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How to Play 3-Player Mercenary Chess

By Edited Jun 18, 2015 1 2

Chess is a war game requiring logic and strategy. Mercenary Chess is played by 3 chess players requiring timing and psychological strategies. Like the enemies in World War II, opponents in Mercenary Chess may switch sides. That war began when Germany and the Soviet Union both attacked and conquered Poland. Then Germany attacked France. When France fell the Vichy government was formed favoring Germany. Frenchmen were supporting both sides. Italy and Japan joined Germany. Japan attacked the United States, and the U. S. joined the Allies. Germany invaded its previous ally, the Soviet Union, driving it to switch sides and join the Allies. When Italy fell before Allied invasion, the Italians were glad to get the Germans out. When the war was finally over, the U. S. and the Soviet Union, both Allies until the war's conclusion, became enemies during the Cold War.
You need a 3 player chess board and 5 complete sets of chess pieces in 5 colors if you play into the second phase of the game after one player has been checkmated. You do not have to buy complete chess games to get the extra pieces. You can collect extra pieces cheaply and paint them with model paint, or if you don't mind the cost you can buy pieces already made of differing colors. You can get by with 3 complete chess sets of 3 colors if you use checkers to identify mercenary pieces for the remaining 2 opponents

Mercenary Chess


What you need:

  • 3 Player Chess Board, See Making a 3 Player Chess Board

  • 3 Players

  • 5 sets of chess pieces of 5 colors, or 3 chess sets and 2 sets of checkers

  • Knowledge of Chess

Directions for Play:

    • Pieces are set up as in regular chess, except that the queen is on the left for all players. This means that each player's king faces a queen. The 8 pawns go in the front row, and in the back row, from the dark diamond on the left star point to the light diamond on the right star point: rook, knight, bishop, queen, king, bishop, knight, and rook.

    • 2

      Moves are the same as in regular chess. Think of each diamond shaped position as a skewed square. The knight gives new players the most confusion. Remember that knights switch the color of the diamond they are on with each move; two diamonds in one direction, then turn left or right and move one diamond.

    • 3

      The shape of the board creates a new possibility: the diagonals from the points of the star split at the center of the board into 2 directions, and the Queen or the Bishops may go in EITHER DIRECTION. They do not go straight across the board though, but must stay on the proper diagonal color, light or dark. If they went straight across the entire board they would change the color of the diamonds being followed, which is not a proper diagonal move. This makes the Bishops more powerful and more valuable.

    • 4

      Pawns move forward, the 4 on your right attack the player to your right, and the 4 on the left attack the player on your left. Pawns in the center of the board can attack in the traditional diagonal manner, but this means only on the same color diamond. A pawn on a dark diamond may not attack an opponent's piece on a light diamond. "En passant" may still be played.

    • 5

      "Castling" may still be played.

    • 6

      There are 2 kinds of "Check." Traditional check is when a player attacks an opponent's king directly with his own pieces. The attacked player must respond to the check on his next turn. "Discovered Check" is when a player's move results in one opponent being placed in check by the other opponent. NO WARNING OF "CHECK" IS GIVEN IN THE CASE OF DISCOVERED CHECK. If the next player is the attacking opponent, he may KILL the King in check without him getting any opportunity to protect his king. But neither the attacking opponent nor the attacked opponent are warned. Since the king of every player is faced by a queen, the pawns before the kings are of greater importance. When the King Pawn is removed from play, a DISCOVERED CHECK is more likely.

    • 7

      When a player is checkmated out of the game or killed in a discovered check, his KING IS REMOVED from the board, but his PIECES ARE NOT REMOVED. They become MERCENARIES. They do not move as mercenaries, but are barriers to the remaining two players. They may not be killed as mercenaries, but when a player is in position to take a mercenary, he announces to his opponent that he is CAPTURING that mercenary. CAPTURING A MERCENARY is equivalent to a move. The capturing piece does not move, but the captured mercenary piece is replaced with the same piece of the capturing player's mercenary color. Thus the captured mercenary has joined the forces of the capturing player. This is why it helps to have 5 colors of chess pieces. 3 colors are used to start the game, and the extra 2 colors are used to replace the mercenaries as they are captured by the two players remaining after a checkmate. A checker may be placed under the captured mercenary for identification if you only have 3 sets of chess pieces. After a mercenary piece is captured and the appropriately colored piece takes its place on the board, in future moves that mercenary may be moved just like the regular pieces of that player.

    • 8

      Since mercenaries may be captured, the timing of an initial checkmate can be critical. Before checkmating a player out of the game, you must consider whether your remaining opponent will be able to capture the most powerful mercenaries before you do. If that is true, then a checkmate AT THAT TIME could be suicidal. Better it is to live to a stalemate, than to die of self-inflicted wounds.

    • 9

      MERCENARY PAWNS, when captured, continue to move in the same direction as when playing for the original king. A player's pawns and captured mercenary pawns are often moving against each other, and may block each other's path. It is for this reason that it is better to have a separate color for the captured mercenaries. You can be clear which pawns are moving in which direction.

    • 10

      Play this game a few times and you will see that it is challenging for any player, and requires a unique delicacy of timing for a checkmate. Even a skilled chess player can be beaten by two average players who use teamwork to their advantage. While one player continually puts the king in "check", the team player attacks the other pieces, and the defending player must always answer the "check." This pattern may continue until the defender is in "checkmate" or until one of the team players decides to attack his team mate, recognizing that he needs the original defender's help to beat the other opponent.




Aug 11, 2011 1:30am
I wish I had someone to play WITH! Thanks for a very clear explanation
Aug 11, 2011 6:23am
Bookmarked. This needs good attention to study, and i love the idea already. Thanks for sharing Sonnetreader.
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