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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Rich Hutnik.

Near Chess

Near Chess is based off the variant, Skirmish Chess, by Tony Paletta:

Skirmish Chess is a modest variant of regular chess, that follows nearly all the rules of regular chess, but is meant to engage the players faster, by moving the pieces closer. This variant uses the same set up, and while it also engages players faster into capturing, its intention is different.

The purpose of Near Chess is to be one of the fastest ways to introduce people to chess, and the world of chess variants, without being trivial to those who play it still. Near Chess expands upon the pawn simplification of Skirmish Chess, and removes rules from regular chess that aren't needed and also makes it harder for new players to learn. The end result is a game that can be taught quickly to newbies, and get them playing faster.

A PDF version of the rules below, with diagrams, can be found here:

There is a Game Courier page for this game at:

Another Game Courier preset for the game:

Here is another Game Courier preset for the game, with Rooks in corner (less dangerous than regular Near Chess):

Here is another Game Courier preset for Bow formation (Rooks in corner and pawns also moved back a row, which protects the Knights pawns, and is even more safer and stable). Players need to agree to whether or not the Rooks pawns get a double space initial move or not, and be subjected to en passant:

There is a Zillions version, with multiple variants, for this game at:;id=1577

A Zillions file, that contains multiple variants of Near Chess, that use drops or a 960 Shuffle (Fischer Random Chess setup), can be found at:;id=1580


It is the same as in Skirmish Chess:
White's back rank is empty and White's chessmen are moved up to the third rank (pawns) and the second rank (non-pawns); Black's chessmen are similarly arrayed, with pawns on the sixth rank and non-pawns on the seventh rank. Pawns do not have a double-step option on their first move.


Same as in standard FIDE Chess.


Same as in standard FIDE Chess, except for the set-up and these rules which have been removed or changed:
1. Pawns only move one space forward and capture one space diagonally. There is also no En Passant. This is because pawns start forward.
2. There is no castling.
3. Game is won by capturing the opponent's king, rather than checkmating it. This greatly reduces the chance of a stalemate occurring. In the case of a very rare stalemate, it would be counted as a minor win for the king who isn't in a stalemate position.
4. Pieces only promote to those pieces that have been captured, except a pawn. In other words, the player is limited to only one queen, two rooks, two knights, etc... A pawn is not permitted to move into the back row, unless it is able to be promoted to some other pieces, besides another pawn. An exception to this rule is if a pawn can capture an enemy king in the back row. If it can, it may perform the capture to win the game.


Chess is derived from a mideastern Chess-like game called Shatranj. It went through a change where the queen and bishop giving increased mobility, additional rule changes took place that made the game more complicated. It became apparent, if the change made to chess was shifted the pieces forward one row, instead of the increasing the mobility of the pawns, that all the more complicated rules introduced to make chess work would likely of never came into being. Therefore, Near Chess gets rid of these unneeded rules, returning Chess back to its Shatranj roots, while keeping the power pieces. These change, while simplifying chess, hardly makes it more trivial. As players play this, they will find that they do more positioning behind their pawns, rather than in front of them. Also pawn exchanges will be more common, but also more tricky to determine whether or not they should be taken. It would be common to see in a Near Chess game to have several pawn captures that can be taken, but passed on, because the players decide to pursue other lines of play.

Near Chess remains true to the spirit of regular chess, but has its own twists. It has also useful for introducing more pieces into play. The back rank gives players extra spaces to put down variant pieces. Near Chess should not be seen as a replacement for regular chess, but as a complimentary game, both to introduce people to world of chess faster, and also for another game to based variants off of, instead of regular chess.

Closing note here, one could also decide to shorting the board to make the game 6 rows big, but then that would then cause the arguing for putting castling back into the game, to give the king a flight square and need to mobilize the rooks, that are currently provided by Near Chess. Likewise, someone could decide to add two extra rows to regular chess (making the board 8x10), and follow the same rules regarding no castling, but this would also add back the either one or two space forward movement for chess pawns and En Passant. It is doable, and can be considered. But such changes work against the spirit of Near Chess.

The name has a double meaning. Near refers to both how close the pieces are one another (they are nearer than normal, thus Near), and also the rules are not quite those of regular chess, but "near" to them.

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 Rich Hutnik.
Web page created: 2008-04-10. Web page last updated: 2008-04-10