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Three-dimensional chess

Glyn Thomas Gowing wrote me about a three-dimensional chess variant, that he played about twenty years ago: it was then for sale in the U.S., but since then, the game seems to have disappeared. Anyone who has more information on this game, its name, company that originally published it, etc., please let me know.

Glyn Thomas Gowing characterized the variant as simple, yet elegant. Below, you find the rules, as he described them.

Some pictures, the rules of this set, and other 3D sets can be found at: Jeff Elmore's site.


The board consists of three 8 x 8 boards, one on top of the other with the colors of the squares aligning properly (that is, all white squares above all white squares) with the boards squarely above each other.

White starts on the upper level on one end of the board and black starts on the bottom level on the other end of the board.

The first move of each piece must move to the middle level and move as it would normally. All subsequent moves work as follows:

Any piece may move up or down one level as its move provided that there is no piece occupying the destination square. In other words, you cannot capture by changing levels.

The object of the game is the same as regular chess. Keep in mind that placing a piece in the square above and below the enemy king will prevent an escape.

That's it. Just as I said, it's simple and elegant, and plays very well. It was available in stores in the USA back about 20 years ago and has since vanished. I miss it greatly, as it was an enjoyable challenge when compared to 2-d chess.

More information

David Chamberlain informed me about a game called "Chess in the Third Dimension" (item#110) that is manufactured by SKOR-MOR Products, Inc. (a Nypro Co.) out of Clinton, Mass. It costed $21 when it was on the market, about 20 years ago. The rules are as above, but, as David added in his email: As I recall the only addition was that castling was permitted to occur either on the starting level or on the mid-level with the restriction that there were no intervening pieces on either level. As the king can move between levels, checkmate is only possible if there is also a check on the other levels.
Written by: Glyn Thomas Gowing; introduction by Hans Bodlaender; paragraph `more information' based on email by David Chamberlain.
WWW page created: January 7, 1997. Last modified: October 28, 1997.