The Game Of Chess: A Complete Guide to Getting Started


What is Chess?

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The Game Of Chess! Image: Unsplash

Chess is a game played by two players on a checkered board which has 64 squares. Chess is a strategic and tactical game representing “a war scenario” where two kingdoms fight each other in an attempt to triumph over the other. In this game, we say that a particular side has won when the opponent’s king has been “checkmated”, we would properly understand what this means in future.

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A chess board containing 16 white pieces and 16 black pieces
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A 2D version of a chess game

Why Chess?

Chess is one great game that models “real life”. Chess to many people is just a game of 32 pieces on 64 squares fighting to capture each other’s king but what most do not realize is that chess is a miniature version of life as you need to be flexible, assess risk, make quick decisions and build up a positive mindset. There are lots of lessons and skills to be learnt from each game played. Some of the benefits includes;

1. It helps in decision making.

2. Chess helps your visualization skills.

3. Chess teaches patience and calmness under pressure.

4. Chess helps improve your problem solving skills.

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This picture explains a lot.

Some Common Misconceptions about Chess

  1. You must be very good in math to know how to play a chess game well – FALSE. You may not even have heard about math and you can become a chess master, this is because chess does not involve mathematical-related thinking. it’s just about knowing the rules and being able to apply them correctly.
  2. Chess is hard to learn- FALSE.  Chess is a very easy game that you can learn in a day, Once you know the rules, you can start playing, However, the road to chess mastery is not an easy one but it takes virtually nothing to learn and start playing your favorite game!

Where Do I Start From?

To play and enjoy chess, It is necessary that you get a chess board. In the market, there are different sizes of chess boards, getting a small and cheap board is sufficient (like those magnetic boards).

What about a case where you don’t have any friends to play chess with? ,You don’t have to worry as it’s also possible for you to play chess online. We recommend , a free chess website where you can play, train and study. You just have to open an account and start playing.

To accompany a chess board, you can also decide to get a chess clock for timing the game. With a chess clock, you can fix a particular amount of time that you and your opponent will use to play the whole game. However, a chess clock is more expensive than a chess board, but no worries as you can easily install a chess clock app on your smartphone easily. Lichess also has an offline clock feature which makes it a very cool app.

REVEALED: How To Earn Money From Chess Online

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A chess clock

How Useful is Chess?

Chess is a great mind sport that is beneficial for all ages. There are also other numerous benefits associated with chess. Some businesses use chess as a model for their business strategy, Some countries like Armenia have made chess as a compulsory school subject, many schools are beginning to see the potentials of chess and are including it in their curriculum or making it an important extra curricular activity.

It’s also possible to play chess competitively, become a titled player or a very strong player, travel for tournaments and win lots of prizes.

Understanding the Chess board, Pieces and Movements

chess board | Free SVG

The chess board has 64 squares called “light” and “dark” squares. The horizontal rows i.e lines going up (1 – 8) are called “RANKS” and are numbered 1 through 8.
The vertical columns i.e lines from left to right are called “FILES” and are given letter a through h. Each square has a name, based on the rank and file to which the square belongs to.

For example “e4” is a square in the middle of the board. This notation makes it possible for a player to be able to record the game or a particular position for future reference, it’s also entirely possible to play chess without the board using just the board notation to play ( i.e you must be able to use your mind to visualize a real board and calculate positions)

Chess Pieces and their Descriptions

Chess piece - Wikipedia
Chess Pieces

In a chess game, there are two sides, white and black, each side consisting of 16 pieces. Each of these pieces have their designated names and symbols.


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These are like the little soldiers in the game. They are mostly used to determine the way the game would proceed i.e whether it would be a closed, open or semi closed game. Pawns move in a straight line and can only enter another line when it captures a chess piece. On its first movement, it can move twice or once, but after that, it only moves one at a time. Once a pawn moves forward, it can’t move backward, they are the only chess pieces that cannot go backward after they have gone forward.

