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A chess variant is a game derived from, inspired by, or similar to chess. The difference between a chess variant and regular chess can be one or more of the following:

  • Different board (shape, size, initial position of pieces, etc);
  • Fairy pieces implemented;
  • Different rules for piece movement;
  • Different objective (e.g. losing chess, extinction chess);
  • More than two players (e.g. 4-player chess, Bughouse).

Different board chess variants[]

Some chess variants make use of unconventional boards (as opposed to the standard 8 x 8 square board); the board may be larger or smaller, or have an entirely different shape overall (for example, different dimensions or irregular shapes). Positions on the board, conventionally dictated by squares, may be replaced with hexagons or triangles.

The initial position of the pieces may be different from that of regular chess. For instance, in Chess960, the pieces on each player's back rank are shuffled, with the requirements that the king must be placed somewhere between the two rooks, and that the two bishops start on opposite-colored squares.

Fairy pieces implemented[]

A fairy chess piece (often in shortened form fairy piece) or unorthodox chess piece (or in shortened form unorthodox piece) is a chess piece not used in conventional chess, but used in certain chess variants and some chess problems. These pieces vary in movement abilities and possible additional properties.

Different rules for piece movement[]

Some chess variants only feature the pieces in regular chess, but give them different moves.

Different objective[]

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 pd b7 pd c7 pd d7 pd e7 pd f7 pd g7 pd h7 pd 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 pl b2 pl c2 pl d2 pl e2 pl f2 pl g2 pl h2 pl 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h

Many chess variants give different objectives, with winners and losers not necessarily being chosen through checkmate. For example, the chess variant Breakthrough (shown right), is played without pieces (excluding pawns); with only pawns on the board, there are no checkmates possible. The goal is instead to push a pawn to promotion, and the first player to do so wins.

Losing chess is another chess variant with a different goal than that of regular chess. In this variant, the first player to lose all their pieces, or be stalemated, wins the game.

In extinction chess, the first player to lose all pieces of one type (e.g. all eight pawns, both knights, the queen) loses the game.

More than two players[]

Some chess variants are played by more than two players at the same time. An example is Bughouse, which involves two teams of two players each. Another example is 4-player chess, which is an adaptation of regular chess played by four players.

External links[]

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