The Chess Variant Pages

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It is understood that the CV should be previously unpublished, playable and in some significant way original (standards that do allow some wiggle room).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


Bracket Chess

A chessman may move to a space occupied by a friendly chessman provided there are a pair of vacant squares adjacent to and on opposite sides of the occupied space (e.g., d3-d5, c4-e4, c5-e3 and e5-c3 are the pairs associated with d4). The former occupant and the new arrival are placed on a pair of such vacant squares.

A pawn may only be relocated along the rank (if still on the player’s second rank, it retains the double-step move option for later moves) or to a forward square.

Bump Chess

A chessman may move to a space occupied by a different type of friendly chessman. If the displacing unit is a Knight, the former occupant makes one Knight move to a vacant square; if the displacing unit is not a Knight, the previous occupant moves one space to a vacant square using the standard chess move of the unit that displaces it.

A King may not be displaced if in check. Pawns are displaced in only a forward or sideways direction (sideways if displaced by a Queen, a Rook or a King move along a rank or file), and retain their double-step option if displaced along the player's second rank.

Camouflage Chess

Pawns and Kings moves as in standard chess; Bishops may move to, but not capture on, an adjacent square along the rank or file.

Queens, Rooks, Bishops or Knights move as in standard chess when beginning from a square of the opposite shade (i.e., White pieces on dark squares, Black pieces on dark squares), but temporarily gain the ability to move and capture like a Knight (Queens, Rooks or Bishops) or like a non-royal King (Knights only) when beginning from a square similar to their own shade.

Carom Chess

A carom move occurs when a chessman moves to the space occupied by a friendly chessman and then "caroms" (moves again) to a vacant square in a different direction, neither continuing in the direction of the move nor reversing toward its previous square.

Rooks, Knights and Bishops carom as they move. Queens or Kings if moving orthogonally (along a rank or a file) carom orthogonally; if moving diagonally, they carom diagonally. Pawns may carom either diagonally forward (if reaching the occupied space by a "capturing" pawn move) or sideways (if reaching the occupied space by a "non-capturing" pawn move).

Example: White chessman (any type) at d4. White Ra4 may carom off d4 toward d1 or d8. White Bf2 may carom off d4 toward a1 or h8. White Nc2 may carom off d4 to b3, b5, c6, f3, f5 or e2.

Cascade Chess

A chessman may move to a space occupied by a friendly unit, with the former occupant moving away with the move of (and in the same direction as) the initiating chessman. The relocated friendly chessman may also move to a space occupied by a friendly unit, with the former occupant also moving away with the move of (and same direction as) the chessman that initiated the sequence, etc. Only a standard chess move (not a relocation move) may result in a capture.

A pawn may initiate a relocation sequence with either a pawn's normal capturing move or non-capturing move, but the relocated chessman may only move forward a single space. A pawn may not be relocated in any backward direction.

Examples: 1 Qd2/d5 2 Bc4/b5 2 Be3/Qf4

Castlemania Chess

Regardless of whether they have previously moved, two friendly chessmen of different types may castle if they are separated by either two or three vacant spaces along the rank, file or diagonal. The higher-ranking chessman slides two spaces toward the lower-ranking chessman and the lower-ranking chessman is placed on the other side of the higher-ranking chessman. The chessmen are ranked pawn (low)-Knight-Bishop-Rook-Queen-King.

A King may not castle while in check and may not pass over a square where it would be subject to capture. A pawn has a double-step option for any standard chess move from its owner's second rank, and may be captured en passant immediately following such a move.

Example: White Qd1, Bd3, Kh3, Rg4, Nd7 and pawns a4 and h7. Possible castling moves are Qb3-c2 (Queen to b3, pawn to c2), Qf3-Re2, Bd5-Nd4, Bf5-e4, Kf3-Bg3, Kh5-h4, Re6-Nf5 and Nb5-c6.

