The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Cylindrical Chess, our featured variant for March, 2023.

A very cheap chess-set

In July 1998, I bought in a toy shop in the Netherlands a very cheap chess set. This chess set, and several other small toys were offered on sale for (if I recall well) 25 cents, (slightly more than 10 US-dollar cents).

The board is made from paper. Two pieces of plastic are provided; one with all the white pieces, and one with the black pieces. One must loosen the pieces from the central plastic `stem' where they are all attached to.

Unfortunately, as a chess set, the set is practically unusable. The paper board cannot lie flat, and it is very hard to move without letting some of the pieces fall down.

Click on the photo's below for larger images (each of about 50K size.)

There is an index to more photo's of usual and unorthodox chess sets.

Chess variants

Playing chess with a set, as unstable as this one can be turned into some chess variants, that require more dexterity than clever thinking:

Move carefully chess

Chess is played as usual. When a player makes a move such that accidently his king drops, then he loses the game. Moving such that the king of the opponent drops is considered a draw offer.

Mikado chess

A turn consists of two parts. At the first part, the player may remove pieces of the opponent that are fallen. (This is called `mikado-ing' a piece of the opponent.) However, if, when doing so, other pieces fall, then the piece that he tried to take is put back (in fallen position) on the board and the turn ends. Also, in the first part, the player may try to take pieces of his own that are fallen and put them on the board in standing position. When other pieces fall when he does so, his turn ends, but the piece he `lifted' may stay in standing position. If his turn did not end at the first part of a move, then he makes a normal move with one of his pieces that still stands. `Mikado-ing' the opponents king successfully wins the game.

Stable speed chess

This game is played with a clock (preferably of course a very expensive modern digital clock :=) ). Before a player can press the clock, he must bring all the pieces in standing position.

It is recommended to use sufficient time for this variant, otherwise white may be at a decisive disadvantage. As in the other variants, shaking the table upon which the board stands should be considered foul play and loses the game.

Comments on these variants

While some chess variants may have sets that costs hundreds of dollars, this variant is very cheap. Still, I expect that many readers will either prefer real Mikado or Chess.
Written and photo's by Hans Bodlaender, (c) 1998. Photo's made with Kodak DC-20 camera, donated by David Howe.
WWW page created: August 16, 1998.