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This page is written by the game's inventor, Oliver Clarke.

Trade-up Chess

In trade-up chess the goal is to capture your opponent's king. During the game, you can either make a regular chess move or you can trade-up. When you trade-up, you take pieces from your hand and swap them out for pieces on the board with lower value. For instance, a pawn can trade-up to become a knight or bishop.

I originally described my new chess variant on my blog:


The setup is an empty board, except with kings on their usual starting squares. The remaining pieces (8 pawns, 2 knights, 2 bishops, 2 rooks and queen) start in the hand; white pieces in white's hand and black pieces in black's hand.


All pieces move just as in normal chess.


On each player's turn they may either make a regular chess move or a trade-up move.

- Regular chess moves do not involve the hand in any way. When a piece is captured it is removed from the game and not returned to the hand. When a pawn promoted, the piece it promotes to does not come from the hand and the pawn does not go to the hand.

- A trade-up move is when two pawns or a piece is taken from the hand and replaces a pawn or piece of lower value. Here are the possible trade-ups:
1) Place up to 2 pawns from the hand anywhere on the 2nd or 3rd ranks. A pawn on a player's 2nd rank may move 2 spaces, like regular chess.
2) Replace a pawn on the board with a knight or bishop from the hand.
3) Replace a knight or bishop on the board with a rook from the hand.
4) Take a rook on the board and turn it upside-down. An upside-down rook is still a rook, i.e., it moves and captures like a rook and if it returns to the hand then it becomes a normal rook.
5) Replace an upside-down rook on the board with a queen from the hand.

- On their first turn, white may only place one pawn from their hand onto the board.


To get out of check, you can place a pawn from your hand in the way of the checking piece.

An easy way to remember the trade-ups: each trade-up is worth 2 points using the usual piece values, with the upside-down rook worth 7 points.

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 Oliver Clarke.

Last revised by Oliver Clarke.

Web page created: 2023-02-06. Web page last updated: 2023-04-22