Have you ever watched a chess game and wondered how the heck the game works?
On one level it looks kind of like checkers, but not all the pieces are shaped the same and they move in strange and mysterious ways. If you’ve ever wanted to be one of those intelligent looking folks sitting on either side of the chess table, then this guide can help you learn how to play. It’s not that difficult and you can even be playing your first game by the end of the day!
To make it easier to talk about chess pieces and moves on the board, a special method of notation has been devised. In chess the rows on the board are called ranks and the columns are files. In this notation the files are identified with a letter and the ranks are identified with a number. So when looking at a chessboard from the “white” side, the leftmost file is ‘a’, the one next to it ‘b’ and so on until the last file which is ‘h’. The closest rank for white is ‘rank 1’, the next one is ‘rank 2’ and so on until the last rank, which is the back row for black and is ‘rank 8’. So the when using chess notation, the leftmost back square for white would be called ‘a1’, the square directly above ‘a2’ an so on. Isn’t that easy?
A game of chess has 3 basic phases – the opening, midgame and endgame. The opening begins the game and is the first 10 or 15 moves. During the opening you should concentrate on getting your pieces into a good position (called promotion). But what is a good position? Typically it is good to control the center of the board and of course you need to be sure your king is protected. You should have any sort of general plan in mind when promoting your pieces – don’t worry as you get more experience playing it will be easier to come up with these “plans”. The middlegame is when you play your battles and try to take more of the opponenets pieces than he takes of yours. The endgame comes when there are only a few pieces left to play with and eventually ends in either a draw or checkmate.
Not all the chess pieces behave the same. Each one moves in a different way and has different rules. A piece may capture an opponents piece by landing on the square of the opponents piece – the captured piece is then removed from the board. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponents king so this piece must always be protected. The King can only move 1 square at a time but he can go in any direction, vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The only restriction is that he cannot move into a square that would allow him to be captured (or checkmated) by the opponenet as this would be a huge blunder that would end the game. So, looking at an empty board with a king on e4, he can move to e3,e5, d4, f4, d3, f3, d5, f5.
Th Queen is the most powerful piece and can move in all directions but unlike the King can move any number of square without having to “jump over” another piece. A Queen that is on d4 has 27 possible moves and can move to any square on the d file, any square on the 4th rank all 7 squares on the a1-h8 diagonal as well as all 6 squares on the ‘b7-g1’ diagonal.
The Bishop is initially placed on either side of the King and Queen and can only move on diagonals but can move as many squares as he wants. Because of this, the Bishops will always stay on same colored squares. He is slightly more valuable than a Knight.
The Knight is placed next to the bishop and is the piece that looks like a horse on a typical chess set. This piece moves in a strange way – the movements form an L. It can move in any direction and is the only piece that can skip over other pieces. Namely it moves two squares horizontally and one vertically or vice versa. Therefore, a Knight on d7 (Nd7) can move to b8, b6, c5, e5, f6 or f8.
The Rook is placed on the end squares next to the Knight which often looks like a castle. It can move along files and ranks as many squares as it wants. The Rook is the second most valuable piece. A Rook placed on b5 can move to all 7 squares on the fifth rank, as well as all 7 squares on the b file.
The Pawns are the smaller pieces that are in the front row and have the simplest moves as they can move only one square forward. There is one exception – on the pawns initial move, it can move two squares forward. Unlike other pieces it cannot capture a piece directly in front of it but can only capture on a diagonal. The pawn is the least valuable piece but it does have the distinction of being able to be “promoted”. If a pawn reaches the opposite end of the board it can be replaced with any same color piece of the players choice which is most mostly the Queen.