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  • While posting this question, I stumbled on this list of variants from Wikipedia, which I must admit is totally awesome.

  • I know a few online servers allow a few variants, but am not aware of places where many variants players would gather, which would they be ?

  • Are there famous clubs for on the board variants play ?

  • Collections of fairy chess problems ?

  • This list of fairy pieces is not at all bad, but could use a few more easy-to-understand diagrams, and some art for representations.

  • I guess there's enough to say on this topic for books to be published on the subject ?

  • from your wikipedia fairy chess link, I went to nightrider, then to external links and found these problems, maybe the site have more puzzles using other pieces – ajax333221 Nov 18 '12 at 3:10
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    Since this is essentially a list question, where no single answer is likely to be complete, it should be Community Wiki. – David Richerby Jan 4 '15 at 12:37
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    lichess.org embodies a new realm of awesome, and supports Crazyhouse, Atomic, Suicide, Horde, King-of-the-Hill, Three-Checks, and more. – Nikana Reklawyks Oct 26 '16 at 21:57
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Apart from the main chess sites (lichess.org, chess.com), there are a number of other sites where variants can be played:

Pychess-variants: Based on lichess's source code and powered by Fairy-Stockfish. The list of supported variants is huge, including popular ones like S-Chess, Capablanca, and crazyhouse and 960 variants of these, as well as xiangqi, janggi, shogi, makruk, sittuyin, and even variants thereof. You can play against humans or challenge different levels of Fairy-Stockfish, which is the strongest available AI for many of the variants offered. The userbase is still growing (circa June 2020), but the most reliable method for now is to ask in the lobby or in the Pychess Discord server for a game.

vchess: Still under constant development, but offers a huge amount of western chess variants, including many not offered elsewhere. There are also options for normal, symmetrical or asymmetrical 960 starting positions for many variants. Best to make appointments with other variant enthusiasts to meet here and play.

PlayOK: An established site with a large userbase. Aside from the big regional variants of chess, xiangqi, makruk and shogi, also features many other board and card games. Many Asian players play xiangqi and makruk here.


As for chess variant communities, with the rise of new social apps and the appearance of variants on the major modern chess sites, the previously disparate communities started to coalesce and band together.

PyChess Players Discord: As previously mentioned, the Pychess site has an associated Discord. Channels for individual variants exist, as well as being the place to ask anyone online for games. The developers, translators, and other volunteers also hang out here. The community is still growing as the site improves and becomes more well known.

The House Discord: One of the largest (and strongest?) chess variant communities. A Discord server bringing together players of all strengths and many variants, principally those offered on lichess.org, chess.com, and Pychess. Many of the best players in the world in each variant hang out here (this is not hyperbole). These players have also created valuable resources to help others learn and improve in the variants. Definitely worth checking out if you're thinking of improving in a variant.

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  • Now that's a great answer, and definitely The House is great place to be. Thanks ! – Nikana Reklawyks Jun 10 at 14:11
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Unfortunately I don't know of a chess server where they play chess variants, (see update below) but I have a few other resources.

The program Winboard has several variants, including Shogi, Xiangqi, Shatranj and Atomic.

I also found a very cool blog, the guy there goes over a lot of chess and checker variants. Its pretty cool!
Here is a article he has about Fairy Chess.

There are also several books written on the subject including:

And the Encyclopedia of Chess Variants

Update
In my ramblings I ran accross this page, indicating that the ICC allows chess variants.
Quote:

ICC offers a number of chess variants.

I also found a book on Fairy Chess. Unfortunately it appears to be out of print.

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  • Actually, I'd go for Xboard, running on debian myself, but that's good to know, thanks. However, that seems to be merely support for variants, but as is, nothing powers the moves. Not that I'd like to play computers, but what engines would be available for such variants ? (without them, Xboard is really just a digital plank, isn't it ?) Nice books, +1. – Nikana Reklawyks Dec 15 '12 at 5:06
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    I'm not sure I exactly understand, but Xboard/Winboard does need an engine for you to play against (if thats what you want). The variants I mentioned come with Winboard but not Xboard.. it should work in WINE though. You don't need an engine to connect to a server. – Seth Dec 15 '12 at 16:15
  • I'm somehow reluctant to run with Wine a windows port of an X window-system GUI :D ❚ Yes, right now this lacks a server (or an engine, but rather a server) that plays variants. – Nikana Reklawyks Dec 15 '12 at 16:46
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    Yeah, i'm afraid the variant engines are only in Winboard. – Seth Dec 15 '12 at 17:43
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    The Fairy Chess book may be out of print, but used copies can be had for $8. – Tony Ennis Dec 17 '12 at 5:52
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I love playing chess variants. For playing live games, FICS supports the major chess variants: Suicide, Atomic, Losers, Crazyhouse and Upside-Down.

For playing correspondence games, I use both Scheming Mind and BrainKing. They each have the normal variants (above), as well as a few unique ones. The ones unique to Scheming Mind include Benedict Chess and Chicken Chess. The ones unique to BrainKing include Ice Age Chess and Cheshire Cat Chess.

These sites are free, for a limited number of games. There are ladders and tournaments, so you can play against other people who enjoy the same variants. You can find me there under my real name (I do not use a handle).

