xg4 recruits the Pawns on f5/h5 (g4), the Bishop on c8 (f5), and Rook on h8 (h5); the last prevents Black from Castling Kingside.
f1-e2 recruits the Bishop moved (d1), the Knight on g1 (e2), and the Rook on h1 (g1).
g1-f3 recruits the Knight moved (e1).
Black's recruiting opening moves are symmetric with this, subject to White already having recruited certain pieces.

Piece allegience could be indicated with Draughts pieces underneath, or by using a highly directionalised novelty set with neutral pieces facing sideways. It is the latter option that qualifies this as a "usual equipment" variant.

The rules for neutral pieces could also be used for pieces left by a checkmated player in subvariants of multiplayer variants.

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 Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2006-04-05. Web page last updated: 2016-02-08