Chess is arguably the most popular game in the world. If you do not know how to play the game, it is never too late to learn!
Setting Up The Chessboard
The chessboard is an eight by eight square board with a certain way of placing the pieces. The squares on the chessboard represent rows and columns. There is a special way of naming each of the squares to make it easy for other people to identify the square you are talking about.
- Position the board correctly – The layout of the board should be such that each player has a white square at the bottom right-hand side.
- Place the pieces on the board – The second rank is then filled with pawns. The rooks are placed in the corners, then the knights, bishops and the queen, in her own matching color. The king will then occupy the remaining square.
Moving The Chess Pieces
Each of the pieces moves differently but none can move through other pieces. Pieces are moved so that they land on a square containing an opponent’s piece so that the replaced piece is captured.
- The king – this is the most important piece, which leads to “check” when attacked by an opponent’s piece. The king can move in all directions but only by one square.
- The queen – the most powerful piece can move in any direction as long as the move is in a straight line.
- The rook – this piece can only move forward, backward and to the sides. The rook can move as far as the player wants.
- The bishop – while the bishop can move as far as the player wants, it can only do so diagonally.
- The knight – these are the only pieces that can go over other pieces. Knights move in an ‘L’ shape, two squares in one direction then one more square in an angle of 90 degrees.
- The pawn – pawns can neither move nor capture backwards. They move forward and capture diagonally. Although the first move can be two squares, subsequent moves can only be one square.
Special Rules of Chess
There are some rules in chess that may not make much sense when you are learning to play the game. These special rules were introduced to add fun to the game and make it more interesting:
- Promoting your pawn – When a pawn reaches the extreme end of the other side of the chessboard, it can be promoted to become a knight, bishop, rook or queen. While it can be promoted to any of the four pieces, it is usually promoted to a queen. No other piece has this ability.
- “En passant” in chess – Another rule that applies to pawns in known as “en passant” or “in passing”. If a pawn makes the first move of two squares and jumps past the opponent’s pawn, the other pawn can capture it immediately the first pawn has passed.
- Castling – There is a special rule in chess known as castling. This move can be used to get the king to safety or to get the rook from the corner and into the game. However, there are several conditions that have to be met before a player can castle.
- It must be the very first move for the king
- It must be the very first move for the rook
- There should not be any piece between the king and rook
- The king should not be in check
How To Win At Chess
- Make the first move – As a general rule, the player with the white pieces will be the one to make the first move when the game starts. The player who makes the first move will usually have a small advantage over their opponent. This is because they have an early opportunity to attack immediately the game begins. This is why players will mostly use luck to decide which one of them will get the white pieces. One way of doing this is by tossing a coin.
- Play the game – There are two major ways through which one player can win a game of chess, effectively ending the game. These are by checkmate or with a draw.
- Checkmate the king – The main aim of a game of chess is to checkmate your opponent’s king. When the king is captured, the game is usually declared over rather than removing the piece from the board. One player will win the game if they checkmate the opponent’s king and the opponents cannot remove the king from the check. Kings can get out of check by moving out of the way, using another piece to block the check or capturing the attacking piece.
- Settle for a draw – A game can end with a draw as opposed to a win. When a player does not have a legal move but their king is not in check, when the players agree to stop playing and to a draw, the remaining pieces on the board are not enough to enforce a checkmate, a player can declare a draw if the exact position is repeated three times or five consecutive moves have not resulted in a pawn more or a captured piece.
Basic Chess Strategies
There are several basic chess strategies that any chess player should be aware of. These strategies will not only help the player to win a game but also to ensure that their opponent does not win against them easily. The basic strategies include:
- Protecting your king – if your own king is checkmated, it will not matter how close you were to checkmating your opponent. The corner of the chessboard is a safer place to keep your king. You should never put off castling, ensuring that you are quick at castling.
- Not giving your pieces away – ensure that you avoid losing your pieces as much as possible. It is only by using these pieces that you will be able to checkmate and win the game. When keeping track of the pieces, you should understand their worth. A pawn is worth 1, a knight 3, a bishop 3, a rook has a value of 5, a queen is worth 9 and a king has infinite value.
- Controlling the center of the board – use your pawns and pieces to take control of the center of the chessboard. This will give you space to move your pieces and prevent your opponent from finding room for their pieces.
- Using all the chess pieces – your pieces will not do you any good if you leave them sitting in their spaces. In fact, using just a few pieces may give your opponent a chance to win against you.