The Chess Variant Pages

Letterbox: September 2000 - November 2001

The letterbox is a monthly posting of various emails and letters we receive here at If you would like to send us an email to appear on this page, please indicate somewhere in the body of your email that you'd like the letter to appear here. Also indicate if you would prefer not to your email address mentioned at the end of the letter.

A Modest Improvement

September 19, 2001

I started thinking about chess variants almost as soon as I realised that so many grandmaster games end in draws, and now that I've played to draw from move one against international masters with reasonable success I'm convinced that something must be done. Could any other game or sport survive if its showpiece event only produced two decisive contests out of sixteen? It's ridiculous. But when I read some of the MV proposals on your site I get the impression of ideas tossed out as an exercise in creativity rather than as an attempt to reinvigorate the game. Which of your MVs do you think naturally lead to more exciting/dynamic types of position than classical chess, and are there any where balanced and sterile positions are (practically) impossible?

For what it's worth, my current best suggestion is that (in addition to current powers) pawns should be allowed to move diagonally when not making a capture once they reach the fourth rank, giving them a much better chance of finding a route to a promotion square. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.ed5 Nb4 gives a typical example of how this rule change can also unbalance things right from the beginning. Have any similar (or identical) ideas to this been suggested before and can you point me in the direction of other modest rule changes designed to keep strategic tension to a maximum? Thanks.


Mail Jonathan at @

3D Chess and Capablanca?

November, 2001

good afternoon: i have some questions concerning 3-dimensional chess.

(1) who invented 3-dim chess? i seem to remember that capablanca invented at least a variant of 3-dim. chess, but i don't know if he was the first. can you give me any hint where i can find more about this?

(2) i seem to remember that polish (?) mathematicians explored variants of 3-dim. chess, but again i don't have any references. can you help me?


Mail manfred at @

Animated Chess Piece Movie

November 15, 2001


I created this animated short about a group of chess pieces that come to life and overthrow their players.

I wanted to show it to you...and perhaps suggest that maybe your viewers might enjoy it as well.

It's located at

Warning: the above movie contains animated violence and may be unsuitable for younger viewers or those sensitive to violence. --Editors

Thanks, and have a great day...



Mail Devon at @

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Written by various authors. HTML by David Howe.
WWW page created: December 1, 2001.