Reveal Chess

Before the game starts, erect a screen – a visual barrier – between the players. Each player sets up their army unseen by the other player. You can only place pieces on your side of the board. Pawns cannot be placed on the first rank. Bishops do not have to be on different coloured squares.  At the start of the game the screen is removed to reveal the positions on either side. The rules are then as in chess. Reveal Chess is a faster variant of chess due to how the pieces are set up.

Reveal Chess
Screen across the midline

The set-up phase is critical. Players should devise a strong starting position taking into account all they have learned.  The safety of the king is paramount. Pieces should be co-ordinated. You have to take into account how your opponent may deploy their forces. In the position below, White has chosen to place the king in the corner of the queenside but to mass the pawns on the kingside.  If Black arranges its forces as in the diagram, then the game will be very asymmetric.

Example set up








Reveal Chess is a fun game because the players like to try and out-think their opponent in the set-up phase. The gameplay is dynamic due to the asymmetry and the possibility for early attacks against the opponent’s king.   Games played tend to be shorter than orthodox chess which makes this variant an attractive option for the classroom.  Measures may have to be taken to prevent some players from spying on their opponent during the set up.


A simpler mini-game than Reveal Chess is Choose Your Army. The games are similar in that you choose your own army. The difference is that the value of the army officers is restricted to 9 or 10 points.  So in addition to your 8 pawns, you can also select any of the following combinations: