The Concise Guide to Chess Variants: Chess Variant Table

Version 1.0 (26 December 2011)

Compiled by David Howe

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

This is a webpage that displays chess variant games along with their various properties. It allows sorting and filtering of these games by using a web service called Exhibit. This page is a part of the Concise Guide to Chess Variants. Note that the chess variants included here were selected because they are either well-known, of historical importance, or actually have been played by a significant number of people. There are many more such chess variants that have not (yet) been included here. The intention is to eventually include the many more well-derserving chess variants that have been left out in this early revision.

Facets Section

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Origins Facet

Base

The game which is being used as a basis for the variant. This is to serve as a basis for comparison only, and does not necessarily imply that the game was developed from the base game.


NoneIt is not known what the base game is, or the game is an original creation and is not based on any existing game.
Proto-chessGame based on a postulated common ancestor of all reqional chess games (xiangqi, chaturanga, etc.).
ChaturangaGame based on chaturanga / shatranj.
OrthochessGame based on orthochess.
XiangqiGame based on xiangqi.
ShogiGame based on shogi.

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TimePeriod

The time of invention or documented account. As there seems to be no standardized names for historical periods, various sources were used for the period names, including:
http://www.medievaltimes.info/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_age


Middle Ages475 CE - 1499 CE
Modern/Contemporary1500 - present
Early Middle Ages475 CE - 999 CE
High Middle Ages1000 CE 1299 CE
Late Middle Ages1300 CE 1499 CE
Early Modern1500 CE - 1799 CE
Modern1800 CE - 1949 CE
Contemporary1950 CE - present
UnknownUnknown

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Region

The place of invention or documented account. The regions are defined according to the United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49).
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm


Central AsiaKazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Eastern AsiaChina, Hong Kong, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea
Southern AsiaAfghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
South-Eastern AsiaBrunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam
Western AsiaArmenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Northern EuropeDenmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Eastern EuropeBelarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Ukraine
Southern EuropeAlbania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Gibraltar, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Western EuropeAustria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Switzerland
AmericasCaribbean, Central America, South America, Northern America
AfricaThe continent of Africa
OceaniaAustralia and New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia
UnknownUnknown

Board Facet

Aspects of the playing surface.



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BoardSize

Sizes are given in columns x ranks x files for rectangular boards. Hexagonal boards specify the number of hexagons on a side. Circular boards specify the radius and diameter.


Infinite
Orthochess Standard1x8x8 (64 cells)
Orthochess Wide1x8x10 (80 cells)
Orthochess Extra Wide1x8x12 (96 cells)
Orthochess Double1x8x16 (128 cells)
Decimal1x10x10 (100 cells)
Xiangqi Standard1x10x9 (90 cells)
Shogi Standard1x9x9 (81 cells)
Hexagonal Standard6 Hexagons per side (91 cells)
Circular StandardRadius of 4 cells, diameter of 16 cells (64 cells)
Oblong1x16x4

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BoardShape


RectangularFor example the any of the boards used for orthochess, xiangqi or shogi.
DiamondSquare board rotated 45 degrees (e.g. Legan chess).
CircularFor example the board used for Byzantine chess.
HexagonalFor example the board used for Glinski's hexagonal chess.
OtherFor example the board used in fortress chess.

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BoardDimensions


1One dimensional board.
2Two dimensional board.
3Three dimensional board.
4Four dimensional board.

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BoardTopology


PlanarSection of a geometric plane.
CylindricalBoard with 2 wrap-around sides.
ToroidalBoard with 4 wrap-around sides.
SphericalBoard is the surface of a sphere.
Other

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BoardCount

Number of boards used (e.g.. 3 for kriegspiel)


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CellCount

Number of cells (or locations) on the game board (total).


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CellShape


SquareSquare or other 4 sided cell.
DiamondSquare rotated 45 degrees.
CubeThe cell of a 3D board (6 sided cube shape)
PointIntersection of two perpendicular lines
HexHexagon
TriangleThree sided polygon.
Annulus SegmentA cell on a typical circular chess board.
Other

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BoardFeatures

Can be any combination of the following:


CitadelsOne or more connected cells which serve a special function in the game. For example the palace of xiangqi.
Goal cellsIn a positional goal game, cells which serve a function related to the goal.
Restricted movement cellsCells that limit the movement of the occupying piece (e.g. smess).
Restricted movement zonesZones that limit the movement of a piece within that zone (e.g. grid chess).
Shifting cellsCells that may move position during the game.
Terrain cellsCells which serve a special function in the game relating to promotion, capture or movement.
Territory divisionMarkings which divide the playing field into territories, which play some role in the game. For example the river of xiangqi.
Throne cellsCells that the royal piece starts on and which serve a special function in the game.

Setup Facet

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InitialSetup


FixedInitial positions of the pieces are always the same for each game.
Fixed OrthodoxInitial positions of the pieces are always the same for each game. The pieces start out in the same setup as the base game.
Fixed UnorthodoxInitial positions of the pieces are always the same for each game. The pieces start out in a setup that is different from the base game.
Variable but IdenticalInitial positions of the pieces can vary from game to game, but are always identical for all players.
Variable but MirroredInitial positions of the pieces can vary from game to game, but are always identical, but mirrored for all players.
Variable but Not IdenticalInitial positions of the pieces can vary from game to game, but are not necessarily identical for all players.

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InitialMaterial


Identical forcesEach player starts with an identical set of pieces.
Non-identical forcesEach player does not necessarily start the game with an identical set of pieces (e.g. chess with different armies).

