Learn How to Play Chess: A Complete Introduction
While the origin of chess is not clearly known, it’s thought to have evolved from earlier chess-like games which were played in India two thousand years ago. Today’s game of chess has been popular since the 15th century with its popularity in Europe. By reading my blog, you can learn how to play chess easily!
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Aim of the game
Chess is played between two players on opposite sides of a board of 64 squares with alternating colors. Each player plays with 1 king, 1 queen, 2 bishops, 2 knights, 2 rooks and 8 pawns with the goal of checkmating the other king. A checkmate is when the king is poised to be captured or checked and cannot escape.
Starting the game
The game starts by laying the board so that each player has a white square on their bottom right-hand side. The pieces are then arranged with the second row filled with pawns. On the first row, the rooks go to corners, knights are next, then bishops and then the queen who goes on the square matching her color while the king is on the remaining square.
As the player with white pieces always moves first, the players decide who gets white by chance or by flipping coins or by having a player guess the color of the hidden pawn in the other player’s hand. White then starts, followed by black, white and so on till the end of the game.
How to move pieces
The different pieces move differently and cannot move through other pieces or move onto a square with one of their pieces. Only the knight can jump over pieces. Pieces can move and occupy an occupant’s place when a piece is captured. They are moved to capture other pieces, to defend their pieces in case of a capture or to control important game squares.
Though the king is the most important piece, it is one of the weakest as it can only move one square at a time in any direction; up, down, sides and diagonally.
This is the most powerful piece as she can move in any straight direction, forwards, backwards, diagonally or sideways as far as possible, as long as she does not move through any of her pieces. Her move is over if she captures an opponent’s piece.
The rook can move as many squares as possible but only forwards, backwards and sideways. They are powerful pieces while protecting and working together.
The bishop can move as many squares as required diagonally. Each starts on one color, which may be light or dark, and must stay on that color. They work well together as they cover up the other’s weaknesses.
Knights move differently- they move two squares in one direction and then another move at a 90 degree angle like an “L” shape. They are the only pieces which can move over other pieces.
These are unusual pieces which move and capture in different ways. They move forward only one square at a time, but capture only one square diagonally in front of them. However on their very first move, that they can move forward two squares. Pawns cannot move or capture backwards or move past or capture other pieces directly in front of the pawn.
The special ability of only pawns is that when a pawn reaches the opposite side of the board, it can become or is “promoted” into any other chess piece like rook, bishop and even queen. Most people think that pawns can be exchanged only for captured pieces, which is not true. Usually, pawns are prompted to a queen.
The last pawn rule is “en passant“, or “in passing” in French. If a pawn moving out two squares on its first move lands on the opponent pawn’s side, the opponent pawn can capture the first pawn as it passes by. This move however has to be done only immediately after the pawn’s first moving out move as the option is no longer available on consequent moves.
Castling is another special rule which lets you do two important things. You can get your king to safety and move your rook out of its corner into the game. When it’s your turn, you can move your king two squares to one side, and then move the rook from that side’s corner to reach right next to the king on the opposite side.
However the following rules must be met to castle:
- It should be the king’s and rook’s very first move
- There shouldn’t be any pieces between the king and rook to move
While castling to one direction, the king ends up closer to the side of the board and is called castling kingside. Castling on the other side where the queen sits is called castling queenside. Whatever the side, the king gets to move only two squares while castling.
Check and checkmate
The game’s purpose is to checkmate the opponent’s king wherein the king is put into check and cannot get out of it. The king can get out of a check in only three ways; by blocking the check with another piece, capturing the piece which threatens the king or just by moving away but no castling. The game is over if the king cannot escape checkmate. Customarily, the king is not removed or captured; the game is just declared over.
Sometimes, the chess game has no winner and ends as a draw for these 5 reasons:
i. Its one player’s turn to move but his king is not in check and he does not have another legal move
ii. There are not sufficient pieces on the board to induce a checkmate like a king and a bishop against a king.
iii. Players just agree to a draw and stop playing.
iv. Neither player has moved a pawn or captured a piece even after playing 50 consecutive moves.
v. The same, exact position is repeated thrice, not necessarily in a row.
Chess960 or Fischer Random is a chess variant which follows normal chess rules but the opening theory has no large role in the game. There are only 2 rules for setting the starting positions: the bishops should be on opposite colors and there should be a rook on each side of the king.
The black and white pieces are placed in a mirrored position to give exactly 960 possible starting positions, thus the name. In case of castling, while rules are about the same, there is an additional rule that the squares in between the king and castled rook should end up vacant from all pieces but the king and rook.
Some rules of tournaments
Most tournaments follow a set of common rules which may not apply to play at home or online.
A player who touches one of their pieces should move it as long as it’s a legal move. However if a player touches an opponent’s piece, they have to capture the piece. Players who want to touch and adjust a piece on the board should announce their intention, usually by saying “adjust”.
Timers are used in most tournaments to regulate the time spent on a game and not a move. A player get the same amount of time to use for the entire game, and can decide how to spend the time. On making a move, the player has to touch a button or hit a lever which starts the opponent’s clock. If a player runs out of time when the opponent calls the time, the first player loses the game, unless the opponent does not have sufficient pieces to checkmate in case of a draw.
c) Basic strategies
Protect your king by getting him to a safe corner of the board. Don’t postpone castling and use it as quickly as possible as it does not matter how close you are to checkmating your opponent if your own king is checkmated first.
Each piece is valuable so don’t carelessly lose them. You can win a game without pieces for checkmating. The easy system most players use to keep track of each chess piece’s relative value.
A pawn is worth 1, knight is worth 3, bishop is worth 3, a rook is worth 5, a queen is worth 9 and the king has infinite value. These points don’t mean anything at the end of the game. It just lets you make decisions while playing, and helps you decide when to capture, exchange or make other moves.
d) Control the board center
Try to control the board center with your pieces and pawns so that you have more room to move pieces and it’s difficult for your opponent to find good squares for his pieces.
e) Use all pieces
Your pieces are of no use if they just sit on the first row. Try to develop all pieces so that you have more pieces for attacking the king. One or two pieces for attacking does not work against any decent opponent.
f) Improving at chess
It’s not enough to know chess rules and basic strategies. You need to improve in the following ways:
- Play as much chess as possible as you can learn from each game, no matte if you win or lose.
- Study and learn more about chess through recommended check books or online resources so that you can improve at your game.
- Enjoy yourself even if you don’t win all games right away. Remember that everyone may lose, even world champions. Just learn to enjoy the games you lose so that you can enjoy chess forever.
- Go to www.chess.com and play, play, play!
- And when you get good at this chess thing or if things get too real, here are 26 Phrases Only A Chess Player Would Understand!
Thats pretty much it, folks. All you really have to do is go out to there and try it for yourself. Chess is one of those thing where you need knowledge but without the application, it just doesn’t happen.
Try to join a local tournament, play chess with friends and family., and perhaps, even travel a little with chess. If you do all of these things, you will become a better chess player in no time! And now, I have made it very easy for you to learn how to play chess! :)