Chess was a tactically and intellectually advanced Human board game played by two opponents, one controlling "white" pieces and the other controlling "black" (though the pieces may be different colors.)
In 2154, Ensign Travis Mayweather and Lieutenant Malcolm Reed played chess aboard the NX-class starship Enterprise while inhabited by Organian observers. Lieutenant Reed told Ensign Mayweather that he was the ship's champion and won all the tournaments. According to the observer inhabiting Reed, the total number of possible outcomes in a match of chess was 10123. (ENT: "Observer Effect")
By 2265, a three-dimensional variant had been devised and was available to the crew of the Constitution-class USS Enterprise. James T. Kirk and Spock frequently enjoyed playing it together. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Charlie X", "Court Martial", "By Any Other Name", "Whom Gods Destroy")
In 2266, during a confrontation with the First Federation vessel Fesarius, while the Enterprise and its crew were apparently helpless against the alien Balok threatening to destroy them, Spock likened the situation to chess in which one is lost when overpowered, suggesting that the Enterprise crew was checkmated and the game was over. However, a comment from McCoy led Kirk to reject Spock's chess analogy playing poker a game in which one can overcome a losing situation by bluffing.(TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")
Despite the game's inherent complexity, some individuals have been dismissive of it. When Harry Kim referred to Kal-toh as "Vulcan chess", Tuvok claimed that "Kal-toh is to chess as chess is to Tic-tac-toe". (VOY: "Alter Ego")
As part of his many enhancements to his program, The Doctor added a subroutine that allowed him to play chess at the level of a grandmaster. It was one of several he agreed to leave behind in order to pare down his program enough to be sent in a compressed data stream to the Alpha Quadrant in attempt to save his creator, Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, from dying. (VOY: "Life Line")
In 2380, Q set a challenge for the bridge crew of the USS Cerritos by dressing them as chess pieces and placing them on a giant chess board with elements of several other sports and games. Q made Captain Carol Freeman the queen, Dr. T'Ana became a rook, and Commander Jack Ransom and Lieutenant Shaxs both became pawns. (LD: "Veritas")
- Chess board
- Chess piece
- Chess problem
- Chess tournament
In a revised draft script for TOS: "The Galileo Seven", a game of chess, played in Captain Kirk's quarters, was featured at the start of the episode's teaser. In a memo to Gene Roddenberry (dated 23 August 1966), Robert Justman suggested omitting the chess game and instead having the entire teaser set on the Enterprise's bridge.
An unfilmed line from TNG: "Coming of Age" suggests that the Mordock Strategy was a strategy in Benzite chess. The script of DS9: "Empok Nor" described the Cardassian game of Kotra as being "a cross between chess and Stratego".
The chess nomenclature used for the computer's lines in TNG: "Evolution", English Descriptive Notation, has become highly uncommon in the early 21st century, in favor of the far more efficient Algebraic Notation method, which was developed during the early decades of the 20th century.
In the writers' first draft script of ENT: "Dear Doctor", Phlox correctly ascertained that Captain Jonathan Archer had recently been playing chess, a deduction he arrived at after finding that Archer's pet beagle, Porthos, had mistakenly eaten a pawn from the game.
Three chess sets "like the one featured in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode 'Observer Effect'" were sold during the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, and two three-dimensional chess sets were sold in the Christie's auction 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection.