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Spookyhouse Chess


Spookyhouse is a dropchess variant on a 10x10 board. It takes influence from several other variants, but most significantly Xhess. I highly encourage anyone who is interested in this variant to also check out Xhess, since it's a very obscure variant but nonetheless totally fascinating in my opinion~! Spookyhouse's board setup is what I view to be an "improved" version of Xhess', and it shares most of the same pieces (albeit with some very significant differences). Seriously, check out Xhess!

Other influences include Shogi, Chess 2: The Sequel, and of course Crazyhouse.


Board graphic created using's Board Painter tool. I might draw up my own one day with my very meager art skills, mostly so there are more representative piece designs.

This diagram shows one of 720 possible starting positions. Witches are always placed as shown, but the other pieces are randomized as follows:

  • A Knight, Bishop, Phoenix, and King are placed randomly in any of the following six squares (circled in red in the diagram): c1, c2, d1, d2, e1, and e2.
  • The Rook and Cannon are placed randomly on a1 and b2 (circled in pink in the diagram).
  • Kingside and "Queenside" are mirrored, with the Ghost being opposite the King.
  • The white and black pieces are mirrored.

6x5x4x3x2 = 720 positions.


10 Witches (Xhess) - Known as Horsemen in Xhess, they move and capture as an orthodox pawn, and also move as a knight, but only forward, without jumping. If it reaches the back rank, it Promotes to any piece of the player's choosing other than a King or Ghost.

2 Knights

2 Bishops

2 Phoenixes (Chu Shogi) - Jumps exactly 2 spaces diagonally, or slides one space orthogonally.

2 Cannons (Xiangqi) - Moves as a rook, and captures as a rook only if it first jumps over exactly one piece in the process.

2 Rooks

1 Ghost (Chess 2: The Sequel) - Moves by teleporting to any open square on the board. Cannot capture, cannot be captured.

1 King


Follows the rules of Chess, with these changes:

Drop Rules
As in Crazyhouse and Shogi, when you capture an opponent's piece, it goes into your Pocket. You may later Drop that piece on any open square for your turn, instead of moving a piece. Witches have two limitations: they cannot be dropped on the first or last rank, or on any file that is already occupied by a Witch of the same color.

If you capture a piece that was promoted from a Witch, it goes back to being a Witch.
There is no castling and no stalemate.


The pieces are basically a super team of all my favorites. The Phoenix is an exception; with that I just needed a jumping piece with roughly the same strength as a Knight, so I 'made it up' and then assumed it already had a name, which it of course does! Out of all of these I think the Ghost is the biggest game-changer. It's certainly a game-changer in Chess 2; that game has two of them, and they basically completely take over. The lack of queen, larger board, defensive abilities of the Ghost, and restrictions on Witch drops make it so this game will probably be less forcing and aggressive than Crazyhouse, which I would view as being a positive.

My goals with the randomized initial positions were to preserve symmetry and avoid overly forcing initial positions. I think a previous version of Spookyhouse allowed the rooks to be placed on a bunch of possible starting squares and it of course caused problems. I know random starting positions are controversial and can be a matter of taste, but I'm a big fan of what they bring to the table.

My hope is to one day have a live online playable version of this, with timers and rankings and so on. Of course that's completely beyond me to accomplish at the moment! I hope people enjoy it regardless~

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Gabrielle Tomasko.
Web page created: 2017-09-24. Web page last updated: 2017-09-24