The Story of Hyperchess, a 3D Chess Game Inspired by Star Trek

Max Chappell was a chess whiz as a kid, but as he got older, it became boring. He didn't lose his love for the game, but it seemed too easy. So he looked into 3D chess -which has been tried in many different ways, but none were really enjoyable. So Chappell set out to design a way to do chess on multiple levels right: a game that was playable, logical, challenging but winnable, and stayed true to the original idea of chess. Still, none of his ideas worked. Then he saw the version of chess played on Star Trek. Not only was it pretty, it was not symmetrical, and that sent Chappell in a new direction with his game. The TV prop was there for looks, and not really playable. Others had tried to make the Star Trek version work as a game, with little success. Chappell, on the other hand, already knew the challenges of 3D chess and adapted the asymmetrical idea he'd seen on the show.   

Chappell hoped his version would maintain chess’s integrity, but coming up with a design was more complicated than you’d think. He spent approximately two decades hammering out the specifications of his invention. He was 22 when he jerry-rigged the first Hyperchess prototype from plywood and aluminum in his father’s garage, and 45 when he sold the first manufactured unit. In the years between, he did a lot of work on the game, redesigning the setup countless times, filing various patents, and trying in vain to remove bubbles from Formica laminate, which he planned to use to coat the transparent boards.

The next challenge was getting people to play it. Read the history of Hyperchess at Motherboard.

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