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Which Chess Variants are Best?

This can be a difficult question, because there are so many different Chess variants, and no one has played or analyzed them all. The three main ways we might try to answer this question are subjective opinion, consensus, and objective criteria. Here are some resources we have for using these to help you pick some of the best Chess variants.

Recognized Chess Variants
In the early days of this site, Hans and David began a list of variants that had generally earned recognition through the test of time. This is useful to an extent, but it is heavily weighted in favor of older games. Newer games made the list more haphazardly, thanks either to subjective opinion or to commercial availability. To fix this, I (Fergus Duniho) ran polls to select games more democratically, and I also organized the recognized variants into different classifications.
Our Favorites Games
Some members of the site have picked their favorite Chess variants. This is done by means of the ❤ menu on a game page. An individual member's favorites will be listed on his profile page, and you'll see my own preferences if you click on my profile link in the credits portion of this page. The page linked above provides a script-generated ranked listing of all the games our members have favorited.
Favorite Games of their Inventors
Since some of the games here were invented by members of this site, this page lists the games that have been favorited by their inventors. This lets you find out what the Chess variant inventors here consider to be their best work. While the Recognized variants are geared toward well-known, established games, this is geared more toward newer, more obscure games.
Average Game Ratings
This site has had a page rating system since 2002. Although not specifically targeted toward games, as the Favorites system is, it has often been used for rating games. The page linked above provides a script-generated ranked list of average ratings for our game pages.
Top 50 Games on Game Courier
This site allows people to play Chess variants through Game Courier, and the link above is to a script-generated list of the games played most frequently on Game Courier.
On Designing Good Chess Variants
Besides weighing the subjective opinions of various people, you may form ideas about what goes into a good Chess variant and make decisions based on these objective criteria. In the article above, I have described various criteria and have illustrated some with examples. You might agree with these criteria or have your own.

WWW page created: May 29, 2016.