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Los Alamos Chess


During the Mid-20th Century, common goal among computer scientists was to create a system that was capable of playing the game of chess. The first documented account of such an effort appeared in 1956, following work done at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The game was not really chess, but a miniature version of it; their resident Maniac Computer lacked the computational power to play a full orthodox game. This 6x6-square variant - sans Bishops - is described below.

Los Alamos Chess is described in (1) Computer Chess by Monroe Newborn, (2) How Computers Play Chess by David Levy and Monty Newborn, and (3) Encyclopedia of Chess Variants by David Pritchard.


The game is played on a 6x6 board. The array is as follows:

King d1; Queen c1; Rook a1, f1; Knight b1, e1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2.

King d6; Queen c6; Rook a6, f6; Knight b6, e6; Pawn a5, b5, c5, d5, e5, f5.


The pieces shown above move as in orthodox chess.


  1. Pawns have no initial 2-step move option.
  2. En passant capture is not possible.
  3. Castling is not allowed.
  4. Other rules are as in orthodox chess.

Computer Play

If you have Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can play this game. Download file:

Jari Huikari has made a free PC computer program that plays Los Alamos chess. You can download it.


You can also try an experimental applet that allows you to either play against yourself or play against the computer.

Written by Hans Bodlaender. Edited by John William Brown.
WWW page created: 1995 or 1996. Last modified: June 10, 2002.