Nakisha wheatley a beginner´s guide to become a better chess player+
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Nakisha wheatley a beginner´s guide to become a better chess player+
First Edition, 2012
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The English Press
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Introduction to Chess Game
Chapter 2 - How to Play Chess
Chapter 3 - How to Calculate Chess Tactics
Chapter 4 - How to Play Siamese Chess
Chapter 5 - How to Read Algebraic Chess Notation
Chapter 6 - How to Castle in Chess
Chapter 7 - How to Play Advanced Chess
Chapter 8 - How to Set up a Chessboard
Chapter 9 - Chess Tactics
Chapter 10 - Chess Strategy
Introduction to Chess Game
From left to right: a white king, a black rook, a black queen,
a white pawn, a black knight, and a white bishop
Setup time About 1 minute
Casual games usually last 10 to 60 minutes;
tournament games last anywhere from about
ten minutes (blitz chess) to six hours or longer.
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with
64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. Each player begins the game with sixteen
pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. The
object of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king, whereby the king is under
immediate attack (in "check") and there is no way to remove or defend it from attack on
the next move. The game's present form emerged in Europe during the second half of the
15th century, an evolution of an older Indian game, Shatranj. Theoreticians have
developed extensive chess strategies and tactics since the game's inception. Computers
have been used for many years to create chess-playing programs, and their abilities and
insights have contributed significantly to modern chess theory. One, Deep Blue, was the
first machine to beat a reigning World Chess Champion when it defeated Garry Kasparov
Organized competitive chess began during the 16th century. The first official World
Chess Champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, claimed his title in 1886; the current World
Champion is Viswanathan Anand from India. In addition to the World Championship,
there is the Women's World Championship, the Junior World Championship, the World
Senior Championship, the Correspondence Chess World Championship, the World
Computer Chess Championship, and Blitz and Rapid World Championships. The Chess
Olympiad is a popular competition among teams from different nations. Online chess has
opened amateur and professional competition to a wide and varied group of players.
Chess is a recognized sport of the International Olympic Committee, and international
chess competition is sanctioned by the FIDE. Chess is one of the world's most popular
games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by
correspondence, and in tournaments. Some other popular forms of chess are fast chess
and computer chess. There are many chess variants that have different rules, different
pieces, and different boards. These variants include blindfold chess and Fischer Random
The official rules of chess are maintained by the World Chess Federation. Along with
information on official chess tournaments, the rules are described in the FIDE Handbook,
Laws of Chess section.
nearest to each player, and the pieces are set out as shown in the diagram, with each
queen on its own color.
The pieces are divided, by convention, into white and black sets. The players are referred
to as "White" and "Black," and each begins the game with sixteen pieces of the specified
color. These consist of one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and
White always moves first. After the initial move, the players alternately move one piece
at a time (with the exception of castling, when two pieces are moved). Pieces are moved
to either an unoccupied square or one occupied by an opponent's piece, which is captured
and removed from play. With the sole exception of en passant, all pieces capture
opponent's pieces by moving to the square that the opponent's piece occupies. A player
may not make any move that would put or leave his king under attack. If the player to
move has no legal moves, the game is over; it is either a checkmate—if the king is under
attack—or a stalemate—if the king is not.
Each chess piece has its own style of moving. In the diagrams, the dots mark the squares
where the piece can move if no other pieces (including one's own piece) are on the
squares between the piece's initial position and its destination.
• The king moves one square in any direction. The king has also a special move
which is called castling and involves also moving a rook.
• The rook can move any number of squares along any rank or file, but may not
leap over other pieces. Along with the king, the rook is involved during the king's
• The bishop can move any number of squares diagonally, but may not leap over
• The queen combines the power of the rook and bishop and can move any number
of squares along rank, file, or diagonal, but it may not leap over other pieces.
• The knight moves to any of the closest squares that are not on the same rank, file,
or diagonal, thus the move forms an "L"-shape two squares long and one square
wide. The knight is the only piece that can leap over other pieces.
• The pawn may move forward to the unoccupied square immediately in front of it
on the same file; or on its first move it may advance two squares along the same
file provided both squares are unoccupied; or it may move to a square occupied
by an opponent's piece which is diagonally in front of it on an adjacent file,
capturing that piece. The pawn has two special moves: the en passant capture and
Examples of castling
Once in every game, each king is allowed to make a special move, known as castling.
Castling consists of moving the king two squares along the first rank toward a rook
(which is on the player's first rank) and then placing the rook on the last square the king
has just crossed. Castling is permissible only if all of the following conditions hold:
• Neither of the pieces involved in castling may have been previously moved during
• There must be no pieces between the king and the rook.
• The king may not currently be in check, nor may the king pass through squares
that are under attack by enemy pieces, nor move to a square where it is in check.
Examples of pawn moves: promotion (left) and en passant (right)
When a pawn advances two squares and there is an opponent's pawn on an adjacent file
next to its destination square, then the opponent's pawn can capture it en passant (in
passing), and move to the square the pawn passed over. However, this can only be done
on the very next move, or the right to do so is lost. For example, if the black pawn has
just advanced two squares from g7 to g5, then the white pawn on f5 can take it via en
passant on g6 (but only on white's next move).
When a pawn advances to the eighth rank, as a part of the move it is promoted and must
be exchanged for the player's choice of queen, rook, bishop, or knight of the same color.
Usually, the pawn is chosen to be promoted to a queen, but in some cases another piece is
chosen; this is called underpromotion. In the diagram on the right, the pawn on c7 can be
advanced to the eighth rank and be promoted to an allowed piece. There is no restriction
placed on the piece that is chosen on promotion, so it is possible to have more pieces of
the same type than at the start of the game (for example, two queens).
When a king is under immediate attack by one or two of the opponent's pieces, it is said
to be in check. A response to a check is a legal move if it results in a position where the
king is no longer under direct attack (that is, not in check). This can involve capturing the
checking piece; interposing a piece between the checking piece and the king (which is
possible only if the attacking piece is a queen, rook, or bishop and there is a square
between it and the king); or moving the king to a square where it is not under attack.
Castling is not a permissible response to a check. The object of the game is to checkmate
the opponent; this occurs when the opponent's king is in check, and there is no legal way
to remove it from attack. It is illegal for a player to make a move that would put or leave
his own king in check.
End of the game
Although the objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent, chess games do not
have to end in checkmate—either player may resign if the situation looks hopeless. It is
considered bad etiquette to continue playing when in a truly hopeless position. If it is a
timed game, a player may run out of time and lose, even with a much superior position.
Games also may end in a draw (tie). A draw can occur in several situations, including
draw by agreement, stalemate, threefold repetition of a position, the fifty-move rule, or a
draw by impossibility of checkmate (usually because of insufficient material to
checkmate). As checkmate from some positions cannot be forced in fewer than 50 moves
(such as in the pawnless chess endgame and two knights endgame), the fifty-move rule is
not applied everywhere, particularly in correspondence chess.
A modern digital chess clock
Besides casual games without any time restriction, chess is also played with a time
control, mostly by club and professional players. If a player's time runs out before the
game is completed, the game is automatically lost (provided his opponent has enough
pieces left to deliver checkmate). The duration of a game ranges from long games played
up to seven hours to shorter rapid chess games, usually lasting 30 minutes or one hour per
game. Even shorter is blitz chess, with a time control of three to fifteen minutes for each
player, and bullet chess (under three minutes). In tournament play, time is controlled
using a game clock that has two displays, one for each player's remaining time.
Notation for recording moves
Naming the squares in algebraic chess notation
Chess games and positions are recorded using a special notation, most often algebraic
chess notation. Abbreviated (or short) algebraic notation generally records moves in the
format "abbreviation of the piece moved – file where it moved – rank where it moved."
For example, Qg5 means "queen moves to the g-file and 5th rank (that is, to the square
g5). If there are two pieces of the same type that can move to the same square, one more
letter or number is added to indicate the file or rank from which the piece moved, e.g.
Ngf3 means "knight from the g-file moves to the square f3". The letter P indicating a
pawn is not used, so that e4 means "pawn moves to the square e4".
If the piece makes a capture, "x" is inserted before the destination square. Thus Bxf3
means "bishop captures on f3". When a pawn makes a capture, the file from which the
pawn departed is used in place of a piece initial, and ranks may be omitted if
unambiguous. For example, exd5 (pawn on the e-file captures the piece on d5) or exd
(pawn on e-file captures something on the d-file).
If a pawn moves to its last rank, achieving promotion, the piece chosen is indicated after
the move, for example e1Q or e1=Q. Castling is indicated by the special notations 0–0
for kingside castling and 0–0–0 for queenside castling. A move that places the opponent's
king in check usually has the notation "+" added. Checkmate can be indicated by "#"
(occasionally "++", although this is sometimes used for a double check instead). At the
end of the game, "1–0" means "White won," "0–1" means "Black won," and "½–½"
indicates a draw.
Chess moves can be annotated with punctuation marks and other symbols. For example
"!" indicates a good move, "!!" an excellent move, "?" a mistake, "??" a blunder, "!?" an
interesting move that may not be best, or "?!" a dubious move, but not easily refuted.
For example, one variant of a simple trap known as the Scholar's mate, animated in the
picture to the right, can be recorded:
exchange), and queens about nine points. The king is more valuable than all of the other
pieces combined, since its checkmate loses the game. But in practical terms, in the
endgame the king as a fighting piece is generally more powerful than a bishop or knight
but less powerful than a rook. These basic values are then modified by other factors like
position of the piece (for example, advanced pawns are usually more valuable than those
on their initial squares), coordination between pieces (for example, a pair of bishops
usually coordinate better than a bishop and a knight), or the type of position (knights are
generally better in closed positions with many pawns while bishops are more powerful in
Another important factor in the evaluation of chess positions is the pawn structure
(sometimes known as the pawn skeleton), or the configuration of pawns on the
chessboard. Since pawns are the least mobile of the chess pieces, the pawn structure is
relatively static and largely determines the strategic nature of the position. Weaknesses in
the pawn structure, such as isolated, doubled, or backward pawns and holes, once created,
are often permanent. Care must therefore be taken to avoid these weaknesses unless they
are compensated by another valuable asset (for example, by the possibility of developing
A chess opening is the group of initial moves of a game (the "opening moves").
