The Chess Variant Pages




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It is understood that the CV should be previously unpublished, playable and in some significant way original (standards that do allow some wiggle room).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






GOAL Variants

Blunder-Mate Chess

The object of play is to checkmate or "blunder-mate" one's opponent. A blunder-mate occurs when a player about to move can retract the opponent's last move, substitute a different move, and then checkmate in one move. Checkmate ends the game: a checkmated player may not blunder-mate his/her opponent.

Examples: After 1 f4?? e6 Black checkmates or blunder-mates after 2 g4* Qh4; After 1 e3 e5?? 2 Qh5 White checkmates or blunder-mates after 2 .. Ke7* 3 Qe5.

Clerical Chess

The objective is to capture both opposing Bishops; the King has no special status and may be exposed to capture and captured. A player’s last Bishop, when threatened with capture, is limited to a single space diagonal move. There is no castling. Pawns may not promote to Bishops, but promotion to Rook, Knight, Queen or King is allowed.

Concurrent Chess

The chessmen are all color-bound: (a) Kings and Queens ("Monarchs") move one space diagonally in any direction; (b) Bishops move as in standard chess; (c) Rooks move over vacant squares either an even number of spaces along the rank or file or one space diagonally; (d) Knights move over vacant squares three spaces along the rank or file followed by one space at a right angle; and (e) pawns move one space diagonally forward at all times, and promote to Rooks, Bishops or Knights on reaching the opponent’s back rank. All pieces capture as they move.

The pieces are arrayed as in standard chess. Before making a regular move, a player may (but is not obliged to) "mirror" a single friendly unit other than a Monarch to a square where it does not check an opposing Monarch. A chessman mirrors by relocating to a (vacant) space on the same rank and the same distance from the side edge (from a2 to h2, e4 to d4, c7 to f7, g5 to b5, etc.). The object of play is to checkmate either of the opposing Monarchs.

Counselor Chess

The Queen moves one or two spaces along a rank, a file or a diagonal; all other chessmen move as in standard chess. The first player to allow his/her own Queen to be checkmated wins, and a player may also win by checkmating the opposing King. Castling is not permitted and pawns promote only to Rooks, Bishops or Knights.

In order of priority, a player: (1) may not play any move that exposes either the friendly King or the friendly Queen to capture, (2) must remove any check to the friendly Queen, (3) must remove any check to the friendly King and (4) must, if possible (and consistent with (1)-(3)) checkmate the opposing Queen with one move (thereby losing).

If a player’s King and Queen are both in check, the player in check wins immediately unless it is possible to answer both checks with one move. If only one monarch is in check, the player (a) wins if the friendly Queen is in check and there is no move that could end the check without exposing the friendly King to capture, but (b) loses if the friendly King is in check and there is no move that could end the check without exposing the friendly Queen to capture. Stalemate (the player to move is not in check but has no legal moves) is a draw.

Contravention Chess

If a player's King is not in check the player may place the King in check to an opposing unit other than a pawn or a King; the opponent is then obligated, on the next move, to remove the check to the player's King or lose the game. A player may castle into check, provided the King is not already in check and the King does not pass through a square where it would be in check.

A player may not move his or her King into check on two consecutive turns. A player unable to legally move loses. If the opposing King is not in check, a player may check or checkmate the opposing King.

Example: After 1 d3 d5 2 e4 d5xe4 3 d3xe4 Kd7+ White must remove the check to Black's King. Note that a King that legally moves into a double check (from two pieces) generally wins.

Deadline Chess

A player in check must get out of check by either (a) making a single King move or (b) making exactly two moves with a single friendly unit other than the King, provided that the first move leaves the player's King in check and does not check the opposing King. A player unable to get out of check is checkmated. A pawn may only be captured en passant if it did not move in response to a check.

Example: After 1 e3 d6 2 Bb5+ Black has six legal replies: a6/b5, Be6/Bd7, Bf5/Bd7, Bg4/Bd7, Bh3/Bd7 and Nf3/Nd7.

Decastellation Chess

There is no check or checkmate: a player wins by capturing the opposing King or by capturing all opposing Rooks (including pawns promoted to Rooks).

Donnybrook Chess

The object is to capture both the opposing King and Queen, each of which moves like a standard chess King. Captured pawns, Kings and Queens are removed from play, but other chessmen are initially returned after being captured and are replaced on any vacant square before the recipient’s next move. A returned and reentered chessman may not move during the turn on which it is reentered.

After a player’s Queen is captured, Bishops are no longer returned to the player; after a player’s King is captured, Knights are no longer returned to the player. There is no castling, there are no checks and pawns may promote only to Rooks, Bishops or Knights.

Dowager Chess

The Queen, rather than the King, is the object of checks and checkmates. A Queen has the power to move like the highest ranking chessman (King (high)-Rook-Bishop-Knight-pawn) its owner has on the board, but may not slide through a square where, if it were to stop, it would be in check. A stalemated player (including a player with a lone Queen) loses. Castling is not permitted and pawns promote to King, Rook, Bishop or Knight.

