More chess with kids – Chess with Mods

I previously made a post about introducing kids in my chess club to chess variants. The more enterprising kids called it Chess with Mods and promptly started hacking the game with different versions.

They didn’t stop there. Here are some more variants of chess that the kids made up.

Train Chess

Train Chess is played exactly like a normal game of chess, except that every 8 turns, a train steams through the middle two rows and destroys any pieces in those spaces. Normally the center four spaces are heavily fought over, but in this variant, you don’t want your pieces hanging around there.

Often players move pieces to the middle rows expecting that they can move them out before the train comes. Then the opponent pins their pieces there or wastes turns with easy-to-deal-with checks, until the pieces in the middle die.

If your king is hit by the train, you lose.

It sounds like a really dumb variant, and it is, but its also good fun and worth a try.

Double Chess

In Double Chess you set up two boards end to end, and set the pieces up at as normal at opposite ends. Now there are lots of spaces between each army, which inflates the value of the queen, bishop and rook, whilst decreasing the value of the other pieces. To rebalance the game, pawns can double move for their first turn and their second turn. Pawns also promote when they get to the end of their board, ie half way to the opposing army. Additionally, queens, bishops and rooks all have to stop their movement after crossing the seam between two boards. Knights are weaker than usual, and end up just being defensive pieces, or protecting pawns as they advance.

Double HP Chess

Set up the board as usual, except on each space, place two pieces instead of one. Each piece now has two HP, as represented by the second piece.

This game was an interesting experiment but it didn’t really work as intended. It becomes quite impossible to snipe pieces and everything becomes a bit of a meatgrinder. Unlike the other variants here, Double HP Chess didn’t get any repeat play.

Not every experiment works, but negative results are still results.

Alt Text: a chessboard set up with two pieces on each space

Double Train Chess

Combine Train Chess with Double Chess. Those important middle two rows where pawns upgrade and rooks, queens and bishops have to pause becomes very dangerous due to the train.

Battleship Chess

Not a variant that the kids invented, but one that became quite popular. Two players play back to back with a judge administering the game. Like in Battleship, players can only see their pieces and have to guess where the opponent’s pieces are. It’s often easy to know where pieces are, as they take your pieces, but hard to figure out what pieces they are. I never played this variant, but the players all found it to be very stressful and intense.

Black’s view in a game of Battleship Chess

Black pieces on a board with a few white pieces captured off the the side

And the opponent’s view.

Key Lessons

  • Sometimes the new rules didn’t work, but fun was had trying them out regardless
  • You can increase the longevity of a game by a lot with a little elbow grease
  • Nobody ever asked why there was a train steaming through the battlefield at regular intervals, they just accepted it because it was neat.

Further Reading

My previous posts about kids-at-play

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