Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

Where Can I Find Equipment or Opponents for Chess Variants?

Through Your Computer

Thanks to computer software, computer graphics, and the internet, it is easier than ever to play a wide variety of Chess variants on your computer against either the computer itself or against various people around the world.

Game Courier

This site provides Game Courier, which will let you play Chess variants against other people online. Utilizing computer graphics and programmed rule-enforcement, it provides you with all the equipment you need to play countless different Chess variants by online correspondence. It already supports hundreds of variants, and it will let you design, program, and play your own games.


With the inexpensive Windows program Zillions-of-Games, you can play countless Chess variants against your computer. Although it comes with only a small number of Chess variants, many more have been programmed for it by users of the program. The nice thing about this program is that it has a programming language for specifying the rules, pieces, and terrain for various strategy board games, and it will also let you any graphic files you like for boards and pieces. Thanks to this, several hundred Chess variants have been programmed for it, and this site includes a large collection of them. Get the program, then start downloading numerous Chess variants and other games you can play against your computer with it. It ran on Windows 95 when it first came out, and it still works well under Windows 10. It will also work under WINE with Linux.


Greg Strong's Chessv program will let you play a variety of different Chess variants against your computer. It will run under Windows or Linux. It natively supports several more Chess variants than Zillions does, and it provides some capability for users to define new games for it to play, but it is not as flexible as Zillions in this regard, and it does not have nearly as much third-party support for Chess variants.


Jocly uses JavaScript and some other web technologies to provide you with online computerized opponents and 3D graphics for Chess variants.

Java Applets

This site provides Java applets by Ed Friedlander for playing numerous Chess variants in your browser. While not especially powerful, they can give you your first experience of various games and maybe provide a challenge in games you're not yet very familiar with.

A much more powerful Java applet is Coffee Chinese Chess, which plays Xiang Qi at various levels of difficulty with a variety of different graphic options.

Note that recent versions of Java will block our Java applets unless you add our website to your Java exceptions list. This is due to their age and not to any security flaws in them.

More Play-By-Mail Websites

Besides what this site offers, there are other sites that allow you to play Chess variants by email or online correspondence: Play-by-Mail Websites

More Software

We also have links to many other Computer Programs for playing Chess variants. These include programs that will play a number of different games and dedicated programs for individual games.

Physical Equipment

Many Chess variants, particularly those called Modest variants, can be played with a regular Chess set. Some, such as Bughouse and Alice Chess, can be played with two Chess sets. Sets are commercially available for some of the popular regional variants, such as Shogi and Xiangi. Links for buying equipment can be found on pages for these games. Besides these, sets are available for Star Trek 3D Chess, Three Person Chess, and various 10x8 variants that use a few extra pieces.

For most games, it is best to build and rely on your own Chess Variant Construction Set. This will typically consist of board tiles and pieces. The board tiles can be cut out of floppyboards and rearranged into boards of various shapes and sizes. Physical pieces are available for some pieces not used in Chess, and it is also possible to make your own pieces. The House of Staunton provides various Chess variant kits that contain extra pieces you can use in Chess variants.


If you have a club or organization where people can meet in person to play Chess variants against each other, please provide us with details. If you are trying to start a club or wish to meet other Chess variant players in your area, please leave a comment telling us where you are located, and include your email address or other contact information in your member profile.

WWW page created: May 29, 2016.