The game of chess we know today has been around for over 500 years. Although no one knows for sure how the game came about, many people believe it developed from other chess-like games played in India about 2,000 years ago.
In a game of chess, you and your opponent each command an army of 16 pieces: 8 pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, a queen, and a king. Your goal is to trap your opponent’s king before he or she traps yours. When you reach a point where you have your opponent’s king trapped and he cannot escape, you have achieved checkmate and won the game!
Every chess game starts out with the pieces placed in the same positions on the chessboard. One player plays with white or light-colored pieces, and the other player plays with black or dark-colored pieces. White moves first and then play alternates until one player achieves checkmate or the game ends in a tie (stalemate or draw). Players may not skip their move at any time.
To make a move, you must choose one of your pieces on the board and move it from its current position to another square, according to the rules of movement. The square a piece is moved to can either be empty or occupied by another player’s piece. If the square contains an opponent’s piece, you capture that piece by removing it from the board.
It takes many people a while to learn how to play chess. Not only does the game involve a lot of thinking ahead and strategy, but each type of chess piece moves in a different way. Remembering how each of the pieces’ moves can be difficult at first.
Pawns are special because they have two types of moves. A pawn can either move to an empty square directly in front of it, or it can capture a piece diagonally to the right or left. In addition, a pawn may also move two squares straight ahead on its first move.
Rooks move straight forward, backward, or sideways (but not diagonally). They cannot jump over other pieces, but they can move as far as they want in any straight line.
Knights move by jumping two squares forward, backward, or sideways, and then turning and jumping one more square. The knight’s move forms an “L” shape. Knights are special because they’re the only pieces that can jump over other pieces.
Bishops also move in straight lines, but not forwards, backward, or sideways — only diagonally! Like rooks, bishops can move as far as they want in any direction, but they cannot jump over other pieces.
The queen can move in a straight line as far as she wants in any direction. She cannot, however, jump over other pieces.
The king can move one square in any direction. He cannot, however, move to a square where he could be captured by an opponent’s piece.
When you make a move that puts your opponent’s king in danger of being captured, you say “check.” Your opponent then must make a move to protect his or her king. There are three ways you can protect a king: move him out of the way, block the check with another piece or capture the piece attacking the king. If one of these protective moves can’t be made, then you win the game and say, “Checkmate!”
Chess has a few other special rules you’ll have to learn if you want to become a chess player, such as castling, en passant, and promotion. You can learn these more difficult rules as you play, though. For now, just concentrate on learning the basic movements of the pieces.