How to Play Chess

Player Setup

The Starting Position: Notice that the Queens and Kings are facing each other from across the chessboard. The dark colored Queen is on the dark square next to her King and the light colored Queen starts on the light square next to her King. The Queen’s shoes must always match her dress! She is very picky. All of the other pieces are easy to set up after we place the King and Queen on their proper squares. One other thing to notice is that the square on the right hand side of the chessboard is white. Just remember, “white on right”. Another rule to keep in mind rule is that white makes the first move of the game.

Values: Each chess player has a value that is based on how many squares they can control with their next move on the chessboard. The value can change for any player if they become the most dominating player of the board or part of an attacking team. Sometimes, a Knight can be worth as much as a Queen!

The Pawn is worth 1 point at the beginning of the game. This can change if he reaches the last rank thanks to Pawn promotion!

The Knight is worth 3 points or Pawns. This player is more valuable than a Pawn as all of the other players are.

The Bishop is worth 3 points or Pawns. Some people argue that the Bishop is worth more. We will be using the classical value of 3.

The Rook is worth 5 points or Pawns. He is more valuable than a Knight or a Bishop.

The Queen is worth 9 points or Pawns. You should only trade her when it is a fair trade or you are getting the better deal!

The King is worth the entire game! The hope of the kingdom is in his hands so be careful keeping him out of danger.

 

Pawn Moves

Pawn Move

The Pawn can only move straight forward. He is so slow that he moves one space at a time. However, if a Pawn has never moved, he can happily jump two spaces or choose to move just one. If a player is in front of your Pawn, then he is stuck until that player moves out of his way. The Pawn is a pretty wimpy dude, but he has dreams of reaching the other side of the chessboard where he can become very strong! The dots show where the Pawn is allowed to move.

The Pawn and every other player on the chessboard can capture other players. The Pawn captures by moving diagonally! The X’s show where he could capture a player if they move there.

The red dots show where you can move.

 

Rook Moves

Rook Move

The Rook can move in the following directions: up, down, left, or right. The Rook is very strong and can move as many spaces as he chooses to. He can roll to the other side of the chessboard in just one move, or choose to go just a few spaces!

The Rook is a strong attacker. He captures other players by making his move up, down, left, or right. He can never move diagonal like some of the other chessmen. Because of this, other players can attack him diagonally and he will not be able to attack back. Even the wimpy pawn can annoy the Rook and make him retreat! Play thoughtfully and bring your Rooks out only when it is safe to do so.

The red dots show where you can move.

 

Bishop Moves

Bishop Move

The Bishop can only move diagonally. He enjoys moving across the board as many spaces as he wants to, like the Rook. He can glide all the way across the board to another side in just one move if he chooses.

The Bishop is also a strong attacker. He captures other players by making his move diagonally. The Bishop cannot move or attack up, down, or sideways so be careful of Rooks! When setting up your chessmen, one Bishop is placed on a dark square, and one is placed on a light square to start the game. Since the Bishop can only move diagonally, he is forever stuck on the color that he started on.

The red dots show where you can move.

 

Knight Moves

Knight Move

The Knight makes the weirdest move of all the players. He can jump around in the shape of the capital letter L. Remember, though, that to make an L shape, he must always move two spaces from where he started in any direction – up, down, right, or left, then one square over from that direction. With such a strange movement, the Knight is the sneakiest and trickiest of players. Watch out for Knight forks!

The Knight is the only one who can jump players. Do we get to capture the ones we jump over? The answer is no. The Knight can only capture players that he lands directly on. What a strong player with the power to jump over others who get in his way!

The red dots show where you can move.

 

Queen Moves

Queen Move

The Queen has the combined powers of the Bishop and the Rook allowing her to move – up, down, left, right, and diagonally. But unlike the Pawn or the Knight, she is allowed to move as many spaces as she chooses. She can glide all the way across the board in one move!

The Queen is your strongest attacker, so you need to be careful not to trade her for wimpier players. Try not to let your opponent trap her. If you decide to capture someone, just make her move up, down, left, right, or diagonal and capture a player! You can trade your Queen for your opponents’ to be fair. Use her in combination with other players to attack a King.

The red dots show where you can move.

 

King Moves

King Move

The King can move in any direction – up, down, left, right, and diagonally. There are two major restrictions to the Kings movement. First, the King can only move one space wherever he makes his move. Second, the King cannot occupy squares that are attacked by enemy pieces (cannot move into check or stay in check). We’ll learn more about that later.

Though the King may have restricted movement, he is the most important piece on the chessboard. Trapping a King is the only way to win the game! The King will make his move up, down, left, right or diagonal to capture enemy players that come close to him.

The red dots show where you can move.

 

What is a Check?

The object of the game of chess is to attack the enemy King and to trap him. Anytime that one of your player movements can capture a King on your next move it is called “Check”. Neither chessplayer may ignore check, move into check, or pass up a move. The game cannot move on until the check is dealt with. There are three defenses to try if a King is in a check.

