The Chess Variant Pages




Modest Proposals - ARRAY Variants

Modest chess variants meet a specific set of criteria:

  • Can be played on a standard 8x8 board
  • Can be played with standard 32-piece (Staunton) set
  • Does not involve extraneous equipment (dice, etc.)
  • Rules can be described adequately and accurately in 400 words or less
  • CV name is considered a suggestion
  • Description et al are considered in public domain

It is understood that the CV should be previously unpublished, playable and in some significant way original (standards that do allow some wiggle room). I suspect that the type of CVs of interest to members might be those involving thematic ideas that can be adopted in other chess variants.

Unless otherwise noted, the rules for the following variants are assumed to be FIDE rules with the specified exceptions or additions.

The following variants were all invented by Tony Paletta.





ARRAY Variants

Alley Chess

Players have 14 chessmen per side (one Knight and one pawn less than in standard chess) and a half-open file on their left edge.

White’s starting array has Rb1-Nc1-Qd1-Ke1-Bf1-Bg1-Rh1 and pawns at b2 through h2; Black’s starting array has (a8-g8) Ra8-Bb8-Bc8-Kd8-Qe8-Nf8-Rg8 and pawns at a7 through g7. Castling is not permitted.

Formation Chess

White’s starting array has Ra1-Nb1-Bc1-Kd1-Qe2-Bf2-Ng2-Rh2 with pawns at a2-b2-c2-d2-e3-f3-g3-h3; Black’s starting array has Ra7-Nb7-Bc7-Qd7-Ke8-Bf8-Ng8-Rh8 and pawns at a6-b6-c6-d6-e7-f7-g7-h7.

Only the four pawns initially placed on a player’s second rank have a double-step option (and are subject to standard en passant capture). White may only castle with the a1 Rook, Black with the h8 Rook.

Holiday Chess

The King is not initially placed on the board. As soon as a player threatens to move a chessman to the square usually occupied by the opposing King in standard chess (White threatens to move a chessman to e8 or Black threatens to move a chessman to e1) the opponent must, on the next move, place his or her King on a square where it is not in check. Except for Kings, all chessmen are arrayed and move as in standard chess.

Phased Deployment Chess

The Kings and pawns are initially positioned as in standard chess, and each player starts with seven chessmen in reserve. Until all reserves are entered, a player follows each move on the board by placing one of the reserves, entering a friendly unit on either (a) the square vacated by the last unit moved or (b) an unoccupied square on the player’s back rank. Castling is not permitted, and once all chessmen have been placed on the board, play proceeds as in standard chess.

Rapid Deployment Chess

Kings and pawns are initially positioned as in standard chess. White begins by making a single move and placing one of the previously unplaced chessmen on either a vacant back rank square or the space vacated by the chessman just moved.

On each of their next three turns, each player first places the last type of chessman the opponent added — placing it on a vacant back rank square — and then makes a move and places one of the unplaced chessmen on the square vacated by the chessman he or she has just moved.

Finally, Black adds the last unplaced chessman on a vacant back rank square, and on all subsequent turns play proceeds as in standard chess.

Skirmish Chess

White's back rank is empty and White's chessmen are moved up to the third rank (pawns) and the second rank (non-pawns); Black's chessmen are similarly arrayed, with pawns on the sixth rank and non-pawns on the seventh rank. Pawns do not have a double-step option on their first move.


Written by Tony Paletta. HTML conversion by David Howe. The idea for Modest Chess Variant Proposals was conceived by Tony Paletta.
WWW page created: 6 May 2001.