Impossible objects #7: Global Chessboard

There’s something about chess that lends itself to whacky development…


For the latest Impossible Object we return to the source of the series’ inspiration. It is another entry from the Catalogue of Impossible Objects by Jacques Carelman (a member of the College of ‘Pataphysics).

It includes such items as electric hammers, conflicting cycles and flat chairs.

Building on the idea of changing the chess landscape, check out this alternate version of the game, dubbed TERRAIN, which lets you configure the board using different sized cubes.

Not quite sure how this affects rules for moving and taking…

It is attributed to the Finnish Design house Tonfisk, which describes it thus:terrain-chess.jpg

TERRAIN consists of 3-dimensional board made of 64 separate wooden blocks which can be altered and rearranged to create a variety of terrains in which to do battle. The game thus has an added dimension of difficulty. The wooden blocks are made of walnut and white oiled oak. The porcelain chess pieces are made by hand and each piece is unique.

It makes me think of a three-way chess board I almost bought at Piccadilly Market at St. James’s church, for a chess loving friend. A three way battle would certainly introduce a new layer of strategy into the game.


It also reminds me of a friend from school who claimed to have played “Super Chess” at his chess club, playing with 64 sets of pieces on an 8 x 8 square of boards….

Anyone else know of interesting chess “extensions”?




  1. Cheers Bernard! I can never get my head around imagining four dimensions, let alone five.
    I do like the transparent layer model though. Did moving between layers represent one square within a move, or a whole move in itself? Could Bishops swoop down through different dimensions?
    The mind boggles. (It’s all getting a bit like Total War, Shogun Edition, with Warrior Monks storming down a hill (!))

  2. Very good point, Rod. Not the most comfortable viewing angle for inspecting your peices, maybe, but it could encourage subtle moves that go unnoticed “down the south pole”

  3. At school ( 1960’s ) our Physics master had a three dimensional chess “board” consisting of the normal board with 7 transparent layers above with the black squares outlined in black.
    Simple games started on the top layer and involved some vertical movement by the braver players. Complex games started with one player’s men on the top layer and the other on the lowest level.
    In theory this could be extended to 4 dimensions using a row of 8 stacks. 5 dimension using an 8 by 8 array of stack.
    Having once played 4 dimensional noughts and crosses I will stick to 2 dimensional chess.

  4. So why is this impossible? Magnetic bases on a steel sphere would work fine, the main issue is tiny “squares” near the poles, but then your three-way board has distorted “squares” and the sphere would be better patterned like a soccer ball. Needs more thought, but scarcely impossible.
    regards, Rod

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