The Chess Variant Pages




Arena Chess

This game is played with a standard FIDE board and pieces, which all retain their usual properties. En passant and Pawns' initial two step are retained. Castling and Pawn Promotion are eliminiated.

All pieces move and begin on the board as they do in FIDE Chess, with the following exceptions:

  • Pawns retain their basic movement properties, and gain the additional ability of being able to capture a piece that is diagonally behind them. So a Pawn may make an initial two-step, may move one square forward after that and may capture any piece that is diagonally adjacent to it in any direction.
  • The King and Queen are replaced with Dukes. A Duke may move up to 3 spaces in any direction. Dukes may move into check as they please, but if a player loses both of his Dukes, he loses.

The gameplay:

The 4x8 area in the center of the board (i.e. the area in which no pieces start) is known as the Arena. A piece that is not currently in the Arena may ONLY move if it is to enter the Arena. A piece which is currently in the Arena may ONLY move if it is to another space in the Arena and ONLY if it is to capture (no exceptions).

A player wins if:

  • He captures both of his opponent's Dukes.
  • His opponent has no pieces left in the Arena at the end of any turn other than the first.
  • His opponent cannot make a move.

The game is a Stalemate if:

  • There are no Stalemate conditions.

This game cannot last past 32 turns. Each player may move each of their pieces into the Arena once (16 moves), and may make 16 additional moves within the arena (to capture each of their opponent's 16 pieces).


Written by Jeff Kiska. Web page posted by David Howe.
WWW page created: 31 Jul 2000. Last modified on: 31 Jul 2000.