The Chess Variant Pages

Bingo Chess

This game is a cross between Chess and Bingo.   (Bingo, also referred to as Lotto, is defined here.) This game is dedicated to my mother, Geraldine Chatham, an avid Bingo fan.

The rules of regular chess apply except where contradicted below.


To play this game, you'll need a set of chess pieces and the equipment necessary to play Bingo (cards, balls, and a way to mix the balls).


To qualify as a 41-square variant, the game has two boards:  a 5x5 "bingo board" and a 4x4 "control board".  (Thanks to Darren Izzard, the inventor of Philosopher's Chess, for the idea of a separate control board.) The 5x5 board is a bingo card drawn at the beginning of the game. Once the bingo card is drawn, Black places his King in one of the corners and then the White King is placed in the diagonally opposite corner.   The B,I,N,G, and O 'rows' are the files for this board and the horizontal lines are the ranks.

The control board looks like this:


(That is, the squares are marked by letters P,R,N,B,and Q, or by pictures of Pawns, Rooks, Knights, Bishops and Queens --- not actually occupied by those chess pieces.)

The control board has only one piece on it, the Gray Caller. At the start of the game the Caller is at the upper left hand corner.


Once the boards have been set up, play alternates between White and Black, with White having the first move.

At the beginning of each player's turn, a bingo ball is randomly drawn.  If the number on the ball is on the bingo card and that number has no piece on it, the player can place on that empty space a piece of his color of the type indicated on the control board.  The position of the Caller determines what type of piece a player can put on the board: if the Caller is on a P (respectively, N, B, R, Q), only Pawns (respectively, Knights, Bishops, Rooks, Queens) can be put on the board.  (However, if a Pawn is placed on the player's fifth rank, it is immediately promoted to some non-Pawn, non-King piece of the player's choice.)

If the player does not (or cannot) place a piece on the bingo board, the player may move either the Gray Caller or one of his/her pieces on the bingo board.  The Caller can move one square vertically or horizontally (i.e. like a king with no diagonal moves).  Pieces on the bingo card move just as in regular chess, except there is no castling and no en passant capturing.

At the end of a player's turn, the bingo ball that was drawn is mixed with the other bingo balls.


A player wins either by checkmating the opponent's King or by placing five of his/her pieces in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally  (or in some other pattern agreed to by the players at the beginning of the game -- e.g.  the outer four corners, a "postage stamp" consisting of a 2x2 square at one of the corners, or the "small picture frame" consisting of all squares adjacent to the center square).

Written by: Doug Chatham.  Thanks to Peter Aronson for suggesting a change to the rules that eliminates the possibility of a "wasted move".

Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

This game is an entry in the 41-Square Variant Contest.
WWW page created: March 21, 2001. Last modified: March 22, 2001.