Chess Jam makes its opening gambit

Cardinal to square number one, please

The best Chesslike already exists (see Into The Breach) but there’s room in this large 8 x 8 monochrome world for at least 63 more Chess-inspired games. That is why you might consider participating in Chess Jam. It’s a month-long game jam hosted by Sophie Houlden, creator of Bang Bang Bang and many ducksnakes. For a jam spawned from a regimented game of strict logic, it has surprisingly few rules. Your game just needs to be inspired by the King’s Game in some way – it doesn’t need to resemble it. “The only real rule,” says Houlden, “is ‘Don’t be hurtful or harmful’”. Chess on, friends.

You can read the full FAQ about the jam here and see what people are submitting on its page. At time of writing there are just asset packs and basic chessy stuff, alongside a jokey game about two kings facing off on a Minesweeper board. It’s called The last pawn had been eaten but the war was not over yet . Good name, chess game.

It will be nice to see what monsters are birthed from this experiment. I like chess and its dumber interpretations, such as Really Bad Chess by Zach Gage, a reinvention where each player gets a randomised collection of pieces. Five bishops? OK. No queens? Fine. It’s infuriating and overwhelming and wonderful but sadly only available on phones. So here’s hoping some ridiculous things are created this month to fill that hole.

The jam ends on May 2nd and here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Chess but all the pawns are on strike
  • Chess but the Rooks are tiny castles and there’s a party inside that the other pieces must attend
  • Chess but the board is slowly becoming lava
  • Chess but your King is King Lear and he won’t stop soliloquising
  • Chess but you’ve got to Connect 4
  • Chess but you’re being observed by Stefan Zweig
  • Chess but all the Bishops have joined forces and created their own faith militant to fight both white and black sides in a doomed uprising that will leave the whole board a sorry mess for centuries

I hope that’s got the pawns and knights in your brain moving around in interesting ways, game jammers. Now go forth and chess.


  1. Zyx says:

    Nobody Keres!

    (Kidding, it’s wonderful. I might take part. I just wanted to make the pun).

  2. xvre says:

    Warhammer 40K Regicide is quite good, as well.

  3. negate says:

    Legions at War looks like it will easily become the next best chesslike game. Within the games engine you can already create millions of chess variations and that’s just the start. They boast an impressive lineup of 30 units including buffed up chess pieces.

  4. melerski says:

    Oh no! I’m just finishing my chess-like game. Now the market will be flooded when it releases. Oh well, I’m can’t wait to see what people come up with. I’m probably repeating myself but I had a blast with “You loose Chess” (available at

    • Pantalaimon says:

      Same, though mine is further off being released. It’s a definite pitfall of riffing off an established classic game design. Unlikely that anyone makes the same game as us, but undoubtedly some will make the same design leaps.

      Don’t worry though, I think there’s a big difference between game jam games, which are more slanted towards the inciting idea, and games that have been developed over months or years (more focused on gameplay experience). For better or worse, most of them won’t be developed as long term projects.

  5. thelastpointer says:

    Minecraftbut Chess. (It’s a roguelike, you know.)

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    phuzz says:

    I thought you meant jam as in a preserved fruit-based condiment and now I’m going to go sit in the corner and think about what I’ve done.

  7. Spacewalk says:

    Chess but one of your pieces is trying to leave the board and you must spend the entire game negotiating the best deal for it.

  8. madve2 says:

    Chess but you get to choose your own loadout before each match. You get the king and all the pawns for FREE, plus during the first week after launch there will be a huge discount on the “Starter Pack” which gives you 10 loot crates to start with, each “containing” the chance to have a Queen in it!

  9. scooterthedog says:

    Heads up, the Chess Jam isn’t actually just for games. On the FAQ, the first question states that you can actually create anything for the Jam, just so long as it is, in some way, inspired by chess. Don’t limit yourselves to games people, but let your imagination run wild!