Gliński's hexagonal chess by Władysław Gliński (1936) was popular in Eastern Europe with a reported half-million players.[1]

This is a list of chess variants. Many thousands of variants exist. The 2007 catalogue The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants estimates that there are well over 2,000, and many more were considered too trivial for inclusion in the catalogue.[2]

abcdefgh
8
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Standard chess

Contemporary chess variants

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by adding missing items with reliable sources.

These chess variants are derived from chess by changing the board, board setup, pieces, or rules. Names that represent a set of variants are annotated with "[multivariant]" after their name.

Variant starting position or board

Many variants employ standard chess rules and mechanics, but vary the starting position of the pieces or number of pieces.

Chess on a 12 by 12 board

Variant board (standard rules and piece types)

Circular chess
Double Chess by Julian Hayward
Infinite chess. One example with pieces in their standard positions.[3]
Masonic Chess by George Dekle Sr.
Rhombic Chess by Tony Paletta

In these variants, the same pieces and rules as in chess are used, but the board is different; It can be smaller or larger, the shape of either the board or individual spaces can be non-square or modular,[4] or it can even be extra-dimensional or unbounded. The movement of pieces in some variants is modified in concurrence with the geometry of the gameboard.

abcdefghij
10a10 black rookb10 black knightc10 black bishopd10 black queene10 black kingf10 black kingg10 black queenh10 black bishopi10 black knightj10 black rook10
9a9 black pawnb9 black pawnc9 black pawnd9 black pawne9 black pawnf9 black pawng9 black pawnh9 black pawni9 black pawnj9 black pawn9
8a8b8c8d8e8f8g8h8i8j88
7a7b7c7d7e7f7g7h7i7j77
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6i6j66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5h5i5j55
4a4b4c4d4e4f4g4h4i4j44
3a3b3c3d3e3f3g3h3i3j33
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 white pawnf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawni2 white pawnj2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white kingg1 white queenh1 white bishopi1 white knightj1 white rook1
abcdefghij
Decimal Rettah chess board and startup[7][a]

Variant starting position (standard rules and piece types)

These variants use standard boards and pieces, but the pieces start on non-standard positions. In most such variants, the pawns are placed on their usual squares, but the position of other pieces is either randomly determined or selected by the players. The motivation for these variants is usually to nullify established opening knowledge. The downside of these variants is that the initial position usually has less harmony and balance than the standard chess position.[17]

abcdefgh
8
a8 black bishop
b8 black knight
c8 black rook
d8 black bishop
e8 black knight
f8 black king
g8 black rook
h8 black queen
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white bishop
b1 white knight
c1 white rook
d1 white bishop
e1 white knight
f1 white king
g1 white rook
h1 white queen
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Chess960, one of the 960 possible starting positions
abcdefgh
8
a8 white rook
b8 white knight
c8 white bishop
d8 white king
e8 white queen
f8 white bishop
g8 white knight
h8 white rook
a7 white pawn
b7 white pawn
c7 white pawn
d7 white pawn
e7 white pawn
f7 white pawn
g7 white pawn
h7 white pawn
a2 black pawn
b2 black pawn
c2 black pawn
d2 black pawn
e2 black pawn
f2 black pawn
g2 black pawn
h2 black pawn
a1 black rook
b1 black knight
c1 black bishop
d1 black king
e1 black queen
f1 black bishop
g1 black knight
h1 black rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Upside-down chess starting position (White sits at bottom)
Variant piece distributions (standard rules and piece types)

These variants use standard chess pieces on a standard board, but players begin with non-standard numbers of pieces. For example, starting with multiple queens or fewer pawns. Many such games use unbalanced starting positions, with one player having more or fewer of particular pieces than the other player.

abcdefgh
8
a8 black knight
b8 black knight
c8 black knight
d8 black knight
e8 black king
f8 black knight
g8 black knight
h8 black knight
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
b1 white queen
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white queen
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Charge of the Light Brigade
abcdefgh
8
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a4 white pawn
b4 white pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
f4 white pawn
g4 white pawn
h4 white pawn
a3 white pawn
b3 white pawn
c3 white pawn
d3 white pawn
e3 white pawn
f3 white pawn
g3 white pawn
h3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white pawn
b1 white pawn
c1 white pawn
d1 white pawn
e1 white pawn
f1 white pawn
g1 white pawn
h1 white pawn
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Dunsany's Chess by Lord Dunsany
abcdefgh
8
b8 black knight
c8 black knight
e8 black king
f8 black knight
g8 black knight
e7 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
e1 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Peasants' Revolt by R. L. Frey
abcdefgh
8
a8 black knight
b8 black queen
c8 black pawn
d8 black bishop
e8 black king
f8 black pawn
g8 black pawn
h8 black rook
a7 black bishop
b7 black pawn
c7 black knight
d7 black knight
e7 black bishop
f7 black queen
g7 black rook
h7 black pawn
a2 white knight
b2 white knight
c2 white knight
d2 white bishop
e2 white pawn
f2 white queen
g2 white rook
h2 white queen
a1 white bishop
b1 white rook
c1 white queen
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white pawn
g1 white knight
h1 white queen
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Really Bad Chess (example) by Zach Gage
abcdefgh
8
a8 black knight
b8 black knight
c8 black knight
d8 black knight
e8 black king
f8 black knight
g8 black knight
h8 black knight
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black pawn
f6 black pawn
b5 black pawn
c5 black pawn
d5 black pawn
e5 black pawn
f5 black pawn
g5 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Weak! by Ralph Betza

Variant rules (standard piece types)

These variants introduce changes in the mechanics of the game, such as movement of pieces, rules for capturing, or winning conditions, using standard chess pieces.

