Quadlevel 3D Chess

Set Up- (4 half boards stacked on top of one another - 4x8x4)  Requires two sets of chessmen, yes even two Kings and two Queens.  On the top, the white Knight goes on the white square, everything else, begins to fall into place.  A sequence of 'Rook, Knight, Bishop, Rook'.  Like regular Chess, the Queens go on their own color.  Whether physical or digital, It is ideal to view the game facing the long side of the board with your Chessmen on the left.  Then you will play from left to right.  See the digital representation below, there you would be playing 'White'.

Top Board

2nd Board

3rd Board

Bottom Board

The 3 Dimensional Concept of this version

The concept of regular chess or 2 dimensional is X and Y row motion. Now in this game there is X, Y, and Z row motion. This game is usually played with a simplified version of this concept, because of a rule that we will explain below. Movements are either in the X*Y motion or in the Y*Z motion. All the pieces move normally on the flat half (8x4) boards - that is the X*Y plane. If you can picture it, in your head 3-dimentionally, the Y*Z plane is exactly the same (8x4) space and motion. It is just turned 90degrees. See the Youtube video

Flat Motion Flat Motion Demonstration Rotated 90degrees:
3D Motion
3D Motion Demonstration

The Change In Distance Rule (CID)

It is important to consider that in regular chess, when a pawn, bishop, knight, queen, or a King moves diagonally, it changes distance between one player and his opponent. All of the above mentioned pieces when moving diagonally must move forward or backward, advance or retreat from the opponent. To put it another way: If a piece started on flank (A) he must stay on the flank (A) when changing boards.  A Pawn, Knight, and Bishop type move must change distance between one player’s side and the opponents side.  You may wish to play a variant called the Total Variant, in which these side diagonals are opened up.  As a consequence, the game becomes longer, and the Knight becomes even more powerful than the Rook! Think about it, what would prevent people from moving Bishops and Knights around on their back rank? Watch the  In defense of the CID Video

Pawn -

A Pawn moves straight toward the opponent. On its first move, a pawn can advance either one or two squares at the players choice, but on all following moves, only one square at a time. If a piece happens to be immediately in front of it, the pawn is blocked and can not advance until that piece gets out of the way. The pawn can capture any opposing piece which appears in the next square diagonally ahead, either to the right, left, up one board, or down one board. If your pawn is on the fifth rank(four moves from its starting point) and an opposing pawn makes a two square move on its direct right, left, up one board, or down one board, then you have one move to capture the opposing pawn as if he had only moved one square (This is called pass pawn or en passant). If one of these weak little men manage to make it all the way to the eighth rank, then you can promote him to either Queen, Rook, Bishop, or a knight.

Pawn Movements

The Bishop -

The Bishop moves only along the diagonal (staying on its own color), but being stronger than the Pawn, he can go backwards as well as forwards. Likewise, in one move, he can go as few or as many squares along diagonal as are vacant. He may capture any enemy piece appearing on same diagonal, providing no other piece lies between captor and captured. In regular chess he can move in four directions, in this game he can move in eight. Think of it this way if he starts on the fourth rank, he goes diagonally to the next row fifth rank, up one level fifth rank, or down one level fifth rank.  The 'X's in the following picture mark the spots that may be intuitive, but are not allowed in the normal variant of the game.  In practice the Bishops power is slightly less than its Knight counterpart.  This is likely because of the board-size of 4-squares max in any one direction.

Bishop Movements

The Rook

The Rook moves in a straight line, either across the rows or columns, and changes boards in a straight line. Like the bishop its range is unlimited being able to move back and forth over any number of vacant squares on any horizontal and vertical. It, too, can capture any opposing piece appearing on the same row. Note : Moving the rooks may keep you from castling when needed - see castling under King.  Power: You may actually consider trading a Rook for a Knight.

Rook Movements

The Queen

She is the most powerful piece on the board, for she has the combined powers of Bishop and Rook. She can move back and forth on the diagonal, like the bishop, and back and forth on the horizontal or vertical.

The Knight

It jumps over one square, but landing in a square of a different color from the one he left. Thus, if he is on dark, his move will be into light and vice versa. You may also look at it as a L shaped move. 2 Square’s or Boards in one direction and one square or board in another. He jumps over pieces, thus you cannot block a knight.  Because of the board design, the Knight does not lose as much as the Bishop in the confined space.  The 'X's indicate the spaces that may be intuitive, but are not allowed in the normal variant of the game.

