Yes, it is exactly what it looks like. Three-way chess.The pieces move in essentially the same manner. Things gets a little crazy when you cross that tricky snowflake in the middle, but its actually not as hard to figure out as it looks. What I can’t figure out is why people seem to enjoy taking a game that most people are afraid to even play, that requires a lifetime to even begin to master, a game of near infinite difficulty (there are far more possible chess positions than there are atoms in universe) and twisting it further into cosmic pretzel of unending anxiety.
I thought three-way chess looked daunting, then I realized it was just the Bed and Breakfast that begins the trail out into the neverending desert of chess variants. There are altered starting positions, different boards, multiple boards, unorthodox or even constantly changing rules, unusual pieces, several multi-player variants, some with playing cards, and even some that introduce incomplete information, randomness and the element of chance. There is no resource as extensive as the wikipedia page, but I am just going to list a few here:
- Gliński's hexagonal chess.
- Alice Chess: There are two boards, and every time a piece is moved, it gets transported to the same square on the other board. Can be played with three boards, or with white and black starting on different boards.
- 3-D chess: Just what it sounds like, only way, way worse.
- Fischer random chess: The placement of the pieces on the 1st rank is randomized, and the pieces on the 8th rank mirror it.
- Fairy chess: Chess played with pieces of special powers. Some are simple and intuitive like the Amazon (Queen + Knight), and the Knightmare (unlimited Knight moves in one direction). But, then, why not a Queen that can jump pieces (the Lion) and a Bishop that can change directions mid move (the Boyscout)? Things quickly get out of hand. You have the Pterodactyl (triple-range amphibious knight), the Kraken (can leap to any square on the board — what?) and my favorite, Odysseus (changes moves depending where it is located: It moves as a rook on files a and h, as a knight on files b and g, as a bishop on files c and f, as a queen on file d and as a king on file e). Damn.
- Anti-chess: There is no check and the object is to lose all your pieces first. You must capture a piece if the move is available to you.
- Schrödinger’s Chess, Einstein Chess, Benedict Chess, Yoko Ono Feel-Good Chess, and many, many more.
The computers have crunched the numbers and the staggering results are in. There are, unfortunately, as many chess variant possibilities than people bored or sick enough to invent them; also a number comparable to the amount of atoms in the universe.