Recognized sequences of opening moves are referred to as openings and have been given
names such as the Ruy Lopez or Sicilian Defence. They are catalogued in reference
works such as the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. There are dozens of different
openings, varying widely in character from quiet positional play (for example, the Réti
Opening) to very aggressive (the Latvian Gambit). In some opening lines, the exact
sequence considered best for both sides has been worked out to more than 30 moves.
Professional players spend years studying openings and continue doing so throughout
their careers, as opening theory continues to evolve.
The fundamental strategic aims of most openings are similar:
• Development: This is the technique of placing the pieces (particularly bishops and
knights) on useful squares where they will have an optimal impact on the game.
• Control of the center: Control of the central squares allows pieces to be moved to
any part of the board relatively easily, and can also have a cramping effect on the
• King safety: It is critical to keep the king safe from dangerous possibilities. A
correctly timed castling can often enhance this.
• Pawn structure: Players strive to avoid the creation of pawn weaknesses such as
isolated, doubled, or backward pawns, and pawn islands – and to force such
weaknesses in the opponent's position.
Most players and theoreticians consider that White, by virtue of the first move, begins the
game with a small advantage. This initially gives White the initiative. Black usually
The endgame (or end game or ending) is the stage of the game when there are few pieces
left on the board. There are three main strategic differences between earlier stages of the
game and endgame:
• During the endgame, pawns become more important; endgames often revolve
around attempting to promote a pawn by advancing it to the eighth rank.
• The king, which has to be protected in the middlegame owing to the threat of
checkmate, becomes a strong piece in the endgame. It is often brought to the
center of the board where it can protect its own pawns, attack the pawns of
opposite color, and hinder movement of the opponent's king.
• Zugzwang, a disadvantage because the player has to make a move, is often a
factor in endgames but rarely in other stages of the game. For example, the
diagram on the right is zugzwang for both sides, as with Black to move he must
play 1...Kb7 and let White promote a pawn after 2.Kd7; and with White to move
he must allow a draw by 1.Kc6 stalemate or lose his last pawn by any other legal
Endgames can be classified according to the type of pieces that remain on board. Basic
checkmates are positions in which one side has only a king and the other side has one or
two pieces and can checkmate the opposing king, with the pieces working together with
their king. For example, king and pawn endgames involve only kings and pawns on one
or both sides and the task of the stronger side is to promote one of the pawns. Other more
complicated endings are classified according to the pieces on board other than kings, such
as the "rook and pawn versus rook endgame".
Knights Templar playing chess, Libro de los juegos, 1283
Iranian chess set, glazed fritware, 12th century, New York Metropolitan Museum of Art
Chess is commonly believed to have originated in northwest India during the Gupta
empire, where its early form in the 6th century was known as caturaṅga (Sanskrit:
The earliest evidence of chess is found in the neighboring Sassanid Persia around 600,
where the game came to be known under the name chatrang. Chatrang is evoked inside
three epic romances written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian). Chatrang was taken up by the
Muslim world after the Islamic conquest of Persia (633–644), where it was then named
shatranj, with the pieces largely retaining their Persian names. In Spanish "shatranj" was
rendered as ajedrez ("al-shatranj"), in Portuguese as xadrez, and in Greek as zatrikion
(which comes directly from the Persian chatrang), but in the rest of Europe it was
replaced by versions of the Persian shāh ("king"), which was familiar as an exclamation
and became the English words "check" and "chess". Murray theorized that Muslim
traders came to European seaports with ornamental chess kings as curios before they
brought the game of chess.
The game reached Western Europe and Russia by at least three routes, the earliest being
in the 9th century. By the year 1000 it had spread throughout Europe. Introduced into the
Iberian Peninsula by the Moors in the 10th century, it was described in a famous 13th-
century manuscript covering shatranj, backgammon, and dice named the Libro de los
juegos. Another theory contends that chess arose from the game xiangqi (Chinese Chess)
or one of its predecessors, although this has been contested.
Origins of the modern game (1000–1850)
A tactical puzzle from Lucena's 1497 book
Around 1200, the rules of shatranj started to be modified in southern Europe, and around
1475, several major changes made the game essentially as it is known today. These
modern rules for the basic moves had been adopted in Italy and Spain. Pawns gained the
option of advancing two squares on their first move, while bishops and queens acquired
their modern abilities. The queen replaced the earlier vizier chess piece towards the end
of the 10th century and by the 15th century had become the most powerful piece;
consequently modern chess was referred to as "Queen's Chess" or "Mad Queen Chess".
These new rules quickly spread throughout western Europe. The rules about stalemate
were finalized in the early 19th century. To distinguish it from its predecessors, this
version of the rules is sometimes referred to as western chess or international chess.
Writings about the theory of how to play chess began to appear in the 15th century. The
Repetición de Amores y Arte de Ajedrez (Repetition of Love and the Art of Playing Chess)
by Spanish churchman Luis Ramirez de Lucena was published in Salamanca in 1497.
Lucena and later masters like Portuguese Pedro Damiano, Italians Giovanni Leonardo Di
Bona, Giulio Cesare Polerio and Gioachino Greco, and Spanish bishop Ruy López de
Segura developed elements of openings and started to analyze simple endgames.
François-André Danican Philidor, 18th-century French chess master
In the 18th century, the center of European chess life moved from the Southern European
countries to France. The two most important French masters were François-André
Danican Philidor, a musician by profession, who discovered the importance of pawns for
chess strategy, and later Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais, who won a famous
series of matches with the Irish master Alexander McDonnell in 1834. Centers of chess
activity in this period were coffee houses in big European cities like Café de la Régence
in Paris and Simpson's Divan in London.
As the 19th century progressed, chess organization developed quickly. Many chess clubs,
chess books, and chess journals appeared. There were correspondence matches between
cities; for example, the London Chess Club played against the Edinburgh Chess Club in
1824. Chess problems became a regular part of 19th-century newspapers; Bernhard
Horwitz, Josef Kling, and Samuel Loyd composed some of the most influential problems.
In 1843, von der Lasa published his and Bilguer's Handbuch des Schachspiels (Handbook
of Chess), the first comprehensive manual of chess theory.
Birth of a sport (1850–1945)
The "Immortal Game", Anderssen-Kieseritzky, 1851
The first modern chess tournament was held in London in 1851 and was won by German
Adolf Anderssen, relatively unknown at the time. Anderssen was hailed as the leading
chess master and his brilliant, energetic attacking style became typical for the time,
although it was later regarded as strategically shallow. Sparkling games like Anderssen's
Immortal game and Evergreen game or Morphy's Opera game were regarded as the
highest possible summit of the chess art.
Deeper insight into the nature of chess came with two younger players. American Paul
Morphy, an extraordinary chess prodigy, won against all important competitors (except
Howard Staunton, who refused to play), including Anderssen, during his short chess
career between 1857 and 1863. Morphy's success stemmed from a combination of
brilliant attacks and sound strategy; he intuitively knew how to prepare attacks. Prague-
born Wilhelm Steinitz later described how to avoid weaknesses in one's own position and
how to create and exploit such weaknesses in the opponent's position. The scientific
approach and positional understanding of Steinitz revolutionized the game. Steinitz was
the first to break a position down into its components. Before Steinitz, players brought
their queen out early, did not completely develop their other pieces, and mounted a quick
attack on the opposing king, which either succeeded or failed. The level of defense was
poor and players did not form any deep plan. In addition to his theoretical achievements,
Steinitz founded an important tradition: his triumph over the leading German master
Johannes Zukertort in 1886 is regarded as the first official World Chess Championship.
Steinitz lost his crown in 1894 to a much younger player, the German mathematician
Emanuel Lasker, who maintained this title for 27 years, the longest tenure of all World
It took a prodigy from Cuba, José Raúl Capablanca (World Champion 1921–27), who
loved simple positions and endgames, to end the German-speaking dominance in chess;
he was undefeated in tournament play for eight years, until 1924. His successor was
Russian-French Alexander Alekhine, a strong attacking player who died as the World
champion in 1946. He briefly lost the title to Dutch player Max Euwe in 1935 and
regained it two years later.
Between the world wars, chess was revolutionized by the new theoretical school of so-
called hypermodernists like Aron Nimzowitsch and Richard Réti. They advocated
controlling the center of the board with distant pieces rather than with pawns, which
invited opponents to occupy the center with pawns, which become objects of attack.
After the end of the 19th century, the number of master tournaments and matches held
annually quickly grew. Some sources state that in 1914 the title of chess grandmaster was
first formally conferred by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine,
Tarrasch, and Marshall, but this is a disputed claim. The tradition of awarding such titles
was continued by the World Chess Federation (FIDE), founded in 1924 in Paris. In 1927,
the Women's World Chess Championship was established; the first to hold the title was
Czech-English master Vera Menchik.
