The Rules of Losing Chess 

Losing chess has several variants. The traditional one, which is also greatly preferred by most strong players, follows:

All the rules of normal chess apply, with the following exceptions:
  • Capturing is compulsory.
  • The king plays no special role - it can be taken, put or left 'en prise'.
  • Pawns can promote to king.
  • The player wins if he cannot move, i.e. he has no pieces left or his pieces are stalemated.

Deviations from traditional rules

Stalemate = Draw

This variant is played in AISE , the Italian Chess Variant Association. Most good players consider this variation quite nonsensical for several reasons. Here is, for example, what Fabrice Liardet (arguably the best Losing Chess and Vinciperdi(!) player) says:

"..I think that LC with Italian rules is doomed by draw death; a win in this game can be due only to weak play by the opponent. A simple drawing strategy is to block as many pawns as possible, and to catch every opportunity of an incomplete clean-up leaving some pawns to the opponent. [...] More arguably, LC with Italian rules becomes tactically more difficult, and hence strategically poorer. But definitely when time control is quick it almost randomizes the game, making impossible to win a won game. ...I could argue against this variation for hours. :-) "

This opinion is shared practically by all strong Losing Chess players.
As far as I know, AISE accepted these rules because of some rumors that the game with traditional rules had been solved. For example, a Michael Muff claimed to have found forced wins for Black after all White moves except 1.b3. Nobody has ever seen his "analysis", and he never replied to any letter, and yet several renown chess magazines, and even  David Pritchard's Encyclopaedia of Chess Variants mentioned this absurd claim. Actually, the game is just as far from being solved as chess. (Remember that even much simpler checkers have not been solved yet!) For more information on Vinciperdi refer to:

Stalemate = Win for the player with fewer pieces.

This variation has been invented on the FICS server, the server with the highest Losing Chess activity. (Also, no castling is allowed there.) It is a bit unusual, but quite acceptable since the difference from traditional rules is hardly perceivable in practical play.

Stalemate does not mean the end of the game.

I have heard of several such variants, but never seen anyone play it. If you know anything about it please inform me.

Variant played on the ICC server

Implemented on the ICC server as 'Wild17', this variant has become the most popular 'Wild' game there. Presence of check and checkmate makes this variant very different from the original game. The variety of endings is extremely reduced as compared to Losing Chess. Fortunately, head ICC programmers ensured me Losing Chess would be also implemented there in August or September 1998! :-) For information on Wild17 (also called Loser's Chess on ICC) refer to:

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