Knight Movements

The King

Like the pawn, he can move only one square at a time. But he can go in any direction he likes and can capture any piece appearing in a square adjacent to the one he is occupying. Think of this though your two kings are you, so it’s best if you keep them safe. You cannot move the king into a square that the enemy can move(Check). 


One way to make the King safer and to put a rook into play is to castle. This is a special move in which you are for once allowed to make two moves in one. There are four ways to castle with each King. Two King side and Two Queen Side. In order for this to be legal you cannot have moved the King or Rook involved, and the Knight, Bishop, and sometimes a Queen has to be out of the way. You cannot castle out of check, into check, or through check. King side castling is a one square move either toward the edge on its own level or toward the closest end board, the top or bottom. Queen side is a two square move through the place the Queen used to be. Either toward the edge on its own level or two boards away and resting again, at the top or bottom level. The closest Rook (to the King) in all cases moves to the closest center square (where the Kings and Queens started from).

2nd level King King Side Castle 2nd Level King Demonstration 3rd Level King King Side Castle 3rd Level King Demonstration
2nd level King Queen Side Castle 2nd Level King Demonstration 3rd level King Queen Side Castle 3rd Level King Demonstration


Pawn - 1
Knight - 3.25
Bishop - 2.75
Rook - 4
Queen - 8


Your King(s) is in check when a opposing piece could move and capture the King were it his turn. You must get out of check. You can do this by capturing the piece that is checking, moving the King out of check, or interposing another piece.

Checkmate or Win


When the King(s) are in check and you cannot make any legal moves then you have lost. When both Kings are in check this is called a double check. You may also resign before you get this far to allow your opponent to win without a fight.

Draw / Tie

Can be agreed upon. Occurs when a position comes up to the same player three times usually in a perpetual check. 50 moves in a row with no Pawn advancement or piece capture. A Stalemate occurs when your King(s) are not in check and you cannot make any legal moves.

Variant: Destroy Both Kings (Watch the Two Kings YouTube)

When a King is checkmated, it is removed from the board, but play continues. If a double check occurs or anytime both Kings are somehow involved a decision is made by the player for which King to remove and the other moves to safety. But remember once the one King is off the board the remaining King becomes Stationary, "Locked". Even a Check can be fatal to a Locked King if you cannot interpose or capture the checking piece. That does not mean that the enemy can win by moving his King adjacent to the "locked" King. (Note: This is actually in the original 1970 rules.  In practice, it was found to extend the game, a bit convoluted, hard to learn, and in the end the game less relevent.  The game is complicated enough right?) Watch the Youtube where I discuss variants and the CID.


A Draw occurs for all the "Standard" reasons except one. If a Stalemate like position were to occur in which the only piece he could possibly move is the "locked" King. The King will be unlocked for the rest of the game. (Only under the 'Destroy both kings' variant.)

Variant: Total 3D

As mentioned in the CID rule section. You may play a variant in which you are allowed to make side diagonals, or move a knight that doesn't change distance between you and the opponent. Besides being more complicated, there are differences in which the pieces are powered. A Knight would be nearly as strong as a Queen. A Rook would be as weak as a Bishop or even less. Another possible allowed move would be the Tridiagonal. Possibly for just the Queen, or you may decide to give the Bishop this power too. But then you also increase the difference of power. The tridiagonal, is a move in which a Queen would change in level, column, and row. A queen could move from 1c5 to 2d6.  In the youtube on the CID above, I explain some of the possible Variants.  Here is another link

Notation - Naming Moves

{Piece 'if not a pawn'}{Level #}{Column 'abc...'}{Rank #}  A standard opening moves will be like 1)2c4 2c5.  For castling say 2O-O1 - meaning the King on level 2 castled King side to Level 1. If two of the same kind of pieces can move to the same square you need to specify an identifier. Just as the notation, in the order of level, column, rank. EX. N(2)2a6 - The Knight on level 2 moved to 2a6.

Notation Diagram

Example Foolsmate Game in notation:

1. 2c4.......4a5
2. 3c4......R4a6
3. B4c4.....R3a6
4. 1a3......R3a4
5. Bx3a4....N2b6
6. Q3d3.....N3b4
7. Qx3d7++......

Copyright © 1970 Robert Koernke Sr. "The Complete Rules of Three Dimensional Chess" - Now with revisions by Robert Koernke Jr. (Link to the original location of the booklet.)