Dynastic Chess

The object of play is to capture both the opposing King and Queen. Until one of the monarchs is captured, each may move either (a) like a standard chess Queen from a square adjacent to the other monarch along the rank, file or diagonal or (b) like a standard chess Knight from a square not adjacent to the other monarch.

After one monarch has been captured, the surviving monarch moves like a standard chess King. There is no castling, and pawns may only promote to Rooks, Bishops or Knights.

Entourage Chess

The object of play is to be the first player to capture the opposing King or to capture an opposing Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight (but not pawn) that occupies a square adjacent to the opposing King along the rank, file or diagonal. There are no checks or checkmates.

Glory Chess

The objective is to either checkmate the opposing King or to place a pawn on the opponent's second rank without its immediate capture. Pawns do not have a double-step option on their first move.

Junta Chess

The object of play is to capture either two Knights or a King and one Knight. There are no checks, there is no castling, and pawns promote only to Queens, Rooks or Bishops.

Kingmaker Chess

Neither player has a King on the board at the start of the game. The objective is to (a) create an opposing King (by promoting a friendly pawn) on a square of the opponent’s back rank where it is not in check and then (b) force the opposing King to move. Only the first of a player’s pawns that reach the opponent’s back rank promotes to an opposing King — pawns otherwise promote as in standard chess.

A player with no possible moves loses, as does a player forced to move his/her King.

Linkage Chess

The King, and only the King, is at risk of "linkage-capture". A linkage-capture would occur (theoretically) if the King is one of the chessmen in an unbroken line of exactly four chessmen (along a rank, file or diagonal) formed by an opposing unit moving into and completing the line. A line formed passively by removing a chessman and leaving the opposing King and three other four units in an unbroken line does not win.

The objective is to either checkmate or "linkage-mate" the opposing King. A linkage-mate occurs when an opponent cannot prevent a linkage-capture of the King on the next move.

Except for the opposing King and the chessman forming the line of four, the other two units in the line may be of either color and of any type. A player may not make a move that exposes his or her King to either conventional capture (placing the King in check) or linkage-capture (placing the King in "linkage-check").

Example: After 1 g3 d5 2 c3? the reply 2 ... e6 is a discovered double linkage-check and linkage-mate — linkage-capture by Qh4 or by Bb4 is threatened, and White has no move that prevents both.

Moderation Chess

A player may only check three times during a game. After making three checks, a player may only check again if the check is a checkmate. A player who has exhausted the three checks permitted and is forced to check in response to a permitted check is checkmated.

Prop Chess

All moves must be to a "defended" square — a square that another friendly chessman could move to. If any forward move is possible, a forward move must be played.

There are no checks or checkmates; the first player unable to move loses. If 25 moves (50 half-moves) are played without a capture being made, the game is drawn.

Reentrant Chess

Each player has both White and Black chessmen, with White units only on their right half of the board and Black only on their left half. The first player begins with (Black) Rook on a1, Knight on b1, Queen on c1, pawns on a2,b2,c2,d2 and (White) King on f1, Knight on g1, Rook on h1 and pawns on e2,f2,g2,h2; the second player has the same array, with the different-colored chessmen of the same type on each file.

Kings and Queens both move like standard chess Kings, and the object is to checkmate one of the opponent’s monarchs. Pawns move along the rank or file and capture diagonally, always a single space; Rooks and Knights move as in standard chess. None of the chessmen may move from one half (left or right) of the board to the other and have no direct effect on the opposing half-board. Pawns do not promote upon reaching the opponent’s end of the board.

Each player makes one move per turn. A move may involve a unit already on the board or the addition, on a vacant square, of a unit the player had previously captured on the other half-board.

Regent Chess

The object of play is to checkmate the opponent’s Queen; the King is an ordinary piece that may be captured and exposed to capture. Queens move as in standard chess when they are not attacked, but (a) when checked along a diagonal, a Queen may not move diagonally, (b) when checked along a rank or file, a Queen may not move along a rank or file and (c) when checked by a Knight, a Queen is immobilized. (It follows from (a) and (b) that a Queen cannot capture an attacker.)

A player is not permitted to make a move that results in the opposing Queens facing each other (without intervening chessmen) along a rank, file or diagonal. There is no castling and pawns promote to Rook, Knight, Bishop or King.

Separation Chess

Forcing the two opposing monarchs into the same quadrant (such as White’s Queenside, Black’s Queenside, etc.) wins, as does "checkmate". Queens move like standard chess Knights but may not be captured. Knights move like standard Queens and the remaining chessman move as in standard chess.

Both Queens and Kings may be checked. If only one of a player’s monarchs is in check, the check must be removed with the player’s move (else checkmate); if both monarchs are in check, the check to the King must be removed (the Queen may remain in check until the King is not in check).

A monarch may not move into check or into a quadrant occupied by the player’s other monarch. If the only move that terminates a check would place the other monarch in check or would place both friendly monarchs in the same quadrant, the player loses via checkmate.

There is no castling and pawns promote only to modified Knights, Rooks or Bishops. A player with no legal move except one that would place both monarchs in the same quadrant loses, but otherwise stalemate is a draw.

