European Chess Rules

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Gameplay Suggestions


Capture the Flag

Each player’s king holds a flag at the start of the game (you can mark flags with counters). When a piece is captured (kings are captured like normal pieces in Capture the Flag), the piece that captured it gets the flag. You win if you can bring an opponent’s flag to the space where the king started, while your king still has his own flag. Capture the flag works great 2v2 – your team must capture both of your opponents’ flags.

King of the Hill

At the start of each player’s turn, he/she gets one point for every piece he/she has in the 4 middle squares. You win when you have 10-20 points (you must decide on this number at the start of the game) or if you are the last player remaining.

Team Battle

In this 2v2 team variant, the players of each team start adjacent to each other in a formation that resembles that of classic Chess. The player positions and pawn direction are shown in the diagram at right. Setup is a little different: first you place a king (if you have one) in the center as shown, then you place your other pieces where they would go in a standard Chess setup until you can do so no more, and finally you place your remaining pieces (if any) anywhere inside your 2x4 area. Gameplay proceeds normally, and the first team to checkmate both opponents wins.


Bughouse European Chess requires eight players, but can be fun if you have a large group of people. Bughouse requires two European Chess boards and four 2-player teams, with one member of each team on each board. Whenever you take a piece, give your partner that piece (of his color). On your turn, instead of moving you can choose to play a piece that you have been given, on any space in your 6x6 area. If you receive a special piece (i.e. minister or archbishop) it moves as described in the rules for its country, but if you receive a modified normal piece (i.e. Athenian bishop or Mafia rook) it loses its special powers and moves as it does for your country. (For example, if a Papal Statesplayer receives an Athenian bishop, that bishop moves like a Papal States bishop. However, if that player then promotes his bishop to an archbishop – see Papal States for rules on bishop promotion – and then loses it to Athens’s partner, then when the Athenian player plays the piece, it moves like an archbishop, not like an Athenian bishop, because the archbishop is a special piece.) You win the game if your team is the only one left, that is, if one or both of the members of your team are the last player(s) remaining.

Lightning Chess

This is a very fun variant that enables players to constantly play as different armies. You’ll need a deck of cards, one for each country. First, take all countries with special units (i.e. Sparta or the Carthagian Empire) or additional setup (i.e. Guerillas or Soviet Union) and remove them from the deck. (A list of countries to be removed from the deck can be found here.) Then, deal a country to each player, but each player still uses the standard setup (shown at right). You use the special ability(s) of your country, but not its setup. Meanwhile, shuffle all remaining country into a face-down deck. Whenever any player captures or loses a piece or checkmates another player, he/she places his current country card on the bottom of the deck, and draws a new country. Expect to play 5-10 different countries over the course of the game.

Negative Chess

Not all European Chess powers are useful at all times, and here are some that are not useful at ANY time. As a matter of fact these are powers that hurt you much more than they help you, powers that make grown men cry. What is this? This is Sparta! I mean, this is Negative Chess.