Suicide Chess Rules

Suicide chess, or “losing chess” (or about a dozen other names) is a chess variant where the aim is to lose all your pieces. You try to get your opponent to capture all of your pieces and you win if you have no pieces left at all. The specific rules and considerations include:

  • Must-take rule: Captures are not optional. You must take a piece if any captures are on the board. However, you don’t have to capture the piece that has moved, and may capture any possible legal capture. In social play, usually you move your piece and say “take” to get your opponent to make the capture. Long sequences of takes are very common, but be careful, they run out eventually and then your opponent gets a turn.
  • Kings are not important. Kings are just an ordinary piece with the normal King moves and castles moves. There is no concept of “check” or “checkmate” in suicide chess. (There are some less common obscure sub-variants where checks and checkmates are involved. Also, castling is disallowed in some rule versions.)
  • Pawn promotion is allowed.
  • Draws: a draw situation can result if players get pieces that cannot capture each other. Much less commonly, draws by triple repetition are possible. Draw offers are allowed.

Some interesting aspects of Suicide Chess include:

  • Suicide chess endgames. There is a whole different set of “endgame theory” for suicide chess. It’s quite amazing.
  • Suicide chess openings. There is a lot of opening theory in suicide chess. In fact, because of the long sequences of “takes”, some opening moves have been fully analysed out to a forced loss for White.

There are numerous sub-variants, which mainly depend on the interpretation of some particularly obscure rules:

  • Stalemate is a win versus draw. Apparently, the official version is that if you get stalemated, then you win. Never really seen this happen in practice.
  • Pawn promotion to a King? In some versions, promoting a pawn into a King is also allowed in suicide chess.
  • Pawn promotion limits. Some versions limit pawn promotion, such as only to Queens.
  • Castling is allowed for the King or not?
  • King is important? Are checks and checkmates important? Some less common sub-variants have the King as still an important piece which must be saved.

Suicide chess is one of the most frequently played chess variants. It’s a lot of fun and is quite mind-bending.