FIDE Chess variants
Calvin Daniels
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When it comes to Western Chess there are literally hundreds of variants out there

So which ones are the best options, and why?

Add away, but please include reasons why you recommend the variant.
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1. Board Game: Omega Chess [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:7714]
Calvin Daniels
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The addition of Champion and Wizard pieces adds a lot to chess, and the 10X10 board allows room to utilize the new pieces.

The best variant I have played.

The Champion can move one square orthogonally, forward, backward or to either side. Or the Champion can jump two squares forward or backward or to either side, or jump two squares diagonally in all four directions. The Champion can jump over pieces and it can control up to twelve squares.


The Wizard can move one square diagonally in all four directions. Or, like an exaggerated Knight move, the Wizard can jump three squares horizontally or vertically and then one square to either side. The Wizard is bound to the color of its starting square. The Wizard can jump over pieces to also control up to twelve squares
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2. Board Game: Courier Chess [Average Rating:6.44 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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Love the old chess variant from the Middle Ages.

The limitations in piece movement on a 12X8 board are fun to explore.


From chessvariants.com

"The king, rook, and knight move as in the orthodox chess game.
The courier moves as the modern bishop.

The bishop (in courier chess) jumps two squares diagonally, so like the elephant in Shatranj (which undoubtly also is the origin of this type of move.)

The queen moves one square diagonally.

The man moves one square in an arbitrary direction, so like the king (but without being hindered by check etc.)

The schleich moves one square horizontally or vertically."
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3. Board Game: Rennaissance Chess [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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A big board variant created in 1980 which uses a variety of combined traditional pieces (rook/knight, bishop/knight). A definite arms build up variant that gives you tons of power pieces to explore.
 
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4. Board Game: Ultima [Average Rating:6.82 Unranked]
Billy McBoatface
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
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This is the only chess variant that ever interested me enough to play it more that once. It's a crazy game; pawns move like rooks, all other non-king pieces move like queens, but only the King captures by landing on an enemy piece - all the others have crazy capture systems that turn chess into a bizarre, chaos-filled (but still luck-free) game. Nice for comedic value if nothing else.

Edit: Note that the image is wrong. Ultima is played with a normal chess set. The lettered pieces with diagrams on the opposite side that you see in the picture are not used it Ultima.
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5. Board Game: The Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
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I have a copy of the 2nd edition of this and the plethora of chess variants is simply staggering.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes chess and likes browsing through encyclopedias/dictionaries.
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6. Board Game: Chess 960 [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:5180]
Paul McKinney
United States
Houston
Texas
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I once played a lot of chess a long time ago but gave it up due to the un-fun amount of study that began to be required to learn openings. For me Chess960 seems to provide the promise of playing what I consider close to "regular" chess, without all the opening book study. I have not actively gone looking to play the game yet but when I find some free time from playing the other board games that I enjoy I may take a look at playing chess, using this variant, again.
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7. Board Game: Global Chess [Average Rating:6.22 Unranked]
Raul Catalano
Italy
Pordenone
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I generally dont' like chess variants (in most cases they just put some new arbitrary pieces with different movements of capture rules), but "Global Chess" IMO is a solid and very deep game.
It takes all the rules and board of classic Chess (even the starting position is exactly the same, on the opposite poles), but on a new - and interesting! - level of complexity. .
The board mechanic is really smart (two round boards connected and rotating), as it fully succeeds to show the position and movement of the pieces on a normal chessboard wrapped as a sphere. Great brainburning and great fun.
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8. Board Game: Chess Variations Ancient, Regional, and Modern [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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MURRUMBEENA
Victoria
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We also played a Pocket Knight tournament. In this version the pieces are set-up and move normally. Each player is given an extra knight which they put in a pocket. Once during the game the player can forgo a normal move to place this knight anywhere on the board (King-Queen forks abound). This was the least popular of the chess variations we tried.

