How To Play Chess

Chess is one of the oldest games of skill played today. It is believed that the game of chess originated in northern India or Afghanistan but there is no concrete proof to that. However, it is a known fact that the game was played centuries ago in countries like China, India and Persia.  

The game is played by two players on a chessboard, which consists of 64 squares - eight rows and eight columns. Typically, the squares on the chessboard are black and white alternatively but the colors of the squares can vary slightly. There are two sets of pieces containing 16 pieces in each. Generally, one set is black and the other is white, but again, these colors can vary as well. Each set of 16 pieces contains eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, one queen and one king.  
The Setup 

Setting up the game of chess is fairly simple. Starting on the row closest to you on your side of the board and moving left to right, the pieces are placed on the board as follows:  

Rook - Knight - Bishop - Queen - King - Bishop - Knight - Rook  

Then on the row directly above that, the eight pawns are placed one to a square. The queen from the lighter colored set must be on a lighter colored square and vice versa for the darker colored set. Essentially, when both sets are placed accordingly on the board, they should be mirror images of each other. 
Piece Movement 

  1. Pawns must move straight ahead unless they are taking an opponent's piece. Pawns cannot be moved backwards or sideways. Generally, pawns only move one square at a time with one exception. The first time a pawn is moved, it can move two spaces forward instead of just one providing the space on the board is free. When a pawn is taking a piece, it can only do so by moving diagonally. A pawn can capture any opposing pieces except the king. When a capture is made, the pawn takes the place of the captured piece on the board and the captured piece is removed from play. Finally, if a pawn reaches all the way across the board, it can be replaced by an already-captured piece of the same set.

  • Shaped like a castle, the rook is one of the more powerful pieces on the board. Rooks can move any number of squares horizontally or vertically but not diagonally. They can cover a significant area of the board and capture any opposing piece.
  • The knight is the only piece on the board that can jump over other pieces when moved. The knight's movement is always in an "L" shape either vertically or horizontally. When moved horizontally, it first goes two squares left/right and then one square up/down. Conversely, it moves two squares up/down and then one square left/right when moved vertically. If the knight lands on a square occupied by an opposing piece, that piece is captured. The knight can capture any piece. Note: the color of the square where the knight begins its move is always the opposite of the color of the square where the move ends.
  • Like a rook, the bishop covers a significant area of the board, but the difference is that it can only move diagonally. At the start of the game, each player has 2 bishops - one situated on a dark square and the other on a light square. The bishops always remain on the same colored square regardless of how many times they move. The bishop is also able to capture any piece.
  • The queen is undoubtedly the most powerful piece on the board. It can be moved any number of squares in any direction. Restricted only by her inability to jump over pieces like the knight, the queen can capture any piece on the board.
  • Though not the most powerful piece, the king is definitely the most important one on the board. Once a king has been captured, the game is over. The king can only move one square at a time but unlike the pawn it can move in any direction. However, the king cannot move into a position where he would be captured by an opposing piece.

  • Playing The Game 

    The lighter colored sight always moves first. Each player then alternates turns, moving one piece each time in the corresponding way. If an opposing player's piece can be captured, the player moves whichever one their pieces is needed to capture that piece if they choose to do so.  

    When the opponent's king piece is threatened by a player's piece it is said to be "in check." When this situation occurs, the player announces, "check." The player with their king "in check" must move it to a square where it will no longer be "in check." Each player's goal is to maneuver her pieces so that the opponent's king is threatened no matter which square it's moved to. This is called "checkmate." When a checkmate happens, the king is considered captured and the game is over.  

    Another way the game can end is stalemate. A stalemate is considered a tie and occurs when a player can only move his king into a check position but its current square is not threatened. A stalemate cannot happen as long as the king or another piece can be moved to an open square.  

    The final way to end the game is when one player resigns. A player can resign at any time. Normally, a player only resigns when she loses a major piece and her chances of winning the game consequently become very slim.

    Chess deserves its reputation as a game of intense strategy. With practice and research, you can develop the strategy and focus required to play successfully. Consider joining a local chess club, or search for strategic advice online. Wikipedia offers helpful information on the tactics and strategic maneuvers of chess, and you can purchase instructional books at Chess Central.


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