They play a type of 3D chess on Star Trek ( the 60's series) not on a 8x8x8 3D board but on some smaller variation. Yet the game as they have it is supposed to be complicated. Are there real rules and a 3D board set-up for this?


I have release a free Android version of Star Trek chess. It uses the “The Federation Standard 5.0” rules.


  • VERY INTERESTING! Is there a version for Windows 7 , I don't have Android.
    – user128932
    Sep 12 '14 at 5:16
  • Could a game of chess be played on a 4 by 4 by 4 , 3-D board set up like the 3-d tic-tac-toe game?
    – user128932
    Sep 12 '14 at 5:18

Andrew Bartmess was the first Star Trek fan to reverse-engineer the game of tridimensional chess from the TV series (which never explained the rules). He sells his version of the rules for $9.95: Tri-D Chess Rules.

In the most popular version of Tri-D chess (which Andrew calls the “The Federation Standard 5.0” rules), the game is played on seven boards, three of which are the “main” boards and four of which are “repositionable attack boards”:

Sheldon plays Star Trek tri-dimensional chess

Players can reposition one of the four attack boards by repinning them to the static boards at different points, provided that one of their pieces occupies that board (and no other piece occupies it). This is instead of moving a piece in that turn. The boards are, in effect, treated as mobile “attack craft”.

The notation system uses a z-index from 1-7 to indicate which board the piece is moving to:

Tri-D chess board notation

Unfortunately there’s no free version of Bartmess’ rules available online.

Jens Meder maintains an alternate but free online version of Tournament rules for Three-Dimensional Chess which are inspired by Star Trek and tied more closely to standard FIDE chess rules than Bartmess' version, albeit with the same wonderful board stand and complex notation:

Three-dimensional chess stand

Three-dimensional chess notation

  • 2
    You might want to add that the TV show game did not have rules. It was a prop and plot device.
    – newshutz
    May 5 '14 at 12:55
  • 1
    selling his version of the rules sounds so ridiculous. Sep 22 '14 at 0:36
  • Seriously? Buy "rules"?!
    – Wais Kamal
    Jan 9 '19 at 12:13

The World Tri Dimensional Chess Federation use a set of rules developed by a fighter pilot to improve three dimensional awareness and tactical maneuvering in modern aerial combat on the same Star Trek style game board. This seems closer to the spirit of the original concept.

  • 1
    I added a link to the laws of the W3DCF. Please check if that is correct.
    – lodebari
    May 12 '21 at 16:58
  • It certainly seems to be. May 13 '21 at 21:15

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