13 Variations on the game
Variation #1: Random setup
Chess 99 can be played in a random variation to prevent openings memorization. The starting position of the pieces is partially randomized forcing players to rely mostly on their talent and ingenuity. For the purpose of randomization, the nine main pieces are divided into three groups, namely rook/knight/bishop on the left, queen/king/paladin in the middle, and bishop/knight/rook on the right. Within each group, the three pieces will be distributed randomly.
Since each group will have six possible arrangements, an ordinary dice will suffice for the purpose of randomization but three rolls – one per group – will be needed to define the entire setup. The table below may be used to set white’s pieces. Black’s pieces are set so that the board appears exactly the same to each player. (The initial setup board must always show a central symmetry with respect to the e5 square.)
This randomization process gives 216 different starting positions (6x6x6) although half of the positions are actually mirrorimages of the other half. Note that a roll of (111) will result in the standard initial setup. The game is then played the same as standard Chess 99 in all respects.
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Note: Using a random setup, 44% of the games will have the bishops on squares of opposite colors, and 11% will have all bishops on light squares. (For the remaining games, all bishops will be on dark squares as in the standard setup.)
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Example of random setup:
This is the initial setup obtained using the table above after rolling (633). Do note that the board has a central symmetry around the e5 square. In this particular instance, the queens – rather than the kings – are facing each other, and the bishops are on squares of opposite colors.
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Variation #2: Reduced power for Queen and Paladin
Another variation of the game may be played where the queens and the paladins have their strength significantly reduced. In this variation:

The queens may still move like a rook and a bishop but they are only permitted to capture an opponent’s piece when moving like a bishop.

The paladins may still move like a knight and a bishop but they are only permitted to capture an opponent’s piece when moving like a knight.
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Note the following:

The queen is still significantly stronger than the simple bishop since 1) it has more flexibility as to where it can go and 2) it can readily move from one square color to the other.

The paladin is still significantly stronger that the simple knight since it can move around the board much more rapidly.

The queen and the paladin will have strengths similar to that of the rooks and they may all be referred to as the “major pieces.”

There are thus four major pieces and four minor pieces.

There will be three pieces that can capture while moving like a bishop.

There will be three pieces that can capture while moving like a knight.
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