-R
 
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9. Board Game: Bughouse Chess [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:2549]
Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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Chess for four; managed to get us hooked for a whole evening when there were two chess sets to hand. Essential to play speed-style; I would suggest a maximum of 30 seconds per move. We also played that new pieces could only be dropped on your back two ranks and that they couldn't give immediate check. It worked very well.
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10. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:421] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Murray C
Canada
Vancouver
British Colombia
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Laser Chess

I've only played this variant on the computer but I'd imagine that it wouldn't be *that* hard to create a physical set.

Essentially, all the pawns and pieces are either some kind of prism or mirror while the King itself is a laser pointer. Every piece retains its normal moveset but, prior to moving a piece, you can elect to rotate it (but you can only rotate the piece that you are moving that turn).

Additionally, instead of moving a piece, you can fire the laser from the King and anything it hits, that doesn't diffuse or deflect the light in some way, is captured.

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11. Board Game: Seirawan-Harper's Chess [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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this looks like an interesting addition to chess
 
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12. Board Game: Shuuro [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:5383]
Robert Bracey
United Kingdom
London
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This one I don't really rate. Essentially you get to 'buy' your own army in a procedure analogous to a miniatures wargame. The pieces are rated 1-4-7-11 (instead of the conventional 1-3-5-9) which means pawns are radically under-priced by comparison to their normal exchange value. This is despite the fact that there are unequal numbers in the game and pawns can promote to pieces you never possessed. Anyone interested in winning will play a long drawn out game.

The designer does do quite well showing it in a reduced 6 by 6 board version at shows, and in that version it does work as an interesting little chess puzzle.
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13. Board Game: Tile Chess [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:6540]
Robert Bracey
United Kingdom
London
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This on the other hand I think is a cracking game. At some point I want to make up a set using fantasy figures because it is rather let down by the production values.

Essentially the pieces make up the board so must remain contiguous at all times but they can move as if an invisible grid existed. This, combined with the multi-player element helps to disrupt the normal rules of chess. Most of what you know is replace by 'traps', these are moving away from an enemy piece so that it is left as the only link holding the board together and thus unable to move. If you can arrange to be at the end of a long arm of enemy pieces so arranged you can litterally gobble them up from the outside.

Different enought to be challenging, close enough to still be chess.
 
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14. Board Game: Opulent Lemurian Shatranj [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Joe Joyce
United States
Yonkers
New York
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"Opulent Lemurian Shatranj is a 10x10 chess variant with a unique mix of pieces. The king, rook, knight, and pawn are common to chess and shatranj. The hero and shaman are short range pieces easily as powerful as the rook on a 10x10. These two inclusive compound pieces may step one and/or jump 2 squares, either or both, in either order, changing direction between step and leap if desired, with the hero moving orthogonally and the shaman diagonally. The final piece in the game is a war elephant, the equivalent of an unchained padwar from Jetan, a piece that may move 1 or 2 squares diagonally, changing direction if desired between the first and second steps. This combination of strong and weak pieces, of different ranges and abilities, provides a strategically and tactically rich game. The opposed pairs of hero vs rook and shaman vs war elephant provide the best series of checks and balances between pieces in a chess variant I have ever seen. The piece balance and variety are awesome."
 
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15. Board Game: Dimension X [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Joe Joyce
United States
Yonkers
New York
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Step back into the 1950's and the days of black and white television, featuring sci-fi thrillers that fired the imagination of many a child. The intrusion of the absolutely outrageous into the utterly normal was a theme played out over and over in those shows. Dimension X brings this into chess.

In concept and emotional feel, it's very much chess in the Twilight Zone. As for game feel, that's chess meets Ultima, heavy on the chess, and very nicely done. This is one of many excellent games that show a little tiny piece of the true range of chess.
 
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16. Board Game: Spartan Chess [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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This looks amazing
 
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17. Board Game: Kings Court [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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More a Courier Chess variant, but one to look at
 
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