Conquer the Kings – a four-way variant of chess

by ChessBase
10/26/2009 – Here's a new angle on our beloved game: four players, who can strategically vary their starting position, and then play independently or join forces to capture the enemy kings. "Last man standing" is the winner. Originator Johnny M. Wahl says that this game is friendlier and more easily digestible than regular chess. He has enthusiastic videos to bear this out. Illustrated report.

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Conquer the Kings

Four-way chess by Johnny M. Wahl

According to the author this game was created with two purposes in mind: "First, for those who already play chess, it is a fresh, exciting take on the classic game while maintaining the principles of movement and strategy that made the original so beloved. And second, for anyone who may have been intimidated by the original game, Conquer the Kings allows for learning to be had in a friendlier, perhaps more easily digestible manner. What's most intriguing is that neophytes and experts alike can sit at the same table and, at times and when necessary, join forces to reach the ultimate goal: Conquer the Kings!"

While you are contemplating Johnny Wahl's words and perusing the images below, you may want to listen to the Conquer the Kings theme song in the background. Click on the Play button to listen.

There are also two videos at the end of this report that demonstrate the game and its rules in vivid, enthusiastic fashion.

Conquer the Kings – basic equipment and setup

Each player starts behind their respective "Front Line" (the four rows closest to the player). Each has 16 pieces, exactly like in chess, and is allowed to place these on the 18 spaces provided anyway he or she likes. This allows setup strategy to be player specific and not board specific (as in chess).

Basic starting position for one side

Starting a game with the Basic Setup on all four sides

the "King's Defense" strategy setup

The "Chaos Left" starting setup

Starting strategy for "Arrow" formation

The object of the game is to conquer the other player's king, remove him and his army from the battlefield and continue until only one king and his army is left standing. Optionally once a king is captured and removed, the conqueror takes over the remaining pieces on the board as his own army to continue. A third variant leaves the remaining pieces on the board to be used as cannon fodder for the other players – they are obstacles that have to be cleared to open the board game up for play.

Kids take to the game quickly and with enthusiasm

Experimenting with Conquer the Kings at Hobby Town USA in Kennesaw, GA in June 2008.Hobby Town USA purchased five games in December 08 and has, so far, only sold one. But the game is on the shelf!

The game is displayed in the World Chess Hall-of-Fame & Sidney Samole Chess
Museum located in Miami Florida – it is also on sale there in the Gift Shop

Video instructions

The the following clips Johnny M. Wahl explains how Conquer the Kings works.

Conquer the Kings – Part 1 (6 min 38 sec)

Conquer the Kings – Part 2 (6 min 15 sec)


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