Series Helpmate Chess

The object of play is to establish a position where, by making one move or two consecutive moves (the first of which is not a check) the opponent can checkmate the player's King. Checkmating the opposing King loses, but demonstrating that the opponent can checkmate with one or two consecutive moves wins.

Shrapnel Chess

Chessmen move as in standard chess, but the objective is to capture — directly, or as a consequence of a capture — the last opposing chessmen. There is no castling and the King has no special status (it is captured or removed like any other chessman). Captures, which are not compulsory, may result in the removal of additional chessmen.

If a capture is made as a result of a diagonal move (by a Bishop, by a pawn, or by a Queen or King moving diagonally) the first units of either color along the same rank or file from the capture square, except for the capturing unit, are also removed. If a capture is made by a move along a rank or file, the first units of either color along the diagonals from the capture square, except for the capturing unit, are also removed. Captures by Knights do not result in the removal of additional units.

Society Chess

Captures of pawns are permitted and captures by pawns are permitted, but all other types of capture are not. A player whose King is checkmated loses, and a player also loses if forced to capture a non-pawn with a non-pawn.

Spartan Chess

White plays without the a1 Rook, b1 Knight or c1 Bishop. Black is obligated to checkmate before move 61 or White wins.

Alternate rules: (a) A different number of moves may be specified as the maximum. (b) A two-game match is played, with players switching colors after the first game. The winner is the player checkmating in fewer moves (capped by a maximum of 60 moves per game), a perpetual check, stalemate or non-mate after 60 moves count as a 61-move game. If Black is checkmated the player of Black in that game loses unless the opponent, when playing Black, is checkmated in fewer moves (player lasting more moves with Black wins) or the same number of moves (draw).

Submission Chess

A move resulting in a checkmate (check with no move that would remove the check) to the opponent’s King is not permitted. A player wins by checking the opposing King so that both (a) there is only one move that ends the check and (b) that move is a non-capturing move by the King.

Examples: (1) After 1 f4 e6 2 g4 the standard mate by Qh4 is not allowed, and after 2 .. Nc6 3 Nf3 the check Qh4 would simply lose the Black Queen, but after 2 .. Nc6 3 e4 Qh4 wins for Black.

(2) White Bishop c4, pawn g4, Rook h4, King h5 and Black pawns f6, g7, and King h8. Black to move can with g6 , with Ng3 since White would have no legal reply; however g6 wins for Black (since White can play Kh6 but cannot play Kxg6).

Triple Check Chess

A check may be administered only if it meets one of the following three conditions: (a) it is "safe" (the chessman giving check cannot be captured by a legal move), (b) it is "supported" (the chessman giving check is defended) or (c) it is "non-capturing" (the move resulting in check does not involve a capture).

A player in check must get out of check in the conventional sense. A double check is valid if both pieces satisfy at least one of the three conditions. A player forced to check illegally (e.g., as the only way to get out of check) loses. A check that meets all three conditions wins immediately, as does a checkmate that meets only one or two of the conditions.

Example: After 1 Nc3 d5 2 e4 d4 3 Bb5+++ wins

Twilight Chess

There are five ways to win: (1) checkmate the opponent's King, (2) leave the opponent without a legal move (stalemate), (3) eliminate the last opposing pawn, (4) eliminate all opposing Knights and Bishops and (5) eliminate all opposing Queens and Rooks. As soon as one of these conditions is met, the game is over. A player in check must respond by getting out of check, but if this involves (3), (4) or (5) the player formerly in check wins.

Tyrant Chess

The chessmen move as in standard chess, but there are no checks or checkmates, no castling, and pawns promote only to Rooks, Bishops or Knights. Kings and Queens are the only chessmen that may capture and remove opposing chessmen.

If an opposing King or Queen is captured, it is placed (by the capturing player) on any vacant square where it would not be immediately subject to capture. The object of play is to eliminate all opposing chessmen except for the monarchs.

Ultimate Chess

The objective is to checkmate, but what constitutes a checkmate is determined by the type of unit administering the check. In addition to a conventional checkmate, a checkmate occurs if (a) a pawn checks, (b) a Knight checks and the opponent has only one legal reply (i.e., a "forcing check"), (c) a Bishop checks and the opposing King must move, without capturing the Bishop, to end the check, (d) a Rook checks and the King must move to a square where it is not adjacent to a friendly unit on the rank, file or diagonal. A Queen check is checkmate only under the usual conditions.

Xenophobic Chess

In addition to a conventional check to the opposing King, a player may check by positioning a chessman on one of the four middle squares of the opponent’s back rank (i.e., White checks by moving to c8, d8, e8 or f8; Black checks by moving to c1, d1, e1, f1). If the opponent cannot immediately capture the intruder, the result is "checkmate".

Zoo Chess

The objective is to be the first player to capture at least one specimen of four different types of opposing chessmen (the six types are pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen and King). There is no castling, check or checkmate; Kings may be captured like any other chessman. The game ends as soon as a fourth type of chessman is captured by one player.


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.