The Chess Variant Pages

Train Wreck Chess


Peter Aronson


Train Wreck Chess is a sort of cross between Ron Drinning's game of Double Moves and Hans Bodlaender's game of Draughts Chess (itself a variant of Checkers Chess), where both players move pieces belonging to both sides, and movement is usually only forward, and victory is often by stalemate.

Board and Setup

The usual Orthochess board, pieces and array are used for Train Wreck Chess.


The rules of Train Wreck Chess are identical to those of FIDE Chess, except where noted otherwise below:

If it is a player's turn to move an opposing piece, and their opponent has no pieces remaining that can move other than their King, that is a loss by stalemate for the moving player.


While this variant is probably not a good candidate for Chess with Different Armies -- the changes in movement not being value preserving -- it should work as well as is does with the Orthochess array with any variant that merely varies the piece mix, such as Berolina Chess or Almost Chess

If you want to give a player more control over how their pieces are being moved, you could play Three-Move Trainwreck Chess where, except for White's first move (which is like regular Trainwreck Chess), you make two moves with your own pieces, then one with your opponents'. (This version could also be called Two Steps Forward and One Step Back.)

Notes and Comments

I was playing around with Ron Drinning's game, Double Moves, and it seemed to me that even with a Ko rule of some sort, it was hard to get anything done since your opponent was disarranging your pieces as fast as you were arranging them. So I started adding features, like forward-only movement to force something to happen. Even so, there were a lot of stalemates, so I decided to use that, making it one of the ways to win. The Queen-castling was added to give the poor Rooks a tiny bit more mobility.

The reason this game is named "Train Wreck Chess" is that when I first designed it, before playtesting, I rather thought with the forward-only movement, pieces would sort of crash together in the middle of the board, making something of a train wreck. Well, it doesn't play like that, but I decided I liked the name anyway.

Thanks to John Lawson and Tony Quintanilla for playtesting.

Strategy and Tactics

The idea was for this to be another dynamic tension game, like Anti-King Chess, where the player should be torn between capturing opposing pieces to clear the way at their King, vs leaving them there as a guard against stalemate, while simultaneously wanting to hold on to one's own pieces to attack the opposing King, and wanting to get rid of them to stalemate your opponent.

I have no idea, really, if it works that way in practice, despite having played several games against human opponents as well as some against Zillions. A typical winning position for White from Zillions vs Zillions is below, since Black is stalemated without a White piece to move (Black to move a White piece):

Stalemate -- White wins
However, I don't believe Zillions plays this game very well, since it concentrates on obtaining what I suspect is an irrelevant or even harmful material advantage. Mind you, you can get carried away trying to get rid of your material in the search for stalemate; below is the final position of a game I lost to John Lawson where I gave away too much too soon (Black to move a Black piece):
White captures Black's King

Computer Play

I've written an implementation of Train Wreck Chess for Zillions of Games (see the link below).

The ZRF also includes Berolina Train Wreck Chess, Almost Train Wreck Chess and Three-Move Train Wreck Chess.

Written by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: December 28th, 2004.