Game Play Facet

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TurnDynamics


One move per turnA player must make exactly one move each turn.
Two moves per turnA player makes two moves per turn.
Variable moves per turnThe number of moves a player makes per turn is not constant throughout the game.
Progressive moves per turnThe number of moves a player makes per turn increases as the game progresses.
Multiple Moves per TurnA player makes three or more moves per turn.

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Players


SolitaireA one-player game.
Two-HandedA two-player game.
Three-HandedA three player game.
Four-Handed IndividualA four player game, with each person playing for themselves.
Four-Handed PartnerA four player game, with two teams of two players each.
MultipleA game played with more than 4 players, or that allows multiple numbers of players.

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Information


Complete
Hidden: movesIntended move of opponent is hidden.
Hidden: piecesPositions of some or all of opponents pieces are hidden.
Hidden: rulesSome rules of the game are not known to the players at the beginning of the game.
Randomizing element: cardsCards are used to add an element of hidden information to the game.
Randomizing element: diceDice are used to add an element of hidden information to the game.

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Goal


AnnihilationThe player who captures all opponent pieces wins.
Bare KingThe player who captures all opponent pieces except the royal piece(s) wins.
Capture accumulationThe player who captures a predefined count or subset of opponent's pieces wins.
Check accumulationThe player who checks the opponent's royal piece a certain predefined number of times wins.
CheckmateThe player who checkmates or captures the opponent's royal piece (or pieces) wins.
Inverse AnnihilationThe player who captures all opponent pieces loses.
Inverse checkmateThe player who checkmates or captures the opponent's royal piece loses.
Inverse StalemateThe player who has no legal move wins.
Point accumulationPlayers score points during the game, and the player who scores the most, or reaches a certain predefined number of points wins.
PositionalThe player who attains a predefined position with one or more pieces wins.
StalemateThe player who has no legal move loses.

Pieces Facet

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Pieces


OrthodoxThe game uses the same pieces as its base game.
UnorthodoxThe game uses all (or almost all) different pieces than its base game.
Unorthodox ModifiedSome of the pieces in the game are modified pieces from the base game.
Unorthodox AddedOne or more unorthodox pieces have been added to the pieces from the base game.
Unorthodox PawnsPawns from the base game have been modified.
Unorthodox Royal PieceThe royal piece from the base game has been modified.

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PieceDynamics

Assumed to include promotion, unless indicated otherwise. Any combination of the following:


Conversion upon CaptureAn opponent's piece changes sides upon being captured (e.g. shogi).
Conversion without CaptureA piece may change sides during the game and without being captured first (e.g. andernach chess).
IntroductionOne or more pieces are placed on the board before piece movement starts (e.g. fortress chess).
Late IntroductionOne or more pieces may be placed on the board after play (piece movement) has started (e.g. pocket knight chess).
MutationA piece may change into another piece during the game and without being captured first (e.g. pocket mutation chess).
No PromotionThe game does not include piece promotion (e.g. ultima).
Promotion upon CaptureA piece promotes when capturing instead of promoting when reaching a cell in a promotion zone (e.g. tai shogi).
ReintroductionCaptured or removed pieces may be placed on the board after play (piece movement) has started (e.g. drops in shogi).

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CapturingRules

Any combination of the following:


ApproachSome or all pieces capture by moving directly toward the piece to be captured (by not to occupy the same square).
CustodialSome or all pieces capture custodially.
Hierarchy RestrictionCapture is restricted by according to a piece's position in a hierarchy.
Influence: ImmobilizeOne or more pieces may influence another piece by immobilizing it, thereby preventing that piece from moving.
Influence: Push/PullOne or more pieces may influence another piece by pushing it or pulling it, thereby changing that piece's position.
LeapingSome or all pieces capture by leaping over the piece to be captured.
No DisplacementNone of the pieces capture by displacement.
Push/PullSome or all pieces capture by pushing or pulling a piece off the board or into other pieces or special cells.
RangedSome or all pieces capture by ranged attack.
VariousA catchall for any game that utilizes many different capturing rules.
WithdrawalSome or all pieces capture by moving directly away from the piece to be captured.

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MovementRules


Attraction / RepulsionSpecial rules govern how pieces may influence the positions of other pieces at a distance (e.g. dynamo chess).
Board AlternationSpecial rules govern how piece move between different boards.
Board RestrictionsSpecial rules relating to the board govern how pieces may move (e.g. grid chess).
Check ProhibitionCheck is prohibited (e.g. checkless chess).
Compulsory captureCapture is mandatory if possible (e.g. losing chess).
Compulsory mateCheckmate is mandatory if possible (e.g. reflex chess).
DirectionalSpecial rules govern the direction that piece can move (e.g. checkers chess).
N/ANot applicable.
OrthodoxThe game uses the same movement rules as its base game.
Ranged influencePieces have influence on other pieces at a distance (e.g. knight relay chess).
Restricted CaptureSpecial rules govern whether a piece can capture or not (e.g. guard chess).
Restricted MovementSpecial rules govern how pieces may move (e.g. monochromatic chess).
Simultaneous MovementPlayers do not take alternating turns. Instead players make move simultaneously (e.g. synchronous chess).
VariousA catchall for games that have many or variable movement rule deviations (e.g. knightmare chess).

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WgrCat


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CecvCat

Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants Category. The aim [of the categories listed below] is not to attempt an academic classification of games, but merely to divide a given set of material into reasonably homogeneous and digestible chunks.


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Class

Chess Variant Classification Scheme (CVCS)