The Chess Variant Pages

Taxi Chess


Basic Premise

Because of a subway strike, the pieces have to take taxi cabs wherever they go. This is expensive, and your budget is limited.

Formal Rules

For the purists, here are the rules of Taxi Chess in "legal" form:
  • The rules of Taxi Chess are the same as the rules of FIDE chess, with the following exceptions:
  • Each player starts the game with a budget of 16 Guilders and has an income of 2 Guilders per turn, which is received before the start of the turn.
  • Each move costs one Guilder per square, whether rookwise or diagonal; Knight moves cost two Guilders.
  • Castling King-side costs 4 Guilders; Castling Queen-side costs 5.
  • When you capture a piece, you must pay to have it taken off the board; capturing on e4, e5, d4, d5 costs 4 Guilders; in the area bounded by f3, c3, f6, c6, it costs 3; and so on.
  • Promoting a Pawn costs two Guilders extra, one to bring in the new piece and one to take away the Pawn.
  • You are not allowed to go into debt. If you can't afford it, make a shorter move. You can be checkmated by bankruptcy.
  • Checkmate ends the game, and capture of the King ends the calculation of checkmate. In particular, you do not have to pay the towing fee to have the King taken away. In the position of the problem, if you had to pay to have a captured King towed, White could play 1. Kb3-b2 checkmate.

Strategy Ideas

This is designed so that you won't have enough money. There will be a period when you are making short moves to build up your treasury; this will look boring to outsiders, but you will find it very tense.

The player who calculates his attack to the last cent and strikes first will win.

Discovered Check

Alfred Pfeiffer points out that a check might not be check because of your budget; for example, see the problem below.

However, this means that if you have this situation on the board, any short move which increases your budget will give check! A new kind of discovered check, in effect.


The starting budget of 16 Guilders is just a guess; the best amount might be a bit higher or lower.

You can also keep the accounts in dollars, lire, or pounds.

Puzzle and Problem

Hans Bodlaender points out that you can also have stalemate by bankruptcy. I didn't see how this could be; since it fooled me, I think it might be a good puzzle!


Okay, actually an endgame study.

W: Kb3, Rd3, Budget=2 (Min); B: Ka1, Ra4, Budget=0; This was basically Alfred Pfeiffer's setup for asking about check/not-check by budget, and the point is that 1. Rd3-d1 does not give Check because White cannot move that far.

I rearranged things to get the position above, where we have the following continuations:

1. Rd3-d1 Ra4-b4+ 2. Kb3-a3+ (2. Kb3:b4 is illegal because White cannot afford it, but 2. Kb3-a3+ is check because White's one-space move gives him enough to pay for the move 3. Rd1:a1; this the the new kind of Discovered Check mentioned above)

2...Rb4-b1 3. Rd1-e1!! and wins! (Isn't this pretty! :-)

But wait! 1. Rd3-d1 Ra4-a3+! 2. Kb3-b4+! (2. Kb3:a3 would be stalemate) Ka1-b2 3. Rd1-d2+ Kb2-c1 and it seems to be a draw.

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