How to play Chess

How to play Chess

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How to play chess - This technical sheet refers to the basic elements of the game of chess: the game mechanism, the game board (chessboard), the game pieces (figures), the game as it begins and ends, the movement of the pieces and the special moves (castling, crossing and promotion) as well as the notation for being able to transcribe the games and replay them.

How to play chess: mechanism of the game

The game of chess takes place between two players (or colors called White and Black) who alternate in moving the figures (or pieces) on the game board (chessboard) with thetarget to give checkmate to the opponent's king.

Checkmate is the situation in which a color has its king under attack (exactly it is said under "check" to the king) is The following three conditions are true:

1) cannot move the king to a safe house.

2) he cannot parry the attack by placing a piece between his king and the attacking piece.

3) cannot capture the attacking piece.

The game always begins with the move to White.

How to play chess: chessboard

There chessboard It's composed by 64 square boxes, called houses, alternately black and white, arranged in such a way as to form a square plan of eight houses on each side in which each house is adjacent to one of the opposite color. For convenience, the chessboard is divided into eight vertical columns, named with the first lowercase letters of the alphabet from 'a' to 'h', and eight horizontal crosspieces, named with the first eight digits, from '1' to '8'.

The intersection of the column with the crossbar allows you to uniquely identify each house, Thus the intersection of the first crossbar with the first column identifies the house 'a1', the intersection of the fourth column with the fifth crossbar, identifies the house 'd5' and so on up to 'h8'. This identification system is called algebraic notation.

Given the geometry of the board we can also identify a number of diagonals; particularly relevant for the game are the two large diagonals 'a1' - 'h8' and 'a8' - 'h1'.

The 4 central houses 'd4'-' d5'- 'e4' - 'e5' identify the Center which we will discover has an important meaning in the economy of the game.

How to play chess: game pieces

On the board move the pieces that have the ability to capture the opponent's pieces that are in their path of movement. There capture takes place by replacing the piece that is moving in the square of the opponent's piece. The opponent's piece is removed from the game.

THE chess pieces I'm 16 light colored (usually white) e 16 dark color (usually black).

For each of the two colors there is a King, one Queen (or Woman), two Towers, two Horses, two Alfieri and eight Pedestrians for a total of 16 pieces per color. Considering the pawn as the unit of measurement, the pieces have approximately the following value:

Pawn = 1

The icon symbol with which the pedestrian is indicated is as follows:

Horse = 3

The symbol icon used to indicate the horse is as follows:

Bishop = 3

The icon symbol with which the bishop is indicated is the following:

Tower = 5

The icon symbol with which the tower is indicated is the following:

Woman = 9

The icon symbol with which the woman is indicated is the following:

Re = "infinite". In fact, if you lose it, you lose the game!

The icon symbol with which the king is indicated is the following:

These values ​​are purely indicative as the value of a piece depends both on its position and on the phase of the game (opening, middle game, final).

How to play chess: start of the game

Initially the pieces are arranged as in the following figure:

The starting position.

By convention, the board is arranged in such a way that each of the two players has below on your left a black house. White is placed on the first two bars at the bottom and Black symmetrically on the last two at the top. Notice how the white woman stands on the white house, while the black one stands on the black house. The symmetrical juxtaposition of the two Queens and the two Kings determines a division of the board into the two sides of Queen and King.

Arranged the pieces on the chessboard as seen in the previous diagram, by convention White makes the first move and then each of the two players takes turns making one move at a time. When a player moves his piece onto a square occupied by an opponent's piece, the opponent's piece is "captured" and then removed from the board, removing it from the game. If a player by moving a piece places it on a square where he attacks (or threatens to capture) the opponent's king on the next move, he is said to place the opponent's king under checkmate. The player who checks has the right to announce the check to the opponent by saying: "Check to the King".

In this regard, although the international regulation does not oblige the player who checks to announce it personally, I find it a rule of courtesy and respect to announce it especially in friendly matches.

The player who suffers the check has three possibilities:
1. move your king to a free square that is not threatened by opposing pieces;
2. place a piece between your king and the one that checks;
3. take the piece that gives check;

if none of these choices is possible he is said to be Check mate and loses the game.

I draw attention to the fact that all the pieces capture all the pieces except the King who cannot never be caught, but only matted.

