Perhaps the most well-known tabletop game in history is Chess. Chess is a game that is frequently introduced to us as youngsters, but for some people, it has been a while since their last game. For the sake of both newcomers and experienced players, we go over some fundamental chess rules that you might have missed, such as en passant and castling, in addition to teaching you how to play and capture pieces.
How to play chess for beginners
We’ve put together this user-friendly tutorial on how to play chess, whether you’ve recently picked up the game again or are sitting down to play for the first time. This manual covers all the fundamentals of chess, from where to put the queen during setup to when to declare victory by calling “checkmate.”
Everything you need to play a casual chess match is provided below, but we haven’t gone into as much detail on more complex concepts like certain openings, board positions, or championship rules. These are the absolute fundamentals to start you playing as soon as possible without having to worry about turn timing or defending against particular openings.
How to set-up a chess board
Two players compete in a game of chess on a board of eight by eight squares. Black and white are the classic light and dark colours that alternate throughout the 64 squares. When set up correctly, the rightmost square along the edge nearest to each player should be a white square.
The two horizontal rows (sometimes referred to as ranks) nearest to each player are where the players’ pieces are placed. The second rank, or second row from the player’s point of view, is made up of a row of eight pawns, each of which is positioned on a separate square.
The closer rank is almost symmetrical, with rooks (also called castles) placed on the two outermost squares on the left and right, then knights on the inner square adjacent to them, and finally bishops.
The king and queen are located in the rank’s two middle squares. The king takes up residence in the final square of the opposing colour, with the queen situated on the square that matches her colour (for example, the black queen on the black square). As a result, the king and queen of each colour face one another, creating the ideal symmetry for the two players.
Players alternate taking one turn at a time until one is checkmated or resigns. The white player makes the first move. You can also decide on a draw. The first person to run out of time in a game with an optional timer, as in tournaments, loses the match.
The Basic Rules of Chess
Each chess player makes a single move in turn. Players must move a piece during each turn; they cannot choose to skip a turn. Each chess piece has a specific way to move and is only permitted to move in that manner.
Pieces cannot move through pieces of either colour without stopping (in a piece of the same colour) or capturing them, with the exception of the knight, who may jump over pieces (in the case of a piece of the opposite colour).
How Pieces are Captured
A piece is captured and eliminated from the board if it lands in a square shared by a piece belonging to an opposition. A piece of the same colour cannot be placed on the same square as another piece. A piece must complete its current move action and the player’s turn when it captures an enemy piece.
How to move chess pieces
Pawns advance in a straight line one square. They are not able to move laterally, diagonally, or horizontally.
If a pawn hasn’t been moved yet in the game, there is an exception to this rule. A pawn can advance two squares in one motion if it hasn’t already done so. The two squares must be blank. The player also has the option of moving the piece one square.
A pawn can only move diagonally when it captures an enemy piece. On each of the diagonal spaces to the piece’s left or right, pawns have the option of capturing that player’s piece. The pawn will shift diagonally to substitute the captured piece as part of the capture. A pawn cannot move diagonally without capturing or capturing a piece that is adjacent to it on any other square.
The rook, often known as the castle, has the ability to move any quantity of squares down its current row (rank) or column (file). When it moves onto an area that is already occupied, it can grab pieces of the opposite colour because it cannot pass through parts of the same colour. For whatever reason, it cannot move diagonally.
The only chess piece that can move “through” other pieces by “jumping” over them is the knight. It moves over pieces of either colour while moving and captures pieces as usual by landing on a square held by a piece of the opposing colour. It is not permitted to move to a square occupied by a piece of the same colour.
Knights travel in a predetermined “L” shape: two squares forward, backward, left or right, followed by one square horizontally or vertically, or vice versa, completing the “L” shape with two squares horizontally or vertically.
This indicates that the knight may always advance to the square that is immediately nearby diagonally but not on its current row (rank), column (file), or row. The knight must travel the entire distance; for example, it cannot walk two squares straight without also travelling one square to the side.
The bishop is able to move any number of squares diagonally, which means it always goes down the diagonal line of squares whose colour matches the square being moved. As a result, each player has one bishop that can move on each colour at the start of the game. A bishop cannot, for whatever reason, move either horizontally or vertically. It catches a piece of the opposing colour by going onto its square because it cannot move through pieces of the same colour.
