The Chess Variant Pages

Pot-Hole Chess

Pot-Hole Chess is a slight variation on orthodox chess, in which pot-holes open in the ground at irregular intevals. Should a piece be standing there, when the hole opens, the piece will be lost. The square becomes impassable for a further turn. After that, the pothole will close, and the square becomes passable again.

After each move, by either White or Black, roll any size dice and if it comes up evens, a pot-hole opens up.

The square that opens up is determined by rolling two 8-sided dice, one to represent the column (file), and one to represent the row (rank). If the square contains a piece, except the king, the piece is lost. Should the square contain the king, re-roll the dice.

All other rules of orthodox chess apply.

I'll take you through a few example moves.

E.g., white has moved his king's pawn forward 2 squares (e2-e4)

Now suppose, that White rolls the deciding dice (six-sided) and it comes up with a 6. This means that a pot-hole has opened, and will remain until White has completed his next move.

White rolls the two 8-sided dice, getting two fives. This corresponds to the square e5.

The white pawn on e4 cannot move on White's next turn. Meanwhile, Black moves his Queen's pawn forward one (d7-d6)

Black rolls the dice, and it comes up with a 5. This move, no potholes open.

White moves his Queen's pawn forward one (d2-d3) Now that White's move has finished, the first pot-hole has closed. But White rolls a 2, so another pot-hole opens. Rolling the dice, the file dice comes up 4 and the rank, 3. That square had a pawn of White's, and so is lost. The board looks like this now:

I suggest that you use a draughts/checkers piece to represent the board hole, and certainly do not condone cutting your chess board up to show where the hole is!

The only problem with this variant, is that there is only one pot-hole on the board at any time. This offers limited strategic possibilities.

If someone wrote a computerised version, they could add in a feature whereby pot-holes stay on the board a random amount of time (e.g. roll a dice to decide the number of complete turns that a pot-hole stays) If you have lots of six-sided dice, then you can roll a dice to see how long the pot-hole will stay, putting the dice on top of that square. Each turn, you can turn the dice round to reflect the remaining amount of time.

As this hasn't been effectively tested, I offer this for scrutiny among the chess variant world. Please send feedback to me at (email removed contact us for address)

Written by Peter Spicer and Michael Chamberlain.
WWW page created: October 25, 2001.