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Star Trek 3D Chess

Star Trek three dimensional chess, or more properly tri dimensional chess, is, these days, a highly respected chess variant.

Although the board has much more depth than a standard chess board, it is much narrower and with muliple paths across the board, blocking becomes more difficult and the player is forced to pay more attention to tactical manoeuvring.

The game came to prominance in the first series of Star Trek, back in 1966, where a customised Lynn R. Johnson 3D chess set was used in the stories to teach Starfleet personel combat tactics in a three dimensional space.

Since then, there have been several attempts to write a complete set of rules of play, the most widely adopted can be found quite easily.

  • Federation Standard Rules Were the first ever attempt at a comprehensive set of rules for playing on the board shown in the Star Fleet Technical Manual.
    It's short comings include the unfair 'highest board' movement rule, inverted attack boards and the counterintuitive starting positions for the pieces.
  • Jens Meder's Rules Comprises of additional rules for tournament games.
    Although abandoning the 'highest board' movement rule, these rules still allow a single piece to block another pieces movement on all levels, therefore completely removing most of challenge of playing in a three dimensional environment.
  • The World Tri Dimensional Chess Federation Rules Were designed by a fighter pilot to teach three dimensional fighter tactics, they allow pieces to traverse multiple boards if there is a single clear path and utilise more intuitive starting positions for the pieces which also allows for more satisfactory castling.
    These are the rules taught here and adopted by various airforce training centres, around the world.
  • Hamilton Rules These are official tri dimensional chess rule of the Heriot Watt University chess club.
    They are notable for allowing the pieces to move directly up or down through the boards adding a further degree of complexity, but still incorporating counterintuitive starting positions.
    They were designed by an engineer from Intel.
  • Jedi Smurf Rules Though less well played around the world, these have been incorporated into various available software versions of the game.
    They too incorporate single piece blocking, the counterintuitive starting positions and are the official rules of the Amateur Tri Dimensional Chess League.

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