Millennium Chess - An Introduction
In this blog series, I will be doing a study on a little-known chess variant called Millennium Chess, or Millennium 3D Chess. In this first post, I will briefly explain the game and some of its basics as they relate to the original game.
Millennium Chess is played on three stacked chess boards, resulting in an 8x8x3 playing field. (The official rules also have provision for playing on three boards side by side, instead of stacked.) I like to consider Millennium Chess to be a very clever modern take on traditional chess. Traditional chess was invented to reflect the warfare of the times, which took place on relatively flat plains or seas—roughly one-dimensional. But modern warfare takes place on three main levels: Land (or seas), Air, and Underwater. Millennium Chess could be thought to reflect this development.
It takes a little while to adapt to the strategy change required for this variant. The game is certainly more challenging, but after a mindset-shift, the game is very pleasing. In a way, it relies more on one’s strategy, and less on brute force. For me, after four or five games, I was thinking in three dimensions and no longer making obvious blunders.
This variant uses a normal 32-piece chess set. The pieces are set up on the top and bottom levels, instead of starting on the same plane. The advantage of choosing whether to start from the top or the bottom is given to black, just as the advantage of moving first is given to white (although neither of these advantages truly affect the progression of the game, but are matters of personal preference).
To simply explain the motion of the pieces, one could say that the pieces continue to move in the normal fashion, but with the addition that they move from level to level in the same fashion. Now, this explanation is rather broad and vague, and previous attempts at 3D chess variants failed because of this. So William D'Agostino, the inventor of Millennium Chess rules, made more specific rules for the motion of each piece. In later posts, I will explain the motions of every piece.
To complete the game, a notation system has also been devised. Once again, it is based off classic chess, with some minor modifications. Because the game is played on three levels, the boards are numbered for the purpose of notation: Board 1 is always the board from which white starts out, board 2 is the middle board, and Board 3 is the board from which black starts out. The number of the destination board is inserted between the notations for piece and destination square. So N3g3 would designate a knight moved to g3 on black’s home board, and B2d5 would a bishop moved to d5 on the middle board, etc.
I hope you enjoyed my exposition on Millennium Chess. Keep an eye out for my future posts explaining the motion of the pieces. And feel free to post your thoughts or questions in the comments section!