Three-dimensional chess

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Three-dimensional chess or 3D chess is any of various chess variants played on three-dimensional boards. Three-dimensional variants have existed since the late 19th century. One of the oldest versions is Raumschach (German for "Space chess"), invented in 1907 by Ferdinand Maack and played on a 5×5×5 board. Maack founded a Raumschach club in Hamburg in 1919, which remained active until the Second World War. "Three-dimensional chess" is also often used figuratively, to describe any very difficult endeavor (as, for example, "[Nancy Pelosi] is a master of the three-dimensional chess of House politics"[1]).

Contents

Raumschach

The 3D board is actually a cube sliced into 5 equal spaces across each of its three major coordinal planes. This sectioning yields a 125-cell playing volume.

Each floor is marked with a capital letter, A, B, C, D or E. Ranks and files are as in chess. So, the kings start on Ac1 and Ec5. White starts on the A level (the ground floor) and black starts on the roof.

Rooks, bishops, and knights move as they do in Chess in any given plane. Rooks, for example, move through the walls of the cubes in any rank, file, or column. Bishops move through the edges of the cubes, and knights make a (0,1,2) leaping move. Unicorns move through the vertices of the cube, each of the two can only reach 30 cubes. The queen combines the moves of rooks, bishops, and unicorns. The king moves just like a queen but one step at a time. Pawns move in two directions, forward like a Chess pawn, and may move one step upward (if white) or downward (if black) and capture diagonally upward (or downward). Promotion occurs where pawns can't move any more, that is the rank E5 for white pawns and A1 for black pawns. There is no double move, en passant, or castling.

Tri-Dimensional Chess

Probably the most familiar 3D chess variant to the general public in the middle 20th century and early 21st century is the game of Tri-Dimensional Chess (Tri-D Chess), which can be seen in many Star Trek TV episodes and movies, starting with the original series and proceeding in updated forms throughout the subsequent movies and spinoff series.

The original Star Trek prop was assembled using boards from 3-D Checkers and 3-D Tic Tac Toe games available in stores at the time (also visible being played in the original series episodes) and adding futuristic chess pieces. Rules for the game were never invented within the series; in fact, the boards are sometimes not even aligned consistently from one shot to the next within a single episode. The Tri-D chessboard set was made popular by its inclusion in The Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual  by Franz Joseph, who invented starting positions for the playing pieces and short additional rules. The complete Standard Rules of this game were originally developed in 1976 by Andrew Bartmess (with approval from Joseph), and he has subsequently expanded them.

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