The Chess Variant Pages



Darts chess

Darts Chess is a remarkable chess variant: it combines chess with playing darts in a rather special way! This variation is the invention, so far as I know, of Ted Yudacufski, the venerable host of the Monterey Chess center. Ted is an USCF 1800 strength player, a national tournament director, and grandmaster strength dart thrower.

The rules are simple. Play is by a two man team, one plays the chess board, the other throws the darts (they may trade places once during the game). The dart board has a mask placed over it, marked off in the usual pie-slice-shaped areas of a dart board, but each area is designated for a chess piece or pawn (I don't remember the exact layout we used). The dart thrower tosses darts at the board, and the chess player is obliged to move the first thing the dart player hits, if it can be legally moved. The dart thrower has three darts, if he fails to hit anything that can be moved, then his team loses the move, and it's the next teams turn. The mask does not cover the bull's-eye area. A dart in the single bull allows the chess player to make any legal move. A dart in the double bull (the centermost spot) allows the chessplayer to make two moves at once. Castling is considered a double move and cannot be done unless a dart hits the double bull. All other rules are as usual, so the real effect of the darts is much the same as dice; the selection of what is to be moved is constrained by the throw of the darts.

Ted Yudacufski directed the U.S. Open at Palo Alto in 1981, and there 3 teams competed for the U.S. Open Darts Chess Championship. Myself and Harry Gardena were one team, and the late Tim Pellant teamed up, as I recall, with Eric Ferguson. I can't remember who the third team was. Harry and I won the competion, so I assert that we remain to this day the bona-fide U.S. Open Darts Chess Champions (as I am unaware of any such competitions since then).

After the competition we also won a poolside "exhibition" game against senior master Jay Whitehead, who failed to realize that one must be able to hit the dartboard occasionally! Of course we are all just lucky that senior master Richard Lobo did not play, as he is also a senior master dart thrower and could easily have constituted his own 1-man team and took the title.


Written by Tim Thompson in an email to Hans Bodlaender, who changed the first sentence.
WWW page created: March 10, 1997.