5

Chess 960 popularised by Fischer could be useful to teach opening principles (mainly because the players has to think about development consciously). LaPingvino asked "What other games or chess variants are useful to improve your chess skills?" (by the way, its current answers include blindfold chess and Japanese chess).

I am interested in exercises and games that are useful to teach chess. This is beyond the scope of LaPingvino's question since exercises are included. There are exercises and games already used to teach chess especially to complete beginers, such as maze and capture the stars (e.g. lichess). Feel free to include exercises and games you create (provided they are useful in chess coaching).

Please post only one exercise or game per answer, and mention its utility in a chess coaching program as bullet points. You are welcome to write cons as well. Many chess variants are discouraged to use in chess class because of game dynamics being very much different from chess.

Also, I request to vote the answers based on the utility in a chess coaching program, not by the appeal of the exercise/game of itself.

PS: To chess coaches interested in including chess-like games, I would recommend to select a small number of chess-like games, and to ensure that they are visually different from each other and from chess.

2
  • I think mini-game in "puzzle-mode" or "game-mode" is good to be used as the game part of a chess coaching session (for students who know piece movement, this is better than other exercises/games I guess). In "puzzle-mode", a not-so-hard puzzle is given and students play it out on their own (discussion allowed); afterwards, the coach can discuss the puzzle with the class. The "game-mode" is almost the same as chess, except that the starting position have less pieces on the board (so that the game will be over faster than a usual chess game). Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 8:07
  • Feel free to propose chess-like exercises/games useful in online/offline chess coaching. Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 12:16

13 Answers 13

4

Game: Race to the Finish

I play this with the juniors at my local club to help them build their pattern recognition and endgame skills, not sure how it would work online

Audience

All levels

Pros

  • Encourages calculation
  • Builds habits and pattern recognition

Rules

Normal rules of chess apply. A starting position is chosen that leaves the white player completely winning with a zero or almost zero chance of losing or drawing

The position is set up on multiple boards (2 is normal, but no reason you can't do more)

One player who is confident they can play optimal or close to optimal moves (such as the tutor) will play the black pieces on all boards and plays with the goal of surviving the lost position as long as possible

Each of the competitors (students) plays on one board as white. They each play one move, then the tutor plays one move on all boards, to ensure the move count on all boards stays in sync

The goal for the competitors is to checkmate in as few moves as possible, they are racing against each other. Whoever gets checkmate in the fewest moves is declared the winner, and the other board(s) can then be abandoned or played to a finish just for fun

The starting position is decided by the tutor and can be tailored to the ability of the competitors, for example for complete beginners you might have a simple K v KRR or K v KQ, and for intermediate players you can select more complex positions such as KP v KRP where the competitor needs to calculate if its worth 'spending' the moves to promote their pawn or just go ahead and mate with the lone rook. Advanced players can get the same entertainment by applying increasingly complex starting positions

3

Exercise: Maze

Audience

Complete beginners

Pros

  • Much simpler compared to chess

Rules

The player has only a few pieces (sometimes only 1 piece), and oppenents pieces are frozen (they do not move). A square is marked as target. The aim of the exercise is to get a piece to the target square by moving pieces using their standard chess movement.

A more complicated variant include forbidding moving pieces to squares where they can be captured by enemy forces.

1

Game: Chess 960 (also called Fischer random chess)

Pros

  • Forces players to think conscisouly about development rather than playing a memorised line.

Cons

  • The castling rules are too complicated compared to chess

Rules

Before the game, a starting position is randomly determined and set up, subject to certain requirements. White's pieces (not pawns) are placed randomly on the first rank, following two rules:

  1. The bishops must be placed on opposite-color squares.
  2. The king must be placed on a square between the rooks.

Black's pieces are placed equal-and-opposite to White's pieces. (For example, if the white king is randomly determined to start on f1, then the black king is placed on f8.) Pawns are placed on the players' second ranks as in classical chess.

After setup, the game is played the same as classical chess in all respects, with the exception of castling from the different possible starting positions for king and rooks.

Links

General info.: Wikipedia
(Forum) discussions: chess.com, lichess.org, chessbase.com

1
  • Most of the links given as discussion mention cons of chess 960. Commented Jul 1, 2023 at 6:38
1

Game: Race (new)
This is a gamified version of maze.

Audience

Complete beginners

Pros

  • Consistent with the chess rules (except the rules for ending the game).
    For example, players turns are correct.

Rules

In race, there is no king & pieces are almost randomly placed on board. A target square is marked for white, and one for black. Whoever reaches their target square first wins.

Comment: I usually this before students know about capture.

1

Exercise: Capture the stars

Audience

Complete beginners

Pros

  • Much simpler compared to chess

Rules

The player has only a few pieces (sometimes only 1 piece), and there are no opponent pieces. A number of squares are marked by stars. The aim of the exercise is to capture all stars.

To make the exercise a bit more challenging, encourage students to complete the task with as few moves as possible.

Links

Available to play on: lichess, chessMatec for kids (both available as mobile apps)

1
  • Note that Knight tour is almost a special case of the challenging version of this exercise with only 1 knight and stars on all other squares (the only difference is that the knight should return to the original square in Knight tour). Commented Jul 1, 2023 at 9:53
1

Game: Capture all

Audience

Complete beginner to Intermediate

Pros

  • Allows student to figure out the importance of the material/force aspect of chess by themselves (e.g. gives practice on hanging pieces and exchanges).

Cons

  • Games could get too long (and probably complicated).

Rules

The initial position is the same as in chess, except for absence of kings. The aim of the game is to capture all opponent pieces.

A variant of the game include both kings in the initial positon, but there is no check or checkmate.

