Do you want to know or play a different type of chess variants?
Have you ever wanted to learn how to play another game played in chess…
Well, if you are bored with the same old chess game rules, then you can play some of the popular chess variants below. 🙂
This may not be the regular game that you should play chess, but I think it's a cool way to enjoy chess with friends.
Learn how to play one of these 10 popular and favorite chess variants now
Chess is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable games ever created.
Right from the get-go, there are already so many possibilities and so many different directions that you can take the game.
This makes every game of chess unique. This is why chess never becomes boring.
However, you might want to spice up your games a little bit.
If you're tired of wracking your brain trying to calculate the best moves, you should try some chess variants.
You may also like to read this article about useful chess terms and chess moves.
Chess variants are significant because they allow you to enjoy chess in a whole new way.
The new set of goals is going to give you a new set of challenges.
And the rules of performing well in chess won't be effective in these variants!
These variations won't make you a better chess player.
But they are going to give you a load of fun!
Take a break from trying to play the opening like a book, the middlegame like a magician, and the endgame like a machine, and try some of these crazy variations.
How many chess variations are there? There are hundreds of them today.
Read more about the chess strategy here.
1. Fischer Random
Starting off our list is Fischer random, also known as Chess960.
Unlike some of the other variants, we will take a look at, Fischer random isn't a crazy way to play chess. In fact, this variation was made with the intention of improving the game.
This variant was created by none other than Bobby Fischer himself; one of the greatest, if not the greatest, chess players ever.
Fischer won countless tournaments and is seen today as a legend of chess.
Fischer wasn't a fan of the direction that top-level chess was going.
He saw that the opening was turning into a battle of studying and memorizing lines rather than a battle of skill and creativity.
Check out related Fischer Random book here (link to Amazon)
Hence he created Fischer random, a chess variant where the starting positions of all the pieces (except pawns) are shuffled up.
Every game of Fischer random starts differently.
Your rooks won't start on a1 and h1, your knights won't be on b1 and g1, and so on.
Instead, your rooks might start on e1 and d1 in one game, and c1 and f1 in the next!
The same for every other piece.
This will eliminate all the opening lines you have learned.
Read more about 5 popular chess openings here.
This variation is going to force you to come up with new ideas in every game.
You can see what Fischer was trying to do.
Unfortunately, for Fischer, his invention never clicked at the top-level.
However, it is one of the most played chess variations today.
If memorizing opening theory and lines isn't your thing, you will definitely enjoy this variation.
There's nothing more satisfying than sacrificing a piece or two to checkmate your opponent.
In actual games, opportunities like these don't often show up.
Chess is not a game for reckless attackers.
When you see a potential sacrifice, you first have to calculate very deeply whether or not it will actually give you an advantage.
Most of the time, you're just going to end up a piece down.
Speaking of time, you may want to check out a “helpful guide to setup Leap PQ9907S chess clock” 🙂
Checking your opponent's king is pointless if you can't trap him.
The same can't be said when playing 3-check.
If you enjoy throwing all your pieces at your enemy's king, this is the perfect variation for you.
The rules of the game are simple: check your opponent's king thrice, you win.
The starting position is standard, the moves are standard, but this one new rule is what creates mayhem on the board.
Read more about chess game rules here.
3-Check is played very aggressively.
It is a constant King hunt where if you don't check your opponent's King, yours is sure to be checked.
So throw all your pieces into the attack!
Make sacrifice after sacrifice to get to the King.
The material doesn't matter if you win the game anyway.
Chess is a battle between two players.
It is a struggle between two minds trying to outsmart one another.
But have you ever wondered what chess would be like with more than two players?
Introducing Chaturanga, one of the oldest variations of chess.
It is so old, historians believe that chess is actually a variation of Chaturanga rather than the other way around!
Learn more about the valuable history of chess here.
Chaturanga is usually played by 2 players.
However, the 4-player version of this game is also very popular.
It is perfect for people who want to experience playing against more than one opponent at a time.
