The Rules Of Chess

So you’ve recently finished The Queen's Gambit and now you want to learn chess? Let us help you become a grandmaster by highlighting the complex rules of chess in simple segments.

How To Set A Chessboard Up

Chess is played on a simple square board, made up of eight rows that are called ranks. The ranks can be identified with the numbers 1 to 8 and eight columns called files that are denoted with letters a to h of squares. The colours of the sixty-four squares alternate from dark to light.

The chessboard is situated so that each player has a white square in their right-hand corner, and the queen should always be on a square that matches her colour (white queen on the white square) - Simple right?

Official staunton chess set  chesslayout

Each chess player will begin the game with sixteen pieces in total, consisting of one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns. Sometimes chess sets include two queens, don’t get confused by this, this is simply to use in pawn promotion, but we will get to that later on in the blog.

One player, referred to as 'White player', will control the white pieces and the other player will control the black pieces; White always takes the first move.

The chess players alternate moving one piece at a time (with the minor exception of castling, when two pieces are moved simultaneously). Chess pieces are moved to either an unoccupied square or one that is occupied by the opponent's piece; this is known as capturing. When you capture or take your opponent's piece, you remove it completely from play and replace the previously occupied square with your own piece. 

The King

When a king is under attack by one or possibly even two of the opponent's pieces, this is known as check. When in check, only moves that effectively remove the king from attack are allowed - you must remove the king and return it to safety. The player must not make any moves that would place the king into a check position.

The purpose of the game of chess is to checkmate your opponent; this occurs when the opponent's king is in check and there are no moves the player can take to remove the king from attack - checkmate.

What Ways Can A King Chess Piece Move?

The king chess piece can move only one square at a time, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Once you start the game, each king is allowed to make a special double move, in order to castle. Castling consists of moving the king two squares towards a rook (castle) onto the square over which the king crossed. Castling is only allowed if all of the following conditions apply:

  • The player who wants to castle must never have moved the rook or king involved in the castling proposal.
  • There must be no pieces between the rook and the king.
  • The king cannot be in check, nor may the king pass through squares that are under attack by the opponent's pieces. As with any move in chess, castling isn’t permitted if it would place the king in check. 

    how to castle in chess castling image example

How Does A Rook Move in Chess?

The rook (castle) can move any number of squares, horizontally or vertically as long as there are no other chess pieces in the way.

What Way Does A Bishop Move in Chess?

The bishop can move any number of clear squares, in any direction as long as it is done diagonally.

Fun Fact: A bishop never changes square colour.

How Do You Move The Queen in Chess?

The almighty queen can move any number of vacant squares diagonally, horizontally, or vertically - of course she can!

Can The Knight Jump Over Other Chess Pieces?

The knight can indeed jump over other chess pieces, the knight moves two spaces horizontally and one space vertically or vice-versa, in an “L” shape.

 How Do You Use Pawns in Chess?

Size doesn’t mean anything, though they are the smallest and least valuable piece on the chessboard, they have the most complex rules for movement: A pawn can move forward, one square at a time -if the square is of course unoccupied. If the pawn hasn’t moved yet, the pawn has the option of moving two squares forward, if of course, the squares ahead are not in use. A pawn cannot move backward on any occasion. 

If you choose to move the two squares forward and meet horizontally with the opponent's pawn, you can capture it on your next move - this is called “en passant” 

en passant pawn move in chess example

Pawns are the only chess pieces that capture differently than they move. They can capture an opponent's piece on either of the two spaces adjacent to the space in front of them. 

If a pawn manages to successfully reach the end of the chessboard, to the opponent's side of the board (8th rank) it is then promoted to either a queen, bishop, knight, or rook in the same colour. The pawn is almost always promoted into a queen and this is where your extra queens will come into use.

How Do You Draw in Chess?

A chess game that ends without a victory on both sides is a draw. Most drawn games are agreed based upon the rules of chess. The other way that can result in a draw is three-fold-repetition, the fifty-move rule, stalemate, and insufficient material.

how to draw in the game of chess hand shake chessboard

What is Stalemate in Chess?

A position in which the player whose turn it is to move, has no moves left and his king is not in check. A stalemate usually results in an immediate draw.

 In Chess, What Is Threefold Repetition?

The game will come to a draw if the same position occurs, three times with the same player to move, with each player having the same set of moves each time. 

What is The Fifty Move Rule?

Never heard of it? Don’t worry - most haven’t. The fifty move rule states the game is drawn after fifty moves from each side without a pawn capture or move.

What Happens if I Have Insufficient Material Left in Chess? 

A scenario where all pawns have been captured and one side only has one king remaining while the other is down to just a king, or king plus a knight or one bishop/ The position will result in a draw as it is impossible for the dominant side to complete checkmate, regardless of play. 

What Are The Best Chess Openings?

There are many amazing opening moves in the game of chess, but as it is currently on-trend, let us highlight The Queen’s Gambit Chess opening:

The chess opening starts with the moves: 1. d4 d5: 2. c4. This opening is one of the oldest about and is a favourite of many chess players.

Now you know all about chess layouts, chess moves, chess openings, and how to correctly set a chessboard up - you are ready to get practicing.