Chess for Beginners

An Instructional Website,

Created by: Koco Budo

Rules

Chess is a game played between two opponents on opposite sides of a board containing 64 squares of alternating colors.Each player has 16 pieces: 1 king, 1 queen, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, and 8 pawns. The goal of the game is to checkmate the other king. Checkmate happens when the king is in a position to be captured (in check) and cannot escape from capture.

At the beginning of the game the chessboard is laid out so that each player has the white (or light) color square in the bottom right-hand side. The chess pieces are then arranged the same way each time. The second row (or rank) is filled with pawns. The rooks go in the corners, then the knights next to them, followed by the bishops, and finally the queen, who always goes on her own matching color (white queen on white, black queen on black), and the king on the remaining square. The player with the white pieces always moves first. Therefore, players generally decide who will get to be white by chance or luck such as flipping a coin or having one player guess the color of the hidden pawn in the other player's hand. White then makes a move, followed by black, then white again, then black and so on until the end of the game.

How the Pieces Move

Each of the 6 different kinds of pieces moves differently. Pieces cannot move through other pieces (though the knight can jump over other pieces), and can never move onto a square with one of their own pieces. However, they can be moved to take the place of an opponent's piece which is then captured. Pieces are generally moved into positions where they can capture other pieces (by landing on their square and then replacing them), defend their own pieces in case of capture, or control important squares in the game.


Promotion

Pawns have another special ability and that is that if a pawn reaches the other side of the board it can become any other chess piece (called promotion). A pawn may be promoted to any piece. [NOTE: A common misconception is that pawns may only be exchanged for a piece that has already been captured. That is NOT true. You may promote a pawn to ANY Piece] A pawn is usually promoted to a queen. Only pawns may be promoted.

image showing pawn being promoted

En Passant

The last rule about pawns is called “en passant,” which is French for “in passing”. If a pawn moves out two squares on its first move, and by doing so lands to the side of an opponent’s pawn (effectively jumping past the other pawn’s ability to capture it), that other pawn has the option of capturing the first pawn as it passes by. This special move must be done immediately after the first pawn has moved past, otherwise the option to capture it is no longer available.

image showing En passant

Castling

One other special rule is called castling. This move allows you to do two important things all in one move: get your king to safety (hopefully), and get your rook out of the corner and into the game. On a player’s turn he may move his king two squares over to one side and then move the rook from that side’s corner to right next to the king on the opposite side. (See the example below.)

However, in order to castle, the following conditions must be met:

  1. it must be that king’s very first move
  2. it must be that rook’s very first move
  3. there cannot be any pieces between the king and rook to move
  4. the king may not be in check or pass through check
image showing how to castle

Check & Checkmate

As stated before, the purpose of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. This happens when the king is put into check and cannot get out of check. There are only three ways a king can get out of check: move out of the way (though he cannot castle!), block the check with another piece, or capture the piece threatening the king. If a king cannot escape checkmate then the game is over. Customarily the king is not captured or removed from the board, the game is simply declared over.
image showing how to check a king
image showing how to checkmate

Chess Quote of the Day: "No one has ever won a game of Chess by only taking forward moves. Sometimes you have to move backwards to take better steps forward."-Unknown