Chess Rules

Chess: Easy to learn, a lifetime to get good at it.

Chess is a board game that has been around for a thousand years. The game is played on a board that looks like a checkerboard. Chess is one of the world's highest-caliber strategy games,and being good at it requires an immense amount of logic ability. By the way, have you ever played the computer game The Sims? Playing chess is the best way to boost your game character's logic ability.

Chess started out as a board game called Chataraunga in India. It was a stylized war game and it was popular because people could pretend to be a military leader. The game was picked up by the Persians, and the Europeans later picked up the game from the Persians, perhaps during the Crusades. Today, chess is one of the world's most popular games of any type, with millions of players around the world. Logically, a game would have to be good in order to last a thousand years. I think so. Here are the rules.

Note: It would be a good idea to have an actual chess set near your as you are reading these rules. If you don't have one, you can buy a cheap plastic set for a couple of bucks. Having an actual chess set near you will help you visualize what I'm describing. It might also help to talk to somebody who already knows how to play.

Chess games are played on an 8 square by 8 square board. A chessboard looks like a checkerboard. Each player has 16 pieces. One set of pieces is light-colored and the other set of pieces are dark-colored. The pieces are often referred to as "chessmen".

Note: In most sets, the light-colored pieces are white and the dark-colored pieces are black. However, you could conceivably have a set with pink and green pieces, or any other set of light and dark colors. The colors of the board squares vary widely.

Before a game, the board is set up so that each player has a light-colored square to his right.

Remember-"light on right"

These are the names of the pieces, and what they look like.

King: The King is the tallest piece. The King normally has a cross and/or crown on his head.

Queen: The Queen is the second tallest piece and usually has a crown. Bishop: The Bishops is the figure with a triangular hat ('miter'), and anotch cut into the top of it.

Knight: The Knights look like horse's heads.

Rook: The 2 Rooks look like castle towers. In fact, Rooks are often known as Castles.

Pawn: The 8 Pawns are the shortest of the pieces.

The squares on a chess board are identified by the numbers 1-8 and the letters A-H, arranged as follows. Each square is identified by the letter of its column (file) and the number of its row(rank). For example, the square at the intersection of row 5 and column A is known as A5.

8 L 8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 L 1

(The "L's" stand for the light-colored squares at each player's right.)

This is how to set up the pieces:

One player takes all 16 light-colored pieces (normally white or ivory-colored).

One player takes all 16 dark-colored pieces (normally black).

Both players place their 2 Rooks on their back corners.

Both player's Knights are placed next to his/her Rooks.

Both player's Bishops are placed next to his/her Knights.

Then each player puts his/her Queen on the space left in the back row that matches its own color. So, the light-colored Queen goes on the remaining light colored square and the dark-colored Queen goes on the remaining dark colored square.

The King goes on the one remaining square in the back row.

The Pawns go on the row in front of the other pieces.(one per square)

Basic Rules:

You can move any piece that you want. You can only move a piece to an empty space or a space containing one of your opponent's pieces- never a space containing another one of your own pieces. When you move a piece to a space that one of your opponent's pieces is on, that's called "capturing" that piece and the captured piece is removed from the game. Pieces capture in their normal direction of movement except for the Pawn. No piece can jump over another piece while moving except for the Knight.

A piece is "under attack" when an opponent's piece could capture it on your opponent's next turn. A piece is "guarded" or "protected" when, if that piece was captured, one of your own pieces could capture the piece that captured your piece.

Your King is your most important piece. Whenever your King is under attack, your opponent must announce "Check" and you must get your King out of Check by doing one of three things:

  • Move your King out of the path of any attacking pieces.
  • Block the path of all attacking piece(s). (This doesn't work if one or more of them is a Knight.)
  • Capture the attacking piece (if there is only one attacking piece.)
  • If you can't do any of these, your opponent announces "Checkmate." The game is over and you lose.

    Note: You can NEVER make a move that would put your own King in Check.


    King: Your King can move one space at a time, in any direction. Remember, you can never make a move that would put your King in "Check". (Knock over your King over if you want to give up. Don't do this unless your situation is absolutely hopeless, though.) The King has a special move called "castling", which I'll explain later.

    Queen: Queens can move as many spaces as possible, in any direction.

    Rook: Rooks can move as many spaces as possible, up, down, or sideways (left or right). A Rook is also involved in the King's special move called "castling".

    Bishop: Bishops move as many spaces as possible, diagonally.

    Knight: The Knight has a special "L" shaped move. The Knight moves 2 spaces in one direction and then one space in a different direction. The Knight may jump over other pieces while it's moving as long as it lands on an empty space or a space occupied by one of your opponent's pieces, in which case it would capture that piece.

    Pawn: Pawns always move forward. On its first move of the game, a Pawn may move forward 1 or 2 spaces. (Note: *it's* first move. Not the first overall move of the game.) After that, it can move forward only one space at a time. Pawns can also capture on their first move of the game. (see below)

    Pawns capture in a way that's different from just moving forward. They capture by moving one space forward, but on a diagonal.

