Discovering Horde Chess

First experiences of the Horde Chess variant

Introduced to Horde Chess, a chess variant where Black plays as normal against a White side with 36 pawns, handily available to play online at (White wins by checkmate, Black wins by capturing all the White pieces.)

Starting position for Horde Chess

It reminded me of the classic arcade game Breakout - if Black can get a piece behind the intimidating wall of pawns, it can then bounce around and mop them up from behind in safety. I have a feeling (based on just two games) that a reasonable strategy for White is to advance slowly, filling in gaps in formation - just a shame that’s such a dull strategy to play!

Screenshot of Breakout game

When I tried playing against the computer using the Lichess app, I won as White - but I did notice the computer making apparently pointless moves, just shuffling pieces around. Perhaps the chess engine wasn’t tuned to Horde Chess, and without a route to achieve checkmate, it didn’t have much idea what to do.

Once we swapped sides and it was playing white and had a black King to target, it beat me (I’d like to say narrowly, but I’m not sure if I’m being optimistic there).

More information on the game and strategies is at the Horde Chess Blog and a Reddit post on strategy.


See also