The Chess Variant Pages

Check out Marseillais Chess, our featured variant for February, 2024.

This page is written by the game's inventor, Ian Douglas.

Douglas Modern chess

Douglas Modern chess is a new variant that uses the same board, pieces and rules as conventional chess, but has a different starting position.

The start position is given by this FEN string: 1rbqkbr1/1nppppn1/2pppp2/8/8/2PPPP2/1NPPPPN1/1RBQKBR1 w – – 0 1



Pieces are standard chess pieces with same movement rules, some oddities noted in next section.


The rules are as per standard chess.

Castling: A consquence of the start position is that there is no castling, although human players may agree to allow castling on the queen's side in a manner analagous to castling on the king's side in regular chess.

Pawns: pawns on the 3 and 6 ranks make an initial move of 1 step. Pawns on 2 and 7 rank may make an intial 2-step move.

En passant: en passant works as normal, but only for the pawns that started on ranks 2 and 7, as per normal chess.


The game tends to produce interesting mates.

The layout leads to more decisive / less drawy games amongst computer engines, certainly with a shorter time control like 3 minutes/+5 seconds. On occasion, however, they do get themselves tied up in pawn block knots. Humans would probably break those blocks quickly.

There is further discussion on my blog, starting here: Rethinking chess.

I ran a mini tournament which played 162 games, and despite there being no opening books, the games were all unique. The games may be viewed on my blog.

The open flanks lead to more interesting tactical and strategic thinking. End games are not typically pawn-and-rook affairs, but frequently involve pawns, knights and bishops.

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 Ian Douglas.

Last revised by H. G. Muller.

Web page created: 2019-11-16. Web page last updated: 2022-12-05