Chess in itself is a complicated game. Even with all the strategy, sometimes one can go only that much far. Also known as the game of kings, chess has evolved through the passage of time. It is said to have derived its roots from the indian game chaturanga. The standardized rules of chess that are followed unanimously now were discussed and fixed in the 19th century.
In this game, each player is alloted 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two bishops, two knights, two rooks and lastly, eight pawns. Each piece follows a different movement pattern, and the main objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. Checkmate refers to the position where the opponent’s king is in threat of capture, with no option to safeguard the piece.
It is a fact that change is the only thing that is constant. Same applies to chess too. Many variants of chess, on the basis of different criterias, are popular amongst the population. If anyone is keeping up with the chess developments, then they will surely know about three and four player variants of chess. So what are these variants? Let’s see…
Three player chess, also known as three way chess, or three handed chess is specially designed for three players. Usually a non-standardized board is used, and many variations of this form exist. The pieces of three players are usually separated on the basis of colours. Three way chess variants are more tough to design as for disbalance caused by teaming up of two players will be a great disadvantage for the third one, and also not easily lovercomable. Hence, some variants declare the first player to checkmate any of the other two players as the winner. The third player might be declared to have lost, alongside the checkmated player, or, might be rewarded a half point.
The strategy in three way chess differs greatly from the traditional chess variant, as for the face against two opponents, the usual opening and defenses might not hold strong. Also, the third player is given the most advantage when the other two players exchange their pieces. This point opens a plethora of new tactics in the game. Also, in the games where the first one to checkmate wins, the players not only have to build on their attack and defense, but also have to make sure that no other player checksmates before them. Also, checkmate from both the opposing players simultaneously is a tricky situation. As for if the checkmated piece is captured by the second player, which in turn, is captured by the third player, then it is considered that the ultimate checkmate is given by the third player. But with all these complications, three way chess pushes the mind to evaluate the game even with more concentration and critical thinking.
Some variants of three way chess are:
- Boards with triangular cells: Patented by Russian Ilshat Tagiev in 2008, this variant uses a hexagonal board with triangular cells. The cells which are not adjacent to the perimeter have three cells adjacent in an oblique fashion.
- Boards with quadrilateral cells: Under this, variants can be sub classified on the basis of the geometry of the boards.
- Hexagonal board: Some variants under this category are Three Man Chess (96 cell board), Self’s Three Handed Chess (144 cell board), Waidder’s Three Handed Chess (126 cell board), etc.
- Other Boards: Megachess (roughly triangular board with 130 cells), Mad Threeparty Chess (10X10 board) etc.
- Boards with hexagonal cells: In this type of board, usually three bishops are alloted to each player, in order to include all the cells of the hex- playing field. Some variants with this type of cells are- Chesh, HEXChess etc.
- Circular boards: Usually has three or four sided cells. One such variant is Three Man Chess.
From all the directions
Four player chess, also known as four way chess and four man chess, is relatively simpler to understand. It follows some basic rules of traditional chess. The board itself, though, is different. The common board format is the standard 8X8 squares, with an extension of three rows, each of eight cells, on each side. The pieces are again differentiated on the basis of colours. Played in both team and single format, the objective is to mate the opponent kings (two in case of team game and three in case of singles). In a team game, check mating only one king successfully leads to a draw. A fun fact: If two or more players team up during a game, then also it is considered legal.
Four player chess, incidentally, has a set of common rules. Those are:
- Pieces of a certain colour can only be moved at their own turns.
- Pawn can move diagonally forward only in an attacking case, otherwise it has to move forward in a straight line.
- A pawn, on successfully reaching the King’s row of any of the other three opponents, has the option to upgrade to a queen, rook, knight or bishop.
- In most of the variations, if the move of one opponent directly places another opponent in a mate position due to the presence of a piece of third opponent, the third opponent is forbidden to capture the mated King, until the mated opponent gets the opportunity to play something in order to defend their king.