Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A chess variant is any game derived from or related to chess. In practice, a specific chess variant may be similar to chess or radically different. The broad definition of chess variants is so universal, it may include nearly any abstract battle or war game played upon a board. The definition does suppose that any such game can be considered separately from its tradition and culture.
To experts of chess variants, chess, shogi, xiangqi, and other chess-related games of great popularity are merely special cases in a theoretically unlimited universe of possible arrangements involving boards, pieces, rules, and so on. Hundreds of chess variants have been devised. With the recent invention in 1998 of Zillions of Games, a computer program which enables non-experts to quickly design and playtest chess variants using an AI opponent, the total number has been increasing constantly and rapidly. This growth is likely to continue for years.
Fantasy variants make significant changes to normal chess rules. Other terms for fantasy chess variants include heterodox chess and fairy chess. Some of these variants use pieces not found in orthodox chess, such as Berolina pawns (pawns which move diagonally and capture straight forward); such pieces are collectively called fairy pieces.
- Alice chess: played with two boards. A piece moved on one board passes "through the looking glass" onto the other board.
- Andernach chess: a piece making a capture changes color.
- Archon: success of piece capture depends on the strength of the attacking piece (with better chances for more powerful piece).
- Arimaa: A game inspired by Garry Kasparov's defeat to chess computer Deep Blue, this game is easy to understand but difficult for computers to play well.
- Atomic chess: any capture on a square results in an "atomic explosion" which kills (i.e. removes from the game) all pieces in any of the 8 surrounding squares, except for pawns.
- Avalanche chess: each player moves an opponent's pawn after their move.
- Baroque chess: (a.k.a. Ultima) most of the pieces move like queens. They are named after their unusual capturing methods; e.g., Chameleon, Immobilizer, and Coordinator.
- Capablanca chess: a few game variations played on a 10×8 or 10×10 board with two new pieces: Chancellor (Rook+Knight) and Archbishop (Bishop+Knight).
- Checkers chess: normal rules of chess are followed, however, pieces can only move forward until they have reached the last row.
- Checkless chess: where players are forbidden from giving check except to checkmate.
- Circe chess: captured pieces are reborn on their starting sqaures.
- Compact chess: In Compact Chess, you play on a 6×6 board whereby the bishops are moved to replace the king and queen's pawn. All standard chess rules apply, including castling.
- Crazyhouse: captured pieces change the color and can be dropped on any unoccupied location. There are two variations of this chess variant, known as Loop Chess and Chessgi.
- Cylinder chess: played on regular 8x8 chessboard with the same pieces, start position and rules as for standard Chess. The only difference is that A and H columns are "connected". Thus a player can use them as A column would be next to H column (and vice versa).
- Dark Chess: you see only positions attacked by your pieces.
- Dragon Chess: uses three 8×12 boards atop one another, with new types of chess piece.
- Extinction chess: you win by extincting a type of piece of your opponent. That is, you win if you capture your opponents king or queen, both his rooks, bishops or knights, or all his pawns.
- Fischer Random Chess: the placement of the pieces on the 1st and 8th rank is randomized.
- Gothic Chess: is a commercial chess variant played on a 10x8 board with a Chancellor and an Archbishop as new pieces. It was patented in 2002 by Ed Trice. It is similar to Capablanca Chess.
- Grand chess: is a popular chess variant played upon a 10x10 board. It was invented in 1984 by Christian Freeling. It is related to Capablanca Chess.
- Grid chess: the board is overlaid with a grid of lines; for a move to be legal, it must cross at least one of these lines.
- Hexapawn: a simple chess variant played only with pawns.
- Janus Chess: played on 10×8 board with a fairy chess piece, (Bishop+Knight) named a Janus.
- King's Corner chess: like Fischer Random Chess, the placement of the pieces on the 1st and 8th row are randomized, but with the king in the right hand corner. Blacks starting position is obtained by rotating white's position 180 degrees around the boards center.
- Knightmare Chess: played with cards that change the game rules.
