The Chess Variant Pages

Extinction chess

This game was invented by R. Wayne Schmittberger. It is mentioned in Schmittbergers nice book New Rules for Classic Games. The game is somewhat similar in rules to (the older game) Kinglet, but much more lively. The game is popular in modern chess variant circles, e.g. NOST. An earlier name for the game was Survival of the Species.


All rules of orthodox chess are used, with the following exception. Check and checkmate do not apply. Instead, the first player that does not have pieces of all types, loses the game. Thus, a player that loses his king loses the game. But also, a player whose queen is taken loses the game. Etcetera: you can win by having taken both rooks of the opponent, you can win by having taken both bishops of the opponent, you can win by having taken both knights of the opponent, and you win if your opponent has no pawns left.

Pawns may promote to any other type of piece, so pawns may also promote to kings. When a pawn promotes to some type of piece, this piece is also counted among the pieces of the type; e.g., when a pawn promotes to queen, and the other queen is taken from the player, then the queens are not considered to be extinct, i.e., the game continues. If a player promotes his last pawn, he loses (as his pawns are now extinct.)

Sample Game

A. Castelli - W. Schmittberger (1-0)
NOST 1992 tourney
1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Bb5+ Bd7 5.B:d7+ Q:d7 6.Ng5 Nc6 7.f4 000 8.00 f6 9.Nf3 f5 10.d4 c:d4 11.N:d4 Bc5 12.c3 Kb8 13.Kh1 a6 14.Rf3 Nge7 15.Rd3 N:d4 16.R:d4 Ba7 17.Qb3 Rc8 18.Rb4 Rc7 19.Rb6 Ng6 20.R:a6+ Bf2 21.g3 Rhc8 22.Ra5 Resigned.

Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: April 4, 1996. Last modified: January 29, 1998.