The 5-Minute Guide to Learning How to Play Chess

by Kenton Newby - Date: 2007-03-27 - Word Count: 979 Share This!

Chess is a marvelous game to learn how to play and is as popular today as ever. With a near perfect balance of offense and defense, strategy vs. tactics, it requires you to think about how your current move will impact the game several moves ahead. The very best way to learn how to play and to develop a keen sense of strategy is to play with others. But as a beginner you should first get a handle on the basics of the game.

Surveying the Battlefield - Aligning the Chess Board

The board is made with eight columns and eight rows. When you are sitting at the chess board the bottom right hand square should be white so if it's not, rotate the board as needed. The columns are identified with letters, so when looking at the board from the white side, a - h, going from left to right. Numbers are used to identify each of the rows, so again using the white side as the reference, the rows are numbered 1 - 8 from bottom to top. Of course, this is all reversed when looking at it from the black side, so column "A" is on black's right side and row 8 is closest.

Amassing Your Troops on the Battlefield - Setting up the Board and How Each Chess Piece Moves

There are six different types of chess pieces. Each piece looks different and should be placed on the board in the correct order.

The Pawn: You have eight Pawns and they are the smallest (and arguably weakest) pieces on the board. You should place them on the second row from the bottom and all the way across. The first time you move the pawn, you may move forward one or two places. After that, it can only move one space forward at a time. When using your pawn to capture your opponent's piece, you must move one place diagonally. That's one of the things that makes the pawns unique in that they capture differently than how they move. Another reason the pawns are unique is that if you get one all the way across the board, you can declare it any piece you want. So for instance, you could name it a queen and have more than one queen in play...a very powerful strategy.

Next, we'll work place pieces on the bottom row, working from the outside in.

The Rook: The two pieces that look like castles are Rooks and they go on the board next and are placed on the bottom row in each corner, so on the outermost squares for that row. The Rooks moves forward or sideways as many places as it wants, so only along the columns or rows, not diagonally. In addition, the Rooks can't jump any pieces (in fact only one piece can). You capture a piece with your Rooks by landing directly on the same square as the opposing piece.

The Knight: Next are the Knights, and they usually look like horses and they sit next to the Rooks. The way the Knights move is a little trickier. They move in the shape of an "L". You can move up one space and then over two places in either direction. Or you can move up two spaces and over one in either direction. This is the only piece on the board that can jump another piece but captures are still the must land on the same square as your opponent's piece.

The Bishop: The Bishops are placed next to the Knights. The tops of these pieces are usually shaped like a hat worn by a bishop (imagine that!). The Bishops move similar to the Rooks since can move any number of spaces, but they only move diagonally as opposed to along the rows/columns like the Rooks move. The Bishops can't jump other pieces either but can capture them by landing on the same square as the opponent's piece.

The King: Your King is the tallest piece on the board and goes next to bishop on your right side. The King moves in any direction but only one space at a time, making him a rather weak piece in terms of movement, but still the most powerful piece on the board by at least some measure since capturing the King is how the game is won.

The Queen: The Queen is placed next to the King and if the board has been setup correctly, she should be on her own color. Arguably the most powerful piece on the board (at least in terms of movement), the Queen can move in any direction and as many places as you choose. Of course, like the other pieces, the Queen can't jump other pieces, so her power is limited.

When the board is setup properly, both sides should mirror each other. Meaning your queen should be directly across your opponent's queen, your king across from their king, and so on down the board.

Prepare to Do Battle - Basic Gameplay

The game is played by each player taking alternating turns and each player must make a can't "pass". The white pieces always make the first move. The goal is to put your opponent in "checkmate", meaning that there's no place for the King to move and the opponent can't position any other pieces in a way that keeps you from capturing the King. Leading up to putting your opponent in checkmate, you'll want to strategically move your pieces throughout the game board while capturing as many of your opponent's pieces as possible to weaken them. Of course, at the same time, you'll need to keep your king from being captured.

Chess may take a while to master, but it is a game worth learning. This is just a broad overview of the game, as you become more experienced, you'll learn more advanced strategies, terminology and sequences of moves you can make to baffle your opponent and make winning even easier.

Related Tags: chess, chess pieces, learn to play chess

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