Three dimensional (3-D) chess

velisarius

Senior Member
British English (Sussex)
"Three-dimensional chess" is used colloquially to describe complex, dynamic systems with many competing entities and interests, including politics, diplomacy and warfare. To describe an individual as "playing three-dimensional chess" implies a higher-order understanding and mastery of the system beyond the comprehension of their peers or ordinary observers.
Three-dimensional chess - Wikipedia

The literal and extended meanings are also given here, but I haven't found it in other dictionaries:
3-dimensional chess (FreeDictionary)

I came across it being used adjectivally in an online article today:

I’d love for the 3-D chess crowd to explain to me how it’s Paul Ryan’s fault that Trump filled up his White House with staffers actively opposed to his agenda and — until he won the nomination — actively opposed to Trump.
Trump's Failing. Don't Ask Me to Lie About It - Taki's Magazine

It seems to have been first used with this extended, political meaning in 2016, both by Trump's supporters and by his detractors.

Some of his supporters counter this by arguing that Trump's statements are--in fact--part of some kind of large scale secret master plan that will take him to the White House in November, and that's what gets termed '3D chess'.
[...]
The basic idea of "3D Chess" in this context is that a politician is being more sophisticated with his actions than he appears.

What is 3D Chess : OutOfTheLoop
 
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