Types of Chess Variants and How to Play Them

Chess is a classic game that has found its place from ancient mythology to history, till the present day. With time, many alternatives to this game have developed. So much so that we now have various types of chess variants available online. You can play chess online on your PC or your mobile. Some types are very similar to traditional chess, while others differ.

Some of these games are played as side events at online or offline traditional chess tournaments.

So, ready to play chess?

Also Read: Who Invented Chess?

chess online game

Why should you play different types of chess?

Playing chess variants gives players a chance to come out of their comfort zone and give their brains a churn. When they try different chess variants, the players come up with new strategies and ways of challenging opponents.

Various chess variants are Bughouse, Four Way Chess, King of the hill, 3 Check Chess, etc.

Whatever type of chess game you want to play, make a note of the following:

1) You cannot capture the King

2) You have to parry a check with your next move.

Added Read: How to Get Better at Chess

Types of chess variants

To be familiar with the game’s nuances, you no longer need to sit with a chessboard. All you need is a mobile phone or a PC. Yes! You can try these online chess variants and get to know them better!

Bughouse Chess

Bughouse Chess is among the most popular chess variants, especially among younger players. In this game, two teams of two players face each other on two different chess boards. One player takes the white pieces on each team, while the other takes black. The game plays out like standard chess, except when a player captures the pieces or the piece, he passes it to his partner. He makes a standard chess move or places a captured piece on the board on a player’s turn.

The first checkmate of either team decides the winner.


Crazyhouse is similar to Bughouse Chess, the difference being that instead of playing with four players, we need two players. You play like regular chess, but when you capture one of the pieces, it allows a player to place the same piece of his color on the board later, like Bughouse.

Crazyhouse is an enjoyable and well-known social type of chess. It also encourages players to bring more varieties of the pieces. Crazyhouse stresses the importance of King’s safety. It becomes difficult for the opponents to defeat if you surround your King with defenders.

King of the Hill

This is the game where you have to get the King to one of the pieces to the central squares of the board. The term is also known as “top of the hill.” King of the Hill, or KOTH as it is known, is a popular game where dominating the center of the board is essential.

The game ends with the same traditional ways and methods- checkmate, stalemate, and time-out.

The other way the game ends is when you get the King to one of the central squares, namely e4, d4, e5, and d5. These are commonly known as “top of the hill” squares. You win the game immediately, either for White or Black. The goal is to get the central squares, regardless of the position.

Also Read: How to Become a Chess Grandmaster

3 Check Chess

Another popular variant in the chess world, 3 Check, is quite similar to regular chess, with an added rule. Here, you can win a chess game by checking your opponent’s King three times along with regular rules for winning a match.

Chess 960 (Fischer Random)

Fischer Random or Chess 960 is also a type where you can apply normal chess rules, except that in a game of Chess 960, there are 960 unique starting positions.

The two bishop pieces can move to the squares of opposite colors.

Even the castling rules of chess apply here; however, the starting position of kings and rooks might differ. When castling moves to g1 (g8) and the rook to f1(f8), just like castling kingside in standard chess. The king moves to c1(c8) and the rook to d1(d8) when castling queenside, like queenside in standard chess.

This kind of chess is a variant designed to eliminate opening preparation without fundamentally changing the game. Once that is sorted, it plays out like a regular chess game.

Rules of playing Chess 960:

  • Like in a normal game, pawns are placed along with the second rank.
  • The black position always copies the white position, and each side must have a bishop of each color.
  • The Kings are always placed between the rooks.

With those rules in mind, there are 960 possible starting positions in chess, to begin with. This can be determined by dice as well.

Atomic Chess

Another online chess variant you can play now is Atomic Chess. Here, the chess pieces can meet a deadlier outcome than the standard chess. The captured pieces are not just removed from the board; the captured pieces are also killed.

Other than the pawns, every piece within a one-square radius “explode” and is removed from the board. The winner is the first person who can explode the opponent’s King.

Four Player Chess

This type of chess variant is played with four people simultaneously. This game is often played online and is also considered the most popular type. Since this game is played with four players, it simply quadruples the fun. A healthy competitive spirit exists too. The game also teaches patience, as you have to wait for three turns before you get to play. You can play this online chess game on multiple platforms.

The four-way chess variant is played on a special board, where four players start the game. The game continues in a clockwise direction. You cannot partner with any of the four players. Everyone has to play individually. The winner is declared when the player checkmates any of the other three kings.

Useful Read: Difference Between Tactical & Positional Chess

In Conclusion

There you go! Now that you know the different ways and varieties, you can use a chess set and try each type. Maybe you can find a favorite from this list! You might take a breather and try these chess variants rather than the classic version. They are a great way to exercise your brain and enjoy a fun game with friends and family.

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