How to play chess: conclusion of the game

There game ends immediately as soon as one of the two players suffers checkmate.

Whoever suffers checkmate loses the game while his opponent is the winner.

But a game does not always end in checkmate; it can also end in abandonment by a player; this situation normally occurs when one of the two players realizes that he can no longer prevent the other from winning and that it is only a matter of time for checkmate: in practice, by abandoning he recognizes his own defeat.

Or the game can end in a draw or flap, without losers or winners, if any of the following occurs.

Flap For Stall.
A stalemate is a draw when a player who has to move because it is his turn is not in a position to do so without putting his king in check.

Flap for insufficient material.
There is a draw for insufficient material when it is evident and irrefutable that neither player has enough pieces to force the checkmate. Eg King against King, King and Bishop against King, King and Knight against King, King and two Horses against King etc.

Flap for perpetual check.
There is a draw for perpetual check when a king is repeatedly checked and there is no possibility of getting out of this situation.

Flap for position repetition.
A position repetition draw occurs when a position is repeated three times with the stroke to the same player. In this case the player with the move must ask for a draw, indicating to the referee the move that repeats the position before even executing it.

Draw by agreement between the players.
It happens when one player proposes to the other to tie by asking "Draw?" and the other accepts. Normally the situation arises when a player thinks that he can no longer prevail over the other.

Draw for the 50-move rule.
There is a draw for the 50-move rule if no position change occurs within 50 moves: i.e. no type of capture is no pedestrian advancement on either side. This rule was introduced to protect the player from "players" who hope to win even games that are impossible to win by insisting on moving the pieces back and forth without achieving any result, in the hope that the opponent is wrong.

How to play chess: the movement of the pieces

The king

He can move only one square at a time in any of the eight directions allowed on the board to occupy an empty square or capture an opponent's piece. The King can NEVER, for any reason, voluntarily put himself under the range of action (or as they say correctly, in check, of an opponent's piece. So it becomes obvious that the two Kings can never be adjacent. It is the most important piece: once lost he loses the game.

The Queen or Woman

It can move an indefinite number of squares in any of the eight possible directions passing only through free squares, ending its path by stopping on a free square or one occupied by an opponent's piece, capturing it. It is the most powerful piece on its side.

The Bishop

Each player at the start of the game has two Standards: one placed on the white house and one placed on the black house. Each bishop can move an indefinite number of squares in any of the four oblique directions, passing only through free squares and stopping either on a free square or on a square occupied by an opponent's piece, replacing it. From this it is clear that the bishop on the white house remains on the white house for the entire duration of his stay on the chessboard, just as the one on the black house remains on the black house. This is why we usually distinguish the Alfieri in: Alfiere campochiaro, dominating the white houses; and Camposcuro Alfiere dominating the black houses.

The horse

The horse's movement is not linear like the others. In fact, it is said that the horse moves to L. More precisely, the horse can jump from one house to another located at the opposite corner of a rectangle of 2 × 3 houses. Starting from a central square of the board, the knight has eight squares to jump into, starting from a square on the edge of the board there are fewer squares to jump to. The square on which the knight rests must be empty or occupied by an opponent's piece, in this case the knight captures the opponent's piece, while it does not matter what the intermediate squares contain between its starting square and its arrival one.


The Tower can move an indefinite number of free houses in a straight line along the columns or crossbeams upwards, downwards, to the left or to the right. It can only pass through free squares and must finish its journey on an empty square or square occupied by an opponent's piece, capturing it.

The pedestrian

Each pawn can only move one step forward to occupy a free square: white pawns advance towards the black side; the black ones advance towards the white side; however, each pawn, when it moves for the first time, can advance one or two squares, at the player's choice as long as none of the squares it moves onto is occupied. The pawn captures by moving one oblique step forward to the left or to the right entering a square occupied by an opponent's piece that is removed from the game. Therefore, unlike all the other pieces, pawns can NEVER retreat, but only advance.

How to play chess: the special moves

In addition to the movement of the individual pieces, in the game of chess there are three special moves, two related to the pawn and one to the king.

The promotion.

