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Three Dimensional (3D) Chess

Updated on June 11, 2014

What the Heck is 3D Chess?

Without a doubt you have heard of Chess, even if you are unfamiliar with the rules and tactics.

But have you heard of 3D Chess?

If you have heard of 3D chess, chances are you saw it on old Star Trek episodes or perhaps on the hit television series, "The Big Bang Theory". Both of these programs had 3D Chess being played as a relatively important part of the plot.

But the basic ideas behind 3D chess has been around for a while. The original idea was called Raumschach, which is German for "Space Chess" and used multiple boards to allow the pieces to move through multiple dimensions, simply adding complexity and vairations onto the basic game of chess.

There have been quite a few minor rules changes and layout design changes of how this game is played, but the basic concepts are similar to classic chess and the 1907 game of Raumschach. The most popular current version of 3D Chess is the version popularized in the Original Star Trek series, which is known as "Tri-D Chess"

Chess in two dimensions is just so need chess in 3 dimensions to really rock the chess world. So, read on and find out more about the exciting world of 3D Chess. Maybe you will become a 3D Chess Grandmaster of the future.

Star Trek Tri-D Chess Set
Star Trek Tri-D Chess Set

The Star Trek Version of 3D Chess

Tri D Chess

In the Original series of Star Trek, 3D Chess played a vital role in an episode called, "Court Martial".

Kirk is put on trial for a death of a crewman (A red shirted ensign, surely). Spock figures that the computer has been tampered with to give the evidence of Kirks guilt. SO he programs the computer to be unbeatable at Tri-D chess and plays 5 games with it, beating the computer easily each and every time, thereby giving proof that the computer has been compromised and the proof that Kirk was being framed.

At the time of the filming there were no specific rule for this variant. It was just a cool looking prop for the episode. But rules have since been created making a game that is exciting and still true to both the series and real chess.

***Pictured is the Franklin Mint Version of the game of 3D Chess, which is both a stunning work of art and a functioning version of this game.

Different 3D Chess Versions and Boards

3D Chess Board

3D Chess board
3D Chess board

As you can see from the picture above, the 3D Chess board can make a great centerpiece and display case, as well as the intended use for playing 3D chess.

It is a very high quality chess board and much more reasonably priced than the collectors edition star Trek 3D Chess "Tri-D" Chess game, and by most accounts a much more fun and exciting way to play chess.

A great and fun gift for anyone who loves the game of chess and might be looking for a something a bit outside the ordinary

Strato Chess - The most popular version of 3D Chess

Strato Chess
Strato Chess

Strato Chess is the current King of the 3D Chess market. It is not only a fun game to play, but as you can see from the picture above, it can make a great decoration when you are not playing. A fun and amusing game that is sure to draw comments from those who see and play. A great conversation piece, as well as a fun game that stretched your brain.


Kirk and Spock Playing 3D Chess on Stark Trek

Leonard and Sheldon Playing 3D Chess on Big Bang Theory

Basic Rules explanation for standard 3D Chess

Interesting versions of chess

What do you think of 3D Chess?

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    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      5 years ago

      I can't quite picture how this works, but it looks intriguing. I stopped playing chess when I learned to play Go, which I must prefer. Maybe someday I'll learn how to play 3D chess, and I am certainly willing to give it a go.

    • DewaltSawGuy LM profile image

      DewaltSawGuy LM 

      5 years ago

      I remember trying to play this with a friend of mine a few years ago but couldn't get the hang of it.

      Just a note that you have a spelling mistake in your first youtube module, Stark Trek!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Tri-D Chess is a blast to play! The rules are nearly the same as regular chess with just a few changes to account for the movable boards and the 3d aspect. I built my own chess board with all pewter figures of the TNG & TOS. Very fun! 8-)

    • leesholden profile image


      6 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

      Too crazy for me!

    • zentao profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Blackspaniel1: Spock must be a grand master...just too logical! ;)

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Could you beat Spock? Great lens.

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 

      6 years ago

      I wish I were smart enough for regular chess, and now you ask about 3D chess? Surely you jest, young man.


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