A chess variant is any game derived from or related to chess. In practice, a specific chess variant may be similar to chess or radically different. The broad definition of chess variants is so universal, it may include nearly any abstract battle or war game played upon a board.
To experts of chess variants, chess, shogi, xiangqi and other chess-related games of great popularity are merely special cases in a theoretically unlimited universe of possible arrangements involving boards, pieces, rules, and so on. To date, several hundred chess variants have been catalogued. With the recent invention in 1998 of a computer program which enables non-experts to quickly design and playtest chess variants using an AI opponent, the total number has been increasing constantly and rapidly. This growth is likely to continue for years.
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Games played with material disadvantage
Fantasy variants make significant changes to normal chess rules. Other terms for fantasy chess variants include heterodox chess and fairy chess. Some of these variants use pieces not found in orthodox chess, such as Berolina pawns (pawns which move diagonally and capture straight forward); such pieces are collectively called fairy pieces.
Advanced Chess: the players are allowed to consult a computer. See also Computer Chess
Alice Chess: played with two boards. A piece moved on one board passes "through the looking glass" onto the other board.
Atomic Chess: any capture on a square results in an "atomic explosion" which kills (i.e. removes from the game) all pieces in any of the 8 surrounding squares, except for pawns.
Avalanche Chess: each player moves an opponent's pawn after their move.
Baroque Chess: (a.k.a. Ultima) the pieces all move like queens but have various capturing methods.
Bughouse Chess: (a.k.a. Tandem Chess, Siamese Chess) two teams of two players face each other on two boards.
Capablanca Chess: a 10x8 board.
Circe Chess: captured pieces are reborn on their starting sqaures.
Double and Triple Move Chess: each player moves twice or thrice per turn.
Fischer Random Chess: the placement of the pieces on the 1st and 8th rank is randomized to enhance the adaptability of chess players.
Grid Chess: the board is overlaid with a grid of lines; for a move to be legal, it must cross at least one of these lines.
Kriegspiel: each player does not know where the opponent's pieces are but can deduce them with information from a referee.
Madrasi chess: a piece which is attacked by the same type of piece of the opposite colour is paralysed.
Martian Chess: played with Icehouse pieces
Omega Chess: a 10x10 board with an extra square dangling off each of the four corners and two new types of chess piece.
Patrol chess: captures and checks are only possible if the capturing or checking piece is guarded by a friendly piece.
Progressive Chess: the first player moves once, the second moves twice, the first moves three times, etc.
Suicide Chess: (a.k.a. Giveaway Chess, Take Me Chess, Losers Chess, Anti-Chess) capturing moves are mandatory and the object is to lose all pieces.
Three-Dimensional Chess: several variants exist, with the most popular being a version from the television series Star Trek.
These games have developed independently from chess by unrelated origins. Nonetheless, they are definable as chess variants. The popularity of these chess variants is often limited to their respective places of origin.