Board Games Like Chess

5 Best Board Games Like Chess

If you enjoy the ancient board game of chess, you will enjoy this essay. Numerous people all over the world like strategy games which are board games like chess, and while chess is the game that most people think of when they think of strategy games, there are many games similar to chess that may be just as entertaining and mentally taxing.

First and foremost, before we get into the meat of the post, let’s define strategy games and why they are so popular.

Strategy games are distinct from other types of games on the market in that they require the player to use their cerebral abilities while also requiring proper skills and a high concentration level. The higher your skill level and the more effort you put into these games, the better your odds of winning are.

In this post, we’ll go through 5 board games like chess that chess fans will undoubtedly appreciate.

5 Board Games Like Chess

1- Shogi (Japanese Chess)

  • Genre- Abstract Strategy Game, Mind Game 
  • Players- 2
  • Set up Time- More than 2 minutes 
  • Playing Time- 30 min to 2 hours  
  • Synonyms- Japanese Chess, Game of Generals 

Shogi is a Japanese chess variant that is played on a nine-piece board. The difficulty of the game is determined by the size of the board. It is a popular board game like chess. For those who are new to the game and its gaming principles, the game also includes a complete set of English tutorials.

The main purpose of the game is to keep your opponent’s king in check by preventing them from making any safe moves. This game has several variations, including unit capturing and the “promotion zone.” Shogi is known for its unique play style and king capture. Shogi, like chess, is distinguished by its playstyle and king capture.


Two players compete on an 81-square board with rectangles organized in a grid of nine ranks (rows) by nine files (columns). They are called Sente (first player) and Gote (second player) in Japanese, but Black and White in English, with Black being the first player.

Almost always, the board is rectangular, and the rectangles aren’t marked or colored in any way. Pairs of dots show a player’s promotion zone.

Each player begins with a collection of 20 flat wedge-shaped pentagonal pieces of varied sizes. Opposing pieces, with the exception of the kings, have no marks or colors. The pieces face forward by pointing the sharp side of each piece toward the opponent’s side.

Following are the pieces required to Play Shogi- 

  • 1 king
  • 1 rook
  • 1 bishop
  • 2 gold generals
  • 2 silver generals
  • 2 knights
  • 2 lances
  • 9 pawns

Setup and Gameplay

  1. In front of each player, they place friendly pieces (toward the opponent).
  2. The king is placed in the middle file, closest to the player.
  3. The king and the two gold generals are maintained in the same file.
  4. Each gold general is flanked by two silver generals.
  5. The two silver generals are positioned side by side.
  6. The two lances are placed in the corners next to each knight.
  7. In the second rank, each player takes the following positions:
  8. The bishop is on the same file as the left knight, while the rook is on the same file as the right knight.
  9. The nine pawns are arranged in the third rank, one per file

2- Chaturaji (Indian Chess) 

The Chess Ancestors is a four-player game with a chance element. The objective of the game was to score points rather than checkmate. The word Chaturaji literally means “four Rajas.” It is among one the ancient board games like chess from India. Even if this game is not a direct descendant of chess, it is unquestionably old. The Mahabharata, one of two great Sanskrit epics, is likely to reference it. Some verses mention a game with four colored pieces and a die. “That high-souled king’s courtier,” the player becomes. It’s unclear if these verses refer to a chess-like game or a racing game similar to Pachisi.

Board and Pieces

A 64-square (8-square) board, similar to a chessboard but not checkered, is required to play Chaturaji. You can, of course, use a conventional chessboard, which is fairly convenient.

In addition, you’ll need four sets of parts in four different colors: black, yellow, green, and red.

Each set includes:

  • 4 pawns 
  • 1 raja (king) 
  • 1 elephant 
  • 1 horse
  • 1 boat 

This game also requires dice. Oblong (four-sided) dice were traditionally used. There were 2, 3, 4, or 5 pips on the four long long walls of the oblong die. In the photo below, you can see some oblong dice.

Players take turns (black – green – red – yellow) clockwise. Before making a move, each player rolls a die. The outcome of the toss determines which piece moves.

There is no check or checkmate; the king, like any other piece, can be captured. The objective of the game is to earn as many points as possible. According to this scale, points are earned by capturing opponents’ pieces:

A player that captures all three of their opponents’ kings while keeping their own king on the board receives 54 points. This value is the total of all three armies’ points.

3- Janggi (Korean Chess)

Janggi is Korean chess which is another one of the board game-like chess variants inspired by Xiangqi (“Chinese chess”). Although there are many similarities between Janggi and Xiangqi, such as beginning positions and board layout, Janggi contains several Korean inventions.

Pieces and Playing Methods

The board has nine vertical files and ten horizontal rows, with the pieces placed at the intersections. Green or red are the two sides, with green making the first move. Traditional Chinese characters are written on the red pieces (Hanja). In a semi-cursive script, their green piece counterparts are labeled. A palace has 3 by 3 lines (9 positions) on each side of the board against the back edge, with four diagonal lines extending outward from the center to form an “X” shape.

In international chess, these pieces are equivalent to kings. The general begins the game at the palace’s central intersection and may move one square at a time to any of the palace’s nine places by following the lines drawn on the board. When the general is checkmated, the game is over.

Horses move similarly to knight in international chess.  

Elephants travel at one point in either direction, then two diagonally outward points. It cannot move in a direction when a piece is blocking its route.

In international chess, chariots move similarly to rooks.

