How to Play Racing Kings?

Looking for a fun variation of the classic chess game?

In racing kings, it’s the two kings’ race to the eighth rank. Instead of winning by checkmate, be the victor by beating your opponent’s king to the last rank.

Read on to know more about how to play racing kings.

Play Racing Kings

If you already know how to play chess, then learning racing kings will be easy.

1. The Objective of the Game

The objective is to be the first king to reach the eighth rank.

2. Rules

The variation’s rules are:

  • The white player moves first.
  • Checking the other king isn’t allowed.
  • No one can make a move that would put the other’s king into check.
  • Kings can’t move to a square under attack by the opponent.
  • To offset White’s “first-move advantage,” a draw is declared if White becomes the first to reach the eighth rank. It could be followed immediately by Black making the same winning move.
  • The pieces move in the same way as they do in classic chess.

3. Starting Position

Don’t use the pawns in this chess game variation. Instead, each player has:

  • One king
  • One queen
  • Two knights
  • Two bishops
  • Two rooks

The opponents play from the same side of the chessboard. The positions are as follows:

  • A1 – black queen
  • A2 – black king
  • B1 – first black rook
  • B2 – second black rook
  • C1 – first black bishop
  • C2 – second black bishop
  • D1 – first black knight
  • D2 – second black knight
  • E1 – first white knight
  • E2 – second white knight
  • F1 – first white bishop
  • F2 – second white bishop
  • G1 – first black rook
  • G2 – second black rook
  • H1 – white queen
  • H2 – white king
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4. Ending

The game ends with one king on the last rank. It’s a draw if both kings can reach it in two consecutive moves.

Play Dodo Chess

Did you know that racing kings has its sub-variant?

Dodo chess has similar rules and objectives to racing kings. But each opponent now plays with only one rook and no queen. Like before, don’t use the pawns.

Both opponents play from the same side of the chessboard. The chess pieces’ positions are:

  • A1 – white king
  • A2 – white rook
  • B1 – first white bishop
  • B2 – second white bishop
  • C1 – first white knight
  • C2 – second white knight
  • F1 – first black knight
  • F2 – second black knight
  • G1 – first black bishop
  • G2 – second black bishop
  • H1 – black king
  • H2 – black rook

For added difficulty, you can also play it with the queens included. The starting position will be:

  • A1 – white queen
  • A2 – white king
  • B1 – first white bishop
  • B2 – white rook
  • B3 – first white knight
  • C1 – second white bishop
  • C2 – second white knight
  • F1 – first black bishop
  • F2 – first black knight
  • G1 – second black bishop
  • G2 – black rook
  • G3 – second black knight
  • H1 – black queen
  • H2 – black king

As usual, the game begins with the white player.

You can also create your own dodo chess variations by adding more pawns and playing around with the starting position. With the pawns included, capturing a king is permitted.

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That said, you can’t be declared a winner with a captured king. However, you can still go for a draw if you checkmate the opponent’s king before it reaches the eighth rank.

Origins of Racing Kings and Other Chess Variants

English chess enthusiast V. R. Parton invented racing kings in 1961. He also created its own sub-variant dodo chess nine years later in 1970.

They were just two of the various chess variants he was able to devise from 1961 to 1974. For this, Parton was known for being a prolific chess variant inventor.

Today, there are about 2,000 existing variants catalogued on The Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. Not all invented chess variants are considered notable enough to be included in the encyclopedia.

Most of the variants are made for the interest of other chess enthusiasts, or even to a wider audience. Several are devised as puzzles or challenges for experienced chess players.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you win racing kings?

Win racing kings by beating your opponent’s king to the eighth rank.

In a sub-variation wherein kings can be attacked, you can aim for a draw instead in case your king is captured early in the game. Do this by also capturing your opponent’s king before it reaches the eighth rank.

2. What’s the most complicated version of chess?

Many players consider Crazyhouse to be one of the most complicated chess variants. The game is played with the usual chess rules, except you can use your opponent’s captured pieces anytime in the game as your own.

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A similarly complicated variant is bughouse. It’s played like crazyhouse, yet this time there are two chess boards with four players divided into two teams. Usually, the game becomes increasingly chaotic from the perspective of somebody watching especially because of the fast time control.

3. What are other variations of chess?

Some of the most popular chess variants are: 3-Check, 4-Player Chess, Atomic, Automate, Bughouse, Chess960, Crazyhpuse Fog of War, Giveaway, Horde, and King of the Hill.

4. Can I play these chess variants online?

There are plenty of websites where you can play online chess and its many variants, including racing kings and dodo chess. These are:

Wrapping Up

Racing kings is a fun variation of the classic chess game. The rules are mostly the same, yet the objective is to be the first king to reach the last rank. The queen and pawns are also not included in the game.

Another sub-variant of racing kings is called dodo chess. Dodo chess differs in its starting position. This time, the two players are divided into the left and right sides of the chessboard.

If you already know how to play the classic chess game, learning racing kings and dodo chess won’t be a problem at all.

Aside from the two, there are many other known chess variants today. Usually, they’re made to present new puzzles or challenges to experienced chess players as well as to other chess enthusiasts.