I occasionally think it might be fun to play a chess variant that is exactly the same as regular chess, except that it is permitted to capture your own pieces as well as your opponent's pieces - so, for example, if your king was alone on the back rank with some pawns in front of it, and your opponent moved a rook or queen to the back rank and that attacking piece could not be legally captured (which would be checkmate in normal chess), it might be possible in such a variant to escape checkmate if the king could "capture" one of it's own pawns in front of it. In the way I imagine this variant, "friendly" pieces captured in this way would be removed from play permanently, just as an opponent's piece would be - so (in this example), you've jettisoned some of your own material (which is now gone for good), but at least you were able to save yourself from checkmate...

I can imagine other scenarios where it might also be useful to give up some of your own material by "capturing" it like this, in support of the greater good....

Is this a known chess variant, does it have a name that people might recognize? I've tried searching around and haven't been able to locate any discussions of a variant like this - but I can't be the first person to think about this.

Just as full disclosure, the only variant I really know anything about is bughouse, I'm not familiar with other variants, so I'm not sure I'm even Google searching for the right words...

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    @edwinaoliver Why would you think that any chess variant would be useful or fun? It just adds another (interesting) tactical element.
    – Stanley F.
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 14:13
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    @edwinaoliver Some people play to have fun, full stop. There's no need to be elitist or dismissive towards such an attitude. Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 18:06
  • Not either. I play real chess for fun. Others play checkers or tiddlywinks or whatever game they find fun. Isnt it great we are all free to choose what games we want to play and not be told what we have to do by some supreme authority. Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 19:08
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    @edwinaoliver - I personally find this concept interesting because it adds an additional element of balancing advantages with disadvantages to the game. Of course, classical chess has opportunities for that already, but it's another element of "this is what I can accomplish, but this is what it will cost me - is it worth doing?" to be considered. I find that interesting.
    – patbarron
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 2:37
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    You know of Bughouse chess but not of Fischer random chess and Four-man chess? There are a lot of variants out there and some of them are played fairly actively.
    – Mast
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 19:53

6 Answers 6


In German, we would call this "Schlagschach". The German Wikipedia translates this to "Capturechess".

However, I could not find an English resource that describes this variant. But there is a thread on chess.com where someone asked about the exact same thing.

Edit: Thanks to @bitchaser who dug that thread more thoroughly and found a link to another page that calls this variant "Self-Eliminator", which states:

John Gallicano and Steve Mann invented this variant in 1997.

There is also a Java applet on that page, which is not easy to use nowadays, since for security reasons, modern browsers just don't support Java applets anymore.

I hope, this is not too off-topic for Chess.SE, but for those of you, who are interested, here follows a short instruction on how to run the game, nonetheless:

The applet should pop up and show you the game screen:

applet screenshot

  • 2
    Post #38 of that thread links to chessvariants.com/difftaking.dir/selfeliminator.html which claims it was invented in 1997. The site also has a page where you can supposedly play it in a Java app. I'll leave this for you to write up if you wish.
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 5:11
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    hm I learned a more aggressive term "Fress-Schach" - but still it only allows opponents figures to be eaten
    – eagle275
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 9:33
  • @bitchaser Make your comment an answer, it should be visible and upvoteable Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 10:47
  • @bitchaser - if you make your comment an independent answer, I'll upvote and accept it, as it's the most direct answer to the question so far.
    – patbarron
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 23:10
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    @patbarron I preferred to leave it as a comment, assuming Stanley or someone else could write a better answer. I didn't attempt to get the Java to work. If you get it working, you can probably write a much higher quality answer than I would.
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 4:22

Browsing the "modest variants" at chessvariants.com, I found Option Suicide Chess by A. Black as the closest match. Besides self-capture it allows also captureless removal of own pieces and even self-capture with removal of the own capturing piece.


There are several such chess variants. One is "free capture chess" which is almost the same as "bicapture" (only different in the way to check the own king). In german the first one is called "Reformschach". For the german definition see https://www.dieschwalbe.de/lexikon.htm

All this kind of funny variations are used in chess problems. Actually I know only one problem using free capture chess, see https://pdb.dieschwalbe.de/P1317666


There is a variant called 'Recycle Chess' which allows that.
You can play it at brainking: https://brainking.com/en/GameRules?tp=98; it's actually a lot of fun.


A recent paper investigating how chess variants change the game calls this variant simply self-capture chess. This paper used neural-network AIs to play through many games to find patterns of play. According to the paper's authors, they found that self-captures happened not infrequently and in some interesting ways.

Self-capture moves can be used to open files and squares for the pieces in the attack; opening up a blockade by sacrificing a pawn in the pawn chain; or in defence, while escaping the mating net.


On chess.com it is called Any-Capture on the varients page Just go to Custom on Most Popular then Custom Rules and turn Any-Capture on or use this link https://www.chess.com/variants/capture-anything

  • +1 The name of the variant is given as Capture Anything. When making a custom chess variast, the rule 'you can capture anything' is written as 'Any Capture'. Commented Jul 1, 2023 at 9:44

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