Comment: One could use a different set of pieces at the start of the game and/or use a different starting position. Starting with only a few pieces which are suitably placed could make the game shorter.

Links

General info.: Greenchess

1

Game: Knights dominate the board
(goes by different names)

Audience

Complete beginners
(The purpose is to teach movement of knights)

Cons

  • The rule that visited squares cannot be revisited is an important part of this game, which is not in chess.

Rules

In this variant, both sides have only knights and they have the same number of knights (typically 1 or 2). The board size could be different from 8x8, and there is a lot of choice of intial positions. Capturing is not allowed. Player move in alternate turns. A square visited earlier cannot by re-visited (in one variant, squares visited by oppenent knights cannot be re-visited, but no problem with squares visited by player's own knights). Let's call these no-revisit rule and no-opponent-revisit rule.

The aim of the game varies between variants. With no-revisit rule, the game ends when a side has no more moves. With no-opponent-revisit-rule, the game ends when the number of squares visited by a side reach a stipulated number (e.g. visit 13 squares to win the game).

In some variants, a piece is not allowed to move to square under the attack of an opponent piece.

Links

In mobile app omnichess: benighted

1
  • Another nice name for the game would be "Knight's word tour". Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 7:42
0

Game: Inspired by Horde Chess

I think it sould be possible to make a chess position with only pawns and king for white and usual chess pieces for black (not necessarily whole army). But, I am not sure which of those positions are more useful to chess students.

(Feel free to edit the post if you can list particulary useful horde-like chess positions)

Pros of Horde Chess

  • Player plaing as white could learn piece coordination, and the one playing as black could learn pawn storming (also, endgame tactics and tactics involving passed pawns).

Cons of Horde Chess

  • The game dynamic is very much different from chess
  • Looks very much like chess (but, exactly one player has king, which is comforting).

Rules of Horde Chess

Horde Chess is a chess variant where Black starts with the regular chess army and White with nothing but 36 pawns. The playrs take turns, and white starts first. White's goal is to checkmate the black king. And black's goal is to capture all of White's pawns (and promoted pieces).

There are several variants of Horde chess (e.g. see Dunsany's chess)

0

Exercise: Coin collector
(similar to Capture the stars)

Audience

Complete beginners

Pros compared to "Capture the stars"

  • Slightly simpler if the player has pawns (otherwise, the two games are the same).

Rules

Coin collector is almost the same as "Capture the stars" with coins instead of stars.
The only difference is that a coin on a square could be collected not only by capturing the coin but also by moving to that square.

(included as separate exercise for quick reference)

0

Game: Coin collector: Versus mode (new)
(Gamified version of coin collector, adapted a bit)

Audience

Complete beginners

Pros

  • May be useful to teach occupying and controlling centre
    (e.g. start with chess starting position and place 16 coins on the exetended centre).

Rules

This is almost a generalisation of the race game.

Initial position could be the starting position of chess (or not) with an odd number of coins on empty squares (only one coin per square). Either both kings are present in the intial position or both are absent. The players take turns. An empty square occupied by a coin does not block movement of any piece through that square. If both kings are present in the initial position, winning is by either checkmating the opponent or by collecting more than half of the coins (e.g. 4 coins if there are 7 coins in total). If both kings are absent, the only way to win is by collecting more than half of the coins.

Links

Similar game: benighted in omnichess app

Comment: "benighted" is almost a special case of this game (with a 5x5 board, 2 knights per player, and one coin on each square including the squares of the knights at start).

0

Game: Vote chess, adapted for chess class

Audience

Intermediate

Pros

  • A good practice for move selection and decision making (variant 1 is especially a good training to look for candidate moves, and then consider them one by one).

Rules

The only difference from normal chess is that two teams play the sides. Team 1 plays white against team 2 on a single board. The move to be played by a team is decided by voting of members. When used for a chess class, two variants are useful. In variant 1, first, a player from team 1 proposes two candidate moves. The rest of team votes between the two moves (discussion not allowed), and the move with most votes is played as the team's move. Then, it's black turn and the same process is done with Team 2. Next, it is white's turn again, and this time another player gets to propose two candidate moves. The game continues in this fashion. In variant 2, the only difference is that 2 or 3 members of the team propose one candidate move each instead of one member alone proposing candidate moves (the next time the team should make a move, another 3 members propose candidate moves).

The advantage of variant 2 over variant 1 is that there will be less blunders in the game.

Initial position of the game need not be the starting position of chess.

0

Game: Set up chess

Cons

  • The piece placement phase (which is not a part of chess) has a more prominant role than the rest of the game (which is like chess).
  • Piece placement at the start of the game is very specific to the variant rather than being close to piece activity and corrdination in chess

Rules

Before the game players set up their pieces and pawns, one by one. Each player has 39 material points to spend. Pieces can be placed on the first 3 ranks, pawns on the 2nd and 3rd ranks.

Links

Available to play on: chess.com

0

Game: Chess from (selected) custom position

This is a popular exercise, and even thematic tournaments have been conducted (e.g. rice gambit tournament).

Audience

Past-beginners and higher

Pros

  • Good for opening training in an enjoyable way

Rules

Same as chess, but from a custom position. If the purpose is opening preparation, it is better to start with a well trodden opening line (say, after 8 to 10 moves) and ask to continue the game from there. Good candidates for such starting positions include the few selected positions that Seirawan recommends students to play out in "Winning chess openings".

This exercise could be used as the game part of a chess session (its merit over standard chess is shorter games). In this case, it is better to choose an initial position where both sides need to make some moves to develop pieces (so that piece development is also tested).

Note: Answered on behalf of Seshadri K. R.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.