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This page is written by the game's inventor, Rich Hutnik.

Meta Chess - The Ultimate Fantasy Chess variant

(c) 1995 by Richard Hutnik

MATERIALS NEEDED: Regular chess board and chess pieces.


OBJECT OF THE GAME: To checkmate opponent.


The game starts with only the pawns on their original squares. On the positions a1 - h1, white pieces will be positioned, and on the positions a8 - h8, black pieces will be positioned:

Space to put piece on: a1, b1, c1, d1, e1, f1, g1, h1.
Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2.

Space to put piece on: a8, b8, c8, d8, e8, f8, g8, h8.
Pawn a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7.


Pawn- Moves like a regular chess pawn. They can move 2 spaces on their first move and also can capture en passant. See pawn promotion section for rules on pawn promotion.

King- Moves like a chess king king.

Queen, Rook, Knight and Bishop- How they move are determined in piece selection phase.


  1. Players alternate turns deciding how their pieces will move. A player picks out a piece and declares how it would move. Pieces whose movement are determined in this phase are the queen, rooks, knight and bishop. The king and pawns use regulation chess moves and their movement is not determined in this phase.
    1. For example, the first player would declare that he is deciding how his rook would move during the game. The first player may declare that his rook would move like a regular chess rook during the game or he may declare that his rook has a combination of a rook and knight move, or any other choice.
  2. Disagreements allowing a piece to move in a certain manner can be handled different ways. One possible way is to allow an opponent to overrule a certain number of choices by a player. A suggested number of overrulings would be three. A player who has a movement for a certain piece overruled must propose another Another possible way to handle disagreements is for both players to be mature enough work out agreements on their own, without a need for a rule to work out disagreements.
    In order prevent disagreements, players should propose movement for pieces that the other player is comfortable with. For example, a piece that can kill an opponents king from anywhere on the board would throw the game out of balance and thus should not be allowed in the game. Also keep in mind that any proposed movement a player has for a piece may be used by their opponent.
  3. For convenience sake, try to have the set of moves somewhat resemble the type of pieces they are assigned to. For example, assigning regular rooks moves to a bishop and regular bishop moves to a rook does get confusing. Also, players should try to not have pawns, for example, be more powerful than the queen in the game. Ideally, one wants the pawns to be weakest in the game, followed by knight, bishop and rook, with the queen being equal to or superior to all other pieces.
  4. Play then continues as follows in Meta Chess, with placement phase then movement phase following, in that order.



  1. During first eight turns, players alternate placing one of their remaining pieces on the board.
  2. Players place their pieces in a vacant space. In the diagram above, the vacant spaces are marked ?
  3. The number on the space represents which space the player can put their pieces on.
    1. Player 1 puts their pieces on A1 through A8.
    2. Player 2 puts their pieces on H1 through H8.
  4. Only one piece may occupy a space during the game. If player 1 put a piece on A2, for example, then player 1 may not put another piece there.


  1. Play goes in order of player 1 and player 2,. Player 1 then goes again and order of play continues until one player wins. A player's move consists of moving one piece.

Captured Pieces

  1. A piece that is captured and may be regained through pawn promotion. Only pieces that have been captured by an opponent may be used for pawn promotion.

Pawn Promotion

  1. A pawn that reaches a square in which it can be promoted, may do so. Promotion is not required. A pawn that promotes, however, is permanently removed from the game.
  2. A pawn that promotes may only be promoted to a piece that has been captured.
  3. Squares a pawn may promote on:
    1. For player 1: H8 , H7, H6, H5, H4, H3, H2, H1.
    2. For player 2: A8, A7, A6, A5, A4, A3, A2, A1.


  1. Have a second way to win game. If a player is the first to get their king to a square used to promote their pawn, they also win the game. For example, player 1 wins the game if they are first to get their king to either H8, H7, H6, H5, H4, H3, H2, or H1, before their opponent gets their king to one of their pawn promotion squares, player 1 would win the game.


This game was floating around my head for years. When I was a kid, I wanted a chess game where each player got to choose how his own pieces would move. From this idea came this chess variant. This variant first appeared in a 2/4 player chess variant I created called Corner Chess. I believe that the concept of choosing one's own pieces is strong enough in its own right that it deserved its own chess variant.

Try the game out and let me know what you think. In addition to this game, I have other ones I have created. Drop me a line and request the rules and I will get them out to you.

Here is a list of some of the other games I created:

  1. Sophia: A fast 5 minute strategy game with lots of tactics and strategy. All you need for it is either an old Rubik's Magic set or 7 dimes and 7 nickels and a 4 by 4 square board (create one with pen and paper).
  2. Corner Chess: A 2/4 player chess variant playable using a regular chess board and regular chess pieces. Four player game requires addition of more pieces chess pieces of different colors. Included in the rules to this games are the rules for a Meta variant that allows each player to command units, of their own choosing, that move differently than their opponents' pieces. The main concept of Meta Chess was first listed in the Meta Variant to Corner Chess.
  3. Oneonta Whist: A Whist/Euchre/Spades type card game that is playable solitaire or with 2 or more people. In this game there is really is no such thing as a bad deal. Even a bad hand can score you lots of points. It is all up to how you bid and play your cards.
  4. Dual Tac Toe: A tic tac toe variant where a player wins by getting either 3 Xs or 3 Os in a row. This variant is playable with more than 2 people.
  5. Dictator Nim: A variant of Nim where the number of pieces you pick up determines which pile your opponent chooses pieces from.

Drop me a line and let me know how you like Meta Chess or if you want the rules to any of the games above.
My current email address is: (email removed contact us for address)

Have fun and good gaming! Richard S. Hutnik

Richard Hutnik (email removed contact us for address) has send me this description of this chess variant he invented.
Last modified: February 7, 1997.