Post-war era (1945 and later)
After the death of Alekhine, a new World Champion was sought. FIDE, who have
controlled the title since then (except for one interruption), ran a tournament of elite
players. The winner of the 1948 tournament, Russian Mikhail Botvinnik, started an era of
Soviet dominance in the chess world. Until the end of the Soviet Union, there was only
one non-Soviet champion, American Bobby Fischer (champion 1972–1975). Botvinnik
revolutionized opening theory. Previously Black strove for equality, to neutralize White's
first-move advantage. As Black, Botvinnik strove for the initiative from the beginning. In
the previous informal system of World Championships, the current champion decided
which challenger he would play for the title and the challenger was forced to seek
sponsors for the match. FIDE set up a new system of qualifying tournaments and
matches. The world's strongest players were seeded into Interzonal tournaments, where
they were joined by players who had qualified from Zonal tournaments. The leading
finishers in these Interzonals would go on the "Candidates" stage, which was initially a
tournament, and later a series of knock-out matches. The winner of the Candidates would
then play the reigning champion for the title. A champion defeated in a match had a right
to play a rematch a year later. This system operated on a three-year cycle. Botvinnik
participated in championship matches over a period of fifteen years. He won the world
championship tournament in 1948 and retained the title in tied matches in 1951 and 1954.
In 1957, he lost to Vasily Smyslov, but regained the title in a rematch in 1958. In 1960,
he lost the title to the 23-year-old Latvian prodigy Mikhail Tal, an accomplished tactician
and attacking player. Botvinnik again regained the title in a rematch in 1961.
Following the 1961 event, FIDE abolished the automatic right of a deposed champion to
a rematch, and the next champion, Armenian Tigran Petrosian, a genius of defense and a
strong positional player, held the title for two cycles, 1963–1969. His successor, Boris
Spassky from Russia (champion 1969–1972), was able to win in both positional and
sharp tactical style. The next championship, the so-called Match of the Century, saw the
first non-Soviet challenger since World War II, American Bobby Fischer, who defeated
his Candidates opponents by unheard-of margins and clearly won the world
championship match. In 1975, however, Fischer refused to defend his title against Soviet
Anatoly Karpov when FIDE refused to meet his demands, and Karpov obtained the title
by default. Fischer modernized many aspects of chess, especially by extensively
Karpov defended his title twice against Viktor Korchnoi and dominated the 1970s and
early 1980s with a string of tournament successes. Karpov's reign finally ended in 1985 at
the hands of another Soviet player from Baku, Azerbaijan, Garry Kasparov. Kasparov
and Karpov contested five world title matches between 1984 and 1990; Karpov never
won his title back. In 1993, Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short broke with FIDE to organize
their own match for the title and formed a competing Professional Chess Association
(PCA). From then until 2006, there were two simultaneous World Champions and World
Championships: the PCA or Classical champion extending the Steinitzian tradition in
which the current champion plays a challenger in a series of many games, and the other
following FIDE's new format of many players competing in a tournament to determine
the champion. Kasparov lost his Classical title in 2000 to Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.
The World Chess Championship 2006 reunified the titles. Kramnik beat the FIDE World
Champion Veselin Topalov and became the undisputed World Chess Champion. In
September 2007, he lost the title to Viswanathan Anand of India, who won the
championship tournament in Mexico City. Anand defended his title in the revenge match
Place in culture
Noble chess players, Germany, c. 1320
In the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, chess was a part of noble culture; it was
used to teach war strategy and was dubbed the "King's Game". Gentlemen are "to be
meanly seene in the play at Chestes", says the overview at the beginning of Baldassare
Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier (1528, English 1561 by Sir Thomas Hoby), but
chess should not be a gentleman's main passion. Castiglione explains it further:
And what say you to the game at chestes? It is truely an honest kynde of enterteynmente
and wittie, quoth Syr Friderick. But me think it hath a fault, whiche is, that a man may be
to couning at it, for who ever will be excellent in the playe of chestes, I beleave he must
beestowe much tyme about it, and applie it with so much study, that a man may assoone
learne some noble scyence, or compase any other matter of importaunce, and yet in the
ende in beestowing all that laboure, he knoweth no more but a game. Therfore in this I
beleave there happeneth a very rare thing, namely, that the meane is more commendable,
then the excellency.
Two kings and two queens from the Lewis chessmen at the British Museum
Many of the elaborate chess sets used by the aristocracy have been lost, but others
partially survive, such as the Lewis chessmen.
Chess was often used as a basis of sermons on morality. An example is Liber de moribus
hominum et officiis nobilium sive super ludo scacchorum ('Book of the customs of men
and the duties of nobles or the Book of Chess'), written by an Italian Dominican monk
Jacobus de Cessolis circa 1300. This book was one of the most popular of the Middle
Ages. The work was translated into many other languages (the first printed edition was
published at Utrecht in 1473) and was the basis for William Caxton's The Game and
Playe of the Chesse (1474), one of the first books printed in English. Different chess
pieces were used as metaphors for different classes of people, and human duties were
derived from the rules of the game or from visual properties of the chess pieces:
The knyght ought to be made alle armed upon an hors in suche wyse that he haue an
helme on his heed and a spere in his ryght hande/ and coueryd wyth his sheld/ a swerde
and a mace on his lyft syde/ Cladd wyth an hawberk and plates to fore his breste/ legge
harnoys on his legges/ Spores on his heelis on his handes his gauntelettes/ his hors well
broken and taught and apte to bataylle and couerid with his armes/ whan the knyghtes
ben maad they ben bayned or bathed/ that is the signe that they shold lede a newe lyf and
newe maners/ also they wake alle the nyght in prayers and orysons vnto god that he wylle
gyue hem grace that they may gete that thynge that they may not gete by nature/ The
kynge or prynce gyrdeth a boute them a swerde in signe/ that they shold abyde and kepe
hym of whom they take theyr dispenses and dignyte.
Known in the circles of clerics, students, and merchants, chess entered into the popular
culture of Middle Ages. An example is the 209th song of Carmina Burana from the 13th
century, which starts with the names of chess pieces, Roch, pedites, regina...
During the Age of Enlightenment, chess was viewed as a means of self-improvement.
Benjamin Franklin, in his article "The Morals of Chess" (1750), wrote:
"The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of
the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so
as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have
often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is
a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or
the want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn: I. Foresight, which looks a little
into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action [...] II.
Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action: – the relation
of the several Pieces, and their situations [...] III. Caution, not to make our moves too
Through the Looking-Glass: the Red King is snoring. Illustration by John Tenniel
With these or similar hopes, chess is taught to children in schools around the world today.
Many schools host chess clubs, and there are many scholastic tournaments specifically
for children. Tournaments are held regularly in many countries, hosted by organizations
such as the United States Chess Federation and the National Scholastic Chess
A Large sized Chess game is made available on a seasonal basis inside the Enoch Pratt
Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland
Chess is often depicted in the arts; significant works where chess plays a key role range
from Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chess to Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis
Carroll to The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig and Vladimir Nabokov's The Defense. The
thriller film Knight Moves is about a chess grandmaster who is accused of being a serial
killer. Chess is featured in films like Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal and Satyajit
Ray's The Chess Players.
Chess is also present in the contemporary popular culture. For example, J. K. Rowling's
Harry Potter plays "Wizard's Chess", while the characters of Star Trek prefer "Tri-
Dimensional Chess". The hero of Searching for Bobby Fischer struggles against adopting
the aggressive and misanthropic views of a real chess grandmaster. Chess has been used
as the core theme of a musical, Chess, by Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus, and Benny
Approximately 600 million people worldwide know how to play chess.
Chess composition is the art of creating chess problems (the problems themselves are
sometimes also called chess compositions). A person who creates such problems is
a member of FIDE. FIDE is a member of the International Olympic Committee, but the
game of chess has never been part of the Olympic Games; chess does have its own
Olympiad, held every two years as a team event.
The current World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand (left) playing chess against his
predecessor Vladimir Kramnik
The current World Chess Champion is Viswanathan Anand of India. The reigning
Women's World Champion is Hou Yifan from China. The world's highest rated female
player, Judit Polgár, has never participated in the Women's World Chess Championship,
instead preferring to compete with the leading men and maintaining a ranking among the
top male players.
Other competitions for individuals include the World Junior Chess Championship, the
European Individual Chess Championship, and the National Chess Championships.
Invitation-only tournaments regularly attract the world's strongest players. Examples
include Spain's Linares event, Monte Carlo's Melody Amber tournament, the Dortmund
Sparkassen meeting, Sofia's M-tel Masters, and Wijk aan Zee's Corus tournament.
Regular team chess events include the Chess Olympiad and the European Team
Championship. The 38th Chess Olympiad was held 2008 in Dresden, Germany; Armenia
won the gold in the unrestricted event for the second time in a row after Turin 2006, and
Georgia took the top medal for the women. The World Chess Solving Championship and
World Correspondence Chess Championships include both team and individual events.
Besides these prestigious competitions, there are thousands of other chess tournaments,
matches, and festivals held around the world every year catering to players of all levels.
Chess is promoted as a "mind sport" by the Mind Sports Organisation, alongside other
mental-skill games such as Contract Bridge, Go, and Scrabble.
Titles and rankings
Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion
The best players can be awarded specific lifetime titles by the world chess organization
• Grandmaster (shortened as GM; sometimes International Grandmaster or IGM is
used) is awarded to world-class chess masters. Apart from World Champion,
Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain. Before FIDE will confer
the title on a player, the player must have an Elo chess rating (see below) of at
least 2500 at one time and three favorable results (called norms) in tournaments
involving other Grandmasters, including some from countries other than the
applicant's. There are other milestones a player can achieve to attain the title, such
as winning the World Junior Championship.
• International Master (shortened as IM). The conditions are similar to GM, but
less demanding. The minimum rating for the IM title is 2400.
• FIDE Master (shortened as FM). The usual way for a player to qualify for the
FIDE Master title is by achieving a FIDE rating of 2300 or more.
• Candidate Master (shortened as CM). Similar to FM, but with a FIDE rating of at
All the titles are open to men and women. Separate women-only titles, such as Woman
Grandmaster (WGM), are available. Beginning with Nona Gaprindashvili in 1978, a
number of women have earned the GM title, and most of the top ten women in 2006 hold
the unrestricted GM title.