Variant rules, armies, and board (standard piece types)

These use standard pieces, but the quantity of one or more types of piece from a standard set is non-standard.

Chad by Christian Freeling
Jeson Mor starting position

Variant rules (standard piece types, armies, board)

abcdefgh
8
a8 black rook
d8 black queen
f8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
e7 black bishop
f7 white knight
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black pawn
e6 white bishop
f6 black knight
c5 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
e1 white rook
g1 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Jump Chess example checkmate
abcdefgh
8
a8 black rook
b8 black upside-down king
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 C d
f8 black bishop
g8 black upside-down king
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white upside-down king
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 C e
f1 white bishop
g1 white upside-down king
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Knightmate starting position
abcdefgh
8
a2 black king
b2 black rook
c2 black bishop
d2 black knight
e2 white knight
f2 white bishop
g2 white rook
h2 white king
a1 black queen
b1 black rook
c1 black bishop
d1 black knight
e1 white knight
f1 white bishop
g1 white rook
h1 white queen
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Racing Kings: first king to 8th rank wins
Variant move counts

In these variants one or both players can move more than once per turn. The board and the pieces in these variants are the same as in standard chess.

Variants with hidden information or use of chance

In contrast to classical chess which is a game of complete information, these either have elements of chance or players do not have perfect information as to the state of the board.

Variant piece types (i.e., fairy pieces), rules, and board

Ea5 black rookEb5 black knightEc5 black kingEd5 black knightEe5 black rook
Ea4 black pawnEb4 black pawnEc4 black pawnEd4 black pawnEe4 black pawn
Ea3Eb3Ec3Ed3Ee3
Ea2Eb2Ec2Ed2Ee2
Ea1Eb1Ec1Ed1Ee1
E
Da5 N dDb5 black bishopDc5 black queenDd5 N dDe5 black bishop
Da4 black pawnDb4 black pawnDc4 black pawnDd4 black pawnDe4 black pawn
Da3Db3Dc3Dd3De3
Da2Db2Dc2Dd2De2
Da1Db1Dc1Dd1De1
D
Ca5Cb5Cc5Cd5Ce5
Ca4Cb4Cc4Cd4Ce4
Ca3Cb3Cc3Cd3Ce3
Ca2Cb2Cc2Cd2Ce2
Ca1Cb1Cc1Cd1Ce1
C
Ba5Bb5Bc5Bd5Be5
Ba4Bb4Bc4Bd4Be4
Ba3Bb3Bc3Bd3Be3
Ba2 white pawnBb2 white pawnBc2 white pawnBd2 white pawnBe2 white pawn
Ba1 white bishopBb1 N lBc1 white queenBd1 white bishopBe1 N l
B
Aa5Ab5Ac5Ad5Ae5
Aa4Ab4Ac4Ad4Ae4
Aa3Ab3Ac3Ad3Ae3
Aa2 white pawnAb2 white pawnAc2 white pawnAd2 white pawnAe2 white pawn
Aa1 white rookAb1 white knightAc1 white kingAd1 white knightAe1 white rook
A
Raumschach starting position. Inverted knights represent unicorns.
abcdefghij
10a10 black upside-down rookb10c10d10e10f10g10h10i10j10 black upside-down rook10
9a9 black upside-down bishopb9 black rookc9 black knightd9 black bishope9 black queenf9 black kingg9 black bishoph9 black knighti9 black rookj9 black upside-down bishop9
8a8 black pawnb8 black pawnc8 black pawnd8 black pawne8 black pawnf8 black pawng8 black pawnh8 black pawni8 black pawnj8 black pawn8
7a7b7c7d7e7f7g7h7i7j77
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6i6j66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5h5i5j55
4a4b4c4d4e4f4g4h4i4j44
3a3 white pawnb3 white pawnc3 white pawnd3 white pawne3 white pawnf3 white pawng3 white pawnh3 white pawni3 white pawnj3 white pawn3
2a2 white upside-down bishopb2 white rookc2 white knightd2 white bishope2 white queenf2 white kingg2 white bishoph2 white knighti2 white rookj2 white upside-down bishop2
1a1 white upside-down rookb1c1d1e1f1g1h1i1j1 white upside-down rook1
abcdefghij
Shako starting position. Cannons (shown as inverted rooks) are on a1, j1, a10, and j10. Elephants (shown as inverted bishops) are on a2, j2, a9, and j9.

