Being successful in your learning of chess, or anything for that matter, relies a lot on how much fun you’re having. You need to keep yourself engaged long enough to build those learning habits that will drive your success. There are a ton of things to learn in chess, and no shortage of concepts to keep you engaged, but sometimes we all need a fresh look at the board. Picking up a chess variant for a game can not only keep things fresh, but if you’re struggling with a chess concept, choosing the right variant can mean seeing the problem from another perspective. Here are a few of our favorite chess variants for you to try.
The Undercover Queen
This variant really does get the blood pumping! It’s great to have a little fun or to help your awareness of the board. In this chess variant, each player chooses a pawn that acts as a second queen. This pawn can move like a pawn of course, but also can move as a queen. There’s a tonne of intensity in trying to figure out which pawn of your opponents is their second queen. You also have to be much more in tune with your opponents though process. Uncovering that second queen becomes a game of watching pawn movements, and trying to understand your opponents motivations.
Bughouse is a variant that works well for chess clubs and group learning. It’s a great tool to get people engaged with each other, build a fun rapport, and get into the habit of analyzing each other’s games. In this chess variant, we have four players and two chess boards. We start by playing two normal games of chess, however the player playing Black on one board, is on a team with the person playing White on the other. When one player takes their opponent’s piece, that piece is then given to their partner to put on their board at their discretion. This is a great tool to break down walls and make chess a bit more of a collaborative learning experience. You can find the complete rules to Bughouse here.
Once the basics of chess have been understood, 3-Check is a great chess variant for players. We find that once one’s King is in a safe position, new players often forget about reevaluating their King’s safety. Usually, it’s a “check!” that gets people refocused on their king, and that’s a bit late for our liking. 3-Check is a variant that introduces a new win condition – putting your opponent in check on 3 separate turns. This is a really fun way to help students to keep thinking about their King.
Chess variants are a great way to teach concepts and keep your learning fun! If you’re serious about having fun with chess, and getting better fast, join one of our many learning opportunities! We have excellent private and group lessons, and we also run school chess clubs. Get in touch with us here.