The pawn is the only piece that can enjoy the promotion. In fact, when the pawn reaches the eighth rank (the first for Black) it is removed from the game and replaced with a piece chosen by the player who has succeeded in the feat: with a Queen, a Rook, a Knight or a Bishop, but never with a king.
The substitution move takes place in the promotion house.

The taking at the gate or "en passant".

This is also a special pawn move. If from the initial position a player moves his pawn by two steps going alongside an opponent pawn placed in the adjacent column, the opponent has the right (only for the immediately following move) to capture the pawn in the usual way, that is diagonally, as if the latter had advanced a single step.

Pawn e4, which has just moved two steps, is captured at the gate by pawn f4.
Similar issue for pawn b5 who is captured at the gate by pawn c5

The Castling.

L'Castling is a combined king and rook move that can only be done once in a game and only if the following conditions are met:

  1. The King has never been moved
  2. The King and the Tower with which it is intended to castling have not yet been moved;
  3. The intermediate houses placed between the King and the Tower are free;
  4. Moving the King does not pass, nor does he stop, on squares threatened by opposing pieces;
  5. The king is not under attack (in check) when it is decided to castling.

It is clear that the first two conditions are permanent, that is, valid for the whole game, while the other three are temporary, that is, if the cause of the impediment has been removed, it is possible to castle.

They stand out two types of castling: L'Short castling and theLong castling, depending on whether the King arrays with the tower closest to him or furthest away. In both cases the king moves two steps towards the edge of the board while the rook is placed on the square immediately beyond the king towards the center. In the diagrams below you can see the final position after having cast short (first diagram) and long (second diagram) castling for both White and Black.

Short castling for both colors

long castling for both colors

It is necessary to underline that long castling is more difficult to protect since pawn "a" is not protected and pawn "c" is not protected by the rook unlike short castling where pawn "h" is protected by the king and the rook protects the “f” pawn.

How to play chess: algebraic notation

To keep the games played, different transcription systems of the moves have been devised: the most common is that of Algebraic notation already briefly described above.

In this way each house is identified by one and only one letter - number pair as previously described (see paragraphHow to play chess: the chessboard).

Each move played is accompanied by the following symbols:
R Re
D Woman or Queen
To Bishop
C Horse
T Tower
P Pedestrian
o-o Short Castling
o-o-o Long castling
+ Check
++ Double check
# Check mate
= D Promotion of a pawn to Queen
! Good move
!! Great move
? Weak move
?? Wrong move
ep En Passant socket
= Even position
+ = White is a little better
= + Black is a little better
+ - White is better off
- + Black is better off

Furthermore, when transcribing the moves, the following rules must be kept in mind:
• For pedestrians just indicate the home of arrival. For example the writing: 1. e4 indicates the movement of the white pawn from e2 to e4 at the first move.
• The movement of the pieces is indicated by the symbol of the piece that precedes the indication of the house in which it is placed. For example, the writing 1. Cf3 indicates the movement of the white knight from the g1 square to the f3 square at the first move.
• When two equal pieces can move to the same square, the starting square of the moving piece is also indicated to avoid misunderstandings. For example, having one horse in 'b1' and the other in 'f3', the writing Cb-d2 means the horse that is in the square 'b1' moves to 'd2'
• Each hold or change is expressed with the sign x. For example Axc4 means that the Bishop captures the opponent's piece which is on 'c4'

Books to learn how to play chess

For adults I liked it and I gladly suggest it, the ebook readable on Kindle tablets, iPads and / or PCs, by Eng. Pardi, a well-known FSI Instructor specialized in the education of the elderly and absolute beginners, "Chess course for absolute beginners"Available on Amazon for only 2.99 Euro (!)

For boys I recommend two:

  • the first, very recent, is the book "Crazy for the Queen”By Maestro Adolivio Capece, published by Edizioni Freemedia suitable for the school cycle of 8 - 13 years of age currently proposed on Amazon at 16.15 Euros.
  • the second is minefirst book of chess, the one that attacked me therepassion;it is the book "Chess for boys" by Bott-Morrison, really written in a captivating and engaging way. This text is also available on Amazon, currently at 13.20 euros.

My other articles that may interest you are:

  • Chess game: benefits
  • Chess rules
  • The Stall in Chess: Meaning, Examples and How to Avoid It

by Andrea Gori

Video: How to Play Chess (May 2022).