The Chess Variant Pages



Why does the world need another 3 dimensional chess?

There are already lots of rules for 3D chess, so why a new one?

Nobody plays any of those games. They need special equipment, and there are other things wrong with them...

So I can at least try to do better. Whether I succeed remains to be seen.

Force and Space

Betza'a Law of Force and Space in Chess Variants says:

The relationship of the amount of force on the board to the amount of space on the board is important to the character of the game, the "feel" of the game.

More force makes the game shorter in terms of number of moves per average game, but it also means that you have to think more for each move. (The game is more strategical than tactical.)

All of my old variants, from the 1970s, were designed for postal play, so they had a higher ratio of force to space than you see in FIDE chess.

The amount of force on the board must be measured relative to the strength of the King.

Force and Space in Three Dimensions

The simplest form of 3D chess would be to have an 8x8x8 board with 8 full sets of pieces per player. This would be very cumbersome.

Most of the 3D chess games I've seen have extra space added to the board, but use the normal allotment of pieces; I feel there is too much space for the amount of force.

Pawns in Space

Pawns are a problem on bigger boards. On a two-dimensional 10 by 10 board, Pawns don't feel right. 8 squares from end to end, that's what Pawns want.

In order for Pawns to feel like Pawns, they need to form an unbroken line at the start of the game; in 3 dimensions, they'd need to form an unbroken vertical plane.

No Surprise Ending

8 squares from end to end, using the normal equipment, well of course we have to play on a board that's 2x4x8.

Cut the board in half, put one half on top of the other, apply the normal rules, and just like that you've got a game.

Let's say e1 is on top of a1, so we know which way is up.

Why This Won't Work

It seems that there are quite a few problems.

First, half the board has the wrong color of squares. If e1 is the next square up from a1, it should be a white square.

Second, the board is too narrow. Knights can reach from side to side and the King is always next to the edge.

Next, the King is too strong. If one side has king and Rook, but the other side has only a King, the game is a draw.

There are other problems, but the last one I'll mention is that there is too much force. The number of pieces is the same, the number of squares is the same, but the pieces are stronger because they have the extra up and down moves.

How to Fix This?

I'm not sure if it can be "fixed", but if we make the board 3x4x8 with an empty middle level, the colors line up, and the Kings and Pawns can't move up or down. This way, if you play with a real 3D set and board, there is room to reach in and move the pieces on the bottom board.

Some Crazy Ideas

A 3x3x8 board would be about the right size; and 3x3x7 is 63 squares.

You could play on the 64 squares of a 4x4x4 board, setting up the pieces in opposite corners. Set up the 8 pieces in a 2x2x2 cube, use 12 Pawns. Need to redefine the moves of all the pieces and Pawns.

A 2x8x8 game of 3D chess with two normal sets and two normal boards: Pieces (including Pawns and Kings) can never move up or down, but any piece on the upper board can drop a bomb straight down to the lower board (this takes a turn, and captures a piece on the lower board). The Kings are on the lower board, of course; the King on the upper board doesn't have to worry about check. You can give normal play on the bottom board.

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