Any number of squares may be moved by the queen in any direction. These actions must be performed in a single turn while travelling in a single straight path. The queen takes a piece of the opposing colour by moving onto its square because she cannot pass through pieces of the same colour.
Whether moving vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, the king only moves one space. The king cannot enter a position where the opponent player would be granted a check or checkmate.
The king is the only chess piece that cannot be captured; if it is put into checkmate, which would result in an inevitable capture on the opponent’s following turn, a player loses the game.
Check and Checkmate
The offensive player often says “check” when a piece advances in a way that makes it possible to capture the opposing player’s king on their subsequent turn.
To stop the attack on their turn by either stopping the move or capturing the attacking piece, the player who was put into check must shift their king or another piece.
A player declares “checkmate” and ends the game immediately if they can set up a scenario in which their opponent cannot prevent their king from being taken on the following turn. Chess games are won when a successful checkmate is signalled since the king can never be captured.
Another option is for a player to quit, giving the advantage to their rival. As a result of a dead position, in which no player can win using the legal movements at their disposal, or a stalemate that leaves a player without any legal moves, games can also finish in an agreed draw. A dead situation is one when both players have their king as their sole piece still on the board.
Draws can also result from more complex rules that are frequently used in major competitions, such as threefold repetition or five fold repetition rules, This refers to identical board positions occurring three or five times, respectively, or no captures or pawn moves occurring within the previous 50 or 75 moves. The competition and the players’ agreement can determine the specific regulations that are applied.
Advanced chess rules
Specific variations that change the game’s fundamental principles can be found in advanced rules, along with additional specifications frequently used in tournament settings, like timing and the touch-move rule, which specifies that once a piece is touched by a player, it must make a valid move.
Since this is a beginner’s guide to learning chess, we’ll only go over a few of the most important advanced rules here. These rules should always be used in conjunction with the fundamental guidelines for moving and capturing pieces, as well as the usual setup and checkmate rules.
How to promote a pawn
A pawn becomes a rook, knight, bishop, or queen if it advances to the opposing edge of the board—the row (rank) that is furthest from the player in charge. The new piece replaces the pawn on the square it currently occupies and moves in accordance with the guidelines specific to that piece.
A pawn can be promoted to any piece legally regardless of whether it has been captured, despite the fact that most casual players use captured pieces to symbolise promoted pieces. For instance, depending on the square on which the piece was promoted, a player can wind up with several queens or numerous bishops capable of moving down identical-colored diagonal lines.
There is no restriction on how many pawns can be promoted.
What is En passant?
One of the most well-known chess moves is en passant, which translates to “in passing” in French. A pawn moves two squares forward en passant after making its optional starting move.
The moving pawn can be legally captured by an opponent’s pawn if it had only moved one square rather than two. In this case, the opponent can declare en passant on their subsequent turn and move their pawn diagonally onto the square that the moving pawn passed through, effectively capturing the pawn as if it had only moved one square.
The player who has the chance to capture the pawn forfeits the chance if en passant is not declared and made as the opponent’s following turn.
What is Castling?
Castling is arguably the most difficult fundamental rule in chess, and as a result, many beginners frequently ignore it.
When a player’s king piece and a rook have not yet moved during play, casting is allowed. As long as the rooks haven’t moved, or are still in their starting corners on the edge nearest to the controlling player, casting can be done with either rook.
In order to castle, a player must first move their king piece two squares in the direction of the rook they are using, then move the rook to the square that the king passed ‘through’. As a result, the king moves two squares in the direction of the square where the rook initially started the game, thereby placing the rook adjacent on the other side of the king. The king never travels more than two spaces during castling, regardless of whether the rook is placed one square to the queenside or one square closer to the king (kingside).
A rook can be employed in a castling manoeuvre even if it is threatened by an opponent’s piece, or if it could be captured on any of the squares it passes through while making the move. In contrast, the king cannot be used in a castling manoeuvre if it is now in check.
The king cannot be moved by casting as usual if doing so would place him in check. The squares between the king and the rook must be free of any pieces for casting to be effective.
Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of the game, you may learn the deep strategy and nearly limitless variants that are possible during games from a variety of books and other resources. You can also improve your play and tactics by competing in local tournaments.