The Chess Variant Pages

The 38 challenge: The winners

In the fall of 1997 and winter and spring of 1998, a contest to design a chess variant was held on the Internet. The challenge was:
Design a chess variant on a board with 38 squares.
Seventeen games, invented by sixteen different chess variant inventors from all over the world (and many different ages and occupations) have been submitted. The submitted games were very diverse, with boards in many different shapes, rules of great ingenuity. To all who submitted a game or helped in other ways: by commenting on the games, voting on them, playing them: many thanks!

A special thanks goes to David Howe, who helped with making the html-files and organized the tournament where the submitted games were tested out in actual play (by email.)

The votes

The winning games were decided by voting. Every reader of the Chess Variant Pages could vote, using an email-form or sending a normal email (which one reader did.)

In total, fourteen votes were received. Perhaps not many, but the winner could clearly be determined from these votes. Voters could give 2, 1, 0 or -1 points for a game: a 2 for an excellent game, a 1 for a nice game, a 0 for a game that was so-so or when the voter had no opinion, and a -1 for a game that was flawed in some sense. Two games received two -1 scores, and four games received one -1 score. All but one game received at least one 2 score.

The final scores were:

  1. 17 points: Crazy 38's. By Ben Good.
  2. 14 points: Flip Chess and Flip Shogi. By John William Brown.
  3. 13 points: Amoeba. By Jim Aikin.
  4. 12 points: Quad-Square chess. By David Howe.
    12 points: My38 Chess. By Dave Hogarty.
  5. 10 points: The Last Mourning. By Lester Jones.
  6. 9 points: The Weak Square of the Jumping King. By Joao Pedro Neto.
  7. 8 points: Hans38 Special. By Eric Greenwood.
    8 points: The Royal Standard. By Alexandre Muñiz.
    8 points: Peanut Chess. By Philip John Brady.
    8 points: Hourglass Chess. By Uri Bruck.
  8. 7 points: Pirates-Henge-Ho. By R. Stephen Chafe.
  9. 6 points: Small Spherical Chess. By Andrea Mori.
  10. 5 points: Hans38 Chess. A form of Limited Square Chess. By Ralph Betza.
    5 points: Guschess. By Gustavo Vargas.
  11. 4 points: Cube+. By Jim Aikin.
  12. 3 points: Chego and ChessNim on four special boards. By Alfred Pfeiffer.
Congratulations to Ben Good for his victory! Also, congratulations to second place winner John William Brown (who's book had inspired me to this contest), and Jim Aikin for the third place of his Amoeba.

Many of the games were experimental and not really tried out yet: those who proved in actual play to be less nice games than others received less points, while some games may have suffered from being tested by email games, while they may be better to play face to face.

The special categories

Votes could also nominate games for most original game, best game design, and best game playability. (Not every voter nominated a game in every category.)

Ben Good's Crazy 38's also was the winner in two of these categories.

Here are the nominations:

Most original game

Crazy 38's (4 votes); The Royal Standard (2 votes); 1 vote each for: Chego & ChessNim; Pirates-Henge-Ho, Small Spherical Chess, Hans38 Chess, The Weak Square of the Jumping King, Amoeba, and Quad-Square Chess.

Best Game Design

Crazy 38's (7 votes); Flip chess and Flip shogi (2 votes); 1 vote each for: My38 chess, Guschess, Amoeba, and Hans38 Chess.

Best Game Playability

Flip Chess and Flip Shogi (2 votes); Guschess (2 votes); The Weak Square of the Jumping King (2 votes); 1 vote each for: Hourglass Chess; Crazy 38's; PeanutChess; Amoeba.


Ben Good, inventor of Crazy 38's chess, will receive a copy of John William Brown's book: Metachess, and a copy of the Chess Variant Pages Offline CD-rom.

John William Brown and Jim Aikin both receive a copy of the Chess Variant Pages Offline CD-rom.

Thank you and see you with the next contest!

Thanks again to all participants! I hope you will try to compete again in the next contest. I know there are already people designing chess variants on boards with 39 squares, and we cannot disappoint them, isn't it? Another contest, with a different challenge is also in discussion by the editors of the Chess Variant Pages. (If you have ideas on how that contest could be run better, perhaps email me?)

I think the contest was a lot of fun.

The 38-challenge offline

A file has been made, that contains all files of this contest together in one handy zipfile. (If someone wants this file as a self-extracting archive, i.e., as an exe-file that unpacks, or in a Mac-readable format, please write!)
Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: April 21, 1998.