A game of chess played between three or more players has quite a different quality to it compared to orthodox, two-player chess. The addition of a third person adds a dimension of political intrigue and savoir faire to the game. Instead of relying on oneself, one must build (and break) alliances. Whereas the motives of your opponent are well known in orthodox chess, in three player chess one is at times unsure of what a player’s intentions might be (other than to win the game of course).
3 MAN CHESS in the round is a new 3 player chess game, that takes two old ideas (chess on a circular board and 3 player chess), and elegantly combines them into one game. The game comes with a nice, laminated circular board, a large felt carrying case (which may be use with a coat hanger to hang the game in a closet for convenient storage), three sets of nice quality, plastic chess pieces (also with their own felt carrying bag), and instructions. In addition to being an enjoyable game, this set makes a nice display for those interested in a conversation piece, or something to highlite a room or a piece of furniture.
The rules are very straightforward and easy to understand. There are some rare conditions regarding checkmate, and the possible capturing of an opponent’s King, that were not covered in the rules, but these have since been added and are now covered adequately.
The three players all start out next to one another, so that on the opposite side of the circle is half of one player’s army, and half of the other player’s. Pieces are prevented from immediately capturing their neighbors by the introduction of a moat, separating the armies for the first two “rows”. This moat is usually uncrossable, but may be crossed under certain conditions (which usually occur later in the game). Horizontal moves are circular as they trace the circumference of the various concentric circles. But diagonal moves also turn out to be circular in many cases because diagonal connector lines through the center of the board.
This game manages to keep fairly close to orthodox chess, while ingeniously using a circular board to allow three player symmetry. The game works well and is fun to play. This game would be appropriate not only for those interested in chess variants and novelties, but for any chess player interested the more social and politically intriguing three player experience.
Date of review: March 1999
Link to Original Review
Note: The construction of the game has changed since this review was published. Please see the “Description of Game Board & Pieces” for the improved revisions.