The Chess Variant Pages

Card Chess

Seeing it mentioned in a recent issue of the Nost bulletin, I looked this game up in The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. Pritchard mentions about the game that it was invented already in 1902, by someone with the initials A.C.


A deck of 52 playing cards is shuffled, and cards are turned one by one. A red card means that white makes a move, and a black card means that black makes a move.

A player that checks his opponent, and then gets the next move may continue to check the opponent; a player must move out of check in the first turn he gets after being checked. When this is not possible (a player whose turn it is is in a mated position), he is mate and has lost the game. Other rules are as in orthodox chess (with the exception of the 50 moves rule, and the draw by repetition rule.)


A game for gamblers. For instance, when the game would start with four red cards, white can win without giving black any chance at all.

Pritchard mentions that Braunlich and Rollie Tosh suggested the following modifications:

  1. When in check, a player directly gets the following move: no card is turned. (This is recommended, and actually makes the rules a little simpler too.)
  2. The game is played with only one red and one black suit (e.g., remove the diamonds and clubs). This makes it easier to guess how many moves one can expect in the next turns.

Written by: Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: January 3, 1997.