 

Fight

Black is in Check

Usually, the best way to escape a check is to fight! In this example the King can only capture the Rook that is giving him check. It is the only single move that is allowed in this position. The white Pawn is attacking the square above him leaving nowhere else to move the King.

The black King must take the Rook. Fight!

 

 

 

Fence

Black is in Check

Another defense from check is to fence! Sometimes you will use a bodyguard for the King. Building a fence is the most common way to escape a check. In this example the Queen is the only piece that can move and she must build a fence. Whites Bishop is controlling important squares.

The black Queen must block for the king. Fence!

 

 

 

 

Flee

Black is in Check

When all else fails, flee! Run away like a chicken if it is the only defense. A secret you should know is that the Knight cannot be fenced. He is a very dangerous checking piece. In this example the only escape is to flee because we cannot fight or fence the attack.

The black King must run away. Flee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checkmate

Be on the lookout for a check so dangerous that it traps the King. Because a King must always escape check, we never have the opportunity to capture him. However, we can surround the King with players and give him “Checkmate” if our plan is smart enough. This is how you can force the winning of a game of chess.

Every time you think that you might have a Checkmate, you need to look at the position and check to see if the King can FIGHT, FENCE, or FLEE.
If all three ways to escape are impossible then you have a Checkmate. The only other way to win a game of chess is if your opponent resigns the position or concedes the game. This means that someone “gives up”. There are other ways to end the game without winning. Those are explained in the next few pages.

 

The Black King is CheckmatedExample 1

This example shows that the black King has been Checkmated. The King is not able to FIGHT, FENCE, or FLEE. When all defenses are useless, it is Checkmate.

If you noticed, the pawns are in the Kings way. If a pawn had been moved before, he would have had an easy escape route. This mate is called a “Backrank Checkmate”. This game is now over and both players may decide to play again. You should always say to your partner “Good Game” to show good sportsmanship after a game.
The black King has been checkmated.

 

 

 

 

The Black King is Checkmated

Example 2

This example shows that the black King has been Checkmated. The King is not able to FIGHT, FENCE, or FLEE. When all defenses are useless, it is Checkmate.

Notice that the King is not able to take the Queen because he would place himself in Check from the Pawn. This mate is called an “In Your Face Checkmate” because she is right in his face and cannot be captured.
This game is now over and both players may decide to play again. It was time for the black team to say “Good Game”.

The black King has been checkmated.

 

 

 

 

The Black King is CheckmatedExample 3

This example shows that the black King has been Checkmated. The King is not able to FIGHT, FENCE, or FLEE. When all defenses are useless, it is Checkmate.

This is a somewhat rare Checkmate that takes real practice and study to master. Notice that white is runing out of pieces! When this happens you must use all of your forces, sometimes even including your King!
This game is now over and both players may decide to play again. It was time for the black team to say “Good Game”.

The black King has been checkmated.

 

 

 

 

The Black King is CheckmatedExample 4

This example shows that the black King has been Checkmated. The King is not able to FIGHT, FENCE, or FLEE. When all defenses are useless, it is Checkmate.

A very popular Checkmate. This is an easy Checkmate to learn after the basics are mastered. One Rook limits the Kings movement and the other delivers Checkmate. This is called the “Rolling Rooks Mate”. This game is now over and both players may decide to play again. It was time for the black team to say “Good Game”.

The black King has been checkmated.

 

 

 

 

 

King vs. King is always a DrawDraw Game (Tie Game)

There are a couple of ways to end a game of chess. You now know that a checkmate allows you to win. What happens if neither side is capable of performing a checkmate? In this case, the game is a draw. A draw is a fancy word for a tied game. Actually, several types of draws are possible in chess. A draw also occurs when the endgame includes only King and Knight vs. King, or King and Bishop vs. King.

 

Here is an example of a draw because of material.

 

 

 

 

 

Draw by StalemateStalemate (Tie Game)

A Stalemate is a different kind of Draw. This rule applies when a player does not have any legal move left but they are not in check. On the left you see a situation where white would like to win. But it is blacks turn and he has no legal move left! Every square is taken by the opposing king and pawn. We are not allowed to pass or skip our turn. Therefore, this game is a draw by stalemate because black does not have a move. Stalemate situations usually occur in the endgame when there are fewer players left on the board, but can also happen with many players still enjoying the fray. Be on the lookout for stalemate!

Here is an example of draw by stalemate.

 

 

 

 

 

Draw by Repetition

Draw by Repetion (Tie Game)

There is a rule that applies to positions that are repeated over and over. Anytime during the game, if the same exact position occurs three times, the game is a draw. This discourages any purposeful repeated
movements over and over for players that are winning. On the other hand, if one player finds himself in a losing position, he may be able to force a draw by using the repetition rule. In the position on the left,
you can see that black is in check. The only move is to flee – Kg8. After the white queen plays Qg6+ you can see that the only move for black is to flee back – Kh8 and white has the option of playing Qh6+ again and forcing a draw by repetition.

