Chess Terms
Sideways Pawns

Sideways Pawns

If you're the type of player who likes to try out new things, you can't miss this "alien" chess variant.

Here's what you need to know about Sideways Pawns:

What Is Sideways Pawns?

Sideways Pawns is a chess variant first proposed by DeepMind, the team behind AlphaZero. In this variant, players can move their pawns sideways one square.

Sideways Pawns.
Players can move their pawns sideways in this variant.

This simple deviation from the rules of regular chess affects many aspects of the game. The relative values of pieces decrease, and new types of tactics arise. Endgame theory gets thrown out the window, and players can't create permanent weaknesses in the opponent's position.

About this variant, former world champion GM Vladimir Kramnik, who helped DeepMind test this and other variants, said: "This is the most perplexing and 'alien' of all variants of chess that we have considered."

GM Vladimir Kramnik
Kramnik teamed up with DeepMind to explore how AlphaZero could help design new chess variants. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"This variant of chess is quite different and at times hard to understand," Kramnik added, "but could be interesting for players who are open to experimenting with few attachments to the original game!"

How To Play Sideways Pawns Online

You don't have to be an alien or visit another planet to play this variant. In fact, you can easily do it right here on Just go to our Variants page and choose the Sideways Pawns option from the options menu.

Play Sideways Pawns online
Go to our Variants page to play Sideways Pawns.


You now know what Sideways Pawns is, its rules, and how to play it online. Click the button below to try this entertaining variant!

Play Sideways Pawns

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