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Chess Rules

Chess is a fascinating and exciting game with Rules that anyone can learn to play. 

Earliest  history records date back over 2000 years to Ancient India.

Playing Chess is like being a General of an army in a “game of war”.  The primary object is to capture the King of the opposing army.

Read these instructions carefully.  You will see that even a beginner can learn to play Chess very quickly.

These rules are intended to give the beginner a brief explanation of the game.  Once you know the fundamental rules, we suggest that you obtain one of the many excellent books on advanced Chess or, even better, join a Chess Club.  There is probably one in your town.

Try Chess.  It’s the greatest game of strategy and skill ever devised.

The Basic Chess Rules.

The game is played on a board of 64 squares, alternately coloured light and dark.  These are called white and brown.  The two players, “White” and “Black”, each have 15 men besides the King: one Queen, two Rooks (or Castles), two Bishops, two Knights, and eight Pawns.  To distinguish from the Pawns, the other men are called pieces.

Opening positions of the Chess Game with the Chess Board.

At the start of a game, the men are arranged.  Note each player has a white square on his right corner and the Queen occupies the square of her own colour.  The player with the white men moves first and thereafter moves are made alternately one at a time.  The men move to unoccupied squares except when making a capture.  Then they take the square previously held by the captured man.  The Knight is the only man having the power to move over an occupied square.  There are two exceptions, taking a Pawn “en passant” and Castling.  The capture of an opponent’s man is effected by removing the man from the board and replacing it with the capturing man.  All captures are optional, except when necessary to avoid “Checkmate”.  A Checkmate occurs when the King, being in “Check”, (being attacked by an opponent’s piece or Pawn), cannot be relieved from that condition.

The Chessmen and their moves. How to move the Chess Pieces.

What gives Chess its great fascination is that the chessmen move in different ways.  As a result we get a combination of possibilities unequalled in any other board game.

Before the moves and powers of the pieces are described, you should familiarise yourself with the names of the three kinds of patterns of squares.  The vertical rows of squares are called files.  They are named after the pieces which stand in them in the opening position.  The horizontal rows of squares are called ranks.  These are numbered from one to eight from each side of the board.  A row of squares, which are all the same colour, going in the same direction, is called a diagonal.

Now we are ready to learn the moves of the pieces.  The King’s move is the simplest.

The King is the tallest piece of the set.  The King moves one square at a time, in any direction, on the rank (sideward), on the file (forward or backward), or on the diagonal.  Of course, it may not move to a square attacked by an adverse piece.  The two Kings can never stand on adjacent squares.  The object of play is to capture the adverse King.  The capture is never actually made.  If the King is attacked, and there is no way of escape, it is said to be checkmated, and the game ends.  On attacking the adverse King, a player customarily warns “Check!” and the attack has to be averted if the opponent wishes to play on.

The Queen is the second tallest piece.  It wears a crown with points.  It is the most powerful piece, being able to move in any direction and any distance, so long as no obstructions intervene.  The Queen, like the King, can move vertically, horizontally and diagonally.  The Queen captures by occupying the square of the hostile piece.

The Rook (or Castle) is a cylindrical tower with a castellated top.  It may move any distance horizontally (on ranks) and vertically (on files) – in one direction at a time.  It cannot displace or leap over friendly pieces.  The Rook captures by occupying the square of the hostile piece.

The Bishop is topped by a mitre, marked with a cleft.  It moves and captures diagonally only.  It may move any distance in one direction at a time.  It cannot displace or leap over friendly pieces.  The Bishop captures by occupying the square of the hostile piece.

The Knight has the head of a horse, and is often called the “Horse”.  Unlike all other pieces, it does not move on a line, but from point to point.  It can leap over friendly and hostile pieces providing its movement follows the “L” pattern.  In effect the Knight jumps two squares forward or backward or to either side, and then turns one square either to the left or right.

The Pawn is different in a number of ways from the other chessmen.  It can move forward only one square at a time except for its initial move.  Each Pawn has the option of moving two squares on its initial move if the player desires.  It also captures in a different manner from the way it moves.  The Pawn captures on either of the two diagonal squares adjoining it in front.  The Pawn has one other special capturing move – “En Passant” (in passing).  It applies only to captures of Pawns by Pawns.  When a Pawn exercises its privilege of moving two squares on its initial move, an opponent’s Pawn on the fifth square of an adjoining file may capture it and then move on to the square which the Pawn has jumped over.  If a Pawn reaches the eighth rank it must be exchanged for a Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight of the same colour, without regard to the number of such pieces already on the board.  This exchange is usually called “Queening” because the usual choice is a Queen.

Castling. How the Castle Chess piece moves around the Chess board.

Castling is a move that can be made only once in a game.  It is actually a move of two pieces at once, the King and one Rook.  It consists of moving the King two squares to his right or left towards the Rook, and then placing the Rook onto the square on the other side of the King.  Castling is subject to the following conditions:

1.    Neither the King nor Rook must have been moved previously.
2.    The squares between King and Rook must be vacant.
3.    The King must not be in Check.
4.    He must not pass over or alight on a square commanded by a hostile man.

The Object of a game of Chess.


A.    Check. how to make Check in a game of Chess.

The King is in Check when attacked by a hostile piece or Pawn.  When placing the King in Check, it is customary for the opposing player to advise of this fact by saying “Check!”.  One of three things must be done by the defending King:

1.    The King must move out of Check.
2.    The hostile piece that Checks must be captured.
3.    A piece or Pawn must be placed between the King and the attacking pieces.

B.    CheckMate. How to put your oponents pieces in CheckMate.

The game is won by attacking the hostile King, which is in Check, so that no matter what your opponent does, his King cannot escape capture.  While the King is never actually captured, trapping him without leaving any chance of escape ends the game at once.

C.  Drawn Game. How to Draw a game of Chess.

Only a few games end in actual checkmate.  When neither player can checkmate his opponent the game is drawn.  This comes about as follows:

1.    Stalemate:  The player in turn to move can make no legal move and yet his King is not in Check.
2.    Lack of Force:  When the pieces left on the board are too weak to force a checkmate the game is drawn.  Example: The King with one Bishop or one Knight cannot checkmate the opponent’s King.
3.    Repetition:  When the same position occurs three times in the game (of all pieces, White and Black) with the same player to move each time; this player on the third occasion may claim a draw.
4.    Perpetual Check:  When a player proves he can check the opponent’s King to an endless series of Checks.
5.    Fifty-move Rule:  If either player claims that fifty moves have been made on each side, and without a checkmate or any men having been captured or Pawn moved, a game shall be declared drawn.
6.    By Agreement:  The players may agree to a draw.  In tournament play this is not before the thirtieth move.


These are the Basic Rules of Chess