Can a pawn capture backwards if it hasn't moved yet? I didn't think it  could, and find no rule saying it can, but strategy guides keep telling me  it can. - Quora
Source: Quora

Another interesting features of the pawns is that, once they get to the opponent’s last rank, they can be promoted to a bishop, queen, rook or knight. Note that a pawn can’t be promoted to another king as you can’t have more than two kings (white and black) on the board.


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Bishops move diagonally in a chess game i.e they move in an “X” way. By the way, diagonals are rows of squares of the SAME COLOUR slanting across the board.

Chess - Torncity WIKI - The official help and support guide

In a chess game, there are two bishops, one is on light squares (called the light squared bishop or LSB) and one is on dark squares (called the dark squared bishop or DSB). The LSB moves diagonally only on light squares while the DSB moves diagonally only on dark squares. They can move to any squares on the board that applies to their individual colours as far as the “diagonal rule” is obeyed.


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Rooks move vertically and horizontally in a chess game i.e they move in a “+” manner. They can move to any square on the chess board as far as “the vertical and horizontal rule is obeyed”.

FIDE Handbook E. Miscellaneous / 01. Laws of Chess / Laws of Chess: For  competitions starting before 1 July 2014 /
Rooks Movements


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An illustration of the moves of the knight piece. The knight moves in... |  Download Scientific Diagram

The knights are the trickiest pieces on the board. They move in a “L” or “7” way. The knights are the only pieces that can jump over pawns unlike other pieces where you have make way for them to be developed.


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Can the Queen move like a horse in chess? - Quora

The queen is the strongest piece on the board and moves vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The queen has the combined power of the rook and the bishop which makes it the most valuable piece after the king in the game.


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Is there an instance where a king is mated by another king in a chess game?  - Quora

The king is the most valuable piece in the game, as the game is lost if the king is checkmated. The king moves one step at a time horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

SEE ALSO: 20 Chess Terms And Definitions You Must Know


Now, we would assess the value of the pieces in a chess game so that we can be aware of what to try to capture and what to protect.
Pawns – 1 point
Knights – 3 points
Bishops – 3 points
Rooks – 5 points
Queen – 9 points
From the above information, we can see that the queen has the highest number of points which makes it the strongest piece on the chess board. The knights and bishops have the same amount of points though the bishop is said to be stronger than the knight in most cases especially in open games. Notice that the king value is not included above because the king never leaves the board in a chess game, it can only be captured or checkmated but it can’t be taken off.


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Setting Up A Chess Board. Image: Markweeks

We have two sides, white and black. Let’s take a look at the white side;
On the 2nd rank, we set up eight pawns and on the 1st rank, we set this from left to right: Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Knight, Rook.
Most players confuse the position of the Knight and Bishop, and the Queen and King so here are some helpful tips:
– The white king stays on a black square while the black king stays on a white square.
– The white knights after it has been set must be able to move to the c3 square or the f3 square on it’s first movement.

See Five Practical Tips To Take Your Chess Game To The Next Level


  1. Capture: When piece A captures pieces B, piece B is taken out of the board and piece A replaces piece B in that square. In chess notation, this is represented by AxB. The pieces on a chess board captures according to the way they move.
  2. Check: The only pieces that the “Check” rule applies to is the king. When an opponent piece checks your king, it means that your king is in the path of the piece hence your king can only do three things:
    A. Move away from the check
    B. Block the check
    C. Capture the piece checking the king.
    Note that the check is represented with a “+” sign which is attached to the piece symbol and the square it moved to to make that check.
  3. Checkmate: When your king can’t do the three things listed above, we say that the king is checkmated. “checkmate” and “mate” is being used interchangeably.
  4. Castling: Castling is a legal move which involves taking the king off the middle of the game and tucking it in a safe square either on the kingside or queenside. It is important to castle in a chess game as the king may be prone to multiple and dangerous attacks if it remains in the center. When the person handling the white pieces castles kingside, he moves his king two squares to the right and brings his rook to the other side i.e he moves his king from the e1 to g1 square and brings the rook from the h1 to f1 square.

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Also Check Out: 10 Best Games Of Alexander Alekhine That You Must Know

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