The story of chess began 1500 years ago, in a small kingdom in India. If it were to survive all these years, one could only guess how spirited the game is. Chess is not only a simple pastime, but a game that is actually a brain tonic. Hence, its never late for one to learn to play.
So, whether you are getting ready to play for the first time or sitting down after a long time, we have got you covered! We bring to you a basic beginner’s guide to chess to take you through the game. Once you have familiarized yourself with the basics, you can hone your skills with strategies and tactics. And who knows, you might be the next Grandmaster in line!
Chess, as you might already know, is played by two people on a board of 64 squares of light and dark colours – mostly black and white. The white square must be the rightmost and left most square edge of the board, as shown in the picture below. The chess pieces are placed horizontally across the board, with the second row in respect to the player, consisting of eight pawns.
The first row begins and ends with a rook or castle at the left and right corners. The knight is placed at the square next to the rooks. The bishops follow the suit of knights, placed next to knights.
Now, the two central squares are occupied by the king and queen. The placing of both could be a little confusing for some. How do we know the correct way to place them? The Queen is placed on the square matching her colour. For example, black queen on the black square. And the king occupies the opposite colour.
Since we have setup our game, the next important question would be, who starts first? well, the white player takes the first move. The game continues as each player takes alternative turns till one is the king is killed on the board.
Well, if we are taking the tournament route, the first player to run out of time would lose the game.
Now, how about we look into the moves on the board? Be ready with your chess board in tow!
How To Move Pieces
The first and foremost rule would be that each player gets to make a single move. And no one can skip a turn – you have to move a piece no matter what. All the chess pieces are not moved the same way. Therefore, it is important that every piece must be moved according to their legal movement.
Now let’s look at how each piece moves.
Pawns can only move forward in a straight line, one square at a time. But there are two exceptions to this. First, if your pawn is being moved for the first time, then you have the opportunity of moving it two squares forward. But for this, do make sure that the two squares in front are empty.
Second, your pawn can move diagonally in a special situation. Wondering how? If your opponent’s piece sits diagonal to you, your pawn can then move diagonal either left or right, to capture the piece.
The rook can move across any number of squares, provided it is horizontal and vertical. The restriction, however, comes in the form of pieces of the same colour. Rooks cannot pass through pieces belonging to its own colour. And it can capture opponent’s pieces by taking their place.
Knights are special because they are the only ones who jump over other pieces. But how? It moves in a fixed ‘L’ shape. Which is two squares in front or back, followed by a square horizontally or vertically. There is also another L shape it can follow – that is, one square forward or backward following two squares horizontal or vertical.
It cannot move into pieces of the same colour but can capture opponent’s pieces by moving into their squares. However, it can move over any piece, both of its own and the opponent’s.
The bishop can move across any square diagonally matching the current colour of the square it sits on. This means that both players have two bishops that can move on both colours. It cannot, under any circumstances, move horizontally or vertically.
The queen is one true queen as it moves across any number of squares horizontally, vertically or diagonally. However, it can move only in a single direction during a single turn. For example, you cannot move a queen vertically and then horizontally before settling into a square.
The king decides the fate of the game – it ends when the king is checkmated or captured. It can move into a single square horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
Check and Checkmate
One of the most popular terms of chess that is also used in the common language is checkmate. So, what does it mean? Or rather what is the difference between check and checkmate? Most people think that both means the same thing. Let us show you how different both are.
You need to know this because ultimately it decides whether you win or lose a game. When a player makes a move that allows it to capture the opponent’s king on their next turn, they announce check. The opponent player must then move its king to safety or another piece to block or capture the attacking piece.
Now if a player moves in a way that the opponent cannot stop their king from being captured, then it’s a checkmate. If a successful checkmate is announced, the king doesn’t have to be captured, they would automatically win the game.
As we have already established, a game ends in checkmate. But there is also another way to end – that is, in a draw. Here, neither player loses. There are various ways a draw can occur. First, a draw results when a player cannot make a legal move on any of their pieces nor is in a check. This is known as stalemate.
Second, a draw can occur when no one has enough pieces to checkmate an opponent. Thirdly, there is a possibility of draw when the same player repeats the same move three times in a row. This is also called threefold repetition and it shows how exhausted the game is. Lastly, when the last 50 moves made by each player doesn’t result in a capture or a pawn move – a draw is announced.
So now, since we have outlined the basic rules for you, all that remains is for you pull out that chessboard and start playing!