New chess variant: The ol' ball & chain


I know you people are super excited about my various chess posts, so here’s another.

I was daydreaming the other day (it’s all I ever do, TBH) and it came to me in a flash: A version of chess where the Queen and King have to stay close to each other all game; more formally, there can be only one square (empty or occupied by a piece) between the Q and K at all times.

All other rules of chess still apply.

So, for example, the Queen can check the enemy king all the way across the board, but can’t take any pieces that aren’t within a 5x5 box surrounding the King.

Now…who’s the ol’ ball and chain? It’s either the King or Queen, really. They are lashed to each other like, uh…Pericles at the mast or some shit.

Here’s an example of me and a guy from my chess league giving it a try:

Interesting twists in this game:

  • On move 10, I could confidently leave my Knight on g4 since the white Q isn’t allowed to capture it – she’d get too far from her spouse!
  • On move 28, I was able to move my Rook to h2, knowing the King couldn’t capture it! In this way, I was threatening to take the pawn on g2. White decided to trade the Rook on d3 for my bishop.
  • Finally, on move 32, I thought I was being clever by playing Rh4+. I figured the King had to move away or capture my Rook, thus letting me capture the White Queen. But behold! White did take my Rook, and my Queen couldn’t capture back…too far away to move!

This variant lessens the power of the Queen…she’s still a force to be reckoned with, but she’s most perilous when you’re close to her. I compared her to a heavy bouncer…she can’t chase you down, but don’t get too close!