The Chess Variant Pages




Modest Proposals - CAPTURE RULE 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It is understood that the CV should be previously unpublished, playable and in some significant way original (standards that do allow some wiggle room).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.





CAPTURE RULE Variants

Assistance Chess

Kings and pawns move and capture as in standard chess; other chessmen move as in standard chess but capture only with the standard chess move of any friendly chessman that guards it (based on the guard’s standard chess move).

Battery Chess

All chessmen may only capture when they are guarded by a friendly unit. Captures are accomplished by removing the attacked opposing unit (without moving to its square). Only one capture is allowed per turn, and the removal is played instead of a non-capturing move.

Beneficiary Chess

The last of a player's Rooks, Bishops and Knights have increased powers of movement. The last Rook moves like a standard Rook or a standard Knight, the last Bishop moves like a standard Bishop or a standard Knight and the last Knight moves like a standard Rook. Pawns promote only to Queens.

Bounty Chess

When an opposing Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight is captured, a previously captured friendly pawn is, if possible, returned to the capturing player. The returned pawn is immediately reentered on any vacant space along the third, fourth, fifth or sixth rank of the capturing player’s choosing.

Coalition Chess

The starting array is as follows (a-h files, uppercase = White, lowercase = Black): first rank - qrbnNBRK, second rank - ppppPPPP, seventh rank - PPPPpppp, eighth rank - QRBNnbrk.

No chessman may capture on a move from the Kingside to the Queenside or vice versa. It follows that pawns must stay on the wing where they are initially positioned and non-pawns do not check unless on the opposing King's side of the board. White's pawns on the Queenside move toward the first rank, Black's Queenside pawns move toward the eighth rank.

Pawns have a double-step option, may capture en passant on the same wing, and promote normally upon reaching a back rank. There is no castling.

Comp Chess

White begins play without a Queen. Each time a White Rook, Knight, Bishop or (promoted) Queen is captured, White receives a previously lost pawn as compensation. The returned pawn is immediately reentered, before White’s regular move, on any vacant space of White’s choosing along the third, fourth, fifth or sixth rank. If all eight of White’s pawn are on the board, Black can only capture White pawns.

Continuation Chess

After a capturing move any chessman may make a second move in the same direction, possibly making a second capture; after a second capture, the chessman must stop.

A King may only make a capture (either first or second) if stopping would not expose the King to check. A pawn may continue one space diagonally forward in the same direction after a capture (even if this does not leads to a second capture).

Examples: 1 e4 g5 2 Qh5 mate; also 1 e3 d5 2 Bb5 mate.

Detention Chess

All moves are restricted to the c- through h-files (i.e., the main playing area is, in effect, a 6x8 chessboard). Each player initially has RNQKNR on the c- h files of the back rank and six pawns on the second rank. Castling is not permitted

The a-file is used to store opposing pieces (Queens, Rooks, Bishops and Knights). White initially has Black Bishops at a1 and a2, while Black starts with White Bishops at a8 and a7. Newly captured pieces are added at a1 (captures by White) or a8 (captures by Black) with the other stored pieces advancing one space along the a-file. If a capture results in a fourth opposing piece placed in storage by a player, the most advanced piece is returned to the opponent in exchange for the most advanced piece in the opponent’s storage area (if the opponent’s storage area is empty, the unit is returned without an exchange). The returned chessman is temporarily placed on the back rank of the recipient’s b-file.

Returned pieces are reentered by a player following the next move, entering on the space vacated by the chessman moved. If the opponent returns a second piece before the first is reentered, the most recently returned piece is placed at the back rank of the recipient’s b-file.

A pawn reaching the opponent’s back rank promotes only to the most advanced piece held by the opponent (and cannot advance to a promotion square if the opponent holds no pieces); promotion does not, by itself, involve a two-way exchange.

Diplomat Chess

Knights and Bishops are not subject to capture unless they attack (are one move away from capturing) an opposing chessman.

Furlough Chess

Except for a player’s King, any chessman that captures may not move on the player’s next turn. A chessman that captures and also "checks" an opposing King does not immediately threaten to capture the King, so a move that answers the threat need not be played until the following turn.

Gentry Chess

Only captures by a King or by an equal or lower-ranking chessman (ranks are Queen (high)-Rook-Bishop-Knight-pawn) result in permanent removal from the game — captured units are otherwise returned to the opponent and reentered during the next turn on the space vacated by the next chessman the opponent moves.

