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This page is written by the game's inventor, Tim O'Lena. This game is a favorite of its inventor.

Tim's 3D Chess

(c) 2001 Tim 0'Lena

I designed this 3D chess game with the following ideas in mind:

  1. Preserve the concept of the Pawn being a front line of defense. In 2D, a line of Pawns stands between your pieces and the enemy. In this variant, a wall of Pawns performs this function. I didn't like set-ups in which the armies begin diagonally opposed (for example, Raumschach).
  2. Keep the board isometric. Use a cubic playing field.
  3. 5x5x5 seems to be the best size for a cubic field.
  4. Try to use the standard set of pieces.
  5. Use two Kings instead of one and require that they BOTH remain safe. This reduces drawishness and makes the endgame more like orthodox chess, meaning that the advantage of a Pawn or Rook may be enough to win. I believe that KKQ can force mate against KK.
  6. Use only standard pieces extended to 3D - no unusual pieces.
  7. Use full 3D movement. Allow the King and Queen to use the 3D diagonal.


The board is a cube, five spaces on a side.

Level 1: empty.
Level 2: White: Knight b1; King c1; Rook d1; Pawns b2 c2 d2.
Level 2: Black: Knight b5; King c5; Rook d5; Pawns b4 c4 b4.
Level 3: White: Bishop b1; Queen c1; Knight d1; Pawns b2 c2 d2.
Level 3: Black: Bishop b5; Queen c5; Knight d5; Pawns b4 c4 d4.
Level 4: White: Rook b1; King c1; Bishop d1; Pawns b2 c2 d2.
Level 4: Black: Rook b5; King c5; Bishop d5; Pawns b4 c4 b4.
Level 5: empty

(Level 1 is the lowest level, level 5 is the highest)


Standard orthodox pieces are used for this game, with their moves extended to three dimensions.


There is no pawn double-step, no en passant, and no castling. Win is by checkmate; stalemate is a draw.

Computer Play

If you have Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can play this game. Download file:


I like QuadLevel and it's interesting to compare my game with it. The playing fields contain nearly identical numbers of cubes. My game has 125 cells and QuadLevel has 128. QuadLevel uses DOUBLE the number of pieces in a standard set where my game only has one extra Pawn and one extra King. Both games use two Kings. I have been told that my game has an interesting "entropic" effect as the pieces spread out. When playing QuadLevel, I am glad to have the double sized army - it seems like you need it in 3D. However, my board also seems quite busy, probably because of the immediate proximity of the opposing armies. With my set up, the standard set seems quite sufficient.

Written by Tim 0'Lena.
WWW page created: December 1, 2001.