Play Battleship On Your Chessboard – Here’s How…

You probably know the classic game of Battleship, where two players take turns firing shots at “ships” that each player secretly places within their “territory”.
The game encourages the players to think strategically and logically and is a great way for kids to learn how to use a coordinate system.

A while ago, I was looking at a chessboard, and I wondered if it would be possible to use the 8×8 coordinate system of this game for playing Battleship. I mean, you have a perfectly good coordinate system right there.
I just had to figure out how to tweak the rules to fit the physical limitations of a chessboard. In the classic game of Battleship, each player has one coordinate system for placing his ships and a different coordinate system for keeping track of his shots. So in fact, I would need to boil four coordinate systems down to one. Hmmm…

I quickly figured out that I would need to divide the chessboard in two halves – one for each player. This shrinks the number of coordinates in the game to 8×4 per player, but I think that might even be good for young, new players of the game. It makes the game faster to play, but still encourages the same strategic and logical thinking.

I tried a couple of variations with chess pieces used as ships and a book placed in the middle of the board to prevent the players from seeing the opponent’s half.
At first, I thought this was a brilliant idea and a good use of the chess game. However, I soon realized that this idea didn’t quite work. It was hard to keep track of your own shots, especially because the coordinates on the two halves are obviously not the same. Therefore, when I fired a shot at say D7, I had to convert that to D2 on my half of the board. That was not very useful, so back to the drawing board…

I finally reached the conclusion that the best way to boil all the information from four coordinate systems used by a traditional battleship game into one single chessboard, would be to turn the game in to a, well, board game.
So here it is: The GrowUpSmart Battleship game.


Each player gets 32 cards (see further down how to make these for free) with the following designations:

  • 23 “miss” cards
  • 4 “battleship” cards
  • 3 “submarine” cards
  • 2 “patrol boat” cards

Each player places all the cards facing down on his side of the chessboard.

He can place the four “ships” anywhere he wants, but he must place the cards of each ship next to each other either vertically or horizontally like in this example:


On all other squares, he places the “miss” cards.

You might want to place something to block the view between the two halves of the board while setting up the game. You could e.g. use a large (but slim) book or a piece of cardboard.

When both players have placed all their cards, the board should look like this and you are ready to play:

Ready to play Battleship

Playing the game

Decide who goes first. Let’s call him Player 1.
Player 1 starts by firing a shot at Player 2’s side of the board by calling out a coordinate. Player 2 turns the called card around and reveals whether this is a hit or a miss.

Now the turn goes to Player 2 and he takes a shot at Player 1’s ships. When a player hits a ship, the card reveals the type of ship and therefore how big it is.

The players must now use their logical sense to seek out and sink all the opponent’s ships.

The winner is the first player to sink all his opponent’s ships.

The Salvo variation

You can also play another variation of the game know as Salvo. The basic rules are the same as above, but in Salvo, each player fires three shots on every turn. If you lose a ship, you also lose a shot on your next turn. Therefore, if you lose one ship, you only get two shots when you fire your next salvo and if you only have one ship left, you can only fire one shot for the rest of the game.

Creating the battleship cards

You can create these cards yourself by cutting out 64 squares of paper or carton and draw the different ships on one side.

Or you could just download the file we prepared with all the cards you need. All you need to do is print it and cut out the cards.

The thicker paper you use, the better. It should obviously not be possible to see through the paper.

Enjoy 🙂

Click the image below to download your own printable Battleship cards and rules.

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