The Chess Variants Page
Recent evolutionary research suggests that there's more to playing games than just playing games. Playing games is one of the main ways we hominids display our fitness to potential mates. (Music is another.) But you don't care about that. You're just here because you want to fool around.
Most of us know how to play chess, but not everybody knows that there are many, many ways to play chess. If you're curious, check out The Chess Variant Pages. Some of the games in that vast archive are extraordinary. Some are merely silly. Some are both.
I've created a number of chess variants over the years. In the list below you'll find links to those that I feel are the most interesting and/or playable. "Interesting" and "playable" are not necessarily the same thing, by the way. Variants like Chesseract and CVector are interesting in a conceptual sense (to me, anyway), yet they're largely unplayable.
So what makes a good and playable chess variant? In musing about this (while playing a game by email or simply driving down the freeway with nothing more important to think about), I've begun to feel that the best variants are those that are most like classic chess. Changing the rules in one or two simple ways is enough to create an entirely new kind of game experience -- and it's an experience that ordinary people can savor. Conversely, a chess variant in which each player has 500 pieces, or in which the existing pieces are affected by dozens of special rules, would be merely tiresome.
I recently revisited the rules of Five Up, simplifying them so as to make the game more like classic chess (to the extent that's possible on a three-dimensional board). If you're looking for a place to start, that one would be my recommendation.
If your browser doesn't display the board diagrams in a monospace font, such as Courier, they will appear to be gibberish. In Internet Explorer, select the font for the diagrams in Tools -> Internet Options -> Fonts -> Plain Text Font. In Netscape, select the font in Edit -> Preferences -> Category: Fonts -> Fixed Width Font.
If you'd like to try playing any of these games by email, drop me a line.
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