What Are The Rules of Chess?


Chess is one of the most recognizable and played board games in the entire world; it has a history tracing back to the 16th century. For centuries, it has been considered one of the greatest games of strategy ever created. Deceptively simple in nature with only two players, one board, and six different game pieces, the complex nature of the rules makes it one of the most entertaining and challenging games to play and enjoy with friends or competitively.

History of Chess

who created chess

As previously mentioned, chess is one of the oldest games, and initially, it looked vastly different. This is mainly because chess evolved from a different game entirely. Chess's origins began with the Indian game of Chaturanga and did not become the game we recognize today until the 16th century. Yet, even as it gained popularity as time progressed, one of the biggest hurdles chess faced was the lack of standardized pieces used in games. This was ultimately fixed as in the mid 19th century, the standardization of chess sets occurred when the Jaques of London company, led by Nathaniel Cooke, introduced and manufactured the standardized pieces that we know and use today.

Along with the implementation of universal pieces, the later addition of a ‘chess clock’ added a time limit to the matches, adding a sense of urgency and haste to the players as they formulated strategies for their opponents. Before this addition, games could last for up to 14 hours if a player wished to in extreme circumstances; this change was welcomed and became a part of the commonly accepted parts of chess. These clocks didn't change much until the 1970s when Cornell University students invented the first digital chess clock, which brought on even more accurate timing abilities and more creative limits on match lengths.

Chess Pieces and Their Rules

chess pieces

One of the unique parts of chess is the different pieces that the game uses. There are six different pieces used by each player, each having its own set of rules on how they can move.


chess pieces king

The king is only allowed to move one square at a time in any direction; it can never move into a "check" position and, therefore, never be in the space adjacent to the opposing king. If knocked over, the game is over, and checkmate occurs.


chess pieces queen

The queen is one of the most valuable pieces outside of the king in chess, mainly due to her ability to move omnidirectionally and cover as many squares as she wishes in a single turn. She can also capture any piece obstructing her path, making her loss a significant disadvantage to the player affected.


chess pieces bishops

The bishop can cover any space along the diagonals of the chessboard, granted it's in a straight line. Each player's two bishops start on one of the two different color tiles and may only move along the one that it is placed on initially before a match.


 chess pieces rooks

The rook is also commonly referred to as 'The Castle' because it resembles a medieval castle. It can move any number of squares in one direction, either horizontally or vertically, and capture any pieces in its path.


chess pieces knights

The knight is unique in its ability to 'leap' over other pieces; it can move in one of two directions and only capture the piece it lands on. The first option is to move one space forward or backward and two spaces over to the right or left; the second option is to move two spaces forward or backward and one space to the left or right. These movements resemble an “L” shape.


chess pieces pawns

The pawn is also very unique in its attributes; during the first move for each pawn, it has the option to move forward either one space or two spaces (on its first move). It may only move one space forward in all subsequent moves unless it captures another piece where it is allowed to move forward one space diagonally. The final unique feature of the pawn allows for the pawn to become any lost piece (king excluded) if it reaches a square on the row closest to the opposing players' side.


chess initial setup

When it comes to setting up a chessboard, the board should measure eight-by-eight in squares; these 64 squares alternate between light and dark colors, with white and black being the most commonly used. Then the pieces are placed on the board, a vital step in ensuring a fair and correct game. The pieces are placed in two horizontal rows across the two closest rows to the player's side of the board. The first row, closest to the player, contains the rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king pieces. The second row of pieces solely consists of a line of pawns.

The first row of pieces closest to the player comprises five different pieces and is somewhat symmetrical in their layout. The rook piece is placed on the square farthest right and left end of the row, and next to each rook, a knight piece should be set in the adjacent square. The next piece, placed alongside the knight, is the bishop which should occupy the third square from the right and left of the first row.

The final two pieces, the king and queen's placement, can be slightly confusing. They occupy the two central square spaces and are placed on opposite sides for each of the two players. To ensure this, the queen is always placed on the square that is her color, and the same is true for the opposing player; the king then occupies the last spot of the row. The second row of pieces solely consists of eight pawns, each placed on a single square side-by-side from one another.

Goal of Chess

The ultimate goal of chess is to capture the opponent's king piece by knocking it over on the board with one of your pieces while under the time/turn limit agreed upon by the two players before the match. This act of capturing the opponent's king is referred to as "Checkmate," which signals that someone has won the game. While this may seem like a relatively easy goal to achieve, the actual act of doing so would surprise you.

The game can be won, lost, or end in one of three scenarios for a player; the first and most recognized is the previously mentioned checkmate. This is accomplished when the player's king is in check; this means that the king is in imminent danger from the opposition and cannot either move out of the way or find a way to block the incoming attacking piece.

 The second ending scenario is known as a Stalemate, which means the opponent's king is not currently in check, but to do so, you would need to place your king in check as well, and because you can never put your king in check, you would have no other moves to make. In this scenario, it does not mean the attacking player has won, but instead that it is a draw and neither player is awarded a victory.

The final way to end a game would be for the pre-agreed upon time to run out for one of the players during the game. In this scenario, the player who runs out of time would then lose the game regardless of the state of the game or what pieces remain on the board. This scenario would only apply to time-limit games, and if no limit was set before the start, it could not occur.