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One thing I've noticed is that even the most unusual chess variants tend to involve some sort of a competition. For instance in 4 player chess teams the members of the same team cooperate with each other, however the different teams still compete against each other. In some variants the game is something other than to trap the King, but in the ones I've read about and played it's still a competition with a winner and loser, or a draw.

My question is are there any variants that involve all the players cooperating to achieve a common goal, with all players either winning together or losing together as opposed to competing with each other?

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  • Not sure a chess variant is what you're after. If you want cooperation rather than competition, then you're not replacing the game of chess with some other game, you're replacing the activity of game-playing with some other activity. Perhaps composing chess problems? Or solving them?
    – Rosie F
    Feb 11 at 8:45
  • Building chess sets in Minecraft? :-) (Even CheatGPT could only suggest Bughouse 2 vs 2. Cooperative games are relatively rare.) Feb 11 at 19:23
  • The closest I can think of is Penultima (as the players sort of need to work together to figure out the rules) or Paco Shako (as pieces are not captured, but are instead joined together into pieces that either player may move). However, in both of these, the goal is still to checkmate. In general, chess is a game where two players start on equal footing and work to be the first to reach some goal. It's hard to think of a way to change that element while still feeling like chess.
    – Nelson O
    Feb 12 at 15:40

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There are helpmate problems. I haven't seen many of these recently, but they involve both sides cooperating to get to mate.

But very few games of any sort involve only cooperation. The only one I can think of, offhand, is SimCity and, even for that, some of the variations are competitions against the computer or against your own previous score.

Games more or less have to be competitive to be interesting, even if the competition is very light-hearted.

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  • Although they are in the minority, there are certainly cooperative games. I've played several.
    – D M
    Feb 11 at 20:04

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