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Basic Chess Rules Explained To Kids

Winning Moves in Chess

This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi) العربية (Arabic)

Chess is a board game for two players. It is played on a square board, made of 64 smaller squares, with eight squares on each side. Each player starts with sixteen pieces – eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen, and one king. This article introduces you to basic chess rules.

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The goal of the game is for each player to try and checkmate the king of the opponent. Checkmate is a threat to the opposing king which no move can stop. It ends the game.

During the game, the two opponents take turns to move one of their pieces to different squares of the board. One player (‘White’) has pieces of light colour and the other player (‘Black’) has pieces of a dark colour. 

When playing chess, there are some basic and special rules that you should know. Find out how to begin the game, how the different pieces move, and which pieces can make special moves. The player with white pieces always makes the first move.

Setting Up the Chess Board

Knowing how to set up the board is the first step in learning to play the game. Set up the board as shown in the figure below:

Basic Chess Rules
Chessboard Orientation

An important point to note here is that a white square is always on the right, from the perspective of a ‘White’ player.

After orienting the board correctly, the next step is to place the pawns on the board. Put the pawns on the board as shown. They are placed along the second row of each player.

Basic Chess Rules
Pawns position

Next place your rooks on the board. The rooks are placed on the furthest corners. White rooks with the white pawns and black rooks with the black pawns as shown in the figure.

Basic Chess Rules
Rooks position

The fourth step is placing the knights on the board. The knights go next to the rooks as shown in the figure.

Basic Chess Rules
Knights position

After placing the knights, the next bishops are placed on the board. Each bishop goes next to its knight of the corresponding colour as shown in the figure.

Basic Chess Rules
Bishops position

Next place your queen on the board. It’s important to note that she goes in her colour. The white queen on the white square and the black queen on the black square as shown in the figure.

Basic Chess Rules
Queens position

At last, the king is placed on the board. He fits in the last square between your queen and a bishop. He will be on a square that’s different from his colour.

Basic Chess Rules
Position of chess pieces

Chess Pieces Value

Chess piece values give us a relative worth for each piece. This information helps us determine what piece should be traded for another piece, how we evaluate an exchange, and even how computer engines evaluate a position!

These point values don’t determine who wins a game (the goal of chess is to deliver checkmate, not to capture the most pieces). However, chess piece values give us a good idea of which player is better or winning, or if the position is level.

As mentioned, each piece has a different value. 

  • A pawn is worth one point
  • A knight is worth three points
  • A bishop is worth three points
  • A rook is worth five points 
  • A queen is worth nine points.
  • The king is the only piece that doesn’t have a point value. This is because the king cannot be captured (an attacked king is in check), and also because checkmating the king is the true goal of any chess game.

How Chess Pieces Move?

King: Kings move one square in any direction, so long as that square is not attacked by an enemy piece. Additionally, kings can make a special move, known as castling.

Basic Chess Rules
King moves

Queen: Queens move diagonally, horizontally, or vertically any number of squares. They are unable to jump over pieces.

Basic Chess Rules
Queen moves

Rooks: Rooks move horizontally or vertically any number of squares. They are unable to jump over pieces. Rooks move when the king castles.

Basic Chess Rules
Rook moves

Bishops: Bishops move diagonally any number of squares. They are unable to jump over pieces.

Basic Chess Rules
Bishop moves

Knights: Knights move in an ‘L’ shape’: two squares in a horizontal or vertical direction, then move one square horizontally or vertically. They are the only piece able to jump over other pieces.

Basic Chess Rules
Knight moves

Pawns: Pawns move vertically forward one square, with the option to move two squares if they have not yet moved. Pawns are the only piece to capture differently from how they move. Pawns capture one square diagonally in a forward direction.

Basic Chess Rules
Pawn moves

Pawns are unable to move backward on captures or moves. Upon reaching the other side of the board a pawn promotes into any other piece, except for a king. Additionally, pawns can make a special move called En Passant.

Special Moves

Promotion: If a pawn reaches the last rank on the other side of the board, then the pawn may promote to one of the big pieces. He can choose to become any piece except a king. You should also take note that you are allowed to have more than 1 queen. Every time a pawn reaches the other side of the board, then that pawn may become a queen, even if your other queen is still in the game.

En Passant: En passant is a French term and it means “in passing”. Let’s consider the following example to understand this move.

It is white’s turn to move. You will remember that white pawns move in this direction and the black pawns move in this direction. (Shown in the figure). White sees that if he moves his pawn one square then black could capture him. So, instead, he decides to move two squares so that he can pass over his square. But, if a pawn does this, i.e., if a pawn moves two squares and passes over a square while another pawn could capture it, then you may in fact capture that pawn as if it moved only one square.

Basic Chess Rules
en pasant

White moves the pawn two squares and black captures him as if he moved only one square.

It is also important to know that if you can capture a pawn through en passant, then you must do it on the next move. If you don’t take your chance right away, then you may not en passant that pawn anymore at a later stage.

Castling: When there is an open space between your king and rook, then you can do the castling move and you do it by moving your king two squares in the direction of the rook, and then the rook jumps over him.

Basic Chess Rules
Castling

Castling is permissible provided all of the following conditions hold:

  1. The castling must be kingside or queenside.
  2. Neither the king nor the chosen rook has previously moved.
  3. There are no pieces between the king and the chosen rook.
  4. The king is not currently in check.
  5. The king does not pass through a square that is attacked by an enemy piece.
  6. The king does not end up in check.

Conditions 4 through 6 can be summarized with the more memorable phrase: One may not castle out of, through, or into check.

How a Game Ends

The game ends when one of the players captures his opponent’s king when one of the players resigns or there is a stalemate. 

When a player’s king is threatened by an opposing piece, it is said to be “in check”. When a player places the opposing king in check he should announce, “check”. The object of a player is not merely to place his opponent’s king in check but to make certain that every square where the king has a possibility of movement is also covered. This is called checkmate. The king is considered captured.

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Apart from the above-mentioned, the game may also end in a draw. This can happen under the following cases:

  1. Draw by agreement: Both sides agree with the fact that the game is a draw. This usually happens during the end game when the result of the game is more easily anticipated and both players realize that neither of them will win the game no matter what happens.
  2. The fifty move rule: When a player has its turn to move and he indicates that there have been made 50 moves without any piece being captured or without any pawn being moved.
  3. Threefold repetition: When a player has his turn to move announces that he is making a move that will result in a position that repeats itself the third time. The position is repeated if the same pieces occupy the same squares they occupied at a past position.
  4. Perpetual check: Usually the weak side uses this maneuver to avoid losing the game. The perpetual check takes place when the disadvantaged side has the possibility of checking his opponent an unlimited number of times and does so. This eventually leads to draw by threefold repetition as explained in the previous rule.
  5. Stalemate: When a player has his turn to move, his king is not in check and has no possibility of moving either of his pieces because they are all locked in their position. The pieces may be locked in their position for various reasons:
    • They have no available squares on which to move.
    • They are blocked by other pieces.
    • They are in the way of an enemy piece that aims at the king therefore they are not allowed to move.
  6. When there is insufficient material to checkmate. That means that neither side has any resources of checkmating the opponent’s king. This only happens in a few situations:
    • On the board, there are only the two kings.
    • With a king and a bishop against a king.
    • One side has a king and a knight against the other king.
    • With a king and two knights against a king.

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