The Chess Variant Pages

Monster Chess

Monster chess is a modern variant, where players have unequal armies. The roles of white and black, as described below, are also often played with reversed colours.


The white player has a full array of pieces. Black only has his king and four pawns. The opening setup is as follows:

King e1; Queen d1; Rook a1, h1; Knight b1, g1; Bishop c1, f1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2.

King e8; Pawn c7, d7, e7, f7


White moves as usual. Black, however, can make two moves per turn. After his first move, the white king may be in check.

The pawns can promote to Queens.


There's no point in defending attacked pieces - for example, with a Black K on b5 it is foolish to play a2-a4 attacking it, hoping that the Pawn is defended by the Rook, because Black can reply Kxa4-b5.

The lone Black K can mate - So, if you remove Pf2 and Ph2, a Black K could move from g5 to g3, mate! In fact, if Black can check on the first move, on the second Black will take the King, so White must not allow checks.

It's rather like the Maharajah game: it is probably a theoretical win for White but difficult in practice.

Text by Dave Regis and Hans Bodlaender
Last modified: September 17, 1996.