Wonderland Chess is a variant on the game of Chess that incorporates themes from the Lewis Carroll books Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Because it adds random, unpredictable, and arbitrary elements, it reduces Chess from a game of pure skill to one merely of social enjoyment, ensuring it will be enjoyed by those who are not good at chess and resented by those who are.
Things you will need to play this game include a Chess set — along with at least basic knowledge of or instructions how to play it — a six-sided die, some tokens that clearly represent additional necessary pieces (e.g., Alice, Jabberwock), a standard poker deck, and the rules that appear here. If you have an extra set of Black pieces that you can paint Red, which is the color that opposes White in Carroll’s stories, that would be helpful as well!
* Set up the chess board and begin play as usual, with White moving first. Whichever White Pawn moves first — whether on the first or subsequent turns — is marked as Alice and remains that way throughout the game. It can thereafter move one space in any direction and can neither be killed nor kill other pieces. If Alice reaches the Red/Black player’s back space it can be removed from the game and any other regular piece can be substituted for it.
* Each time you take an enemy piece, draw a card from the deck. Each time a piece of yours other than a Pawn is taken you can also draw a card from the deck.
* When cards are played they are removed and cannot be played again in the current game.
* You can play up to one card from your hand, either before your move if no conditions are listed, or on your turn if the conditions described for it exist (e.g., “Move and then play this card”). Likewise, you can play up to one card from your hand on your opponent’s turn if the conditions are met (e.g., “In response to an enemy piece attempting to take one of your pieces”).
* The game ends when one player wins by killing his opponent’s King.
Sample Cards (key to specific poker cards)
Following are several sample cards. We would like to include as many as 54 different ones, so suggestions are welcome!
Abdicate: In response to an enemy move or attack, your king and any other piece of yours swap places, and then your other piece is removed from the board. Long live the king!
Counterattack: In response to an enemy piece attempting to take one of your pieces, your piece can make a Resistance check. If it succeeds, it can counterattack the enemy piece, which can itself attempt a Resistance check to avoid being removed.
Faster! Faster: When you move your Queen, play this card to move a Pawn of either side that is in an adjacent space to any other free adjacent space after the move is completed.
Gang Up: When you attempt to take an enemy piece, play this card to have each other piece of yours adjacent to it make an attack against it. The attacked piece must roll to resist each attack in order and, if and when one succeeds, the successful attacking piece moves into the space of the killed enemy. It may counterattack if it succeeds on all its Resistance checks.
Jabberwock: Play this card to replace any piece of yours with the Jabberwock token. You may thereafter use it as a regular piece that can move as either a Queen or a Knight and has a Resistance of 9 (except against the effects of a “Vorpal Sword” card).
Lily is Crying: After your move, play this card to have the White Queen — whether it is yours or your opponent’s — move to a space of your choice in its own back row (to tend its crying child). If that space is next to the White King, you have the option of moving it into any adjacent open space (as the Queen shoves him out of the way).
Matriarchy: In response to your King being taken, swap places with it and your Queen, and then remove the Queen from the board. Long live the Queen!
Monstrous Crow: In response to an opponent moving to take one of your pieces, play this card to negate the attack and end your opponent’s turn.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow, As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so, They quite forgot their quarrel.
Pity for the King: After your move, play this card to move your King to any space on the board that you choose.
Red King’s Dream: Play in response to an enemy piece moving or attacking. If that piece fails a Resistance check, it was only a figment in another character’s dream and is removed from the game.
Retreat: In response to an enemy attack on one of your pieces, have it retreat to any open square on your back row (or on the second row if the back row is full).
Trample: Move and then play this card against an enemy knight to have its horse panic and trample a random adjacent piece, which must succeed at a Resistance check or be killed.
Vorpal Sword: Play this card on the Jabberwock to kill and remove it from the game if it is on the board. It cannot resist this effect.
Writing the King’s Memorandum: In lieu of moving one of your own pieces, play this card to move one of your opponent’s pieces to any free space that it would be able to move to. It cannot be used to capture another piece of either side.
Resisting Bad Effects
In most cases, a piece has a chance to prevent a card effect working against it by making a Resistance check. To succeed at such a check, a piece must roll the number associated with it or lower on a six-sided die. A King is assumed to always make Resistance checks if subjected to them.
Piece Resistance No.