Of course, the set-up, pieces, and rules of the game are all different from what you're used to.
Here are some of its rules:
- Players form teams of 2, with teammates being on opposite sides of the board.
- Each player starts with 4 pawns on the second rank, and a boat, a knight, a rook, and a king on the first rank of the left-hand corner of the board.
- The boat is a unique piece that acts somewhat like a bishop.
- Like the bishop, the boat moves diagonally.
- However, unlike the bishop, the boat can only jump two squares.
- It can't move only one square, and it can't jump three squares either.
- Other than that, pawns are not allowed to jump two spaces on their first move.
- The rest of the pieces behave like they do in chess.
The original Chaturanga has some pretty complicated rules to follow.
But today, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it.
One way that you can do this is to aim to capture both of your opponent's kings.
Unlike chess, you can actually capture the king and still continue the game (there are 4 players anyway).
Read the proper rules on how to play Chaturanga, or create your own version to enjoy playing “chess” with 3 other people!
You may want to read this related book about History of Chaturanga (link to Amazon)
4. King of the Hill
Some people find it ironic how the king, who is supposed to lead his army into battle, is the one that you hide away during a chess game.
We all know that king safety is the top priority.
After all, you lose your king, you lose the game.
This is why you never see kings moving out on the open while there are still plenty of pieces on the board.
Our next chess variation, however, completely changes the way you use your king.
King of the Hill is just like regular chess, except there is one new way to win.
That is by getting your King into one of the 4 center squares.
Get your King there without getting checkmated, you win the game.
While King of the Hill is just played like an ordinary chess game, there is an extra thrill knowing that at any time, your King can make a run for it!
You should also be cautious because your opponent's king can also come out of the blue and into the center as well.
Letting your King run to the center is, of course, super risky.
But the chance to win it all right away makes the risk worthwhile.
You may also like to read about useful guide in King chess castling.
5. Suicide Chess
If you're on a losing streak and are tired of getting beaten by better players, you should challenge them to a game of suicide chess.
The name pretty much sums up how this variation is played.
Kill yourself, you win.
The goal of this game is not to capture your opponent's pieces, but to have all of your pieces captured!
This is why this is the perfect game to play if you just can't seem to win in regular chess.
Read more about tips you need to follow to win more chess games.
To make this game possible, there are a few rule changes.
One is that the kings can be captured, and the game will go on.
There are no checks and no checkmates. In suicide chess, kings are just ordinary pieces that join the fight.
The other rule change is that taking pieces is mandatory.
If you can capture an opponent's piece, you have to win that piece even if you would rather not.
This rule is very important for this variation.
Since the goal is to lose all your pieces, you would never capture your opponent's pieces if you had the option not to. This is the rule that makes this game work.
So if you can't stop losing, why don't you turn your losses into victories by playing suicide chess!
6. Progressive Chess
So far, the variations we've looked at have little to no value in improving your game.
Our next variation, however, is one that can enhance your visualization.
Get ready to wrack your brains because up next is progressive chess!
Chess is a turn-based game.
White plays one move, then black responds with a move of their own.
You may also like to read: Important Rules of Who Makes The First Move (Explained)
In progressive chess, this taking of turns is completely changed.
Instead of just getting one move per turn, players get more and more moves the longer the game goes.
So in move 1, white makes one move.
Instead of responding with only one move though, black can make two moves.
On white's 2nd turn, he can now make three moves. And so on.
It usually doesn't take long before one player is checkmated.
The fact that you can string together five moves on your 3rd turn makes forced checkmates a lot easier.
On the flip-side however, it also makes it a lot easier for you to be checkmated!
Always remember that if you pass your turn without doing enough damage, your opponent is going to come right back at you with an extra move!
Playing progressive chess is going to sharpen your visualization skills.
Finding the winning combinations won't be too difficult, but defending is a nightmare.
How can you ensure that there is no way for your opponent to checkmate you if they can play 6 consecutive moves?
As you can probably guess by the name, things are about to get crazy.
Capturing an opponent's piece is a great thing.
