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Racing Kings is a chess variant studied, played, and popularized by online chess community Lichess.org. In this variant the pieces and their defined movements are no different from standard chess. The variation comes from the initial setup of the pieces, the removal of all pawns from the game, one rule change, and a new victory condition.

As illustrated below, all non-pawn pieces for both sides are set up within ranks 1 and 2 (the bottom of the board). Victory is declared for the player who first brings their king to the 8th rank (if the player with the white pieces reaches first, and the player with the black pieces can immediately respond by safely moving their king to the 8th rank, then the game is ruled a draw. this ruling is to compensate for white's advantage with the first move - calculated as slightly larger than white's advantage in a classic game). The significant rule change upon which Racing Kings is unique is that check is illegal. The rules of classic chess state that a player may not move themselves into (nor, for castling, thru) a check. The rules of Racing Kings state that a player may also not move their pieces in such a way that delivers check to the opponent.



    ABCDEFGH    
8                                        8
7                                         7
6                                         6
5                                         5
4                                         4
3                                         3
2 2
1 1
    ABCDEFGH    


If you want to learn how to setup, execute, and break pins successfully, then Racing Kings is just the variant that will help you improve with respect to that tactic. The beauty of the variant is, after deciding to chase material or push the king, the player who is able to cause the most complications for their opponent in terms of pins and space control. With the close quarters brawl which unfolds in Racing Kings, setting absolute pins against an opponent’s major piece (passively interposing for their king) can quickly win material while setting absolute pins against an opponent’s piece which would otherwise deliver check (unfortunately caught while interposing) can provide safe-transit for the pin-side King to advance another rank towards the far end of the board. For detailed analysis of the 52 most common openings in Racing Kings, please see the Lichess Study by authors TheRacingProfessor, TheLlamaLord, and ChessWhiz. There are very valuable insights as you step through each move of the individual chapters, many of which can be applied back to classical chess as well.



Sources
Lichess RK Rules
Lichess RK Study



reQuest 2019