The Chess Variant Pages

The 32-Turn Challenge

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The Challenge

Orthochess is an open-ended game. That is, a chess game can last for a (practically speaking) unbounded number of moves -- although in theory, due to the 50-move rule (FIDE rule 10.12), and the three position repetition rule (FIDE rule 10.10), all chess games should eventually end in some finite (but huge) number of moves.

The challenge here is to come up with creative rules which describe a fun, but self-limiting game. Self-limiting games are useful in that if there are time limits on each move, any game will last some known maximum amount of time. We chose 32 turns as a reasonably small number of turns for a game to last. This will make email playtesting faster and easier.

There are no restrictions on the size and shape of the board, although a reasonably sized square-based board is preferred. 3-D (and above) boards are allowed also, but again, we would prefer the traditional 2-D boards. We will not censure solitaire and multiplayer entries, however we would request that 2 player rules also be included if possible.

There are three general approaches (that I can think of) to creating a self-limiting chess variant:

  1. Race games: the pieces move towards an intended target position, racing against the enemy pieces.
  2. Resource attrition: pieces or squares are periodically removed from play.
  3. Movement attrition: each time a piece moves the number of movement possibilities for that piece goes down.

Can you think of any others?

Send your entries to me (David Howe). My address is on the feedback page.

Contest rules

  1. Entries must be submitted by August 1, 2000.
  2. After August 1, 2000, entries may not be changed in any substantive way. Corrections or enhancements to the presentation of the entry are allowed, but changes to the content are not allowed.
  3. Entries must be chess (or chess-like) variants. They may be pre-existing games.
  4. Entries must be submitted by their authors.
  5. Entries must take at most 32 turns to play. A turn is defined as a white player move followed by a black player move. A move is defined as one or more actions a player takes that are uninterrupted by the opposing player.
  6. A game cannot be limited artificially -- that is, the rules cannot explicitly specify a turn number, move number, or number of turns on or after which the game ends. The limit on the number of turns must be an indirect implication of the rules.
  7. For games with other than two players, the game must take 32xN moves or less (N is the number of players).
  8. A participant may submit at most two entries. If you submit two designs, please make them very different from each other.
  9. By participating, you give us persmission to publish what you send (or in edited form) on The Chess Variant Pages and its offline versions. Copyright remains with the author, and you keep the right for publication elsewhere.

A Trivial Example

Ortho-chess rules except:

Every other turn, after each move, a player must remove one of his pieces (except the king) from the board.

Turn sequence:
1. White moves, Black moves
2. White moves, White removes a white piece, Black moves, Black removes a black piece
3. White moves, Black moves
4. White moves, White removes a white piece, Black moves, Black removes a black piece etc.

Since each player starts out with 15 removable pieces, the players will run out of pieces after 2 x 15 turns, or 30 turns.

Winner Selection

The top three entries of the contest will be chosen by Alessandro Castelli, the president of AISE (the Italian Association of Chess Variants).


The winner of the contest will be able to pick three prizes from the list below. The second place contestant will then pick one item from those items not selected by the winner. The third place contestant then wins what is left over.
  1. An Omega Chess set. This is a finely crafted, high-quality chess set that includes not only Omega Chess, but standard chess as well! Pictures of the set can be found at our Omega Chess set photo page. Claimed!
  2. An XWaveUSA $50 gift certificate.
  3. Jean-Louis Cazaux's book Guide des échecs exotiques et insolites. Claimed!
  4. David Pritchard's new book, Popular Chess Variants.
  5. A CD-ROM copy of the Chess Variant pages. Claimed!

Written by David Howe.
WWW page created: March 9, 2000.