play three-dimensional chess

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play three-dimensional chess

1. Literally, to play a variation on traditional chess that involves multiple boards positioned at different heights (also known as "3D chess"). No, I'm not playing three-dimensional chess with you—I can barely play regular chess!
2. By extension, to engage in a very complicated or complex game, system, or strategy involving a deep understanding of the situation that one's opponents or adversaries lack. Our CEO is always playing three-dimensional chess to stay ahead of our competition. Coaching against him is like trying to play three-dimensional chess.
See also: chess, play
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Mel was always playing three-dimensional chess while the rest of us were playing Chinese checkers.
It's like playing three-dimensional chess but help is at hand from the many companies who now offer computer-aided design.
The space warrior must understand the complexities of conflict in this new medium as if he or she were playing three-dimensional chess. To do so, we must continue to improve our space situational awareness, develop attack warning, as well as appropriate self-defense capabilities, and the doctrine, strategies and capabilities needed to conduct offensive counterspace operations.
Colin Nutley, director of "Under the Sun," the Swedish entry in the foreign-language competition, says, "It's like playing three-dimensional chess. When you sit in Sweden, far from it all, you have no idea how complex the challenge is.
He thought he was heading for a summer space cruise - beaming up to the pool deck, playing three-dimensional chess with Spock and looking up Lt.