The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Hectochess, our featured variant for November, 2023.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Gustavo Vargas.


On December 4, 1997, Gustavo A. Vargas sent me an email letter with his entry in the contest to design a chess variant on a board with 38 squares. This is what he wrote:

Berlin, december 4 of 1997.

Dear Hans:

I was looking at your challenge about chess in 38 squares, and I' m sending to you my suggestion. I' m 38 years old and I had tried to develop a new variant with different types of squares, because in our normal life not al the years are equals in exciting experiences or personal realisations, also. For this I made a 38-square modification of a variant that I play sometimes. The name of this variant is GUSCHESS. If you look at my scheme, this is a variant that can be played on a normal chess board, conserving the 64 possible positions (a1 to h8) as in FIDE chess, but in 38 'squares". Actually some of them are rectangles, but I didn't find a better solution in order to preserve the square shape of the board. My other goal was to obtain a playable variant with all the 32 pieces used in standard chess, without lost of mobility due to the minor number of squares.

The opening setup and the movement of the pieces is as in normal chess, except:

  1. The chessboard is composed of 24 normal squares, and 14 free areas. More than one piece of any colour can be located at the same moment in the same area.
  2. When a piece is placed in one of the 14 free areas, this is the 6 big squares, or the 8 rectangles, the player has the posibility to move it to ANY unoccuped position INTO THE SAME FREE AREA. This type of move counts as an entire turn. For instance, a white pawn placed in b2 can be moved to b3 or b4 (the initial double step possibility for the pawn is maintained) or can also be placed in a2 or a3 if these positions are free, but the same pawn in b2 only can take a black piece in a3 or c3. This increases the mobility of the pieces and a player can have simultaneously two bishops of the same colour, or can move backward or laterally a pawn, etc.
  3. All pieces capture as in normal chess.
  4. Pieces en route cross the positions of the free areas according to the standard chess rules.
  5. The pieces only move out each one of the free areas with standard chess moves.
  6. Check or checkmate using the type of move described in 2- is allowed.
These modifications do not change the movements of King and Queen, but the other pieces gain possibilities of displacement increasing their attack capacity.

In addition, more configurations are possible, placing the free areas symmetrically in other sectors of the board.

Sincerely yours

Gustavo A. Vargas, (email removed contact us for address)
          8   |r  |n  |b  |q  |k  |b  |n  |r  |    
          7   |p   p  |p  |p   p  |p  |p   p  |
              |       |___|       |___|       |
          6   |       |   |       |   |       |
          5   |   |       |   |   |       |   |
              |   |_______|   |   |_______|   |
          4   |   |       |   |   |       |   | 
          3   |       |   |       |   |       |
              |       |___|       |___|       |
          2   |P   P  |P  P   P   |P  |P   P  |
          1   |R  |N  |B  |Q  |K  |B  |N  |R  |
               A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H

Written by Gustavo A. Vargas. Introduction and minor editorial changes by Hans Bodlaender.
This is an entry in the Contest to make a chess variant on a board with 38 squares.
WWW page created: December 11, 1997.