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History of the Chess Variant Pages

In January 1995, Hans Bodlaender started a small website on chess variants. First, this was not much more than an html-interface upon a number of files he had saved from the electronic news in the previous years. After that, he wrote descriptions of a number of variants that he found most interesting (e.g., those of several historic chess variants.) After a while, interest began to grow; people began to send additional materials, and he started to make pictures with the starting setup, etc. The older materials were improved: actually, very little of those remained in unchanged form. The introduction on the home page, starting with It is generally assumed that chess originated in India is one of the things that is now more or less as it was originally.

In the years following, the website became known better, was mentioned on several places, and received more and more visitors and reactions. See the webpage on the number of hits (downloaded files).

In the spring of 1997, David Howe offered his help to Hans Bodlaender in making the site. Thus, after that moment, the site had two editors. The amount of reactions and files describing a chess variant that was growing, and in the spring of 1999, we asked for new editors, and four additional editors, John William Brown, Tom Cook, Pavel Tikhomirov, and Vu Q. Vo, were added to the editorial board, making the site then run by a group of six people.

Until this moment, the website was located in Hans Bodlaender's personal webspace at the Department of Computer Science, Utrecht University, but we felt that with this number of editors, and this size, the site was 'growing out of that jacket'. And thus, a different location was found, and we obtained a domain name for the site. Later, changes in the group of editors took place; some editors left, and others (Jean-Louis Cazaux and Peter Aronson) joined the team.

In the years of existence, not only rules of chess variants could be seen: competitions (first two competitions of Progressive Fischer Random Chess, then competitions to design chess variants (on 38 squares, on 39 squares, large variants, on 40 squares, ...) were held, and there are java applets, the Piececlopedia, sample games, news items, and more.

The website was and remained not-commercial; a small income is generated with which we pay the costs of maintaining the site and buy a few prizes for contests.

Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: 1995/ July 16, 1999. Last modified: June 19, 2001.