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Make a 3 Player Chess Board

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 6 27

     Wherever I take my 3-player chess board it draws attention, and when I set up chess pieces in three colors on the board, the excitement grows. Anyone who plays chess quickly  gathers around to play or watch as my unique game of Mercenary Chess proceeds. Two players may gang up on one, but soon sides will change. If one gets checkmated out of the game, his pieces stay on the board to be captured by the remaining players for a vicious endgame.
     Before you can play any 3-player chess game, you need a 3-way board and more chess pieces. Here are instructions to make a board in the shape of a 6-point star. Purchase the extra colored chess pieces separately, or you can paint other sets in different colors yourself.
     The size of your board will depend upon the size of your pieces. Standard chess pieces will fit on a 2 inch diamond shaped space. These directions are for such a board. The overall size of a board with 2 inch sided diamond spaces is 24 inches across the arms, and 27 ¾ inches from point to point across the center. Get a piece of poster board, plywood, or other material at least this big.

3 player chess board
Credit: author, Mike Ackerman


Items needed:

• posterboard, plywood, or other board material
• yardstick, straight-edge
• drafting compass
• pencil
• black paint or marker

• 1
Find the center of the material by marking the center of both diagonal lines from corner
to corner. Draw a horizontal pencil line through the center point dividing the board in
half. This center line is parallel with the 24” line that will be drawn later across the top
of the 6-point star arms.

• 2
Set a drawing compass at 2 inches and with the point on the center, make a 2 inch radius
circle around the center point. The circle crosses the line on both sides of the center
point giving you new points on the right and the left of the center. Set the compass point
on the right point and mark 2 inches on the circle both above and below the horizontal
line with the compass. Then do the same from the point on the left side of the center.
This marks 6 points equidistant at 2 inches around the circle.

• 3
Just as your first line passed through 2 opposite points on the circle, draw 2 more lines
joining the opposite points on the circle as if you were cutting a pie. This divides the
circle into 6 sections. Extend each of the 6 lines to a point 8 inches from the center.
Check the measurement from the end of one line to the end of the next. Each of the 6
line ends should be 8 inches apart. Adjust the lines if necessary. Mark every 2 inches on
each line.

• 4
Now you will draw the 24 inch lines creating the arms of the star. Using a good yardstick
or other straight-edge at least 24 inches long, draw a line joining the top two of the 8
inch points around the outside, and extend the line another 8 inches beyond each point,
so the total length of the line is 24 inches.

• 5
Repeat step 4 for each pair of 8 inch points so that you have drawn the outside edge of
the 6-point star. Each edge of each star arm should be 8 inches long. Then each edge of
each star point must be marked every 2 inches.

• 6
Draw in the grid of diamonds by joining the corresponding points on the outside edges
of the star with the points on the 6 inside lines radiating from the center that are also
marked at every 2 inches. (See instruction 3.)

• 7
Mark every other diamond of each row with a pencil as one to be colored black. Then
fill them in with black paint or marker as you choose. When the board is dry you are
ready to learn the game and play.


• If you want a board in a different size, just remember that the diamond shapes are made of 2
equilateral triangles joined side to side. The distance across the board from arm to arm will be
12 times the side measurement of the single diamond space. The distance from point to point
will be 13.875 times the side measurement. Have fun with your family and friends! Teach them
a new way to play chess.
• Directions for playing Mercenary Chess are in another article called, How to Play Mercenary
Chess for 3 Players.

Now that you have the board, its time to learn how to play three player chess.



Jul 8, 2011 11:53pm
Whoa!! Excellent information. I've never heard of 3-player chess before (I've seen the "tri-level" thing Star Trek created for the original series). How long has this variant been around? Thanks for a genuinely interesting piece.
Jul 9, 2011 10:03pm
I saw long ago a picture of a 3 player board like the one below right. I felt a star was a better shape and made the one on the left. Rules? There are many games with different rules. Through trial and error of playing, I created Mercenary Chess! Remember one game: 2 of us were butchering the 3rd, and then I took a piece which could have mated him and attacked my "partner." "WHY!" he complained. I looked in his eyes, inches away, saying, "I need his help to beat you."
Aug 5, 2011 2:31am
Brilliant article. Congrats on making feature.
Aug 10, 2011 7:11pm
If you play chess and make a 3-way board, get some friends together and try Mercenary Chess. Win or lose, it's fun!
Aug 5, 2011 7:42am
This is absolutely an amazing idea. As a creative person and designer myself, I love interesting and unique products. Thanks for sharing.
Aug 10, 2011 7:21pm
Hi Greg, Have you played Mercenary Chess yet? Get some friends together and try a game. It can move fast and be over in an hour or less. I've never heard anyone say it was boring.
Aug 10, 2011 7:41pm
I've never even heard of Mercenary Chess. I feel like my whole universe just got expanded. I'll have to give it a try soon. Thanks again for this article.
Aug 5, 2011 9:51am
This is awesome! Here I am, 27 years old, and this is the first time I've EVER heard of this. I've gotta get my hands on one...
Aug 10, 2011 7:28pm
Well Howie, have you made the board yet? Can you get 2 military buddies together and play a game of Mercenary chess? It requires a lot more thought than a standard game, and that first checkmate is critical. You may turn down the chance to checkmate an opponent if the one remaining can capture the strong mercenaries.
Aug 5, 2011 4:26pm
Incredible, I am not much good at Chess, but would love a go on this.
Aug 10, 2011 7:29pm
Let me know when you make the board and play Mercenary Chess for the first time.
Aug 7, 2011 3:23am
nice one. Fascinating
Aug 10, 2011 7:31pm
Not as fascinating as playing Mercenary Chess on your own board. Let me know when you do.
Aug 7, 2011 11:13am
Wow! This is cool. I have never seen this before. Thanks for sharing.
Aug 10, 2011 7:34pm
Ready for a game of Mercenary Chess? Nothing like pitting yourself against 2 rivals. Winning takes psychology as well as strength of chess pieces. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.
Aug 9, 2011 3:53pm
Very cool. I may have to make one myself. Thanks for sharing!
Aug 10, 2011 7:14pm
Let me know when you make your board and use it playing Mercenary Chess. The game is fun even if you lose.
Aug 9, 2011 9:27pm
Extraordinary chess. I Like it.
Aug 10, 2011 7:17pm
Some have noticed the board instructions, but only a handful have read Mercenary Chess. Play the game and let me know what you think.
Aug 11, 2011 6:20am
So interesting. Both my husband and i are chess player, and im quite intrigued by this 3player chess. I'm definitely going to learn more about it.
Aug 11, 2011 10:01am
Awesome article! Never heard of anything like this before!!
Aug 17, 2011 3:39pm
First time I have ever heard of this to! awesome idea.
Aug 21, 2011 9:19pm
I've never even played Chess but very interesting.
Jul 9, 2012 9:25pm
amazing!! thumbs up!!
Dec 13, 2012 4:33am
Incredible, like everyone else I had not heard of it. I am still trying to beat the computer. A game like that I might be able to cheat and actually win more games. Great article and idea for playing chess.
Jan 9, 2013 10:02am
You should patent it or someone else will and make a fortune off of your idea. Great article and thanks for sharing all of this.
May 22, 2013 10:51am
Great idea, I feel like the entire game would change by adding a third person
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