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How to Play Three Player Chess (Beginners’ Guide)

Everyone knows Chess; it’s arguably the most popular two-player strategy game in the world! But what about 3 player Chess?

While this version of the classic strategy game isn’t quite as well known, it’s still well worth playing. This guide will explain how to play.

What is Three Player Chess?

What is Three Player Chess

Well, the name probably tells you everything you need to know about this game. It’s the classic game you love but with a third person included! Now, of course, that means you can’t play on a regular board.

Trying to play three-player Chess with an extra person on a regular square board simply isn’t going to work. Three-player Chess boards do come in various styles, but the most common is a hexagon-shaped board.

Although you can also find circular boards available, the board’s shape doesn’t matter much; the game is still played in much the same way. Pieces move the same way as they do in regular Chess.

The aim of the game is also the same! You win by putting your opponents in check and weakening them by taking their pieces. But while the basic gameplay is the same, adding a third person makes the game much more unpredictable and difficult.

Players may also make alliances to try to take down a specific player. But be warned, while this might seem like a good idea, there can only be one winner! We’ll talk about the rules of three-player Chess in more detail below, but first, let’s look at what you’ll need to play.

What You’ll Need To Play?

To play three-player Chess, you’ll need a game board. Any Chess enthusiast will tell you all about the many great Chess sets you can find. But three-player Chess sets will likely be harder to get in shops; thankfully, they are readily available online.

This wooden three-player Chess set would make a fine choice! While it might be tempting to get a couple of friends round and have a game right away, if you want to win, you better brush up on the rules first.

Three-player Chess is similar to regular Chess in many ways, but there are some important differences to know about. It can also be played in a few different ways; we’ll talk you through everything you need to know in the rules section below.

Three Player Chess Set

Rules And Gameplay

Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

Winning in three-player Chess means putting the other players in checkmate. It’s just like regular Chess in this respect. However, the game can end at different points, and you can also add additional bonus rules to add new elements to the game. We’ll go through everything you need to know.

Chess Pieces

The Chess pieces are pretty famous, and even if you’ve never played Chess before, you likely have already heard of them. In three-player Chess, the pieces work in the same way, but to familiarize yourself check out the list below.

  • Pawn: The basic soldiers of Chess, these can move one square at a time normally, although on their first move, they can move two squares. Pawns can’t move backward.
  • Knight: Knights are one of the most complex pieces in Chess. They can move in L-formation in any direction.
  • Rook/Castle: Castles are powerful pieces that can move horizontally or vertically across the board.
  • Bishop: Bishops work in tandem with Castles but move diagonally instead.
  • Queen: The Queen can move in every direction, forwards and backward. Think of the Queen as a hybrid of the Castle and the Bishop.
  • King: The King is the most important piece on the board. If this piece is captured, then you instantly lose the game. The King can only move one square at a time, but it can move in any direction.

The Set-Up

First, decide what color you want; in three-player Chess, the colors are commonly black, white, and red. The movement order normally goes white, red, and then black. Then decide where you want to set up your pieces.

One should go at the bottom of the board, while the others should be placed at the top two diagonals of the pentagon. The pieces are set out the same as they would be on a regular board. If you’ve never played Chess below, follow the guide below.

  • Castle – Knight – Bishop – Queen – King – Bishop – Knight – Castle 
  • Pawn – Pawn – Pawn – Pawn – Pawn – Pawn – Pawn – Pawn

Playing Chess

That’s all the setup work done; now, let’s get down to how you win. The aim of the game is to capture your opponent’s King. You need to move pieces to prevent the King from having any movement.

When the King is stuck, it’s in checkmate. Any player whose King is in checkmate is instantly out of the game. However, if a King can escape, the game continues. You should aim to capture any player’s King as soon as you can.

After the first King is captured, the game continues with just two players. But from then on, a few different things can happen depending on the rules you’re playing with. Let’s take a look at some of these rules and how they affect the game.

Chess Strategies

We could talk about Chess strategies for a long time; check out our top tips here, but what makes three-player Chess quite challenging is that regular strategies often won’t work. Many people often make alliances with other players, but this can backfire, so think carefully.

Rule Variations

Normally, any pieces from the first player out are removed from the board, but if you prefer, they can stay on the board. If you move onto the same squares as these pieces, you win them and can use them going forward!

Another fun rule variation you can use is the bonus piece rule! With this rule, the first player to put someone else in checkmate can take one of their pieces and uses it alongside their own for the rest of the game.

Another rule lets the player take all the pieces their opponent had left on the board. However, this will likely make the remainder of the game very one-sided, so do take that into account. We find it can make the latter half of the game a little unfun.

You can also add a no-speaking rule. This means that no one can talk while the game is in progress. This rule is often used to prevent two players from forming an alliance and ganging up on another player.

Finally, you can also add house rules if you like! Yes, just like in Monopoly, although there is no money for passing go. So, if all players can agree on any particular unique rules, they want to employ three-player Chess can be even more hectic and fun!

Three-Player Chess: A New Twist on Traditional Chess

Three-player Chess isn’t likely to overtake the original game in popularity any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go! This game is unpredictable and often quite hectic at times. But that deep strategic gameplay everyone loves about Chess is still present.

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