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Chess Variations
We've got many of variations on the venerated standard: King's Corner (CK), King's Fortress (CF), Horde Chess (CH), Extinction Chess (CE), Anti Chess (CA), Dark Chess (CD), Screen Chess (CS), Crazy Screen Chess (CZ), Chinese Chess (CC), Dark Crazy Screen Chess (CY), Atomic Chess (CT), Tablut (TB), and Knightmate Chess (CN). Regular chess has been thoroughly analyzed and many players have learned its strategies by rote. Variations offer more chances to use your imagination and develop your own strategies.

  • read: King's Corner Chess (CK)
  • read: King's Fortress Chess (CF)
  • read: Horde Chess (CH)
  • read: Extinction Chess (CE)
  • read: Anti Chess (CA)
  • read: Dark Chess (CD)
  • read: Screen Chess (CS)
  • read: Crazy Screen Chess (CZ)
  • read: Chinese Chess (Xiangqi) (CC)
  • read: Dark Crazy Screen Chess (CY)
  • read: Atomic Chess (CT)
  • read: Knightmate Chess (CN)
  • read: Tablut (TB)
  • read: Grasshopper Chess (CG)
  • read: How can I get better at chess?

King's Corner Chess (CK)

random sample setup

  • The King is placed at the lower right corner, and the other pieces are randomly placed on the bottom row.
  • Each player sees his or her own pieces in the same order, left to right, along the bottom rank. The pieces do not mirror each other. One bishop is placed on each color square.
  • No castling
  • Everything else is the same as in regular chess.

A good strategy is to attack your opponent's King as soon as you can, since the setup is random and it is hard to recognize weaknesses in your opponent's position. Standard chess opening theory also applies: take control of the center of the board, and develop your minor pieces first. Don't be too quick to use your Queen or Rooks.

Because the pieces start in random positions, you will have to devise your own strategy for developing your minor pieces, and then your Queen and Rooks. If you can effectively mobilize your pieces sooner than your opponent, you will have a temporary advantage, even if you and your opponent are even in captured pieces. This temporary advantage might be enough to win the game.
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King's Fortress Chess (CF)

random sample setup

  • Same as King's Corner Chess, but 3 extra Pawns are placed in front of the King. These can become a good defense or a prison, depending on how you use them.

Elements from King's Corner Chess also in King's Fortress Chess:
  • The King is placed at the lower right corner, and the other pieces are randomly placed on the bottom row.
  • Each player sees his or her own pieces in the same order, left to right, along the bottom rank. The pieces do not mirror each other. One bishop is placed on each color square.
  • No castling
  • Everything else is the same as in regular chess.

How to use the 3 extra pawns is a key decision. You can 'blitz' your opponent's weak side with them and try to promote your pawns. But doing this weakens the wall around your King. Or, you can clear out your pawns on the weak side so that you have a clearer shot at the opponent's King, and leave the strong pawn wall around your King.

Timing is crucial. If you 'blitz' your opponent with your extra pawns, there is no turning back. You have to promote a pawn before your opponent launches a successful counterattack. This game can move very quickly, even with the extra pieces.
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Horde Chess (CH) Black has only Pawns. White has the usual Western chess setup.

We are experimenting with different arrangements of pawns at the start of Horde Chess, to try to make the game more even between Black and White. This picture shows our current setup, but when you start a game, you might get a slightly different setup.

  • Black wins if he or she checkmates the White King.
  • White wins if he or she captures all of Black's pieces.
  • Both players can promote pawns.
  • No Black pawn can move forward 2 spaces on its first move. White pawns can move forward 2 spaces on their first move, as they can do in regular Western chess.

Everything else is the same as in regular chess.
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Extinction Chess (CE) Extinction Chess is the invention of Games Magazine editor R. Wayne Schmittberger. The rules of Extinction Chess are detailed in Schmittberger's book, New Rules for Classic Games available at

  • You win if you capture all of one kind of your opponent's pieces. In other words, if you capture both Rooks, both Bishops, both Knights, the Queen, the King, or all the Pawns, you win.
  • There is no check or checkmate. The King can be captured like any other piece. Of course, if you lose your only King, you lose the game.
  • Pawns can promote to King or any other piece.
  • If you promote your last Pawn, you have lost all your Pawns. This means you lose the game.
  • Castling and en passant captures are allowed. In fact, since there is no such thing as check in this game, you are allowed to castle through check, and while you're in check. (This rule clarification was sent to us by Mr Schmittberger himself).
  • The board is set up in the same way as for regular chess.