International titles are awarded to composers and solvers of chess problems and to
correspondence chess players (by the International Correspondence Chess Federation).
National chess organizations may also award titles, usually to the advanced players still
under the level needed for international titles; an example is the Chess expert title used in
the United States.
In order to rank players, FIDE, ICCF, and national chess organizations use the Elo rating
system developed by Arpad Elo. Elo is a statistical system based on the assumption that
the chess performance of each player in their games is a random variable. Arpad Elo
thought of a player's true skill as the average of that player's performance random
variable, and showed how to estimate the average from results of player's games. The US
Chess Federation implemented Elo's suggestions in 1960, and the system quickly gained
recognition as being both fairer and more accurate than older systems; it was adopted by
FIDE in 1970. The highest ever FIDE rating was 2851, which Garry Kasparov had on the
July 1999 and January 2000 lists. In the most recent list (July 2010), the highest rated
player is Magnus Carlsen of Norway, with a rating of 2826.
How to Play Chess
Chess is a very popular game and is widely accepted as one of the oldest games still
played. Although it has a set of easily comprehensible rules, it requires a lot of practice to
win against skilled opponents. This is because chess is a strongly strategy and tactically
oriented game, without the amount of luck found in card or dice games. However, given
that chess is still a game involving at least one human, blunders (mistakes in
thinking/planning) do occur. Even so, chess is still a very fun game to play.
Each player has control of one of two sets of colored pieces, referred to by the nominal
color of their respective pieces, i.e., White or Black. White moves first and the players
alternate turns, moving one piece per turn. To win, a player must use his pieces to create
a situation where the opponent's King is unable to avoid capture (a condition known as
checkmate). Making a move is compulsory; it is not legal to "pass", even when having to
move is detrimental. Play continues until a King is checkmated or a stalemate occurs.
Pieces and Moves
Each piece has a specific name, abbreviation in chess notation, and move set.
1. Rook (castle) - R - starts on a1, h1, a8, h8
o Rooks may move any number of vacant squares vertically or horizontally.
If an opponents piece blocks the path, that piece may be captured by
moving the rook into the occupied square.
Rook's Possible Moves
2. Bishop - B - starts on c1, f1, c8, f8
o Bishops may move any number of vacant squares in any diagonal
direction. Like rooks, they may capture an opponents piece within its path.
Bishop's Possible Moves
3. Queen - Q - starts on d1, d8
o Queens can be thought of as the rook and bishop combined. Queens can
move any number of vacant squares diagonally, horizontally, or vertically.
Attacking with a queen is the same as with rooks and bishops, taking an
opponents piece that lies within its path.
Queen's Possible Moves
4. King - K - starts on e1, e8
o Kings can move exactly one space in any direction and can attack any
piece except the opponent's king and queen (it cannot go near it or else it
would result in check).
King's Possible Moves
o Castling is used to get your king out of the center early in the game, where
it is most vulnerable. To castle, you move your king 2 squares to the left
or right, and your rook at the corner square jumps over the king. You
cannot castle if:
There are pieces between the king and rook.
The king is in check, or it will have to go through check or into
check to castle.
The king or rook has already moved in the game.
The rook is not on the same rank as the king (prevents castling
with a promoted pawn).
5. Knight (horse) - N (Kt for older texts) - starts on b1, g1, b8, g8
o Knights are the only pieces that can jump over other pieces. They move to
the nearest square not on the same rank, file, or diagonal, i.e. two squares
horizontally or vertically and then one square perpendicular to that in an
"L" shaped pattern. For example, a knight may move two spaces
horizontally and one space vertically, and vice versa. The knight cannot be
blocked, and only captures pieces that it lands on. In other words, you can
"jump" over all the pieces blocking the knight, and capture a piece as you
Knight's Possible Moves
6. Pawn - P
o The Pawn is the most complex of all the pieces. They normally only move
forward one space with the exception of the first time it is moved, when it
may move forward one or two spaces. If another piece is in front of the it,
the pawn may not move or capture that piece. Pawns may only attack a
target if the target is one space diagonally forward from the pawn. i.e. Up
one square and one square to the right or left.
The white pawns can move to the squares marked with "X" in front of
them. The pawn on the c6 square can also capture either black rook.
o En passant (from French: "in [the pawn's] passing" is a special capture
made immediately after a player moves a pawn two squares forward from
its starting position, and an opposing pawn could have captured it if it had
only moved one square forward. In this situation, the opposing pawn may,
on the immediately subsequent move, capture the pawn as if taking it "as
it passes" through the first square; the resulting position would then be the
same as if the pawn had only moved one square forward and the opposing
pawn had captured normally. En passant must be done on the very next
turn, or the right to do so is lost.
o Promotion. If a pawn reaches the 8th rank (or 1st rank if you are black), it
can be promoted to a Knight, Bishop, Rook, or Queen. It cannot stay as a
pawn or be promoted to another king. To indicate pawn promotion in
chess notation, write the square that it moves to (i.e. C8). Then you put an
equals sign (i.e. C8=). Then put the abbreviation for the piece that you
want it to promote it to (i.e. C8=R)
1. Set up the chess board.
2. Start the Game. The player with white pieces begins the game by moving one
piece as described above. Turn then passes to black.
3. Continue play with each player moving one piece per turn until the game
ends. Making a move is compulsory; it is not legal to "pass", even when having to
move is detrimental. Play continues until a King is checkmated or a stalemate
4. Capture an opponent's piece by moving a piece into an occupied square. The
captured piece is then removed from the board and does not return for the
remainder of the game.
5. End the game.
1. Check and checkmate:
A player is in check when their king at risk of being captured the
next turn. The player in check must get his king out of check on
their next turn as a first priority. Do one of the following to get out
Take the piece threatening your king. You can do this with
another piece or take it with your king directly (if the piece
is not protected).
Move your king out of the range of the attacking piece.
Block the piece threatening your king with another piece
(this does not apply for enemy knights for they cannot be
If you cannot get your king out of check, this is a checkmate and
the game ends with your opponent winning.
You can not put yourself into check. In other words, you cannot
make a move that exposes your king to capture on the next turn.
This means you cannot move your king into an area an opponent's
piece can move to in 1 turn (except pawns which do not capture
through regular movement), and you cannot move a piece blocking
the king from an opponent's piece that could capture the king the
2. Stalemate. A stalemate is a special case where a player does not have any
legal moves, but is not in check. A stalemate is a draw.
The Fifty-Move rule is a special case where each player has made
fifty moves without a pawn move or capture. This is a draw.
Three times repetition of position is a special case where a certain
position has been achieved three times. This is a draw.
3. Resign. Either player can resign at any time and accept a loss.
• The best, and really only, way to learn and improve your game is to play. Against
others, or even against yourself.
• Practice everyday so that you can get better and remember all of the stuff.
How to Calculate Chess Tactics
Chess demands concentration
Are you able to think three moves ahead in chess? It's harder than it sounds, but you can
learn to do it. Once you learn this visualization exercise, you will realize you can
calculate much further than you ever thought you could, and you won't settle for less the
next time you play chess!
Here both the white pawns have moved to the fourth rank. This could be a real
position if the knight moved out and then moved back.
Set out a chessboard. Be sure to use a set that has algebraic notation on it:
Algebraic notation is a way for you to read the moves and then play them on the
board for each side so you can follow a game and study what each side has
played, and analyze the moves.
o Across the bottom will be the letters from "a" to "h." the letters will not be
capitalized. There will be numbers going up the sides from "1" to "8."
o Each square has an address. The first square on the board is "a1."
o To represent a move, start with the first letter of the piece, capitalized,
then write the square you moved it to. If two different pieces that start
with the same letter can move to the same square, then include the square
the piece originated from.
o Each piece starts with the first letter of its name, except for the knight,
which starts with a capital "N." If it is a pawn, then just write the name of
the square it moves to with no capital letter. Castling is written 0-0 for
kingside castling and 0-0-0 for queenside.
o There is more to explain about how to read a chess game, but for now, just
follow the directions to get to a certain position where the visual exercise
2. Play the following moves, moving for each side. 1.e4 is a white move. 1.e5 is a
black move. In a scoresheet it looks like this: 1. e4 e5.
o Next play 2.Bc4 Qf6.
o Next 3.Nf3 Qg6. 4. Nc3 Qxg2. When there is a small letter x, it means
capture. So the Queen has captured the pawn on g2.
3. Begin the exercise. Though you will be calculating white's move, you will be
visualizing for both sides.
4. Analyze what has happened first. The queen has taken a pawn. It's not good to
lose pieces or pawns willy-nilly, but it's also not generally a good idea to move
the same piece twice in the opening, nor to move the queen out first, as she is
such a powerful piece that she becomes a target and can get trapped. Greed can
also get you into trouble, especially if you go attacking before your pieces are
developed. Also there is a saying, "Loose pieces fall off, meaning that pieces that
are not protected can become targets of fancy tactics. So knowing these things,
let's see if you can find a way to punish black.
5. Calculate. Find five candidate moves. Go down the branch of just one of them.
This is what it means to calculate three moves ahead. You don't just pick one
move and follow it. You pick as many as you can, and then analyze each one,
finding the best possible moves for your opponent as you can, and seeing if you
have a good response to it. There is a rule among strong chess players that says
"Look at all checks and captures." There is a move here that satisfies both. Look
for a moment at the board and see if you can figure out what it is, and then go on
to the next step. But first look for it.
