Chess.com is pleased to announce that you can now play three exciting chess variants on our website: Duck Chess, Seirawan Chess, and Setup Chess. Head over to our Variants page to try these and other chess variants now!
Chess variants give players the chance to enjoy chess in new ways. These variants will give chess lovers the thrill of playing a different game while having that good familiar feeling we get when playing chess.
Are you curious to know more about these variants? Here’s a summary of what you need to know:
Don’t be surprised if you come across a rubber duck on your timeline these days. Duck Chess, invented in 2016 by Dr. Tim Paulden, has recently gone viral and generated a lot of buzz. Popular streamers like GM Hikaru Nakamura, IM Eric Rosen, IM Levy Rozman, and WFM Anna Cramling are only a few of the content creators who have played it on stream.
This variant follows almost all regular chess rules, with two differences: first, there are no checks or checkmates—players must capture the king to win. Second (and most importantly), this variant introduces a dynamic element to the mix: a rubber duck that blocks one square per move. Both players have to move the duck around the board after they make their move.
“This is so mind-bending. The duck adds a whole new layer of complexity,” Rosen said during one of his streams. Indeed, the rubber duck opens up the possibility of a new plethora of tactics (or “quacktics,” as some community members are calling them) by stopping recaptures, releasing pins, trapping pieces, and more! With wild games and a new world of tactics at a player’s disposal, it’s no wonder this variant has won over the hearts of all who’ve played it.
This is so mind-bending. The duck adds a whole new layer of complexity.
— IM Eric Rosen
Do you think you can handle all the new quacktics that Duck Chess offers? Click the button below to play a game and find out! And if you enjoy the game, consider supporting its creator here.
Lamenting the increasing number of draws and decreasing number of new ideas in chess, GM Yasser Seirawan proposed a new variant. Inspired by Capablanca Chess, he introduced two new pieces to the game: the elephant and the hawk.
The elephant combines the movement of the knight and the rook. The hawk flies across the board using the combined moves of the knight and bishop. However, Seirawan’s real innovation lies in how these pieces come into play.
Unlike Capablanca Chess, the game happens on a regular 8×8 chessboard instead of an enlarged 10×8 board. Players begin the game with the elephant and hawk set aside and can place them on the board when they develop one of the regular pieces. As the regular piece leaves its initial square, the player can place either the elephant or the hawk on it.
According to Seirawan, his variant preserves the harmony of chess while adding many new ideas to the game, thanks to the incredible power of the two new pieces. Yasser even gives some interesting examples to demonstrate the new tactics that arise with the two extra pieces.
Below you can see a forced checkmate with just a hawk and a king against a king and rook. Watch as the hawk hops to alternate between light and dark squares to win the rook and then deliver the final blow in only six moves.
Seirawan also demonstrates another forced win against a king and rook, this time with the mighty elephant:
Below you can see an old video of Seirawan himself talking about his chess variant:
Looking forward to trying out these two new pieces? Click the button below to play a game of Seirawan Chess!
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you could set up the chessboard your own way? That’s exactly what you can do in Setup chess—in this variant, the action starts before the very first move.
Players start the game with 39 material points each. They take turns setting up the initial position of their pieces, spending their material points in any way they want. Would you like to play with a regular set of pieces, or would you prefer to have extra pawns and knights? Do as you please with Setup Chess!
Players can place pawns on their second and third ranks and all the other pieces on their first three ranks. After both players have spent their points, they play the game normally.
Do you want to put your setup to the test? Click the button below to play this interesting variant!
Head over to our Variants page and try these and other variants now!