Remember, any time you have just one of a certain kind piece, you must protect it carefully.
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Anti Chess (CA) There are two ways to win Anti Chess:

  1. Lose all of your pieces (a king is like any other piece, and has no effect on winning or losing).
  2. Or, you also win if you have no moves available on your turn.

If a capture is available, you must take it. If more than one capture is available, you can choose which of your opponent's pieces you will capture. If no capture is available, you can make any move you like.

Here are other differences from Western chess:
  • No castling is allowed
  • Pawns can promote to King.

Other rules are the same as Western chess. En passant captures are allowed.
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Dark Chess (CD) In Dark Chess, you can not see all the spaces on the board. You can only see a space on the board if it meets one of the following conditions:

  • You have a piece on that square.
  • You can move a piece to that square. This means you can see empty squares that you can move to, or an opponent's piece that you can capture.
  • The square is directly in front of one of your Pawns, or it is an adjacent forward diagonal from one of your Pawns.

The object of the game is to capture your opponent's King. Since you and your opponent can not see the whole board, there are no check or checkmate conditions. A player can freely make a move that puts himself or herself in check.

Castling and en passant captures are allowed.

Since neither player can see all of the board, draw situations from regular Western chess may not apply. If you think you have a game that should be ended as a draw and your opponent does not agree to a draw, you may write to us at or and tell us. We will look at the game, but we may not declare a draw as we would in regular Western chess. You and your opponent may agree to a draw at any time.

All other rules are the same as in regular chess.

The pictures below show the same Dark Chess game from the perspective of each player. You can see how different regions of the board are visible to the different players. White has just moved a Pawn from e2 to e4

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Screen Chess (CS) At the beginning of the game, you place your pieces on your half of the board. Neither player sees the other's pieces until both have set them up. The following restrictions apply:
  • Each Pawn must be placed on a different file, and Pawns may not be placed on the first rank.
  • Your Bishops must be placed on different colored squares.
  • No castling
  • No en passant captures
  • Otherwise, once game play begins, the rules are the same as in regular chess.

For your first move of the game, you will place your pieces. You will see a screen that looks like the picture below. To place the Queen in her usual spot, you would click the button next to the Queen, then click the button by row number 4, then click the button by column e, then click 'ADD.' You will repeat this process until all pieces are placed. Then, you will see a page with the message 'Apply this board to the game in progress' at the top. Click that, and your game board will be submitted to the game.

For more help on placing your pieces and saving your setups, please read our
additional instructions on setting up pieces. These instructions use the game Battleboats as the example, but you will be able to apply them to Screen Chess as well.
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Crazy Screen Chess (CZ) This is just like Screen Chess, but there are no restrictions on piece placement.

If a pawn starts the game on the first rank, it can only move forward one space for its first move. Any pawn on the second rank can move forward either one or two spaces, regardless of whether it has already been moved in the game.
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Chinese Chess (Xiangqi) (CC) For an explanation of Chinese Chess, please see our special section for that game.
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Dark Crazy Screen Chess (CY) This game is a combination of Dark Chess and Crazy Screen Chess. Basically, it's Dark Chess where you place the pieces before the game starts. Please read the rules for both Dark Chess and Crazy Screen Chess for more details. Castling is NOT allowed in this game, but en passant is legal.
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Atomic Chess (CT) Atomic Chess has similar rules to regular chess, except that at the beginning of the game you designate a piece to double as the 'atomic bomb'. You can detonate this piece/bomb at any time during the game, which will destroy that piece and all pieces in squares immediately adjacent to that square (both straight and diagonal squares). You can detonate a piece to get out of check. Detonating a piece counts as your entire move, so you cannot make any other moves on the turn that you detonate your piece.

If your opponent's king is in one of the detonated squares, then you win the game, otherwise you'll need to checkmate the king. The exception to this is if both kings are blown up at the same time, in which case the game is a draw. If you blow up your own king during a move, you lose the game. All other rules are the same-- castling and en passant are enabled in this game.

At the beginning of the game, you will be asked to 'place' the atomic bomb on a piece. Then your opponent will be asked to do the same, and the game will begin. The atomic piece stays on the same piece throughout the game, and if that piece is captured or destroyed, then you will not be able to detonate an atomic piece for the rest of the game, because your bomb is gone.

The placement for black is a bit unusual. If you choose the queen, then the queen will be your piece. However, if you choose any other piece, that will be the placement of the bomb in your board orientation. To put it another way, if you choose the queen's knight in the placement screen, it will become king's knight in the game, because black has the queen and king flipped. We apologize for the confusion, and we hope to fix this at some point.

To detonate your atomic piece, click on the DETONATE ATOMIC PIECE link under the game board. Remember, this counts as your entire move, so you have to click this before clicking on anything else.

