Chess, occasionally called "The Game of Kings", is intimidating at first with it's reputation of needing a Mensa membership to understand and the stereotypical geeky fans but rest assured that anyone can learn.

Chess is a game that takes minutes to learn, but don't be fooled, it takes a lifetime to master all the nuances and strategies involved. You'll find though that the more you learn about the game the more fun it becomes!

Things You Will Need

Chess does not require many things, but I will list them out below:

Chess board
Chess pieces
Two players (this includes you)
Your computer (so you can read this guide as you learn!)
Your thinking cap

Step 1

Chess Board Initial Set Up (29829)

Learning the Pieces:

Chess has a modest roster that any player needs to familiarize themselves with. Each type of piece can move differently and when used in combination with one another can execute just about any strategy and lead you to victory!


You'll notice on the chess board that the front row are all the same piece, these are called pawns. A pawn can only move one square forward at a time with two exceptions:
a.) If a pawn has not moved yet in the game then it can move forward two squares.
b.) A pawn can move diagonally forward one square in order to capture a piece.

Pawns also are unique in that if they manage to make it all the way to the last row of your opponents side, you can make them any other piece (except for the king). This becomes an excellent resource towards the end of the game but we'll talk about strategy in another article :)

On the back row are more unique looking pieces, for the white pieces going from left to right they are as follows: Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Knight, Rook.


Rooks are the castle looking pieces on the corners of the board. They can move any number of squares horizontally or vertically but they can not move diagonally. Also they can not move over any other pieces.


Knights are the horse pieces, they are the only piece in the game that can move over any other piece. In other words a knight is never blocked in. The way they move is a little unusual though, the best way to think of it is to remember a capital L. A knight moves two squares horizontally or vertically, and then one square horizontally or vertically from that to make an L shape. In other words when a knight moves, it either goes over two squares and up or down one, or up/down two squares and over one.


A bishop is actually similar to a rook, they can move any number of squares and can't jump over any piece, but unlike a rook a bishop can only move diagonally.


A queen is basically a rook and a bishop combined, she can move any number of squares horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. As a result she is technically the most powerful piece on your side, hence why you only get one of them (unless you get a pawn to the last row of course!).


Your king is the one piece you must protect at all costs, He can only move one square at a time but, like the queen, can do so in any direction. The one exception is that the king can never move into a position where he could get captured, for example he could never move in the line of sight of your opponents rook.

Step 2

Setting up the board:

Setting up the chess board is very easy, there's only two things you have to remember in order to set up the board perfectly every time.

The first thing is that the bottom left square should always be black (or brown as the case may be in the example picture above). The second thing is that the queen always goes on her own color (again see the example picture above, white queen on white square, black queen on black square).

Once you've put the queen on her own color just put the king next to her, then put the bishops next to them, then the knights, then the rooks. The pawns always go on the front row and once they're in place you're ready to play!

Step 3

Check and Mate:

So how do you win at chess? when you put your opponent in checkmate. What's checkmate? Well first you have to understand that in chess it is illegal to actually take your opponents king. This is why it is an illegal move to put the king in harms way and just can't be done.

For example if you have a pawn blocking your opponents queen from your king, it is illegal to move that pawn because then your opponent would be able to take your king next turn, therefore it can't be done.

When an opponent threatens your king, that is called putting someone in check. This gives the player in check their turn to respond and get their king out of harms way. This can be done by moving the king out of harm's way, using another piece to block the danger, or capturing whatever piece was threatening your king in the first place.

Checkmate is when a player is put in check that they can't get out of. When you threaten your opponents king and they can not make a legal move to get the king out of check (out of harm's way). When this happens the game is over and so this is your final goal for every game.

Step 4

Rules of play:

Here are some basic rules for playing the game that you need to know in addition to how the pieces move and how to set up the board:

1.) Players each make one move per turn.

2.) White always moves first.

3.) If a player has no legal move that won't put his king in harms way, but is not in check, then the game is a draw.

4.) If there are 50 full turns (both players move) without a piece being captured, a pawn moving, or a pawn promoting (making it to the last row and becoming any other piece), the game is a draw.

The real rule #1: HAVE FUN! The most important rule that everyone should keep in mind is to have fun, it's a game after all and should be treated as such, nothing more. Enjoy it!

In Summary:

This guide is meant to give people a good foundation to start playing the game, such as how to set up the board, how each piece moves, and what the object of the game is.

This is a game that an entire lifetime can be devoted to learning, not all of it's rules or nuances can be captured in one article. You can play a full game of chess using what's written here, but there will be always be more to learn. There are more advanced rules to learn but that's a subject for another article, until then take some time to get a feel for how the game works.

Most importantly don't forget the real rule #1, have fun!

Tips & Warnings