His Majesty the Chess

In a highly technological world, when a vast amount of information is available at your fingertips in seconds; when computer gaming is more of a lifestyle than entertainment, board games surprisingly retain much of their popularity – especially chess, which justifiably could be called the “grandfather of all board games”. Invented more than 1500 years ago, this brain- entangling game is highly evolved despite perhaps looking simple at first glance.

Here are some of the most eccentric versions of the all-time favourite:

Let’s start with the ‘Chess on the Dot’– a chess variation using rules very similar to the conventional ones but played on a sphere-like-board, was invented in 2010 by Joshua Chao, and is absolutely spicing up the chess world with it’s revolutionary ‘sphere-board’. The name is also quite unusual, as it’s a reference to the Pale Blue Dot – the famous photo of the Earth, taken by the Voyager in 1990.

Moving to more complex chess variations can’t go without mentioning Three-Person-Chess or Chess-for-3, which is becoming a hit among chess lovers across the globe. It’s hard to imagine a chess board for three, isn’t it? Well, while the boards vary from circular to hexagonal and quadrilateral to triangular, and the rules have gone through a long period of adaptation and adjustment, what makes the three-person-chess so compelling is not the unusual board but the addition of a third person, of course. The old saying “two is company, but three is a crowd” is not really valid in this case. Having 3 people “battling” on the board, predisposes the build-up and break-up of alliances between the players, making the strategy aspect of the game all the more intriguing, even political. Having another person on the board also adds a psychological dimension as it is never clear what the actual motives and intentions of the opponents are – except for simply winning the game.

Another even more extravagant chess type is the 3 dimensional format. This includes various chess versions which are played on multiple boards, set at different levels in space and allowing the chess pieces to move in three physical dimensions. The classical 3D chess, invented in the early 20th century by the German Dr. Ferdinand Maack is called Raumschach (German: “Space chess”) and is based on the even older version called Kubikschack (Cubic Chess), developed by the Baltic-German Kieseritzky in 1851.

3D chess has definitely had its profile raised thanks to the many Start Trek episodes and movies where it’s featured. The design is based on the standard 64 squares chessboard, but spread across separate platforms in a hierarchy of spatial levels and representing the idea of how something so orthodox as conventional chess can be adapted to a future marked significantly by space travel.

Whether this truly sci-fi chess version is actually played out of the TV or computer screen is not really important as the process of having your mind scattered between these spread-out boards, is quite fascinating in itself. It could be that someday this three-dimensional brain teaser is implemented in IQ tests, who knows.

The children who have just learned how to play conventional chess will definitely love these alternative variants, and the adults who dare to challenge themselves with some thought-provoking games will most probably also take the challenge.