Chess is a fascinating game. It originated very long ago and is played nowadays by millions of players. Almost everybody has played a few games in his or her life and knows about the basic rules of chess. In case you don't or want to refresh your basic knowledge, we offer you a small course about chess. Maybe you will be fascinated by the tactics and strategies involved and chess will become your greatest pleasure.

The board





The playing field consists of 64 squares, with 32 black and 32 white squares. It consists of 8 rows, labeled 1 to 8, and 8 columns labeled a to h. The rows are called ranks and the columns are called files. The squares are given names: a1, b1, c1, d1, e1, f1, g1 and h1 on the first row. b1. b2, b3, b4, b5, b6. b7 and b8 on the second row and so on.. The field�s a1, a2, a3, a4, a5, a6, a7 and a8 form the a-file. h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, h7 and h8 is the h-file. These names are used to make it possible to explain where the pieces are standing.

In order to record your games there is a special chess notation. In the notation the following symbols are used: K for King, Q for Queen, R for Rook, B for Bishop and the N for Knight (The K is already used for the King). For pawns no symbol are used. To describe a move first record the symbol for the piece, then the square it stands on, followed by the square it is going to. e.g. Qh3-e6. The Queen moves from h3 to e6. e2-e4. The pawn moves from e2 two squares ahead to square e4. Note that this is the long notation, there is also a shorter form in where only the destination square is given.

The starting position



Place the board in front of you and make sure the is a white square (h1) on your right hand. Place the white pieces on the first row on the board: The King on square e1, the Queen on d1, Rooks on a1 and h1, Knights on b1 and g1 and the Bishops on c1 and f1. Place the white pawns on the second row in front of the pieces on the squares a2 to h2. Place the black pieces symmetrical at the opposite site at the 8th row and the black pawns at the 7th row.
 - Observe the white Queen is on a white square, and the black Queen on a black square.

The pieces

The white KingThe King
This piece is the most important piece in the game. The King can move in any direction one square per move. For example: Kg4-g3, Kg3-f3 or Kf3-e4
 - Observe that a King in the middle of an empty board can move to 8 squares


The white QueenThe Queen
The Queen is the most powerful piece. She can move horizontally, vertically and also diagonally, as many squares as she likes. For example: Qh5-a5. Qa5-c3 or Qc3-c6.
 - Note that a Queen in the middle of an empty board can reach 27 squares.

The white RookThe Rook
The Rook can move horizontally or vertically as far as it likes. For example: Ra3-a6, Ra6-g6 or Rg6-g3
 - Check that a Rook on an empty board can go to 14 squares.
 - Notice that in the starting position, the Rook is not allowed to move.

The white BishopThe Bishop
The Bishop moves diagonally. It always remains on the same colored square. For example: Bf3-c6 or Bc6-a4.
 - Check that we have a white white squared Bishop, a white black squared Bishop, a black white squared Bishop, and a black black squared Bishop.

The white KnightThe Knight
The Knight moves in an L-shape. 2 squares horizontally and 1 vertically or 2 squares vertically and 1 horizontally. A Knight is not obstructed by own or opponent's pieces. It jumps over them. For example: Ng1-f3, Nf3-e5, Ne5-d4
 - Check that a Knight in the middle of an empty board can move to 8 squares.
 - Notice that a Knight in the starting position is only looking to 3 squares.

All Pieces can move forward and backward. None of the pieces except the knights can jump over other pieces standing in their way.

The value of the pieces is considered to be:
pawn 1, Rook 5, Knight 3, Bishop 3, Queen 9.
A good player is expected to win if he is 2 points ahead in a favorable position.

The white PawnThe Pawn
In general a pawn moves forward one square. But when a pawn has not yet moved, it may also move two squares forward. The pawn can go only forward. Not as the other pieces go backward. For example: d2-d4, d4-d5 and d5-d6.
 - Check that in the starting position White can choose between 16 pawn moves.

Pawn promotion
If a pawn reaches the other side, the pawn promotes. The player can choose if it promotes to a Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight. Logically mostly a queen is preferred. A pawn promotion is an important goal to play for.

An important difference between a pawn and the other pieces is, that the moving is different from capturing. The pawn moves forward vertically, but capture diagonally forward.
For example: Put a white pawn on b2 and a black pawn on c3. The white pawn can move to b3 or b4, or take the black pawn on c3.

En Passant
The 'En passant' (French for 'passing by') move is a special rule about a pawn capturing another pawn. If a pawn moves 2 squares forward and it stops next to an opponent's pawn on an adjacent line, then the opponent's pawn is allowed to take that pawn. It seems the pawn has moved only one square forward. This en passant taking is only allowed for the move, immediately following the previous pawn move.For example: put a black pawn on a4, and a white pawn on b2. The white pawn moves two squares ahead and goes to b4. Only now, the black pawn can take the white pawn. The white pawn is removed and the black pawn ends on b3. In notation: a4xb3 e.p.