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I am surprised that no one yet mentioned http://www.chessvariants.com/ --- the most comprehensive web site on Chess variants I am aware of. They also support a play-by-mail server for many Chess variants.

The Chess variants offer there are range from Modest variants (which is probably close to the variants the original poster is looking for) to rather wild and deviating variant.

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  • While interesting, I consider what's on this site other games than chess, not variants of it. They're related to chess, and I describe them as e.g. chinese chess, but they are not what the question was after. – Nikana Reklawyks Sep 23 '14 at 8:11
  • @NikanaReklawyks While I agree that this answer doesn't address the questions specifically asked within the original post, it's definitely a chess variant resource (positing, for the moment, that the games listed at chessvariants.org qualify as variants of chess). – Charles Rockafellor Jun 22 '16 at 16:02
  • Stumbling again upon this site because of en.lichess.org/forum/general-chess-discussion/…. Indeed, their opinion is akin to mine that what's on this site is quite far from standard chess : "It could be that these variants typically deviate more from orthodox Chess than you care for, though. (E.g. Capablanca Chess with B+N and R+N compound pieces on a 10x8 board would be considered very close to orthodox Chess there.)" – Nikana Reklawyks Jan 4 '17 at 12:37
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    @NikanaReklawyks, maybe their "modest" variants are what you think of as chess variants? chessvariants.com/index/mainquery.php?category=Usual-Modest – Ben Reiniger Feb 6 '19 at 18:19
  • @NikanaReklawyks: Made an edit. – jk - Reinstate Monica Feb 7 '19 at 13:21
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As I have seen it, FICS seems to be the best place for variants. But number of people playing all variants vary. The following are supported on FICS-

Chess
BugHouse
CrazyHouse
Suicide
Atomic
FischerRandom
Losers
Wild 0 through Wild 8(a)
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  • What are the rules of Wild 0 to 8 ? – Nikana Reklawyks Jul 28 '14 at 18:33
  • Well its all kind of wild things. Like for example one of the wild's: Wild3: (Description taken from FICS): "In this variant the set of pieces is randomly chosen (subject to the constraint that there is one king of each color). It is quite possible to get more than the normal number of a given piece, such as three rooks or two queens. The pieces are placed on the first rank behind the pawns, the position of Black's pieces mirrors White's placement, and castling is not allowed." – Keshav Jul 29 '14 at 11:26
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You can play correspondence chess variants on the Apronus.com interactive chessboard by generating links to click which encode the board position and all the mvoes made.

For example a short game on an 8x5 board.

animated diagram http://www.apronus.com/chess/moviediagram.php?a=rnbqkbnrHppppppppH8HPPPPPPPPHRNBQKBNR_rnbqkbnrHppppppppH5N2HPPPPPPPPHRNBQKB1R_rnbqkbnrHpppppp1pH5p2HPPPPPPPPHRNBQKB1R_rnbqkbnrHpppppp1pH5P2HPPPPPP1PHRNBQKB1R_rnbqkbnrHpppp1p1pH5p2HPPPPPP1PHRNBQKB1R_rnbqkbnrHpppp1p1pH5P2HPPPP1P1PHRNBQKB1R_rnbqkb1rHpppp1p1pH5n2HPPPP1P1PHRNBQKB1R_rnbqkb1rHpppp1p1pH5n2HPPPPKP1PHRNBQ1B1R_rnb1kb1rHppppqp1pH5n2HPPPPKP1PHRNBQ1B1R&d=MRNBQ_B_RPPPPKP_P_____n__ppppqp_prnb_kb_r0&w=8&h=5/

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  • This is nice for board size, even though it doesn't support other pieces than the original chess ones. Could it handle atomic ? (i.e. removing e.g. 4 pieces at move 32) – Nikana Reklawyks Jul 28 '14 at 18:39
  • It accepts only legal chess moves so no animation can be made of atomic. – DrCapablasker Jul 29 '14 at 4:05
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Try Connect Score. The game combines Chess with Dots and Boxes. The game can be viewed at: http://connect-score.blogspot.ca/

Rick Nordal

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There's a training site on variants : https://chessvariants.training/

We support these variants: Antichess, Atomic chess, King of the Hill, Three-check, Horde chess and Racing Kings.

So more or less the set of variants supported on lichess. It's mostly puzzles about tactics, and some about endgames.

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  • As of today, there is not much material there. I was unable to find the rules for the Chess variants offered on the site. – jk - Reinstate Monica Nov 30 '16 at 10:03
  • The variants are those of lichess, the rules are on lichess, i.e. en.lichess.org/variant/antichess, en.lichess.org/variant/atomic, etc. – Nikana Reklawyks Dec 2 '16 at 16:24
  • Do they have links to lichess now? My first visit there was disappointing, I am not going to retry it. – jk - Reinstate Monica Dec 2 '16 at 16:32
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    @jknappen As the owner of said website, I can answer your concerns. Chess Variants Training is not necessarily a resource, it's a collection of puzzles/mini-games to train the variants. There is no variant explanation because the targetted user group knows the variant rules. Nevertheless your idea of "links to lichess variant explanations" is a good idea, I'll do this soon. If the "not much material" concern refers to the amount of puzzles, then the explanation is that your comment is written only two months after the launch of the website. – ProgramFOX Feb 19 '17 at 14:24

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