One of the oldest chess variants for three players is Marinelli's three-handed chess, also called Triple Chess. The game was invented by a Capt. Philip Marinelli in 1722. The game is mentioned in Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, where it is written that Prince Eugen of Savoy was enthusiastic about this game.
The board is as shown below, with the opening setup.
Note that queens are always at the left side of kings in the opening setup. Pieces are colored red, white and black.
Pawns promote on last rows, hence the pawns of one of the players (this is usually the black player) have to travel a much shorter distance to promote.
Pritchard writes: Checkmate and stalemate can only be given by the pieces of one colour. The forces of an eliminated player are static but may be captured, but not the king. A player must neutralise both opponents to win.
This still poses some questions: how can it be possible that only the pieces of one colour can give stalemate: when a player has two moves to its disposal, each putting his king into check from another player, then he effectively cannot move - something one should call a stalemate. If some reader has additional information on how this game was exactly played, please email me.
Written by Hans Bodlaender. Jerome Grimbert noticed an error in an earlier version of this file.
WWW page created: October 23, 1995.