Three Player Chess is Just as Crazy As it Sounds

If you think that regular chess is just too easy of a game for you, then try three player chess...and yes, it is just as crazy as it sounds.

If you are a fan of games of skill, then you probably fancy playing a challenging game of chess. If you think that regular chess is just too easy of a game for you, then try three player chess.

And yes, it is just as crazy as it sounds.

Three player chess is essentially normal chess with a third player added. The board is shaped usually like a hexagon, but other shapes also exist. There are three different "armies" in 3 player chess, each starting on their own side.

Movements for the individual pieces are essentially the same. The only difference is that the board squares aren't actually square, so when you move a piece like a rook, it actually ends up taking a curvier path.

[Image Source: Dr Jacek Filek Wikimedia Commons]
Source: Dr. Jacek Filek/Wikimedia Commons

The rules of three player chess 

You may be asking yourself, how is three players chess fair?

Couldn't you just game up on one player and take them down?

Well, theoretically, and this is why three player chess was a hard game to design fairly. For most common three player chess variants, the winner is simply the player who is the first to deliver checkmate. This means that the game is over as soon as one player takes down another, with the other player coming in second.

In other words, the first to checkmate is first, the first to be in checkmate is last, and the other player is second.

For myself, being someone who loves chess but has never played 3 player chess, I wanted to give the game a go. I stumbled upon a website called where you can play against others or just computers.


I decided that playing against a computer where I could set the difficulty would be a much more fun pursuit. I gave the game a go, and I have to say, it was much more fun than regular chess, at least in my opinion.

Not only are you constantly worried about having your pieces taken down from 2 other players, but you get to watch the carnage of other players attacking each other as well.

It brings the fun of watching a game and playing a game of chess into one.

Historically speaking, there are other ways to play three player chess other than the "first to checkmate" way. Famously, there was a "neutrality rule" introduced in the mid-2000s by Ilshat Tagiev. This rule states that whoever's turn it is he can only attack the enemy if he was attacked by that enemy in a previous move, or if the opponent was not attacked by the third player on its previous course.


This rule prevents 2 players from chasing a third and is one of the main ways to play the game.

As an engineer myself, I loved the added complexity of three player chess, and I have a feeling I may be wasting a little more of my workday playing the game.

You can order one for yourself here.

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