The Chess Variant Pages

The 39-squares chess variant design contest


A contest will be held, in which YOU can participate. The aim of the contest is to design a chess variant on a board with exactly 39 squares. Read here more about the history, the rules, and the prizes to win.

From October 1997 till April 1998, a successful contest was held, to design a chess variant on a board with 38 squares. That contest was inspired by chess variants, that people designed for Hans Bodlaender's 37th birthday, and an early one for his 38th birthday by Eric Greenwood.

It appears that many people expect a similar contest to be held in the next year. And, they are right. As the first contest was a lot of fun and a big success, showing several very interesting and exciting chess variants, there is all reason to have again such a contest. And of course, the challenge is similar to the one of last year, with one added to the number of squares that must be used.

The challenge

Design a chess variant on a board of exactly 39 squares.

The Rules of the Metagame

  1. To participate, design a game that is a chess variant and that is played on a board of exactly 39 squares, and send the rules to Hans Bodlaender before November 30, 1998. You can also send them on paper to: Hans Bodlaender at my postal address.
  2. Your emails may not reach me; if you believe that is the case, you can send the submissions to David Howe. Emails and postal addresses are located on our feedback page.
  3. The notion of square can be interpreted broadly, and is meant to denote any cell that can contain a piece. So, e.g., variants with hexagonal cells are acceptable.
  4. In your entry, you may, if you want, also include a few sample games, comments, etc.
  5. Hans Bodlaender is `first round judge'. Submissions to the contest that are not a chess variant, not a game, not played on a board with 39 squares (or other types of `cells') or are deemed unsuitable for publication on the Chess Variant Pages for other reasons will be rejected in this first round. Other submissions will be published on The Chess Variant Pages.
  6. A participant may submit at most two entries. If you submit two designs, please make them very different from each other.
  7. With participating, you allow me 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.
  8. The winning game will be decided by voting, where everyone on the WWW can vote. The precise form of voting will be announced later. (Currently, I think on first trying to get about five `nominated games', from which the winner could be decides by another round of voting. Effort will be made to have every submitted game played a number of times.)
  9. In addition, games will be judged for `enjoyability by children' by a special jury (Marijke and Wim Bodlaender, who will be then 10 and 8). The game liked most by this jury will receive an additional prize. You may state not to have your entry judged in this category.

    Mention games that have inspired you. Write correct English, and be clear and complete in giving rules, but you may assume familiarity with the rules of standard chess. (For instance, you can write sentences like: Knights move like in orthodox chess. The purpose of the game is to mate the opponent's General. Stalemated players lose the game.)


The following prizes can be won:
  1. The first prize is a set of Heraldic Chess, donated by Modest Solans.
  2. The second prize consists of David Moeser's Neue Chess, donated by David Moeser, and a a CD-ROM of 'The Chess Variant Pages Offline': Browse the Chess Variant Pages at home without your phone bill growing!
  3. The third prize is a `Chess Variant Pages Offline' CD-ROM.
Perhaps some additional prizes will be given out. (Anyone willing to donate one? Apart from books or game sets, registered versions of chess (variant) related shareware programs would be nice.)

The prize for the game most enjoyed by children will also be `Chess Variant Pages Offline' CD-ROM. If this game also happens to be a second or third place winner, a different additional prize will be given.

Additional prizes may be added. Special awards could be given to the `Most Playable Game', `Best Designed Game', or `Most Original Game'.

Additional rules

  • Send the rules in HTML, text, Word, or Wordperfect format. HTML or `plain ASCII text' are preferred: if you use Word or WP, see if your version allows you to save your file in such a format.
  • CorelDraw! files used to draw the Chess Variant Pages boards can be obtained from Hans Bodlaender and used to draw your boards. Alternatively, you can use other methods to draw them, possibly using ASCII. Pictures may be sent as GIF or JPG, or on paper to be scanned.
  • You may improve an entry once, e.g. in November. No changes after November 30, 1998. In particular, you may come up with an early version of your game long before the deadline, play it with others, and make some small changes short before the deadline on November 30, 1998.
  • An entry having its own variants will have only its 'main variant' judged.

What else?

If you have questions or concerns, write to Hans Bodlaender, either by email or by snail-mail.

If you think your email did not reach me, you can instead email David Howe. Our email and postal addresses are located on our feedback page.
Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: June 8, 1998. Last modified: September 25, 1998.