Catalyst Chess

If a chessman "guards" (i.e., is one standard chess move away from) two friendly chessmen it may, under certain circumstances, act as a "catalyst" that allows the two chessmen to switch places.

Restrictions are (a) the switch must result in a different position (i.e., the two chessmen may not be of the same type), (b) a player may not make "catalyzed" moves on successive turns, (c) a pawn may not be switched to a back rank and (d) a King may not be switched. A pawn switched to the player's second rank regains the double-step option when moving from that rank.

Example: White Rb3, Qg3, Nd4, Bf2, Rf5 and pawn h4. Potential catalytic moves (catalyst in parentheses) are (Bf2)Ng3/Qd4, (Qg3)b3/Rh4 and (Qg3)Bh4/f2.

Cloverleaf Chess

The starting array has Black Kd8 and Queen e8 but is otherwise as in standard chess, and both Knights and pawns move as in standard chess.

For Rooks, Queens or Kings moving along a rank the squares a3-c1, h3-f1, a6-c8 and h6-f8 are considered adjacent, and a move past the first square moving on the rank places those chessmen at the second square of the pair moving along the file. For Rooks, Queens or Kings moving along the file, the squares c1-a3, f1-h3, c8-a6 and f8-h6 are adjacent, and a move past the first square along the file places those chessmen at the second square of the pair moving along the rank. Only one such "cloverleaf" is permitted on each move.

Bishops, Queens moving diagonally to a vacant center square (d4-e4-e5-d5) may rotate counterclockwise through vacant squares in the center and continue along a main diagonal in the direction of a corner square. Bishops and Queens do not move diagonally past a center square.

Example: A King at a3 may move to c1 or like a standard King. A Bishop at e3 may move along the paths d4-c3-b2-a1, d4-e4-e5-f6-g7-h8 or d4-e4-e5-d5-c6-b7-a8 or like a standard Bishop except not to c5-b6-a7. A Rook at f5 may move like a standard Rook or through f8 to h6-g6-f6-etc., but no further than to a6.

Alternate rule: "Rotary Chess" replaces counterclockwise rotation through the center for both Bishops and Queens with clockwise rotation through the centre.

Coercion Chess

Kings are moved (only by their owner) as in standard chess. All defended chessmen may only be moved by their owner. A player may (a) move, but not capture, with an undefended and unattacked chessmen belonging to the opponent and (b) both move and capture the opponent’s units with an undefended and attacked chessmen belonging to the opponent.

A chessman is defended (/undefended) if a chessman of the same color could (/could not) reach its current square with a standard chess move, and is attacked (/unattacked) if a chessman belonging to the opponent could (/could not) reach its current square with a standard chess move.

A King is in check if either an opposing chessman or an undefended and attacked chessman of the King’s color could be moved by the opponent to the King’s space.

Countermove Chess

In addition to standard chess moves and captures, any chessman except a King temporarily gains the power to move (but not capture), with the standard chess move of any opposing chessman that observes it.

A Knight or a Bishop observed only by an opposing pawn gains the ability to move forward one space on the file, but a Rook or a Knight observed only by an opposing pawn does not gain the power to either move or capture one space diagonally forward.

A pawn observed by an opposing chessman may move with the observer’s standard chess move, but may not move to the player’s first rank; pawns have a double-step option whenever moving from their owner’s second rank.

Displacement Chess

A chessman may move to a square occupied by a different type of friendly chessman, with the former occupant positioned one square back along the line of approach used by its replacement. The cooperative "displacement" move may not be used by a player who is in check.

A Knight leaping to a square occupied by a friendly unit positions the former occupant on the square vacated by the Knight. A pawn (a) may not be displaced to the player's own back rank, (b) may be displaced to a promotion square and promoted, (c) has the option of moving two squares whenever it occupies the player's own second rank and (d) displaces other friendly units by a diagonal ("capturing") move, but not by a straight ("non-capturing") move.

