Armageddon | Chess Variant to Decide a Winner

Every year, the standards of chess are ascending to new heights. With AI playing a significant role in player preparation, individuals now have access to a treasure trove of generational chess knowledge through readily available databases.

Top players are making the most of this wealth of chess knowledge, turning chess competition into a battle of preparation, memory, and innovative ideas generated using computers.

This trend has led to an increasing number of drawn games, not only in classical chess but also in rapid and blitz formats. To determine tournament winners, a chess variant known as Armageddon is employed.

Armageddon chess is a unique variant in which the player with the black pieces wins in the case of a drawn game. The player with the white pieces receives an initial time advantage on the clock. If they fail to convert the game into a win, they suffer a loss even with a draw.

This rule, adopted by the World Chess Federation and other chess federations, ensures that the game has a decisive outcome, ultimately determining the tournament’s victor.

All that scenario leads to a very important question!

Is Classical Chess dead?

No, classical chess is not dead. Games getting decided on Armageddon has nothing to do with classical chess being dead. Only the fans’ perception of exciting chess is evolved. Serious chess enthusiasts still love the classical format of chess. And there is no better format than classical to test the actual playing skill of a chess player.

Of course, time is an important factor in today’s fast-paced world, and not everyone can dedicate seven hours a day to play or watch chess. However, classical chess remains the most esteemed among all chess formats due to its ability to showcase a player’s true skill.

Who Chooses Colors in Armageddon Chess?

According to FIDE’s rules, a coin toss is used to determine the colors in Armageddon games between two players.

But it also is implemented in several other ways like in some tournaments, the higher-rated or top-seeded player of the tournament decides the color of pieces or there are also tournaments in which the arbitrator decides the color of pieces.

Who has the advantage in Armageddon chess?

Typically, a player with white pieces enjoys an advantage in winning a chess game.

In Armageddon chess, if the time control is 5 minutes for white and 3 minutes for black, then white has the advantage but in the more commonly used system of 5 minutes for white and 4 minutes for black, it’s actually black who holds the advantage in winning the match.

Is Armageddon in chess fair?

Yes, Armageddon is a fair rule, because at the end of the day a tournament requires a winner. And Armageddon comes into play only after all the other options fail to decide a winner.

Armageddon might feel like one of the weird chess rules but it isn’t weird at all. In fact it gives an equal opportunity to both the players to show their chess skills in a must decide game.

In many other sports especially team sports, they don’t even give an equal chance to decide the winner, and give victory to the higher-ranked team or in some games like Cricket, they gave victory to England over New Zealand, because after the super over ended in a draw, England had hit more boundaries, which was an awkward decider to crown England the world champions.

Armageddon chess at least gives both the chess players an opportunity to win the tournament through a decider game.

Time increment in Armageddon Chess

There is no time increment in Armageddon chess. The player with white pieces is allocated a fixed 5 minutes, while the player with black pieces receives a fixed 4 or 3 minutes, depending on the tournament’s rules.

A time increment would be unfair for the player with white pieces, as their only path to victory is winning the game; a draw results in a win for the player with black pieces.

How often does White win in Armageddon?

According to iospress, there was a 41% win result for white pieces in an Armageddon format tournament. Although the time controls were a bit different. 10 minutes for white and 7 minutes for black, with an increment of 3 seconds per move starting from move 61.

A total of 34 games were played in the tournament.

Tips on Armageddon Chess

Hikaru Nakamura is considered one of the top speed chess players in the world. In the video below he is sharing some tips on how to play Armageddon chess.

These are the highlights of tips he shared:

  • Blitz out the 1st 15 to 20 moves but be careful.
  • With black play the basic opening setups.
  • With white play the complicated lines.

Where to play Armageddon Chess Online?

Most top chess apps offer the option to play various chess variants. On, you can create a time-odds game and configure it to resemble Armageddon, although the result will be recorded as a draw if the game ends in a draw.

As of now, there is no chess app that provides a dedicated option for playing Armageddon.

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