    If you get a Pawn down to your opponent's back row, you may "promote" it to a Knight, Bishop, Rook or Queen. However, it wouldn't make sense to promote a Pawn to a Rook or Bishop, since the Queen has the power of both of them. (The option of Rook or Bishop exists because some sets of chess rules allow you to have only one Queen)

    A Pawn may get to the back row by moving forward normally or capturing, though it would still have to capture on a diagonal. Pawns can put a King in "Check" like any other piece.

    The Pawn is involved in a special capturing move, "En Passant", which I'll explain later.



    Castling involves your King and one of your Rooks. You can castle when six conditions are met. Castling helps protect your King and it gets one of your Rooks more involved in the game. The six conditions are:

  • 1. You haven't moved your King so far during the game.
  • 2. There cannot be any pieces between your King and the Rook you want to castle with.
  • 3. The Rook you want to castle with cannot have moved yet either.
  • 4. You cannot be castling in order to get your King out of Check.
  • 5. You cannot castle "through" check. This means that the space you are moving your King over cannot be "under attack" by any of your opponent's pieces.
  • 6. Castling cannot end up with your King in Check.

  • This is how you castle:
  • 1. You move your King two spaces towards the Rook.
  • 2. You move the Rook to the other side of your King.
  • Castling counts as only one move. You may castle with either Rook as long as all 6 conditions are met.

    En Passant

    This move involves your Pawn and one of your opponent's pawns. There are 3 conditions for En Passant. En Passant involves capturing an opponent's Pawn.

    The three conditions are:

  • 1. You have one of your Pawns three spaces away from your opponent's back row. (two spaces away from your opponent's Pawn row)
  • 2. Your opponent has just moved one of his/her Pawns two spaces forward next to the pawn described in Condition #1.
  • 3. Capturing "En passant" cannot put your King in Check, just like any other move cannot put your King in check.
  • To capture "en passant" (the word is French for "in passing"), capture your opponent's pawn as if it had moved forward only 1 space.

    You must take advantage of this ability immediately, or else it is nullified.

    Note: If you are able to capture En Passant, you are still allowed to capture normally or simply move the pawn forward one space. You are also still allowed to move any other piece.

    Tournament Rules:

    1. If you touch one of your own pieces, you have to move it, if possible.

    2. If you touch one of your opponent's pieces, you must capture it, if possible.

    3. You have a time limit on moves.

    4. Neither player can take advice from onlookers. (a good rule at any time, in any game)


    Chess games can end in ties, called draws. A draw is credited as half a win and half a loss for each player. A draw can happen when:

    1. Both players agree to a draw.

    2. Both players have only their King left, only their King and one Knight left, or only their King and a Bishop left. It is impossible to checkmate with these combinations of pieces. (It is possible to Checkmate the other player with just a King and Rook or just a King and Queen.) This is called"insufficient material to deliver checkmate"

    3. Stalemate: The player whose turn it is is not in Check and cannot make any legal moves. Oddly enough, this counts as a draw. Chess Strategy: Books upon books have been written on this. Here are some of the basics.

    The pieces have a point value in comparision to one another. Pawns-1 Knights-3 Bishops-3 Rooks-5 Queens-9(5 for Rook's power, 3 for Bishop's power, 1 for having both) Kings- Infinite

    Use this to determine whether it's worth capturing a piece.For example, if you can capture a Knight (3 points), but will lose a Rook (5 points),it's generally not worth it.

    Note: The exact value of a Knight or a Bishop depends on who you're playing with. Some players are better at utilizing one or the other. Some players are better at seeing what another player could do with one or the other.

    Being a good Chess player requires logical thinking and thinking ahead. This means that you have to be able to see what would happen if you made a certain move or if your opponent made a certain move.

    You do not want to have to move the same piece too many times early in the game. This wastes moves.

    The four squares in the center of the board are the most important. These four center squares are identified by the names D5,E5, D4 and E4. You generally should try to put pieces on these squares and/or have pieces that could move to those squares.This is called "controlling the center of the board".

    If you are playing an informal game and you are a better player than your opponent, tell onlookers "No hints" so that they don't give your opponent any hints. If you're the worse player, allow hints. If you are BY FAR the better player, you might want to allow hints to help evne the game out.

    It is indeed an advantage to go first, so take White if your opponent gives you a choice. If you're playing against a worse player, you might want to let him take the White pieces. Some players are better with the Black pieces; in this case do the opposite.

    Don't let forks happen! A fork is when your opponent is attacking two or more of your pieces and you can only save one of them. Falling for forks is a great way to lose pieces. Forks are especially dangerous when a King is involved, because you'd have to save the King (and lose the other piece) Use the Point Value Chart to determine what piece to save.

    Don't let pins happen! A pin is when you are not allowed to move a piece (because moving the piece would put your King in check) or when moving a piece would be a bad idea. (you'd lose a Queen or a Rook)

    Note: In some situations that look like forks, you can somehow save both pieces or capture your opponent's attacking piece. Look for these situations.

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