Check out Grant Acedrex, our featured variant for April, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Charles Gilman.

Charles Gilman Modest Variants

I have noted the popularity of MODEST VARIANTS, a technical term for games using the FIDE board and array but with some very minor change. Here are a few of my own that don't really warrant separate pages of their own. My earlier FIDE-arry variants Anglis Qi and Bishogi already have their own pages, with subvariants. My Alternate Promotion Chess has its own page as it is too different from FIDE Chess to qualify as a modest variant, but its rules can still be combined with those on this page to give modest subvariants of APC, though not of FIDE Chess itself.


As in FIDE Chess


As in FIDE Chess


Variants are listed from the simplest to the most complex. Unless otherwise specified Capturing, Check and Mate, double-step moves and En Passant, and Castling are normal.


The initial double-step Pawn move comprises two diagonal captures.


The initial double-step Pawn move can be two orthogonal noncapturing steps or two diagonal captures but not a mixture.


The initial double-step Pawn move comprises an orthogonal noncapturing step and a diagonal capture, in either order.


The initial double-step Pawn move can be any of the above.

Notation in these variants should specify the intermediate cell as e.g. a Eurofighter d2 Pawn can reach d4 three ways if c3 and e3 contain enemies but d3 is empty. Enemy Pawns which were not, but could have been, captured by the second move can capture En Passant, but this does not recover any piece that actually was captured on the second move.


Extends the Pawn double-step move to other pieces. Any piece can make a non-capturing move from certain squares and then make a further noncapturing move without the enemy moving in between. This has three subvariants depending on whether the cell is
1 an array square for that kind of piece (e.g. a White Knight from b1 or g1);
2 any part of their first rank;
3 any part of their first two ranks.
In all cases En Passant capture is allowed by a piece of the same kind, and Kings may not pass through squares adjacent to the enemy King. Combined with Warhead Chess both stages of the move are capturing, with Trident Chess both capturing or both noncapturing, with Helmsman one of each, and with Eurofighter any combination. In these cases En Passant again does not recover captured pieces.


Linepieces can move less far the further forward they are. They can move (and check) a distance of n cells starting from the enemy's nth rank, although in practice this means 7 throughout their own camp and does not affect forward moves. Eurofighter Pawns are again used, to reflects the general theme of greatest strength when starting from camp. This was inspired by a minor planet sharing the name Golombek with a famous Chess player. It is a Mars crosser and so quite eccentric, travelling faster when nearer the Sun. The variant name is from the idea that pieces are more familiar with ranks nearer home.


When a long-range piece moves, any piece adjacent in the opposite direction, friend or foe, follows it at the same rate. Any third piece one step beyond that does the same, and so on until there is an empty cell. This is based on the puns of a Rook being a tow-er, a Bishop a religious lead-er, and the Queen combining the two. Nothing is pulled in Castling.
A subvariant is PUSH-PULL TRAIN CHESS, where long-range pieces can push a train of adjacent pieces as well as pull one. If no pieces are being pushed the piece pulling the rest (the "motor" piece) captures as normal. The following refer to the direction of movement of a train of pieces some of which are being pushed:
1: If there is a gap of one or more cells with a piece beyond the same colour as the "motor" piece, the train cannot go beyond the last empty cell.
2: If there is a gap with an enemy of the "motor" piece beyond, the enemy can be captured by displacement by the "driving trailer" piece (the one at the front).
3: If there is no gap, or a gap with nothing beyond, the "motor" piece can push any number of enemy pieces off the board as long as there are no pieces of its own army beyond them.


That is, anytime when the King and and an allied Rook - or Queen, a Rook compound too near the King in FIDE Chess - are 3 or 4 cells apart in any orthogonal direction and no part of the King's move is in check. The King and Rook need not even be back on their own cells, let alone unmoved.
A subvariant, CASTLE AND CATHEDRAL CHESS, also allows "Cathedralling", the diagonal equivalent of castling, whenever the King and an allied Bishop or Queen is 3 or 4 cells apart diagonally with no part of the King's (diagonal) move in check. This is an equally valid extrapolation as Cathedralling is impossible from both pieces' FIDE positions.

Either of these can be combined with any previous variation. Likewise each of the next variations can be combined with those listed before it.


Requires retaining a King and at least one piece with each of the Rook, Bishop, and Knight moves. Based on Wayne Schmittberger's Extinction Chess but not specifying pieces (except the King of course). The King is treated as in FIDE Chess - no part of castling move in check, cannot be topped up by Pawn promotion.


When piece A moves toward, but does not reach, enemy piece B (possibly capturing another enemy in the process) piece B cannot immediately move if:
1: piece A is a Bishop, Rook, or Queen and the cells between its destination and piece B are empty; or
2: piece A is a King, Knight, and Pawn and moves exactly halfway to piece B.


This restricts successive moves (ignoring enemy moves) by the same piece, wth four subvariants. A King in Check is always free to move, to avoid making Checkmate too easy. In order from the least to the most severe they are that otherwise the player cannot move the same piece on two successive moves:
1: if both moves would be capturing;
2: if the first move is capturing;
3: if the first move is capturing or the second would be;
4: ever.
Battle fatigue can also be applied to specific pieces or piece types.


As Battle Fatigue Chess, but regarding moves of three or more steps (capturing or otherwise) rather than capturing moves. The issue of Kings in Check does not arise.


Knights can additionally make a leap twice the length of their normal one as long as the halfway point is occupied, e.g. White could make the move g1-c3 before e2-e4 but not after. This allows a Knight to lose the move, but is mainly derived from a pun on a Marx Brothers film (cf Captain Spalding Chess, Duck Soup Chess). Extending it to Knight moves by both Knights and compounds thereof in a ten-file variant would of course be A KNIGHT IN CAPABLANCA!


The King has special powers when moving to a cell adjacent to a capturable piece from one not adjacent to that piece. In PK Chess the piece is an ally and is promoted, in DK Chess the piece is an enemy and is demoted, with the further restriction that the King should not be in check from the resulting piece, although it may from the original one. In each case promotion/demotion may be either one step along a prescribed sequence, e.g. PNBRQ, or to any appropriate previously captured piece but no other. Can be combined with each other as well as previous variations.


In addition to their usual moves Rooks can move along the long diagonal, Bishops along files c and f, and Knights along the routes b1-c4-f5-g8 and g1-f4-c5-b8.


Rooks capture diagonally, Bishops orthogonally, and Knights Camelwise.


If a piece is captured, all the player's other pieces of that kind disappear (one out, all out). Should Pawns survive long enough to be promoted, promotion to an extinct type may be preferable to having another Queen. May work well in combo with AP variation, which has potential to spread pieces over many more kinds.

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 Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2005-06-30. Web page last updated: 2009-11-09