NOTE: This variant has been around for many years (we did not make this up), so the game was NOT influenced by the unfortunate recent world events. The fact that we host this game does not change the fact that we DEPLORE the ABHORRENT use of suicide bombers to further terrorist goals around the world.
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Knightmate Chess (CN) Knightmate Chess is identical to regular chess except that the kings and knights swap places, and the object is to checkmate the knight.

Starting position for Knightmate

In other words, you start out with one knight in the king position, and two kings where the knights used to be. Castling is permitted by the knight, and en passant is supported. A pawn can promote to a king, but not a knight.

Just like the king, a knight cannot move into check, and it must move out of check on the very next move.

All other rules are the same as regular chess.
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Tablut (TB) Background:
Tablut is part of the Tafl family of games, played in Northern Europe from around 400 AD until it was later replaced by modern versions of chess. Tablut is perhaps the best documented version of these types of games. In 1732, Carolus Linnaeus recorded the rules and a drawing of the board in his journal while travelling through the area. It is played on a 9x9 board. Our version is a modified version, designed to give white more of a chance of winning (although the game still favors black).

Black's goal is to move the king to one of the 4 dark corner squares, and white's goal is to capture the king.


Starting position for Tablut

The opening setup is shown above. The game is played a 9x9 board, with an uneven number of pieces for white and black. White makes the first move.

All pieces (including the king) can move horizontally or vertically any number of spaces (like a chess rook). They cannot move into a space occupied by any piece, friendly or hostile.

In addition, only the king can move onto a dark square (the 4 corners and the center square). Rooks can move OVER the center dark square, but they cannot land on it (nor on any of the 4 dark corner squares).

The diagram above shows the legal moves for one of white's pieces (the red dots show the legal moves).

Capturing pieces:
An enemy rook can be captured by surrounding it on either side between two of your pieces. Only one piece can be captured in a given direction (because your pieces must be on the two squares immediately next to the enemy piece), but you can capture in multiple directions at once (theoretically, up to 4 pieces at once).

An enemy piece can move between two of your pieces and not be captured. You only capture pieces when you surround an enemy piece on that turn.

In the example above, when white moves into the circled space, he will capture the "X"-ed black piece.

To capture the king and win the game, you must surround it in all directions at once (that is, on 4 sides when the king is in the middle of the board, or on 3 sides if the king is at the edge of the board).

Using the dark squares to capture pieces

The 5 dark squares are special. They be used like a friendly piece when capturing enemy pieces. For example, if an enemy rook is next to a dark square, you can capture it by moving onto the square on the opposite side.


In the two examples above, the king surrounds the white rook between itself and one of the dark squares. As a result, the white rook is captured. Although both examples above use a king, rooks can also perform the same dark square capture shown above.

Winning the game:
White and black have different objectives. Black wins the game by moving his king into one of the corner squares. White wins the game by surrounding the black king on all sides (using either 4 rooks in the middle of the board, or 3 rooks on the side of the board).

In the example above, black has won the game by moving the king into one of the corner squares.

In this second example, white has won the game by surrounding the black king, using the center dark square to substitute for a friendly rook.
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Grasshopper Chess (CG) Background:
Grasshopper Chess is identical to regular chess, except for the addition of the 'grasshopper' piece, which can jump over other pieces. This piece was invented in 1912 by the well-known chess problems author T. R. Dawson. This game featuring the grasshopper piece was invented in the 1950's by J. Boyer.

Castling is legal. There is no en passant because pawn do not have a double square first move. All other rules are the same as regular chess.

Starting position for Grasshopper Chess

The board above shows the starting position for Grasshopper chess. The row of pawns is moved up one row, and a row of grasshoppers occupies the second rank. The grasshoppers are shown as upside-down queens.

Grasshoppers can move any number of spaces in any direction: horizontally, vertically, or diagonally (like a queen). However, to move, they must jump EXACTLY one piece (hostile or friendly), and land in the space immediately after.

If that space is occupied by a friendly piece, the move cannot be made. If that space is occupied by a hostile piece, then the piece is captured, and grasshopper moves onto the space. If the space is empty, then the grasshopper moves onto that space. Pieces that get jumped over are not captured.

If no jumps are available, then the grasshopper piece cannot move.

The following illustrations show the movement of the 4 white grasshoppers from a single position. The X's mark a legal capture, and red dots mark the legal moves for that piece. All other moves are illegal.



The grasshopper's value is somewhere between a pawn and a knight (or bishop). Use it early to attack, because its value goes down later in the game because there are fewer pieces for it to jump over.

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How can I get better at chess? Playing regularly will improve your chess game. You may also want to buy a chess book and study it. Browse our selection of popular chess books, available from
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