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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by one of the game's inventor, KendallCraig.


This is a fun little game that my wife and I invented a little over a year ago for the express purpose of creating a board-game that allowed for attractive sculptural pieces, with better portability and "easier" appeal (less intimidation) than traditional chess. In addition to sculpted variations of Tic-Tac-Toe and 5-Minute-Poppy-Shogi, we generated this game as an alternate to 4X4 versions of tic-tac-toe that we'd seen, but did not find interesting. The action for Chupacabras takes place on a 5X5 board and it is (none-too-surprisingly) very similar to David Howe's "Knight-Tac-Toe", "Five Star Chess", "Tic Tac Chec", and probably other variants out there.

The idea is to either capture the opponent's Goat, or arrange any combination of your pieces to form three-in-a-row in the center 3x3 "CROP CIRCLE" area (just as in tic-tac-toe). The normal rules of chess still apply with the following qualifications:

Goatsuckers (Chupacabras) move as Western Orthodox Knights, but may not "capture" any piece but their opponent's Goat.

Goats (Cabras) move as Western Orthodox Kings (negating warnings of check), but may alternatively SWAP SQUARES with ANY piece sharing its border, diagonal or orthogonal. SWAPPING counts as a move. Additionally, the Goat (being herbivorous) may NOT "capture" any piece at all. Much of the strategy goes in to blocking potential moves.

Picture of the board, featuring the CROP CIRCLE and initial setup

Picture of the board, featuring the CROP CIRCLE and initial setup.

| c | c | g | c | c |
|   | . | . | . |   |
|   | . | . | . |   |
|   | . | . | . |   |
| C | C | G | C | C |

ASCII diagram of the
  board and initial 

The 3x3 area in the center (the squares with the dots on them in the ASCII diagram) is the CROP CIRCLE, which operates like a tic-tac-toe board. The object of the game is to get three of your pieces in a row (with horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) in this area. Alternatively, you can win by capturing your opponent's Goat.


  1. Playing with check.
  2. Playing with "butting" (a push move which I think may be similar to the Tank ability in military-themed variants described on this website) instead of SWAPPING.
  3. A larger-board version was generated with new pieces (other farm animals) and the FARMER that can capture opponent's Chupacabra pieces... moves as a modified (limited) Western Orthodox Bishop.

Please feel free to drop us an e-mail if you have an interest in seeing Patricia's sculpted boards-game sets!

Editorial comment: I had not yet heard of the `goatsucker'. I now learned there are people that assume there is a creature, coming possibly from UFO's, that kill goats and other animals, in Mexico; the stories and their reaction resemble e.g., the monster of Loch Ness.