SphereChess has subverted traditional chess strategies in a way yet to be mastered by human or AI.
Chess is practically the most successful board game off all time, given that its modern form has existed for 800 years, but many believe there’s still room for improvement: Regimental Chess revised the formula with six connected boards, but for some it’s apparently just not worth it unless chess has no limits at all. Enter SphereChess, an online game that folds the 64 square board into a ball before pitting players against each other. It sounds bizarre at first, but creates some fascinating alternate strategies; in SphereChess players must be able to account for pieces that can move indefinitely without reaching a single edge.
“This game takes classic square board chess into a whole new world without borders … into the new age of chess,” says Max Tite, one of the first officially recorded SphereChess players. “The power and the possibilities are much higher and the playing styles and winning gambits and amazing strategies have yet to be written. We’re excited to see how this game evolves and how it grows and expands.”
Instead of facing each other across a standard board, SphereChess pieces start at the sphere’s poles. Players can still move a single piece each turn, but will not have their movements restricted by a board’s edge. Queens, bishops, and rooks can make attacks across the globe, while pawns must form circular defenses instead of protecting kings with individual lines.
SphereChess advertises itself as a game that no AI can master, but that says more about its novelty than anything else. People have been calculating chess strategies for centuries while the first recorded SphereChess game only occurred last January. I expect AI efforts will catch up quickly enough, but regardless, the concept certainly has potential.
In its current form, SphereChess can be played online through browsers or downloaded directly from the official website. The visuals look a little rough around the edges, but it still offers a variety of board styles and could become an attractive strategy game with a few updates. Whether that’s enough to dethrone the prominence of vanilla chess remains to be seen.