Online Chess

The Rules of Chess

Chess is a fascinating game of uncertain origins, although most experts accept that it came from similar games known in India nearly two thousand years ago. The current version of chess has been around since at least the 15th century, becoming popular in Europe, especially in the courts of royal families.

There are 64 squares, or spaces, on a standard chess board and the game is played between two players sitting across from each other. Each player has 16 pieces (32 total pieces on the board at the start of the game) , with each type having distinctive rules governing their movement and capturing. Additional rules also oversee the actual equipment used, how much time is allowed for each move, and even procedures to deal with any unusual incidents that may occur during play.

The Objective Of Chess:

The goal of a game of chess is to checkmate your opponent. This means forcing the opposing king into a position where he is unable to be moved safe from capture. Check is called when the opposing king is threatened with capture on the next move should he not be moved or the threatening piece captured or blocked.

The Chess Board:

Chess is played on what is known as the chess board, which contains 64 individual squares in an 8 x 8 grid pattern. The squares are of alternating color between light (white) and dark (black). The board is also positioned in such a manner that a white square is in the near right corner of each player (and a black square is in the near left corner of each player).

Starting A Chess Game:

The chess board is set up in the same way every time, with the second row (closet to each player) filled with the eight pawns. The remaining pieces are placed on the first row, closest to each player in the following manner: the two rooks go in the corners, the two knights are placed next to them, then the two bishops, and finally the queen—she is always placed on her matching color (i.e. the white queen on a white square and the black queen on a black square). The king is placed on the last remaining square in the back row.

In chess, the white pieces always move first. In a competitive game, there will usually be a random event such as the flipping of a coin to determine who uses the white pieces. The turn of pla then alternates back and forth between each player.

Movement of Chess Pieces

The six different chess pieces each have different rules governing their movement. However, there are a few generalities. Pieces may not move through other pieces (the only exception is the knight who can move or 'jump' over other pieces in a defined pattern) and cannot be moved onto a square occupied by another piece of their same color.

All pieces may be moved in such a way as to take the place of an opponents piece, which is then captured. Movement is generally handled in such a way as to capture an opponent's piece, be in a position to capture, defend their own pieces from capture or to control important squares during a game.

The King: The king, while being the most important piece in terms of the objective of the game, is actually very weak in terms of his movement. The king will only be able to move one square in any direction.

The Queen: The queen is without a doubt, the most powerful piece on the chess board. She can move in any direction—forward, backward, sideways or diagonally—as far as there are open squares. She cannot move through any of her own pieces, but may move over an opposing piece, capturing it. The act of capturing an opposing piece ends her turn as her final position will be on the square formerly occupied by the captured piece, as is the case with all other captures.

The Rook: This is another very powerful piece. The rook may move as far as it can forward, backward and sideways. It may NOT move diagonally. They work exceptionally well when protecting each other.

The Bishop: This piece can move as far as it likes, but only diagonally. Each bishop is placed on a different color square and must always remain on that color. This is also why they work well together, covering the weak points of each other.

The Knight: This is a chess piece with very unique movement. It may move two squares in one direction—either forward, backward or sideways—and then one more square at a 90 degree angle. This is an L-shaped movement. Incidentally, they are also the only piece capable of jumping over others, so it only matters that there final destination is either unoccupied or occupied by an opposing piece (which would then be captured, of course).

The Pawn: Pawns may only move forward, except when the capture. On their first move the pawn has the option of moving either one or two squares, straight ahead. Additional moves are only a single square forward. However, these pieces capture by moving one square diagonally in front of them. They never move or capture backwards and they are not able to go through other pieces.

Promotion: Pawns have another unique power—if they make it all the way to the last row of the chess board, they may be 'promoted' and turn into any other chess piece desired. Only pawns may be promoted. Incidentally, if a player still has his queen and wants a promoted pawn to become a queen, this is permitted (another captured piece would then be exchanged for the pawn, with some special indication that it is now a queen).

En Passant: French for 'in passing,' this is when a pawn moves two squares forward on their first move to rest beside an opposing pawn. The opposing pawn has the option of capturing this 'passing' piece, but it must be declared immediately after the first pawn has moved.

Castling: This is another special movement rule that involves the rook and the king. A player may move his king two squares to one side and then move his rook (from that side's corner) directly next to the king on the opposite side. After completing this move, both rooks should now be on the same side of the king. This allows the rook to enter the game and also to help protect the king more effectively. However, all of the following conditions must be met to castle:

  • The king must not have been moved previously
  • The rook must not have been moved previously
  • There are no pieces between the rook and the king
  • The king may not be in, or pass through, check

Check & Checkmate:

Check is very simply any situation in which the king could be captured on the next move. The king may be placed in check directly, by the opposing player moving a piece that threatens the king immediately. Or, the player may a piece that has been blocking a previous direct threat to the opposing king.

When your king is placed in check, the threat must be dealt with immediately. The king may never be left in check until the next turn. There are basically three ways to get out of check: move the king itself, intercede by moving another piece in the path of the piece that has declared check, or capturing the piece that is placing the king under the check threat. Of course, none of these actions must also cause the king to be placed in check from another piece during the process of their movement.

Checkmate is a situation where the king has been placed in check, but cannot escape. In other words, there is no possible method of moving the king, capturing the piece that has placed the king in check, or blocking that particular threat that would not still leave the king exposed to check from another piece or attack. In such a situation, the game is over.


Also known as a draw, there are some games which do not reach a definitive conclusion. There are five ways in which a draw or stalemate may be declared:

  • 1. A player's king is not in check but he/she has no other legal moves that would not place the king in check (note: the king may never move into check)
  • 2. Both players agree to the draw and decide to stop playing
  • 3. There are not enough pieces on the board to force a checkmate situation (a king and a knight versus a king)
  • 4. The same exact position is reached three times in a row and one of the players declares a draw (this does not need to happen three times in a row)
  • 5. Fifty consecutive moves have occurred without a pawn being moved or a piece captured
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