The Chess Variant Pages

Corner Chess with Meta variant

(for 2 or 4 players)
(c) 1995 by Richard Hutnik

Object of the game

In 2 player game, to checkmate opponent. In 4 player game, to capture an opponent's king.

Board setup

(4 Player game)

Player 1::
? a1, a2, b1, b2; Pawn a3, b3, c1, c2, c3.

Player 2::
? g1, g2, h1, h2; Pawn f1, f2, f3, g3, h3.

Player 3::
? a7, a8, b7, b8; Pawn a6, b6, c6, c7, c8.

Player 4::
? g7, g8, h7, h8; Pawn f6, f7, f8, g6, h6.

Players are numbered clockwise 1, 2, 4, 3.The `?'-symbols denote squares to put pieces on. Note: In 2 player game, player 2's pieces would go where player 4's pieces go in 4 player game. Of course, player 3 and player 4's pieces would not be on board in 2 player game.


P# - Pawn. Moves one space vertically or horizontally. Captures one space diagonally in any direction.
B# - Bishop. Moves like either a bishop or knight during a turn.
R# - Rook. Moves like either a rook or knight during turn.
Q# - Queen. Moves like a queen in chess during turn.
K# - King. Moves like a chess king during turn.

Each player gets 5 Pawns, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, a Queen and a King. Each player's pieces should either be a different color or style than those of the other players.



  1. During first four turns, players alternate placing one of their remaining pieces on the board. Players will have extra pieces when they are done. These pieces are used later for pawn promotion. Before a player begins their first turn, they have a Queen, King, 2 Bishops and 2 Rooks.
  2. Players place their pieces in a vacant space. In the diagram above, the vacant spaces are marked #?. The number on the space represents which space the player can put their pieces on.
    1. Player 1 puts their pieces on A8, B8, A7, B7.
    2. Player 2, in 2 player game, puts their pieces on G2, H2, G1, H1. In 4 player game, player 2 puts their pieces on G8, H8, G7, H7.
    3. Player 3 puts their pieces on A2, B2, A1, B1.
    4. Player 4 puts their pieces on G2, H2, G1, H1.
  3. During their first 4 turns, a player must put their King on the board on one of their spaces.
  4. Only one piece may occupy a space during the game. If player 3 put a piece on A2, for example, then player 3 may not put another piece there.
  5. Once the placement phase (first 4 turns) is over, the only way a player can get new pieces on the board is by means of pawn promotion only.


  1. Play goes in order of player 1, player 2, player 3, then player 4. Player 1 then goes again and order of play continues until one player wins. A player's move consists of moving one piece.

Captured Pieces

  1. A piece that is captured is permanently removed from the game and may not be used for pawn promotion.

Win condition

  1. In two player game, conditions for checkmate or stalemate are the same as in regular chess. In 4 player game, a player may face a stalemate condition. However, in four player game, since the objective is to capture and not just checkmate an opponent's piece, a player in a stalemate condition must still make a move.


  1. A pawn that reaches a square in which it can be promoted, may do so. Promotion is not required. A pawn that promotes, however, is permanently removed from the game.
  2. A pawn that promotes may not promote to a piece that has been captured. This means that if a player has had one of his or her pieces captured, that piece may not be used for promotion by a pawn.
  3. Squares a pawn may promote on:
    1. For player 1: H8 , H7, H6, H5, H4, H3, H2, H1, A1, B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1. (H8-H1, A1-G1).
    2. For player 2 (in 2 player game): A8, A7, A6, A5, A4, A3, A2, A1, B8, C8, D8, E8, G8, H8. (A8-A1, B8-H8)
    3. For player 2 (in 4 player game): A8, A7, A6, A5, A4, A3, A2, A1, B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1. (A8-A1, B1-H1)
    4. For player 3: A8, B8, C8, D8, E8, G8, H8, H7, H6, H5, H4, H3, H2, H1. (A8-H8, H7-H1)
    5. For player 4: A8, A7, A6, A5, A4, A3, A2, A1, B8, C8, D8, E8, G8, H8. (A8-A1, B8-H8)


  1. The bishop single handily can checkmate an opponent's king. Keep this in mind when defending your pawn structure and protecting your king. A bishop on C6, F6, C3, or F3 can checkmate an opponent's king, if the bishop can't be captured.
  2. Remember a piece that is captured is permanently removed from the game. Be careful in deciding to do exchanges. In a 4 player game, you can, very easily, lose an exchange.
  3. Watch your pawn structure. While it is tempting to push pawns to get a promotion, such a push is a gamble. If you don't manage to get the promotion, your pawn structure can get weakened greatly.
  4. What pieces you choose to use in placement sets the tone for the type of game you will play.
  5. Experiment, experiment, experiment....
  6. In four player game, negotiation plays an important part. If possible, try to negotiate so you only have to deal with one opponent, instead of 3. Many nations have lost 2 front wars.


