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Progressive Chess

Progressive Chess is perhaps the most widely played of all variants. It is unique in that each player makes one more move-per-turn than his opponent has made: White makes 1 move, black makes 2 moves, white makes 3 moves, and so on. The game quickly reaches a 'critical mass' as each player's move rate continues to grow. Games are intense, and few last for more than seven successive turns.

Boards and pieces

Although the Progressive Chess concept can be applied to almost any variant, the game is typically played as a variant of orthodox chess with orthodox board and pieces.


There are three main variants of Progressive Chess: The rules for each variant are listed below:


Italian Progressive Chess

FIDE rules apply, with the following exceptions:

  1. Players alternately make a sequence of moves of increasing number: White makes 1 move, black makes 2 moves, white makes 3 moves, and so on.

  2. Each sequence of moves must be completed. Inability to complete a sequence counts as a 'progressive stalemate' (provided one's King is not in check).

  3. A check can be given only on the last move of a completed sequence.*

  4. A check can be nullified only in the first move of a sequence.

  5. If a check cannot be nullified without checking the enemy King, the game is lost by a 'progressive checkmate'.

  6. En passant capture permitted on the first move of a sequence only.

  7. If neither a Pawn is moved nor a piece is captured in 10 successive sequences, and neither player can show an impending mate, the game is a draw.

*NOTE: According to D.B. Pritchard, in the Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, a premature check means forfeiture of the game.

English Progressive Chess

FIDE rules apply, with the following exceptions:

  1. Players alternately make a sequence of moves of increasing number: White makes 1 move, black makes 2 moves, white makes 3 moves, and so on.

  2. When a player gives check prior to the end of a sequence, he forfeits any remaining moves. His opponent's subsequent turn is not truncated, so the number of moves allowed for any given turn, is only dependent on the turn number.

  3. Pieces move in democratic cycles: Each mobile piece must move once before it can move twice, and each mobile piece must move twice before it can move thrice, and so on.** (If a blocked piece becomes mobile in a later cycle, it may not make 'catch-up' moves.) A just-promoted piece is considered having moved. Castling counts as having moved both King and Rook.

  4. A player may not expose his King to check during a sequence of moves, even if the check is only temporary.

  5. A check must be nullified on the first move of a turn. Failure to do so is checkmate.

  6. En passant capture is not allowed

  7. If a player moves into a stalemate position before completing his turn, the game is a draw.
**NOTE: Incompleted cycles do not carry over to the next turn. At the beginning of each player's turn, a new cycle begins.

Scottish Chess

The rules are the same as those for Italian Progressive Chess, with one important difference:

  • When a player gives check at the end of a sequence, he forfeits any remaining moves in that sequence. However, this forfeiture does not effect subsequent sequences: He and his opponent will have the same number of moves in subsequent sequences that they would have had, had he not forfeited previous moves.


It is customary to number the sequences consecutively, according to their length:

for preferable to...
1. e2, e41. e2 e4, e7e5 f7f6
2. e7e5, f7f62. Ng1h3 Bf1e2 Be2h5+,
3. Ng1h3 Bf, 1e2 Be2h5+3. etc...

I strongly urge players to adopt this notational system.

Additional Information

Italian Progressive Chess

There are a great number of Italian Progressive Chess tournaments:

  • International championship
  • Italian, Russian, Ukrainian Championship
  • Olympic tournament
  • International team championship
  • Annual tournaments in England, Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, ...

The best players are:

  • Mario Leoncini (Italy), 7 times Italian Champion.
  • Giuseppe Dipitato (Barletta-Italy 1961-1992) 5 times Italian Champion.
  • Jaroslav Gadzinskij (Ukraine) Olympic champion.


  • Mario Leoncini and Roberto Magari, "Manuale di Scacchi Eterodossi", Siena-Italy 1980.
  • Giuseppe Dipilato and Mario Leoncini, "Fondamenti di Scacchi Progressivi", Macerata-Italy 1987.
  • Giuseppe Dipilato, "Scacchi Progressivi - La partita di Dona 1.d4", Macerata-Italy 1992.
  • PRBASE, the Italian Progressive Chess Data Base (over 10,000 games), Macerata-Italy 1989-1995.
  • Alessandro Castelli: Scacchi Progressivi. Matti Eccellenti (Progressive Chess. Excellent Checkmates), Macerata-Italy 1996.
  • Alessandro Castelli: Scacchi progressivi. Finali di partita (Progressive Chess. Endgames), Macerata-Italy 1997.

English Progressive Chess

This game is played regularly in Italy, USA and Ukraine.

Best players

Tony Gardner (USA) and Alessandro Castelli (Italy) co-champion - 1st International Championship.


Tony Gardner, Tactics and Theory of ENPR, privately printed 1995

Scottish Chess

Scottish Chess is the oldest of all progressive chess variants, probably originating in Great Britain (or possibly Scotland) just before World War II. The game is also known as Scotch Chess, Blitz Chess, Lightning Chess, Speed Chess, Avalanche Chess (which is also used for another chess variant), Scottish Progressive Chess, or just Progressive Chess.

The variant is very popular. Two email tournaments were held, one in 1992/1993, and one in 1996.

Computer Play

This game can be played via email on Richard's Play-By-eMail Server.

Originally written by Alessandro Castelli. Edited by John William Brown.
WWW page created: 1995 or 1996. Last modified: July 2, 2002.