6. Start to visualize. Did you you find Bxf7? That's the one. So now comes the
visualization part. Don't touch the pieces - do this in your mind.
o Visualize what the board is going to look like after you play Bxf7.
o While visualizing the piece there, ask "what are all of black's options for
getting out of check?". How many are there? That's right, there are three:
The king can capture the bishop on f7, or he can move to where the queen
used to be, on d8, or he can move forward one square to e7.
o Visualize the king capturing the piece on f7. See in your mind the new
position after these two moves have been made. Hold the image in your
mind as clearly as you can.
o Next ask what white can do from here. What moves can white make in
this new position where black's king is on the f7 square? Name several
possible moves, and look for one that checks because you always want to
look at all checks and captures first. See anything good? You could check
by Ng5 but there is a problem with that. The queen is guarding that square
and will capture. So how can you move the queen away. How about put
the rook on the g-file? Visualize the Rook moving to g1. Now where can
the queen go? Only one square. Visualize the queen moving to h3. Now
you can check with the knight. Notice anything else about Ng5? That's
right, it's a fork. You win the queen. So you sacrificed the bishop to win
the queen. Not bad.
o Do you see any better moves for the black queen? No. Probably just to
take the rook on g1 to get as much as he can out of it. Can you reverse the
order of these moves so he can't do that? How about instead of Bxf7 first
you do that second, after chasing the queen to h3. Now you can get the
queen with a minimum of losses. Of course, you also may have tipped off
your opponent to your plans by chasing his queen to the forking square.
7. Keep practicing. After trying this exercise, you will have visualized three moves
ahead for one move. In a real game, aim to analyze more than one move. Go
through this process for each of the moves that you are considering. The further
you are able to go, and the more vividly and accurately you are able to visualize
the positions two or three, or even four moves ahead, the better chess player you
• Look at all checks and captures.
• Try to see tricky plans for your opponent, so you can prevent them in time.
• Loose pieces fall off, so when a piece is unguarded, be aware of possible tactics
that might occur.
• Don't go for "cheapos." A cheapo is a trick that only works if your opponent
makes the worst move. Always assume your opponent sees your trap, and if your
plan fails, and it makes your position worse, you can lose the game. Only go for
cheap tricks if they improve, not worsen your position.
Things You'll Need
• A chessboard with algebraic notation
How to Become a Better Chess Player
Anyone can try their hand at a chess game, but it takes a bit more work to become a good
chess player. Read on to learn how to develop your chess skills.
1. Learn how to play. You can't get good if you can't move a piece correctly.
2. Join a local chess club. Be social and free with chess. Don't make yourself feel
good by playing people that clearly are worse than you. If you have to to make
yourself feel better after a loss, chess is not the game for you.
3. Always develop bishops and knights. Pawns are overused and overextended,
and often the developing pieces don't get developed. Then, your opponent will
usually put a bishop through your pawn structure.
4. Understand how you play. There are two main ways that people play. Some
have a strong defense, and aggressive people that use this style can be incredibly
deadly. The other type capitalize. They instantly seize hold of any mistake that
their opponent makes, developing quickly and leaving with an open position.
Neither is the better, although the main population are more sturdy that
5. Enter your first tournament. Go there feeling like you are going to kick butt in
this series of games. Forget the rating. Forget the scores. Just get out there and
play the best you can, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
6. Get a rival. Find someone that is better than you and "compete" against them.
Play them. Go to the tournaments that they do. Slowly get used to their playing
style and use it against them and other people. Don't think of this "rival" as
someone to do better than. Don't beat yourself up if you lose. Play them again.
And again. And again. Do this until you have learned their style and how to
7. Study your favorite GM (grandmaster). Study, play, study, play. Learn how to
use their techniques, and how to counter them.
8. Learn the basic endgame rules. End game Strategy, "If ahead in material,
exchange pieces not pawns. If behind in material, exchange pawns and you can
force a draw.”
o Without pawns you must be at least a rook up to force mate, the only
exception to this is that two knights and a king cannot force mate against a
o The king is a powerful piece, use it to block and attack pawns.
o Bishops of opposite colors draw most of the time because neither side can
advance pawns without losing them. A rook pawn and bishop only draw
against a black king if the bishop is the opposite color as the queening
o Bishops are worth more than knights in all but locked pawn positions.
o Pawns and Bishops become more valuable as the game proceeds so play to
o Many games with all the pawns on one side of the board end in a draw.
90% of master games end in a draw where all the pawns are on one side of
the board because the master with the less pawns will exchange pawns and
then sacrifice a knight or bishop for the last of the pawns. If you are left
with just a Bishop or Knight you cannot force mate.
o Rook and Knight or Rook and Bishop many times can only draw against a
o In Queen endings, he who moves the Queen to the center first dominates
9. Powerful Pawn Structures are:
o An "Outside Pawn" lures the opponent’s king to other side, enabling you
to gobble the rest of his pawns or advance your pawns on the other side of
o A "Passed Pawn" is not obstructed by another pawn and should be pushed.
Nimzovitch said, "Passed Pawns must be pushed".
o A "Protected Passed Pawn" is a passed pawn that is protected by another
pawn. A Protected Passed Pawn forces the opponent to constantly defend
against an advance.
10. Weak Pawn Structures are:
o Doubled pawns cannot defend each other and are subject to attack.
o Isolated pawns are weak and must be defended by a piece.
o Backward pawns on open files are extremely weak and subject to attack
o A King with the opposition can draw against a King with a Pawn.
o A Rook on the seventh rank is worth sacrificing a pawn.
o Zugzwang is where if your opponent moves he loses, and is common in
o Rook and Pawn endings are the most complicated so avoid them.
o A Queen can win against 9 pawns if the pawns are not advanced.
• Always make eye contact. If anyone sees you look away, they think you are
nervous and press the attack.
• If you confuse your opponent with your facial expression, it screws them up.
Don't make noises, just fake it.
• A good poker face works in Chess, too.
How to Play Siamese Chess
Ever wanted to play chess with your friends, but felt limited by the fact that you could
only play one person at a time? Siamese chess is a variant of chess with four players,
commonly known as "bughouse", (a slang term for "mental hospital"), because it's often
played at a fast time control and looks "crazy" to spectators.
This game is not related to the variant of chess played in Siam (now Thailand), which is
1. Divide the players into two teams. Try to divide the stronger players evenly.
2. Sit each team across the table from the other. Have the stronger players on
each team sit across from each other, and the weaker players face each other as
3. Place a chessboard between each opposing pair of players. Remember that the
bottom right square should be white, like in a normal chess game.
4. Set up the boards as in normal chess. You and the teammate next to you play
different colors: if you're playing as black, he or she will be white, and vice versa.
5. Start your clocks. Place the clocks on the outsides so that all players can see
them. The players with black pieces typically start their clocks simultaneously. A
move is completed only when the clock is pressed.
6. Begin play as if it were a normal game. However, when you take an opponent's
piece, you hand it to your teammate.
Place the pieces you receive from your teammate in reserve, or use your turn
to put it on the board. You can place a piece anywhere on the board, unless it
would put your opponent in check. Also, pawns cannot be placed on the first or
last row. You don't have to place a piece immediately after you receive it; you can
place it on any turn, but it uses that turn.
8. Checkmate on any board ends the game. The player that checkmates his or her
opponent wins the game for his or her team.
• Clocking the game is optional, and is mainly useful to prevent a player from
stalling their moves while waiting for a piece from a teammate.
• You can thwart checkmate by placing another piece in the way of the piece
threatening you when you couldn't otherwise in regular chess. For example, if you
would have normally been checkmated by being trapped behind three pawns (e.g.,
when you castle) by a rook or queen, you can now place a piece taken by your
teammate in a blocking position, preventing checkmate.
• While it is easier to prevent checkmate, it's also easier, if you know what you're
doing, to checkmate someone; you can put them in a position that may seem
relatively harmless, until you create a new threat by placing a piece.
o You may not "place check" even unintentionally. No piece may be added
to the board that places the opponent in check.
• You can communicate with your teammate, asking them for a specific piece, for
example, but you can't actually make any moves on their board. The best strategy,
however, includes keeping an eye on your teammate's board to anticipate what
pieces might be needed or provided by either player.
• Some other names for this type of chess are: exchange chess, tandem chess,
bughouse, transfer chess, team chess, and flying chess (pieces "fly" across
• This game has been hailed by some chess teams and players as being able to
sharpen skills normally not exercised by the "normal" game.
• You can experiment with variants of Siamese chess:
o Place pieces only on your own half of the board
o Continue until both games are complete, then determine the winning team
by adding up the scores
o A team wins only by capturing all the kings on the board
o A check mate doesn't end the game, only actually capturing the king does.
o Stricter or more relaxed rules about where the pawns can be placed
o Play with more than two boards (and hence, more players). Note that if
you have more than two boards, you can pass to any member of your
o There is actually a Bughouse competition in the USCF (United States
• This game can also be played on one board, commonly known as Crazyhouse
chess, in where you can drop pieces you captured.
• This requires a much different strategy than regular chess. It will probably be
more difficult in your first few games. You may have to learn how to make wise
sacrifices of your own pieces so that you can obtain a certain piece for your
How to Play the French Defense Opening in Chess
The French Defence
The French Defense is one of the best known, and effective openings at black's disposal.
Chess algebraic notation is used here to explain the moves.
1. e4 e6
o e4 - Moving the King Pawn two spaces forward is the most common move
played in professional and amateur chess.
o e6 - Moving the king pawn a conservative one space forward is the
defining move of the French Defense. Although it does not control the
centre squares as e4 does, it can lead to many strong positions.
2. d4 d5
o d4 - Moving the Queen Pawn forward two spaces now completely
dominates the centre squares.
o d5 - Moving the Queen Pawn two spaces forward now forms a strong
pawn chain (both the Classical and Winawer Variation of the French
Defense complete this move).
3. Nc3 Bb4
o Nc3 - Again a logical move, white is now covering the pawn on e4 and
has developed another piece. Also playable here are e5, exd5 (the
Exchange Variation), c4 (the Diemer-Duhm Gambit), Bd3 (the Schlechter
Variation), and Nd2 (the Tarrasch Variation).
o Bb4 - Moving the bishop to B4 (forming the Winawer Variation)
successfully pins white's knight to the king. This move allows
development of another piece while prohibiting the movement of White.
