The Chess Variant Pages

Upside-down chess

In Variant Chess, winter 1991, after Erich Bartel's description of Patt- schach, G. P. Jelliss, editor of Variant Chess, wrote about the related game Upside-down chess. Upside-down chess is played on most of the Internet chess servers under the name Wild 5. On these servers, the game is played without promotion restrictions. White appears to have a big advantage in this game. A server where this game is popular (along with atomic and `crazyhouse-one player bughouse' chess) can be found at

telnet 5555.


The game starts in the following position:


King e8; Queen d8; Rook a8, h8; Knight b8, g8; Bishop c8, f8; Pawn a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7.

King e1; Queen d1; Rook a1, h1; Knight b1, g1; Bishop c1, f1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2.

Note that the position is not the orthodox chess position: the pieces of white are at the side of black and vice versa. In particular, pawns can promote rather easily.

You can, as you like, play with or without the following rule: Pawns may only promote to a piece that is taken by the opponent. When no such piece is available, it is forbidden to move the pawn to the last row.

All other rules are as in orthodox chess.

Written by Hans Bodlaender, with thanks to Tom Coffrey for his information on the game as played on the Internet Chess Servers.
WWW page created: November 4, 1996. Last modified: February 28, 2001.