Pawns may not be reentered on either player’s back rank, and moving a back-rank chessman with a pawn scheduled for reentry gives up the right to reenter the pawn. Pawns reentered on the player’s second rank have a double-step option when moving from that rank.

Heroic Chess

A chessman capturing a higher-ranking opposing chessman is removed along with it. The chessmen are ranked pawn (low)-Knight-Bishop-Rook-Queen-King.

Hierarchical Chess

If a specific pawn, Knight or Bishop has more than one capturing moves, it must capture a highest ranking unit or not capture; if a specific Rook, Queen or King has more than one capturing moves, it must capture a lowest ranking unit or not capture. The chessmen are ranked pawn (lowest)-Knight-Bishop-Rook-Queen-King.

The capturing restriction applies to checks (e.g., a Queen only checks if it has no capturing move other than the opposing King) and to getting out of check (e.g., if the only reply would be an illegal capture, the check is checkmate; a check by a Rook or a Queen may be answered by exposing a second chessman to capture by the checking unit).

Lower Echelon Chess

If a chessman can make more than one capture it may only capture a lowest ranking opposing unit. The chessmen are ranked pawn (low)-Knight-Bishop-Rook-Queen-King.

Examples: After 1 f4 e6 2 g4 Qh4 is not a check. After 1 e3 d5 2 Bb5+ the reply a6 would end the check.

Mercenary Chess

Pawns move and capture in the usual direction, but players may also use opposing pawns to capture opposing units other than pawns. A King may not be placed on a square where it is subject to capture by a friendly pawn.

Example: After 1 Nf3? g2xf3.

Multicap Chess

When not capturing, all chessmen move as in standard chess. In addition to the usual method of capture (by occupying the square of an opponent's chessmen and removing it), Rooks, Knights and Bishops may also capture by "attraction" – pulling the opposing unit toward the capturer’s square but stopping at an adjacent square and vaulting over it to the next square in a line and capturing the unit. An opposing unit that starts from an adjacent square cannot be captured by attraction.

Rooks attraction-capture along Bishop lines, Bishops attraction-capture along Rook lines. and Knights attraction-capture along Queen lines. Kings, Queens and pawns capture only as in standard chess.

Examples: With Rook at e3 and opposing pawns at b6 and f3, the Rook has possible captures Rxb6/c5 or Rxf3/g4. With Bishop at e3 and opposing pawns at e5 and b3, the Bishop may capture Bxb3/c3 or Bxe5/e5.

Parole Chess

Play begins with each player holding the opposing Queenside Bishop (c1, c8 squares are vacant). A player about to move may exchange the initial Bishop or a captured opposing Bishop for any friendly chessman, other than a Bishop or a pawn, that the opponent has previously captured.

The returned chessman is reentered on the space vacated by the player’s move, while the Bishop received by the opponent is reentered by the opponent on any vacant square where it does not give check before the opponent’s next move. The player receiving a returned Bishop may also exchange an opposing Bishop for any friendly non-Bishop other than a pawn as part of the same turn.

Phantom Chess

Any chessman other than a King or a Queen that captures is removed at the same time as the unit captured. The capturing chessman is reentered after the player’s next move, occupying the space vacated by the next chessman the player moves.

If a pawn is about to be reentered and the player moves a unit on either the player’s or the opponent’s back rank, the right to reenter the pawn is forfeited. If a pawn is reentered on its owner’s second rank has a double-step option when moving from the reentry rank.

Rebate Chess

If a Rook, Knight, Bishop or Queen is captured by the opponent at a time when the non-capturing player does not have eight pawns on the board, a pawn is returned to the non-capturing player.

The player receiving a returned pawn immediately places it on the board, before making a regular move, on any vacant space along the third, fourth, fifth or sixth rank where it does not give check.

Redemption Chess

Prior to a move, a player may exchange two captured opposing pawns for a friendly Knight or Bishop that had been previously captured. The returned Knight or Bishop is placed on the space vacated by the next chessman the player moves, but the pawns exchanged are not reentered.

Release Chess

A captured Bishop or Knight may be exchanged for a captured Bishop, Knight, Rook or Queen. An offer to release captives must be made before the player making the offer moves and must be accepted.

The returnees are reentered on each player's next turn (i.e., beginning with the player receiving the offer), and the released chessman is placed on the square vacated by a chessman the player moves.

Relief Chess

Captured pawns are returned to their owner and must be reentered on the space vacated by the next pawn the player moves. Any additional pawns captured before a player reenters a returned pawn, however, are not returned.

