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First, I apologise for asking a question that's not strictly in the right Q&A format; I'm hoping there are quality answers anyway.

Are there any puzzle or solitaire games based on chess? By this I mean

  • Does not require more than one intelligent player (e.g. if there is a second player, their moves can be mechanical or based on simple rules)
  • Based on the rules of chess (or chess variants such as xiangqi): either using real chess pieces, the rules of capture, or maybe even novelty pieces

For example, the 8 queens puzzle might qualify, although in my opinion it's not very fun to play as a game. There's also a toy called "Solitaire Chess" based on a 4x4 board and the objective is to only use capturing moves until only one piece is left, just like solitaire. Are there any more like this?

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  • $\begingroup$ I've voted to place this question on hold as "too broad" - while I think you have an idea in mind of what you're looking for, this question comes across, at least to me, a little bit vague. Could you possibly narrow what types of games you're looking for? $\endgroup$ – Aza May 29 '14 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul I gave 8 queens and solitaire chess as examples of what I'm looking for. I agree that it's still a broad question, but I don't understand how it's vague. Should I elaborate on the examples, or are they confusing? $\endgroup$ – congusbongus May 29 '14 at 7:54
  • $\begingroup$ There's also the Knight's Tour, but that also is uninteresting once you know how. $\endgroup$ – Kendall Frey May 29 '14 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm... I think I meant to write "too broad," sorry. $\endgroup$ – Aza May 29 '14 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul I actually think this is a good question. I think it is a puzzle identification question, like we discussed here. What do you think makes this one different? I'd actually be quite interested in answers to this. (Just wondering about your POV here.) $\endgroup$ – WendiKidd May 29 '14 at 21:58
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Besides the classic "Mate in 2" or "White to play and win" puzzles there are retrograde analysis problems, where you are called upon to figure out what the last move was or how a position was achieved.

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    $\begingroup$ In particular, retro problems tend to resemble intricate sliding-piece puzzles much more than they resemble anything like chess. If you want more chess retros than you'll likely be able to solve in a lifetime, have a look at janko.at/Retros . $\endgroup$ – Steven Stadnicki May 30 '14 at 1:54
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You might like Chess Mazes, by Bruce Alberston. There are two volumes, each with over a hundred puzzles. The idea is that you have one "maze piece" that can move, and the opponent never moves, unless they can take your piece. The object is to put the king in check, or checkmate, depending on the puzzle.

I also came up with a game called "Queen's Quadrille" many years ago that's like the classic 15-puzzle but which uses chess moves. And inspired by chess mazes, I have a thing that someone else named "Chess Contradanse", which you can see on the chessvariants pages. The idea is to set up the pieces in their usual starting locations, but leave off the pawns, and move all the pieces to the opposite back row, without putting any of them in danger, given that the first and eighth rows are considered safe from capture.

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The ones I've seen mostly show a board position (often one that occurred in a real match) and the challenge is to figure out how to force checkmate in some given number of moves. These are often seen in one-a-day calendars. A quick google search shows a number of online versions, though I'm having trouble finding a calendar version quickly.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1; a lot of strategy games have puzzles like this. I know Go does. It's interesting to find the places where games and puzzles meet. $\endgroup$ – WendiKidd May 29 '14 at 22:09
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The definitive books on chess retrograde analysis are the Raymond Smullyan classics "The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes" (1979) and "The Chess Mysteries of the Arabian Knights." (1981)

Retrograde Analysis puzzles are where you are given a finished state of the chess board and have to work backwards from that state.

You may have to prove who moved last, or what the last move was, or even what way around the board is! They are logic problems, not chess problems, though they take place within the confines of a normal chess board and within its rule structure, so a working knowledge of chess is necessary.

They are very different than traditional chess puzzles that ask you to take a certain state and work it forwards to a check-mate.

They are also fiendishly difficult to get good at!

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Get two eight-sided dice, pick a piece at random, and use the dice to place it on the board (re-throw if necessary). Now try to remove all the pieces without making a non-taking move.

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The Chess StackExchange has about 130 puzzles and almost 80 problems.

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