Alberto Chueca, FIDE Trainer & International Master 
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The funniest/craziest of chess games

Different from normal chess, the 4 player chess variation is quite unique, it’s played by 4 people simultaneously and 96 extra squares. With more players, squares, pieces, and time to play, these games can get real messy and destructive.

There is a theory of the origin of this chess format, it states that 4 player chess was the first version of the normal chess game we all know. What it is for sure is that 4 player chess appeared first in the 1800s in England.

This is one of the best options for chess players who just want to have fun and spend a good time with the magic of chess. However it doesn’t mean 4 player chess is purely for having fun, it can be good training too.

Tons of players enjoy this format, although it’s not too competitive. For example, we see GM Hikaru Nakamura playing 4 player chess live stream all the time.

Tactics and strategies may be the same that we see in a regular chess game, nonetheless, they become more complex. Because now you have to think about 3 opponents instead of one, which makes the calculation a lot harder.

For example, now bishops become more powerful, this is because the chessboard is now bigger, while knights are now weaker. This is why you should never exchange a bishop for a knight in 4 player chess.

Rules to play 4 player chess

The first thing we have to know is that there are two ways to play 4 player chess. You can play in teams, which means, 2 vs 2 or you can play single, kind of like a FFA. Only the best will come out on top!

The turns start with the white pieces and follow the turns to the player on the right like the clock.

Also, this game is not about checkmating everyone, the system to decide the winner is by points. Every action you take in 4 player chess games gives you points, like capturing pieces or checkmating.

In 4 player chess, you win points by:

  • Capturing a pawn: 1 point
  • Capturing a knight: 3 points
  • Capturing a bishop: 5 points
  • Capturing a rook: 5 points
  • Capturing a queen: 9 points
  • Checking two kings with one move: 6 points
  • Checkmating eliminates a player and gives 20 points to the player who delivered the checkmate.
  • Capturing a pawn that has promoted to the queen will grant the player just 1 point

About the movement of the pieces, castling, and en passant captures the rules are the same as in normal chess. The pawns promote in their 8th rank, which means pawns promote practically in the center of the board.

The 4 player chess becomes completely dynamic, positional and strategical concepts become more irrelevant. Here you achieve points by attacking, there will be no time for exploiting positional advantages.

Basic ideas to survive in 4 player chess

player chess strategy

There are some features different from normal chess in 4 player chess. I’ll give you some tips so you don’t get checkmated in three turns and winning games:

You should always aim for the player at the left. Say, for example, that you check the player at your left, then he will have to wait for 3 turns so he can answer the threat and in this format, 1 tempo is worth gold.

In 4 player chess, you can’t waste time! One tempo is enough to bring you down, you have to be aware and play safely, almost cowardly. The reason is simple: When you get checked you are vulnerable, you will have to wait an eternity to play again, for then, the situation on the board will be different.

Don’t trade pieces off the board! Remember 4 player chess is all about the attack so you want to have more manpower you can. Trading pieces may give you points but is a bad move anyway, you have to win pieces while maintaining your own on the board.

Don’t play risky moves! Different from normal chess in 4 player chess you don’t win by a sacrifice, sacrifice again and checkmate. It doesn’t matter if you have fewer points than the other players, they can get too busy quarreling between themselves and have the upper hand at the end.

Make a queen as fast as you can! The player who gets a queen fast in the center of the board will normally get an advantage. If you get a queen first you should use it to prevent the other players to promote or trading one pawn-queen with a regular queen. Losing the queen early on in the game can be devastating for a player.

Playing 4 player chess will improve your chess skills

In this format the number of players is multiplied so the possibilities are also multiplied, bigger board bigger options! This will force you to think further ahead than in normal chess and consider more moves.

4 player chess

Prophylaxis in 4 player chess is harder to apply than in normal chess, it’s almost impossible to determine a plan. Knowing what the other three players are planning about is nearly impossible with all the opportunities on the board.

Your chess calculation and analytical skills will be strained if you are trying to win. If you can have the level of calculation needed to succeed in 4 player chess, then regular chess with fewer squares will be a piece of cake!

This format will get you out of the comfort zone getting used to a bigger board will better your tactical vision.

Different formats like chess 960 or 4 player chess make you have a different approach to chess. Also, they provide the opportunity to see different patterns and strategies that are impossible to see in normal chess. However, these new conceptions may be useful as general chess skills.

Play 4 player chess: https://www.chess.com/es/4-player-chess

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