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How to play chess: Introduction to Chess

The Game of Chess

Chess is a game of strategy and tactics for two players, played on an 8x8 chequered board. Although chess sets come in many varieties and colours, the traditional colours are white and black, and that is how we will be referring to the two players on this website. The aim of the game is to trap your opponent's king, which is called Checkmate. A game can also be won if your opponent gives up (in chess, we call this 'resigning'), and there are a variety of ways a game can end in a draw, in which case neither player wins. We'll look at these in more detail later on.

The Chess Pieces

Each player has an army consisting of a king, a queen, two rooks, two bishops, and two knights, and eight pawns.

Pawn

Pawn

White Pawn
Black Pawn
Knight

Knight

White Knight
Black Knight
Bishop

Bishop

White Bishop
Black Bishop
Rook

Rook

White Rook
Black Rook
Queen

Queen

White Queen
Black Queen
King

King

White King
Black King

Each turn, you must move one piece to a new square. The player with the white pieces goes first, and after that the players take it in turns to move a piece. There are no dice in chess - every piece has its own way of moving, and it's up to you which one you want to move. Each piece also has the ability to capture, or 'take', an enemy piece. To do this, you simply move your piece or pawn onto the square occupied by the enemy piece, and remove it from the board.

Setting up the board

The board must always be placed so that each player has a light coloured square in their bottom right hand corner. Placing the board the wrong way round is a very common mistake - even TV shows get it wrong sometimes. Once you have the board the right way round, you're ready to start adding the pieces. Each player's pieces start on the first rank (in chess, we call horizontal rows 'ranks') on that player's side of the board.

Rooks

First, we put the rooks in the four corners of the board, like so:

Bishops and Knights

Next, we place the knights next to the rooks, and the bishops next to the knights:

King and Queen

The king and queen go on the two central squares. There's an easy way to remember which way round they go - the queen always starts on a square of her own colour, so the white queen starts on the light central square, and the black queen starts on the dark central square:

Pawns

Finally, place all your pawns on the second rank, so that all the other pieces have a pawn in front of them:

And that's it, all ready to start a new game! But first, you'll need to know how the pieces move, which is covered in the next six parts of the tutorial.

Suggested Books

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