Here is an example of draw by repetition.

 

Players can also mutually agree on a Draw or offer a Draw game to their opponent anytime sometimes knowing that the position is only capable of offering a Draw game to each player. If you are asked to accept a Draw, you should look at the board carefully and decide whether you have winning chances or not.

 

Special Rules

There are a few special moves that have been kept a secret until now. They can be the most exciting part of the game if you time them right. Many people are not even aware of some of these rules in the game and may argue with you! Make sure that you fully understand each one.

 

Castling

Castling will seem like you are breaking the rules of chess at first. First, you get to move two pieces at one time! Second, the King gets to move two spaces! To do the castle move, you must first find a place for the Knight and Bishop (and sometimes the Queen) so that they are no longer in between your Rook and King. If there are not any pieces between them, you can move your King two spaces, and then your Rook can hop to the Kings other side. This is a great move for bringing your King to a safer place away from the danger of the center.

 

Castle Kings SideCastle Kings Side

The King will move two spaces and the Rook will jump to the King’s other side. In this case the Rook only moves two spaces and the King has one space between him and the side of the board. This is a great home for the King.

You should castle your King to keep him safe from the crazy center. There is only one square between the King and the side of the board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle Queens SideCastle Queens Side

The King will move two spaces and the Rook will jump to the Kings other side. In this case the Rook moves three spaces and the King has two spaces between him and the side of the board. This move will help you put a Rook to the center of the board.

Notice that there are two squares separating the King from the side of the board this time instead of just one.

Your opponent can keep you from castling your King. You cannot castle if you are in a check or in checkmate. Also, you can never use a “poisoned square” to castle. In the position above, white would not be allowed to castle the King if a black piece was attacking d1. This square would be poisoned by the enemy. You can never castle and land in check either. We are never allowed to enter a check on purpose anytime during the game. And lastly, if you ever move your King or the Rook that you want to use to castle, you lose the right to castle. Do not move your King or either Rook unless you are very sure that you do not want to castle.

 

Pawn Promotion

Every single pawn on the board has a dream to change from the wimpiest player on the board to the most powerful of attackers. The goal is to reach the last rank that a pawn can move to. Notice below that there is a pawn that has battled its way to the end of the board. Now what? Our pawn is useless and we can no longer use him. He must be transformed or “promoted” to another player! You can choose a knight, bishop, rook, or queen! You may not be a pawn any longer or promote to a king. Pawn promotion does not have to bring a player back from the captured ones. If you have a queen and you use a pawn to promote, YOU CAN HAVE ANOTHER!! In fact, if somehow each of your pawns reached the last rank, you could have 9 queens on the chessboard at one time (8 pawns promoted + original queen). Promotion is a very powerful move. Use your pawns wisely.

 

Promote a PawnGet a Promotion

White’s pawn moved to the square d8. After moving there the pawn is replaced with the player chosen to promote to. If the chosen player is a queen, white will end the game immediately because it does checkmate! The chosen player must be placed on the square that the pawn was promoted on. If that square is attacked, you will lose the promoted player on the opponents turn. In this case however, no piece can capture the pawn to stop the promotion on d8. If white chooses to promote to any piece other than the queen, then the black king would happily escape and black ends up with more pieces than white in this
example. So the queen is the best choice. Besides, she is the strongest player!

 

 

 

 

En Passant

It is time for us to study French! En passant is a phrase that means “in passing” in English. This is a very strange move that can only be done at particular times during the game. This move is only possible when a white pawn reaches the 5th rank of the chessboard or a black pawn reaches the 4th rank. In those positions a pawn may try to double jump past your pawn to escape from ever being captured. However, you have the option to capture that sneaker! By playing the en passant move you can move behind the enemy pawn and capture him.

 

 

Capture the Pawn En PassantCatch the Sneak

A black pawn reached the 4th rank in this example. White decides to play a double jump and lands right next to the black pawn. The pawn on b4 now has the option of capturing the other by moving to a3. We must imagine that the pawn only moved one space instead of two. The catch is that you have to capture the pawn immediately and you may not wait to play the en passant later in the game. This special move is only used against enemy pawns, not other players such as Queens, Rooks, Knights, or Bishops. Remember, a pawn can only attack this way from the fourth or fifth rank if a pawn does a double jump and lands directly next to it.

EL FIN

You have now learned the basic rules of chess! You are totally ready to play and have fun. I hope that you can find a player like your dad, mom, uncle, brother, sister, or someone else to play with! After enjoying some games, win or lose, you may want to continue learning some tricks, strategies, and other methods of getting better at chess. The best way to continue learning is to check on the website frequently and read all the material available to you. Good luck in your journey to chess mastery!