Homecoming Chess

The game is suitable for beginners who know the basic moves and the board setup. The game does not last very long but requires concentration, planning and patience.

Set up
Start with no pawns and all the officers occupying incorrect squares. The teacher should set up a symmetrical position such as that above. Each army has one bishop of each colour. The queen should be on the same colour as herself.

The pieces move as in chess except there are no captures, checks or checkmate. Moves are only possible to an empty square. Once a piece has returned home it cannot move again. The players take turns to move their pieces back to the correct starting squares. The winner is the one who achieves the correct starting position first. If one player cannot move the result is a draw.

Best play involves finding the minimum number of moves to get your pieces home. In the diagram below, the rook takes three moves to return home.

However,  two moves can be saved if the queen, knight and bishop are moved out of the way first, then the rook only needs one move.


Calculate how many moves it takes to get back to the proper starting position, assuming no interference by other pieces. Can you do it in your head?


  1. The players set up their opponent’s position which can be different from their own.
  2. Set up your pieces on the other side of the board and bring them home, so that there is interference from the opponent.