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This page is written by the game's inventor, John Brown.

Flip Chess/Shogi

Rules for Flip Chess

  1. Non-King pieces may flip over at the close of their moves (or as a move in itself) and become their alternate-side piece.
  2. Pawns promote to Princes on the last rank.
  3. A bare King loses.

Rules for Flip Shogi

(Rules 1 through 3 are the same as for Flip Chess, above.)

  1. Captured pieces may be dropped (placed) onto the board to be used as one's own.
  2. Dropping a captured piece onto the board will count as a move.
  3. Pieces may drop with either side up.
  4. Pieces may drop only to attack another piece.
  5. Pawn drops are limited to the first two ranks.


Flip Chess/Shogi was created as an entry in Hans Bodlaender's 38-challenge, which requires a 38-square chess board. The rationale for employing flip pieces is to compensate for the piece-variety limitations of this small surface.

Flip Chess is a short game that requires ritualized openings. One drawback to the game is that it is difficult to recover from losing a major piece. Flip Shogi does not suffer from this weakness, as reversals of fortune are quite common. It is for this reason that I prefer Flip Shogi to Flip Chess. It is a good idea, however, to begin with Flip Chess, as it is simpler and easier to learn. Yet after experiencing the excitement of Flip Shogi, it is unlikely that a player will prefer the simpler game of Flip Chess.

Below, are patterns for creating a set of pieces for these games.

Flip Chess/Shogi was created by John William Brown, author of the book Meta-Chess. Thomas E. Havel served as chess partner and collaborator on the project.

You can play Flip Chess with some files you can download, if you own the Zillions Of Games program (and a suitable computer.)
Text and images by John William Brown. Conversion to html- and gif-format by Hans Bodlaender.
This is an entry in the Contest to make a chess variant on a board with 38 squares.
WWW page created: January 5, 1998. Last modified: January 15, 1999.