chess players

Chess is an amazing game but before you can get started with learning rewarding advanced strategies you must first learn the basics, including board setup and what all of the pieces are, and how they function. You can spend a lifetime learning all of the advanced endgame strategies and opening gambits and you will still only be a mediocre player, the best player is defined by their grasp and intimate understanding of the fundamentals - the basics. Once you learn how the board space works and how all of the pieces can utilize this space, then you will not only be able to understand high level strategies, but you will also be able to create your own. Consider this article your starting point on this journey into understanding the basics.


The Chess Board - The Battlefield


The Chess board, also known as a checker board (for its visual design), is a very simple playing field in its design. The board is divided up into 64 squares of alternating colors, usually light and dark. The board can be made from almost any material but official matches typically take place on wooden boards, as they have done so for hundred of years. The material or coloration is simply for aesthetic purposes and has no impact on the game.


The Squares - The squares, or 'checker boxes' are central to the game of Chess. Each one represents a space in which a piece can reside or move through. The playing field sees the 64 boxes dived into eight columns ('files') and eight rows ('ranks') with alternating colored squares through the ranks and files. The board favors no player; it is a completely level playing field. While this would be unlikely in a real-world battle it is very important in Chess because the minds of the players should be the only deciding factor in victory.


Traditional Set Up - When a game has been played for as long as Chess it is important that new players learn about and respect traditions. There is one simple tradition when it comes to placing the board, and this is that there be a white square in the rightmost bottom for both players. If, when you place the board, that square is dark then you know that the board is sideways and should be rotated once more. This is rarely a large concern in casual chess but it should be practiced so as to not cause offence when playing in a professional setting.


The Pieces in Chess - Your Soldiers


The playing field is only one half of the game of Chess; the other half is the 'pieces' or the troops under your command. There are a total of 32 pieces on the board at the beginning of a game of chess, or 16 for each player. Of these 16 pieces there are 6 varieties of differing utility and values. Each piece moves differently around the board and some can move further than others.


The Pawn - The Pawn is the frontline, or militia force of your Chessboard army, but this doesn't mean that they are simply there to be thrown away. Many high level strategies revolve around clever placement and use of Pawns. Each player starts with 8 Pawns and one is placed in every file of the second rank. Pawns can only move in two directions: forward one square when not attacking another piece, and diagonally one square when attacking another piece. Pawns also have a special bonus on their very first move where they can choose to move forward two squares instead of one.


The Pawn's Secret Weapon -The Pawn has one more trick up its sleeve. If you can move a Pawn to the very back file on you opponents side of the board then you can 'promote' the Pawn to any one of your pieces that has previously been removed from the board. You can even revive your Queen if she has been removed prior.


Knights - There are two Knights for each player and they have the most unusual movement pattern of all of the pieces. The Knight can only move in an 'L' shape that consists of three squares. It must move two squares out and one square across. This also mean that the Knight can only capture pieces that reside in the final square of its move. The secret to the Knight is that it can move through other pieces provided the landing space is clear. This makes it a useful piece for elaborate surprise attacks.


Bishops - There are two Bishops for each player and they can only move diagonally along the same color squares on which they start the game. They can, however, move as many squares diagonally as you like, even going from one side of the board to the other. Your two Bishops start of alternate colors to each other, one on a dark square and one on a light square.


Rooks (Castles) - There are two Rooks for each player and are the opposite of the Bishop in terms of function. While the Bishop can only move diagonally, the Rook can only move in a straight line. Again, the Rook can move as many spaces in that line as it likes on that turn, provided it is not interrupted by another piece.


The Queen - Each player starts with only one Queen and she is arguably the most useful piece on the board. The Queen can move in both the same way as the Rook and the same way as the Bishop, combining the power of both. The biggest weakness of the Queen is that many beginner players will rely on her too much, often loosing her to better players early in the game.


The King - Each player has one King and this piece represents the victory conditions of the game. The King cannot be 'captured' like other pieces, he can only be surrounded by the opponents pieces forcing a 'checkmate'. The King can move one space in any direction and if the King is threatened by another piece (a 'check') then the player must break the check by moving the King or by capturing the threatening piece.