Losers Chess

This is the most popular chess variant in the classroom. One must be sensitive about the terminology (the game is also known as Suicide Chess) but children usually greet the term with alacrity. The forced sequences entice the players to think ahead which is one of the key skills in chess. Results come quickly because so many moves are forced: a typical game takes 10 minutes. The competitive element persists throughout, with the final outcome being unpredictable until close to the end. Children like this game because they get a sense of achievement whatever the outcome. Capturing an opponent’s piece gives immediate material satisfaction, even if that leads to a technical defeat. In effect, this game is a psychological win-win.


Starting with the normal board set up, the objective of the game is the reverse of chess: the first player to lose all their pieces wins the game. The rules are the same as in orthodox chess but with the following adjustments:

*If you can make a capture, you must do it. Kings can be captured.
*If there is more than one capture, it is your choice.
*If no moves are possible, the player with the fewer pieces is the winner (piece count for tie-break).

White to play and win

White can win with a forcing sequence:

1. Qb8! Rxb8
2. Bb5 Rxb5
3. Kg3 Rxh5
4. Kh4 Rxh4

The rook was obliged to make each capture, including the king.


The moves are shown with arrows.