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?

3 Answers 3


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
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 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
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 5:18
  • It looks suspiciously like @Fred is an advert bot.
    – sanepete
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 17:08

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
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 12:55
  • 1
    selling his version of the rules sounds so ridiculous. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 0:36
  • Seriously? Buy "rules"?!
    – Wais Kamal
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 12:13
  • 1
    It should be noted, Bartmess' Federation Standard rules employ a 'higher board' movement rule, which gives the white player a distinct advantage. Members of the 'Big Bang Theory' production staff were also members of the World Tri Dimensional Chess Federation and ensured the W3DCF rules were adhered to during the shooting of the television program. They can be found, for free, at w3dcf.com/information/laws
    – sanepete
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 17:06

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
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 16:58
  • It certainly seems to be. Commented May 13, 2021 at 21:15

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