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What Are The Rules Of Chess?
- The chess board consists of 64 squares over 8 horizontal ranks and 8 vertical files.
- Every player has 16 chess pieces – one side White, the other Black.
- These include pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, queens, and kings.
- In total, each side has 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, and a single queen and king.
- The pawns are situated on the second rank in front of your other chess pieces. The rooks sit in the corners, next to them the knights, then the bishops.
- The queen sits on the square of her own color, and the king stands next to her. (White queen on white square)
Learning the basic rules of chess is surprisingly easy! Most people have seen somebody playing the game of chess or a chess board on TV, or maybe heard some news about the famous chess Grandmasters.
Did you ever want to know how to play this seemingly complicated board game? Are the chess rules a closed book to you? Don’t worry – help is at hand!
In many respects, chess is just like any other game. Before playing a soccer match, you have to learn what an offside is, and once you’ve understood all those rules, they’ll stick with you forever.
It’s the same with chess – you learn the chess rules once and then what used to be a closed book will be open to you all your life. In the following article, we’ll explain the rules of chess you need to understand to start playing chess games yourself!
The Chess Board
To start, we need to understand the fundamental tool we need to play chess – the chess board. The chess board consists of 64 squares over 8 horizontal ranks and 8 vertical files.
The horizontal ranks are numbered 1 through 8,’ while the vertical files are labeled with the letters ‘a’ to ‘h. A number and a letter (a coordinate) is matched to each of the 64 squares on the chess board, (see the diagram on the left):
Chess Board and Chess Pieces
But on this empty chessboard, there is still something essential missing – the chess pieces! Every player has an army of 16 chess pieces – one side White, the other Black – at the beginning of a chess game.
These include pawns (the humble foot soldiers), knights ( jumping pieces inspired by medieval knights on horseback), bishops (which look like a bishop’s hat), rooks (castle-like pieces that represent ancient chariots, or perhaps tanks in modern-day warfare) queens (powerful chess pieces that can dominate the chess board) and the all-important kings, who command their armies but whose loss is the end of the chess game. In total, each side has 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, and a single queen and king.
All the pawns are situated on the second rank in front of your other chess pieces. The rooks sit in the corners, next to them the knights, then the bishops.
The queen sits on the square of her own color, and the king stands next to her. The following image illustrates you the initial position of the chess pieces (see the diagram on the right).
You can find a more detailed guide on setting up the chessboard here.
How the Chess Pieces Move
Now you know about the chess pieces, we can switch to the practical part of the rules of chess.
How do all these chess pieces move? Once you have touched a piece you must move it, so it’s crucial to know what possibilities you have.
How Pawns Move
Let’s start with the pawns. A pawn can usually move one square forward. From the initial position, the pawn can even move two squares forward if desired.
If a pawn wants to take another piece, it has to move one square diagonally. Pawns, as loyal foot soldiers, are only allowed to go forward, but never backward.
How Rooks Move
The rook is allowed to move along one whole file vertically and horizontally and can take any piece which is on its way. It’s as valuable as 5 pawns.
How Knights Move
The horse-shaped knight is the only chess piece which can jump over other pieces! The knight moves in an L-shape from any square on the board. Imagine an L shape made from any 3 connected squares, any orientation.
This means that every time the knight moves, it lands on the opposite color from where it started. The knight takes other pieces by landing on the square where they are situated.
How Bishops Move
The bishop dominates the diagonals. It can move back and forth as many squares as desired on the diagonals but only stays on one color square the whole chess game.
It takes a piece by moving onto its square, just like the knight. The value of the bishop, just like the knight, is equal to 3 pawns.
How the Queen Moves
The queen has the greatest freedom of movement. She can move diagonally, horizontally and vertically as many squares as desired, and takes pieces by moving on to their square.
Thanks to this powerful range of movement, she is the most valuable chess piece on the chessboard after the king, worth 9 pawns!
How the King Moves
The king can also move in any direction, but only one square at a time. He has to be well protected throughout the whole game because while you can lose other pieces when the king is trapped, you lose the game!
The value of the king is undefined as it can’t be captured or exchanged. Some chess experts claim that in the endgame, the king is worth 4 pawns. This is because, in most endgames, there are no longer any danger for the king to be checkmated. Instead – due to the reduced material – it is important to activate the king.
Basic Rules of Chess & Definitions
Checkmate: After learning the basics of piece movement, let’s focus on the most important chess rules. Let’s start with the goal of the game.
The goal of every chess game is to checkmate the opponent’s king! This means victory to you! Checkmate is when the opponent’s king is attacked by one of your chess pieces and can’t escape, either by moving he king away or getting protection from other chess pieces.
When you attack the king, but he is able to escape, or other pieces can protect him, then you call it ‘check.’
Stalemate: There are also other possibilities than checkmate to end a chess game. One of the possibilities is a stalemate. When you stalemate the opponent, the game ends in a draw.
Stalemate is when a player isn’t able to make any legal move while the king is not attacked – for example, if Black only has a king remaining, but has no legal squares to move onto.
Stalemates are more common among young players or beginners when they have an advantage of many pieces but don’t know how to checkmate their opponent.
Draw: Another possible end of a chess game is when a player offers a draw after his or her move. The opponent can choose to accept it and the game is over. A player can also resign, usually when the game seems to be completely lost.
Time: If you want to play in chess tournaments, you usually play with a chess clock. In a game, you’ll be given a certain amount of time for all your chess moves. Run out of time before the opponent, and you lose.
When it is your move, your chess clock runs down until you make your move and push the chess clock, pausing your timer and activating the opponents. There are tournaments where you can have an hour for your moves, or 5 minutes, or 15 minutes depending on the tournament you participate in.
Another important thing you have to know when you want to play in a chess tournament is that you have to record all the chess moves on a scoresheet. The rules for notation are easy to grasp and are explained in this article.
For sure, these are not all the rules of chess, but the others you can easily learn throughout your study, such as the “en passant” (in passing) rule, castling, or promoting pawns. To quickly add to this, here’s a shortlist of special moves and rules you may not know.
Unwritten Rules of Chess
Besides the basic chess rules that we’ve talked about so far, there are some unwritten, but very important rules of chess! Chess is not only a mental sport where you solely concentrate on your results and your position, but it is also important to respect your opponent!
Before any chess game, the players shake hands and usually wish each other good luck for the game. After the match, no matter how it has finished, the player who has lost mustn’t lose self-control, but congratulate the opponent for the victory and set up the chess pieces back into the initial position. Sometimes the players will analyze their chess game together after it has finished and give each other tips and words of advice.
Building on the Foundation of Chess Game Rules
You should now have a good understanding of the rules of chess! And, of course, you can play the game!
Surely, there are a few more chess rules which you still can learn like the promotion of pawns, castling, en passant, your first openings, tactics and so much more. A good idea, in the beginning, is to get some good chess equipment like an interesting chess DVD series for beginners to start your career! Just visit our shop on ichess.com! Surely, you’ll find the one or another little treasure trove to start your training and improve your skills rapidly!
We hope you have a lot of fun diving into the world of chess and learning the most important chess rules!
Other interesting articles for you:
- How To Choose A Chess Board – A Step-By-Step Guide
- How to Get Better at Chess – The Ultimate Guide [Works Quickly]
- How Chess Pieces Move: The Definitive Guide To Learn Chess Fast
- The iChess Club is a membership that offers chess lovers like you a wide variety of premium benefits. Check it out.