Repatriation Chess

When a capture results in each player having a captured opponent’s piece (Rook, Knight, Bishop or Queen) of the same type, the captured pieces are immediately exchanged. The returned pieces are reentered on the square vacated by the next move of each player.

Reprisal Chess

If an attacked chessman has exactly one defender and is captured, the recapture is also made before the next normal move is played; only captures made with a player’s normal move can give rise to automatic recaptures. A capture that allows an automatic recapture with check is not permitted.

Examples: 1 e4 d5 may be followed by 2 ed/Qd5 before Black’s second move; if instead 2 Nc3 then 2 ... de/Ne4 would precede White’s third move.

Reserve Chess

The first non-pawn captured is returned to each player as a reserve. A player may, instead of a conventional move, exchange the current reserve for any friendly Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight that is not, at the time of the exchange, "threatened" (subject to capture) by opposing chessman.

Retro Chess

In addition to standard chess captures, all chessmen may capture by making a regular move equivalent to a capturing move, but in the opposite direction (a "retro" capture). From the square e4, for example, (a) a Rook may capture at e7 by moving to e2, or at c4 by moving to g4, (b) a Bishop may capture at g6 by moving to c2 or at b7 by moving to h1 and (c) a Knight may capture at c5 by moving to g3 or at f6 by moving to d2. In all cases the opposing unit retro-captured is simply removed from the board.

Only opposing chessmen are captured by such "retro" captures, and only when they occupy the square precisely opposite the destination square of the moving chessman. A retro capture may also involve a normal capture (if the destination square is occupied by an opposing unit). A pawn moving straight forward may retro-capture, and a pawn capturing diagonally forward (to capture) may also result in a retro capture.

Salvo Chess

A player may make two capturing moves with the same chessman, provided both captures involve a move in the same direction and the second capture does not remove the opposing King.

Examples: After 1 Nc3 d5 White could capture once with 2 Nxd5 or twice with 2 Nxd5xe7; After 1 Na3 d6 2 Nc4 is not a check.

Sanctuary Chess

Any chessman, other than a King or Bishop, that stands a King’s move away from a single Bishop of either color is immune from capture. If a unit stands adjacent to two or more Bishops, however, is not immune from capture.

Shotgun Chess

When capturing, all chessmen except Kings also eliminate the first chessmen (if any) of either color located on the two nearest lines (orthogonal or diagonal) in the same direction from the starting square.

A Rook on d2 capturing at d5 also eliminates the first units (if any) along the c3-b4-a5 or the e3-f4-g5-h6 paths; a Bishop at c2 capturing at f5 eliminates any first units along the c3-c4-c5-c6-c7-c8 path or the d2-e2-f2-g2-h2 path. A Knight on e5 capturing on g4 eliminates any first units along the f5-g5-h5 path or f4-g3-h2 paths. Queens capturing like Rooks eliminate additional chessmen on the nearby diagonal paths from the starting square, and eliminate chessmen on the nearby orthogonal paths from the starting square when capturing like Bishops. Pawns always eliminate units forward on the file and sideways along the rank in the same direction as the normal capture.

A player may not capture if the friendly King would be eliminated as a result, and may not make a move that would allow the player’s King to be eliminated by the opponent’s next move. The object of play is to checkmate the opposing King, through the threat of either direct capture or of elimination.

Sideswipe Chess

In addition to standard chess captures by moving to the square occupied by an opposing chessman, players may capture by "sideswiping" an opponent's chessmen. A sideswipe capture occurs if (a) there are no chessmen between an opposing unit and the nearest side edge of the board and (b) the player moves to a vacant adjacent square along the rank in the opposite direction.

A sideswipe capture does not involve a second move of the capturer. A threat to sideswipe the opposing King is a check.

Examples: After 1 e4 Nf3 2 e5? Nd5(xe5). A double capture can also occur, as after 1 c4 Nc6 2 e4? Nd4(xc4e4).

Upgrade Chess

Each player starts without Knights or Bishops. As soon as a player has two opposing pawns in his or her possession, the pawns are exchanged for a friendly Knight or Bishop. The pawns are not reentered, but the Knight or Bishop is placed on the board with the player’s next turn, occupying the space vacated by the next chessman the player moves.

A player may have no more than two Knights and two Bishops on the board at any time. If a pawn reaches the opponent’s back rank and is therefore replaced via promotion, the pawn passes into the opponent’s hands as if it had been captured.

Zone Chess

In addition to standard chess captures, a chessman of either color occupying the fourth or fifth rank may be used by either player to capture an opposing unit that does not occupy the fourth or fifth rank. Pawns capture in a forward direction only.


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.