Cannons move by jumping horizontally or vertically over another piece. They can jump over any distance as long as there is exactly one piece between where they started and where they want to go. They cannot, however, jump over another gun (friend or foe) or take an opponent’s cannon.

Soldiers advance forward or sideways at one point. They can only move sideways once they reach the end of the board. They can travel forward along diagonal lines within a palace.

4- Djambi (French Chess) 

Djambi, or Machiavelli’s Chess, is a four-player board game like chess that may be played with only three. Pentachiavel is a five-player variant of the game.

It’s a treasonous game. Each player leads a political party made up of nine pieces:

Chess Pieces

  • 1 Leader
  • 1 Journalist
  • 1 Assassin
  • 1 Provoker
  • 1 Necromobile
  • 4 Activists

How to Play?

All of them roam a 9×9 square board with the exception of the center area, which is known as The Labyrinth.

Except for the Activist, who moves the same as the Queen in Chess but only for two squares.

A piece, whether alive or dead, cannot pass through another piece.

The goal of the game is to obtain total authority by defeating all other leaders.

Dead pieces are colorless.

The Labyrinth is the legal power’s foundation, the path to absolute power. This square can only be occupied by a Leader. After each opponent, it begins its partisan play. However, practically all other pieces can kill it there.

By assuming the place of any piece on the board, the Leader can kill it. The grabbed piece is dead and placed on any adjacent free square of the board.

The Journalist eliminates a piece that is near to any of the four squares with which it shares a common boundary. It does this immediately after moving. The body is found dead when it was assassinated. Before executing, he must move at least one square.

By assuming the place of any piece, the Assassin can murder it. The piece is placed on the spot where the Assassin stood before moving.

If it assumes its position, the Provoker, the living mover, can move any living component. The captured piece is placed alive on any other free square on the board.

The Necromobile, or “Dead Mover,” can move any dead piece if it takes its place. The stolen piece is placed dead on any other available square on the board.

The Activists can eliminate a component by replacing it. The stolen piece is placed dead on any other available square on the board. In the Labyrinth, it is impossible to execute a leader.

5- Courier Chess (German Chess)

From the 12th until the 18th century, courier chess flourished in central Europe, particularly in Germany. It coexisted with the medieval form of chess imported from the Islamic world, and it survived into the contemporary age alongside the chess we know today.

The courier, which moved like our modern bishop, was a unique piece in this game.

We’ll begin with the pieces more familiar to modern chess players:

Chess Pieces and Equipment

  • In every direction, the King (König) moves one space. He does not have the ability to castle and must always move to avoid being captured (“in check”).
  • The Rook (Roche) can move as many squares as it wants, forward, backward, left, or right, until it meets another piece or reaches the board’s end. Identical to the modern rook.
  • The Knight (Reutter) moves in an unusual L-shape, with two spaces ahead, backward, right, or left, and one square at a right angle. It can’t be obstructed by anything else. This action is also identical to its modern counterpart.
  • Like a contemporary pawn, the Pawn (Soldat) travels one space ahead but captures forward/diagonally. It does not advance two places (unless as mentioned later) and only advances to the rank of medieval queen.
  • The Courier (Kurierer), after whom this game is named, moves in the same way as our modern bishop does: it can travel as many spaces diagonally as it wants, but it cannot jump over pieces in its way.
  • The Medieval Bishop (Schütze), not to be confused with the courier, has an unusual move for a modern chess player. He can only travel two spaces diagonally, and he has the ability to jump over any piece that gets in his way.
  • This peculiar move can only take him to 12 possible squares on the entire 8 by 12 chessboard.
  • On the entire 8 by 12 chessboard, this unusual move can only lead him to 12 possible squares.
  • Only one square diagonally moves the Medieval Queen (Königin). Quite unlike the current queen, yet typical of chess up to the sixteenth century.
  • The Sage (Man) moves like a king yet can be captured just like any other piece.
  • The Jester (Schleich) only travels forward, backward, left, or right in one space.

How to Play?

Each player starts the game by making four unusual moves: The three pawns in front of the rooks and queen advance two spaces, while the queen herself advances two spaces to stand precisely behind the advanced queen pawn. The two players then take turns playing, each moving one piece according to its typical movement.

Captures are achieved by moving a piece onto an opposing piece’s square. Except for the pawn (explained previously), other pieces are captured by using their normal motions.

When a player’s King is in danger of being captured, a “check” is called, and the player must maneuver so that his King is no longer in danger. If there is no way to remove the threat from the King, he is in “checkmate,” and the game is over. Even though the King is not in immediate danger, any move he makes puts him in danger of being captured (stalemate).

If a pawn makes it to the other side of the board, it is promoted and replaced by a medieval queen (a relatively weak piece).

When neither player has enough resources to win the game, the game is declared a draw.


Is Shogi harder than chess? 

Shogi is considered a more difficult game than many other board games like chess because if players capture an opponent’s piece, they can use it as their own. This means that, whereas other board games like chess games become simpler as the number of pieces on the board decreases, shogi games become more complex.

What is the most significant similarity between chess and chaturaji? 

Chaturanga is another board game like chess, which shows a battle between two armies. Each of the game’s pieces represents one of the Indian army’s four divisions at the time.


We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of the various strategy games and board games like chess that chess players can play. Let us and your chess community readers know whether you enjoy other board games like chess and what you like about the similarities.

Someone may find one game an excellent substitute for chess, while another may despise it for the same reasons. It’s one thing to recommend a game because it’s similar to another, but it’s even more enjoyable to delve deeper and discover the links.

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