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After looking at different 3D chess variants I decided to build my own 3D board. But I did not build but program it in 3D with OpenGL To program a standard chess board with 3D pieces was easy. I know it can look better but what I programmed can be viewed from any viewpoint. My program requires a decent graphics card most likely GeForce or better, also updated graphics drivers are a good idea since not having them can make a picture that do not look good.It is a bit tricky to move the viewpoint to right position.

Movement can so far only be done by coding it at the moment, but I will fix it. I’m more unsure if I will program the computer AI, since I know almost nothing about how to do it.

3D Board

For a 3D board I decided to have the levels quite close to each other. I thought about having 7 levels transparent but that was simply impossible to understand anything from. I made the squares with alternating white and black. To make it easier to move triagonal I made each square with a colour of red, yellow, blue or green at the edge. I put up numbering at the board in such a way that it’s easy to see without being in the way from the board. This board is set up with ordinary chess pieces for 2D on each level. I’m not planning to keep it this way but I’m not sure how to have my pieces.

I made the squares in a level not connect so it is possible to look what is underneath the current level. I think this helps but it was not enough.

To make it easier to see pieces and how they move I made some things that would be hard or impossible to do at an physically 3D board.

  • Lift all levels, ranks or files above a level, rank or files from the current. This makes it easier to see how pieces are according to each other in the middle of the board.

  • Rotate all squares 45 degrees in a direction one or more times. This can be used to see how pieces moving diagonally can move or how pieces move in a plain that is 90 degrees on a levels plain. To see how pieces move triagonally this will not help. When the squares are rotated parts of the board van not be moved.


Most part of the pieces I made with putting together cylinders and spheres. Even the cross on the kings are made up of cylinders. The knights head was somewhat worse, since I had to find points in 3D so that it looked like a knight in 3D. then I had to get normals for each square or triangle. Another piece I had trouble with was the rook and the top. It was not until I made the top with a torus that it looked like a rook at the top. I am planning to change what pieces that I have but I have not decided how I will be.

The Program

Download the program here:

Written by Per Trygve Myhrer.