Chess variants you’ve never heard of

19 July 2022. It’s 40 degrees celsius. I feel like a slime made of sweat.


In the game chess, there are about as many variants as there are grains of sand in an hourglass capable of containing a few thousand grains. Some of the more popular ones are, king of the hill in which you must maneuver your king into one of the four central squares, and crazyhouse in which captured pieces can be placed anywhere on the board, but allow me to show you some of the more eccentric ones today.

This variant is called upside-down chess. You might think you’re seeing a standard chess board but take a closer look. It’s white’s turn to move and he can only make one type of move. A knight move. That’s because all his pawns are all one square away from promotion. If I move my knight I can advance my pawn into any piece I wish but instead I’ll do something a little trickier. I’m going to mate my opponent in just three moves. Boom. A smothered mate.

Because his pawns are facing the opposite direction I can easily win a match against the strongest form of chess AI known as Stockfish 1. This would be an impossible task for a human playing by standard rules.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

This is a poem regarding a military conflict in which British cavalry were sent on a frontal assault towards an artillery battery. The horseriders would be well remembered in history as this action was known as the Charge of the Light Brigade. They were called the Light Brigade because they would subsequently be lit up by heavy gunfire and be forced to retreat.

Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

This chess variant also coincidentally shares a name with the aforementioned event. Seven knights face off against three queens. As you can see this is quite a complex and difficult position to play from both sides. The queens must constantly worry about which square is safe while trying to mount an attack that’s hindered by their own pawns. The knights don’t have to worry about anything since they can just hop on over their pawns and make their way to mating the king.

The Peasants’ Revolt was an uprising largely led by Wat Tyler in opposition to the fourteen year old King Richard who instated a poll tax on the already irritated peasants. The king at that time was also notorious for inting on League. Frequently using his royal status and connections with Riotonmius Gamesicus to avert penal consequences. As apology to the people for His Majesty’s crimes the cardinal cleric and archbishop John Ball created a new chess variant called The Peasants’ Revolt.

I don’t know why this peasant isn’t revolting but perhaps he’s just a contrarian. The poor pawns slowly and steadily advance while the noble knights try to pick off the more vulnerable ones, destroying their bodies so they can remind the peasants- I mean pawns where their place in society really is.

François Antoine de Legall de Kermeur is currently the undisputed World Chess Champion after Ian Nepomniachtchi performed a necromatic ritual to raise him from the dead. Magnus is rumoured to have quickly abdicated his title to him upon witnessing his immense Reiatsu. Although he has been reduced to merely bones he still retains his vast knowledge of chess despite having no brain to store it in. Sadly, he can only speak French so no one can understand him.

He created the sixteen pawn variation which has white down a queen but as compensation he has extra pawns with which he can mount an offense. This variation was widely regarded as dogsht so no one played it.

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