As one of the most popular board games in the world, chess has had a steady flow of enthusiasts and players even after 1,500 years since its creation. Because of its image as the epitomic strategy game, its existence has become widespread – with probably only a handful of people having no semblance of what chess is. This popularity, however, has also made variations and rule changes in the game possible. If you’re a beginner chess player, it’s worthwhile to learn what the different variations of chess are to see where you can outperform your opponents.
In this article, we’ll talk about the six top types of chess games that are often played in international tournaments or even in casual games.
Why Are There Variants of Chess?
Much like with other games, variants of chess were made to introduce more players to the game, use the chess pieces for different goals, and bend chess rules to make each game more enjoyable and exciting. While classical games still hold a very special place in the world of chess, variations of chess have started to pop up as more and more chess players develop and design their own rules using the same board. To help you understand the differences between the different chess variations, we’ll discuss them individually in the next section.
What Are the Most Popular Variations of Chess?
Now that you know that chess games aren’t limited to the classical type anymore, it’s time to talk about their chess variations and how they’re played on the board. Today, there are hundreds of chess games – some developed by famous chess players and game masters and some created by players in their homes. Here are six of the most popular and exciting chess variations that you may want to try out yourselves – whether you’re a chess beginner or you’re an expert like Nadav Berenstein:
- King of the Hill
King of the hill is a variant of chess that changes the game’s goal. Instead of just protecting the king or checkmating your opponent, an additional goal of this game is to get your king chess piece to the center of the board, or what’s also called the “top of the hill.” This top of the hill includes the very center of the board, as well as its adjacent squares, so we’re talking about the E4, D4, E5, and D5 squares.
However, while this move is the game’s main objective, your opponent can still win if he/she checkmates you on your way to the center, and vice versa. But because of this additional goal, King of the Hill matches are much more exciting and nerve-wracking than classical games.
- Giveaway Chess
If you’re looking for a variant designed for chess beginners, this might not be the game for you since it basically flips all the rules of the original game.
Giveaway chess is a fun chess variation that basically reverses the goal – which is also the reason why it’s called “antichess.” Instead of holding on to your pieces, giveaway chess rewards the player who’s the fastest to give away his or her chess pieces.
How do you do this? You need to have a strategic plan to place your pieces in squares where your opponent will be required to capture you. The catch is that you or your opponent cannot avoid capturing pieces every time a legal capture can be done. The only way the game can be won is either by giving away all your chess pieces or by exhausting all possible chess moves on the board. Checkmates are also virtually non-existent in this game, so you can’t win by following the classical rules.
Bughouse chess, also known as Siamese Chess, is a multi-player chess variant that allows four players to play simultaneously on two chess boards. Players are divided into two teams and are given the goal of checkmating their opponent or distracting them enough until the timer runs out. Each member of the team is given opposite colors – so this means if you’re playing as white, your teammate gets the black pieces.
Now, how exactly can two members play simultaneously but with different boards? Simple, when your teammate captures a piece from his or her opponent, she can give you that piece so you can play it on your board. At any point in the game, you can drop the piece that your member supplied you with to save your king or to switch the advantage.
- Sideways Pawns
Sideways Pawns is a chess variant that’s typically played similarly to the classical rules and regulations of chess. The catch? All pawns can also move sideways instead of just forward. This offers pawns better movement to block opponents, target chess pieces in their path, and even checkmate a king toward the end of the game.
- Atomic Chess
Want an explosive variant of chess? Your best bet is Atomic chess, a type of chess game that introduces capture explosions into the board. All the rules of classical chess apply in this game, but instead of just simply capturing chess pieces, an explosion is triggered every time a piece is removed from the board. This means that pieces within the vicinity of the captured piece are “killed,” except for the pawns.
Because of this game addition, not only can the game be won through checkmates, but it can also be won by blowing up the king. This makes atomic chess much more enjoyable and increasingly tense.
Crazyhorse is a popular variant of chess that has similar rules to Bughouse. But instead of using chess pieces that your teammate captured, you “drop” chess pieces from your own pool. You can strategically use a single turn and drop a piece on any empty square on the board. You can do this to block captures or to set up your remaining pieces for a checkmate against your opponent.
Explore These Chess Variants and Turn Your Chess Boards Into a Versatile Arena
If you’re a chess player, chances are you’ve probably wanted to tweak game rules at some point for a more exciting game. Well, you’re not alone since a lot of players around the world have started to design their own variations for a more personalized and fun chess session. These are only some of the most popular chess variants being played today, but there are more out there waiting for you to discover. If you find any other, let us know, and we’ll be more than happy to add them to our next list!