Movement of pieces is similar to that of traditional chess. The main difference is that, in the course of a move, pieces may move up or down any number of levels.
Commander Spock was an exceptional chess player and kept a three-dimensional chess board in his quarters on the USS Enterprise (DIS: "Brother"); his game was consistently logical. However, he often had a difficult time predicting or effectively responding to unexpected moves made by his frequent opponents, Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", et al.)
In 2266, while the Enterprise and its crew were apparently helpless against the alien Balok threatening to destroy them, Spock compared the situation to chess, 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 and try a bluff similar to playing poker with the alien instead. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")
Spock also enjoyed playing chess against a rival logical mind, that of the Enterprise computer. In 2266, he detected programming errors in the computer's databanks because of faulty chess moves made by the computer. He later introduced the tampering and unreliability of the computer's records as defense evidence in the court martial of Captain Kirk. (TOS: "Court Martial")
Later that year, Kirk and his senior officers used a chess-based code as transporter clearance, when Garth of Izar planned to escape from the Elba II insane asylum. Chief engineer Scott declined to beam Garth, disguised as Kirk, to the Enterprise, when, after he challenged Garth with the code phrase "queen to queen's level 3", Garth could not respond with the correct pass phrase (which Spock revealed as "queen to king's level 1" when he called for transport back to the Enterprise). (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")
In 2366, Commander William T. Riker defeated both Ferengi Doctor Farek and a Ferengi guard at a presumably alien variant of 3D chess. The former defeat was in Ten Forward, and the latter took place while Riker was a captive of the Ferengi, along with both Counselor Deanna Troi and her mother, Lwaxana Troi. (TNG: "Ménage à Troi")
Reginald Barclay analyzed a chess game after being altered by the Cytherians. He made a move that would force checkmate within nine moves, despite not having previously been a player of the game. (TNG: "The Nth Degree")
Two years later, Counselor Troi managed to beat Lieutenant Commander Data at a game of 3D chess in Ten Forward, prompting Data to honor a bet they had agreed upon, whereby Data was to make Troi a Samarian sunset in the "traditional style." (TNG: "Conundrum")
Commander Benjamin Sisko, also a fan of the game, kept a three-dimensional chess set in his quarters aboard Deep Space 9. (DS9: "Move Along Home", "The Nagus", "The Maquis, Part I", "Statistical Probabilities")
- "Too Short a Season"
- "When The Bough Breaks"
- "Coming of Age"
- "The Neutral Zone"
- "The Schizoid Man"
- "Unnatural Selection"
- "Pen Pals"
- "Q Who"
- "Booby Trap"
- "The Price"
- "Ménage à Troi"
- "The Best of Both Worlds"
- "Suddenly Human"
- "Galaxy's Child"
- "The Nth Degree"
- "Lower Decks"
- DIS: "Project Daedalus"
A call sheet from the episode "The Schizoid Man", dated 4 November 1988, listed three-dimensional chess as one of the required items from the art department in the special instructions section. Here, it was referred to as "Okuda chess set".
The novelization of Star Trek makes a quick – and foreshadowing – reference; as the two fight their way through the Narada (largely a fistfight rather than the gun battle seen in the film), Kirk, marveling at Spock's highly effective use of Suus Mahna (thinking to himself, "he even fights logically"), concluded, correctly, that the Vulcan must play a "mean game" of 3-D chess.
A game of three-dimensional chess figures in the first appearance of Kirk and Spock in the 2013 video game Star Trek, when their game play is interrupted by a distress call coming from the Helios station, just after the captain's tactical error is exploited by the Vulcan. After Spock leaves his quarters, Kirk sneaks back into the room and moves the Vulcan's piece surreptitiously. This version is somewhat different in that the attack board may be suspended below the main board.
- Three-dimensional chess at Wikipedia
- Three-dimensional chess at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Star Trek 3D Chess
- Kobayashi Maru Variant of Star Trek 3-D Chess
- Parmen - Free Tridimensional Chess Software
- Tridimensional Chess Rules
- 3D Chess
- Tournament rules for Three-dimensional Chess
- Boardgamegeek entry