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[Chess 2] A re-write of the print and play

Greetings. I’m a long time lurker, first time poster. You probably want to jump to the TL;DR at the bottom.

I’m an active chess player, but for the past couple of years or so, I’ve been playing nothing but chess variants in my own personal study to find out what is the next best step for chess. One of the variants that I’ve come across is, evidently, Chess 2: The Sequel.

As a variant, I find it unique in that it’s an actual, fully fleshed-out game. For many variants, it seems that the creators just tend to slap in a couple of new rules and call it a day. And unlike the light variants offered on sites like lichess and, Chess 2 actively strives to be the de facto sequel to chess, answering the questions left by its predecessor while also creating some new stuff of its own which is all great in its own right, in my opinion. The midline invasion rule, which reduces the length of games and makes endgames much more exciting; the bidding rule which requires players to actively read their opponent more; and the six army shenanigans which, in addition to bidding, makes Chess 2 a game of imperfect information, are all very interesting concepts which have existed in chess variants before, but never in the way that Chess 2 presents them. From my perspective, it attempts to bring chess to a more gamery, e-sportsy audience, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

But I digress. Point is, Chess 2’s a great game, no doubt. But the mechanics described heretofore have turned away Chess 2’s primary demographic, i.e. chess players, from the game. This isn’t entirely Chess 2’s fault however - it stems more from the fact that chess players have turned these mechanics away for the sole reason that they aren’t chess. As a result, Chess 2’s playerbase has been reduced to, as far as I can tell, three or so regular players, and lord-knows-how-many players congregating on one cracked copy, owned by a certain three-letter Steam user. I’m sure that if you’ve played the Steam (or OUYA) versions, you know who this user is already. This is indeed a great shame - an even greater shame considering that Chess 2 is no longer worth the time for Sirlin or Zac Burns to invest in. HOWEVER - The digital version of Chess 2 is not the only version we should be taking into account here. There is also the physical version of Chess 2. I took the time and effort to 3D print myself a Chess 2 set, taking a few shortcuts here and there by re-purposing some chess variant pieces I found on the House of Staunton a few years back; for others who don’t have the time, effort, or dedication to do such a thing, they can use cards to represent the various teams, and checkermen or go stones as, well, stones.
This brings me to the main subject of this topic. For a number of years, a print-and-play was available to download for free on this site. As the site has been updated however, the print-and-play has been lost. An image version of it exists on Imgur, but upon discovering this, I decided that that’s not good enough. Using the images and backgrounds from the PDF version, while also updating the diagrams using a handy diagram creator tool, I have spent a few weeks or so rewriting the print and play. I say rewrite, but I’ve more or less lifted the text from the original while adding a few of the tips from Ludeme Games’ site, so I guess the better term would be I remade the print and play.
You can find it here: However, there are a few new things in this remake that were not in the original:

  • A form of algebraic notation for Chess 2, which tries to respect the integrity of algebraic chess notation as much as possible. I have made it so that the first move of any Chess game is notated with W=X B=X where X is an abbreviated name of one of the six armies (C is Classic, A is Animals, what have you). This makes it so that a person who is going over the game knows which player picked which army.
  • A few extra rules for tournament play, if playing OTB, regarding duelling, and piece capturing (basically don’t be lazy when capturing pieces - a tiger actually has to capture and then return, not stay in the one spot!).
  • A conversation I held with @Kristoph on another website, who as you probably know was a beta tester for Chess 2. We go over a little bit of opening theory (mainly the ground-breaking DGR, but there’s some Empowered stuff in there too), his opinions on some of the other armies, and the current state of Chess 2.

I also plan on releasing a sample games booklet, a second booklet full of sample games taken from various videos, streams, and OTB games. Unfortunately, I cannot release this as of yet because I do not have games for each of the 21 match-ups. There are some I am still missing: Reaper mirror, TK mirror, Classic mirror, Empowered mirror, Classic vs. TK, Classic vs. Empowered, and Classic vs. Nemesis are the ones I can name off of the top of my head. Until I can get games for these matchups, it ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.

TL;DR Using resources from the old Chess 2 print and play like backgrounds, images etc. and from the Ludeme Games website, I have remade the print and play with a few new things of my own which you can find here.

What is my aim in rewriting the print and play? It makes the rules more accessible to some, that’s true. The more important aim to me, and the reason why I remade the print and play in the first place, is to hopefully arouse interest within the Chess 2 community and beyond, and spark some in-depth discussion. Chess 2 definitely has potential to go places, and there is some form of passion for the game, but there’s no energy. No energy, it doesn’t go anywhere.

EDIT 17/6/17: Updated the PDF with changes suggested by @Hobusu
EDIT 15/7/17: Updated the PDF with a new section: a conversation I held with Toadofsky, another Chess 2 player. I also separated the conversations from the other stuff with another blue page. The sample games booklet isn’t done yet, but I’m working on it. Very slowly, that is.
EDIT 27/7/17: Updated the PDF with a new section: a conversation I held with sirius3100.


I only have enough time to just skim your remade rulebook, but it seems very good!

Also, quick note:

At time of writing, the original Chess 2 rulebook is at the bottom of the list on the above webpage. It doesn’t have a header like the other games, so it can be easy to miss.


This is really nice! I especially like that it gives some basic strategic advice for each army, since a new player is likely to be overwhelmed by the possibilities and miss obvious stuff without some guidance. The expanded explanations of the rules are helpful too, and I can see them minimizing confusion in real games.

That said, I think this would be even better if you let someone do a bit of editing on it. I’ve noticed a few grammar mistakes that could be easily fixed, as well as some terms being used a bit inconsistently.

Some examples

Page 5: "Castling involves moving the king two spaces towards an allying rook…

This should be “allied” rook.

Page 8: “Know that when playing against two kings, they are well against defending against midline invasion but also more vulnerable to checkmate.”

There’s a couple different options you could take here. I’d suggest “strong” as a replacement for “well,” but you could go with something like “good” instead if you prefer.

Page 10: “Bishop → Tiger: Can only move up to two squares diagonally, but does not move when it captures (immediately returns to the square it attacked from).”

Page 15: “When capturing with a tiger, you must actually move it to the square it is capturing on and then return it to its original square. Capturing the piece without actually moving the tiger is not allowed.”

No grammar mistake here, but I’d advise changing the wording on Page 10 to remove the claim that it does not move when it captures (I know that you used the same phrasing as the official rules, but it becomes much clearer if you change it).

Page 11: “Wild horse can capture friendly men.”

This is the only reference I saw to any of the game pieces as “men.” To be consistent with the rest of the rules, it should say “pieces” instead. On a somewhat related note, since you have the opportunity to change anything you want with these expanded rules, I’d recommend changing pronouns used for the players to be gender-neutral.

I’m sure there’s more, but I think that’s plenty to mention for now. I’d love to help you more directly if you’re interested! There’s a bunch of small improvements I can think of, but I’d rather not flood the forum with them. :sweat_smile:

One more suggestion I will make here, though, is that it would be nice if there were a version without the colored backgrounds on each page. They look nice, don’t get me wrong! However, I’d rather not use up that much ink if I ever print this out. A version with a plain white background would be wonderful, though I can understand if that’s not your first priority.

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Chess 2 posters always have the best posts!


Thank you. The main things I wanted to add were mostly things that Sirlin never touched on, mostly OTB stuff and also Chess 2 notation. I don’t know if anyone’s come up with a better form than I have, but if it’s consistent and people can understand it, then it’s all good in my book.

Thank you, again, for pointing these all out to me. I guess my only excuse is that I never noticed these mistakes, though that’s to be expected when I did this in my own time and no-one in my area who’s interested to look it over. If you’ve anything to suggest to help improve the quality, I also happen to be on Smogon (and by extension Showdown!) as Ebinola, so you’re always free to PM me. In particular, I’m on the lookout for any and all recorded games, if anyone has any. Otherwise, I’d rather work on this myself; I’m afraid that’s just how I work on things. I’ll update the OP with the changes and I’ll make a separate post for a version with blank backgrounds. I get that not everyone wants to use that much ink (and admittedly neither do I), but I thought I’d use the backgrounds from the original to make it look nicer.

Thank you; at any rate, I’ve accomplished what I had set out to do. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of attention from this thread but from what I can tell this thread has attracted the most attention that Chess 2 has seen in a while.
Talking to Kristoph, he told me that the DGR series was meant to fire up discussion, and it did, for a while. He also showed me some Empowered stuff which I hadn’t seen in play as of yet, but as he hasn’t touched Chess 2 for a while, it’s largely unexplored. As more and more players become engaged however, I expect Chess 2 theory to expand with it.

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Got the no backgrounds version right here:

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Just a small update, the links have now been posted on and Steam. Hopefully the print and play will garner more interest. :slight_smile:


Yet another update folks. The print and play has received another update!
So, what have I added? There’s a new conversation with another player, Toadofsky. I advise you keep your eyes peeled, because there’s a lot more in store for this little print and play project…


Based on your experience of chess 2, does the game took longer to finish, than chess 1? Longer analysis paralysis? Or does it finish quicker? because of the other option of victory, midline invasion.

