I introduced my Chess Club (comprising of eleven-year-olds) to several variants of chess.
The children instantly broke up into three groups of 4 and started playing Bughouse chess.
That’s chess where if you take an opponent’s piece, you can pass it to your teammate to play as a reinforcement in their game.
I need pieces! Give me pieces!repeatedly overheard during the club
The next day’s club, with different kids, was not so uniform.
- One pair played Horde Chess, where a full set of black pieces faced off against 36 white pawns
- Another played Alice chess, with two boards next to each other. Pieces teleport between boards after every move
- They then played Atomic chess, where all the pieces explode when taken.
They two kids asked me if they were allowed to combine Atomic chess with Alice chess.
It’s a little sad that they felt the need to ask permission, but the answer was
Absolutely! That sounds amazing!
And it was amazing.
Every so often they had some rules question about the new interactions, and I mostly gave them two possible options and allowed them to choose the more fun ruling.
Chess with mods
And then there were these two boys.
I noticed they each had a bishop stacked on top of a castle on their board.
They told me the piece had to alternately move like a bishop and then alike a castle on each of its turns.
Their knights were atomic and would blow up.
They decided the king could do castling any time it was in a line with a castle.
These two boys got it. I mean really got it.
Each new game they played had new and different rules that they made up without hesitation.
For once the games weren’t simultaneous attempts at an early scholar’s mate.
Relating this to ttrpgs
In tabletop roleplaying-games, (in my experience) most groups house-rule as a matter of course.
It’s nice to be reminded that tinkering with gameplay doesn’t have to make a thing more balanced, or pure, or focused.
It just has to make it more fun.
My previous posts about kids-at-play
Shut Up and Sit Down’s video on chess variants.
Wikipedia article called List of chess variants