How to Play Chess

How to Play Chess

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Chess is a very popular game and is widely accepted as one of the oldest games still played. Although it has a set of easily comprehensible rules, it requires a lot of practice to win against skilled opponents. This is because chess is a strongly strategy and tactically oriented game, without the amount of luck found in card or dice games. However, given that chess is still a game involving at least one human, blunders (mistakes in thinking/planning) do occur. Even so, chess is still a very fun game to play. Each player has control of one of two sets of colored pieces, referred to by the nominal color of their respective pieces, i.e., White or Black. White moves first and the players alternate turns, moving one piece per turn. To win, a player must use his pieces to create a situation where the opponent's King is unable to avoid capture (a condition known as checkmate). Making a move is compulsory; it is not legal to "pass", even when having to move is detrimental. Play continues until a King is checkmated or a stalemate occurs.


Pieces and Moves Each piece has a specific name, abbreviation in chess notation, and move set.
  1. Rook (castle) - R - starts on a1, h1, a8, h8
    • Rooks may move any number of vacant squares vertically or horizontally. If an opponents piece blocks the path, that piece may be captured by moving the rook into the occupied square.
  2. Bishop - B - starts on c1, f1, c8, f8
    • Bishops may move any number of vacant squares in any diagonal direction. Like rooks, they may capture an opponents piece within its path.
  3. Queen - Q - starts on d1, d8
    • Queens can be thought of as the rook and bishop combined. Queens can move any number of vacant squares diagonally, horizontally, or vertically. Attacking with a queen is the same as with rooks and bishops, taking an opponents piece that lies within its path.
  4. King - K - starts on e1, e8
    • Kings can move exactly one space in any direction and can attack any piece except the opponent's king and queen (it cannot go near it or else it would result in check).
    • Castling is used to get your king out of the center early in the game, where it is most vulnerable. To castle, you move your king 2 squares to the left or right, and your rook at the corner square jumps over the king. You cannot castle if:
      • There are pieces between the king and rook.
      • The king is in check, or it will have to go through check or into check to castle.
      • The king or rook has already moved in the game.
      • The rook is not on the same rank as the king (prevents castling with a promoted pawn).
  5. Knight (horse) - N (Kt for older texts) - starts on b1, g1, b8, g8
    • Knights are the only pieces that can jump over other pieces. They move to the nearest square not on the same rank, file, or diagonal, i.e. two squares horizontally or vertically and then one square perpendicular to that in an "L" shaped pattern. For example, a knight may move two spaces horizontally and one space vertically, and vice versa. The knight cannot be blocked, and only captures pieces that it lands on. In other words, you can "jump" over all the pieces blocking the knight, and capture a piece as you land.
  6. Pawn - P
    • The Pawn is the most complex of all the pieces. They normally only move forward one space with the exception of the first time it is moved, when it may move forward one or two spaces. If another piece is in front of the it, the pawn may not move or capture that piece. Pawns may only attack a target if the target is one space diagonally forward from the pawn. i.e. Up one square and one square to the right or left (see picture).
    • En passant (from French: "in [the pawn's] passing" is a special capture made immediately after a player moves a pawn two squares forward from its starting position, and an opposing pawn could have captured it if it had only moved one square forward. In this situation, the opposing pawn may, on the immediately subsequent move, capture the pawn as if taking it "as it passes" through the first square; the resulting position would then be the same as if the pawn had only moved one square forward and the opposing pawn had captured normally. En passant must be done on the very next turn, or the right to do so is lost.
    • Promotion. If a pawn reaches the 8th rank (or 1st rank if you are black), it can be promoted to a Knight, Bishop, Rook, or Queen. It cannot stay as a pawn or be promoted to another king. To indicate pawn promotion in chess notation, write the square that it moves to (i.e. C8). Then you put an equals sign (i.e. C8=). Then put the abbreviation for the piece that you want it to promote it to (i.e. C8=R)
  1. Set up the chess board.
  2. Start the Game. The player with white pieces begins the game by moving one piece as described above. Turn then passes to black.
  3. Continue play with each player moving one piece per turn until the game ends. Making a move is compulsory; it is not legal to "pass", even when having to move is detrimental. Play continues until a King is checkmated or a stalemate occurs.
  4. Capture an opponent's piece by moving a piece into an occupied square. The captured piece is then removed from the board and does not return for the remainder of the game.
  5. End the game.
    1. Check and checkmate:
      • A player is in check when their king at risk of being captured the next turn. The player in check must get his king out of check on their next turn as a first priority. Do one of the following to get out of check:
        • Take the piece threatening your king. You can do this with another piece or take it with your king directly (if the piece is not protected).
        • Move your king out of the range of the attacking piece.
        • Block the piece threatening your king with another piece (this does not apply for enemy knights for they cannot be blocked).
      • If you cannot get your king out of check, this is a checkmate and the game ends with your opponent winning.
      • You can not put yourself into check. In other words, you cannot make a move that exposes your king to capture on the next turn. This means you cannot move your king into an area an opponent's piece can move to in 1 turn (except pawns which do not capture through regular movement), and you cannot move a piece blocking the king from an opponent's piece that could capture the king the next turn.
    2. Stalemate. A stalemate is a special case where a player does not have any legal moves, but is not in check. A stalemate is a draw.
      • The Fifty-Move rule is a special case where each player has made fifty moves without a pawn move or capture. This is a draw.
      • Three times repetition of position is a special case where a certain position has been achieved three times. This is a draw.
    3. Resign. Either player can resign at any time and accept a loss.



  • The best, and really only, way to learn and improve your game is to play. Against others, or even against yourself.
  • Practice everyday so that you can get better and remember all of the stuff.

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Sources and Citations

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