Examples: White Rook c1, Bishop f1, Knight b2, King b3, pawn c4 and Queen f4. Displacement moves possible are Nc4/b2 (Knight to c4, pawn to b2), Bc4/d3, Rc4/c3, Rf1/Bd1, Qf1/Bf2, Qc1/Rd2, Qc4/d4, Kc4/b3 and Kb2/Nb3.

Dominion Chess

The board is imagined to consist of 32 dominoes placed vertically and forming four lines of eight dominoes each, ending on the 2nd-4th-6th-8th rank. Any chessman may, after moving, slide to the square on the other half of the domino, provided it is not occupied by a friendly chessman. The slide may result in a capture or additional capture.

Example: 1 e4 e6 2 e4-e5(xe6)

Emissary Chess

A King may move to a space occupied by a friendly unit; the chessman is withdrawn from play but may be reentered by the player during a later turn on a space vacated by the move of the (/one of the) highest ranking friendly chessman other than the King that is still on the board.

The chessmen are ranked Queen (highest)-Rook-Bishop-Knight-pawn. A player may only have one chessman withdrawn at a time.

Eviction Chess

Players are allowed to "evict" their own chessmen from squares under certain circumstances. In an eviction move one chessman ("A") moves to a square occupied by a friendly chessman ("B") using B's normal chess move, and B then moves to a vacant square using A's normal chess move.

The result must be a different position (e.g., a Knight may evict a Knight, but the former occupant may not be placed on the square previously occupied by its replacement). A King may not take part in an eviction while in check. A pawn is evicted by a friendly chessman making a single-space diagonal move in the forward direction (pawn's capturing move) and units evicted by pawns must move straight forward one space (pawn's non-capturing move). Pawns may not be moved to either player's back rank as a result of an eviction move, and a pawn returned to the normal starting rank after being evicted regains the double-step option for a normal move from the rank.

Example: White Kc1, Bf2, Rd4, Qc6, Nb8 and pawns d2, e3, d5. Possible eviction moves involve Kc6, Kd2, Qb8, d2-e3, d5-d4, e3-f2, and Be3; some possible results of those evictions are Kc6/Qb6 (King to c6, Queen to b6), Kd2/c3, Qb8/Ng8, d2-e3/e4, d5-d4/Rd5, d5-c6/Qc7, e3-f2/Bf3 and Be3/g5.

Explorer Chess

Except for pawns and Kings, every chessman moved to a vacant square must continue one space either (a) along the rank toward the side edge that is furtherest away or (b) along the file toward the back edge that is furtherest away.

The result of the move and continuation must be a different position (so, for example, after Rd4-d5, the continuation move must be to e5 and not to d4), and the continuation move may result in the capture of either a friendly chessman, an opposing chessman or an additional opposing chessman.

Example: On White's first move Na3/a4, Na3/b3, Nc3/c4. Nc3/d3, Nf3/e3, Nf3/f4, Nh3/g3 and Nh3/h4 are possibilities.

Garrison Chess

All moves by any chessman must be to a square where it either defends or is defended by a friendly chessman. The only exception is a move that would capture the opposing King (therefore checks and checkmates occur as in standard chess). A player unable to move loses.

Examples: On White’s first move the moves b4, c4, e4, f4 and g4 are not permitted. After 1 Nc3 d5 the move 2 Nxd5 is not permitted.

Haven Chess

Only Bishops and Knights may occupy the 28 squares on the edge of the board. The array position for White has Bishops on c1 and f1, Rooks on b2 and g2, Knights on c2 and f2, Queen on d2, King on e2 and pawns on on b3,c3,d3,e3,f3 and g3; Black’s array mirrors White’s (Bishops on c8 and f8, etc. with Queen on d7 and King on e7).

Pawns do not have a double-step option and pawn’s promote upon reaching their owner’s seventh rank. There is no castling.