From my personal experience? It entirely depends on who you’re playing against and what army you’re using. Some of the armies and matchups have more complex game-trees than vanilla chess because of the way their pieces move. The thing with Chess 2 is that midline invasion erases all classic chess endgame theory. Doesn’t exist. Instead, moving your king to the midline is the endgame. And again, it’s entirely dependent on who you’re playing against and how they respond to your moves. I had a game against sirius3100 that I won and lasted maybe 5 or 6 moves. And sirius is no Chess 2 patzer. So, in summary: on average, I’d say games tend to be shorter in Chess 2; it focuses more on offense rather than defence, unlike classic chess. But since Chess 2 is still in its infancy when it comes to opening theory, sometimes you might find yourself winning a lot earlier than you’d expect.

Also, could anyone please tell me if they can still connect to Chess 2’s server on the Steam version? Zac Burns came back a few days ago to say that there’d be planned maintenance and that the server would be back up after it, but it still seems to be down for me. :frowning:


And more updates. A new conversation has been added at the end with someone who really, REALLY knows their stuff about Chess 2. Same link as always.

And now this thing’s at 33 pages - wow!


This post made a new Chess 2 player!

I’m going to force my sister to play with me (on a real chess board). I think she might really enjoy the Nemesis team since she always complains about too much killing and wanting to play “clean.”

I know your manual is aimed at more hardcore Chess players, but just remember there’s a lot of people out there who love Chess and are good at it, but aren’t the types who talk strategy. They like simplicity.

The language is important to getting people interested.

For example:
Instead of “orthogonally adjacent”, say “adjacent but not diagonally.”

Also the dueling feature’s use might not be immediately obvious to some people and it makes it’s pretty off putting.
Maybe say something like:
"Dueling is a new rule that makes players less kill happy. It might make a queen reconsider picking off pawns."
Or something like that. I don’t even know if I have it right, but the whole feature needs to be made more attractive.

But you’ve done a nice job! It got me excited to try it.

I would also suggest explaining en passant better (have a diagram).

I know that it’s hard for some people to imagine, but the move isn’t actually common knowledge. I know about it because I was in a chess club, but outside of it, I’ve never played against anyone who uses it.

Also… if the game were ever updated, I think it would be cool if en passant was a Classic-only move, just to give the Classic army a little extra umph.


It’s good to hear that there’s been an increase in Chess 2’s activity, if on an OTB level. If you’re going to play OTB, I suggest that you find a means of representing the different teams (counters might do). I mean you could do what I did, but you have to remember that a 3D printer is strictly a prototyping tool.
In honesty, the print-and-play is designed for everyone. I’m not an expert at chess (or Chess 2 for that matter) but I’d say that the print-and-play is for the most part cohesive. Using words like ‘orthogonal’ over phrases that mean the exact same thing saves space, trying to keep consistency with the teams all being on separate pages. Admittedly though, it took me a minute or two to understand what orthogonal meant when I first came across the word.
But, I admit that the explanation of duelling isn’t as cohesive as it could be. The page ought to specify that it is a mechanic that gives weight and adds pressure to capturing.
And en passant is a generally unspoken of rule, yeah. I’ve heard that even some grandmasters have never heard of it! I agree that it does deserve its own page. Making it a Classic-only rule I feel does not give Classic enough of an advantage to put it on par with the likes of Nemesis (who arguably can do Classic’s job better).
Your suggested changes are greatly appreciated, and I’ll update the print-and-play at some point in the future. Planning to hopefully update it and release the sample games booklet at the same time.


I’m pretty familiar with 3D printing. I actually used to do digital sculpting for a toy shop!

I was actually curious if you ripped the models from the game or sculpted them. I was half tempted to sculpt some.

But I’m actually not planning on printing anything. I’d rather just tie a paper towel on the Reaper and put a paper clip on the Nemesis pieces and stuff like that.

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Great work on the pdf. I really wish I had the time to get back into the game and really study it.

So I’ve been playing for about a month now both on and offline and I really like it.

I have a 3D printer so I actually am making models for some of the sets to help my opponents remember the rules. At least animals, reaper, and two kings. Empowered and Nemesis are easier for new players to wrap their heads around.

I tried to avoid doing this, but I couldn’t find good stand-ins at reasonable prices. I’ll put the models up for free online when I’m done.

Also, I hate duels, even when they turn out in my advantage. They’re just not fun. I omit them from real life games (and wish I could from the online version). I’m a fighting game player and I understand what they were going for with the design, but it’s just not fun and it’s another barrier for new players.


I was about to suggest the ‘modern chess variants’ pieces you find on the House of Staunton/Amazon but I imagine for many it’s way out of price range. The vendor’s planning to produce differently designed pawns and more pieces in the future so I’d keep an eye out just in case.
Your set is still great though! I would post a few pictures of my set but I don’t have access to it right now.