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Four Player Chess: How To Play And Win
A game of Four Player chess on Chess.com.

Four Player Chess: How To Play And Win

While the traditional two-player chess that we know and love today has become the most popular way to play, there have been hundreds of variations of chess created by imaginative fans of the game.

One of the earliest and most notable variants of chess was four-player chess. If it was fun with two, why not with four? There have also been versions with three, six, and even 12 players...but of course four is the magic number! 

Vintage 4 player chessboard. Source: http://www.crumiller.com/chess/chess_pages/miscellanea/Victorian4PlayerChessSet.htm

FOUR PLAYER CHESS ON CHESS.COM

Chess.com introduced Four Player chess recently. You can check it out here!

How and why?

Well, our CEO Erik is always looking to bring on interesting features and talented chess developers. One day he stumbled on to hellochess.com, which was hosting Four Player Chess and a few other variants. After some discussion with John, the amazing developer behind the site, we were fortunate enough to bring him on board to rebuild it for Chess.com.

Four Player Chess on Chess.com is a little bit different from the more traditional rules. In the past, it was usually 2-vs-2 or last man standing. However, as we play-tested the game we noticed that it seemed to often reward the most cautious players rather than the most ambitious. We opted to choose a points-based approach, which would balance aggressive play and also reward going after the other kings.

We hope we have found a good mix!

Additionally, we have changed the chess clocks to improve the pace of the game for players. For a complete set of rules, visit the official Four Player chess page.

BASIC STRATEGIES (as provided by Chess.com CCO, IM Danny Rensch)

  1. The most dangerous player on the board is the one to your left. If this player checks you (or plays another powerful attacking or capturing move), there are now two more players who can pile up with other tempo moves before it's your turn. So always look left!
  2. Never assume a recapture. Just like in real chess, where we should try to be aware of "zwischenzugs" (in-between tactics), in Four Player Chess; weird, surprising moves come from everywhere. So when you think you're calculating a "forced line," think again!
  3. Bishops = best. OK, Not really, but they are darn good. This is a hard psychological thing to get behind at first when considering "bishop trades for knights" because you're used to this being OK in regular chess. It's normally a TERRIBLE idea in Four Player. Bishops are worth five (appropriately) like the rooks, but in some positions, they may be the most important, most dangerous pieces on the board, launching from one side to another.
  4. Pawn promotion is key. Some players employ early "pawn-rush" strategies to get that coveted second queen, while others like to slow play with multiple pawns, anticipating that it won't be the first one to queen who matters, but who can get two or even three extra queens. It happens! So watch out!

Finally, despite all I said, don't completely walk away from classical chess principles. As more Four Player chess theory has developed, you will often see the stronger players doing things like:

  • fianchettoing a bishop
  • getting castled
  • moving rooks to the center behind advancing pawns
  • developing ALL of their pieces before going crazy with attacks

Now it's your turn to give it a try. Click here or the button below to join a Four Player chess game. Have fun!

4 Player Chess

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