Frequently Asked Questions About the Game of Chess
In our line of work, we get asked an awful lot of questions about the most widely played game in human history and at Official Staunton, we’re all about helping people to enjoy chess. To that end, we have put together the following frequently asked questions with accompanying answers.
You won’t be an expert by reading to the end of , but if doing so piques your interest enough to lead to a long-term appreciation for the game, then it’s well worth your time. So, sit back, pour yourself a nice big cup of tea and let’s get stuck in!
Getting to Know Your Chess Pieces
In this section, we answer some questions that help you to gain an understanding of the chess pieces you’ll be using when you play.
“How many pieces are in a chess set?”
Regardless of the type of chess set you’re talking about, a chess set will have a total of 32 pieces, with 16 white and 16 black pieces on either side of the chess board.
“Are some chess pieces more important than others?”
Well, they’re all pretty important to your overall strategy, but the King is the most important, as if you lose it, you’ll lose the game.
“Does each piece move differently?”
Each type of chess piece has a specific way it’s able to move about the chess board. Let’s have a look at that in closer detail.
The Pawn - Lining up at the front of your pieces, you have a row of eight pawns, which are able to move forwards one space at a time unless taking an opposing piece, which leads to the pawn moving diagonally.
The Castles - Your Rooks (a.k.a. Your castles) can move horizontally or vertically over as many squares as the player requires (so long as its path isn’t blocked).
The Bishops - Moving diagonally in any of the four ways that are possible, your bishops have a long range like your rooks and are often used to protect your pawns while threatening your opponent’s pawns.
The Knights - Unlike any other chess pieces on the chess board, your knights don’t move in straight lines, rather they are able to move in an “L” shape - either three up and one across or one up and three across (even if its path is blocked).
The Queen - The most useful and powerful piece on the board is your Queen, which can move in any direction over as many squares as the player requires (again, so long as its path is clear).
The King - This is the all-important piece that must be protected at all cost. Whilst it’s vital to keep your King, it has a very restricted range, only able to move one square at a time.
Turns are taken alternately until someone’s King is ultimately captured or ‘checkmate’ is achieved, which basically means that a player’s King becomes trapped and the only possible move is one that will see it captured.
Creating a Chess Strategy
Now that we’ve taken a look at all the different chess pieces, we take a brief look at questions that relate to how you go about trying to win. The more you play, the more you’ll realise that’s nothing like the other game that’s played on a chessboard - draughts.
“Is there a key part of the chess board during a game?”
Yes, there is. One of the most crucial parts of the chess board to occupy is the centre, as you’re able to access the whole board from the middle area. You should do your utmost to control this area throughout the game.
“Is it better to be cautious and move your chess pieces sparingly?”
Actually, no. Quite the opposite in fact. It might seem like the safe thing to do to reserve your best pieces and leave them where they are, but they’re the ones that will allow you to win the game. In addition to this, by not developing your pieces (i.e. moving them up the chess board), you allow your opponent to occupy the centre and put yourself at a disadvantage. The only exception to this rule is your Queen.
“Should I use my Queen earlier or later?”
That totally depends on what your opponent does, but usually it’s better to be cautious with your Queen. It can be really tempting to use it, as it has more freedom of movement than any other piece. That said, moving it too early in the game can put you at a big disadvantage. Plus if the intended threat behind you moving your Queen doesn’t come off, you waste a move in getting it back to a safe square.
“Pawns don’t really matter do they?”
Actually, they’re more important than you might think. Many new players think that pawns aren’t all that important, but they provide valuable protection to your more useful chess pieces. They can only be moved forwards too, so any moves your pawn makes can’t be undone.
“Is it better to play quickly or slowly?”
Chess is one of the most cerebral games that exist and so you shouldn’t be afraid of taking your time when making your move. Studying the chess board as the game progresses is the only way to spot aggressive moves by your opponent, so unless you’re playing speed chess, don’t let yourself be rushed.
Choosing the Right Chess Equipment
Just as important as knowing how to play chess is having the right equipment with which to enjoy the game. Here we look at questions that relate to equipping yourself with the chess sets, chess pieces and boxes. So, let’s take a dive in.
“Are most chess boards the same?”
No they’re not. They may look the same in that they have the 32 white squares and 32 black, but chess boards come in a variety of different materials and sizes. Chess boards are iconic and they are made from a wide variety of materials like glass, stone and plastic, however, they’re mostly manufactured from wood.
Of course, the material a chess board is made from doesn’t affect the game itself, however, it does add much to the experience. High-quality boards made from walnut, maple and mahogany offer a distinctive and wonderful feel to the touch. In fact, luxury chess boards like this are so aesthetically pleasing that they’re a great room decoration too.
“What is the most widely-used type of Chess Piece?”
Chess Pieces are obviously as important as the board itself, as, without them, you wouldn’t have much of a game! Most are modelled to the traditional Staunton style, which is the most widely-known type in existence. That said, there are also some amazing contemporary chess sets out there.
The Staunton style is what everyone thinks of when talking about chess pieces and they come in a dazzling choice of materials. From ebony and boxwood to brass and nickel, players get to choose chess pieces that ideally match the aesthetics of your chess board and feel amazing between the fingers.
“What’s the best way to keep your chess pieces safe?”
Whilst not an essential part of chess gameplay, chess boxes provide a neat place to keep your chess pieces and board safe until your next game. They also come in a variety of materials, styles and colours to match the set it’s going to be used with.
The same huge range of choice exists when selecting chess boxes, which are manufactured from premium woods like walnut and mahogany. The ideal choice for your chess set will be determined by its material and colouring and the protection it provides to your pieces.
Where Can I Find Out More About Chess?
As we mentioned at the beginning, chess is something that captures the imagination and can lead to a lifelong appreciation of the game. To explain about chess would take many books, which is perhaps why so many books have been written on the subject throughout history.
Whilst we can’t go into that much depth here, we can provide you with some helpful chess resources you can use to enhance your knowledge of the game. So, let’s have a look at those now.
https://www.chessgames.com - An excellent place to learn tactics and take part in forums with your fellow chess players. Featuring a searchable database, you can look up famous games by the world’s top players.
https://www.chess.com - Another helpful website that allows you to hone your game by playing against other players and computer-generated opponents online. You can even take lessons here to develop your game.
https://www.chessopolis.com/best-chess-resources-online - Anyone looking to improve their game or find out anything else about chess will find lots of blogs on the subject on this site. Covering tactics, history and more, you’ll never be short of some new chess info!
https://www.chesskid.com - A great place to look online if you want to help your children to enjoy the game and all the benefits that come with it.
So, There You Have it!
And so there you have it. We’ve covered a lot of chess info here, but we’ve only just scratched the surface. Chess is a game that transcends being called a mere board game and it’s something you can spend your whole life playing enjoying. We hope that our guide, although brief, proves helpful in getting you started on your chess journey.
If reading our FAQs has made you want to start playing yourself, you can find more about the finest chess pieces, chess sets and chess boxes available online, by visiting the home of Staunton at www.officialstaunton.com where you’ll find some of the finest chess equipment anywhere. Thanks for reading and happy playing!