Hippophobic Chess

Queens may not move to a square adjacent (along a rank, file or diagonal) to a Knight of either color and may not capture an opposing Knight. Kings may capture an opposing Knight but may not remain on or move to a square adjacent to a Knight of either color.

Interior Chess

Kings and Queens are not allowed to visit any square on the edge of the board. Each player begins with pawns filling the third rank, Queen and King on the second rank (White Qd2, Ke2; Black Qd7, Ke7) and Rooks, Knights and Bishops positioned as in standard chess. Pawns are limited to a single space move at all times, and promote only to Rook, Bishop or Knight.

J’Adoube Chess

Kings and pawns move as in standard chess, but all other chessmen may move to, but not capture on, any adjacent square along the rank, file or diagonal. When not moving to an adjacent square Queens, Rooks, Bishops and Knights move and capture as in standard chess.

Kaleidoscope Chess

Kings and pawns move as in standard chess. All other chessmen may, in addition to their standard chess moves, may leap to a vacant space that is both the same number of ranks from the nearest end rank and the same number of files from the nearest end file (e.g., from b2 to g2, b7 or g7; from d7 to e7, d2 or e2).

Example: After 1 c4 f5; 2 Qb3 h6? White checkmates with 3 Qg6.

Launch Chess

A chessman may move to a space occupied by a friendly chessman. The former occupant leaps exactly two spaces diagonally (if its replacement had moved along the rank or file) or exactly two spaces along the rank or file (if its replacement had moved diagonally).

Pawns move to a space occupied by a friendly unit as if capturing, and cannot move backward when replaced by a friendly chessman. A pawn located on the player’s second retains a double-step move option after being displaced along the rank. Standard chess Knights are assumed to leap first along the rank or file and then diagonally, and therefore displaced friendly units along the rank or file.


No chessman may occupy the a-file, and each player has one Bishop — which moves like either a standard Bishop or a standard Knight. The starting back rank placement is (b-h files) RNQKBNR, with seven pawns on each player’s second rank. Castling is permitted on either wing (Queenside: King to c-file, Rook to d-file).

Nonlinear Chess

A player with other legal moves available may not move a unit (a) from or to either the starting rank or the destination rank involved in the opponent’s last move or (b) from or to the either the starting file or the destination file involved in the opponent’s last move. Castling is not permitted.

Examples: (a) After 1 Nf3 Black may not respond with Nf6, f6, f5, g6 or g5. (b) If other legal moves are available, immediate recapture following a capture is not permitted.

Palace Chess

Kings are restricted to eight squares — the four central files of their owner’s first and second ranks — and a move that places the opposing Kings in a direct line ( with no intervening chessmen) along a rank, file or diagonal is not permitted.

Rooks, Bishops and Queens are limited to a maximum move of two squares.

Periphery Chess

Kings cannot move into the central 16 squares of the board (i.e., area with corners at c3-c6-f6-f3).

Redeployment Chess

A piece on the player’s own back rank may switch squares with a second friendly chessman also on the player’s own back rank before one of the chessman is moved. Neither of the friendly chessmen involved in the redeployment may be the player’s King.

Example: After 1 e4 e5 2 f4 ef White may recapture with 3 Ba1/Rf1-Rf4 or 3 Bh1/Rf1-Rf4

Reflective Chess

An attacked unit moves only with the power of any attacker’s standard chess move, but only captures with its own standard chess move. When a unit is not attacked, it moves and captures as in standard chess.

Role-Model Chess

A Rook, Knight, Bishop or Queen must move with the standard chess move of the highest ranking piece (itself included) of either color that occupies its current rank or file. The pieces rank Knight (low)-Bishop-Rook-Queen-King. Non-Kings moving like standard chess Kings are not subject to check or checkmate. Pawns and Kings move as in standard chess.

Example: In the starting array, all back rank chessmen move like a standard chess King.

