Chess Rules - do you know how to play?

by John Gibb

Chess' rules are legendarily complicated, to the point where many people don't play simply because they claim not to be able to remember how all the pieces move. Once you get to grip with what everything is and what it can do, however, the rules don't look so complicated after all.

There are only six different pieces in chess: the king and queen, bishops, rooks, knights and pawns. The king is the piece with a cross on the top, while the queen has a crown. The ones with pear-shaped tops are bishops, and the ones with round tops are the pawns. Finally, the horse is the knight and the little castle is the rook - calling them 'horsey' and 'castle', while fun, is likely to annoy serious chess players.

When you set up a chess board, one side is white and the other is black. Each side gets a rook, a knight, a bishop, a queen, a king, a bishop, a knight and a rook on its back row, in that order. The second row is all pawns. Players can move any piece at any time, and landing on one of the other player's pieces will capture that piece, removing it from the board.

How chess pieces move can be difficult to remember, but don't worry too much - there are only six different pieces, after all. Here goes. The queen can move any number of spaces in any direction. The rook moves the same way, but can't move diagonally, while the bishop moves the same way but only diagonally. The king can move in any direction, but only one space at a time. Pawns can only move one or two spaces forward, or diagonally to capture a piece. Finally, the knight can move two spaces in any non-diagonal direction, and then one space in another (but not back where it came). Simple, right?

The ultimate object of the game, however, is more complicated than you might expect. Instead of simply removing all the other player's pieces from the board, as in checkers or draughts, you must checkmate the king, which means make it impossible for the king to escape capture. If you have few pieces left, this could be difficult, or even not possible.

About the Author

John Gibb is the owner of Chess resources
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