How To Play Chess

Updated: Mar 19, 2021


Chess is one of the most popular games in the world and luckily, it's never too late to learn how to play this amazing game of strategy and risk!


Chess is a two-player game and it is played with two players sitting on opposite sides of a chessboard. A chessboard is a 64 square board arranged in an 8x8 black and white grid pattern.


Chessboard setup


The 2nd row of the board on each player's side is filled with chess pieces called pawns. The rooks are placed in the corners of the board, then the knights are placed beside them. Then the bishops are placed next to the knights moving inwards towards the centre of the board.


This will leave the remaining two squares empty – one black and one white. The queen is placed on the square of her matching colour, so a black queen goes on the black or a dark square and a white queen goes onto a white or light coloured square. Then finally, the king is placed on the remaining square of the 1st row.


How the chess pieces move around the board


Each type of chess pieces moves differently, so here is a breakdown of how the different chess pieces can move around the board during play:


The King: The king is the most important piece in the game. It can only move one square at a time in any direction.


The Queen: The Queen is the most powerful piece on the board. It can move in any one straight line, so either left, right, forward, backward or diagonally as far as possible as long as it does not move over a square occupied by any other pieces present on the board.


The Rook: The Rook can move horizontally and vertically along any number of unoccupied squares.


The Bishop: The bishop can move only along the diagonal squares and through any number of unoccupied squares. However, bishops are differentiated based on the wing they begin on, so they are the king's bishop or the queen's bishop. As the bishop only moves diagonally, each bishop will always remain on either the white or black squares.


The Knight: Knights are unique because they move differently from all the pieces — two squares in one direction and then one more at a 90-degree angle. What also makes Knights unique is that they can move through any piece which is obstructing its path.



The Pawn: When in its starting position, you can move a pawn forward for two unoccupied squares, however, during play you can only move a pawn one square forward at a time. Unlike other chess pieces, the pawn doesn't capture enemy pieces in the same direction that it moves. Pawns capture pieces diagonally forward one square to its left or right.


Pawn Promotion: A pawn can be substituted by any other piece during the game if it reaches the other side of the board, so you can replace it with your Queen, Bishop, Knight or a Rook.


What about checks and check-mates?


A check is when a player’s king is under threat to be captured with their opponent’s next move.


A checkmate is where one of the players is threatening their opponent’s king, but the other king cannot move to any other square, cannot be defended by any other piece, or the checking piece cannot be captured.


It can take some time to learn chess and understand the different strategies involved, but always remember that “Every chess master was once a beginner.” Irving Chernev.



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