With 5D Chess you can checkmate in multiple dimensions

I’ll be honest, regular 2D chess was already enough to sizzle my brain – but apparently it wasn’t hard enough, because someone created 5D chess.

Released last week by Conor Petersen and Thunkspace, 5D Chess claims to be “the first-ever chess variant with spatial, temporal, and parallel dimensions.” There’s multiverse time travel, branching timelines, parallel dimensions — all of which make it more suited to Dr. Who than the average human.


Early reviews from Steam and YouTube argued that it is actually closer to 4D chess, as the game has two physical axes and two time axes (“height” is not interactive). The MariAurum explainer below finally helped me understand the four axes: there are your regular physical x and y axes (left, right, up and down on a traditional chess board), and then there are your axes temporal, the one representing “time” (as in the past and future of a painting), and the second representing parallel dimensions.

According to an explainer published by Thunkspace, coins have specific rules for how they can move through time and space. Pawns, for example, can only jump in the timeline “in the direction they can normally move on their board”, while rooks can “time travel to any board as long as the position ‘they currently occupy is not taken, but they cannot move during time traveling’. Simple.

While researching this article, I also discovered that three-dimensional chess is actually a thing
and not just a turn of phrase (or an invented Star Trek game). The difference here is that pieces can move in three physical dimensions, essentially with stackable boards. German chess master Lionel Kierseritzky is credited with creating the first three-dimensional chess design in 1851 (via Geek & Sundry).

Even if that all seems like too much for you, it’s at least worth reading some of the Steam reviews for the sheer absurdity of how 5D chess plays out.

“I was playing a game against a human opponent online, and at some point they sent a queen back in time from one of the ten timelines currently in play to check five of my old kings at once” , said TheSpookiestUser. “I sent one of my own pieces even further into the stall, and then they sent one of their queens back early in the game to try and beat me before I even got to that point.

“I was able to maneuver one of my bishops in the second most divergent timeline into position to capture the queen in the alternate present once we got back to that point and save the game (I ultimately won by checkmating their king 5 tricks in the past). This is an actual description of an actual game.”

Steam user jolemo, meanwhile, noted that “there are few things in life more satisfying than being able to declare checkmate to your opponent across time and space.” I actually managed to find a video of someone performing triple checkmate in multiple dimensions.

Although some user reviews have criticized the behavior of the AI, it is also possible to play online if you want to test your mettle against other equally confused players. You can try 5D Chess for yourself for a discounted price of £7.43 on Steam, until this offer ends on July 29. Unless you also understand real-time travel.

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