The Chess Variant Pages

Tandem-Pawn Chess

by Kenneth W. Regan


Frederic Friedel of ChessBase asked for a game that was reasonably like chess but would give humanity a chance against today's computers. This is my first attempt to fit the bill, by emphasizing longer-range Pawn play.


Same as standard chess except every pawn is a "tandem" of two pawns, which may decouple or stay yoked on any move.


Tandem pawns may be made by taking two pawns of a somewhat smaller size so both will fit in the square, optionally yoking them together with a twist-tie.


A tandem may move one or two squares on its first move, or one of its members may move one or two squares. A tandem may capture a piece or single pawn either with both pawns moving and staying yoked, or with just one making the capture and then being protected by the other. A tandem may capture a tandem, however, only by moving both pawns. These capture rules are also in effect for en-passant captures by tandems. A single pawn or any other piece may capture a tandem with no restrictions.

A tandem can promote like an ordinary pawn, and both members are replaced by the new piece. Note also that just one of the tandem may elect to move and promote; this still leaves a single pawn on the 7th rank. Finally there is one special move, called a "rocket move": If the square behind and two squares before a tandem are not occupied, the tandem may decouple with one pawn moving one step backward and the other two steps forward. The rocketing pawn must move two squares not one, and cannot be captured en-passant. Thus a tandem can threaten to promote from the 6th rank. A rocket move can also leave a pawn on the first rank. This pawn is entitled to move two squares forward from there, and also to move two squares if it has advanced to the second rank by move or capture, with en-passant rules in effect in both cases.

These rules imply that if a position is legal in standard chess, having no tandems, then the play and applicable rules from that position forward are the same as in standard chess.


The intent is to create more considerations for positional play. In particular, minor pieces are less valuable when hemmed in by double ranks of decoupled pawns. The game also creates new vistas for pawn storms and endgame studies.

Playing Tips

Sacrifices of minors for two pawns, or better a tandem plus a single pawn, may more frequently be advantageous.

Computer Play

No implementations. The aim is to make a game that is harder for computers to play relative to humans.
Written by Kenneth W. Regan.
WWW page created: December 29, 2012. Last modified: December 30, 2012.