Variant movement in higher dimensions

Parallel Worlds Chess, a 3D variant

Main article: Three-dimensional chess

A number of variants have been developed where the playing area is in three dimensions or more. In most cases an extra spatial dimension is represented by multiple boards being laid next to each other. Some extra-dimensional variants attempt to reflect the 3D nature of modern warfare (e.g. Raumschach, designed to reflect aerial and submarine warfare), while others incorporate fantasy or science fiction ideas such as parallel worlds and time travel.[94][95] An example of the latter is the variant introduced by the 2020 computer game 5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel, which uses a varying number of boards all being played in parallel.

Variant piece types (standard board)

Most of the pieces in these variants are borrowed from chess. The game goal and rules are also very similar to those in chess; however, these variants include one or more fairy pieces which move differently from chess pieces.

abcdefgh
8
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d6 white upside-down king
d3 black upside-down king
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Anti-king chess. The anti-king is shown as an inverted king.
Variant piece types (Empress, Amazon, Princess)

There are a number of variants which use the empress (rook + knight) and princess (bishop + knight) compound pieces. The empress is also called marshall or chancellor.[103] The princess is also called cardinal, archbishop, janus, paladin, or minister.[104] Another compound piece is the amazon (queen + knight). To adapt to the new pieces, the board is usually extended to 10×8 or 10×10 with additional pawns added.[105]

Grand Chess by Christian Freeling
Variant piece types (other)

The pieces in these variants are borrowed from both chess and another game. The game goal and rules are either the same or very similar to those in chess. However, these variants include one or more fairy pieces which move differently from chess pieces.

Variant player count (single-player)

a4 white knightb4c4 black bishopd4 white rook
a3 white kingb3 black kingc3 white rookd3 black rook
a2 black knightb2 black knightc2 white queend2 white bishop
a1 black rookb1 white knightc1 black bishopd1 white bishop
Queen's Quadrille. All pieces are placed randomly.
a4 white kingb4 white queenc4 black bishopd4 white rook
a3 black rookb3 black kingc3d3 black rook
a2 white bishopb2 black bishopc2 black queend2 white bishop
a1 white knightb1 white knightc1 black knightd1 black knight
Hippodrome. All pieces are placed randomly, except for the knights.

Similar to solitaire, there are a few chess variants for a single player. Unlike chess puzzles, these variants have a random starting position. Some of these are similar to permutation chess problems, for example the game Queen's Quadrille, which was invented by Karen Robinson in 1998.[114] All chess pieces (except pawns) are randomly placed on a 4×4 board. Then one of the queens is removed and the game is started. Pieces move as usual, however capturing is not allowed. A player can move white and black pieces in any order, without regard for colour. The goal is to move the queen along a predetermined pattern; for example from one corner to the other, or visit all squares on the board only once. The same idea is found in the game Hippodrome, which was invented by Andy Lewicki in 2003.[115] The initial position is obtained by placing four knights on the first row and all other pieces from a chess set (except pawns) on the remaining fields. Then one of the pieces (except knights) is removed and the game is started. The goal is to move all knights to the opposite rank.

In 1998 Robinson also invented a game which Hans Bodlaender named Chess Contradance, as the setup is like a contradance with the two lines facing each other. The pieces are set up as in regular chess, but without pawns. The first and eighth ranks are safe havens, i.e., no piece can be captured on these ranks. The objective of the puzzle is to move the pieces such that all pieces move to the opposite back row without ever putting any piece in danger of being captured. Black and White alternate moves.[116]

Variant player count (3+ players)

Bughouse chess, the game in progress

Games inspired by chess

These variants are very different from chess and may be classified as abstract strategy board games instead of chess variants.

Chess-related historical and regional games

Some of these games have developed independently while others are ancestors or relatives of modern chess.[118] The popularity of these variants may be limited to their respective places of origin (as is largely the case for shogi), or worldwide (as is the case for xiangqi). The games have their own institutions and traditions.

Historical

Shatranj set, 12th century
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 sy b8 py e8 black king f8 black upside-down bishop g8 black knight h8 black upside-down knight 8
7 a7 ny b7 py e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn 7
6 a6 ey b6 py 6
5 a5 ky b5 py 5
4 g4 pr h4 kr 4
3 g3 pr h3 er 3
2 a2 pg b2 pg c2 pg d2 pg g2 pr h2 nr 2
1 a1 sg b1 ng c1 eg d1 kg g1 pr h1 sr 1
a b c d e f g h

Regional

Sittuyin, players elect their own starting setups behind the pawns

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Parton expressed no preference for a particular back rank setup. Another is RNKBQQBKNR given in Feenschach.

References

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  2. ^ Pritchard (2000), p. 8: "Most published ones (but none described here), are, in truth, forgettable."
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  10. ^ Pritchard (2007), p. 226
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  17. ^ Pritchard (2000), p. 18.
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