Summit Chess

After a chessman is moved to a square not on an edge of the board, it may (but is not obliged to) slide one space toward the nearest edge (i.e., along the rank or file), to either a vacant or opponent-occupied square. If the move is to a non-edge square on a main diagonal (b2..g7 or g2..b7) the chessman may slide one space toward either of the two nearest edges.

The move and slide combination must result in a net change in the position compared to the beginning of the player's turn, and a move+slide may result in two captures.

Alternate rules: Other forms of "Terrain Chess" include Crater Chess (may slide one space only in opposite direction of the Summit Chess slide, but not from d4-e4-d5-e5), Ridge Chess (may slide one space only horizontally toward the nearest side edge), Valley Chess (may slide one space only horizontally toward the center files, but not from d- or e-file) 0

Torpedo Chess

The starting back rank arrangement (a-h files) is RNQBBKNR. A player may not make a move that allows two monarchs of either color (Kings, Queens or King/Queen combination) to face each other along an open rank, file or diagonal.

A player unable to move without allowing two monarchs to observe each other loses, as does a checkmated player.

Trailer Chess

Any move by a chessman allows (but does not obligate) a player to pull a friendly chessman an equal number of spaces from the opposite direction.

Pawns may be pulled forward or sideways only, and retain a double-step option after being pulled along the player’s second rank. Knights pull friendly chessman to the square they vacate: for example, a Knight moving forward two ranks and to the player’s right may pull a friendly chessman two ranks behind to the player’s left, while a Knight moving one rank backward and two spaces to the player’s left may pull a friendly chessman two ranks backward and to the player’s right.

Examples: A move Nd3-e5 may advance a trailing friendly unit c1-d3; a move Nd2-e4, however, does not advance a second friendly unit. A move Rf4-f6 may advance a friendly unit f1-f3, while a move Bc3-b2 may advance a unit at d4, e5, f6, g7 or h8 one space diagonally toward c3.

Triangulation Chess

Instead of a conventional chess move a player may, under certain circumstances, make a cooperative maneuver involving three friendly chessmen.

In a "triangulation" maneuver chessman "A" moves to a square occupied by chessman "B", with chessman "B" then moving to a square occupied by chessman "C" and chessman "C" then placed on the square initially vacated by chessman "A". The first two steps (A’s and B’s moves) must involve a normal move (in the case of a pawn, either a capturing or a single-step non-capturing move) of the chessmen and must involve a change of direction (i.e., not two moves along a file or a rank, and not two diagonal moves and not two Knight-leaps in the same direction).

A pawn may not be "triangulated" to the player's own back rank, but it may be promoted during triangulation, in which case the promoted piece takes the pawn’s place in the sequence. A pawn triangulated to the player's own second rank has a double-step option in making a normal move from that rank.

Examples: White Kb1, Qa3, Bc3, Bd3, Nd4, Rc5, Nc5, pawns a2 and e2. Possible triangulations are Ka2/a3/Qb1, a3/Qc5/Ra2, d3/Bb1/Ke2, d3/Be4/Ne2, Qc3/Be5/Na3, Qc5/Rc3/Ba3, Qc5/Rc3/Ba3, Be5/Nd3/Bc3, Bb1/Ka2/d3, Nc3/Be5/Ne4, Nc5/Rc3/Be4, Nc5/Re5/Ne4, Rc3/Be5/Nc3, Re5/Nd3/Bc5, Nd3/Be4/Ne5, Nd3/Bb1/Ke5 and Nd3/Be2/e5.

Wonderland Chess

Kings move as in standard chess. A move, but not a capture, by any other chessman generally will result in the unit moved arriving at the mirror image square on the same rank (e.g., a move to a7 mirrors to h7, a move to b3 mirrors to g3). If a chessman of either color occupies the mirror image square, the former occupant is placed on the mirror image square vacated by the moving chessman. Repositioning does not occur if a King occupies the mirror image square.

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.