• The French Defense is known for solidity and resilience, but it can give rise to a
cramped position for black in the early stages. Black often gains counterattacking
possibilities on the queenside, while white tends to concentrate on the kingside.
Things You'll Need
• Chess set
How to Read Algebraic Chess Notation
Algebraic chess notation
Algebraic chess notation, based on a system introduced by Philipp Stamma, is a system
for recording chess movements. Being more concise and less ambiguous, algebraic chess
notation has become the standard method for recording chess moves, replacing the once
popular system of descriptive chess notation.
If you are serious about chess, it is very important to learn how to read and use algrebraic
chess notation correctly, so you can enjoy the vast amount of chess literature available
and study your own games. We will show you how to read algebraic chess notation.
1. Get a chess set and set it up. Although not absolutely necessary, having a chess
set in front of you will help you follow along as you read chess notations.
2. Learn how the squares are named. There are 64 squares on the chessboard, and
each one has a unique name denoted by the algebraic chess notation:
o The vertical files are labeled a through h, starting from left to right on
o The horizontal ranks are numbered 1 through 8, starting from bottom to
top on White's side.
o A given square on the chessboard is denoted by the file letter, followed by
the rank number. For example, g5 is the square corresponding to the file g
and rank 5.
3. Learn how each piece is noted. Usually, each chess piece is denoted by the first
letter of its name in capital letter, except for the knight and the pawn. For figurine
algebraic notation, a specific symbol is used for each piece.
o King = K or ♔ or ♚
o Queen = Q or ♕ or ♛
o Rook = R or ♖ or ♜
o Bishop = B or ♗ or ♝
o Knight = N (since K is already taken by a more important piece) or ♘ or
o Pawn = (no letter) -- pawns are denoted by the absence of a letter or ♙ or
4. Learn how to write the notation for moves:
o Moving. Write the letter of the piece, followed by the coordinate of the
destination square. For example, a knight going to the square f3 would be
denoted as Nf3; a pawn going to the square e4 would be denoted simply as
e4 (remember, pawns do not get a letter).
o Capturing. Each capture move is denoted by the letter of the piece,
followed by an x, then the coordinate of the destination square. For
example, a bishop capturing a piece at c4 would be denoted as Bxc4.
When a pawn makes a capture, the file from which the pawn
departed is used in place of a piece initial. Thus, a pawn on e4
captures a piece on d5 would be denoted as exd5, or simply ed5 as
the x is often omitted.
En passant moves are denoted by the file of departure of the
capturing pawn, followed by the square to which it moves,
followed optionally by the abbreviation "e.p.". Thus, a pawn on e5
capturing en passant a pawn on d5 is denoted as exd6 or exd6 e.p..
5. Learn how to write special situations.
o If two or more identical pieces can move to the same square, the letter for
the piece is followed by:
the file of departure if they differ;
the rank of departure if the files are the same but the ranks differ;
both the rank and file if neither alone uniquely defines the piece
For example, if two knights on d2 and f2 can both reach e4, the
move is denoted as Nde4 or Nfd4, as appropriate. If two knights on
d2 and d6 can both reach e4, the move would be denoted as N2d4
or N6d4, as appropriate. If three knights on d2, d6, and f2 can all
reach e4, with capture, the move would be denoted as Nd2xe4,
N6xe4, or Nfxe4, as appropriate.
o For pawn promotion, the piece to which it is promoted is written after the
destination coordinate. For example, a pawn on e7 moving to e8 and
promoting to a knight would be denoted as e8N. Sometimes an equal sign
(=) is used, as in e8=N, or parentheses are used, as in e8(N), or a slash (/)
is used, as in e8/N. Only the first type is used in FIDE standard.
o For castling, O-O denotes kingside castle, while O-O-O denotes queenside
o A check is denoted by + after the move notation; double check may be
denoted by ++.
o Checkmate is denoted by # after the move notation.
o A 1-0 is used at the end of the game to denote a white win, 0-1 to denote a
black win, and ½-½ to denote a draw. The words "White Resigns" or
"Black Resigns" may be used to denote a resignation.
6. Learn the punctuation.
o Punctuation is commonly used to comment on the effectiveness of moves,
usually relative to the skill of the player. It is placed after the move. For
! a good move
!! an excellent move
? a bad move
?? a blunder
!? an interesting move but unclear
?! a dubious move but worth considering
7. Learn how to put it all together. List of moves are denoted as numbered pairs
by White followed by Black. For example, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5.
o Moves may be interrupted by comments. When the record resumes with a
Black move, an ellipsis (…) takes the place of the White move. For
example: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Black now defends his pawn. 2...Nc6.
• Practice reading and using algebraic notation and you will get it down very
Things You'll Need
• Chess set (optional)
• Paper or software for practice (optional)
How to Begin Mastering Chess
Chess is a highly competitive game played by millions of people around the world. The
basics can be mastered in a matter of minutes. Advanced strategic concepts can take
years to come to terms with and a lifetime to master.
1. Learn the rules. This might seem obvious but many people will start playing the
game before they fully understand all the rules. Be sure to come to terms with "en
passant", "castling" and "checkmating".
2. Study basic checkmates. Don’t stop until checkmating positions have become
second nature. Start by studying easy mating combinations like king vs. king &
queen or king vs. king & rook. Then move on to more difficult combinations like
king vs. king & pawn. Eventually work your way up to the most difficult
combination that will be used, king vs. king & bishop & knight.
3. Study basic combinations and tactics. Start by learning forks, skewers, pins,
discovered attacks and double attacks. Learn how to set up these combinations by
finding vulnerable pieces to attack or by taking away the defender.
4. Learn opening concepts/rules. Your opening moves set the stage for the rest of
your game. Pay close attention to development, time, central control, space, pawn
structure and king safety.
Basic Opening Strategy is, “Rapid development of pieces and fight to control the center”.
1) First move the king or queen pawn 2 squares to control the center. 2) If your opponent
does not prevent it, move both the King and Queen pawns up 2 squares. 3) Attack with
gain of time whenever possible. 4) Castle early, preferably on the King side. 5) Don’t
move your queen out early, she is subject to attack. 6) Don’t move the six outside pawns,
(three pawns on each side) because it wastes time and loosens the castled king position.
This also invites your opponent to attack. 7) Move knights before bishops because they
control the center better and you might not yet know the best squares for the bishops. 8)
Move your rooks to open files or towards the center because center files usually open. 9)
Don’t move the queen pawn 1 square if it traps the king bishop. Move the bishop first.
10) Try to control the center. 11) Don’t attack before you complete your development.
12) In Queen Pawn openings, don’t trap your queen bishop pawn with the knight. 13) He
who takes the knight pawn sleeps in the streets. 14) Don’t go pawn hunting in the
opening unless it is a center pawn. 15) Castle because you will or because you must, not
because you can. 16) Don’t attack too early because a premature attack will fail. 17)
Don’t sacrifice a pawn without a clear and adequate reason. 18) Don’t move the same
piece twice in the opening because it wastes time.
1. Study endgames. Endgames enable you to understand how the pieces work
individually. They also improve your calculating abilities, as many times
endgames can be won out of pure calculating power. Everything you pick up by
studying endgames can be applied to middle-games and even openings; you
could, for instance, judge if a certain exchange is good for you by analyzing what
kind of endgame could arise from that position.
2. Practice. Play as much as possible, even if you have to play yourself. Be sure to
apply what you have learned.
3. Record your games. This allows you to go back over your games to study your
mistakes and missed opportunities. If possible, store an archive of your games in
".pgn" format with attached notes. Tournament games are especially good
because you are likely to face skilled opponents who are willing to analyse the
game together with you in the "post-mortem".
4. Study classic games. Many grandmasters and masters over the past couple
hundred years have pumped decades of their lives into researching the game. You
can learn a few things from their games. If possible go over the record making
your own notes. Then compare that with what others have written.
5. Play Tournaments. The chess organizations that run chess tournaments (i.e. the
World Chess Federation) rate players based on their performance. This rating is a
very clear indication of a players abilities in tournament settings. The rating
system is broken into class ratings (J-A) and titles (expert, master, international
master, grandmaster). Getting involved in tournament play is a necessary step if
one wishes to compare his or her chess strengths with the chess community at
• Don't waste too much time on openings when you're a beginner. Tactics and
combinations are far more important at the beginner level.
• If you concentrate on development in the opening, you will be able to beat all
your friends. The average player will attack with one or two pieces and the
stronger player will move all of his pieces out. A battle between 2 pieces on one
side and 5 pieces on the other side favors the side with the more pieces. This is
how I win most of my games, that is, by getting my pieces out fast. Try not to
move the same piece twice in the opening, it wastes time.
How to Castle in Chess
Castling is a defensive move in chess where the king and a rook move at the same time. It
is the only time two pieces move at once. There are specific rules regarding castling, so
read on learn how to do this maneuver.
1. Decide which rook you want to castle with. This move can be done with either
2. Recognize if the move is legal:
o Neither the king nor the rook to be used has been moved yet.
o There are no pieces between the king and rook.
o The king is not currently in check.
o The king will not be placed in check in the ending position, or any
position between the original and end position.
3. Move the king 2 spaces towards the rook.
4. Move the rook to the space on the other side of the king.
How to Checkmate in 4 Moves in Chess
Chess is a great game, it requires much logic to win against a good player. If you are an
experienced player and are afraid of the humiliation of losing against a newcomer, read
on to find out how you can get them in checkmate in just four moves!
1. Move your pawn at e2 to e4. This is a very simple move to start out with in
chess, but it is very popular, since it makes the queen and bishop ready for use.
You'll only need them to make the checkmate.