- Kriegspiel: each player does not know where the opponent's pieces are but can deduce them with information from a referee.
- Madrasi chess: a piece which is attacked by the same type of piece of the opposite colour is paralysed.
- Maharajah and the Sepoys: black has a complete army, white only one piece - Maharajah (Queen+Knight).
- Marseillais Chess: each player moves twice per turn.
- Martian Chess: played with Icehouse pieces
- Monster Chess: white has the king and four pawns against the entire black army but may make two successive moves per turn.
- Multiple move chess: players make multiple moves each turn according to a few special rules to keep the game fairly traditional.
- Omega chess: played on a 10×10 board with a four extra squares, one per corner. Also, there are two fairy chess pieces used.
- Patrol chess: captures and checks are only possible if the capturing or checking piece is guarded by a friendly piece.
- Pion coiffé: you need to deliver checkmate with a pawn to win.
- Progressive chess: the first player moves once, the second moves twice, the first moves three times, etc.
- Suicide chess: (a.k.a. Giveaway Chess, Take Me Chess, Losers Chess, Antichess) capturing moves are mandatory and the object is to lose all pieces.
- Three-dimensional chess: several variants exist, with the most popular being "Tri-D Chess" from the television series Star Trek.
- Three Checks Chess: you win if you check your opponent three times.
- Ultima: Another name for Baroque chess.
These variants arose out of the desire to play chess with more than just one other person.
- Bughouse chess: (a.k.a. Tandem Chess, Siamese Chess) two teams of two players face each other on two boards.
- Djambi: can be played by four people with a 9x9 board and four sets of special pieces. The pieces can capture or move the pieces of an adversary. Captured pieces are not removed from the board, but turned upside down. There are variants for three players or five players (pentachiavel ).
- Forchess: a four-person version using the standard board and two sets of standard pieces.
- Four-handed chess: can be played by three or four people and uses a special board and four sets of differently colored pieces.
Chess-related national games
These games have developed independently from chess, from origins that may well reach back to some common proto-chess game. Nonetheless, they are potentially definable as chess variants (with some possible difficulties). The popularity of these chess 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 which is played by overseas Chinese everywhere. These games have their own institutions and traditions.
- Chaturanga - an ancient Indian game, presumed to be the common ancestor of chess and other national chess-like variants
- Shatranj - an ancient Persian game, derived from Chaturanga
- Tamerlane Chess - a significantly expanded variation of shatranj
- Shogi - Japan (see also shogi variants)
- Xiangqi - China
- Janggi - Korea
- Makruk - Thailand
- Sittuyin - Burma
Chess variants software
Aside from the Zillions of games scriptable search engine, some program authors have created stand-alone applications that are capable of playing one or more variants. These "dedicated" programs tend to be much stronger than their Zillions counterparts.
- ChessV - supports around 30 chess variants, including such popular variants as Grand chess, Shatranj, Three Checks Chess, Ulitma.
- Gothic Vortex - the winner of Gothic Chess Computer Championship 2004
- Sunsetter - Crazyhouse and Bughouse chess engine
- Sjeng - besides Crazyhouse and Bughouse chess supports also some other chess variants.
In addition to individual chess variants with popularity, large collections (generally acknowledged to be of respectable quality) have been created by several inventors.
- Zillions Chess Variants | Karl Scherer
- Games Gallery | Fergus Duniho
- Board Game Page | Peter Aronson
- Chess Variants | João Pedro Neto
- The Symmetrical Chess Collection | Derek Nalls
- The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, D.B. Pritchard (1994), ISBN 0952414201.
- Popular Chess Variants, D.B. Pritchard (2000), ISBN 0713485787.
- The Chess Variant Pages
- British Chess Variant Society | List of Chess Variants
- Zillions Of Games | Chess Variants Index
- Variety of Chess in ancient world
- The Chess Family - History and Useful Information
- Free Multiplayer Chess Variants
- Play Chess Variants at SchemingMind.com
- Play Chess Variants at BrainKing.com
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