The Chess Variant Pages

Chessapeak Challenge Classic (review)

Chessapeak Chess is a four player chess variant. Three rows of 8 squares are added to each side of an 8 by 8 board. Special markings on some squares point out were pawns can change directions. There are four different game sets: an inexpensive pocket edition, the classic edition, of which you can see some photo's below, the (large size) tournament edition, and a luxury master's edition.

The classic edition was the original edition of this game. The game board is printed on gold stock paper. The photo's give an impression of the pieces and the board. The pieces look good, while they are a little different from `Staunton' chess pieces.

The rules give some options, the main one whether one wants to play in two teams of two, or whether each player wants to play for himself against all three others. (The other option deals with what happens with the pieces of a mated player.) For a serious game, I recommend the version to play the game with two teams of two players.

When playing a game like this as an `all fights all' game, diplomacy is much more important than chess-tactics and combinatorial insights. In addition, exchanges like that of a bishop against a queen are still unfavorable: while the playing making the combination loses a bishop, the two others that are not involved lose no pieces at all.

As the French text on the box means `defeat two opponents', I believe that the version where two teams play against two other teams is also the main variant of this game. That variant is one I like a lot. Four handed chess is a game with about a century of tradition (between the World Wars, there was a 4-handed chess club in London), and my impression is that the rules of Chessapeak improve upon those of `classic' four handed chess. Nice tactics are possible. For instance, when both players of a team attack one player of the opposing team, the last player should do something to ward of that attack, either by counterattacking one of the attackers, or coming to the rescue by moving some of his own pieces to the battle area. Still, chess skills are essential to play this game well, while having a good partner can be as important as it is in games like Bridge.

For more information, see the website of Chessapeak Games Ltd.

Below, you find some pictures I took with the little camera of my SGI workstation to give an impression of the set. (Some photo's are not very sharp, sorry for this.)

Written by Hans Bodlaender; photo's by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: June 8, 1998.