Board Settings

How to play chess: Summary

We've covered all the rules of chess in this series, so you should be ready to go out and start playing. Just in case you need reminding, on this page is a quick summary of all the rules we've looked at in the previous parts.

The Pieces

  • Pawns - move one square forwards. Have the option of moving one or two squares on their first move. Capture by moving one square diagonally forwards. Promoted to another piece if they reach the far end of the board.
  • Knights - move in an L-shape - one square vertically and two squares horizontally, or one square horizontally and two squares vertically. Can jump over any pieces in its path.
  • Bishops - move any number of squares diagonally in a straight line. May not jump over other pieces.
  • Rooks - move any number of squares vertically or horizontally in a straight line. May not jump over other pieces.
  • The Queen - moves any number of squares vertically, horizontally, or diagonally in a straight line. May not jump over other pieces.
  • The King - moves one square in any direction. May not move onto a square threatened by an enemy piece.

Check and Checkmate

  • Check - if the king is threatened by an enemy piece, he is in 'check', and must escape from check. This can be done by moving the king, capturing the checking piece, or blocking the checking piece (so long as it isn't a knight).
  • Checkmate - if the king is in check and can't get out of check, he is in checkmate and the game is lost.


  • Castling - move the king two squares towards the rook, and jump the rook to the square on the other side of the king.
  • You cannot castle if...
    • You have previously moved your king or rook.
    • There are pieces between your king and rook.
    • Your king in check.
    • Your king would be in check at the end of the move.
    • Your king would cross a square that is threatened by an enemy piece.

En Passant

  • En Passant - if you have a pawn on the fifth rank, and your opponent moves an adjacent pawn two squares, you can capture the pawn as if it had only moved one square.
  • You cannot capture en passant if...
    • Your pawn is not on the fifth rank.
    • The enemy pawn did not move two squares on the previous move.


  • Mutual agreement - the players can agree to a draw at any time.
  • Insufficient material - the game is drawn if there aren't enough pieces left on the board for checkmate to occur.
  • Stalemate - if the player whose turn it is has no legal moves, but is not in checkmate, then the game is drawn.
  • Threefold repetition - if the same position is repeated three times, with the same player to move each time, either player may claim a draw.
  • The 50 move rule - if 50 moves have passed without either side making a pawn move or capture, either player may claim a draw.

Other rules

  • The board - place it so that each player has a light square in their bottom right hand corner.
  • The players - white always moves first.

That's all there is to it. All you need to do now is find an opponent! Good luck, and happy hunting!

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