Pure Fiction But We Wish It Was Real: C is for Chess

The one game that appears to be taking over the galaxy is chess. It’s hard to find science fiction or fantasy that doesn’t incorporate some form of the game. Apparently, it’s the one game that spans space, time, and dimensions.

Here are just a few examples that you may have seen:

Game Versions of Chess

 Ankh-Morpork Assassins’ Guild has a version called, Stealth Chess in which pieces move invisibly.

Novel Versions of Chess

Terry Pratchett’s novel Trolls and Dwarves has a chess-like game called Thud which includes trolls and dwarves.

 J. K. Rowling created Wizard Chess  for the Harry Potter series. It is played like real chess, only the pieces move by voice command.

Frank Herbert has a version of chess called Cheops or Pyramid Chess in the Dune series.

Jetan – a chess-like strategy game from the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel The Chessmen of Mars.

 George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, includes a strategic combination of Chess and Battleship called Cyvasse.

Chess in Film

Dejarik or Holochess  is a version of chess played in Star Wars.

Three-Dimensional Chess – is a strategy game first seen in the Star Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”  It was later developed into a real game. Yay!

We love chess in all of its amazing forms. Did we miss your favorite?

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T.S. Valmond is the science fiction and young adult fantasy author of The Bolaji Kingdoms Series and The Verity Chronicles. As an award-winning poet, world traveler, and sign language interpreter she uses her experiences to fuel her stories. She’s a regular contributor to the website and founder of the Riders & Flyers group.


  1. I haven’t heard of the Pratchett nevel – would that be the novel Thud? I have been to the occasional Discworld convention and seen people playing it! And, yes, three-dimensional chess at Trek conventions. Amazing how people work out the rules for these things, isn’t it? A bit like people learning Elvish.

    1. Yes, that novel is Thud. I would love to see it live! Yes, it’s like learning Elvish or Klingon.

  2. I have never had any interest in chess, anything that even looked like maths to me was a no go area…but…I think a lot of writers and authors view it as a game of intelligence and strategy. Me, I’m a Ram.

    1. Ha, ha, I know!!! Talk about a game only about ten percent of people play. Yet it’s supposed to survive into the indefinite future…I guess I better learn at least one variation.

  3. Didn’t Sheldon make a form of three dimensional chess in Big Bang Theory? 🙂 ~Liz AtoZ @ http://www.poetryroundabout.com and http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

    1. Yes, it was supposed to be included in this post and I forgot. It’s called Secret Agent Obstacle Chess. It shows up in the episode “The Work Song Nanocluster.” In this version of chess, a player must navigate a field of laser sensors before they make a move. Thanks for remembering it.

  4. There is a movie called, “The Dark Horse” (2014) about a man with mental health issues who teaches kids how to play chess, despite the barriers they all face. There are a few movies out there with that title, but this one takes place in New Zealand. imdb describes it as, “A brilliant but troubled New Zealand chess champion finds purpose by teaching underprivileged children about the rules of chess and life.” It’s an excellent movie!

    1. Oh, that sounds awesome! It doesn’t sound like a sci-fi fantasy story but I’ll make an exception.

  5. I’ve always felt rather left out because I don’t really care for chess when it often seems in SFF that everyone of any intelligence in all of space and time plays it. Pratchett’s Patrician also plays straight chess, I believe, in addition to doing crossword puzzles. At least I like crosswords.
    Black and White: C is for Cherufe

    1. It took me a long time to like chess or crossword puzzles but I have about equal skill in both 😉

  6. Great post! I love your references to those books

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