2. Move your queen from d1 to h5.
3. Move your bishop at f1 to c4. Now you have it perfectly set up. Unless your
opponent threatens your queen, you can make the next move.
4. Move your queen to f7. This places the opponent in checkmate, since he can't
move his king in any direction that is out of the queen's reach, nor can he take the
queen, since she is protected by the bishop.
• This is a one-trick pony way of winning. If your opponent threatens any of the
pieces before you get your bishop in the right place, you won't win with it. Also,
if he threatens your queen with a pawn after you bring out the bishop, you won't
• Your opponent may recognize the strategy the next time you play with him.
• If your opponent knows this strategy and is trying it, it won't work for either of
Things You'll Need
• chess board
• chess pieces
• an opponent
How to Play Advanced Chess
So you know how to play chess. But have you come to a point where you meet a person
you just can't beat? Do you know what en passant is? A pawn storm? Lifting a rook? If
you answered no to any of the above, this is the place to learn it. Chess can be a fun and
intense game if played well, a great way to pass those rainy days.
1. Be aware that h assumes that you already know how to notate(record games) to
learn how to notate, look at the tips before continuing.
2. Chess Terms
o En Passant
It is common knowledge that on the first move pawns can move 2
space forward. En Passant is when your pawn is on the fourth
space away from its original square. An opponents pawn moves 2
spaces forward, next to your pawn. Oh No! Your entire strategy
has been upset. That is what you might think, but En Passant
allows you to take the opposing pawn next to yours as though it
had moved only one square. Your pawn moves to where the
opposing pawn would have been if it had moved only one space
forward. Be aware that this move is not always useful and may
lead to problems, so don't just do it because you know how. As
with all moves, you must carefully assess the situation before
o Pawn Storms
A pawn storm is only useful when you and your opponent have
castled to opposite sides of the board. In any other scenario a pawn
storm merely weakens your king. Use the pawns parallel to you
opponent's king to charge in and weaken the king. Again, as with
all moves, don't just charge in. There is no reason to lose 3 or 4
pawns when you could avoid losing even one. Support the storm
with your other pieces, make your opponent pay dearly for each
piece. Used correctly, a pawn storm is a deadly weapon, however,
make sure that you are ahead of your opponent's pawn storm!
Castling is a defensive move where a King may move two spaces
to the side and a Rook may hop over the King. To do this, there
must be no pieces in between the Rook and the King. The Rook
may not move more than one space past the King. Also, this can
only be done if both pieces have yet to move.
o Lifting A Rook
Lifting a rook is not so much a strategy as a fancy name for a
move. Lifting a rook simply means that you bring your rook off of
the back rank by first going up, and then to either side.
o A Pin
A pin is an incredibly powerful tactic, that, when used correctly,
can end a game. Pinning a piece is when your piece attacks 2
pieces of equal or greater value. The term pinning the bishop to the
king, means that the bishop cannot move, or the king will be under
attack. This is called an absolute pin, where moving the bishop is
an illegal move, as it places the king in check. Another kind of pin
is the familial pin. Instead of the king being behind the bishop,
there may be a queen or a rook. In this case, the bishop can move,
but it is only in rare cases a good idea, as it lays the more valuable
piece behind it under attack.
o A Skewer
A skewer is similar to a pin, but instead of the bishop being in
front of the king, the king is in front of the bishop. A skewer is
when you put the king in check, forcing it to move, and forcing it
to expose the bishop.
o A Fork
A fork is when one of your pieces attacks 2 of your opponents
pieces. (Note, a pawn is not considered a piece). An example of a
fork is if a knight attacks both the opposing king and queen at the
same time. Unless the knight can be taken, the king is forced to
move, as it is in check, and the queen can be taken, at little to no
o Discovered Checks and Double Checks
A discovered check is when a pawn or a piece moves somewhere
else so that a piece behind it can attack the enemy king. Sometimes
these attacks won't be very useful, but if a knight is in front of the
major piece, be on the lookout for a serious attack on the queen.
A double is a more dangerous form of discovered check in where
not only the piece behind it attacks the enemy king; the moving
piece attacks as well. Double checks force the king to move
because capturing or blocking one piece doesn't work because the
other piece also attacks the king. Masters love to set up double
checks because of their awesome attacking power and can lead to
dangerous tactics on the rooks, queen, and king.
3. Stages of the Game
o Chess is broken into 3 major stages. The Opening, The Middlegame, and
The goal in the opening is to develop, or take out, pieces.
2 openings that will be discussed here are the King's
Gambit for white, and the Sicilian Dragon Defense
The King's Gambit
The King's Gambit Generally
proceeds as follows. 1. e4, e5 2. f4,
e5xf4, Note that your opponent does
not have to take, but there is no
advantage to not taking the piece. 3.
Nf3. After this point the opening can
go in any direction, but white will
eventually seek to play d4, resulting
in the complete control of the center
of the board. Note that this is a very
brief explanation of the King's
The Sicilian Dragon
The Sicilian Dragon generally begins
as follows: 1. e4, c5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3.
c3, d6, From here there are many
different paths that white could take,
but black will eventually seek to play
Nf6 followed by g6, Bg7, and finally
There is no true set guide for playing the middlegame, but
by following certain guidelines it may be easier to gain the
Always retain control of the center, preferably using
pawns as the core pieces.
Seek ways to undermine your opponents defense,
whether with a sacrifice or a pin.
Do not develop your queen too early.
Do not open your king to attack when you have a
Always keep your king guarded behind pawns,
bishops will sometimes work as well.
Look for tactics to attack opposing king, and learn
how to attack the king if it is castled wither
queenside and kingside.
The endgame is a delicate part of a chess game where every
pawn matters. Checkmate can be achieved with these
pieces, which are commonly available in the endgame: 2
Bishops and a King, 1 Knight, 1 Bishop and a King, A
Rook and A King, and A Queen and A King. Note that
these checkmates are only possible while the opponent has
no other pieces. The Knight, Bishop and King vs King
checkmate is complicated, and some Masters don't even
know it, but the other mentioned checkmates are simple.
Rook and King
The key to all checkmates is to keep the
opponents king confined. Do not be
overanxious to check the king, as it will not
work. First move the rook to the rank ahead
of the enemy king. This will confine the
king to a certain amount of squares.
Advance the king to obtain opposition, when
your king is in front of the opponent's. When
he move away, you will need to make a
waiting move, just move the rook one square
over. He will move the king away from your
king. When The kings are opposite each
other, check him with the rook, and then
repeat the proccess until he is on the back
rank, where check becomes checkmate. The
Queen checkmate is identical, but you must
be careful not to stalemate.
• Notation is the record keeping of a chess game through each move. It depends on
abbreviations and on the grid system of a chess board.
• Look at the edges of your chess board. You will notice that along one side it says
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and on the other side a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h with this system squares or
entire rows can be specified. such as the 1st rank, 2nd rank, 3rd rank, 4th rank, 5th
rank, 6th rank, 7th rank, and 8th rank. Files can also be specified, a file, b file, c
file, d file, e file, f file, g file, and h file. Squares are referred to by their place in
the grid. So if a square is in the e file and on the 4th rank, it is the square e4.
• The abbreviations of pieces are as follows. Bishop=B, Knight=N, Queen=Q,
Rook=R, King=K and pawns have no letter. If you want to say bishop goes to
square b4 you would say Bb4. However if you wanted to say that a pawn goes to
b4 you would merely say b4 in your notation. When one piece takes another piece
it is marked with an x. When a pawn takes a piece it is marked with the file of the
pawn and the square of the piece. If 2 of the same piece can move to the same
square you should put the original square of the piece being moved. Check is
marked with a plus sign, and checkmate with a number sign.
o Special Notation
Certain special moves have a special notation attached to them. En
Passant is marked with e.p. after the move, a king side castle is
marked 0-0, and queen side castle 0-0-0, and pawn promotion is
and = or () with the abbreviation of the piece promoted to.
• Piece Value
• Pieces are usually valued as follows: Pawn=1 point, Bishop=3 points, Knights=3
points, Rooks=5 points, Queens=9 points, and Kings cannot be valued. Some
people believe that a Bishop is worth 3.25 points, because it is can move further
than a knight. Some people believe that a knight is worth 3.25 points due to its
ability to "jump" and attack from behind other pieces.
• Use the piece values to your advantage. For example, if an enemy pawn could
either take your rook or a knight, move your rook instead of the knight.
• Point values are only guidelines. In some positions, like in the opening, a bishop
is more valuable than a rook. You must access the positional value of every move,
and just because a move loses material doesn't mean you shouldn't consider it.
• Try to avoid moving a piece twice in the opening, unless necessary.
• Every pawn counts. Do not throw away pawns, as they are very valuable in the
• Look at the whole board before you make your move. Make sure a piece cannot
be taken before you move it.
• This is a very short summerization of Advanced Chess, if you wish to become
serious about chess you should purchase a chess book; there are some very good
• Never, ever move a pawn on the sides in the opening unless necessary. For
example, the Grob Attack or the Orangutan will enable you to move the B and G
pawns. The can lead to counter attacks, but can be stopped easily by black.
• Take your time! This cannot be stressed enough, grandmasters have lost games
because they moved too quickly.
• If in the opening you are sure to lose, don't let it get you down or you will never
become good at chess.
How to Play Solo Chess
Chess is a game that requires concentration, strategy, and practice. If you don't have a
partner to play against, develop your skills by playing yourself.
1. Prepare to play a formidable opponent. Taking on yourself can be a challenge,
but you can never lose and if you play it right you can learn a great deal.
2. Set up the board out of the way. Play can take a long time, up to several weeks.
3. Sit down and play your first move.
Mark whose turn it is.
Knock over a piece or place something on the opposite side of the board. This
will allow you to keep track of whose turn it is next.
