3D Chess — Online Matchmaking (Pre–Beta Testing)

This project has been a long time in the making, and it still isn’t close to complete.

There are a number of varieties of 3D chess that have come into existence over the last hundred or so years. In the early 1900s, a German doctor invented a variant called Raumshach (German for “space chess”) which was played on five 5×5 boards, and the fist Raumshach club remained active until the beginning of the second World War. Millennium 3D Chess, invented by William L. D’Agostino in 2001, was based around combining three 8×8 boards.

Introducing multiple boards into chess changes the way things will end up playing out—for instance, by overpowering some pieces relative to others. Notice that a square has the same number of faces as corners—in two dimensions, four faces equals four corners.

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But notice that when a square is made three–dimensional, that’s no longer the case.

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A cube has six faces and eight corners.

That means pieces that move diagonally (through the corners) become even more overpowered compared to pieces that move in a straight line (through the faces of the square or cube) on the chess board. So Raumshach and 3D Millennium Chess are the two most well–worn 3D variations on chess that have worked out kinks like these, and each does it in different ways. Raumshach solves it by making the bishop only able to move through the edges of the cells (in other words, the bishop moves one or two steps through a face—left, right, up or down—and then moves one or two planes up or down accordingly). Then it introduces a new piece called the unicorn that moves diagonally across three dimensions (in other words, it moves one or two steps through a corner—upper–left, upper–right, lower–left, or lower–right—and then moves one or two planes up or down accordingly). This evens out the power held by the bishop versus the unicorn, since each can now move “diagonally” in four directions, but in two different ways.

The most immediate problem with these games is that it’s impossible to even find a board to play them on. When I first started playing chess with my dad a year ago, I wanted to try them out, and I found people who wanted to try them out with me, so I started planning to build a board for them. Then I realized we were going to need 15 different kinds of boards to combine them in all the right ways to create all the different kinds of chess.

So I decided that making a program would eliminate that problem, and possibly allow me to try it out with my dad over email as well. I found a friend who does programming and   we got to work.

This is what we have so far.

So far, it’s just a sandbox. Right now, you could use it to play Raumshach with someone in the room with you by taking turns on the keyboard, but we’re not sure yet what else it can do. The goal is to eventually have a live matchmaking system hosted on the website, embedded right here on this page, where you can request a game in a given variant and then receive a notification when someone responds to play, and then either continue the game live or take turns through email. But we need to do as much testing as possible on what we have so far in order to get it to that stage. So any feedback we can get from anyone interested in trying it would help out a lot!

Again, here’s the download. I hope you can get some enjoyment out of it!

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