What other games or chess variants are useful to improve your chess skills?

I know about Chess960, and you can play that online at lichess.org. Furthermore, I like playing Go as well. But are there any good variants and other ways to train that you use, and you know to work well?

• Do chess puzzles count?
– EPN
May 2, 2012 at 11:37
• How about three dimensional chess (like the one shown in The Big Bang Theory)?
– user127
May 4, 2012 at 14:31
• Does blinfold chess (or semi-blindfold chess) count ? Oct 1, 2020 at 12:02

I believe that studying Shogi added 50 points to my chess game. They are related games and thus share some related concepts. I believe Shogi showed me things about chess I had not understood before.

• Study Xiangqi and add another 50 points :-) May 7, 2012 at 6:44
– Andrew
May 8, 2012 at 12:52
• GM Jonathan Tisdall seconds Tony's advice, claiming in his Improve Your Chess Now that Shogi gave his chess game a boost.
– ETD
Sep 23, 2012 at 6:00
• very few are good though (IMO of course) Jun 24, 2016 at 10:31
• you list chess variants, but you don't quite answer which/how are useful for standard chess?
– BCLC
Jan 19, 2021 at 0:46

In addition to the two nice answers already provided, I would like to mention the variant King of the hill, whose difference with normal checked is the following: in addition to checkmate, a legal move that moves one's own king to one of the center squares (d4, d5, e4, e5) wins.

This helps a lot for the control of squares. Indeed, one cannot neglect any center square. If one of the center squares is too weak, then soon or later the opponent will take profit of it.

• oh wow i instantly recognised your name from maths se
– BCLC
Jan 19, 2021 at 0:49

Playing other variants should only have a marginal effect on improvement, and sometimes it's bad(makes you think in ways optimal for the variant, but not for chess). Since others have not mentioned it, playing blindfold chess may help with visualizations, but probably can only be played after a certain level of competency in chess, but I suppose blindfold chess is generously defined as a chess variant. Of course the best way to improve at chess is to play/study chess.

• 'marginal' --> including 960? or do you exclude 960 with your word 'other' (in 'playing other variants'), i.e. 960 is pretty much the only variant that can be more than marginally helpful?
– BCLC
Jan 19, 2021 at 0:47