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This page is written by the game's inventor, John Gallez.

Contact Chess

Contact Chess is a form of chess that uses the familiar chess pieces, moves, board and starting position but dramatically changes the game with several additional rules for movement and capture. Pawns and kings are more powerful than in regular chess, the game is highly tactical, initiative is critical and draws are less common. My goal was to create a form of chess where proximity to other pieces enhanced movement, attack and defense. The result is a game that is both familiar and novel. It will make you see the chessboard in a new way, Try it and enjoy!


Normal Move: Pieces move in the same directions as regular chess, except that the pawns can move diagonally forward or sideways as well as forward. The two square pawn move from the second rank of chess is allowed, but only in the forward direction.  (note: the word "piece" in this document will refer to pawns as well as to other pieces) 

Normal Capture: All pieces except the pawns can make a normal chess capture, unless a piece of either color lies in the square immediately behind the piece to be captured, along the line of capture. Knights, with no single direction of movement, capture exactly as in regular chess. Pawns may not capture a diagonally adjacent piece as in regular chess.

Jump Move: Pieces can jump over one or more connected pieces of their color in a straight line, landing in the empty square beyond the last piece. In such a “jump” move, they move in their normal directions. This rule does not apply to knights, which move only as in regular chess.

Jump Capture: Pieces jumping over pieces of their color can capture an enemy piece at the end of the line they jump over, if no piece lies immediately behind it along the line of capture. Capture is prohibited when a piece of the same color as the moving piece is in the square beyond. If one or more enemy pieces in line are behind the piece, the capturing piece must jump over more pieces than lie behind the piece to be captured. Example: White pawns on a2, b3 and c4. Black pawns on d5 and e6. Only the a2 pawn can capture the d5 pawn, because it was backed by another pawn. If a white pawn had been on e6, capture would have been prohibited. If e6 had been empty, either the a2 or b3 pawns would have been able to capture.

Promotion: Promoting pawns are replaced by previously captured pieces of their own color. Thus it is not possible to have two queens of the same color on the board. A pawn may promote by moving a distance of one square or by jumping over pieces of its color to the back rank.

Other Rules: All other chess rules are in effect, except that there is no castling or en passant capture. As in chess, a move cannot result in the moving player’s king being in check. (Note: there are situations involving check that cannot occur in normal chess, such as a king placing a king in check by threatening capture from a distance. Another such situation involves a king shielded from capture by a piece lying behind it along the line of fire. The king is not in check, but would place itself in check if it captured the piece behind it. Therefore the capture is illegal).


Pieces other than knights can jump over pawns, which allows a myriad of opening strategies. Kings can be shielded by other pieces or jump over them to capture or escape, changing checking and mating patterns. As a result of pawns' and kings' enhanced movement, endgame theory is quite different but fascinating in its own right. Promotion threats are more abundant than in regular chess. Initiative is critical, extended combinations common, and the result is often decided in the middlegame. Drawn games are less common than in regular chess, and there is rarely a dull moment. Games can often be played quickly, and the winner is often the one who can see farthest through a blizzard of tactics.

I am not a programmer and would be grateful if someone would like to provide code for the game courier. For now you'll have to rely on the rules I provided.

Pawns have roughly the value of pieces, though their proximity to promotion greatly affects their value. (Note that pawns can jump over lines of friendly pieces to rapidly reach the back rank). Knights ability to capture is unaffected by pieces being massed, unlike other pieces, so knights are very useful in the middlegame. Bishops are stronger in the endgame, where a single bishop plus king is sufficient to checkmate. The kings can participate in checkmates as an attacking (rather than just blocking) piece.

I invented Contact Chess in 2018 after many years of developing other games unrelated to chess. If anyone is interested in learning about these games, which are territorial in nature (like Go), please let me know. I was not able to fully program them in zillions, as I don't have sufficient skill. I am working on a zillions file for Contact Chess, though.


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By John Gallez.
Web page created: 2019-03-14. Web page last updated: 2019-03-27