The origin of Three Checks (or Three-Check) Chess is unknown. The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, written by David Pritchard, suggests that the variant could be possibly invented in the Soviet Union, and Anatoly Karpov, the former World Chess Champion, used to be an “invincible player” in his youth. Whether this statement is a result of the communist propaganda or not (regarding the low reliability of any information that originated in the Soviet environment) is left to the reader to make their own opinion.
This is probably one of the easiest variants to learn, as the rules are elementary. The game is played exactly like the standard game, with one key difference – players must count how many times they managed to place the opponent’s king in check. The one who gives a check for the third time, wins the game. A standard checkmate is considered a win as well.
Important! A double check increments the check counter by one as well.
Three Checks Chess is a great fun to play, as the variant introduces many original tactical opportunities. For instance:
- Don’t be afraid to sacrifice your pieces to open file and diagonals against the opponent’s king. Once a long-distance piece (bishop, rook, queen) gets to such an open route, it can usually check the king more than once, which is the primary objective.
- Protect your king cautiously. If possible, block the potential check routes with more than one piece to prevent unexpected sacrifices to open the line.
- Pay increased attention to the opponent’s knights. As they don’t need an open route to check, the knights are very well suited to open surprise attacks.
- Think ahead! If the check score is 1:2, your opponent needs just one more check to win, which makes the need to build a fortress around your king a critical task. At the same time, wait for an opportunity to even the odds.
How balanced is this variant? As White starts the game, they are usually in a better position to give the first check, so the odds are slightly in White’s favor. However, if Black understands the fundamental strategic principles, their chances to win are good as well. I keep a statistics of all finished games at BrainKing.com, so let’s see what the current status of Three Checks Chess is:
|White won||10050 (54.29 %)|
|Black won||8351 (45.11 %)|
|Draw||110 (0.59 %)|
In fact, a draw is very unusual in this variant, so it seems like the respective players just came to a mutual agreement (for whatever reason).
And, as usual, I will guide you through a real game from my database. Here we go: