Variations on a theme
April 7, 2004 5:17 PM   Subscribe

If you're bored with the kind of chess grandpappy taught you, know there are well over 1,000 other ways to do it. Play chess on a Moebius strip, with hexagons, or like Monopoly. Or play Chaturanga, chess's earliest ancestor. And if you don't have the time to, say, build your own 3-D Star Trek chessboard, there are also variations playable with a standard chess set.
posted by tepidmonkey (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've played Giveaway Chess before. It was a good way to stretch the mind in another direction after playing one too many games of regular chess.

Time to dust off the board.
posted by sciurus at 5:40 PM on April 7, 2004

Nice! I was thinking about variations on chess just the other day...after my truck-driving, drummer, pot-head friend beat me for the 9th time in a row. Surely I can beat him if I change the rules...
posted by Jimbob at 5:52 PM on April 7, 2004

A friend of mine smoked up an acquaintance in his car once - just before the guy went inside to beat GM Yermolinsky in tournament play. I played progressive chess against that same guy once. I lost.

Alcohol, however, is totally destructive to chess skill. The only casual games I've ever won against masters was when they were drunk. Go me!
posted by crunchburger at 6:00 PM on April 7, 2004

Yeah, suicide chess is a good palate cleanser. We always played that the king stayed on the board and could be, wanted to be, mated. I never heard of the version where he gets taken just like anything else. That also sounds like wacky fun.

Anyway, good post, tepidmonkey. I never get bored with regular chess because I never get enough opportunities to play it. But variants are also cool. When I was a kid I made a hexagonal board (with quadrilateral spaces, not hexagons as in the link above) to play 3-sided chess with me, myself and I. I assume 3-sided would also be fun with, say, 3 people, but I've never played it that way.

About ten years ago I invented a version of pool incorporating chess strategy. I thought it should be very popular because I already had a great slogan: CHESSPOOL! - It's a cesspool of fun! But not being a regular pool player I didn't know how to go about spreading the meme. Now I can't remember exactly how it went, but believe me, it was a cesspool of fun.
posted by soyjoy at 7:58 PM on April 7, 2004

This may be slightly off-topic, but I was just remarking yesterday that what we could really use a different way to notate chess games. Not a different way to name the squares, but a whole new way of describing what's going on that takes into account the paths that the pieces travel on, especially in the opening. You know, the way the bishops' diagonals interlock with certain moves of the knights, the way the four middle squares get weighted with pawns having two, three or even four pieces protecting them at once.

My problem with learning chess is always that with the e4, d5 stuff (as with the old notation, of course), I can visualize what's happening for the first three moves or so without a board, and then I'm lost. But if there were a system for describing the game dynamically according to the channels in which play happens, people would be able to read about games in the paper and follow them and get as excited about them as they do reading the game story of last night's NCAA playoffs or whatever. OK, not quite that excited. You get the point.
posted by soyjoy at 8:02 PM on April 7, 2004

I own and am rather fond of Tile Chess. 2 to 6 players, no board, and some interesting rules.

I recommend it.
posted by ODiV at 8:28 PM on April 7, 2004

I never get bored with regular chess because I never get enough opportunities to play it.

soyjoy, there's always ICC and FICS. You can even play variants there! You can play as a guest or pay to join on ICC. FICS is free.
posted by crunchburger at 9:07 PM on April 7, 2004

Don't forget Chess Boxing, governed by WCBO, naturally.
posted by jiroczech at 2:53 AM on April 8, 2004

Enochian chess, via the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn.
posted by malocchio at 7:27 AM on April 8, 2004

I remember cutting out all the peices and creating a board for the 3-level Dragon Chess in the 80's. Every D&D geek I knew did that as well, and we had a couple of good games even, although after a few games we found some major imbalances...

Created by Gary Gygax himself!
posted by sauril at 7:51 AM on April 8, 2004

My brother (who's much better than me at traditional chess) and I used to play Jetan a lot, many many years ago. Invented for the Edgar Rice Burroughs book The Chessmen of Mars. A fun variant. (I don't know if the Mars Rover found any evidence of Jetan pieces up there.)
posted by LeLiLo at 12:58 PM on April 8, 2004

I've long been a fan of, at least as far as reading about the variants. Playing is something different entirely. I think the more you play regular chess, the more those patterns become ingrained, and the more difficult it becomes to play variants.

But anyway, my favorite variant on there, just for the sheer style of the rules, is the Lovecraftian Nemeroth. It's also unusual in that the object is not checkmate, but rather stalemate (which is a draw in standard chess).
"Ah, but if you insist on playing, at least try to deprive your opponent of all legal moves. He who has no moves loses in all senses, while the other player at least manages to feel the taste of an evanescent and hollow victory."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:58 PM on April 8, 2004

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