  1. Have pawns move like kings, instead of how they move in current rules.
  2. Eliminate pawn promotion.
  3. Have the pieces move like regular chess pieces (except the pawns).
  4. A second way to win game: If a player is the first to get their king to a square used to promote their pawn, they also win the game. For example, player 1 wins the game if they are first to get their king to either H8, H7, H6, H5, H4, H3, H2, H1, A1, B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, or G1. (H8-H1, A1-G1), before an opponent gets their king to one of their promotion squares, player 1 would win the game.

Meta variant (Players choose how their own pieces move)

  1. Players also get to use their knight pieces in this variant. In this variant, knights may be placed on board initially or be used for promotion material. This variant increases the number of pieces in the game a player has by 2.
  2. Before play begins, players choose a list of a set of moves that any player in the game can have one of their pieces move. For example, one set of moves may be rook movements. Another set of moves may be a knight/rook option. The list of set of moves is used by all player. For example, if a player states that one set of moves will be a knight/rook combination, any other player may also assign one of their types of pieces that set of moves.
  3. Determine, before assigning moves, maximum number of different set of moves each player will add to list. The normal number of proposed sets of moves a player will propose is 6: one for rook, one for knight, one for bishop, one for king, one for queen, and one for pawn.

    Players may propose less than the maximum number, in event another player propose a set of moves for a piece the player also wished to propose.

    Disagreements on allowing a certain set of moves among the list of moves may be handled several different ways. One way it may be handled is by having a vote. In event of a tie, that set of moves is rejected. Another possible way to handle disagreements is to allow them anyway. It is expected that players be able to work out an agreement in this.

  4. Once players agree to what different sets of moves each type of piece can have in play, each player then tells the other players which set of moves one of their pieces may move. The next player then does the same. Play continues in this matter until each player has assigned a set of moves to each of his/her own pieces. For example, one player may assign his rooks to be a set of moves being a rook/knight combination. Another player may then assign such a set of moves to his knights. Another player then may assign the move of a queen in regular chess to his rooks.
  5. Disagreements on which pieces are assigned which moves can be handled in a similar manner as disagreements of which set of moves are allowed for pieces.

    For convenience sake, try to have the set of moves somewhat resemble the type of pieces they are assigned to. For example, assigning regular rooks moves to a bishop and regular bishop moves to a rook does get confusing. Also, players should try to not have pawns, for example, be more powerful than the queen in the game. Ideally, one wants the pawns to be weakest in the game, followed by knight, bishop and rook, with the queen being equal to or superior to all other pieces.

  6. Play then continues as follows in regular Corner Chess, with placement phase then movement phase following, in that order.
  7. A variant on the Meta Variant is to have all the pieces of one type, for all players, move identically. For example, each players rooks in the game would move like rook and knight. Decide by either vote, bidding, or some other method that is fair.

Closing notes

I came up with this game when I was kicking around the idea of how to do a 4 player game of chess on an 8 by 8 board. The game kind of fell into place. One feature I did add later to the game was the open placement of pieces during the first 4 turns, which makes the game much more dynamic and gives the game interesting beginning play.

All I can say is try the game and play around with some variations. Let me know what you think of it. Send me any questions, comments or suggestions you might have for it. Feel free to make any changes you like to the game and share this game and the changes with others. All I ask is that you don't hog all the glory and mention my name if you do this. Of course, if you want to go commercial with it (if this game ever gets to that point), include me in on your plans (it would be nice to get a few bucks from it, if it is possible).

In order to preserve your regular chess playing, it might be a good idea to use pieces shaped differently than those used for regular chess.

The Meta Variant is a recent addition I haven't playtested yet. Try it out and let me know what you think. If the name is not taken, the name Meta Chess would be a good name for this variant.

My current e-mail address is:

(email removed contact us for address)

Have fun!

Written by Richard Hutnik.
WWW page created: 1995. Last modified: February 9, 1998.