5. Play each turn. Do not mirror more than one move in a row. If you do this you
will cheat yourself.
6. Space out each move by five minutes or more. This helps you not favor one
side over the other.
• Play as you would normally for both sides. Favoring one side ruins the game.
• Try to predict what your opponent is going to do to counter your move. When the
time comes, outsmart him with something more bold or conservative.
How to Set up a Chessboard
Chessboard set up.
To play chess, you first need to set up the chessboard correctly. Read on to learn how to
White square in bottom right corner
Set the board so that the bottom right square is a white square. White pieces
will be set up in the bottom two rows, and black in the top two.
Place the white pawns along the second row from the bottom, and the black
pawns in the second row from the top.
Place the rooks in each corner.
Place the knights in the squares directly beside the rooks.
Place the bishops in the squares directly beside the knights.
Place the white queen on the open white square, and the black queen on the
open black square.
Place the kings in the last remaining open squares.
• The key thing to remember is that the queen always goes on the same colored
square as the piece.
Things You'll Need
• Chess set
How to Teach Chess
The game of chess is often percieved as complicated and involved. This perception often
times leads to potential players underwriting themselves and their ability to learn the
game. Chess can be taught to anybody. A reliable, easy way to teach the game of chess
will be taught below.
1. Smile and show enthusiasm. Students will be intimidated by a serious
2. Tell the student the chess lesson will take place in three parts and after each
part they will be asked to show what they have learned.
o Teaching chess under this method is to be taught in three parts. After each
part the student is required to show every concept that was learned. If they
incorrectly show a concept, correct them and ask them to show you all the
concepts all over again.
1. The first lesson is used to explain all the of the pieces and how they move.
Start with the pawns, excluding the rules for en passant, then explain each of the
pieces on the back row, starting at the castles and moving in. Ignore castling for
the time being as well. Tell them there are only two pieces that move oddly, the
pawns and the knights.
2. After explaining the movement of all the pieces, point to each piece and have
them explain how each piece moves either verbally or by moving them. If
they do so incorrectly, correct them then start the test over.
3. Ask them to place the king and the queen on the chess board. The students
will pass the first lesson if they place the queen on the same color square.
4. If they have correctly shown the movement of all pieces move onto lesson
two; Advanced movement.
1. Show them en passant, a queen side castle, a king side castle, promotion and
2. Explain that in chess pieces are moved to put the opposing king in danger or
3. Explain that if the king cannot move out of danger it is checkmate.
4. Explain that if the king cannot make a move due to danger it is a draw or
5. Have them correctly explain all of the concepts listed above including regular
movement then move onto the final lesson on tactics.
1. Place your pupils king on the board and his rook four spaces horizontally or
vertically away. Place your knight directly. between the two pieces on the closest
file to either side of the king/rook line. Say "wouldn't this suck, this is called a
fork. I've put two pieces in danger and I can take your castle free of charge." To
excentuate this fact do the same, replacing your pupils rook with his queen
2. Place your pupils queen in a corner of the board, place his/her king one
diagonal space towards the center of the board. Place one of your bishops at
the opposite corner. Explain that they have to get their king out of danger but will
lose their queen because of it. Explain that this is a pin and because the king has
to move it is also a discovered attack.
3. Keep your pupils king and queen on the same spot, but place a rook on the
same colored tile a few spaces away. Place your bishop so that it attacks the
rook and the king. Tell them that this is a pin, fork and a discovered attack all in
4. Have them explain movement, advanced movement and basic tactics. If they
explain correctly then play them in a game.
In chess, a tactic refers to a sequence of moves which limits the opponent's options and
may result in tangible gain. Tactics are usually contrasted with strategy, in which
advantages take longer to be realized, and the opponent is less constrained in responding.
The fundamental building blocks of tactics are move sequences in which the opponent is
unable to respond to all threats, so the first player realizes an advantage. This includes
forks, skewers, batteries, discovered attacks, undermining, overloading, deflection, pins
• The Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames gives the following tactical categories:
Double Attack, Pawns Breakthrough, Blockade, Decoying, Discovered Attack,
Passed Pawn, X-ray Attack, Interception, Deflection, Pin, Demolition of Pawns,
Overloading, Annihilation of Defense, Pursuit (perpetual attack), Intermediate
Move, and Space Clearance.
Often tactics of several types are conjoined in a combination.
Attacking and defending pieces
A piece is said to attack (or threaten) an opponent's piece if, in the next move, it could
capture that piece. A piece is said to defend (or protect) a piece of the defender's color if,
in case the defended piece were taken by the opponent, the defender could recapture right
away. Attacking a piece usually, but not always, forces the opponent to respond if the
attacked piece is undefended, or if the attacking piece is of lower value than the attacked
When attacked, one has several options:
• Capture the attacking piece.
• Move the attacked piece.
• Interpose another piece in between the two.
• Guard the attacked piece and permit an exchange.
Pin attacks can be either 'Relative' or 'Absolute'. The Absolute Pin is where the more
valuable piece behind is the King (this is the distinguishing feature between Absolute and
A skewer is a move which attacks two pieces in a line, similar to a pin, except that the
enemy piece of greater value is in front of the piece of lesser value. After the more
valuable piece moves away, the lesser piece can be captured. Queens, rooks, and bishops
can perform the skewer.
Skewer attacks can be either 'Relative' or 'Absolute'. The Absolute Skewer is where the
more valuable piece in front is the King (this is the distinguishing feature between
Absolute and Relative Skewers).
With Absolute Skewers, because it's the King that's attacked, the King is in Check and,
unless the attacker can be dealt with (by capture, or by blocking the Check with a Pawn
or another Piece), the attacked King will have to step aside, allowing the attacking unit to
capture the less valuable Pawn or Piece behind.
If the attacked unit wasn't the King - say, a Rook - then it would be a Relative Skewer
and should the situation require it, the Rook 'could' remain in place, at risk of being
captured, for the sake of protecting whatever unit is behind.
Pawns are extremely useful in the game and are far more powerful than meets the eye.
For instance, since pawns are the least valuable chess piece, they can be used to capture
defended pieces. A single pawn approaching will force a more powerful piece, such as a
rook or a knight, to retreat. A simple move of a pawn may reveal a hidden threat. Also,
when pawns are arranged in a diagonal line, with the frontmost pawns guarded by the
pawns behind, they form an almost impenetrable wall capable of protecting any pieces
directly behind them. Furthermore, a pawn which has progressed all the way to the
opposite side of the board may be promoted to any other piece except a king. However, a
weak pawn structure can be a big weakness.
Chess strategy is concerned with the evaluation of chess positions and setting up goals
and long-term plans for future play. During the evaluation, a player must take into
account the value of the pieces on the board, pawn structure, king safety, position of
pieces, control of key squares and groups of squares (e.g. diagonals, open files, black or
white squares), and the possible moves the opponent will make after any move made.
The most basic way to evaluate one's position is to count the total value of pieces on both
sides. The point values used for this purpose are based on experience. Usually pawns are
considered to be worth one point, knights and bishops three points each, rooks five
points, and queens nine points. The fighting value of the king in the endgame is
approximately four points. These basic values are modified by other factors such as the
position of the piece (e.g. advanced pawns are usually more valuable than those on their
starting squares), coordination between pieces (e.g. a bishop pair usually coordinates
better than a bishop plus a knight), and the type of position (knights are generally better in
closed positions with many pawns, while bishops are more powerful in open positions).
Another important factor in the evaluation of chess positions is the pawn structure or
pawn skeleton. Since pawns are the most immobile and least valuable of the chess pieces,
the pawn structure is relatively static and largely determines the strategic nature of the
position. Weaknesses in the pawn structure, such as isolated, doubled, or backward
pawns and holes, once created, are usually permanent. Care must therefore be taken to
avoid them unless they are compensated by another valuable asset, such as the possibility
to develop an attack.
Basic concepts of board evaluation
A material advantage applies both strategically and tactically. Generally more pieces or
an aggregate of more powerful pieces means greater chances of winning. A fundamental
strategic and tactical rule is to capture opponent pieces while preserving one's own.
Bishops and knights are called minor pieces. A knight is about as valuable as a bishop,
but less valuable than a rook. Rooks and the queen are called major pieces. Bishops are
usually considered slightly better than knights in open positions, such as toward the end
of the game when many of the pieces have been captured, whereas knights have an
advantage in closed positions. Having two bishops (the bishop pair) is a particularly
powerful weapon, especially if the opposing player lacks one or both of their bishops.
Three pawns are likely to be more useful than a knight in the endgame, but in the
middlegame a knight is often more powerful. Two minor pieces are stronger than a single
rook, and two rooks are slightly stronger than a queen.
One commonly used simple scoring system is:
Under a system like this, giving up a knight or bishop in order to win a rook ("winning
the exchange") is advantageous and is worth about two pawns. This of course ignores
such complications as the current position and freedom of the pieces involved, but it is a
good starting point. In an open position, bishops will be more valuable than knights (a
bishop pair can easily be worth seven points or more in some situations); conversely, in a
closed position, bishops will be less valuable than knights. Also, many pieces have a
partner. By doubling up two knights, two rooks, rook and queen or bishop and queen the
pieces can get stronger than the sum of the individual pieces alone. When pieces lose
their partner, their values slightly decrease. The king is priceless since its capture results
in the defeat of that player and brings about the end of that game. However, especially in
the endgame, the king can also be a fighting piece, and is sometimes given a fighting
value of four.
All other things being equal, the side which controls more space on the board has an
advantage. More space means more options, which can be exploited both tactically and
strategically. If all of one's pieces are developed and no tactical tricks or promising long-
term plan is apparent, he or she should try to find a move which will enlarge one's
influence, particularly in the center. However, in some openings, one player will accept
less space for a period of time to set up a counterattack in the middlegame. This is one of
the concepts behind hypermodern play.