The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Daniel MacDuff.

Klondike Chess

I was thinking about where to go next with my variants, when I thought of doing a themed fantasy variant, with players coming from the four directions.  All this thinking reminded me of mahjong, and then I thought of making a variant out of pieces that (for Westerners, at least) are closer to home.  For those unfamiliar with a 52-card Western deck, I will attempt to explain.  It consists of four suits, two red (hearts and diamonds) and two black (clubs and spades).  Each suit contains card numbered 1 (called an Ace, abbreviated A) to 10, and a Jack (abbreviated J), Queen (Q), and King (K).  The game of Klondike Solitaire is a particular inspiration to this variant.


The squares that represent rooks in other games represent unflipped cards in this game.  The castle is the "throne," and the goal of the game is to protect yours while attacking your opponent's.  (The white pieces in the diagram belong to black in the game)

To begin, you will need to shuffle the deck and choose colors for the players.  Then draw ten cards for each player.  Each player selects four cards of their own color and places them facedown, one in each space with their color (not on the throne) square in the setup.  If you do not have four of your color, you must give the cards not of your color to your opponent and draw up back to ten.  Repeat if necessary.  The cards you did not place are returned to the deck.  These, and the rest of the cards are reshuffled and form the draw pile beside the board.


The cards move as follows (a stack may move as any card in the stack ):
A- may move one square in any direction or pass a move.
2- may leap exactly two squares in any direction or combination.  However, changes in direction within each move can be no greater than 90°.
3 through 10- similar to 2. (Leap x squares in any direction or combination)
J- knight
Q- queen
K- king


On your turn, you may do one of the following-
Flip over a card that you placed in the setup.
Move a faceup card or stack of cards containing at least one card of your color.
Transfer a faceup card to or from a stack or the enemy throne.
Add the card from the waste pile to one of the starting spaces of its color (not the throne; on a stack if legal and applicable).
Draw a card and place it faceup beside the draw pile in a waste pile.
Reshuffle the waste pile into the draw pile if the draw pile is empty.

A note on transfers- transfers may only be done to adjacent spaces and one of the parties involved must include one of your cards.  Transfers to stacks not in the throne require that the cards alternate color and are adjacent in number (10-J-Q-K-A(1)-2-etc.).  For instance, a black 2 and a red 3, or a red Q- black K- red A. Only one card may be transferred per turn.  The ko rule applies as a whole in the game- you may not directly undo an opponent's last move. (Including drawing and reshuffling with one card left).  Transfers to the throne must obey the following rule: the cards on the throne must be of the same suit and in ascending order, with an Ace (1) on the bottom.  The game ends if you can place your King on the opponent's throne.  The only exception applies if your opponent never had a king- in this case, you lose.

If the deck is shuffled three times and the board position does not change, the game is a draw.
If, by turn fifty, a king is not on the board, either player may declare a draw at any time.
Threefold repetition is a loss for the one moving into it.


It is irrelevant whether cards are on the throne square as to how it is treated.
A middle card in a stack cannot be transferred (unless, of course, the stack consists of exactly 13 (or 26, or 39, or all 52) cards, in which case the stack will still be continuous, wrapping around.
Your throne will never contatin your own cards.
Be wary of threefold repetition.
Keep in mind, there is no capture.

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 Daniel Robert MacDuff.
Web page created: 2016-02-25. Web page last updated: 2016-02-25