Thrift Treasure: 3D Chess
There have been so many different board games issued over the years that it is pretty easy to run into ones we’ve never seen at yard sales and thrift stores. By some accounts there are well over 40,000 unique titles – and that’s not including updates, variations by different publishers and the many undocumented ones. So it is a big deal for me to find one that I have wanted for decades at our local Goodwill. I couldn’t get this copy of 3D Chess into my cart fast enough!
The first time I witnessed any version of 3D Chess was on the original Star Trek series. While not a true adaptation of the classic game, it was close enough for me to remember it fondly. Big Bang Theory even featured the same game when Sheldon mocked “It must be humbling to suck on so many different levels.”
There have been quite a few manufacturers of traditional chess boards converted into the 3D space. Our treasure was offered by the Classic Games Company, Inc. of Deer Park, NY. Featuring a chrome steel stand and polished plastic boards, the transparent design worked well when trying to contemplate your next move from level to level.
So how is 3D Chess played? If you know how to play the original, then you already know. All of the pieces move in the same manner, except they can now move in three dimensions! Each player starts with their entire army on either the top or bottom level, but set up in the same order you are accustomed to.
As an example of 3D movement, the rook (castle) typically moves as far as you would like in one direction, forward or laterally. With the addition of levels, it can now also move vertically up or down one or two levels!
Bishops move diagonally in traditional chess, and the same goes for 3D chess, only they can also span multiple levels when they move. You have to vision it as a straight line, but in 3D space, so they would move upwards but in an angle along the same-colored path.
The typical rules of not being able to move through other pieces (with the exception of a knight) still apply, but since you have multiple levels to choose from, these limitations are not as restrictive in 3D Chess. While we’re discussing the knight, he’s the hardest to understand even though the “L” movement remains the same. Rather than being limited to an “L” on a two-dimensional board, it can be completed in three dimensions. Imagine a Tetris piece that can be turned in any direction. You might move up one level (the short leg of the “L”) and then two spaces on that new level (the long leg). Or move up two levels and then only one space on the resulting board. Still an “L”, but with a lot more depth!
The game of 3D Chess literally and figuratively brings a whole new level to the classic game. It is much more difficult to put your opponent into check (or checkmate) early in the game because there are so many more movement possibilities and escape routes. You have to be good at visualizing the entire board, not just one, in order to be successful. It definitely is an upgrade to classic Chess, even if this upgrade was issued in 1971. It still is a brand new experience for us!
Keep your eyes peeled at your local thrift stores for a copy like this, or if you’re lucky an official Star Trek version. That is the next one I’ll be wanting as well!
20 thoughts on “Thrift Treasure: 3D Chess”
Love board games and this one us so cool. Never saw a 3d game before. Thanks so much for shating, I’ll be on the lookout!
Everything thrifty is awesome. It’s been a while since I played this game. Not that i’m any good or even understand the game, but it’s always fun to try.
Wow that is really neat. I am awful at chess but my husband would love this!
When I saw the first photo I immediately thought ‘Star Trek’ too! I bet this is a very cerebral game- I could see myself spending a Spring afternoon with some tea just working on strategy with an old friend or relative.
I saw this on Big Bang Theory! I don’t know how to play chess but this makes me want to learn.
I don’t even know how to play regular chess so this would be really interesting to observe. Looks fun!
I’ve never seen 3D chess before. I’m not very good at Chess so not sure how good I’d be at this but it looks fun.
Okay, now that’s awesome! I use to play chess as a little kid, and this game board is much cooler than the one I had!
3D chess makes me think of The Big Bang Theory! I think that I would have to get better at regular chess before playing the 3D version.
I saw this and immediately thought of Star Trek! I need to find me one!
I had this version of 3D chess when I was young. Bought it at JCPenney’s. It looks like the Franklin Mint has re-releasing their Star Trek version for the 50th anniversary. http://www.franklinmint.com/detail.php?p=978294
Availability: Ships on Apr-25-2016
I guess I’d better start saving up!
Just clicked on the Franklin Mint link and had a 10% off notification pop up.
Amazing find! I am only aware of the Franklin Mint version. Did you know that Andrew Bartmess who developed a rulebook for playing Star Trek Chess created variations of the rules to represent how Klingons, Cardassians, and Ferengi would play?
Didn’t realize that, but looking it up now! I can only imagine the Ferengi rules – acquisition by any manner! 😉