But what if you could capture an opponent's piece and make it one of yours? That would be crazy, wouldn't it?
That's exactly what Crazyhouse is all about. Instead of just eliminating captured pieces from the board, you can use the captured pieces to fight for you.
To make things even crazier, you can put these captured pieces anywhere you want on the board!
The game starts completely standard. However, when you capture an opponent's piece you don't just remove it from the game.
Instead, you hold on to it. Whenever it is your turn, you can choose to place your newly acquired piece in the game instead of moving.
You can put this piece on any open square on the board.
The only exception is that you can't place pawns on the last rank because that would instantly promote them.
This is why games are going to get crazy.
You might feel you are safe when all of a sudden a queen appears right beside your king!
Visualizing can be very difficult in this variation. But it is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable ways to play!
Chess is often described as a war game.
In war, however, your enemy's position remains unknown.
There is always going to be an element of surprise in battle.
Staying true to this is Kriegspiel, the variation of chess where you have no idea what your opponent is up to.
You've probably heard of blindfold chess before.
It's chess where blindfolds are used and players can't see the board.
Players are told what moves are played and they have to visualize it all in their heads.
Kriegspiel isn't like this. In Kriegspiel, you are playing blindly because no one will tell you your opponent's moves!
It requires 3 chessboards, one for each player and one for the referee.
One board has only white pieces, another has only black pieces, while the referee's board has both white and black pieces.
Before any move, the player has to ask the referee first if it is a legal move.
Since white doesn't know where black's pieces are, he can't know if he can push his pawn forward or if there is a piece blocking the way.
The only way is to ask the referee who can see all the pieces.
This gives a whole new meaning to blind chess.
Your pieces are going to move around without seeing anything, and you are sure to bump into your opponent's pieces without even knowing what they are!
It is a fascinating game, which is why it is a really popular variation of chess today.
Read the book about Kriegspiel here (link to Amazon)
9. Kung-Fu Chess
We've seen some pretty crazy ways to play chess so far, but nothing is quite as chaotic as kung-fu chess. It's so crazy, the only legit way to play this variation is on the computer.
Because if you try it over the board, there is going to be absolute mayhem!
So what is Kung-Fu Chess? It's chess with no turns.
That's right, you don't have to wait for your opponent before you make your next move!
So make those moves as fast as you possibly can!
You can see why this would cause an absolute disorder.
There are going to be so many illegal moves made, so many pieces falling over, and so many arguments as to who put their piece on a specific square first.
It's so crazy, it might be closer to kung-fu than actual chess.
On the computer, these problems won't be around. But this won't take much away from the craziness that is kung-fu chess.
Here is a chess book about the Great Grandmaster (Magnus) that made chess great again (link to Amazon)
10. Your Own Chess Variants
Last but not least, your chess variants.
If none of these appeals to you, you can always create your own way of playing chess.
With a chessboard and the 32 pieces, there are endless possibilities that you can go for.
Create new rules, create unique pieces, create new moves.
Come up with stories, come up with special powers, come up with new and exciting ways to play.
Get creative, because while chess has been around for hundreds of years, there are always going to be new ways to enjoy this game.
Do check out our article about “chess notations” just click the link to find out more!
So, there you have it…10 lists of chess variants you can start playing.
These are some of the popular chess variants, well not precisely 10 but count the last one as your way to enjoy chess with your family. 🙂
We can think of a lot of chess variants when playing chess, its all up to your imagination.
As long as every one of your friends or family approves of playing a simple or complicated variant of chess, then that should be ok.
Don't stop playing chess; keep on learning chess!
Have fun playing your favorite chess variants!
If you are ready check out some of our chess recommendations here.
Gary FloresGary is a chess enthusiast and has three children who also enjoy learning the game. He is a co-author of the "Chess Fundamentals" book's ChessDelights Edition. He founded ChessDelights.com in order to brush up on his understanding of this tactic and strategy game. He also enjoys encouraging those who are learning, re-learning, or instructing their children in the game of chess.
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