Attacking and capture
If a piece can move to a square on which an opposite colored piece is standing, then the piece is attacking the opponent's piece. It is possible to move the first piece to the occupied square and remove the opposite colored piece from the board: the piece captures another piece. In the notation the symbol 'x' means capture.For example: If we have a white Rook on b3 and a black knight on b6. We can do the move Rb3xb6. The Rook moves from the square b3 and takes the piece on b6.
A piece can not take a piece of its own color. In that case, the piece defends its own piece.
Note: Capture is optional and not forced. In the starting position the pawns shield off the attacking possibilities of their own pieces.
 � Check that in the starting position, not a single piece is attacked.

Check and Checkmate
When a piece attacks the opposite colored King, that King is in check. On the next move the king must be taken out of check. In notation the symbol '+' means check.For example: Ra1-a7+. The Rook moves from square a1 to a7 and gives check.
There are three ways to move the king out of check:
1) Move the King to a safe square
2) Capture the attacking giving piece
3) Move a piece between the King and the attacker.

The goal of the game is to checkmate the opponent's King. When a King is in check and connot be taken out of check, the King is in checkmate and the game has ended.
 � Can you find the check possibility for White after the starting moves 1) e2-e4 f7-f5 ?
 � Can you find the mate possibility for Black after 1) f2-f4 e7-e6 2) g2-g4 ? This mate is called Fool's mate, and is the shortest mate possible.

This is the only move when two pieces are moving: the King and the Rook. The king moves two (normally 1) squares to the Rook, and the Rook is placed at the other side (jumping) of the King.There are two kinds of castling: long castling and short castling. Often both players castle in a game. It puts the King in a safe(r) position, and it activates the Rook.For example: Start from the initial position: 1) d2-d4, e7-e6 2) Nb1-c3 Ng8-f6 3) Bc1-g5 Bf8-e7 4) Qd1-d2. Now Black is allowed to short castling: 4) ...   0-0. The King goes to square g8. The rook to square f8. Now White is allowed to long castling: 5) 0-0-0. The King goes to square c1 and the Rook to square d1.
Castling is only allowed when:
a) The King and the specific Rook have not moved.
b) The squares between the King and the specific Rook are empty.
c) The King is not in check (on e1).
d) None of the squares the King, passes (on d1 or f1), are attacked.
e) The King does not end in check (on c1 or g1).

The Beginning
Always White starts moving 1 piece, then Black on piece, then White, then Black, etc. until the game ends. Note that a move has to be made. There is no "pass" possibility.
 - Check that in the starting position White can choose between 20 moves.
 - Notice that White after having played the Kings pawn e2-e4, he can choose between 15 pawn moves + 4 Queen moves + 5 Bishop moves = 24 moves.

The End
win or draw
The goal of the game is to checkmate the other King. When white checkmates the black King, White wins the game: 1-0. When black checkmates the white King, Black wins: 0-1
When neither site is able to checkmate the other King, the result is a draw: 1/2 -1/2

A draw can be reached in different ways:
- Stalemate.
A player is not in check, but is also not able to move.
- No mating potential.
There is insufficient material to checkmate the other King. A King and Knight or King and Bishop, can not checkmate the other King. Note that a pawn can often  promote to queen.
- Perpetual check.
A player is able to continuously give check. The motive can be a worse position, or the inability to continue the attack.
- Threefold repetition.
The same position is reached for the third time with the same player moving  and with the same moving possibilities.
- 50 move rule.
If during 50 moves no pawn has moved AND no pieces have been captured, a draw can be claimed.
- Draw agreed.
In more complicated positions, after having done a move, a player can propose a  draw. The opponent may accept or decline this offer.

As mentioned before, the goal of the game is to checkmate the opponents king. It obvious this goal not not be reached directly. Therefore there are some subgoals in the different phases of the game.

The opening
In this phase the goal is to develop your pieces.

The middlegame
In this phase you will de strengtening your position in order to prepare the attack on the opponents king.

The endgame
Now it time to go for the king.

Ready to play
You have just learned all the rules for playing chess and now you are ready to play a game of chess! We hope you enjoyed this course and that the explanations were clear enough for you. If you want to know more about some basic strategies in chess, you will notice your understanding will improve by playing, reading books, visit a chess club, play internet chess and learning with a chess program. Enjoy this royal game and have fun !

Next in this serie we will giving some stategic concepts. 

To start practising checkout our chess playing applet here...